Shadows over Innistrad: Impressions so Far


GR Almost Werewoves: 3-0

I didn't really have quite enough werewolves to justify the Howlpack Resurgence and probably should have taken Ember Eye Wolves higher once I had it, but between the Quilled Wolves and the Duskwatch Recruiter I was able to run people over pretty effectively.


GB Stuff: 2-1

P1P1 was Soul Swallower, and I probably committed to delirium too early. That being said, I did get to Ever After back 12/12 worth of tramplers between a Dire Swing and a Soul Swallower, which was great. I almost certainly passed more Vessels than I should have, I know better now.

The match I lost was to a janky GB Vampires deck that just ran me right over by sticking Senseless Rage, etc. on Bloodmad Vampires before I could mount a suitable defence.


GB Vampires: 3-0-1

Oliva is great, which goes without saying, but with 13 vampires in the deck Stormkirk Mentor starts being actively good. Trading off the Twins of Maurer Estate and then madnessing it back with Macabre Waltz was just gross.

Mono-W Aggro-Jank: 3-0

I didn't remember to take a picture of this one. The only good cards in this deck were a Nearheath Chaplain, a Bygone Bishop, and a Descend Upon the Sinful.

During the draft, I thought I was in GW Humans, but never actually got enough green cards to justify putting Forests in my deck. This deck ran far too many Militant Inquisitors, and wasn't really fast enough to justify calling it "Aggro". True-Faith Censer probably saved this deck as not only did it turn my terrible creatures into threats, but several games came down to suiting up a spirit token a poking in for two points of damage at a time.


GR Werewolves: 3-0

With enough two-drops, it turns out you don't actually need removal. With 13 Wolves, the Howlpack Resurgence was great.


GB Delirium: 2-1

I lost in the finals to UB Delirium deck running two Manic Scribes. I had two Epitaph Golems in my sideboard and forgot to bring them in despite having to race the scribes all three games. Serves as a reminder to look through your sideboard even if you can't immediately think of something to bring in.

I did get to cast Ever After twice in one game by shuffling it back into the deck with Wild Field Scarecrow which felt pretty great.


GW Humans: 3-0

Open the Armory was decent with Bound by Moonsilver and True-Faith Censor as targets.

This deck actually got to play some removal, but still mostly relied on aggroing folks out using two-drops. The closest match was against a BR Vampires deck that was extremely aggressive which succeed in aggroing me out game two and almost getting there game three.


UR Rise from the Tides: 2-1

I speculated on Rise from the Tides third pick, and then got passed the second one and took it, committed and didn't look back. The deck was missing a couple of things: it really wanted a Catelog, another Pyre Hound, and another bounce spell instead of one or two of the five-mana spells.

I lost the second round to a GR Werewolves deck. I made some mistakes that prevented me from getting full value out of my bounce spells, but then again, my opponent was applying enough pressure that I don't know that a deck whose entire plan was to take turn six off to make some zombies was going to get there.

In the third round, I got to experience just how punishing the werewolves can be, I missed a single land drop, and my opponent flipped a Hermit of the Natterknolls with a Neglected Heirloom attached and was facing down a 6/8 first striker on turn five.

That being said, I did make tons of zombies, and they even won me the game a couple of times.


UR Rise from the Thing in the Ice: 2-1

Tides were arisen from, horrors were awoken, and hounds were pyre'd.

This UR deck was better than the last one. The curve was better, with the Erdwald Illuminators, and Thing in the Ice helped hold off early aggression, while the additional Pyre Hounds helped pressure the opponents enough that the deck could actually win without leaning too hard on Rise from the Tides.

My loss was against a GWr delirium deck that was splashing for Nahiri, and was the real deal, with at least one game coming down to Epitaph Golem effectively Demonic Tutoring every turn.

Parting Thoughts

  • The decks I've been winning with have been aggro decks, the decks I've lost to have been aggro decks, and the close matches I've had have been against aggro decks.
  • On the other hand, the decks I've had the most fun playing have been the GB Delirium decks. While I get that some decks pressure you enough that you never get to cast it, Ever After is so much fun when you get to bring back 10-12 mana worth of creatures.
  • Green is the consensus best colour, and I believe it. With green having five two-drops that have late game relevance, it is so much easier to draft decks that pressure your opponent early, but still have the ability to grind in the late game when you're playing Forests (it also helps that Rabid Bite is good, and not bad).
  • Shadows over Innistrad is the format that has taught me how to beat down. I didn't really understand how to draft an aggro deck, even after drafing Origins. Two things are probably helping me along: First, the green two-drops are actually good cards that I want to take out of packs. Second, everyone else seems to be competing for the sweet cards, so aggro keeps being open.

On the myth of the 10x Plumber

While reading a paper on the effectiveness of various candidate selection tactics (interviews, etc), I stumbled across this gem:

"... if [job] performance variability is very large, it then becomes important to hire the best performing applicants [...]. As it happens, this "extreme" case appears to be the reality for most jobs."

Schmidt and Hunter (1998)

While stated1 rather than shakeily quatified like Peopleware's wargames, this implies that in reality software development is not all that different from any other work in this regard.

The fact that the idea of "10x programmers", "code ninjas", "unicorns", or "rockstars" is so self-gratifying2 probably has more to do with the popularity of the idea than it's connection to reality, or importance in the field of hiring software developers.

[1]Hunter et al., 1990; Schmidt & Hunter, 1983; Schmidt et al., 1979 (you can chase that citation if you want, but this is a quick blog post not thorough academic work ;-).
[2]If your company only hires "10x rockstar unicorn-ninjas", and you work there, then what does that say about you?

Peasant Cube

Over the last couple of weeks I've put together a peasant cube. You can take a look at it here. Now to organize a draft :).

How to center text vertically beside a logo?

You've got a sweet logo, but you want a tagline centered vertically beside it.

<header class="logo-container">
  <img class="logo" src="">
  <p class="tagline">Clever Tagline</p>

Chirs Coyier has a wonderful guide to centering things and using the translateY(-50%) technique is appropriate here... but that puts the tagline on top of the logo rather than beside it. Moving the tagline over with the left property puts the tagline exactly where we want it. Final CSS below (jsfiddle):

.logo-container {
  position: relative;

.tagline {
  position: absolute;
  top: 50%;
  transform: translateY(-50%);

  /* move the tagline beside the logo */
  left: 200px;

  /* no margin/padding for better centering */
  margin: 0;
  padding: 0;

Fate Reforged Limited Review Review

A few days ago I posted my set review of Fate Reforged... mostly as an exercise in card evaluation. LSV has since posted his reviews (white, blue, black, red, green, the rest), and I thought I'd follow up with my most over and under valued cards (not to take his reviews as gospel, but I suspect his card evaluation skills are better than mine ;-):

Most Overrated

  • Frontier Siege: I ranked this a good rare rather than bad filler. Mostly I was excited by the ramp potential, but in retrospect the Whisperer of the Wilds does that better, faster and cheaper.
  • Diplomacy of the Wastes: I ranked this as a solid uncommon rather than junk. I was comparing this to Toughtsieze, when it's mana cost prevents it from filling the same role (also in retrospect, Thoughtsieze is a constructed card that is probably not as relevant in limited).
  • Scroll of the Masters: I ranked as solid uncommon rather than junk. I wasn't paying enough attention to the do-nothingness of this card.
  • Lightning Shrieker: I ranked this as solid uncommon rather than filler. Obviously, my rating is contingent on your deck actually wanting Lava Axe... and given that I have a tendency to play decks that want lava axe I think this is better than filler (just like Trumpet Blast)... but the points about removal and fliers is well taken.
  • Pilgrim of the Fires: I ranked this as solid uncommon rather than bad filler. I wasn't paying enough attention to how much this cost. 7 is much greater than 6, and 4 toughness means this dies to a lot of the removal.

Most Underrated

  • Citatel Siege: I ranked this as solid playable rather than total bomb. My concerns were mostly around how situational this was and the lack of board impact... and I'm still not really convinced. The pre-release is this weekend and we'll see if I lose to it.
  • Jeskai Runemark (and to a certain extent the rest of the runemarks): I ranked this as trash rather than solid playable. I mostly got hung up on getting 2-for-1'd. That being said, there just isn't that much good removal in the format and turning a Leaping Master or a Jeskai Student into a serious clock is probably worth a card.
  • Jeskai Sage: I ranked this as bad filler rather than solid playable. I think I haven't been valuing cantrips highly enough. I just realized today that a card with cycling effectively reads "Pay 2 mana, play with a legal 39-card deck". While the cycling on this is not unconditional, it does have upside.
  • Ancestral Vengance: I ranked this as bad filler rather than solid playable. I may be undervaluing the +1/+1 counter... but -1/-1 just seems so much less relevant than -2/-2 given morphs and manifests.
  • Abzan Skycaptain: I ranked this as filler rather than solid playable. A 2/2 with flying does indeed do work especially in a format plagued with ground stalls... I think I'm undervaluing the death trigger, but this is definitely a card I'm looking to play with to see how it ends up working.


I think doing my own set review was a very valuable exercise both because it helps me refine my own card evaluation skills, and comparing to a set review of someone who's skills are obviously superior helps expose my biases (to myself). Also, it helps narrow down which cards to focus on, since while I'm not going to memorize a complete set review, I can go through the cards I got wrong (or at least really wrong :-), and see where I might have messed up.