Welcome to my Shadows over Innistrad review, dear readers! The whole set has been released and we can finally try out all the new toys Wizards gave us. There are bound to be some powerful cards as well as a few hidden gems that we might miss at first. So how about having a look at the transform cards as well as white, green and red? Let’s jump right in!
Archangel Avacyn – Avacyn is the face of Innistrad, so she certainly had to deliver. Her previous incarnations were widely different in application and it seems that Wizards tried to get a little closer to the original Avacyn again as the new version can also protect your team. Take a look at her white side and you’ll see what I mean. Transforming her shouldn’t be a problem but it might happen when you don’t want it. And in case you need to protect your other creatures again, be sure to pack a few blink effects such as Cloudshift to have her enter the battlefield as the white angel again. Oh, and you should also understand now why Serra Angel lost her status as a rare…
Hanweir Militia Captain – This is probably an auto-include in most token decks as it should transform pretty easily and then provide you with a large beater and a steady stream of even more creatures – for free. Good card.
Pious Evangel – I really like the story this card tells and how well the mechanics fits it. Playwise, it’s okay but perhaps on the weaker side of things.
Startled Awake – A mill card that can be used repeatedly and takes a lot of cards away? Sounds good. Also, the flavor behind this card is amazing. Although it’s a little bit slow, I’m definitely going to give it a whirl in my The Mimeoplasm Commander deck.
Thing in the Ice – Early defense that transforms into a big threat that also temporarily clears the board. What’s not to like?
Accursed Witch – Interesting concept but its impact is probably too low to matter much in a multiplayer game.
Elusive Tormentor – Another flavor homerun. Playwise, it’s kind of clunky though.
Geier Reach Bandit – With regard to the flavor, I really love the concept of werewolves and their transform mechanic. I think Wizards managed to capture the uncontrollable nature of lycanthropy pretty well. Unfortunately, this makes the werewolves an extremely unpredictable weapon in your arsenal. In a multiplayer match, doing nothing on your own turn can spell doom whereas the risk of having your werewolves transformed back into humans increases with the number of players sitting around the table. And since the human side is normally rather weak, this isn’t something you’d want to happen in most situations. Geier Reach Bandit might help here but I highly doubt it.
Duskwatch Recruiter – Why doesn’t he put the cards you didn’t choose into your graveyard? Would that have been too powerful? I don’t think so but maybe in conjunction with delirium…? No, probably not even then.
Hermit of the Natterknolls – This guy is a lot better than you might think at first glance. Either they refuse to cast instant-speed spells or you draw cards when they do. Both aspects are desireable, don’t you think?
Sage of Ancient Lore – Oh, how often did I wish for Multani, Maro-Sorcerer to have trample? Well, this dude can get as big as Multani and trample your opponents into the dust. What he doesn’t have is shroud though. Instead, he actually provides the other players with the option to transform him back into his smaller self. He’s interesting but most likely a one-trick pony.
Arlinn Kord – Arlinn is probably the best transform card ever printed for multiplayer purposes and allows you to transform her at will. Basically all of her abilities are cool (although the +1 of her werewolf side is rather narrow). If you’ve read any of my other articles so far, you know that I value haste quite highly, and Arlinn grants it as well as vigilance and a power and toughness boost. A 2/2 every second turn is cool, too, and so is shooting things. Due to the variety of her abilities, Arlinn Kord is a bit difficult to use but very versatile at the same time. I for one definitely like the newest entry into the ranks of the planeswalkers.
Neglected Heirloom – Uhm, you need to equip a creature that can transform itself and then transform it while it’s equipped just to get a +3/+3 bonus and first strike? That’s far too many hoops for me to jump through. I’ll pass.
Westvale Abbey – Lands that can double as win conditions are always intriguing, and this card is really powerful. Sacrificing five creatures is a lot to ask for though, so we can be happy that Ormendahl has lifelink.
Always Watching – Anthem effects are strongest in decks that spam the board with creatures. The best way to do so is by playing a tokens deck. You see the problem Always Watching has? Well, it tries to make up for it by providing vigilance for all your nontoken critters which is actually pretty good. I often get the impression that vigilance is underrated in multiplayer Magic although the logic behind it is pretty easy to understand: Being able to attack without leaving a hole in your defenses sounds good to me, which is why I like beaters like Akroma, Angel of Wrath or Adarkar Valkyrie. That’s why Always Watching is certainly one of the better anthem effects for nontoken decks.
Angel of Deliverance – Eight mana is a lot, and delirium is conditional and might not be active. I’m going to pass here.
Angelic Purge – This is a good card. There is always something that needs to go, and there should always be something you’d be okay to sacrifice. You might actually consider building your deck around a sacrifice theme and include cards like Hatching Plans, Ichor Wellspring, Kokusho, the Evening Star or Archon of Justice.
Bound by Moonsilver – And this card could fit into this deck right away!
Bygone Bishop – White weenie decks often have a problem with reloading if their first wave of aggression is repulsed. This dude can help you out there. Just be aware that investigate is rather slow.
Declaration in Stone – It seems like Nahiri was on a ‘naughty girl’ trip recently. This is a good card, especially against token decks. Sadly, it’s not an instant…
Descend upon the Sinful – Please compare this card to Final Judgment. The only difference is that it has delirium. Is the occasional 4/4 Angel token worth making this a mythic rare? I don’t think so. Apart from that, Descend upon the Sinful isn’t bad but has a lot of competitors at six mana, especially the excellent Merciless Eviction and Austere Command.
Drogskol Cavalry – Basically everything about this card is overcosted. Better stay away from it.
Nahiri’s Machinations – This enchantment looks like it has a lot of potential at the multiplayer table. I’m just not yet sure where to use it.
Not Forgotten – This allows you a little political intrigue if you so want as it isn’t limited to your own graveyard. If someone’s Mana Reflection, Akroma’s Memorial or Staff of Domination needs to be destroyed, that Acidic Slime in the graveyard to your left starts to look rather interesting…
Open the Armory – A tutor that can search for both of white’s most supporting card subtypes? Cool.
Topplegeist – Delirium makes this guy a harmless looking powerhouse in multiplayer, especially in team formats.
Crawling Sensation – For only three mana, this card fuels graveyard decks and provides defense at the same time. Also, don’t forget that it doesn’t care where the land cards are coming from. If you discard a land card (for example via Seismic Assault or the new Pack Guardian), you’ll get the Insect token as well.
Cryptolith Rite – Convoke for every card in your hand? Just don’t tap too many creatures if it leaves you open for attacks.
Deathcap Cultivator – A mana dork that eventually gets deathtouch. Nothing spectacular, so I don’t really understand why he isn’t an uncommon.
Seasons Past – This should easily return at least three cards from your graveyard, possibly more. However, you cannot choose any cards that share a converted mana cost which might be really annyoing in some cases. Also, six mana isn’t exactly cheap… I think it’s interesting enough to try out but I wouldn’t expect too much.
Second Harvest – Another card for token decks to go over the top.
Soul Swallower – As soon as you hit the four card types in your graveyard, this monster will keep on growing for free. And since it already has trample, it might soon cause a few headaches. Then again, Kalonian Hydra this is not…
Avacyn’s Judgment – This is a powerful spell. Early on, it can take out mana dorks and thus stymie an opponent’s board development. Later on, it can just kill players. Just be aware of the fact that you need a discard outlet for using madness which makes the X version a bit clunky.
Devils’ Playground – Sorry, but six mana is too much for this effect.
Flameblade Angel – At first glance, this girl seems a bit on the expensive side. Then you start to realize how much damage she can dole out. The key part is “to you or a permanent you control” so something as simple as combat damage to your own creatures already triggers her ability. If this isn’t punishment, I don’t know what is.
Geistblast – An interesting concept that combines to very different effects with each other. Three mana for only two damage is too much though but the copy effect might make up for it.
Goldnight Castigator – Wow. This card is misleading like no other! I mean, the 9 toughness look amazing at four mana, right? Unfortunately, due to her third ability, it’s actually only 4 because 5 damage already kill her. So basically, this angel is a 4/4 flier with haste that doubles all the damage that is dealt to you. All of a sudden, she doesn’t look all that great anymore, does she?
Harness the Storm – Don’t expect this to trigger all that often unless you can tutor for the spells you want to copy. If you can though… And luckily, most tutors are instants or sorceries as well. I like it and will definitely try it out!
Sin Prodder – Amazing art aside, this devil looks expremely dangerous. Why? Because as soon as he’s on the battlefield, you’ll never draw another land. You’ve been warned.
Wolf of Devil’s Breach – A 5/5 for five mana is already okay but not spectacular. However, this Elemental Wolf doubles as a discard outlet and a damage dealer and reminds me a bit of Spellbound Dragon, a monster I’ve used to great effect in the past. The wolf is weaker in that it doesn’t draw you a card, doesn’t fly, requires mana and cannot increase the damage it might deal to a player. In turn, it can take out creatures or planeswalkers (even if they are not involved in the respective combat situation) and makes blocking a nightmare for the opponent. Hm, now that I think about it, maybe it’s more like a cheaper Hateflayer that allows you to discard things.
See You Next Time
…when we’ll talk about black, blue, multicolor, artifacts and lands.
Until then, may the horrors of Innistrad never catch you.