The Magic Show #87 – Shadowmoor Rising

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Friday, March 14th – Hello everybody and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week we’re going to take a peek inside our first Shadowmoor pack, detail the push for new player acquisition and complete assimilation of the planet Earth in the name of Magic, learn some details about this fall’s upcoming expansion, discuss the current Extended environment, and more. Let’s go! SPOILER WARNING

Hello everybody and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week we’re going to take a peek inside our first Shadowmoor pack, detail the push for new player acquisition and complete assimilation of the planet Earth in the name of Magic, learn some details about this fall’s upcoming expansion, discuss the current Extended environment, and more. Let’s go!

In this week’s first segment we see what much-hyped mechanic is returning for Shadowmoor: Hybrid mana! Yes! Now that’s a beloved mechanic right there. Super duper flavorful, the frames are just badass, and while we may not have guilds any longer, take a look at Beseech The Queen. 2/B? Oh man! That is awesome!

Let’s explore a little ‘What If?’ for a moment. Beseech The Queen, whatever this card ends up being, can go in any deck. It’s righteous in a mono-Black build, whether that be one drafted or constructed, but in a pinch you could play it for 2BB, 4B, or six colorless mana and get the same effect. The design space for this is just huge. I’m sure the instant Mark Rosewater got the okay to use different hybrid amounts he was leaping with joy.

The question is, can you have another number besides 2 in there? It would make sense that if 2/B is okay, then 3/B will work as well. This allows for really interesting spells such as this one:

Hybrid Giant Growth
Target creature gets +3/+3 until end of turn.

Playable in any deck, just excellent in the Green ones. Man, Rosewater really wasn’t kidding when he said a few weeks ago that this block would end up being the most dynamic drafting environment ever. It’s like he took everything we loved about Ravnica drafting – the mixing, the matching, the colorful manabases – and delivered us even more ways of playing different colored spells. Incredible.

Another one of the big questions we await an answer for is: What exactly is Beseech the Queen’s converted mana cost? Does it deal about a hundred when you reveal it with Dark Confidant, or just three? Can you pick and choose? Can you transmute from three to six mana as you like? This will be a very interesting topic, and a question that will be both asked and answered all day long at the prerelease. I can only hope they plaster magicthegathering.com with the ruling so people can get it in their heads. I hope.

In this pack we got to see a few interesting themes and trends coming in Shadowmoor. For example, check out this badass black elemental, or how about the blue Kithkin, who apparently are the “Kinscaer” or something. The uncommon reveals a white Elf, which will be plenty interesting, and this all shows how tribes are being shifted around because of the Aurora.

Other cards in the pack that stand out are Scar, which may tell of -1/-1 counter theme, Lurebound Scarecrow for being, well, a friggin Scarecrow, which as we know is just badassery, and we couldn’t talk about these Shadowmoor previews without discussing the lone spoiler, Demigod of Revenge.

Now for some, you say, holy crap, a 5/4 hasty flier for five mana! That’s fantastic! And others say, “Yeah, and it brings back his dead copies as well!” But to those who sling the cardboard tournament style, they focus on this fact:

Take a careful look at his wording. Even if Demigod of Revenge is countered, when you play him, all of his dead copies are coming back. No matter what.

And that, my friends, is powerful stuff. For a five mana creature, particularly one of the red or black variety, if you want to displace the current king of the five mana creature throne, Siege-Gang Commander, you better be damn good early and damn good late. And thanks to this Cryptic Command-proof monster, we may have gotten our wish.

And say, isn’t Buried Alive in Extended for another six months or so?

To finish off this segment, I’ll continue a trend I began in Lorwyn and highlight some fantastic artwork that has been released from Shadowmoor.

[Image Montage]

Acquisition & Assimilation

So Wizards is officially having an acquisition push. This is what they define as, in the film industry, putting asses in seats. And that’s just what we plan on doing with Magic!

But… there’s a few issues. You see, Magic is sort of like a private club whose initiation rituals – the mana flood, the mana screw, the $50 Green monsters needed to be competitive – are sometimes more painful than their worth to some people. You want to give them something they know for context (Pokemon), but you don’t want to give them too much at once.

The incredible and soon-to-be-studying-in-Asia Henry T. Luce scholarship-winning powerhouse that is Zac Hill recently made a great case for Magic and perhaps the key to acquisition.

He discussed Magic in some way to each of the people he met regarding this scholarship, as Magic gave him perfect answers to “What would you do if you were dropped off in the middle of a foreign country?” or “What makes you think you’ll be able to form social networks where you don’t know a soul?” Magic enables not only the ability to see the world, but also learn how to interact and network with your fellow Magic players and become the best you can be.

Again we reach the same old argument: Don’t be ashamed of the game. And run like hell from any comparison to Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh. And be on the Magic Show so you can make your mom proud.

Oh, and here’s what I thought was an interesting point by the forum user luxgladius:

Paying attention to the story behind the game is about as silly to me as paying attention to the flavor behind chess.

“Okay, you’re this king, right? And you command this army of 16 pieces of 6 different types. You have a piece that represents you, but you kinda suck cause you’re all burdened down by bureaucracy. Your pawns are your foot soldiers, but they can only move really slow and attack weird. You have these knights and they’ve got horses so they can jump over other pieces and attack by flanking them…”

Honestly, who ever teaches chess like that? Shouldn’t be any different with Magic. You don’t say “You’re a wizard who casts spells to kill your other wizard opponent,” just play the game and let them feel out the flavor.

I think he’s exactly right. I mean, let’s take a minute and visit PlayMagic.com. If you want to learn Magic via YouTube, you’re setup with six videos. Here’s what they say on the first one:

“Magic is a strategy card game in which you take the role of a powerful wizard with the ability to summon creatures to fight for you. The goal is to reduce your opponent from 20 life down to zero before they do that to you.”

Now if you remove “take the role of a powerful wizard” etc away, and adjust the nomenclature from life to perhaps ‘life points’, this presents the game in a much different light.

However, I am not a Vorthos, and I really couldn’t care less about storylines. I believe to get people into the game, it’s important to focus on the mechanics of the game, and move along from there.

If we go back to the video, other than explaining that you’re a powerful mage and that you must take your opponent from twenty life to zero, there is no mention of how to actually play Magic. You’ll get to see what a booster pack is, and how starter decks are ready out of the box, but notice the title is Learn How To Play Magic. Except you have to get to the second video to actually begin doing that.

I’m not trying to pick on Wizards, I’m just trying to make a point. Sometimes storylines are cool, but we learn and play Magic because the game is fun, not because I imagine I’ve got on my robe and wizard hat.

Between ‘Rock’ and a Hard Place

This next segment is another view into the future of Magic, this time fast-forwarding into the ‘Rock’ expansion. There’s quotes around that word because it’s a codeword for what will inevitably be some interesting-sounding fantasy-esque name.

The denizens in the Rumor Mills have struck again, this time displaying two pages of a Wizards fall catalog and some very interesting artwork and details were divulged.

The first is that the block will take place on five planes. Don’t ask me what that means. The second fact is that Humans will be coming back. As you may have noticed, there are no Humans in Lorwyn, and it’s time they rocked the tabletop. Third, there is a class-based system of importance, from the Mages at the top to the Commoners at the bottom.

Last, the most important part of the Humans in this world is the physical characteristic of ‘filigree.’ This causes a person’s bodies/limbs to change shape into that of curving and twisting threads. The more magic you wield, the crazier the shape your body becomes.

As you can see, they certainly have an interesting shape. So far the speculation is that Lumithread Field is the Future Sight card from the Rock expansion, as it references ‘Ota’ and the ‘Bastian of Fields’ that could be the name of one of those planes. Looking at the creatures themselves you can see malformed entities and possibly an allusion to mana cost being important in the block. The more malformed the more magic involved, meaning powerful mages will have a higher mana cost and lesser ones will be cheaper.

For the speculators among us, this is just hog heaven. For the rest, it gives us an idea of what’s to come, and that it’s going to look badass.

Grand Prix: Philly Bound

Well, I did it, I agreed to drive nine hours to the city of brotherly love and hopefully not get killed along the way. Next week you’ll hear the skinny directly from those who attend, from the great Chapin to Sadin to Cheon to Kenji, if he shows up. We can only hope.

While you won’t be getting live updates you may wish to keep an eye on the coverage on magicthegathering.com, as some of my visit may appear there.

As for what to play or what will win? Beats me. My guess is that you’ll still see Doran, Red Deck Wins, TEPS, Next and Previous Level Blue, Dredge, and U/G Tron all in mass amounts. I doubt they’ll be any metagame breaking decks, rather hardcore pros who have been working vigilantly for weeks now trying to get the magical edge, the sideboard card, or the ultimate bluff that will get them to the winner’s circle.

That said, my bets on Cheon. That man is a Grand Prix winning machine, and a great guy to boot.

So you know I’ll be running around the site for the next few days, and be sure to say hello. It’s always nice to meet fans of the show.

Until next time Magic players, when I bring you the biggest and brightest stars of the game directly to your desktop, 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
Yes, Beseech the Queen is misspelled in the video. My apologies…

Music Credits:
Title — “Ten Ton Brick” by Hurt
Post-Intro — “Ghost” by Rogue Wave
Bumpers — “Lowlife” by Scanners
Image Montage — “The Jihad” by Brian Tyler from the Children of Dune Soundtrack