The Magic Show #90 – Shadowmoor or Less

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Friday, April 4th – Hello everybody, and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week we’re going to be talking about Shadowmoor, the new mechanics, the cool new cards, and what we can expect to shake up Pro Tour Hollywood. We’ll also be discussing Shards of Alara, the follow-up block to Lorwyn coming this fall. Warning: Spoilers

Hello everybody, and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week we’re going to be talking about Shadowmoor, the new mechanics, the cool new cards, and what we can expect to shake up Pro Tour Hollywood. We’ll also be discussing Shards of Alara, the follow-up block to Lorwyn coming this fall. Are you ready to do some fortune telling? Because it’s time for the Show to begin.

Rock Shards of Alara

So I’m back and I hope you enjoyed the coverage from Grand Prix: Philadelphia. First let’s talk about Shards of Alara. This was announced a week or so ago and has some really interesting aspects to it. The first is that the name just sounds awesome. Alara is very Arabian Nights-esque to me, and that’s not a bad thing.

Second, the slogan for the block, “Five Worlds Share One Fate” sounds very much like this will be a block with five planes, each focusing on a single color.

The other important thing to note, other than the symbol kinda looks like the Future Sight one, is that the base set is only 249 cards. Taking away the basic lands that would be included in the first set of a block, this leaves only 229 unique cards coming this fall. This certainly sounds like a small number for a base set to feature, so let’s look at the last few base sets and see if we can tell its significance.

Lorwyn featured 301 cards.
Time Spiral featured 301 cards and 121 reprints.
Ravnica featured 306 cards.
Champions of Kamigawa featured 306 cards.

So, what gives? It’s clear to me and others that this block may be the first ever to feature the same number of cards in each set. If the follow-ups to Shards of Alara are both 229 cards, then the total for unique cards would equal 687 cards. Time Spiral block, by comparison, was 761, and 121 of those cards were reprints, bringing the total unique card total to 640. Another popular theorem is that the first two sets will be the same size and cover four colors, while the last set of the block focuses on the last, ‘forgotten’, color.

I’m not sure about that last idea, but look at this huge list of designers on this set. It would make sense with that many designers and developers that the teams were segregated based on color, and designed each color in the block completely separate from the others. Sounds cool to me, with each color possibly getting their own mechanics and so forth.

Of course, very few details are available other than what has been speculated from this announcement. The Shadowmoor rumor season has been absolutely air tight, so I don’t expect any Shards of Alara cards or mechanics gracing us until August or September. But I’m certainly intrigued with what’s here so far.

Shadowmoor or Less

Okay, the rumor mills have opened! The floodgates have swung! The lines have been dropped! Let’s hit the ground running!
Oh, just a second here. Can someone at Wizards HQ please invest in a decent web hosting service? I mean, seriously, every spoiler season we get the same errors for twenty or more minutes after midnight while the server melts and has to be re-melted into place again. But I digress.

Shadowmoor has three new mechanics. We’ll cover the big one first. This was codenamed “Q” and will be used in shorthand to convey this action. What is this action? Untapping! Yes, untapping as cost. This is a subtle yet brilliant addition to the game. Suddenly every ability we’ve ever known to tap for an ability can now become a future card with Q instead and seem or play totally different than before. According to the Rumor Mill fiends, we’re only getting 11 cards with this mechanic in Shadowmoor, but it gets its own kick ass new symbol and should be incredibly interesting to play with.

Next we have Wither. Wither is fascinating because of its simple yet positively succinct reminder text: “This deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters.” Simple, powerful, and incredibly synergistic. Turns out that Shadowmoor has quite the -1/-1 counter them, as I had previously aluded to in past episodes, and we’ve got some really exciting cards to show for it. Here’s one to take a look at:

Scarscale Ritual
As an additional cost to play Scarscale Ritual, put a -1/-1 counter on a creature you control.
Draw two cards.

Hellllooo new tournament staple! Man, will this guy be everywhere. In a world where we drool over three mana draw two card spells such as Thirst for Knowledge or Compulsive Research, for a scant two mana you can net two cards without having to lose two life like Night’s Whisper or sacrifice a permanent a la Perilous Research. The spiciest combo I’ve heard yet includes playing this while you have Quirion Dryad out with at least one counter.

You see, they recently changed to the rules of the game to say that when a creature has both a +1/+1 counter and a -1/-1 counter on it at the same time, you remove both of those counters. As you can imagine, paying two mana to draw two cards in either Black or Blue is plenty playable, whether you get it for ‘free’ via Quirion Dryad or you simply sacrifice a Faerie token instead.

Before we move on from Wither, check out the first 2 colorless mana / colored mana hybrid card to be spoiled, what is currently being called Tower Over:

Tower Over*
2/G 2/G 2/G
(2/G may be paid with any combination of two mana or G. This card’s converted mana cost is 6.)
Until end of turn, target creature you control gets +4/+4 and gains Trample, Wither and “Whenever this creature attacks, target creature blocks this creature this combat if able.” (This deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters)

Now, if you haven’t figured it out yet, this card is a complete ass whoopin. Like few cards I’ve ever seen, particularly one that go in any deck, this will be the cause of many, many Limited games ending. Suddenly my guy gets massive and not only tramples over your best creature, but if it doesn’t for some reason kill it, or perhaps it has Lure such as throwing this bad boy down on Nath’s Elite, all of the damaged creatures are getting smaller as a result.

The key thing to remember about this card is, if this is the Green one, what do the rest look like? I’ll just go ahead and speculate the White one to suck, as White cards have done nothing but suck completely for years now. And per usual, the blue one is probably so retardedly good you’ll feel like you’re cheating paying six colorless mana for it.

Moving on, the last mechanic is Persist. Now we only have one example of Persist so far, and that’s in the form of Wingrattle Scarecrow:

Wingrattle Scarecrow
Artifact Creature — Scarecrow
Wingrattle Scarecrow has flying as long as you control a blue creature.
Wingrattle Scarecrow has persist as long as you control a black creature. (When this creature is put into a graveyard from play, if it had no -1/-1 counters on it, you may return it to play under its owner’s control with a -1/-1 counter on it.)

Now as you can tell this is Limited fodder at its best, but it does show us what Persist is and could be with all those crazy -1/-1 counters running around. Turns out the guys with Persist will probably be the first bestowed with -1/-1 counters. I’m curious what a scary rare with Persist may look like.

So let’s take a look at some more interesting rares.

The first is what Balduvian Horde always wanted to be, in the form of Candlefang Cremator:

Candlefang Cremator*
Creature – Giant Shaman
When Candlefang Cremator comes into play, discard a card at random. If you discard a creature card this way, Candlefang Cremator deals damage to target player equal to the discarded creature card’s power.

A few things about this card. First, I remember when Balduvian Horde came out in Alliances. Gush all you want about Force of Will, but this was the creature to own back then. It earned a cool $20 to $25 for its owner…for about a month. Then the word had gotten out. The creature was horrible. While a 5/5 for four mana was unheard of since the Juzam Djinn era, this was no Juzam. It quickly plummeted in price and has been seen in the dollar rare box ever since.

But, take a look at ole Candlefang here. A few important distinctions. First, he doesn’t die if you cannot discard a card. That’s a good thing. Secondly, there are plenty of incredible creatures you could be discarding to his ability. The first to come to mind are Greater Gargadon who will deal a fantastic nine to the dome of any opponent, and Demigod of Revenge, who is more than happy to get himself into the graveyard so he can rise forth later on. Free Lava Axes are pretty good, I hear.

But this guy isn’t half as exciting as what I’m about to show you.

Swans of Bryn Argoll
2 W/U W/U
Creature – Bird Spirit
If a source would deal damage to Swans of Bryn Argoll, prevent that damage. The source’s controller then draws cards equal to the damage prevented this way.

Whuh—wha—what?! Holy crap, what an incredible monster. Just forget about it being half white, because this thing was born for Counterburn. Why? One card. A card that has lived in infamy for awhile, and will be taking over Standard as a result. Hell, it was even called the Best Card In Standard for awhile.

That card is Skred. And you thought Ancestral Recall was good? Pfft. I guess Skred will just have to say “Draw cards equal to the number of non-Swans you control.” Nuuuts, good people. I fully expect Swans of Bryn Argoll to be rocking the chase rare slot for awhile. Reveillark is fun and fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but I think there’s a new 4/3 flier on the scene, and he’s just waiting for his new archetype to be constructed.

The funnest part though has to be the mirror matches. Who will drop the Swan first? How many counters must you be prepared for to make sure your Skred resolves? Fun, fun stuff.

Next week we’ll cover more of the hot new Shadowmoor rares, and be sure to let me know about what I’ve divulged so far.

‘Rolling Through the Promos

One more quick thing before I go. Did you notice that while Two-Headed Giant Champs was cancelled over here, along with the gutting of the rest of the States programs, those in the U.K. were not. And I wonder what promos they’re giving away for it this year?

Turns out that for participating you get an Extended Art edition of Bramblewood Paragon. That’s cool, right? Sure.

I wonder what the top four teams get? Oh yeah. An Extended Art Foil Mutavault. This is the equivalent of handing them a huge gold bar encrusted with the hopes and dreams of Magic players everywhere. With our own Champs programs belly-up at the moment, this makes me even more upset that they would deny the entire U.S. any shot at these. Now that may be premature, and for WOTC’s sake I sure as hell hope so, but the collectability of a foil, Extended Art Mutavault is not to be underestimated. I’d say the price starts at $100 and rises from there. All I can say is, Wizards, we noticed they’re getting them and we aren’t. Please include these wonderful promos in whatever plans you have for replacing the States/Champs system. Because otherwise, I’m not sure what the playerbase may do. We could riot, just you wait. Or sign an online petition! Or Rickroll the hell out of you.

Don’t make me do it.

Because I will.

(bit of a ‘roll)


So until next time Magic players, this is Evan Erwin, never gonna give you up or let you down, and tapping the cards so you don’t have to.

Evan “misterorange” Erwin
dubya dubya dubya dot misterorange dot com
eerwin +at+ gmail +dot+ com

Music Credits:
Title — “Ooh Yeah” by Moby
Bumpers — “Salute Your Solution” by Raconteurs