I will not list every card in Shadowmoor, as always there are a lot of bad and unplayable cards here. I’ll try to go over every card that has potential or seems to have but hasn’t. A full visual spoiler of Shadowmoor Commons (and Lorwyn/Morningtide) can be found [url=http://www.pdcmagic.com/spoilers/lor-shad.html]here[/url]. Read on!
Disclaimer: I’m talking about Standard playability only!
[list][*] :w: Ballynock Cohort A 3/3 first strike for white weenie seems awesome doesn’t it? The problem is that it costs 3, one too many. Now it is a creature at the top of the curve and WW is pretty stuffed there. Avian Changeling is a must have because it is a Sliver and a Rebel (and evasive). For the other 2~3 3 drop spot utility creatures are usually better; such as Zealot and Riftwatcher.
[*] :u: Briarberry Cohort This one is far more playable than its white brother. 2/2 evasive creatures for 2 are hard to come by and this even has a relevant creature type; Faerie. If someone manages to build a Ux Tempo Faerie deck, this will be in there because it enables both Spellstutter and Latchkey.
[*] :u: Ghastly Discovery A nice sifting tool, but it won’t be played with all the quality draw in Timespiral block (Think Twice, Foresee) and the awesome Mulldrifter. Maybe, just maybe if Timespiral leaves Standard.
[*] :b: Cinderhaze Wretch A great tool against control, but I don’t think Standard is the place where this will shine. All Standard control decks play a lot of removal and this is killed even the low Tarfire. If there are less board control decks, this might earn a spot over Mournwhelk.
[*] :b: Faerie Macabre I seem to have spawned some controversy when I said that this card, while awesome, won’t be sideboarded all that much. Grim Harvest decks haven’t seen much play lately (Maybe Dark Evo will change that) which makes sideboarding Macabre not very useful. This doesn’t mean it won’t be played. When a GY based decks crops up this will be the first thing people will put in their sideboards, primarily when they can’t play Faerie Trickery. I find the counter to be superior to Macabre because it can counter more than just Harvest. Also, if Harvest mirrors become big again, this will decide many of them.
[*] :b: Rite of Consumption A common fling is very, very nice to have. But we don’t have that many targets for it. I think it will be used in :br: Elemental aggro, sacrificing Seething Pathblazer after an attack. It is sad it is a sorcery, else it could combine with the Elemental Husk as a nice answer to sweepers.
[*] :b: Sickle Ripper More useful in older formats, but it can be put to good use here too. It changes Riftwatcher in a 0/1 (making it less of a wall against aggro) and kills WW’s Shades. Nothing spectacular, but useful nevertheless.
[*] :r: Burn Trail A worthy successor to Cackling Flames? It seems very powerful, but red aggro decks have a much lower curve these days. On top of that, this can’t win of the top like Flames could. You need to have two creatures in play for it to be playable, which you usually don’t have in the lategame.
[*] :r: Intimidator Initiate I think everyone knows my opinion on this card now: awesome. Red decks need to do damage in the early game with creatures and that is where this comes in. It makes your burn spells go to the head, while still beating down through your opponents blockers. Or burn spells remove two blockers instead of one. Every activation of this guy should get you another 2 damage in with attackers, making it a perfect disciple of the Philosophy of Fire.
[*] :r: Mudbrawler Cohort I’m split about this card. In a perfect situation it is a reusable Shock for 2, but a single removal spell on his lonely red friend makes it a weak 1/1. It also needs a lot of one drops to function. Interesting, but it needs testing.
[*] :g: Devoted Druid Turn 5 Mulldrifter? Turn 6 Herd? This little elf gives you some explosive mana acceleration. The only thing standing in its way is what to accelerate into? But I think Standards deck builders can come up with good solutions for that and use Devoted to its full potential.
[*] :g: Farhaven Elf The fact that this is a 1/1 makes it inferior to Civic Wayfinder in my eyes. It does accelerate though. I don’t think it will be played much, maybe in Devoted Druid decks looking to accelerate into top-end threats.
[*] :g: Hungry Spriggan 4/4 trampler for 3? Sign me up! Sadly enough it is not that simple. The Spriggan dies to every removal spell ever printed and receives a lot of splash damage from the sweepers in Standard. Festercreep, Hurly and Martyr all kill this Goblin. It definitely won’t replace Gathan Raiders any time soon. After the Alara rotation maybe?
[*] :uw: Aethertow The only thing holding this back is it’s cost. I don’t think it could be printed at 3 and be fair, but 4 might just make it unplayable. The possible double Time Walk this can create is attractive, but you have to jump through hoops to do that. It is used at its best as a tempo tool, bouncing two potential blockers and setting them two turns back and keeping them from finding an answer to your clock(s).
Giantbaiting (the other playable conspire card) is good because in red aggro decks you often have two unused creatures lying around to conspire, in blue/white tempo based decks you might only have one creature beating down as you win condition. On top of that, instead of attacking, you are conspiring, not putting pressure.
The more I talk about this, the more I doubt. I’m convincing myself of its unplayability. This might just be incredibly playable, just as Giantbaiting. It needs testing and not theorizing.
[*] :uw: Silkbind Faerie Very nice card. It attacks for one and removes pesky blockers or potential attackers. Will this finally be the card that makes Faeries playable?
[*] :uw: Somnomancer A nice card for aggro, tapping down a blocker so your other creatures can get in some damage. Sadly the deck that would best utilize it (WW) is already stuffed with better creatures. It might find its way into other aggro decks, maybe in combination with blink.
[*] :uw: Steel of the Godhead One of the two playable Aura’s. It has the closest resemblance to Armadillo Cloak, but only if you put it on a :uw: creature. The number of playable :uw: creatures is sadly limited (2) and putting this on a blue or white creature for the unblockability or lifelink only seems a waste. Armadillo Cloak is also very good in combination with hard to deal with threats (like Ledgewalker) and the :uw: creatures in Shadowmoor aren’t hard to deal with, leading to a quick 2 for 1 against you.
[*] :uw: Turn to Mist It’s day in the sun will be when Blink leaves. Even then, I doubt if this will be played much. The flashback-y-ness of Blink was what put it over the top. This can remove blockers as compensation, but it isn’t even on the same planet as Blink in terms of playability.
[*] :ub: Scarscale Ritual A very interesting card, if you (wrongly!) think it is an instant even more so. Ritual will be a card you will see a lot of in black or blue based aggro decks, converting an unused creature (such as a Keldon Marauders) into two cards. Used this way it is pure gas at a very low cost. If you can use it as a sacrifice outlet (for Mudbutton Torchrunner or Festering Goblin) it becomes even better.
[*] :rb: Sootstoke Kindler Common Fires of Yavimaya? Seems extremely playable in some sort of fatty aggro deck. I’d love my Treefolk beaters to start the beating a turn earlier, or for certain fat Elementals to kill you out of the blue. Watch out for this often overlooked little man.
[*] :rg: Giantbaiting is the card that has seen the most light out of SHM. Multiple red and/or green decks have already popped up using this as an easy way to deal 4 or 8, or dispatch two bothersome blockers without trading your creatures for theirs. I think with the huge amount of blockers in standard (even all control decks use early drops (Phyrexian Rager, Riftwatcher) to hold of damage until there endgame comes on-line) that the Gaints are better than Inner-Flame Acolyte, who usually gets chumped. The potential of a two-for-one in aggro and clearing the way for an attack next turn OR 8 points of damage is really enticing.
[*] :rg: Scuzzback Marauders Hugely expensive, but one of the closest things we get to Giant Solifuge. It also tramples, can be played in either red or green decks and cant be dealt with with a single removal spell. Haste is severely missed though. Might find its place in Devoted Druid ramp decks.
[*] :rg: Manamorphose A card I’m not really excited about, but Storm combo players rejoice. It is a free cantrip that fixes your mana and has “storm +1″. A bit boring but usable.
[*] :gw: Safehold Elite The other playable persisting creature. Without a way to remove the counters, I don’t think it is that good. Going from a 5/2 trample to a 4/1 one is far better than getting a 1/1 after death. The “token” is just not that useful when your Elite has perished (later than turn 3). It will be played though, especially in conjunction with the next card.
[*] :gw: Shield of the Oversoul A massive bomb if it is resolved on Selesnya creature, such as Elite or Medicine Runner. Playing it on a mono-green creature is also not bad (try facing a Shielded Nath’s Elites, repeatable WoG anyone?). That isn’t to say there aren’t answers. A removal spell on the target (before it resolves) still gives away a two-for-one. Toughness lowering effects (such as Nameless Inversion or Ichor Slick) and bounce still pose trouble for the Shield. I think this might fall nicely into Elves decks (alongside Elite, Medicine Runner and maybe Scuzzback Marauders and Devoted Druid). Testing should make clear if the hoops you need to jump through and the weaknesses of the Aura weigh more than the bonus it grants.
So that was my SHM overview. What do you think? What did I miss, what did I overvalue? See you at the next MM!