Well fellow planeswalkers, it seems our time with Zendikar is coming to a close. Let us briefly reflect on all this block has given us: a whole new basic land type, new mechanics and, in the story, a new group of planeswalkers dedicated to fighting the remaining Eldrazi and working together to route out evil on other planes. Well, they’ve certainly got their work cut out for them as Wizards moves on to Shadows Over Innistrad dropping on April 8. All weekend, the official site has been flooding us with information on the new set, but I’m here to help you make sense of it all.
So say your farewells to the world-consuming Eldrazi and their brood, farewell to the plane whose own landscapes could rear up and attack at any moment and farewell to the Allies fighting for their lives. It’s on to Innistrad!
As with every upcoming new set, the best way to get your hands on some cards and take that first initial step into the unknown are the pre-release events! At these events, players are given pre-release packs and must make a deck of 40 cards, within a time limit, with the cards they’re given. No outside cards are allowed, so everyone starts off on equal footing and anyone has a chance for first place. Just participating the events usually gives you some cool items like a themed deck box and dice and you get to keep the cards you’re given! First place prizes are unique to each store. Of course, these events focus on fun and enjoying the new set, so even if you’re a more casual player this is a great time to get an early look at the upcoming cards.
The pre-release for Shadows Over Innistrad is set for the weekend of April 2-3. Oogie Games’ Niagara Falls location will, of course, be hosting the event so come on out and have some fun exploring the dark and twisted forces seeping into Innistrad. For more information on pre-release events, check out the the official site.
Calling All Puzzle Solvers:
Alright, now to the real reason we’re all here. What have the minds at Wizards been cooking up for our return to Innistrad? When we last left the plane, the eternal rivals, angel Avacyn and demon Griselbrand, were released from their prison to start anew the war between humans and the evil forces constantly banging on their doors. Avacyn, the worshipped savior and protector of humanity should have helped turned the tide for the forces of good, but something has gone wrong, horribly wrong. Those forces meant to protect humanity have been corrupted by some unknown force and the plane is in a worse state than ever before.
Well, this weekend, players at Grand Prix’s around the world were given puzzles to solve by Wizards of the Coast with the help of followers on social media. Each puzzle solved ends with a new card reveal on the official site. Lend a hand to your fellow planeswalkers by following Magic: The Gathering on twitter. Or, if you’re eager to get a look at some of the new cards already shown, check out the interactive map of Innistrad on the main site. Each reveal offers a little more insight into what’s rotten in the state of Innistrad.
If you’re a fan of the horror cliche of the mad scientist, cranking out crazy experiments with no thought of morality or just a fan of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, check out the Stitcher’s Lab. If you’d rather explore the creepy, old, abandoned mansion on a hilltop reminiscent of the Bela Lugosi Dracula, check out Markov Manor. Lastly, if you want to see a town, twisted and corrupted by dark forces like Holstenwall from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, enjoy Thraben Cathedral.
Zombies and Vampires and Werewolves, Oh My:
That’s not the only news we’ve received on Innistrad, however. The tribal nature of our previous trip to Innistrad is still in full swing, meaning new fun zombies, vampires, werewolves, and all around creepy new items to explore. This also means, the reveal of our first ever Werewolf Planeswalker, Arlinn Kord!
Arlinn will be a series of firsts for Magic, and not only because she’s the first werewolf planeswalker. Almost every werewolf card has the transform mechanic, meaning that after you follow a certain guideline set on the card, it flips and the creature is, “transformed,” into a new one. We saw some transforming planeswalker cards back in Magic Origins, but have yet to see one in a storyline set. Could Arlinn be the first?
We’ve also got some fun new mechanics to look forward to. Madness, in which you pay an alternate cost if the card is discarded, makes a return after not being seen since the Time Spiral block in 2006. The new mechanic, Delirium, gives players added bonuses when four or more card types are in your graveyard. Investigate, will test players’ patience by having you wait and build up Clue tokens for powerful effects. Finally, Skulk, gives the little guys some power by saying that the creature can’t be blocked by another with a higher power.
What do these new mechanics mean in the overall, big picture? Well, Investigate is clearly referencing Jace’s time on Innistrad, but exactly what he’s investigating we don’t know yet. Delirium and Madness relate to the unknown mental sickness, decay, and corruption taking over the most wealthy and influential leaders who were once the shining hope of humanity. Skulk is for the creatures in the shadows. Those things that go bump in the night and stalk you from the darkness. Seems like they’re presence is only growing.
For those looking to get a jump start on the story, the first chapter has been made available on the official site here. I’m glad that the dark, Gothic horror themes from the last Innistrad block have carried over to this one. As a horror fan, this may be the most exciting set I’ve seen so far. What are your first thoughts? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading, and keep yourself safe from the shadows lurking in the night.