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Shadows over Innistrad Spoilers: Limited Review for March 14


It's the first day of the two weeks of Shadows over Innistrad spoilers, and we have some sweet cards to talk about. Nahiri is here and Intro Pack Rares are here, along with an assortment of other items.

I'll be reviewing these cards from the standpoint of how well I expect them to perform in Limited. We can't rate the cards completely accurately without knowing the entire set, but we can evaluate the cards in an "average" limited format. You can find all the latest spoilers on the Shadows over Innistrad page. Please note that if I haven't reviewed a card, it's probably because the official spoiler for it has not been released yet.

Grading scale

A: This card will often be the best card in one's deck. I'd consider splashing it where possible. (Dragonmaster Outcast, Linvala, the Preserver)
B: This card is rarely cut from a deck that can cast it. In draft, it signals that a color or archetype is open. (Clutch of Currents, Baloth Null)
C: Cards like this make up the majority of limited decks. You're neither excited nor embarrassed to have them in your deck. (Culling Drone, Akoum Flameseeker)
D: I'm not putting this in my main deck unless I have a specific reason or I'm low on playables. (Geyserfield Stalker, Dazzling Reflection)
F: This card will have little or no impact on the game if I draw it or is strictly sideboard-material. If I cast this card, please stage an intervention for me. (Prism Array, Hedron Alignment)

White

Angel of Deliverance

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

Angel of Deliverance requires a bit too much work to make me happy to run her. She needs you to get to eight mana, have Delirium enabled, and get into combat. If you pull this off, you get to chew through flying blockers at twice the speed or exile big threats before they attack you, which is very good, but not worth all the setup. 

Descend upon the Sinful

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

A-

Descend upon the Sinful is a little expensive for a wrath, but unless you're both aggressive and unlikely to achieve Delirium, you still want to play it in all your White decks. The power of attacking, then casting Descend upon the Sinful to prevent counter-attacks while keeping your opponent under pressure with a 4/4 flyer is just too high to pass up on.

Drogskol Cavalry

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

A-

Even if there aren't many Spirits in the set (which would be hard to imagine on Innistrad), resolving Drogskol Cavalry and having time to use it should put you miles ahead of your opponent. Getting just one more land onto the battlefield and being able to activate it twice a turn grants two Suntail Hawks and four life every turn cycle. These tokens can chump block to effectively gain even more life, or they can join Drogskol Cavalry in attacking and close out the game. The only question that remains is how kind the format is to 7-drops in general.

Pious Evangel

$ 0.00$ 0.00

C+

Pious Evangel is super awesome in flavor and super confusing to evaluate. The Day (front) side alone isn't a great card by itself, but the Night (back) side is a lot more impressive. It likely won't be worth two mana and a permanent to get those death triggers if your board state is minimal, but with a lot of creatures and the promise of impending deaths, it could be a great investment.

Blue

Nephalia Moondrakes

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-

Now here's an interesting creature. While not a straightforward bomb, Nephalia Moondrakes does a great job of incentivizing both discard and self-mill. Once Nephalia Moondrakes is in your graveyard, your opponent has to pay close attention to when you have six mana available and just how much power you have on the board at any given time. The threat of giving all your creatures evasion is immense, and such an attack can end the game from even dire situations.

Startled Awake

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B+

If you manage to cast Startled Awake twice and your opponent can't recycle their graveyard, they will lose to decking on Turn 8 or 9. Combine this card with other incidental milling / drawing from your deck or theirs, and you're looking at a pretty decent win condition. The main problem is getting your 1/1 through your opponent's 0-1 power creatures, so we'll have to wait and see how many good blockers in the set fit that criteria.

The downside to this card is that casting it only once will probably help your opponent as it has a good chance of enabling Delirium for them. You probably shouldn't cast this spell without a plan in mind for finishing the job.

Black

Crow of Dark Tidings

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

Whether this card is a staple of Black decks or just replacement-level will depend on the other Delirium enablers we get, but my money is on Crow of Dark Tidings being an above average Black common. It can fill up your graveyard quickly enough to matter, but not so much that you have to worry about decking yourself.

Markov Dreadknight

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

A-

Similar to Drogskol Cavalry, the mana costs on Markov Dreadknight line up perfectly for two activations on the turn after it hits the battlefield. While the White Rare ensures you'll win eventually if it sticks around, Markov Dreadknight is more interested in winning the game right away. Attacking first as a 7/7 flyer, then again as a 9/9 or 11/11 flyer means your opponent must kill it to win. You should take care not to put all your eggs in one vampiric basket, but the temptation may prove too great to resist.

Sinister Concoction

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-

With enough Madness cards in your deck, the discard is a boon, but how does Sinister Concoction perform when you have to discard a normal card and 2-for-1 yourself? The one life and one mill is negligible, and while paying two mana is nice, the cost of two cards is not.

It's nice that even the double Black cost can be avoided by paying for the enchantment up front and the activation on a subsequent turn. You can also play out Sinister Concoction and wait until you draw a card with Madness before firing off the kill spell. 

Red

Fiery Temper

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-

While a little difficult to cast for its normal cost, the Madness cost more than makes up for it. It's respectable when you have to cast it normally, and when you get to cast it with Madness it feels downright unfair. Fiery Temper is probably as close to Lightning Bolt as we're getting to in the foreseeable future.

Flameblade Angel

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B+

Flameblade Angel's stats are only average for a Rare at that cost, but the ability means that most of your creatures will get in for at least one damage when attacking. It's an ability that will make opponents very cautious in combat and much more likely to use removal on Flameblade Angel than to try to beat her in a damage race.

Wolf of Devil's Breach

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

A-

If you thought Masticore was hard to beat in Limited, I have some news for you! Wolf of Devil's Breach has a more efficient Masticore ability on a bigger body, and the discard each turn is optional. If it sounds better, that's because it is better. The good news is that the Wolf requires a steady diet of high-converted mana cost cards for it to be able to do much, and it can't regenerate. It's also Mythic and won't be showing up that often.

Multicolored

Anguished Unmaking

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

Unconditional removal is a precious commodity in Limited, but the cost of three life hurts more here than it does in Constructed. Anguished Unmaking is efficient enough to be in the first pick region, but players shouldn't be wrecking their mana base to try to splash for it in a non-Orzhov deck.

Nahiri, the Harbinger

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

A

Nahiri, the Harbinger is a Planeswalker, and that means she's very likely to be good in Limited. We've had some stinkers in the past (looking at you Narset Transcendent), but Nahiri has actual removal as her minus ability and a more consistent card "draw" with her plus ability. The discarding even plays into the Madness theme of the set, a phrase that's been reiterated many times so far this spoiler season.

The ultimate seems undesirable in Limited. You have to first have a good target to go find in your deck, and you have to be in a board position where it doesn't make more sense to keep ticking up and saving counters for the stronger -2 loyalty ability.

Colorless

Neglected Heirloom

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-

Neglected Heirloom is certainly below average if you have to stick to its Day side, but there should be enough Transform creatures around to make it great. Don't forget there's at least one transform card in every booster pack.

Stick this equipment on an Heir of Falkenrath and you get to attack with a 6/5 flying, first striking Vampire on Turn 3! The only person you don't want to be in that scenario is your opponent. 

Uncommon Land Cycle

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

Two color Limited environments don't need these lands, but it's always nice to pick one up when you happen to be in the right colors or you have a great Rare you want to try to splash for.

Conclusion

Shadows over Innistrad looks great so far. I'm especially looking forward to balancing a deck full of discard outlets and Madness cards to get the most value possible. Please join me for more spoilers and more Limited reviews throughout the next two weeks. Reach out to me on Twitter @JakeStilesMTG or in the comments below with your thoughts on the new cards.


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