Hello everybody, and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week we’re going to be talking about the new nicknames bestowed on a few special cards in Shadowmoor, a few tips and tricks that will hopefully help you in your sealed flights and drafts this weekend, and finally run down my favorite spoiled cards so far. Let’s go!
Shadowmoor Sealed Tips
Okay, so a few viewers have been asking me to go over a quick primer for this weekend’s festivities. Now there are plenty of thorough primers available on the interwebs, including one that the mothership writes every time a new set is released. What I’m going to do is give you my own strategies and hopefully highlight some cards and types of cards you’ll rely on to win your flights and drafts this weekend. Let’s begin.
Tip #1: Always play seventeen lands
I don’t care how aggressive your deck is, it probably needs 17 lands. There are no cost-reducing mechanics in Shadowmoor, and the last time I comfortably had less than 17 lands in my sealed or draft pools the block was Mirrodin and you relied on Myr and Affinity to get you through the three- and four-mana threshold.
I could give you some stats on why it’s good to run 40% land, but I’ll leave those to the wordsmiths. However, the 40% number does lead to my second tip…
Tip #2: Play no more than 40 cards
This is another aspect that many players like to skimp on or change at will. “I just can’t cut any of these cards!” you cry. Yes, you can. It doesn’t matter how awesome that 41st card is, if you run 17 lands and 41 cards, you have less chance of seeing your removal and bombs than if you ran 40. You also have a higher chance of running into mana screw, and I don’t care how awesome your sealed or draft may be, if you’re on the side of the table not playing lands then you’re on the side that isn’t winning.
Tip #3: In Sealed, Always Draw
This is another rule of thumb I’ve used since I returned to Magic and it’s never failed me. Sealed is a slower format than Draft because you can’t craft a mana curve and you can’t form a deck with an efficient set of creatures and spells. Instead, you’re often left with a hodgepodge of good cards, clumped together sometimes and the four and six mana slots, just waiting to do something impressive.
In Sealed, the ability to draw another card when going second is worth the tempo loss that you experience by doing so. Only if your opponent has the nut draw or bomb sealed deck will you ever experience any detriment from this decision, and if their draw was that good you’d probably lose on the play anyway. Don’t underestimate the power of card advantage over the long haul.
Tip #4: Always Play Removal
If you can squeeze it in there, squeeze it. There appears to be a shocking lack of mana fixing in Shadowmoor, at least so far, so be prepared to figure out exactly how you’re going to play that removal spell if it isn’t in your colors.
Quite simply, it is removal, not creatures, that generally determines who wins a sealed dual. They drop a bomb, you drop a bomb. What happens? The person who kills the other person’s bomb wins. Of course Magic is never quite that simple, but I’ve seen more games end because of an Oblivion Ring or an Eyeblight’s Ending more so than all of the Chameleon Colossuses and Garruk Wildspeakers combined. Let this thinking guide what colors you play at the prerelease.
Tip #5: Recognize Reusable Effects
This is something that I always look for whenever a new Limited environment is unleashed. The cards that usually accomplish the most are those that can affect the board on the turn they come out and each subsequent turn.
An excellent example of this in the cube is Waterfront Bouncer. He’s really not that impressive on his own. A 1/1 dork for two mana that can bounce a creature. So what? Well, in the cube, this is a highly sought Blue creature. Akroma is awesome, and Visara is scary, but when an extra land, a Blue mana, and this guy turning sideways completely deals with that threat, it doesn’t look so awesome or scary anymore.
In Shadowmoor they have the Witches cycle, and almost all of them are gold in Limited. Let’s take an example in Seedcradle Witch:
Creature – Elf Shaman
2WG: Target creature gets +3/+3 until end of turn. Untap that creature.
This card is absolutely bonkers in sealed and draft. Why? Because every turn in which you have four mana – or, God forbid, eight mana – your opponent’s attack step just got miserable. They cannot attack into your forces without you throwing around the +3/+3 bonus wherever you like, not to mention it frees up your own attack step, as you fear no blockers since you can pump your attackers in response, and you can always use the Seedcradle Witch’s ability on their turn to block as necessary.
Now take this reusable ability logic and apply it to other creatures, enchantments, and artifacts from the set. It won’t take you long to see how a tiny, innocent 1/1 can completely take over a game state.
In this segment we go over a few new favorites from Shadowmoor and what can only be described as some fascinating characters.
The first is Swans of Bryn Argoll. Now we all know this card is spectacular. A few days after I spoiled its mastery over all things Skred, the Innovator himself, Patrick Chapin, came up with a righteously unfair combo deck in Extended around Seismic Assault and Dakmor Salvage of all crazy things. Dredge my library in response to anything you do? Sounds like a plan to me.
Soon after last week’s show went live, I got a message from my buddy Polar Bear God. He can’t believe I didn’t christen the Swans with its new nickname. He told me what it was… and now I get to tell you:
Aflac never dies… only gets close to death and then avoids it. Sounds like the Swans to me.
Next up is Oona, Queen of the Fae. She got her nickname last week: As Big Perm.
“Messing with my money is like messing with my emotions!”
Lastly, we talk about the creature that was spoiled just as The Magic Show production was wrapping up last week, Tattermunge Maniac. Now it’s evident that this is a huge aggressive creature that is destined by a highly-sought after uncommon (thank your lucky stars it isn’t rare). And a creature this good deserves a good nickname.
So I present to you… Nom Nom. Nom Nom doesn’t know when to stop, how to relax, or when to take a break. It only knows destruction, aggression, and pain. In that order. Nom Nom knows not compassion, order, and kindness. It knows only destruction.
Nom Nom is here. And Nom Nom isn’t going anywhere. RAWR.
May I Have Some Shadowmoor?
Okay, for this week’s title segment I’m going to go over the cards you should be looking for at the Prerelease and some of my favorites from the set.
I’ll go ahead and start with the biggies. You need a set of Aflac (AFLAC!), you need a set of Fulminator Mage’s for both Standard and Extended, and you’ll need a set of Big Perm for Standard and specifically Block Constructed. You’ll also need a set of Nom Noms, as they will go into anything Red or Green that uses the word “Aggro” to describe its strategy.
So those are the obvious picks to me. What are the not-so-obvious? Let’s take a look at one of my favorite uncommons, Dream Salvage:
Draw cards equal to the number of cards an opponent discarded this turn.
Like many excellent cards, it needs to be put in context. So let’s do that. Imagine you are playing TarmoRack, a popular Rack/Discard variant. You go first turn land, The Rack. Second turn you play Augur of Skulls and pass. On your next upkeep, you sacrifice the Augur for two cards, draw a card, play Thoughtseize to ensure you won’t get blown out by a Rune Snag, then follow that up with Ancestral Recall – er, I mean, Dream Salvage. This is a card that can single-handedly catapult discard-oriented decks into winner status. No one seems to be very excited about this card, so pick up your set – and the foil versions – as quickly as possible.
Another card I expect to have a long lasting impact is Everlasting Torment:
Players can’t gain life.
Damage can’t be prevented.
All damage is dealt as if its source had wither. (Damage is dealt in the form of -1/-1 counters)
Say hello to a Goblin player’s new best friend. This is the card that finally and completely nullifies Solitary Confinement. Of course, the irony is that when the Extended Pro Tour comes around, the rotation would have taken Solitary Confinement out of the environment. So while that’s disappointing, do take note that this stops the Goblin and Red Deck Wins other nemesis, Sphere of Law… another card that’s rotating out this fall. Well, crap. However, this does stop Circles of Protection, Story Circles, and if you live in the Midwest, it may also stop Crop Circles. Oh yeah, I went there.
Moving on, a few good Legendary creatures in Lorwyn got a serious upgrade in Shadowmoor. We’ll cover the most exciting one here, in the form of Wort, the Raidmother:
Wort, the Raidmother
4 R/G R/G
Legendary Creature – Goblin Shaman
When Wort, the Raidmother comes into play, put two 1/1 red and green Goblin Warrior creature tokens into play.
Each red or green instant or sorcery spell you play has conspire (As you play the spell, you may tap two untapped creatures you control that share a color with it. When you do, copy it and you may choose new targets for the copy.)
While many have dreams of rocking Goblin decks with this card, I don’t see that at all. However, the last StarCityGames $5K was conquered by Chris Woltereck Big Mana deck, and wouldn’t this new, scarier Wort just fit in there perfectly?
I mean, it’s one thing to get excited about double Into the North or Incinerate action, but it’s another to think about double Void, double Skred, and, when you just want the game to end, double Molten Disaster with Split Second. Since Conspire is a triggered ability, you can copy the Split Second-enabled version, making this deck’s fast clock even faster. There’s also the benefit of Wort creating more Goblins for Siege-Gang Commander to throw at your opponent, and… well, you get it. Wort is certifiably awesome.
Moving on to other colors, what about White/Green? My God, what an incredible number of good cards in this archetype. Let’s talk about the one with the funny name yet awesome ability, Kitchen Finks:
1 W/G W/G
Creature – Ouphe
When Kitchen Finks comes into play, you gain 2 life.
So… um… yeah. This guy is insane. Let’s imagine a world where we play a Llanowar Elf or Birds of Paradise on Turn 1, drop Kitchen Finks on Turn 2, knocking us up to 22, then untapping and playing Wilt-Leaf Liege to deliver a solid and very respectable 5/4 crashing into the red zone… Oh, and if they kill the Finks at that point, you get a 4/3 guy back who also gains you two life. So there. Whatcha gonna do about that, son? Wrath? And give me a 2/1 with which to continue to bash you with?
The only thing I don’t like about this guy is the name. For such a powerful and impacting creature, I don’t know anyone who really likes associating Magic and Kitchens. But anyway.
Lastly I want to quickly cover the issue of how bad White is lately. Let’s take for instance the monocolored hybrid cycle. Tell me if you can spot the bad one:
The Black hybrid, Beseech the Queen, is already being tested in Vintage decks.
The Green hybrid is a monster in Limited that can quickly change a game.
The Red one is Char 2.0. There is nothing wrong with that, and thankfully this one is uncommon.
The Blue one is a superpowered Impulse. It may see some play thanks to Bitterblossom almost always giving you a creature advantage.
Let’s see what the White one provides… three dudes.
Three White mana, three flying dudes. Wow. That’s… um… awesome, right?
This is ridiculous. We b*tch and we b*tch and we try to explain that White needs love too. For example, Mark Rosewater teased some cards for Shadowmoor and in that teasing he said “There is a White sorcery with only four words on it.” Guess what it is? A seven mana Wrath of God variant.
You know what would’ve been exciting to see? Those four words saying “Destroy all nonbasic lands” instead. This would’ve essentially made the card a planeshifted Ruination. This would’ve also made the card a chase rare that would’ve been incredibly impacting in both Standard and Extended. But no, instead we get Yet Another Wrath Variant.
However, all is not lost. White isn’t all crappy, by no means. Take a look at the Ferrett-spoiled monster, Twilight Shepherd. Wow, wow, wow. Now you want to talk about a card I can’t wait to use with Dread Return, this is it. Dread Return her back to play, get those creatures back in your hand, play them again and get all subsequent bonuses, then flashback another Dread Return if you like and get a fatty, the Twilight Shepherd back with a -1/-1 counter, and all of the other creatures you sacrificed go back to your hand. If you value your wallet, pick these up while they’re cheap.
Lastly one of my favorite new cards is a very simple White enchantment called Prison Term.
Enchantment — Aura
Enchanted creature can’t attack or block, and its activated abilities can’t be played.
Whenever a creature comes into play under an opponent’s control, you may attach Prison Term to that creature.
Back in Ravnica, I saw a card much like this that had a huge impact on the next year or two of Standard. Its name was Faith’s Fetters. As you know by now, its impact was incredible and it was an auto-include in many decks for a variety of reasons. This is another. This allows you to shut off their best creature as you wish, and it also allows you to play this whenever you want, or whenever your Blue opponent is tapped out. There is no penalty for slapping this down early and I expect it to be a highly sought after uncommon in draft and sealed.
Also just spoiled was the reprinting of Last Breath from Mercadian Masques, and at Common rarity no less. Expect this to be an oft-run trick on Saturday.
So that’s the show for this week everybody. I hope you’ve enjoyed taking a look at some of my favorite cards from Shadowmoor. This set is really, really exciting and I can honestly say it’s one of the best in a long time. Morningtide wasn’t quite mind-blowing, but almost daily I spy a new combo or archetype thanks to the Hybrid possibilities found in Shadowmoor. My hat’s off to Wizards for creating some fantastic cards, some amazing Limited fodder, and what looks to be a very exciting drafting environment.
I’ll be in Nashville this weekend so by all means come by and say hello, and be sure to share your own thoughts on the set with me.
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
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