Hype for Shadows Over Innistrad is in full swing this week with dozens of card previews as well as news of upcoming goodies and promotions. Never before have I been so excited to see an entire plane fall into madness and decay. Let’s see what surprises are lurking in the shadows…
Trick or Treat:
The release of any new set always comes with some enticing treats for old and new players alike. Most of these come in the form of alternate art cards found in special products, or this incredible looking playmat awarded to the first place contender of Game Day tournaments:
Oh, the story implications within that picture-but we’ll save that for a later date. For now, let’s focus on one of the most new-player friendly products that Wizards sells-the Intro Packs! These are pre-made, 60 card decks that come ready to play right out of the box, lands included. There are five different decks, each with their own color palette and strategy to fit any play style. If you find yourself stuck in the process of making your own deck, or feel you’re still too inexperienced to construct one, these are the perfect alternatives as you can modify them to your heart’s content or even use them to test against your fledgling deck. Oh, and did I mention each one comes with a signature rare?
Next up is the perfect gift for any Magic lovers birthday-Gift Boxes. These little demons come packed with 5 booster packs, a storage box with dividers, fancy stickers, and basic lands. Shadows, however, will take it one step further by including an alternate art copy of the new card Ravenous Bloodseeker:
Finally, those taking part in any Shadows Over Innistrad release events on April 8, like Friday Night Magic events which take place at Oogie’s Niagara Falls location, can receive a special promo card, Angel of Deliverance:
Isn’t she terrifyingly beautiful? For a more detailed look at the products and prizes coming at release date (including those rares I mentioned in the Intro Packs) check out the official preview article here.
Why Can’t I Hold All These Cards:
Now for the real reason we’re all here. Card reveals. The Magic Facebook page has been going crazy all week, dishing out previews for cards left and right with more coming every few days right up until release. Luckily, Wizards has nicely compiled all the reveals for you to check out on their main site. With dozens of cards to sift through, I figure I’d focus on the most important reveals. Those cards that drive the strategy of every deck and every set. Those cards that are so powerful that they can level the playing field and guarantee victory in any match. That’s right, I’m talking about the Planeswalkers, and so far Shadows is bursting at the seams with four of these powerful guys. Let’s see what exactly these multi-planar beings have in store for us.
We’ll start with our newcomer to the lore, Arlinn, the first ever werewolf Planeswalker. As I predicted before, she’s also special in that she’s the first transforming Planeswalker with loyalty abilities on both sides. When we first saw transforming Planeswalkers back in Magic Origins, they were creatures on one side and Planeswalkers on the other. Better yet, both sides equal a total of five abilities, another first and the most seen on one Planeswalker to date! First, lets talk about her transform ability which is free and lets you put creatures on the field. Since she only costs four mana, having abilities that make creatures and then others to pump them up and keep the pressure on your opponents will make her a powerhouse and a must have for anyone looking to build a tribal werewolf deck. Her other abilities also give her the flexibility and damage dealing potential to fit in several decks, even with a rather low starting loyalty. Certainly a strong showing for our new friend.
This next one, I’m not ashamed to admit, made me cheer out loud. Storywise, Nahiri has been a mystery for several blocks. As a native of Zendikar, she was one of the trio who originally trapped the Eldrazi. She was supposed to stay and make sure their prison remained intact, but mysteriously disappeared. We all saw last block what happened when the Eldrazi’s warden wasn’t there to keep them in check, and now we’ll hopefully get to see what she’s been up to for the past thousands of years. As another four cost Planeswalker, Nahiri’s card is designed perfectly for the returning Madness mechanic, the one that lets you cast cards for an alternate cost when you discard them. Her second ability makes it even better by giving her the power to protect herself from threats. But, oh, that final ability will be ungodly with the Eldrazi from Zendikar. By turn six, you could potentially attack your opponent with this guy! Expect to see several decks emerge based around Madness and the Eldrazi because of this. Another strong showing.
Alright, as much as I like Jace as a character, Wizards bias is showing at this point. Magic’s golden boy has now had seven different cards devoted to him and this set brings another. Not that I can complain, however, because at the cost of 5 and abilities that control the battlefield, he will be an exceptional late game threat. Replenishing cards into your hand is also always accepted. However, it will take an awful long time to build up to that final ability, especially if you’re taking that -2 to protect him from threats. All in all, I’d say a rather mediocre showing from our old friend.
Now may be the time to show my bias, as Sorin has been my favorite Planeswalker ever since the first Innistrad block, but can you blame me? He’s the oldest character in lore, besides the elder dragons Ugin and Bolas, and another one responsible for trapping the Eldrazi on Zendikar so long ago. When we last saw him, he was on his way to find Nahiri to once again help against the Eldrazi. Apparently, he has found her, but what happens between them we can only gleam from the cards for now. Speaking of Eldrazi, here’s another card that will work well with any Eldrazi deck. With the high cost of several Eldrazi cards, one can easily use the +1 ability to gain 5-12 life in a single turn! Meanwhile, his second ability and high starting loyalty will protect him from threats at the additional cost of giving you life back. Finally, for anyone looking to build tribal vampire decks this go-around, his last ability is insane. His painful cost of six mana will be well worth it if you can keep him alive, which may be tough with multiple threats. He may not be as flexible as some others, but his abilities can certainly have your opponent crying for mercy under the right conditions. I’d say this is a pretty good showing, but will most likely only be seen in decks looking to build strong combos off his abilities.
That’s all the space I’ll take up for now. Next week I’ll take a look at some of the Mythic Rares popping up. Which Planeswalker is your favorite so far? Which ones are you already planning to build decks around? Let us know in the comments.
What’s in a Name:
With all these new cards and concepts flying around, you may be asking yourself how those crazy people at Wizards contain the chaos. If you’ve ever been interested in the work that goes into every set, check out this behind the scenes set of articles detailing how the set came to be.
Keep an eye on those calendars everyone, the shadows are almost upon us. What path will you take to survive their onslaught? Thanks for reading!