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Jun 01 2016

Multiplayer Madness 31 – Shadows over Innistrad, Part 2

Hi all, welcome back to Multiplayer Madness, the column about all things multiplayer here on MTGCasualPlay.com!

Today, we’re finally talking about the rest of Shadows over Innistrad, namely black, blue, multicolored and artifacts. The first part of my review can be found here and dealt with white, green and transform cards.

So, without futher ado, here are my thoughts on quite a few selected cards. Let’s go!

BLACK

[card]Behold the Beyond[/card] – For one mana more, [card]Diabolic Revelation[/card] lets me search for three cards while not making me discard my hand first. It’s also far more flexible than [card]Behold the Beyond[/card] will ever be. Thanks, I’ll pass.

[card]Call the Bloodline[/card] – “Only once each turn” is certainly a bummer but this is still a very good discard outlet because it’s cheap and can also be activated on your opponents’ turns. And the occasional lifegain might come in handy at one point too.

[card]Diregraf Colossus[/card] – Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m not a big tribal fan. I just don’t like limiting myself so much when building a deck. This doesn’t mean that I’m not able to recognize a good tribal card when I see it though, and this guy is certainly powerful. How about combining him with a discard outlet, [card]Haakon, Stromgald Scourge[/card] and [card]Nameless Inversion[/card] for loads of zombie tokens? And while we’re already at it, let’s just throw in [card]Waste Not[/card] and [card]Dark Deal[/card] as well. Ha, there might be a deck there…

[card]Ever After[/card] – This is going straight into my [card]Karador, Ghost Chieftain[/card] Commander deck.

[card]From Under the Floorboards[/card] – Flavorwise, it’s really fitting that most zombie tokens enter the battlefield tapped. I mean, zombies are supposed to be slow, aren’t they? Playwise though, this is a major issue as it means that you’re spending mana without getting immediate value. The lifegain certainly helps but you should still try to cast this via madness as often as possible.

[card]Liliana’s Indignation[/card] – Don’t mistake this card for what it’s not. First and foremost, it fuels your graveard deck. Making another player lose life should just be an added bonus as [card]Liliana’s Indignation[/card] is far too unreliable to function as a kill spell. I mean, unless you manage to manipulate the top cards of your library, you’ll obviously never now how many creatures you are going to hit, right?

[card]Markov Dreadknight[/card] – This dude can grow huge pretty quickly while at the same time functioning as a discard outlet. I would have preferred him as a 2/2 at the four mana spot though.

[card]Mindwrack Demon[/card] – Four life?! Every turn I don’t have delirium? Screw symmetry! Couldn’t they have made it three? If you can’t get four different card types into your graveyard, this guy kills you within five turns all by himself! Urgh…

[card]Murderous Compulsion[/card] – My God, people were complaining about the art of [card]Blessed Spirits[/card]. But what about this? It’s giving me the creeps. David Palumbo captured that moment far too well…

[card]Pale Rider of Trostad[/card] – This is what [card]Drekavac[/card] always wanted to be. An early beater that also gets your graveyard shenanigans going and can occasionally sneak in a few points of damage in the later game. Great!

[card]Sinister Concoction[/card] – For only two mana and one life, you destroy a creature and put three cards into your graveyard. In the right deck, this little enchantment is far better than it looks at first glance.

[card]Triskaidekaphobia[/card] – This is as unwieldy a win condition as I’ve ever seen. If you can make it work, more power to you. I’ll stay away though. And the name is going to give sooo many players fits…

BLUE

[card]Confirm Suspicions[/card] – Normally, keeping five mana open for a counterspell is too much. However, there is a hidden aspect that makes this card interesting, namely that it creates three artifacts in one go. And there are quite a few cards that care for the number of artifacts you control. Keep this instant in mind when you’re building your next artifact deck – it might come in handy.

[card]Engulf the Shore[/card] – I’m not a fan of monoblue decks in multiplayer as blue has problems keeping things permanently off the table unless you’re constantly throwing counterspells at your opponents (and if that’s what you do, most people probably won’t enjoy playing with you). That said, if you happen to be piloting a monoblue deck, you could do worse than using this, especially because it allows you to build your deck accordingly and include a lot of high toughness monsters that won’t get returned to your hand.

[card]Epiphany at the Drownyard[/card] – It would be better if your opponent split the cards and you chose which pile to put into your hand and which into your graveyard (see [card]Fact or Fiction[/card]).

[card]Essence Flux[/card] – Saving a creature while at the same time making it stronger for only a single blue mana sounds good to me. And if you can use it on a creature with an ETB effect, that’s even better.

[card]Fleeting Memories[/card] – Investigate is a rather slow and clunky form of card draw, so relying on it to mill somebody doesn’t sound like a good idea. The only thing that’s interesting here is that this enchantment doesn’t care how you sacrifice the clues, meaning that you don’t necessarily have to use investigate to trigger it.

[card]Forgotten Creation[/card] – Oh my God! This dude sifts through your deck and fills your graveyard with goodies at an alarming rate. Be careful if somebody drops it onto the battlefield and try to get rid of it as soon as possible. A great engine for graveyard shenanigans.

[card]Geralf’s Masterpiece[/card] – All in all, this is only a beater that can return itself to the battlefield. Discarding three cards is a harsh cost, so your deck should be able to benefit from this aspect. If it can’t, there are a lot of better options out there.

[card]Invasive Surgery[/card] – This is a narrow, narrow card…

[card]Jace, Unraveler of Secrets[/card] – This, however, is not. The newest iteration of blue’s most important planeswalker is a nice card selection / draw engine that can also protect itself to some extent. The thing is, the prospect of Jace reaching his ultimate will really annoy the table, so be prepared to draw a lot of hate as soon as you cast him. You’ve been warned.

[card]Manic Scribe[/card] – [card]The Mimeoplasm[/card] really likes overeager scribblers.

[card]Ongoing Investigation[/card] – [card]Coastal Piracy[/card] this is not. As I mentioned above somewhere, investigate is too clunky and slow for me.

[card]Pieces of the Puzzle[/card] – This card is very good card draw/selection for decks that use a lot of instants and sorceries. Having told you this piece of obvious information, I’ll now go and make myself a coffee.


Okay, I’m back. What, you’re still here? Well, what are you waiting for? Read on!

[card]Pore Over the Pages[/card] – I’d prefer [card]Frantic Search[/card] or [card]Thirst for Knowledge[/card] any day – depending on the format, of course.

[card]Reckless Scholar[/card] – Finally a looter that can help out other players. Interesting for political purposes or just cool in team formats. I like him even though I would shave off one mana if I could.

[card]Welcome to the Fold[/card] – Even with madness, this is one of the most expensive steal spells ever printed. I’ll take [card]Control Magic[/card] or even [card]Mind Control[/card] over this every time.

MULTICOLORED

[card]Altered Ego[/card] – A good [card]Clone[/card] variant that can even fuel the +1/+1 counters theme of your deck (if it has one, eh?).

[card]Anguished Unmaking[/card] – Powerful! Don’t mess with the Sorin! Just be warned: The 3 life can really add up in formats with a maximum of only 20 life per player.

[card]Fevered Visions[/card] – “At the beginning of EACH player’s end step”? Yay! Finally a [card]Howling Mine[/card] effect that’s strong in team Magic! You see, because it says “each player”, this enchantment will deal damage to the opposing team equal to twice the number of players on that team. Love it!

[card]The Gitrog Monster[/card] – This card is a beast – but it’s better in duels than in multiplayer. Unless you build your deck accordingly, you won’t want to sacrifice too many lands, and [card]The Gitrog Monster[/card]’s inherent card draw only softens the impact. Combine it with things like [card]Life from the Loam[/card] to avoid trouble with your mana supply completely.

[card]Invocation of Saint Traft[/card] – [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card] was so powerful because it was a cheap creature that kept bringing a friend to the party. And because it had hexproof. Don’t forget the hexproof. The geist was an aggressive package. His invocation though is a lot worse as your opponents can kill the creature you want to enchant in response while the aura is still on the stack. Oh, and it doesn’t provide hexproof. Just saying.

[card]Nahiri, the Harbinger[/card] – So, Nahiri is the evil boss in Shadows over Innistrad? Or is it Emrakul who’s pulling her strings? I guess we’ll find out soon enough. Playwise, Nahiri is exactly what Boros needs: card draw and removal in a single card. Great! Only the ultimate is a headscratcher even though it works really well with Eldrazi titans like [card]Emrakul, the Aeons Torn[/card]. Hm, is that a clue?

[card]Olivia, Mobilized for War[/card] – With the new Olivia on the battlefield, each card in your hand is now a split card, with the second option being “Discard this card: Target creature that entered the battlefield this turn gains haste. Put a +1/+1 counter on that creature. It becomes a vampire in addition to its other types.” Is that good? You bet! I picture her in an aggressive Mardu reanimator shell where she is played alongside a few fatties and [card]Unburial Rites[/card].

[card]Prized Amalgam[/card] – A 3/3 for three mana is already okay but considering that you can return this dude from your graveyard to the battlefield for free whenever a creature enters the battlefield from your graveyard makes him a bargain even if he returns only once. He reminds a lot of [card]Bladewing’s Thrall[/card] without the focus on a specific creature type.

[card]Sigarda, Heron’s Grace[/card] – So, Sigarda is the only legendary angel on Innistrad who remains sane while Avacyn, Gisela and Bruna all succumb to the madness. I wonder why that is. With regard to the game however, the new Sigarda is overshadowed by her former iteration, [card]Sigarda, Host of Herons[/card], who was a Constructed powerhouse. Still, she isn’t a bad card at all. I mean, she is a 4/5 flier who protects you and any humans you control and provides you with an army if necessary. All of that for five mana? What’s not to like? Give her a whirl, people. You might be positively surprised.

[card]Sorin, Grim Nemesis[/card] – That +1 ability is sooo overpowered in multiplayer! Seriously, you draw a card AND damage all of your opponents? Wow. Just wow. Even if that was all, I would already play the shit out of this card. But no, Sorin can also kill creatures and planeswalkers, boost your life and give you a ridiculously large army? What were they thinking when they designed him? This guy is utterly insane and easily my pick for “Most Powerful Multiplayer Card in Shadows over Innistrad”. Uhm, the art though… Does anybody else think of power metal in the 90’s when you look at this card?

ARTIFACTS

[card]Brain in a Jar[/card] – Put this into your blue and red spells build and see how it kicks that deck into overdrive. Nice.

[card]Magnifying Glass[/card] – A mana artifact that can occasionally draw you a card for … what?! Six frikkin’ mana?! Rglhrmpf! Go home, Wizards.

[card]Slayer’s Plate[/card] – A boost of +4/+2 is something we haven’t seen often on equipment, and for an equip cost of 3, that’s actually a fairly good deal. Still, there is a lot of good equipment in the 3-mana slot so this will problably be limited to human tribal decks only where the second ability matters as well.

[card]Tamiyo’s Journal[/card] – This is another one in the long range of artifacts with a high mana cost that provide you with some form of card advantage. Other representatives of this are [card]Mind’s Eye[/card] or [card]Staff of Nin[/card]. Is [card]Tamiyo’s Journal[/card] any good? Well, in a vacuum, I’d say it’s too slow as it takes three turns before you can search your library and even longer if you sacrifice some of the clues for cards. Then again, if you put it into a deck that can generate clues through other means ([card]Confirm Suspicions[/card] anyone?), this thing can be really powerful and tutor up stuff almost every turn. You see, the journal doesn’t care where you get your clues from, just that you have them. Cool, n’est-ce pas?

[card]Wild-Field Scarecrow[/card] – From a multiplayer angle, this could be a real sleeper as it combines early defense with ramp. Under the right circumstances, this might even be better than [card]Yavimaya Elder[/card].

Fries with Chocolate Sauce

That sounds disgusting, doesn’t it? Although I’d bet there’s someone on this planet who likes the combination.
Uh, yes. Well, be that as it may, this concludes my review of Shadows over Innistrad. Quite a few interesting cards in there, don’t you think? My personal favorites are [card]Sorin, Grim Nemesis[/card], [card]Thing in the Ice[/card], [card]Forgotten Creation[/card], [card]Olivia, Mobilized for War[/card] and [card]Fevered Visions[/card]. Which cards do you like, and why? Any new deck ideas? Let me know in the comments!
Eldritch Moon will be coming out next (Eternal Masters? Who cares?) and I’m already stoked to see how the story proceeds.

Until next time then!

Cheers!

Kuchisama

2 comments

  1. cailtis

    Great write-up again, Kuchisama. Innistrad being my favorite plane, I, too, am anxious to see what unfolds next. After reading your post and looking through some more of the obscure cards of the set, though, I continue to be impressed with this set’s attention to flavor detail and prioritization of interactivity (even the commons/uncommons designed for Limited are fun too look at).

  2. Kuchisama

    Thanks! I’m glad you liked it.

    Yeah, the attention to detail (especially in the artworks) is amazing. There was an article on DailyMtG the other day in which they talked about hidden clues in the paintings regarding future events on Innistrad, and what can I say? There is sooo much going on in the pictures alone (and don’t forget the packages they actually sent out to selected folks all over the world which included objects and letters from fictional characters who are living on Innistrad) that people who do not read about that kind of thing won’t ever grasp the whole storyline. Wow, just wow. It’s no wonder that the Innistrad blocks are amongst the most successful sets Wizards have ever produced.

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