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Shadows over Innistrad Spoilers: Limited Review for March 17


Today we have a horde of Zombies, some sweet Investigate enablers, and a Griselbrand-esque land to talk about. Let's get to these awesome Shadows over Innistrad cards.

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 yet 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)

Blue

Daring Sleuth

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

Daring Sleuth is fairly to the point. If you can't transform it, it's highly mediocre. If you can, it's a must-block creature for your opponent. I like that your opponent needs to always keep a blocker back for Daring Sleuth in case you're able to create and sacrifice a Clue token on the same turn.

Jace's Scrutiny

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C-

Saving some life or saving a creature from death in combat is nice, but effects that only reduce damage are often not worth a card. Jace's Scrutiny does cantrip (eventually), so it has a high floor to how bad it can be, but at the same time the ceiling is fairly low.

If you pick up Rise from the Tides, you probably want about five Jace's Scrutiny in your deck so you can play Turbo-Fog. Basically, you do nothing until Turn 6, and then make about eight Zombies. It could certainly make for an interesting archetype.

Ongoing Investigation

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

This is probably going to be my favorite Uncommon in the set. I love this card!

First you play Ongoing Investigation, then you swing with as many creatures as you feel comfortable. Did any of them get in for damage? If so, you get a clue. Did any of them die in combat? If so, you get more clues. It takes some initial investment to start attacking and cracking Clues, but the incidental life gain gives you the time to do so.

Pieces of the Puzzle

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

D+

Translation: 
Pieces of the Puzzle
2U
Sorcery 
Reveal the top five cards of your library. Put up to two instant and/or sorcery cards from among them into your hand and the rest into your graveyard.

With seven other instants / sorceries in your deck, Pieces of the Puzzle still has about one-third of a chance to whiff completely and be a Tome Scour. If you need cards in the graveyard (for Delirium) so much that you're willing to play a three mana Tome Scour, then go ahead, but I expect Peices of the Puzzle to be a sub-par card in the set. On the other hand, if it's unplayable, you might be able to pick up six of them and build a sweet deck around it.

Trail of Evidence

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

D-

This card requires too much mana and too much of a deck building restraint to turn it into a card-advantage engine. Maybe there's an incredibly slow, incredibly creature-light deck that really wants Trail, but I doubt it will be playable. I'd rather have Pieces of the Puzzle every time.

Black

Diregraf Colossus

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

A-

Translation: 
Diregraf Colossus - 2B
Creature - Zombie 
Diregraf Colossus enters the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter for each Zombie card in your graveyard. 
Whenever you cast a Zombie spell, put a 2/2 black Zombie creature token onto the battlefield tapped. 

With just one Zombie in your graveyard, Diregraf Colossus is a creature with decent stats. With just one Zombie cast after it hits the field, you're generating free value. With the right Zombies at Common, Diregraf Colossus could easily be a build-your-own Grave Titan.

Merciless Resolve

$ 0.00$ 0.00

D

Altar's Reap is already unexciting, so pardon me if I don't want to pay an extra mana for the option of being able to sacrifice a land instead. Sure Merciless Resolve puts the land into the graveyard for Delirium, but any amount of self-mill is likely to flip over a land given that land cards comprise half the average Limited deck.

Olivia's Bloodsworn

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

These Vampires seem like they're going to be the most heavily supported Shadows over Innistrad tribe by a fair margin, and I completely approve. Olivia's Bloodsworn is acceptable by itself as an aggressive flyer, and if you're playing Red then you're likely to pick up some haste bonuses over the course of the game.

Stromkirk Mentor

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

A four mana 4/2 isn't great, but Stromkirk Mentor will probably do a good job of topping off the curve of aggressive Vampire decks. It's especially nice when combined with evasion. Just imagine sticking a counter on Olivia's Bloodsworn, while also giving Stromkirk Mentor haste. While your opponent is trying to fiddle around with card selection to enable Delirium you just get to run them over.

Twins of Maurer Estate

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

Between the old Arrogant Wurm, the new Incorrigible Youths, and now Twins of Maurer Estate, five drop creatures that have Madness for three mana is apparently the standard.

When Twins of Maurer Estate is a three mana 3/5 it works well for attacking or blocking, and when it's a five mana 3/5 you aren't overpaying by that much. Also, the children benefit from all the good Vampire synergies.

Red

Vessel of Volatility

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

D-

Vessel of Volatility can power out a five drop on Turn 3, but at the cost of not playing a two-drop creature, which makes the play much less threatening. It can also put an enchantment in the graveyard for Delirium. If multiple Red cards at Common really need Delirium, this card could be playable, but I don't predict that will be the case.

Green

Briarbridge Patrol

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

Briarbridge Patrol seems decent but the trigger is mostly under your opponent's control. She replaces herself if you trade her off with a creature, and she can get in for damage if your opponent won't block. She'll also hold off any number of 2/2s on your opponent's board. 

The secondary clause should probably be ignored. The difficulty of acquiring and hoarding three Clue tokens combined with the small probability of getting a 7+ mana creature into your hand means that the ability should be looked at as occasional upside — not something to build your deck around.

Deathcap Cultivator

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-

Deathcap Cultivator is a great mana elf (yes, I know it's actually Human) that can enable a Black mana splash and can trade off with a bigger creature once the late game rolls around. It's not as good at ramping as Elvish Mystic, and it's not as aggressive as an Heir of the Wilds, but it does each half well enough to still be a high pick. It (almost) goes without saying that I share in the internet's disapproval of this card being Rare instead of Uncommon.

Silverfur Partisan

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

A three mana 2/2 isn't going to be very good, so how can you turn Silverfur Partisan's ability to your advantage? Unfortunately it doesn't combo with Auras, so we'll have to be on the lookout for this set's Giant Growth equivalent. I really like that if you manage to make Silverfur Partisan into a threat your opponent will often have to trigger it again in order to get it off the table.

Traverse the Ulvenwald

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C-

Traverse the Ulvenwald has one of the widest power gaps separated by Delirium that we've seen yet. With Delirium off, you wouldn't run this card except in 3+ color decks. With Delirium on, you'd run it every single time. The power level of Limited decks is generally pretty flat, so I probably wouldn't put this card in my deck unless I fulfilled at least two of the following three conditions: being in 3+ colors, having a very good Rare creature to tutor up, and having a good shot at enabling Delirium.

Multicolored

Sorin, Grim Nemesis

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

A

Sorin, Grim Nemesis is very powerful and about what you should expect from a six mana Planeswalker.

If you're winning or the board is stalled, repeatedly drawing extra cards while draining your opponent and threatening to ultimate is an easy way to put the game away. If you're losing, killing one of your opponent's biggest creatures, getting a life buffer, and forcing an attack or two at Sorin is decent for the six mana investment. I would absolutely not recommend messing up your mana curve to try to drain for more life, but someone out there is bound to play Sorin, Grim Nemesis in a Limited deck with three eight-drops just for the blowout potential. 

Colorless

Drownyard Temple

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C

While Drownyard Temple may have Constructed combo potential, I don't like it that much for Limited. You can discard it once or mill it from your library, then get it back for "free" in a type of Rampant Growth effect, but the value of a colorless land isn't extremely high. If you have a Rare that needs lots of permanents sacrificed to it over time, Drownyard Temple could be the answer, but there won't often be Commons or Uncommons asking for that kind of investment.

Westvale Abbey

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B+

Translation: 
Westvale Abbey 
T: Add C to your mana pool.
5, T, Pay 1 life: Put a 1/1 white and black Human Cleric token on the battlefield.
5, T, Sacrifice five creatures: Transform and untap ~.
//// 
Ormendahl, Profane Prince
Legendary Creature - Demon
Flying, haste, lifelink, indestructible
9/7

Westvale Abbey is a great utility land that any color of deck can use, and that can occasionally double as a win condition. Finding five creatures to sacrifice is generally quite hard, but the land helps with that as well by having a token-making ability.

Be careful about when you summon the Demon. It'd be shame if a lord of darkness fell victim to Just the Wind.

Conclusion

Whether you prefer to summon Legendary Demons or sacrifice Clue token, I hope you're enjoying the set reveals and the Limited review thus far. Please join me for more spoilers and more Limited review tomorrow and throughout next week. Reach out to me on Twitter @JakeStilesMTG or in the comments below with your thoughts on the new cards.


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