The Monday Mulligan: Shadowmoor, what to get?

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=]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!

7 Responses to “The Monday Mulligan: Shadowmoor, what to get?”

  1. KingRitz says:

    I thought we were done with the “maby”s… not to be too nitpicking, but it would read much more professional if you could just spell “maybe.”
    Ballynock Cohort does compete in the busy three-drop slot, but not with Riftwatcher or Zealot. I have long argued that WW’s threat-density needs mean that running a full Rebel utility suite is WRONG and Ballynock Cohort is much preferable to Riftwatcher and Zealot. Ballynock Cohort really competes primarily with Avian Changeling, Burrenton Bombardiers, Thistledown Duo, and perhaps Kithkin Zephyrnauts. As such, I see it being right on the bubble and so worth picking up.
    I think Last Breath might warrant standard play, perhaps in UW Merfolk (post-rotation, maybe?). I’d take a peek at Niveous Wisps too.
    Briarberry Cohort is worth playing, but not because it enables Latchkey Faerie; Briarberry Cohort is not a rogue.
    Consign to Dream is definitely worth discussion; it’s certain to at least make some sideboards to wreck red, green, and red/green aggro.
    I’d also toss Smolder Initiate a bone; it’s curve-friendly for any black aggro deck that might arise.
    Farhaven Elf’s better comparator is Wood Elves. Think of it as Wood Elves on steroids and you’ll feel much less disappointed in its potential.
    Juvenile Gloomwidow and Nurturer Initiate both warrant mentions.
    Good AEthertow analysis.
    Thistledown Duo is the best duo and is good enough to warrant a mention.
    Oona’s Gatewarden could play in control-ish Faerie decks as a better Spellstutter enabler than, say, Cloud Sprite, so it deserves a mention. Fate Transfer is so novel and intriguing that it should get a mention too.
    Sootstoke Kindler can’t give most of your Treefolk haste, since it only works on red and black creatures. It’s also a 1/1 for 2. It’s definitely no Fires. I’m not sold on its playability.
    I’ll bet at least one of Morselhoarder, Runes of the Deus, or Tattermunge Duo will see play.
    You forgot that you CAN remove Safehold Elite’s counters, with his best friend and highly playable mana cost buddy Medicine Runner (who warranted mention). I’ve also seen Safehold Duo get Standard play.

  2. cRUMMYdUMMY says:

    Overall spot on review, Sypher.
    I did feel as though you undervalued Ballynock Cohort though. As a 3/3 First Strike, he will dominate the combat phase, destroying every commonly played creature except for EE. He is the second biggest man for only three mana. Sure, he is vulnerable to removal, but what creature isn’t? As for him competing with Riftwatchers or Zealot, I think the Cohort will generally be the stronger play unless going against a specific deck that needs Riftwatchers or Zealot, which can be boarded in.
    Intimidator Initiate is overvalued since it’s abilities simply tie up your mana. RDW is usually more mana light than WW. Most of your mana will be tied up in burns and playing creatures, I don’t think there will be enough mana to use his ability.
    I felt Silkbind Faerie was overvalued as well. 3 mana for a 1/3 flyer is overcosted. Even with it’s ability, which costs 2 mana, it is not a very good card. The last redeeming factor is Steel of the Godhead. That hardly makes it better at all. I think the costs outweigh the benefits.

  3. cRUMMYdUMMY says:

    @ KingRitz
    Briarberry Cohort does enable Latchkey Faerie since he is a faerie. Prowl is enabled by creature and class type, not only class.
    Why is Thistle Duo the best duo? It seems worse than Tattermunge and Safehold.

  4. SypherSun says:

    Not nitpicking at all King, I forgot the spell checker! I’m typing in Word just to remove those pesky spelling mistakes, but I have to activate that little baby if I want to make use of it. Removed them all.
    About Ballynock: I find Avian Changeling to be a must, because of its synergies with the Slivers and Rebel. The next three drop in the deck is usually Riftwatcher/Zealot. In an unknown meta, I might go for Cohort, but the other options (Rift/Zea/Bombardiers) are far better if you expect something (RDW/WW/Toughness based removal). That is not because they are Rebels, but because they do great utility stuff in those matchups.
    I know you like Last Breath, but I don’t see its usefulness because I find it too restrictive and there are better options (Temporal Isolation). Niveous Wisp, really?
    Latchkey can be prowled with Faeries too, read the card.
    I think Consign is good in FutEx, because it can bounce a Karoo. In Standard it is just a 3 mana bounce spell or a instant Time Ebb. Don’t think it will be played that much.
    Smolder Initiate is a nice roleplayer and should have gotten a mention.
    Sure Farhaven is a steroidized Wood Elves, but that is already worse than Wayfinder. And Wood Elves makes it come into play untapped, huge difference.
    I like Gloomwidow outside of Standard, but it serves less function inside of it because the most dangerous flyers have Flanking (Knight of Sursi and Avian Changeling (sorta)).
    Thanks on Aethertow!
    I don’t think you can abuse Thistledown enough. It is either a 2/2 Flyer for 3 or a 3/3 most of the time. On second thought, that might just be playable, considering it is more than that sometimes too.
    I love me some Gatewarden and it’s exclusion is not justified. It is removal you can drop early and a Spellstutter enabler. Fate Transfer is novel, but there is no way of abusing it (a la Grief Tyrant).
    I misread Kindler. The RB clause makes it far worse. I still think it might find its way into some kind of RB Husk Elemental deck.
    I don’t like Morselhoarder in comparison to other fatties (Scuzzback or Aurochs). Its infinite combo is nice though. Runes is too expensive and the playable targets are too few. Playing it for just one of the two abilities seems underwhelming. Know of any red tramplers it could enchant?
    I like Safehold in conjunction with Runner, probably alonside Shield. I didn’t give it its own section, but made note of it under Shield.
    Thnx for the reply!

  5. Relwarbeht says:

    Kingritz, you can prowl Latchkey faerie off faeries and rogues, I was surprised when I found out as well. As for the article, very good, the analysis of Giantbaiting and Devoted Druid are spot on, both will be played. The Druid is just stupid good, with Aurochs Herd and drifter alone I could see it being bomby. I have to agree that farhaven elf’s body is a big draw back. I really wanted it to be good, its a shame civic wayfarer is in the format. Kingritz is right, R/G aggro will be strong, even if its mono-red ish with hybrids or green. Tattermunge duo is nasty, as is the U/W duo. I could also see the U/B duo in a rogue build. All in all I’m excited for the new format, should be fun as nothing seems to have been broken by the new set.

  6. Polyjak says:

    And, of course, if you want to use these awesome new cards in a format where they’ll actually WORK, you’ll want to check out BPDC 3.01 on Monday at 8:30pm EST in /join BPDC — Lorwyn-Shadowmoor Block Constructed Pauper. Check it out!

  7. KingRitz says:

    My mistake on the Latchkey Faerie/Briarberry Cohort interaction. I always assumed that Prowl only worked with damage from Rogues, rather than just appearing on Rogues but triggering on any matching-typed damage.
    Niveous Wisps is a cheap cantrip mini-Blinding Beam for White Weenie. It totally embarasses decks that rely on a big blocker or two to survive — much like Somnomancer and even better with the two together. I see it having SB potential at least.
    Ballynock Cohort: I repeat that I *HATE* the utility Rebels in WW. I think they’re wrong and fundamentally counter to the deck’s “plan”; Riftwatcher and Zealot are simply not “threats” against the average control deck. Cohort is. Also, as WW moves away from Slivers and toward Kithkin tribal bases, it may turn out that Cohort has all the creature types that really matter. That would push both it and the free-pumping Duo past Avian Changeling.
    As for Duo: If WW adopts Duo, Somnomancer, and perhaps some Steels, Thistledown Duo would be a minimum 3/3 for 3 (if you’re WW but are neither casting nor winning on the board, you’re losing) and sometimes 4/4 and/or flying. It’s relevantly-typed, it wears one of the two best auras, and it’s even the second-most-respectable Duo un-pumped (behind Tattermunge, of course).
    Decks like Merfolk LOVE Last Breath. In a deck like that, it’s got some significant advantages over other options. In a Blink environment, removal auras are risky. I have also lost a game to an Isolated EE that swung, stacked lethal damage, and then got Skredded by its controler — a cute but dirty trick that reemphasizes Isolation’s shortcomings (not that I could Breath an EE, but still…).
    People usually can’t use the untapped-ness of Wood Elves’ Forest, so I prefer Farhaven Elf. Wayfinder, on the other hand, doesn’t accelerate — it just fixes. Farhaven accelerates, which makes it arguably better for Big Mana where all you want is a chump and the acceleration. Farhaven Elf also plays nicer with Blink effects.
    Runes is so good because Doublestrike is so nutty. Runes on a Morselhoarder is an autowin from just about any life total/board position. Even Runes on a Tattermunge Duo is 10 evasive (Forestwalk AND Trample) damage just on the turn it’s cast. Something simple as Runes on Gathan Raiders means your opponent is chumping every turn until they find 4+ toughness removal (and god forbid you clear the way somehow — with, I don’t know, burn or Intimidator or something).
    And yes, I like Morselhoarder a decent amount, mainly because their after-the-fact discount allows Mana Ramp to chain fatties efficiently (and they enjoy the Runes a lot).

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