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Shadows over Innistrad: Mythic Count Down (Part 1)


This week I finally got to draft Ravnica, one of the best limited formats of all time. While drafting Ravnica is a treat in and of itself, it felt even better coming off a month of drafting though the confusingly awful Kamigawa block with a quick stopover in the uninspired land of 9th Edition. This week was also the first week of official spoilers for Shadows over Innistrad, and the set looks amazing. It seems to be getting almost universal acclaim from all aspects of the community, the casual players love the Zombies, Werewolves, and Vampires. The vorthos crowd loves that it's oozing with flavor and has some great art, and even the spike crowd has identified cards that have potential on tournament tables.

While Shadows over Innistrad looks like a great set, I can't help but wonder how much of this outpouring of love is because we are coming off of six months of Battle of Zendikar block, with the first set being widely panned as an underpowered, disjointed mess and Oath of the Gatewatch destroying several constructed formats. It's almost like everyone is breathing a huge sigh of relief and saying, "Okay, Wizards does know how to make good sets (and possibly great sets) within the confines of the two set block structure." Based on the first week of spoilers, Shadows over Innistrad looks great, and it looks even better stacked up against the mess that is Battle of Zendikar block. 

Interestingly, while we are only one week into official spoilers, we already have 14 Mythics spoiled. While I haven't been able to find an exact number, most people assume there will be somewhere between 15 and 18 Mythics. Regardless, nearly all of the Mythics have been spoiled, and since Mythics are usually among the most exciting and playable cards in a set, for the next two days we are going to take some time to count them down from worst to best. 

Moving forward, we'll be focusing on three things. First we'll look at how good each Mythic is, with an eye towards constructed. Second we'll discuss whether or not the card should be Mythic based on the planeswalkers, legends, and epic feeling criteria. Finally, we'll breakdown the financial ramifications of each card. We have a lot of ground to cover, so let's move on to the Mythics of Shadows over Innistrad!

The Worst of the Worst

These are the cards that I expect will end up being the worst of the Mythics in Shadows over Innistrad for constructed play. This is not an indictment of their Mythicness; in fact, many of the best Mythic Rares are not constructed playable. Instead it's a testament to their power-level, or lack thereof. 

14. Wolf of Devil's Breach

First there was Thundermaw Hellkite, then there was Stormbreath Dragon, and now we meet the new contender to the bomb Red five-drop Mythic throne: Wolf of Devil's Breach! Seriously though, every time I read this card I feel like I must be missing something. I can't be as bad as it looks, can it? Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure the answer is yes, it is as bad as it looks, and might even be worse than that. 

For five mana, Wolf of Devil's Breach gives you a Gorger Wurm. Actually, a slightly worse Gorger Wurm because you can't devour anything to make it bigger. Then, if you happen to untap with Wolf of Devil's Breach and attack with it and have a card in your hand and feel like paying two mana and you choose to discard a card you might be able to kill a creature. When I first read Wolf of Devil's Breach I naturally assumed it had haste, but nope. Then I assumed you could at least discard an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn to dome your opponent for 15, but again I was wrong. Seriously, the Wolf might not only be the worst Mythic in Shadows over Innistrad, but in all of Standard. Come to think of it, it might even make the Archangel's Light list of worst Mythics of all time. They could print a card that said, "If you discard this card from your hand, you win the game," and I still wouldn't play Wolf of Devil's Breach. It should not be Mythic and shouldn't be a card. Please do not buy copies of this card for any reason. I'd be surprise if they hold $1 over the long term. 

13. Behold the Beyond

Behold the Beyond is almost as bad as Wolf of Devil's Breach. I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about why anyone would want to play this card in any competitive format, and I haven't been able to come up with a satisfactory answer. For one thing, it keeps getting stuck on the fact that it just feels so much worse than Diabolic Revelation, which was not only a Rare, but a card that saw fringe play while it was legal in Standard. Yes, Shadows over Innistrad does have a fill your graveyard / make yourself discard theme, but you can't really take advantage of a madness card when your discard outlet costs seven mana. I mean, you'd need 10 mana to cast this card and cast an Incorrigible Youths with madness. Sure, in Standard if you are empty handed in the late game and draw it off the top, you will probably win the game. But so do other options without the severe drawback of discarding your hand. It's simply too expensive for Modern, and in older formats, Dark Petition or Demonic Tutor will do the same thing (i.e. get a Yawgmoth's Will for only two mana). 

So, is Behold the Beyond Mythic? For me, this one is boarder line. Yes, tutoring for three cards is fairly epic. The problem is Black tutors, even those that can search for multiple cards like Diabolic Revelation, have always been Rare. The idea that a Diabolic Revelation should be upgraded to Mythic seems odd to me. However, I am willing to give Behold the Beyond a pass for one reason: it really feels like a card that got downgraded by development at the last minute. I'm willing to bet that when it was handed off, Behold the Beyond cost about five mana, possibly even less, and it was determined that the card had too much potential for being broken, so they tacked a bunch of mana to the cost to keep anything crazy from happening. At five-mana this card is certainly Mythic, and there may be more to the story than meets the eye. 

Financially I expect this card to be a bulk Mythic. There are just too many very good / constructed playable cards fighting for value in Shadows over Innistrad for something like Behold the Beyond to be much more than $1 once the set hits the market. 

12. Geralf's Masterpiece

I talked in depth about Geralf's Masterpiece in my early spoiler article, so I'm not going to rehash everything again here. When Geralf's Masterpiece was spoiled, I was pretty much convinced it would be the worst Mythic in the set, so the Zombie Horror probably let out a big sigh of relief when Wolf of Devil's Breach was spoiled. Is it Mythic? I'll give the Zombie a solid maybe. It has a lot of text, it comes back from the graveyard, and it's big, which is somewhat epic. Plus, it isn't a Lotus Cobra-like constructed staple, which is a good thing. If there are going to be unmythic Mythics, it is much better for everyone that they are on the casual end of the scale, and not the Voice of Resurgence end of the scale. Remember, being "good" isn't part of the criteria for being Mythic, so sure, Geralf's Masterpiece is Mythic. Financially, I'd be amazed if this card wasn't in the $1-$2 range within a few months.

11. Startled Awake

Barring the development of a dedicated mill deck in Standard, I'd be surprised to see Startled Awake making waves in constructed. While milling 13 cards is nice, in Modern the going rate is 0 mana thanks to Archive Trap, or two mana for 10 cards with Glimpse the Unthinkable. Plus, in Modern, repeating the process for nine mana across two turns with the help of the flip side is too slow, and that's assuming you can dodge Path to Exile. As such, the sorcery looks more like a great and amazingly flavorful casual card than a constructed powerhouse. 

The good news is Startled Awake is definitely a Mythic for two reasons. First, it feels pretty epic as a four mana sorcery that can win the game all by itself. Secondly, while I don't often buy the "it needs to be Mythic for limited" argument, Startled Awake needs to be Mythic for limited. In the world of 40 card decks, if you could cast Startled Awake on turn four, return it on turn five, get in combat damage, and recast it on turn six you win the game. You milled a total of 26 cards, your opponent started with 33 in their library after drawing their opening hand, and then drew cards for six turns, meaning that they should have exactly one card left in their library. Some of the all-time greats like LSV and Kai Budde are already comparing it to Umezawa's Jitte and Pack Rat (two of the most broken limited cards ever), so let's just take their word for it and trust that putting Startled Awake at Mythic was a good decision. 

Financially, this one is all about the long term. I expect it to drop to $2 after the set releases, but over the long term it will probably be fairly expensive based on casual demand alone. One thing casual players love above all else is mill (see the price of Archive Trap, Mind Funeral, and Glimpse the Unthinkable). Startled Awake is is not only a strong mill card, but it's also a flip card with great art and flavor. Plus I like investing in flip cards, since they are much more difficult to reprint in supplemental products than cards with regular backs. I'd be shocked if this card wasn't $5 eventually, and if it can dodge reprinting, it could end up being one of the most expensive Mythics in the set a decade from now. 

Possibly Standard Playable, but Not Great

This group isn't completely and utterly unplayable, but their ceiling is likely "fringe one-of in Standard." If there's a realistic chance a card will be a four of in a tournament worthy deck, it will be ranked higher. 

10. Descend Upon the Fishermen Sinful

Now that we are entering the Top 10, we're finally getting to Mythics that have at least some chance of seeing Standard play. Apart from giving us the hilarious Descend upon the Fisherman translation error, Descend upon the Sinful is a somewhat reasonable card as an upgraded version of Final Judgment. Unfortunately, it's a six mana wrath, and six mana wraths don't have a good track record of Standard playability. However, there are several creatures worth exiling (e.g. Relentless Dead, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger), so I wouldn't be surprised to see this Mythic show up as a one-of in control builds as a supplement to Planar Outburst and/or Languish. That said, it seems unlikely that Standard will be slow enough that you'll be able to play Descend upon the Sinful as a four-of like you would Wrath of God or Supreme Verdict. Getting a 4/4 Angel token is upside, and it seems that control decks (playing Jace, Vryn's Prodigy) should easily have delirium by turn six, but even I can't imagine wanting more than two in my deck.

Maybe a more interesting question is whether Descend upon the Sinful should be Mythic. The fact that it's a wrath automatically makes me think it should not. Actually, this card is the first wrath in the entire history of Magic: the Gathering that has been printed at Mythic. I guess the argument for it being Mythic is twofold. First, it's an upgraded version of a Rare (Final Judgment), but I'm not sure being better than a Rare automatically qualifies as Mythic. Second, Wizards has recently set the precedent that Rare spell plus big creature equals Mythic (e.g. Crush of Tentacles). Does it feel epic? Not especially. It feels like a wrath with upside (much like Terminus actually, which was rare). Overall, I would rather see this card at Rare, but I can see the argument for why it is Mythic. 

Financially, I expect it to float in the bulk / just above bulk area. While it is true that the best wrath in a Standard is usually worth $3-$4, I don't think Descend upon the Sinful will be the best wrath in Standard. Instead, it will see fringe play in Standard along with being a Commander staple. Unfortunately, being a Commander staple is not enough to move the price needle on an in-print Mythic. On the other hand, if this card ever drops to true bulk Mythic levels, it's probably worth picking a few copies to hold for the long term. 

9. Mindwrack Demon

I'm not sure what to make of Mindwrack Demon. The floor for Black, four-drop fliers is super low (see: Demonlord of Ashmouth and Smothering Abomination), while the ceiling is pretty high (see: Desecration Demon). Where these type of cards fit depends largely on what the Standard format looks like and what type of support they get. The good news is that Mindwrack Demon is one of the best ways of getting cards into your graveyard, but I'm not sure a four-mana Satyr Wayfinder is a playable card. The body is solid, but it's also painful if you don't have delirium. Probably the biggest problem for Mindwrack Demon is the insane amount of competition for the four-drop slot in Black decks. Zombies Tribal will likely want Risen Executioner, sacrifice-based decks might want Smothering Abomination, and pretty much everyone wants Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. It's possible that Mindwrack Demon is left on the sidelines, not because it's a horrible card, but because there are better options available. 

As far as Mindwrack Demon's Mythicness, I'm fine with it. It fuels one of the sets main mechanics, is above the curve, and "Mythic Black Demon" is sort of a thing, like Mythic Red Dragon or Mythic White Wrath. On the other hand, I wouldn't want to touch the Demon financially, mostly because of the Dual Deck printing. With the additional supply on the market, it would take Polukranos, World Eater level of play to maintain significant value — that isn't likely to happen. 

8. Sigarda, Heron's Grace

The first time I read Sigarda, Heron's Grace, I thought it said, "You and creatures you control have hexproof," which would have made the card insane. In reality, it only gives hexproof to Humans, which is not that exciting, at least for the next six months. The problem with Sigarda, Heron's Grace is that, until fall, we still have Dragons of Tarkir in the format, so there's a ton of competition in the big, flying finisher slot. 

The original Sigarda, Host of Herons was very good because it had hexproof itself, making her really hard to deal with. This version doesn't protect itself at all, and provides a slower clock than the original. The bigger problem is that, at least so far, Humans looks to be the weakest of the tribes supported in Shadows over Innistrad, which means Sigarda, Heron's Grace might not have anything worth protecting. While she can take over the game left unchecked, one Human Soldier token at a time, most of the time she'll just be five mana eat a removal spell. Perhaps she'll have her time to shine after the fall rotation, but over the short term I expect she'll be outclassed by big fliers like Linvala, the Perserver, Archangel Avacyn, or Dragonlord Atarka and by more resilient evasive threats like Dragonlord Ojutai and Dragonlord Dromoka

This said, she clearly meets the criteria for being Mythic, mostly because she is a legend, and she's been a Mythic in the past. She also has a lot of text and does a lot of things. Financially, she'll never be bulk because she is a flavorful Angel, but she won't be all that expensive either. Following a path similar to Linvala, the Preserver — starting out in the $8-$10 range and falling to the $2-$4 range over the next two or three months seems likely — although there is some chance of a rebound, especially if Humans get more support or if a dedicate Burn deck become tier one. 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Originally I planned to publish the Mythic Countdown as one article, but it ended up being close to 7,000 words, so I figured it would be better to split in into two sections. As such, make sure to look tomorrow for Mythics #7 though #1 (number 3 will blow your mind). As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments. You can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive, or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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