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.

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 :).

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.

Fate Reforged Limited Set Review

With the prerelease coming up next weekend, here's my personal review of Fate Reforged. I'm using the same scale as LSV, and I'm likewise only interested in Limited as that's what I play. Once the rest of his set reviews are up I think I'll follow up with my most over/underrated cards to see where my evaluations are off.

Cards Total Comments
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon 4.5 Total Bomb
Abzan Advantage 0.5 Bolster 1 is not completely irrelevant, but seems like it's not worth a card
Abzan Runemark 0.5 Here comes a 2 for 1.
Abzan Skycaptain 1.5 Evasive flyer not bad, but 2/2 for 4 seems behind the curve and blanked by Kirin
Arashin Cleric 1.5 Blocks morphs all day, weak later in the game
Aven Skirmisher 1.5 1/1 Flyer seems like a good target for bolster
Channel Harm 2 Situational, expensive instant speed removal is still instant speed removal.
Citadel siege 2.5 Fuels abzan, but doesn't affect the board for an entire turn, and needs creatures
Daghatar the Adamant 4 Not as good as High-sentinals, but still trixy
Dragon Bell Monk 1.5 Wish this was a bear... not as good as a windscout or a morph.
Dragonscale General 4 Eats morphs, and makes you're board terrifying provided you can attack or outlast.
Elite Scaleguard 3.5 If you have not creatures, it's a 4/5... if you have creatures it buffs something else and taps down blockers so you can start attacking.
Great-horn Krushok 1.5 Not as good as scaleguard or War Behemoth
Honor's Reward 1.5 Instant speed bolster seems situational as a combat trick.
Jeskai Barricade 2.5 Situational but provides defensive speed and blocks morphs all day.
Lightform 3 2/2 with flying and lifelink for 3... I'm in, though a little hard to cast.
Lotus Eye Mystics 3 Gravedigger with prowess
Mardu Woe-Reaper 3.5 Lays the beats starting on turn one, and makes racing difficult
Mastey of the Unseen 2.5 Allows you to generate an army of 2/2s at instant speed. Empty the Pits in installments
Monastery Mentory 4 Totally busto... a prowess dude who makes dudes you have prowess. Goblinslide on a stick
Pressure Point 2.5 Decent prowess fodder
Rally the Ancestors 1 Reanimate a bunch of dudes... to block? Very situational
Sage's Reverie 1 Seem's like this should have been in Theros... even with the X-forms it seems like mostly it gives +1/+1 and cantrips
Sandblast 2 Bad Killshot?
Sandsteppe Outcast 2.5 Evasive hordechief... seems decent.
Sould Summons 3 A bear with random upside that trigger's prowess. Sure
Soulfire Grand Master 3 A bear with crazy situational upside. Sure (So a bear is a little weak for a mythic... but that doesn't mean I won't first pick it just to get the chance to play with it)
Valoruous Stance 3.5 Smite the mosterous, but cheaper... with the option to save a dude instead. Sure.
Wandering Champion 3.5 Oresco's swiftclaw that maybe loots sometimes
Wardscale Dragon 4 Evasive flyer that shutsdown your opponts combat tricks... yes please
Aven Sureyor 2.5 Icedad that's harder to cast and not at instant speed
Cloudform 3 2/2 with flying and hexproof for 3, still in
Enhanced Awareness 3 Jace's injenuity, but easier to cast
Fascination 1.5 Sphinx's Revelation-ish. Seems hard to abuse in draft
Frost Walker 3 Lay the beats
Jeskai Infiltrator 3.5 Evasive and creates an infinite number of dudes... and eats morphs
Jeskai Runemark 0.5 Still looking for a 2-for-1
Jeskai Sage 1 Cantrips... but needs prowess to even trade for a bear (looks just like monastery swiftspear)
Lotus Path Djinn 3 Like a windscout that can block
Marang River Prowler 2.5 Puts a clock on the game... which is good as long as you're winning the race
Mindscour Dragon 3.5 Not as good as Wardscale Dragon... the milling is irrelevant unless they're sultai, at which point you might actually be helping them
Mistfire Adept 3.5 Hillgiant with prowess that might fly. It's not Riverwheel Arielists... but it comes out two turns earlier and eats morphs.
Monastery Siege 4 Loot every turn... I don't think you need to hear more
Neutralizing Blast 2.5 like distainful stroke but....
Rakshasa's Distain 1.5 Like mana-leak... but situational and more expensive
Reality Shift 4 Turns bombs into bears... efficientish removal
Refocus 2.5 Like presurepoint, but
Renowned weaponsmith 1.5 Ramps out Dragonthrone...
Rite of Undoing 3.5 Expensive peel from reality?
Sage-Eye Avengers 4.5 Pick apart your opponent's board while beating them down... yes please.
Shifting Loyalties 3.5 Control Magic
Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest 3.5 Turns every creature you control into dragonstyle twins
Sultai Skullkeeeper 2.5 Wetland sambar that fuels delve
Supplant Form 3.5 Control Magic
Temporal Tresspass 1 Not for Draft
Torrent Elemental 4.5 Unkillable evasive flyer that makes it impossible for your opponent to defend
Whisk Away 2.5 Blue killshot
Will of the Naga 3 Super Cripling Chill
Write into Being 3.5 Make a bear
Alesha's Vanguard 2.5 Hillgiant with dash.
Ancestra Vengance 1 Seems much worse than debilitating injury
Archfiend of Depravity 4.5 If it goes unanswered, it seems like it can just win you the game.
Battle Brawler 3.5 Great bear
Brutal Hordechief 4 Allows you to break through... but kind of depends on the creatures you have down.
Crux of Fate 3.5 Black wrath
Dark Deal 1 Here comes some card disadvantage.
Diplomacy of the Wastes 3.5 Not as good as thoughtsieze since it's competing with morphs
Douse in Gloom 2 Drain a creature
Fearsome Awakening 1.5 Reanimation seems a much bigger deal in cube... though there might be sultai synergy
Ghastly Conscription 2 Seems situtational... and very expensive... but easier to play than empty the pits
Grave Strength 0.5 Seems like this card is going to average +1/+1... doesn't seem worth a card
Gurmag Angler 2.5 Slightly easier to cast than shambles
Hooded Assasin 3 Finish off a creature or eat morphs all day...
Mardu Shadowspear 1 Seems irrelevant after turn 2
Mardu Strike Leader 3 Seems inline with the Hordechief... though it doesn't eat morphs, but could create tons of dudes
Merciless Executioner 2 Worst case, it's a sorcery speed edict.
Noxious Dragon 4 Pick apart your opponents board while slaming them in the face.
Orc Sureshot 3 Turn every creature into flametonge kavu
Palace siege 4 Start racing your opponent with no other cards in play
Qarsi High Priest 0.5 Upgrade tokens into morphs? Doesn't really seem worth a card
Reach of Shadows 3 Instant speed removal
Sibsig Host 1 Rotting mastodon v2
Sibsig Muckdraggers 1 Rotting mastodon with delve
Soul Flayer 4  
Sultai Emissary 3 Cantrip bear
Sulati Runemark 1 looking for a 2-for-1
Tasigur, the Golden Fang 3 Hooting mandrils with gravedigging
Tasigur's Cruelty 1.5 Not as good as rakshasa's secret
Typhoid Rats 2 Beter than a hateblade
Alesha, Who Smiles at Death 3.5 Hordechief that keeps bringing back skullhunters.
Arcbond 3.5 Situational red wrath
Bathe in Dragonfire 3  
Bloodfir Enforcers 3 Hill giants that situtationally lay the beats
Break through the line 2 Do-nothing enchantment
Collateral Damage 3 1-for-2 lightning bolt... but playable in mardu tokens
Defiant Ogre 1.5 Seems weak for a six drop
Dragon Rage 1 Trumpet blast with tricks
Fierce Invocation 3 Make a 4/4, trigger prowess
Flamecrush Rider 3  
Flamewake Pheonix 4  
Fiendly Fire 2.5 Bring low seems better
Goblin Heelcutter 3 Hill giant that helps your team get through
Gore Swine 3 Alpine Grizzly except red
Humble Defector 2.5 A bear that draws cards?
Hungering Yeti 3 Could straight eat a dude while representing a morph
Lighting Shrieker 3.5 Lava axe dragon
Mardu Runemark 1 Still don't like it
Mardu Scout 1.5 Orescos swiftclaw that's hard to cast
Mob rule 3 The best Act of Treason ever
Outpost siege 4 This is very close to "Draw a Card every turn"
Pyrotechnics 3  
Rageform 2 2/2 with double strike does't seem to as good as 2/2 with flying
Shaman of the Great Hunt 4 Triger's ferocious, buffs your team, draws cards
Shockmaw Dragon 4 Burn away your opponent's team while smashing them in the face
Smoldering Effreet 2.5 A bear
Temur Battle Rage 3 Surprise, you're dead
Vaultbreaker 3 Alpine grizzly that loots
Wild Slash 3.5 Shock
Abzan Beastmaster 4 Pretty close to "Draw a card every turn"
Abzan Kin-Guard 3.5 Hill giant with lifelink
Ainok Guide 2.5 It's a bear
Ambush Krotiq 1.5  
Arashin War Beast 2.5 Make tons of dudes
Archer's of Qarsi 2.5 Trades with dragons
Battlefront Krushok 2.5 Lord of charging rhino
Cached Defenses 2.5 +3/+3 seems worth a card
Destructor Dragon 3.5 Practically guarenteed 2-for-1 that smashes your opponent in the face
Feral Krushok 1.5 Big dorky dude
Formless Nurturing 2 Make a 3/3 and trigger prowess
Frontier Mastodon 2.5 Not as good as alpine grizzly
Frontier Siege 4 How does a ritual every main phase sound?
Fruit of the First Tree 1 Seems difficult to actually trigger. After all, high-toughness creatures are exactly the ones most likey to survive.
Hunt the Weak 3 The +1/+1 counter is more relevant than usual, plus it's a fight card.
Map the Wastes 0.5 Seems like you'd almost always rather cast a morph.
Return to Earth 2 Kills dragons... seems more relevant than it might otherwise be.
Ruthles instincts 2.5 Awaken the bear, or kill a creature.
Sandsteppe Mastodon 3.5 If you have no other creatures it's a 10/10. If you have other creatures it turns them into a respectable threat. Plus, it eats dragons.
Shamanic Revelation 2 Might help break board stalls, but it's miserable if you're behind. You'd probably prefer Treasure Cruise (and if you have lots of 4 power creatures... we'll that's just win more).
Sudden Reclamation. 1.5 Regrowth that powers delve. Not really better than dutiful return.
Temur Runemark 1 Still don't see these as particularly playable...
Temur Sabertooth 3 4/3 for 4... plus I the bounce ability may allow shenanigans with manifest.
Temus War Shaman 4 Allowing all of your morphs to fight when they flip up seems really good.
Warden of the First Tree 4.5 I've heard Figure of Destiny was a good card.
Whisperer of the Wilds 3.5 Ramps out a turn-4 Sagu Mauler... that seems epic
Whisperwood Elemental 4.5 Do you like the idea of an army of bears because, I do.
Wildcall 4 Cast it on turn 2 for a bear... or turn 10 for a 10/10. Combos with Whisperer of the Wilds, and the siege.
Winds of Qal Sisma 1 It's a fog.
Yasova Dragonclaw 3.5 How do you like the idea of an Alpine Grizly that keeps taking your oppenents creatures?
Atarka, World Render 4.5 Swinging for 12 seems good.
Cunning Strike 2.5 Not as good as Master the Way... and you've only got so many 5 drops.
Dromoka, the Eternal 4 5/5 with flying for 5... yes please... the bolster effect is pure gravy.
Ethereal Ambush 1.5 Two bears for 5 has potential... but 5 is an overloaded slot
Grim Contest 3 Wierd fight card, but it's cheap, instant and has good Abzan synergy.
Harsh Sustenance 3 Seems like this will reasonably reliably kill a creature, and sometimes give you reach in a stall.
Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury 4 5/5 with flying for 5... yes please... the surprise you're dead potential is just gravey.
Ojutai, Soul of Winter 4.5 Taps down you opponent's biggest threats, while defending, and smashing them in the face.
Silumgar, the Drifting Death 3.5 While the -1/-1 ability feels like it has the potential to totally wreck you oppenent's board the lower power make it feel like Silumgar is just less of threat in his own right than the rest of the dragons.
War Flare 3.5 More versatile than Trumpet Blast and cheaper than Flying Crane Technique
Goblin Boom Keg 3 Slow, expensive Lightning Bolt
Hero's Blade 3 More expensive than Ghostfire Blade... but still turns your morphs in to legitimate threats.
Hewed Stone Retainers 1.5 Colorless Illusionary Angel is cool, but the fact that it's grounded is super relevant.
Pilgrim of the Fires 3.5 Goes in any deck, diffcult to chump or gang block... and big enough to get through most of the walls.
Scroll of the Masters 3.5 Slow... but cool Jeskai synergy, especially with manifest bumping the non-creature spell count.
Ugin's Construct 3 Bellowing Saddlebrute with a different drawback seems okay if you've got tokens.
Bloodfell Caves 3 Dual lands are still good
Blossoming Sands 3 Ditto
Crucible of the Spirit Dragon 0.5 Generates colorless mana which is a risk in a format that's still going to lean 3 colors... plus Ugin isn't even a dragon so you can't ramp into him.
Dismal Backwater 3 Dual lands are still good
Jungle Hollow 3 Ditto
Rugged Highlands 3 Ditto
Scoured Barrens 3 Ditto
Swiftwater Cliffs 3 Ditto
Thornwood Falls 3 Ditto
Tranquil Cove 3 Ditto
Wind-Scarred Crag 3 Ditto

Steely Myr

After I played in the New Phyrexia Pre-Release and saw how good Tempered Steel could be, I decided it would be completely irresponsible of me to not build a deck with the copies I own. I put my Tempered Steels together with the Myr Battlespheres and Steel Overseers I've had languishing without a deck for way too long. I still haven't played it against a human, but I'm looking forward to it:

Going Infinite

As I said in my last post, this deck has an infinite mana combo that's there completely by accident. If you can get two Myr Galvanizers and a Palladium Myr on the table and you can tap the Palladium Myr for two mana, use one of the Galvanizer's to untap it, tap it again for two mana and use the second Galvanizer to untap the first and the Palladium Myr netting you two mana and setting you up to repeat the process ad infinitum.

You know what's better than infinite mana? Infinite damage! Thanks to the Myr Galvanizer, the loop not only produces and infinite amount of mana, but also an infinite number of untapped Myr which when you've got a Myr Battlesphere on the table, you can turn into infinite damage.

As I said, this combo is purely incidental. The Galvanizers are in there because they have great synergy with the Battlespheres and good synergy with Myr in general. The Palladium Myr are in there because they accelerate the Battlespheres, Sunblast Angels and Argentum Armors in addition to being something of a threat when Tempered Steel is on the table. There aren't any cards in the deck to assemble the combo and nothing to protect it if it happens into being. All that being said, if I ever happen to put it together in a game, I'm totally going to generate a million mana just to say that I did ;-)