Hello everybody, and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week, with our longest show ever (almost 28 minutes!), we’re going to be taking a look at the extensive Shadowmoor Cube Update, my Top 8 performance in the Nashville PTQ over the weekend, and take a final look at the Eventide spoiler and all its goodies to prepare ourselves for this weekend’s Prerelease. Let’s go!
Text Only Section: Data Recovery Update
There is no word yet from the data recovery specialists, but we did raise over $1,200 in the auctions! Thanks so much for your support, and as soon as I know something more I’ll let you know.
Shadowmoor Cube Update
So it’s that time again, just before the new set is released, and as such we need to go and revisit the cube.
This update will encompass quite a few changes. I’ve changed no less than half a dozen cards for each color, consulted other cubes out there, and tried to really define what I wanted each color to be good at. Since the cube is this huge, organic thing, it can easily go in one direction or another, and sometimes you have to stand back and figure out what you want each piece to do. The cube grew by 30 cards in this update, with five additional lands and the creation of an entirely new section, hybrid cards.
Let’s begin with White.
White Drops: Shining Shoal, Reprisal, Judge Unworthy, True Believer, Militia’s Pride, Order of Leitbur, Glory, Flickering Ward, Sunlance
White Additions: Twilight Shepherd, Prison Term, Radiant’s Judgment, Blade of the Sixth Pride, Feudkiller’s Verdict, Soltari Visionary, Celestial Crusader, Spectral Procession, Pianna, Nomad Captain
This update I like to call the White Weenie That Could, as a lot of the slower cards are removed such as Glory and Shining Shoal, while emphasizing the two most powerful archetypes for White cards: Weenies and Control. I basically switched Reprisal for the Cycling version in Radiant’s Judgment, while the do-mostly-nothing True Believer was replaced with Blade of the Sixth Pride, a most definite aggro upgrade.
One of my favorite additions is Soltari Visionary. I found this guy while looking at other cube lists, specifically Kenny Mayer’s, as this guy fills an important role: Destroying enchantments each turn. A cube is only as good as its design and intent, and having an aggressive answer to your opponent’s now available Prison Term seems pretty solid to me.
Pianna, Nomad Captain and Celestial Crusader come in to further the idea that you’re supposed to be tromping across the field with little White dudes that only get scarier. Ideally this will be preceded by Three Dudes (aka Spectral Procession). Control decks get Twilight Shepherd and Feudkiller’s Verdict, both excellent cards to help slow down an opponent’s progress.
Next we tackle Blue.
Blue Drops: Tradewind Rider, Fathom Trawl, Spell Snare, Guile, Delay, Mystical Teachings
Blue Additions: Serendib Efreet, Dominate, Legacy’s Allure, Pestermite, Ponder, Repeal, Rishadan Airship, Tinker
This update gives Blue a lot of tools that help define its controlling nature. I wanted Blue to be more clearly defined and I think this update helps a lot with that.
The drops were a little tough, with the most difficult decision being Spell Snare and Tradewind Rider. Both of them serve their purpose well, but Tradewind Rider was consistently very difficult to activate or keep alive long enough to do so. It couldn’t deal a lot of evasion damage and it rarely made final builds, so other cards that I felt would be more difficult choices came in. Fathom Trawl would certainly slide into a larger cube with ease, along with Mystical Teachings and Guile. But with our limited number of cards and the new focus on how colors behave, I’d rather Blue gravitate towards library manipulation in Ponder, creature control with Dominate and Legacy’s Allure, and with some efficient creatures in the form of Pestermite, Rishadan Airship, and Serendib Efreet.
And now, Black cube changes.
Black Drops: Contagion, Sudden Death, Carnophage, Grinning Demon, Faceless Butcher, Phyrexian Negator, Dark Ritual, Echoing Decay
Black Additions: Barter in Blood, Faerie Macabre, Zombie Cutthroat, Bane of the Living, Skinthinner, Puppeteer Clique, Makeshift Mannequin, Decree of Pain
Black is the color in which we kill things. We kill things and we’re hella sneaky. One of the most pertinent additions has to be Zombie Cutthroat. I feel a bit ashamed at not having him in here for so long, as a 3/4 morph that can go into any deck is definitely awesome and should not be overlooked. This also led to Skinthinner and Bane of the Living coming into the cube, as I wanted more morphs than just Exalted Angel and Vesuvan Shapeshifter.
I also upgraded a few removal spells. Barter in Blood replaces the frequent pass out Contagion, and Echoing Decay was in here for one card: Rude Awakening. I think that Decree of Pain is both a better answer to Rude Awakening and much more playable.
Considering that Black should be the color of reanimation, we also added in the best Zombify ever, Makeshift Mannequin, along with the devastating Puppeteer Clique. This rewards you for playing Black, as you crush them with Barter in Blood only to bring back their best fatty next turn.
Next up is Red:
Red Drops: Shard Volley, Pact of the Titan, Shattering Pulse, Frenzied Goblin, Shivan Dragon, Scorched Rusalka, Fireball, Earthquake, Goblin Sharpshooter
Red Additions: Sonic Burst, Flame Javelin, Rack and Ruin, Keldon Vandals, Keldon Champion, Magus of the Scroll, Beacon of Destruction, Rolling Earthquake, Chain Lightning
In regards to Red, I wanted to give them a more immediate feel. First I replaced both Fireball and Earthquake to what I consider to be the best Red X spell ever, Rolling Earthquake. Do note we still have Demonfire in the cube as our Fireball portion of Red. In regards to its creatures, while Scorched Rusalka and Frenzied Goblin were cute and all, they simply don’t have the reach and power of Magus of the Scroll and Keldon Champion, who is almost like a mini Cap’n Tickles himself. Speaking of Keldons, Keldon Vandals are another role-filler, giving you both a 4/1 beater and an answer to good artifacts in one card. The prevalence of cards like Scroll Rack and Crystal Shard were telling me that more answers were necessary, and the Vandals definitely provide it.
Finishing these changes, I wanted to give Red more direct burn in the form of Chain Lightning and Beacon of Destruction, while Sonic Burst is ridiculously efficient and Flame Javelin will probably see play across a variety of archetypes.
We round out the colors now with Green cards:
Green Drops: Kamahl, Fist of Krosa, Quagnoth, Skyshroud Elite, Changeling Titan, Constant Mists, Defense of the Heart, Pattern of Rebirth, Crop Rotation, Nostalgic Dreams
Green Additions: Pouncing Jaguar, Imperious Perfect, Iwamori of the Open Fist, Vigor, Tooth and Nail, Farseek, Plow Under, Restock, Primal Command
In this update, we really redefine what Green is all about: Creatures, creatures, and more creatures. Specifically, we want more aggressive creatures and big, splashy spells. Green should be both immediate and able to play big spells with all of the mana they generate. We added power in the form of Pouncing Jaguar, Imperious Perfect, Iwamori and Vigor. Big spells were added in the form of Tooth and Nail, Plow Under aka The Most Unfun Card Ever, Restock, and Primal Command. Crop Rotation wasn’t seeing quite the play we were expecting, so it was replaced with Farseek which should help with the insane manabases seen in cube drafts.
I removed a few big creatures that never saw play, such as Kamahl and Quagnoth, while getting rid of silly enchantments and whatnot that weren’t really giving Green the flavor I was looking for (Defense of the Heart, Pattern of Rebirth). G/R Aggro is one of my favorite archetypes to draft, so I wanted to give this color tools for that archetype while still allowing big mana decks to abuse cards like Tooth and Nail and Primal Command.
We now move on to Artifacts:
Artifact Adds: Grim Poppet, Lurebound Scarecrow, Engineered Explosives, Razormane Masticore
Artifact Drops: Akroma’s Memorial, Memnarch, Deathrender, Forcefield
In this update I definitely wanted to switch out Ze Goggles, aka Akroma’s Memorial, as no one ever played with the thing and it had been hanging around for too long. Deathrender was a neat idea but didn’t work out, Memnarch was just too much mana 90% of the time, and Forcefield is just an un-fun card. I’d rather give the colors more power and answers than have someone sit behind a three mana artifact all day.
That said, the additions all provide some utility to a variety of archetypes. Grim Poppet is a control player’s dream, the reverse Triskelion we all enjoy, while Lurebound Scarecrow is wonderfully aggressive and Razormane Masticore is Yet Another Card That Makes Squee Awesome. And there is nothing wrong with that.
Regarding the Land section of the cube, I have modified nothing other than adding the five â€˜Cairns lands’ from Shadowmoor. These five additions up the total land count to 60.
Up next are the Multicolor cards. This section has been switched up quite a bit due to Shadowmoor block. With just so many awesome hybrid cards in Shadowmoor, plus the existence of hybrid cards in Ravnica block, I decided it was now time for the Multicolor section to be multicolor only, meaning no hybrid mana symbols anywhere in the cost. This gives us the following updates:
U/W Drops: Azorius Guildmage, Court Hussar
U/W Additions: Cloud Cover, Teferi’s Moat
U/B Drops: Wydwen, the Biting Gale
U/B Additions: Recoil
G/R Drops: Giant Solifuge
G/R Additions: Fires of Yavimaya
B/R Drops: Strangling Soot; Wort, Boggart Auntie
B/R Additions: Hellhole Rats, Wrecking Ball
U/G Drops: Coiling Oracle
U/G Additions: Temporal Spring
While a lot of these cards are dropped, some have simply been moved to the Hybrid section we’ll cover next. In regards to these additions, I’m really curious how annoying Cloud Cover can/will be, the power of Hellhole Rats against those big mana control decks, and Temporal Spring is another attempt to find a decent U/G card. While there are plenty of U/G hybrids coming our way, the U/G multicolor cards leave much to be desired. Yavimaya Embrace, anyone? Lastly Wrecking Ball makes its way back into the cube as an answer to annoying lands above all, while at the same time giving you another creature removal spell.
Now let’s talk about the new hybrid section. We’ll take this one section at a time.
U/W Hybrid: Augury Adept, Azorius Guildmage, Mirrorweave, Mistmeadow Witch, Plumeveil
U/W Hybrids give a little to each color, though I believe White Weenie will probably benefit the most. Augury Adept and Azorius Guildmage are No Joke, while Mirrorweave is an excellent weenie finisher. Mistmeadow Witch and Plumeveil, however, are excellent answers to a variety of decks, with Plumeveil keeping aggro in check while Mistmeadow Witch will demolish a mid-range deck and can let you get the most use out of 187 creatures.
G/W Hybrid: Kitchen Finks, Mercy Killing, Oversoul of Dusk, Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers, Wilt-Leaf Liege
This section gives us the clear best G/W hybrid card, Kitchen Finks, followed by the next best one, Oversoul of Dusk. Both of these creatures are very powerful and I expect to be picked quite highly. Mercy Killing gives White and Green players the rare creature removal spell, and the Wilt-Leaf twins rock the combat step and contribute highly to both a G/W and G/R aggro strategy.
G/R Hybrid: Boartusk Liege, Boggart Ram-Gang, Firespout, Giant Solifuge, Tattermunge Maniac
Ah yes, probably my favorite hybrid group, and not just because it contains Cap’n Tickles. This archetype got a huge speed boost not only with this new hybrid section but in the structure of the Green and Red sections of the cube. G/R Sligh has always been a tremendously powerful cube archetype and I only expect it to be grow from here.
R/B Hybrid: Ashenmoor Gouger, Ashenmoor Liege, Fulminator Mage, Murderous Redcap, Rakdos Guildmage
The Rakdos colors are here, and I’m trying out a few of the scarier looking options. While I think the Guildmage, Murderous Redcap, and Fulminator Mage are the slam dunks in this category, it is the Ashenmoor creatures that are the most interesting to me. I like how the Liege makes your opponent almost solely rely on mass removal, and is a great answer to Crystal Shard, one of the most powerful weapons in the cube. The Gouger, of course, is just huge and I hope he’ll make an impact in both B/R and G/R aggro archetypes.
Lastly, the B/U Hybrids: Dimir Guildmage; Inkfathom Infiltrator; Memory Plunder; Oona, Queen of the Fae; Sygg, River Cutthroat
These guys define the sneaky and powerful Black with cards like Inkfathom Infiltrator and Memory Plunder while giving control decks their Big Perm (Oona, Queen of the Fae) and Dimir Guildmage for long-game domination. Finally, Sygg, River Cutthroat should fit in the aggressive R/B archetype very nicely.
And so there you have it. The cube has grown by thirty cards, almost 7%, and we have both new lands and an entirely new multicolor section to show for it. This latest round of tweaks comes as a result of many, many cube sessions since the release of Shadowmoor, and I believe they will only do good things to the greatest format ever created.
I hope this section was informative and if you’re thinking about starting your own cube, now’s the time.
PTQ Top 8, Baby
This past Saturday I moseyed my way down to Nashville and was, as usual, looking for a deck to play. I had originally wanted to play Faeries, because it’s so far and away the best deck it’s not even funny anymore, and my red lightsaber just showed up in the mail.
That said, Faeries was a no-go. Almost every friend of mine was playing it anyway, and as such all of the precious Bitterblossoms, Mistbind Cliques, and Blue Wrath of Gods were all tied up. So that left a few options. One was the Quick N’ Toast decks, which are generally just Makeshift Mannequin and a bunch of good creatures. Secondly was Elementals, which has morphed itself so badly I don’t even really recognize it anymore. Now it’s a Reveillark Bitterblossom Mannequin Fulminator Toast…Thing, and I just don’t get it.
So, that left Kithkin. And being the aggro playing junkie that I am, I warmed right up to it. Here’s the list I played:
- 4 Burrenton Forge-Tender
- 3 Cloudgoat Ranger
- 4 Goldmeadow Stalwart
- 4 Knight of Meadowgrain
- 2 Mirror Entity
- 4 Wizened Cenn
- 2 Thistledown Liege
This list was designed by Phillip Dickman and Tillman Bragg, a few Nashville playing buddies of mine who had some interesting inclusions.
The best was, by far, Militia’s Pride. This is a card that hasn’t been seen in winning Kithkin lists for awhile, and the ability to pump tokens out each turn thanks to Mutavault activations was definitely nice and led to a few game wins. Mirror Entity is the other breakout here, but honestly, he would’ve been better as a third Crib Swap and another Thistledown Liege.
Crib Swap was probably my MVP for the day. It simply deals with so much. Cloudthreshers, Horde of Notions, Chameleon Colossus, the list goes on and on. At the beginning of the season I would say that Oblivion Ring would be the easy call in the Kithkin deck, but with so many Wispmares and the like running around, Crib Swap is where it’s at.
Regarding the sideboard, Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tenders were swapped with Goldmeadow Harriers against decks that didn’t run Firespout, and the two Oblivion Rings should’ve been Ajani Goldmane. I couldn’t find two before the tournament began and I never really needed them anyway. Brigid, Hero of Kinsbaile is the real mirror technology, with Pollen Lullaby still winning the tempo wars, and Wispmare coming in for the Faeries matchup.
Here’s my report in brief:
Round 1 I played a guy sporting G/W Little Kid. This is the G/W deck with lots of dudes, Shield of the Oversoul, and generally more dudes. After losing the first one quickly I was afraid of going the ol’ 0-2 drop, so I tightened my play and took games 2 and 3 easily.
Round 2 I’ll admit to playing like an absolute donkey. Aggro decks are, admittedly, easier to play than the Quick N’ Toast deck I was faced against, but you still have to make good decisions. I failed to play my Windbrisk Heights when it was clearly the land to play — twice – and a bunch of little mistakes piled up and sent me into the X-1 bracket.
Round 3 I played against a friendly Goblins player. He wanted to play Goblins because no one else was playing them. Unfortunately he found out why. Their threats are simply not as powerful or conducive to a winning strategy, like Kithkin or Faerie strategies are. Even Shaman, I believe, are more powerful than Goblins, and as such I quickly swept this match 2-0.
Round 4 was the killer. I had ran out to my car for something, and as I returned I noticed everyone had already sat down to play. Crap. 2-1 and now I’ve got a free game loss. But I was not going to be deterred. I was determined to not only do well, but to win this match. I was going to make it happen. I was convinced of it.
I sat down as I was given my free game loss from the judge.
In Game 1, er, Game 2 I was in big trouble. He was running a funky Faeries deck and had Makeshift Mannequin’d Big Perm (Oona, Queen of the Fae). One activation would pretty much seal my fate at that point. Then he said the immortal words:
“Oona for four, naming blue. Er, no, I mean white!”
This is where you have to be a little bit of a… well… stickler for the rules. Misclicking in real life does actually happen, and it happened here. Considering my back was against the wall and I had just gotten a game loss for tardiness, I was not about to let him take it back. On the top of my deck I flipped over three White creatures and a Plains. At that point the tempo was getting too much from him, and it was on the next turn in which I discovered one of the sickest, most unfair interactions in block.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to go into my Declare Attackers step staring down Cryptic Command mana and fretting because I can’t beat the Blue Wrath of God.
Then I notice something. And interesting interaction. I call over the head judge.
“Judge,” I ask him, “what happens when I Mirrorweave a Mutavault?”
“All other creatures become a copy of Mutavault,” he tells me, “that are just Mutavaults, not 2/2 shapeshifters.”
This, Magic players, is the key to success against the Fae. No longer will their Cryptic Commands stop you! Here’s what happened:
With him at six life, I go to my declare attackers step. He Cryptic Commands, tapping my guys and bouncing something. In response I Mirrorweave my activated Mutavault, tap that same Mutavault for mana, then allow Cryptic Command to resolve, and use the floating mana plus the rest of my resources to turn my team of unactivated Mutavaults into activated 2/2 shapeshifters, which then kill him.
In Game 3 I’m in almost the exact same situation except he has double Cryptic Command and I have a ton of guys on the board due to Spectral Procession and Cloudgoat Ranger. And, thanks to the Mirrorweave and Mutavault interaction, I win this game before even one Cryptic Command has a chance to ruin me.
If there was anything I took away from this tournament, it is this interaction. Use it wisely.
“Wow,” he told me afterwards, “I thought I had that game wrapped up. I mean, I had two Cryptic Command!”
Could this be the anti-Blue Wrath technology?
In Round 5 I can’t remember what I played, but it must not have taken long. That’s really all I got for this round.
In Round 6 I played up, meaning I played a 5-0 guy while my 4-1 record was looking good. He was playing Elementals and got stuck on just a few lands in game 1, and any hiccups against Kithkin are just game over. In Game 2 he had a better start, but he couldn’t go beyond four lands in that one and it too was over quickly.
In Round 7 I played the mirror against a player who wasn’t very good at playing the mirror. It didn’t take long to out-Mirrorweave him to victory.
After drawing into Top 8, I played my Round 6 matchup again. This time, he got the lands he was looking for and I didn’t have the Crib Swap for his Horde of Notions in Game 1. In Game 2 it came down to me Mirrorweaving his Reveillark with Cloudthresher’s ability on the stack to bring back all of my guys, destroy his Cloudthresher and leave him with a Reveillark, three Incandescent Soulstokes, and me at 9 life. He then, of course, ripped the Mulldrifer, put it into play with Soulstoke, and flew over for the win.
However, I could’ve also Mirrorweaved a Spectral Procession Dude token, which would’ve left us both in topdeck mode, and me at 9 life. While he may have ripped the Mulldrifter the next turn, it would’ve given me a much better chance at winning the game than hoping he had no fliers in hand. Oh well, just your basic second guessing after a PTQ Top 8 loss.
I hope you guys enjoy the Mirrored Mastery that I threw down in Nashville, and encourage you to play it as well, if that’s your thing…or if you can’t find any Cryptic Commands.
The Final Eventide Spoiler Update
Okay everybody, Eventide is officially here and we’re going to run down a few of my favorites.
First, a correction from last week: The prerelease foil is not, in fact, Figure of Destiny. That is the Release foil, not the Prerelease foil. The Prerelease foil is this highly sexy Overbeing of Myth. A neat card in casual play, but I drool for my Figure of Destiny in a few weeks. Also, Nobilis of War does not have Haste, which would’ve been absolutely ridiculous, but rather flying. And to that I say, meh.
Anyway, on to the spoilers!
Our kick ass new Wrath of God, Hallowed Burial, is up first.
Put all creatures on the bottom of their owners’ libraries.
This was the last card spoiled from the set, and boy is it a doozy. This Super Wrath of God takes care of all the recursion-based creatures in this block and ensures that those Makeshift Mannequin decks with their toast and their jelly don’t get any reanimation targets. This will easily be one of the chase rares from the set and a staple in control decks for years to come – or, at least as long as Persist keeps rocking the environment.
Next up is Devin Low’s July 4th spoiler, Light From Within. Now if you’re like me you probably said, “oh, that’s an interesting sorcery, just another White pump…” and then you noticed it said Enchantment on it. Holy crap, I believe we just found the best Glorious Anthem ever. This is the perfect 4-drop to one of the best 3-drops ever:
Creature – Goblin Soldier
Hobgoblins are best left alone. They sharpen their farm implements far more than is necessary for their work in the fields.
Illus. Stephen Belledin
A 5/5 Double Striker on Turn 4 much? Sure it’s the nut draw, but Light from Within is No Joke. This rewards White Weenie players for playing, well, White Weenie creatures. The deal-breaker may be that it doesn’t pump your 3 dudes or Militia’s Pride tokens, but we’ll see about that.
Up next is Quillspike. This very innocent looking 1/1, I believe, could be very, very powerful. Why? One creature. Devoted Druid. Second turn Devoted Druid, third turn Quillspike means that, at instant speed, until Devoted Druid dies, Quillspike is an infi/infi. That’s powerful stuff.
Speaking of good tournament rares, remember that Wizards always gives Mike Flores what they feel will be a powerful tournament rare, and they got one in Talara’s Battalion:
Creature – Elf Warrior
Play Talara’s only if you played another green spell this turn.
So, this guy is a complete ass-whipping. He’s like a powered up Wren’s Run Vanquisher, and you know how popular he’s been lately. Talara’s Battalion is the perfect follow-up to a Manamorphose or Garruk Wildspeaker, using his untap ability to drop the Batallion directly afterwards. If you pay attention to those wacky eBay auctions you’ll learn pretty quickly these guys are in hot demand, and will remain so for some time. Get yours quickly so your G/R aggro deck doesn’t suffer in the meantime.
As for good Red cards, check out Unwilling Recruit. This was one of the cards in the Eventide Preview Pack, and it’s really, really good. Check it out:
Gain control of target creature until end of turn. Untap that creature. It gets +X/+0 and gains haste until end of turn.
Note that the target doesn’t have to be an opponent’s creature. This allows this card to be a bad Enrage if necessary. Also note how it wrecks cards that normally stop the Mono Red decks in their tracks, like Reveillark or an opponent dropping a huge fatty. Now you can take it and swing with it and Fireball their face accordingly. That’s all kinds of saucy.
Lastly I’ll cover what I believe is a real sleeper in the set, Ward of Bones:
Ward of Bones
Each opponent who controls more creatures than you can’t play creature cards. The same is true for artifacts, enchantments and lands.
This looks like a very un-fun card with a ton of potential. The key to this annoyance is that it prevents your opponents from playing lands. Now we all know how much fun land destruction is to play with and against, and at six mana they certainly pushed this pretty hard. That said, in Vintage this looks like a Goblin Tinker target, and could be quite the star in Extended or even Standard.
Essentially you could run a near mono-White control deck, Prison Term one of their dudes, play this, then Armageddon with Boom/Bust. Worse, if you do get the Armageddon/Arrest combo off, if you have more cards in your library you could simply sit back and let them lose. And while that sounds like the exact opposite of fun, it sounds great to a Spike: Hey, I win and I don’t even have to strategize! This is awesome!
So that’s the Eventide spoilers this go â€˜round. I hope you’ve enjoyed the spoiler season as much as I have. Of course, as the prerelease occurs more breakout cards will appear, and you know just where they’ll pop up.
I thank you for watching, and hope you join me here next week for the prerelease show. We’ll have lots to talk about. So until next time Magic players, this is Evan Erwin, tapping the cards…so you don’t have to.
Evan “misterorange” Erwin
dubya dubya dubya dot misterorange dot com
eerwin +at+ gmail +dot+ com
Written while reading the last few spoilers to complete Eventide. This set looks great!