Shadows Over Innistrad Review: The White Invasion And Going Gold!

Pro Tour Hall of Famer Patrick Chapin returns in the only way he could: to review just how dominant white is in this new Standard format! With #SCGStates this weekend, you can’t afford to miss out on Patrick’s detailed insight!

SCG States April 23-24!

Shadows over Innistrad is here in a big way and really helping illuminating just how powerful of a change the new rotation schedule is on Standard Magic. We are going to see the format revolutionized every six months, at the latest. These are exciting times!

Today, we’re finishing a complete look at the white cards of Shadows over Innistrad, as well as the gold cards, artifacts, and land. The timing couldn’t be better, as the format is being dominated by white decks, left and right.

The other colors can be found here:





Might as well start with one of the defining cards of the new format…

Always Watching is more than just a Glorious Anthem variant.

Is that because it grants vigilance?

Okay, yeah, but what I mean is that this is a format where Glorious Anthem really shines. Besides, vigilance plus first strike is a good time!

McVety is your champion of the 2016 SCG Invitational in Columbus, armed with his update to the white aggro strategy Kellen Pastore took to a finals appearance last week in Baltimore. While Humans fell to Bant in the finals there, they came out on top of the same finals matchup this time around.

This is one of the keys to why most aggro decks are currently white. Declaration in Stone is truly awesome, and an aggressive deck that kills before the opponent has had a chance to actually crack their Clue… well, that moves the card from great to busted.

While many laughed at the white Rancor last week, I don’t hear ’em laughing anymore. For just one mana, you effectively get a 1/1 flier with haste’s worth of damage, but you’re also getting some nice mid-game inevitability. Even if they have a removal spell for your flying Consul’s Lieutenant, Gryff’s Boon will be back…

While Kellen featured Hanweir Militia Captain in the main deck, I believe it was his observation that it was mostly just for the mirror and semi-mirror. If your opponent isn’t the greatest at killing creatures, Hanweir Militia Captain starts to exert a huge influence.

Thalia’s Lieutenant is the real flagship of this deck. While Declaration in Stone is an all-around star, Thalia’s Lieutenant is the best card in every deck it’s in (usually). It comes down as an Anthem effect but then is a must-kill creature in its own right.

Thraben Inspector is slowly gaining respect for being basically the best one-drop in the format. While it doesn’t hit as hard as the two-power one-drops, it’s a lot more durable against removal. It comes down and helps contribute damage. Later, when it’s convenient, you cash in the Clue for an extra card (and hopefully even more damage). While the Inspector can do a mean Elvish Visionary impression, it’s frequently better to pay half the mana now and the other half later, even if we’re charged 100% interest on the second half of the mana.

And that doesn’t even factor in that it’s a 1/2, not a 1/1!

Town Gossipmonger is a piece of technology we’ve been talking about for weeks, but at this point, it’s industry standard. It’s just too easy to tap a creature you just played, greatly reducing the “cost.” As for the must-attack part, that’s what they wanted to do anyway, right?

Like above, Eerie Interlude is primarily used as a sideboard card against sweepers, including even Descend upon the Sinful. However, it can also be part of a blink-based strategy, abusing enters-the-battlefield triggers.

If we wanted, we could actually go even further and fit some Eldrazi Displacers and Possessed Skaabs. The Displacers would push our “blink” theme even harder, letting us re-trigger our creatures every turn. Possessed Skaab probably means no more Engulfing Shoreline, but if we get it going, we can blink everything on our side every turn.

Maybe something like:

Both of these lists feature Archangel Avacyn, a card we’ve discussed at great length in previous weeks. With two weeks of major tournament success already under her belt, it’s safe to say Archangel Avacyn is the real deal and a major player in a variety of archetypes.

While her flip is a big deal, and the threat of it puts pressure on your opponent, making them play awkwardly, she’s more about the flash Serra Angel combined with an enters-the-battlefield trigger that can have a massive impact on the game.

Gerry Thompson’s evolution of W/U Humans propelled him to yet another Invitational Top 8. In it, he made great use of Avacyn, first as a flash threat that could protect his swarm from removal. Then it was an important part of his transformational sideboard plan, where he’d cut back on the white aggro cards, instead becoming a U/W…Control deck?!

In staying with the transformational plan, Gerry has included two copies of Bygone Bishop for extra card-draw power.

Bygone Bishop really is charging you so little for that ability. I mean, come on! A 2/3 flier for three is actually not even a mana off, and if you draw cards with Bygone Bishop, you are already squarely ahead.

Far too expensive for Constructed. It only “does anything” if it’s already hitting people.

Angelic Purge has a very modest rate (compare to Bone Splinters). What it does have going for it, however, is a very potent interaction with Demonic Pact. You can sacrifice the Demonic Pact to uphold your end of the deal with the Angels!

It’s actually kind of crazy, how many new ways white gained to get rid of Demonic Pact in this set.

Bound by Moonsilver is an overpriced Pacifism (which is also an overpriced Pacifism). Ostensibly, this is to make up for the flexibility to move it around. This does require sacrificing a permanent; however, Demonic Pact counts as one! The ability to have a sac outlet just staying on the battlefield, waiting for such a time as you might need to get out of a Demonic Pact, is worth a lot.

Pious Evangel can do a bit of a Zulaport Cutthroat impression, but it’s also a “Get out of Jail Free” card for Demonic Pacting, since you can even sacrifice the Demonic Pact to it.

One other option that I did not include here is Anguished Unmaking. It’s a fine card, but I am hoping to re-use my Demonic Pacts with Auramancers, so I don’t want them exiled.

Instead, we find Anguished Unmaking being used in small numbers in various midrange decks, like the list Eric Hymel piloted to a third-place finish in the Invitational:

Here, Anguished Unmaking is a versatile catch-all. It helps with problematic creatures, fuels Wasteland Strangler, gives us much-needed instant-speed interaction, and gives us options against Always Watching, Stasis Snare, and so on.

The most raw power of the new planeswalkers. It’s interesting living in a world where the two best planeswalkers cost six. Jace really is more of a creature, or else he’d obviously get the nod. I think you can make good arguments for Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, but right now, I think Sorin and Chandra are having a bigger impact.

In general, Sorin is one of the five best cards in the set and should be a staple, as long as it is not replaced by even more powerful six-cost options.

Combining it with Spectral Shepherd is a cute Limited tactic, but we’ve got to do a lot better in Constructed.

Avacynian Missionaries looks like a Limited card on the surface. It’s a bit expensive, doesn’t have that big of a body, temporarily exiles a creature, and needs to be equipped to do its thing. Still, I wonder if it might provide a needed dimension to some kind of Equipment deck. It’s a long shot, but maybe something like:

This is a deck with several minor synergies, each aspiring to help make the deck more than the sum of the parts. It’s got some Kor synergies, some Equipment synergies, and some flip condition synergies.

If you can actually reliably flip one of your creatures while it’s wearing an equipment, Neglected Heirloom is actually quite efficient. One mana for a one-to-equip +1/+1 is pretty standard, but it turns into a +3/+3 without any additional mana. It now costs three to equip; however, whatever it was on gets to keep wearing it.

Even though it’s totally on-theme, Militant Inquisitor does scale well enough to justify a slot. After all, what it look like when things are going right? The Inquisitor is a 4/3? Maybe a 5/3? We wouldn’t play a 4/3 for three, and I’m not sure we’d be thrilled with a 5/3. Meanwhile, the fail-state is a 2/3 for three, which isn’t horrible, but it is well below what we’d be willing to work with, even for two mana.

This one is closer, and actually a reasonable option, but it is harder to play many instant pump spells when you’re already playing so much Equipment. Are you going to cut removal? Yes, the Strength of Arms gives you a token (most of the time), but it’s not actually an absurd amount of rate, even in the best-case scenario.

I think that if Strength of Arms is good, it’s probably because of us valuing it being an instant for delirium or with double strike, possibly with Scourge Wolf for both at the same time! Of course, it could also just be part of an extremely dedicated Human deck that values every additional Human greatly (but still, apparently, wants a Giant Growth effect).

This one may be closer than it looks, since you can realistically expect to have sorceries and instants, basically at will. However, Constructed has lots of exiling, bouncing, and alternative ways of stopping a creature. Additionally, Cathar’s Companion is going to be vulnerable when you first cast it. Honestly, if it had prowess, it might actually have an outside shot.

A simple card, and pretty awful; however, it’s always worth keeping in mind the cheapest way to do something. There is no better way to gain multiple life in the format with a single card, per mana, than Chaplain’s Blessing. Maybe some card gets printed in the next set that combos with it in a powerful way? We’re talking slim chances, but it’s useful to already have the right mental structure set up so that, whatever slim chance turns out to be the reality we live in, we understand it and can anticipate how to maximize it.

There’s a lot of exiling these days, but if your deck has a sufficient amount of looting and self-mill, you might be interested in Dauntless Cathar as a 1/1 flier for two out of the graveyard. Nearheath Chaplain is a more compelling implementation of this idea, but it’s one that stacks, so you could potentially want both. Besides, Dauntless Cathar is the cheaper of the two, which is always something.

The best “hard” sweeper in the format, Descend upon the Sinful is quite decent and playable but can’t be counted on as a primary line of defense the same way Day of Judgment types could. It’s just too slow to be the first or even second way you interact with a white aggro deck.

If we’re reliably interacting with Declaration in Stone, Silkwrap, Dead Weight, Foul-Tongue Invocation, Silumgar’s Scorn, and Ojutai’s Command (not to mention Jace), we’ve got very good chances of Descend naturally being the third or fourth spell to the party for us.

While exiling is nice, beating Archangel Avacyn and graveyard synergies, we really need to be getting the 4/4 flier most of the time to make the card worth it. Dead Weight actually helps quite a bit, since it provides a novel type and actually goes to the graveyard reliably (unlike something like Silkwrap, for instance).

It’s not time for Fox tribal yet…


Or, for seven mana, we could get Dragonlord Atarka.

Even if we got the Spirit automatically, we can do so much more for five mana in Constructed.

I think you’d have to really value Ethereal Guidance being a sorcery for it to be competitive with pumps like Always Watching; Gideon, Ally of Zendikar; and Retreat to Emeria.

Let’s just be clear that this one is probably a no-go; however, it does provide something relatively novel (a decent interactive instant that creates a Clue), so it’s worth having as a tool in our toolbox. I’m not sure how much you can press the Clues thing, or what aspects of it would increase the value of Expose Evil enough; but maybe if we took advantage of it as a way to get our Daring Sleuth in?

This list is trying pretty hard, but I’m not convinced there isn’t a good Clue-based strategy out there. I don’t know, but I would guess it involves Tireless Tracker.

I pray you aren’t expecting a pun here.

Too expensive for such a limited removal spell. Even if we were dedicated Clues, there’s just no way we’d be into this one.

For Draft. And Ox-themed decks.

I like where its head’s at, but Inspiring Captain just has too much stiff competition from things like Always Watching, Gideon, Retreat to Emeria, and so on.

Not enough rate for a card that doesn’t “do” anything.

Maybe if they print another Boros Reckoner-type card that can be a part of crazy combos if it gains indestructible. In general, it’s just too much of a parlay to need a creature on the battlefield that can attack each turn, and for them to have one or blockers that it’s effectively “blunting.” If you want to use Nahiri’s Machinations, I think you’ve got to value granting indestructible, perhaps with sweepers?

Now we’re talking. When it comes to producing Spirit tokens on the Flashback, Nearheath Chaplain does a great job. It’s not quite as efficient as Lingering Souls, but what is?

Maybe it’s part of a Jeskai Madness strategy with Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy; Nahiri, the Harbinger; Chandra, Flamecaller; and Lightning Axe for discard? Even Tormenting Voice isn’t the worst curve with the Chaplain. Maybe we’re supposed to play it in a Gather the Pack deck that values it as a creature and as a good card to “miss” when we only get one.

This is a very rough sketch, but it just highlights a few of the synergies we might find useful to keep in mind. Really, we’d need to find a way to get a good deal more power, or a better “best-case scenario,” when our synergies are working.

While I don’t have a use for Not Forgotten yet, I can’t help but wonder if there’s some way to use it as a “Time Walk” of sorts. When you are ahead, you can advance your battlefield (gain a 1/1 flier) while denying your opponent a new card next turn (maybe putting an Evolving Wilds on top of their library). When you’re behind, it’s just one mana more than Reclaim and gives you a 1/1 flier for your trouble.

The latest in a proud line of Soulflayers, Odric, Lunarch Marshal is largely about haste (Beastcaller Savant and Reckless Bushwacker?) and double damage (Arashin Foremost? Scourge Wolf?) but makes you want lifelink and flying. I don’t there’s enough support here, but I’ll be keeping an eye on it each time a new set comes out.

While there aren’t currently any Auras or Equipment I’d pay two in order to search up, it’s a cheap enough tutor that it should be kept in mind as new sets get printed.

I’m afraid this one’s chances of seeing play vanish by the time you get to the bottom of the text.

Limited on two major axes while not offering any upside.

I’m not sure if there’s a Nantuko Husk deck that actually wants another Husk badly enough to pay five and then do work for it; but Fallen Angel is a nice way to do it, since flying is exactly what you want on your Nantuko Husk.

The real powerhouse here is Westvale Abbey.

Westvale Abbey is a powerful option in creature-heavy decks that helps define what we need to be prepared for in this format. For instance, if we’re playing a Jund midrange deck, how will be deal with Westvale Abbey flipping? Clip Wings? To the Slaughter and arrange for it to work? Burn Away?

In general, Westvale Abbey is not so busted that it should be the colorless land everyone uses; however, it is more powerful than any of the other colorless lands in the format. This should make it the first one you consider when asking yourself what colorless lands might be right for your deck (assuming you’ve got room for a couple). It’s also a card with diminishing returns, so there is nothing wrong with playing one or two copies and making your other colorless land something else.

While the upside is nice, it’s expensive enough and limited enough that we’re going to have a hard time justifying this as part of our anti-creature package. That said, if you’re often killing creatures that cost four or more and are in the market to gain life, it’s not out of the question.

A Blinking Spirit, of sorts, Spectral Shepherd combines with Topplegeist and Rattlechains for some serious mondo-combos, as discussed in the Blue review.

I bet someone is going to find a home for this eventually, with or without Spectral Shepherd and Rattlechains. It’s just too efficient of a card to stay on the sidelines forever.

The best thing Stern Constable has going for it is just how cheap of a discard outlet it is. Maybe there’s some turbo-madness deck with Stern Constable, Indulgent Neonate, and Falkenrath Gorger at the one-spot. You could play Bloodmad Vampire faster than most, Nahiri as another discard outlet, Senseless Rage for instant-speed tricks, and possibly even Nearheath Chaplain as another reward for going to all this trouble looting.

A three-mana defensive trick that can only save one creature is a tough sell, even with a Clue thrown in as part of the deal. Of course, if we find a home for Survive the Night, it’s surely either taking advantage of the Clue-generation or part of an indestructible combo deck.

While I do love giving my team lifelink, Tenacity costs a mana more than Jeskai Charm and is (mostly) just locked into one mode of Jeskai Charm.

This card isn’t even good in Draft anymore, so I’m not loving its chances for Standard. If you do want to prove me wrong, you’ve probably already figured out to combine it with sacrifice effects. It’s kind of like a white Zulaport Cutthroat!

When you absolutely, positively, must pay five mana for two 1/1 fliers.

Primarily for Commander, Altered Ego is a totally passable Clone effect if you are getting at least a mana worth of value out of its “bonuses,” since Clone is actually only worth about three mana. The +1/+1 counters let us use our mana efficiently, though we’re not getting any kind of a special deal on them. It is kind of interesting, the ability to put +1/+1 counters on creatures that particularly appreciate them or ones that normally never get them. That it is uncounterable doesn’t mean much for Standard but could be useful against Ojutai’s Command.

Arlinn Kord is the biggest disappointment in the set for me. The card is fine, but it’s a pale imitation of Huntmaster of the Fells or Garruk Relentless. An extensive breakdown of the card can be found here. Here’s the most basic use, though:

Fevered Visions is a lot stronger than Howling Mine and is actually one of the most powerful Howling Mines ever printed. Compared to Howling Mine, it’s actually a cantrip. Howling Mine puts them up a card, then you are even, then they are up a card, and then you are even, and so on. Temple Bell at least gives you the cards at the same time, and with yours available to you first. It was more powerful than Howling Mine, despite costing three. Fevered Visions actually puts you up a card, and then they equalize.

Each time, though, they get the card too late to do anything with it. If they destroy the Fevered Visions, they aspire to break even in cards. If they want to draw the extra card from it, they have to take the damage at the same time (and it really is pretty challenging to stay under three, which is effectively where the line is, since if you have three, you draw a card and hit four, so you take the damage).

This brings up the “free” Black Vise we are getting, which is actually quite a bit more powerful. Black Vise needs you to stay at four cards or lower. Fevered Visions effectively needs you to get down to two (!) to avoid damage, which is hard to do when you are drawing two cards a turn.

While Fevered Visions started off as a control-killing sideboard card in Todd Anderson’s U/R Thing in the Ice deck, it has since moved on to maindeck status in some lists:

There is a lot to like in this U/R Pyromancer’s Goggles/Thing in the Ice deck, not the least of which is the interaction between Magmatic Insight and Drownyard Temple.

Drownyard Temple is more than just a land that “flashes back.” Because it goes straight onto the battlefield, it’s actually acceleration that ramps us straight into Goggles on turn 4 instead of waiting until turn 5. It’s not overwhelmingly busted (I hope…), but it’s a great roleplayer, helping flesh out U/R and B/G (The Gitrog Monster) decks.

Rarely have I ever seen such a mediocre card so impressively fool so many good players. This is a glorified Feast of the Unicorn! It costs a mana less, but it also doesn’t help on defense and costs two colors of mana. If this gave hexproof, it might be an obnoxious card. As it is, it’s seeing way more play than it should. Maybe there’s a deck out there that can put the extra bodies to work somehow, sacrificing them or something. I don’t know. I’m not saying this card is unplayable. I’m just saying, you’d better be doing something fancy with it, because just playing it “for value” adds a negative amount of value to your value pool.

I know people are a lot more focused on Sorin, Grim Nemesis and Arlinn Kord, but I actually think Nahiri, the Harbinger is going to show up in Constructed, too. Gaining two loyalty a turn is actually a pretty big deal, and there are enough synergies that looting is quite valuable. Jace is usually the biggest looting game in town, but if you’re not blue, Nahiri is probably the best option.

That she exiles tapped creatures is annoying in this world of Archangel Avacyn, Sylvan Advocate, and Bounding Krasis (to untap), but exiling enchantments is a super-awesome ability thrown in for “free,” giving us extra options against Always Watching.

Her ultimate is going to get a lot more exciting if Emrakul shows up in the next set (or soon), but even now, I’m excited at the prospect of searching up Goblin Dark-Dwellers; Linvala, the Preserver; Dragonlord Atarka; or Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger.

Vampires has yet to really materialize (carrying on Drana, Liberator of Malakir’s proud legacy), but here’s an attempt:

If we’re going to make Vampires work, we’ve got to figure out a way to not get outclassed by the white decks. Maybe we really just need to pivot towards Call the Bloodline plus Indulgent Aristocrat. I don’t know. At the moment, though, Vampires doesn’t look particularly well-positioned to me.

I haven’t found a Zombie deck I like yet, but I am interested in Prized Amalgam specifically, whether in Zombies or just some kind of Deathmist Raptor / Despoiler of Souls deck. A 3/3 for zero mana is awesome, particularly if it didn’t really “cost” us a card. Here’s a build that is too “pure” but may have some useful ideas:

Discarding Ghoulsteed is a great way to pay for Pale Riders or Heir of Falkenrath, and discarding Prized Amalgam is a great way to pay for the Ghoulsteed!

Okay, I get it. She protects all Humans… even you!

She doesn’t protect herself, though. So, if you want to get into Sigarda, hopefully it’s for her token-making ability, which is actually quite decent. A gold 4/5 flier isn’t trivial to get rid of, and the impact she has on the battlefield is surprisingly decent, particularly if you’ve milled yourself at all.

We discussed The Gitrog Monster at length, when discussing green cards, here. The short version is that a 6/6 deathtouch isn’t that far off for five-mana, but you do need something. Fortunately, if you build your deck to The Gitrog Monster, you get a pretty healthy reward quickly. Drownyard Temple, Mindwrack Demon, Gather the Pack, and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy are some of my favorite ways to trigger The Gitrog Monster.

Brain in a Jar is deceptively far from Aether Vial in terms of play experience. That it has to tick up to use makes it much more challenging to actually manage. That it costs mana to tick up means you have to use it several times to make up for your investment. As such, I think you really want to avoid using Brain in a Jar “fairly,” particularly since Kolaghan’s Command and Anguished Unmaking set you back so much.

You could really value it as a “storage land,” or as a fixer, but I think the most compelling uses are the mondo combos. For instance, if you Brain in a Jar Day’s Undoing on your opponent’s end step, you completely negate the drawback. Day’s Undoing only ends the turn if it was your turn, so it even goes to the graveyard, meaning you never have to stop.

Thing in the Ice is another super-exciting card with Day’s Undoing, since removing the fourth counter with Day’s Undoing bounces all the other creatures just in time for them to be shuffled away. It may seem strange to use Compelling Deterrence in a deck without Zombies, but it’s no worse than Disperse (which works well with Day’s Undoing).

How desperate are you for two-cost acceleration? Cards like Duress, Fiery Impulse, and Traverse the Ulvenwald are the dream, of course, so that you ramp straight into four mana on turn 3. So far, I’ve not found the deck that wants this effect badly enough, but I could imagine some kind of a Jeskai deck, maybe. It is kind of sweet to accelerate Chandra down faster than people are expecting. It’s just hard to do better than Drownyard Temple.

Corrupted Grafstone is particularly nice at giving you your second red, second blue, or second white, since you typically needed to have one to have played the card in the first place. That said, if you Jace away a red spell, you can get your first red from Corrupted Grafstone in a meaningful way.

You can’t possibly need a Soldevi Digger that badly. If you did, you should probably play Seasons Past instead.

Good idea, as it would be great to have some removal that puts an artifact into your graveyard. However, as is often the case, it’s just a bit too much mana.

Cool concept, but we wouldn’t want a three-mana 2/2 that draws a card when it dies, and Harvest Hand is exactly that, except the card we draw is a zero-cost Equipment that gives +1/+1 with an equip cost of two (and that often grants menace). That is not an attractive enough piece of Equipment to be worth a card, as it is less efficient than Bone Saw.

Too much mana for this mix of abilities (and with no stats); however, if you are doing some kind of a crazy combo and need to give something haste, I suppose it’s an option.

From the makers of Seer’s Lantern comes… Magnifying Glass!

Is it time for Ghirapur Aether Grid?!

This list is a good example of some of lists I build in testing houses, when I’m not intending to be “tuning” this list for tournament play or anything. It’s more just an opportunity to see how a lot more of the new cards work together, to get a better feel for which interactions are more powerful than they appear on the surface. How do the games generally play out? If I were trying to build a Ghirapur Aether Grid and Clues deck for real, I think it’d likely revolve around Tireless Tracker, with either Erdwal Illuminator / Ongoing Investigation or Bygone Bishop / Thraben Inspector for support (although Ulvenwald Mysteries is pretty compelling, too).

It’s probably not good enough, but Wild-Field Scarecrow is the exact sort of unassuming Gnarled Mass card that might turn out to be barely fringe-playable in the right spot. Its body is quite practical for fighting 2/1s and living through Radiant Flames, it’s an artifact for our synergies, and it’s a fixer that doesn’t require us playing an all-tapped manabase. It even provides card advantage.

Drawing an extra card a turn for two mana isn’t the worst, but in a dedicated Clue deck, Tamiyo’s Journal is one of the biggest pay-offs. Sacrificing Clues to the Journal is still sacrificing them, so we still get bonuses like those of Tireless Tracker, Graf Mole, and Ulvenwald Mysteries.

If your deck has Part the Waterveil in it and you reach a state where you can make two other Clues a turn, you can just take as many turns as you want!

Assuming you want four or fewer extra turns?

Am I interested in discarding a card instead of paying mana? Yes, yes I am. Am interested in doing it at a terrible rate and getting next to nothing for my troubles?

Eh, miss me with that.

A bargain at half the price!

But it doesn’t cost half the price, right? Doesn’t it cost 100% the price?

Yeah, and at half that, the card would have been a bargain! Full retail? Not a chance.

Disturbing? Yes. Playable? Less so.

Now, let me get this straight. You use the Key to bin the Skeleton and then you pick it back up?

You use the Key to bin the Skeleton. Then you feel better.

But don’t put the Key onto the Skeleton, or then you messed up.

You use the Key to bin the Skeleton, and maybe Call the Bloodline

You can Call the Bloodline on your opponent’s turn, I’ll tell you what to do.

Then Call the Bloodline on your own turn, I’ll tell you what to do…

It’s just too expensive to operate, I think. Equipment doesn’t have to be as powerful as Sword of Feast and Famine to be playable, but it should be better than this.

While it’d generally be pretty sweet to have a cheaper early defender like this that transforms into a threat later, this one is too expensive to operate and too awkward with its stats. It’s too easy to get blown out by Fiery Impulse or whatever. I do like that it’s an artifact, though…

Just not enough rate, nor are we in the market to pay a premium for vigilance.

Very cool, simple design that really adds texture to the Limited format. Unfortunately, nowhere close to good enough for Constructed.

The Shadow lands are great in aggressive strategies, letting you curve out more often. Don’t be afraid to cut some or all of these from three-color midrange or control decks. They may ensure you’ve got access to two mana on turn 2, but they tend to decrease the chances that you’ve got four mana on turn 4. You’ve got to play them before your Battle lands when your plan is to show your opponent your Battle lands, but then they slow down the turn at which Battle lands become “free,” since that’s one less basic.

These are a necessary evil sometimes. As a note, in two-color allied decks, you’ll often want to use Evolving Wilds instead of one of these, since Evolving Wilds “untaps” your Battle lands. It also helps get Jace and delirium online more quickly.

When you need another Evolving Wilds so badly, you’re willing to pay a premium…

Generally, you want to avoid Warped Landscape at the moment, but there could come a future deck that wants to maximize its mana entering the battlefield untapped in the mid-game.

Okay, Rietzl and LSV are calling me back to the lab. They said if I don’t break it, I don’t get any chicken. The Pro Tour is just days away, and Enter the Battlefield,” the documentary Nate Holt and Shawn Kornhauser made about Magic, featuring me and several other awesome people, is also being shown for the first time April 25th at noon. Definitely check that out!

SCG States April 23-24!