Shadows over Innistrad: An Evaluation of Rares & Mythics for Standard (White, Blue, Black), by Fabrizio Anteri

2099
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Shadows over Innistrad: An Evaluation of Rares and Mythics for Standard (Part 1: White, Blue, and Black)

Hi everyone,

Spoiler season for Shadows over Innistrad is finally completed, and it’s time to start evaluating the new cards for the new Standard format after rotation.

During this period there is a lot of speculation, and it’s always hard to know exactly how to evaluate certain cards. In many cases the power level of some cards is high or low enough that it’s relatively easy to know if they will see play in Standard, but in other cases only playing with cards themselves will tell you just how good or bad they really are.

I am going to give you my first impression on all the rares and mythics of the set. Hopefully I can help you decide which cards you should get for your new Standard decks and which cards you probably won’t need to bother with. As always, if I have missed anything out, or you feel differently about certain cards then please do let me what and why in the comments.

Today I am going to start with White, Blue and Black cards. Tomorrow you can find in the second part the Red, Green, Multicolor, Lands and Artifacts.

OK, so lets begin…

 

Shadows over Innistrad – White

Archangel Avacyn // Avacyn, the Purifier

Archangel Avacyn // Avacyn, the Purifier
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A 4/4 with Flying, Vigilance, and Flash is powerful enough for 5 mana, but this card does a few extra things too making it certainly Standard playable in my opinion. Please keep in mind however that transforming it and dealing damage to all creatures is not a “you may” trigger, so some decks may decide not to play Archangel Avacyn // Avacyn, the Purifier just to avoid losing their entire board. That said, most white decks will want access to some copies of the Archangel.

Hanweir Militia Captain // Westvale Cult Leader

Hanweir Militia Captain
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Regular decks won’t want this card, and even in a tokens deck this card is not insane. If Lingering Souls were Standard legal this card would be part of that deck, but I don’t think Standard offers enough good token generators right now to build a deck around this.

Always Watching

Always Watching
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Vigilance is not such a big upside from Glorious Anthem compared to also making your tokens bigger. So I would say this is a clearly worse version of the old enchantment and call this card unplayable, at least for now.

Angel of Deliverance

Angel of Deliverance
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Too expensive for the payoff. Even if it didn’t require Delirium for the trigger, I still suspect it wouldn’t be playable.

Bygone Bishop

Bygone Bishop
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This card is close to be playable… but doesn’t quite make it. 2/3 and Flying for 3 are not bad stats, but I don’t think many decks looking to continue casting cheap creatures will be interested in spending their mana sacrificing Clue tokens.

Declaration in Stone

Declaration in Stone
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I am a big fan of this card, maybe the card disadvantage is going to be too much for some decks. This doesn’t only deal with one (or more) creatures at a very low mana cost, but it actually exiles the creature, which I find particularly relevant in so many cases these days.

Descend upon the Sinful

Descend upon the Sinful
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How good or bad this card actually is will depend on three things: The speed of the format, or more specifically how reliable it is to have a sweeper for 6 mana; How likely you are to actually get an Angel out of the spell; And how important it is to be able to exile creatures instead of just killing them.

Drogskol Cavalry

Drogskol Cavalry
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This is a cute card, but just too expensive (in both casting cost and activation cost) for the what it does. I don’t think this will be played in Standard any time soon.

Eerie Interlude

Eerie Interlude
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We have had these effects before. They are good with “enters the battlefield” triggers and a decent sideboard option against sweeper. Unfortunately history would indicate that chances are this card will not be seeing Standard play.

Thalia’s Lieutenant

Thalia's Lieutenant
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This is card is powerful, but it will require another bunch of good Humans to make a deck. I haven’t analysed the whole set deep enough just yet but my first impression is that Vampires and Zombies are favourites to build a tribal deck before Humans. Maybe the next set Eldritch Moon will help.

Looking for a different perspective on White cards (all rarity) from Shadows over Innistrad? Check out what Wedge from TheManaSource has to say about them.

Shadows over Innistrad – Blue

Startled Awake // Persistent Nightmare

Startled Awake // Persistent Nightmare
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This will look really cute to many, but if you want my honest opinion as a competitive player then I’ll have to say that this card will not see play. It just requires infinite time and mana to actually mill off your opponent.

Thing in the Ice // Awoken Horror

Thing in the Ice // Awoken Horror
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This is a thing, and many are already talking about it. It is super powerful and you will win so many games easily when you cast it on Turn 2. The real question is whether or not there will be a good enough control deck with enough good control tools to keep your opponent’s deck in check for long enough, so that if you draw this late during the game, you will still have the time to win the game. This is a good card and it will see play, but right now I feel the hype from people is way too high. I would actually say this card is not as good as many people think it is.

Confirm Suspicions

Confirm Suspicions
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Another close to playable card, but not quite there. It could be a nice one-of if the format is slow enough.

Engulf the Shore

Engulf the Shore
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These effects always look powerful to me, but end up not being good enough to see play. This one is an instant, which is new and makes it better, but the downside of having to play a mostly Island only deck is going to be enough to keep this card out of contention.

Epiphany at the Drownyard

Epiphany at the Drownyard
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At two mana this is a really poor cycling spell, at three it is an overpriced Anticipate, at four it’s still not good enough, and after five I would say you could find a better card drawing spell. This is flexible for sure, but the majority of the time I will feel “meh” every time I draw it.

Forgotten Creation

Forgotten Creation
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I don’t think this card is good enough at filling graveyards or enabling Madness. I would recommend you keep it forgotten.

Geralf’s Masterpiece

Geralf's Masterpiece
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As a big monster, I would say it was printed in the wrong colour, you normally want to have as many cards as possible in hand when you are playing blue. Also the ability is really counter-intuitive: Do you want to play all your lands to make it grow or do you want to hold some spare lands to be able to bring it back if it dies?

That said however, there are a lot of cute synergies already in this set that want to use the graveyard and want you to discard cards, so this is a kind of Dredge card. It may not be good enough, but it could (just about) work in a very synergistic deck if one exists.

Jace, Unraveler of Secrets

Jace, Unraveler of Secrets
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I am a fan. Good stats, good abilities, good colour. The only downside I can see of this card is the fact that is still another Jace in Standard in the form of Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy // Jace, Telepath Unbound. Clearly the two mana Jace is better, and you will want to play it in every single blue deck, so that could limit how many of this Jace you can play.

Nephalia Moondrakers

Nephalia Moondrakes
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Hello big useless thing. I don’t even think I want to see you in my limited decks.

Rattlechains

Rattlechains
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Once upon a time Vaporkin saw Standard play. More recently Dimensional Infiltrator also saw play in Mono-Blue Eldrazi. Rattlechains is a clearly better card than those two, but only a few specific decks wil want this kind of card. Basically if there is a blue aggressive deck, it will run Rattlechains, but those decks are very rare in Standard.

Welcome to the Fold

Welcome to the Fold
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Domestication was a very good card in Mono-Blue Devotion. The power level of these cards is similar and I could see Welcome to the Fold seeing some play. It would however require not only the right deck, but also the right metagame.

Looking for a different perspective on Blue cards (all rarity) from Shadows over Innistrad? Check out what TheManaSource has to say about them.

 

Shadows over Innistrad – Black

Elusive Tormentor // Insidious Mist

Elusive Tormentor // Insidious Mist
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Aetherling was underestimated at first and it ended up being one of the best win conditions for so many decks. Elusive Tormentor reminds me of Aetherling with its resiliency, but it’s clearly underpowered in comparison. I would put this on the unplayable side, but I wouldn’t be surprised if after some testing it actually turns out to be a good card.

Asylum Visitor

Asylum Visitor
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Good stats, good abilities and even the right creature type. I expect this to be an important piece in the RB Vampires Madness deck which seems to be one of the obvious builds with the new cards.

Behold the Beyond

Behold the Beyond
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Not the worst in a grindy match when you can triple-tutor after you have cast your entire hand, but there will be better, cheaper and more efficient options, so I don’t expect this to see play.

Diregraf Colossus

Diregraf Colossus
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How good this would be depends on how good the other Zombies are, and so far it seems like there will be a decent number of good Zombies. So this is a card I would find 4 copies of this card as soon as possible.

Ever After

Ever After Shadows over Innistrad
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Not the worst grindy card, not the worst combo card. Finding the right deck may take some time and testing. I would guess any deck trying to abuse this won’t be competitive enough however, but I could easily be wrong.

From under the Floorboards

From under the Floorboards
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I really like this card. It has a decent power level and I would like to think that it would see some play. Sadly I have the feeling that it just won’t quite make it. There will likely be better cards in this slot and this card will go from a 2-of, to a 1-of, to a “no thank you”.

Markov Dreadknight

Markov Dreadknight
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Nope, not good enough. Maybe with Lifelink and/or a cheaper cost for the activation would have worked.

Mindwrack Demon

Mindwrack Demon
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Even without the downside a 4/5 Flying, Trample with 4 power is not the scariest thing ever these days. For this card to be good, you will actually need the milling part to be relevant. If you have enough cards in your deck willing to hit your graveyard then the Demon could be a decent addition.

Relentless Dead

Relentless Dead
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This has a lot of potential and a lot of synergies. It could end up not being played at all or it could end up being the card from the set that makes the biggest impact on Standard. Only time will tell, but don’t doubt the power of this card.

To the Slaughter

To the Slaughter
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This is good enough to see play. Some decks won’t want it and others will want a playset, but it will be played for sure.

Triskaidekaphobia

Triskaidekaphobia
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Unplayable.

I tried to figure out a case where I want to have few copies of this in my sideboard. Maybe in an aggressive deck against a slow deck without a clock and answers for enchantments? Sure, but do you actually want to stop attacking when they are around 13 to win with this card? What if they stopped your aggression at 3-5 life and then you draw this? Do you start giving them life and hoping they don’t beat you in the next 10 turns?

And here is an alternative perspective from TheManaSource

 

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of powerful cards by themselves and also a lot of synergies: White may have a Humans deck, Blue has a new win condition in Thing in the Ice and a new Jace and Black have some pretty sweet Zombies and discard engines for Madness.

As it stands, it feels like the format is going to slow down quite a bit with lots of valuable cards for the late game. We still have to analyse Red, Green, Multicolor, Lands and Artifacts however, so don’t forget to check the second part tomorrow when we can find out if aggressive Werewolves and Vampires can speed up the format, or not!

Community Question: So what do you think of the list? Did I miss anything out? Have I overlooked or undervalued anything? Please let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading,

Fabrizio Anteri

Shadows over Innistrad: An Evaluation of Rares and Mythics for Standard (Part 1: White, Blue, and Black), by Fabrizio Anteri
Spoiler season for Shadows over Innistrad is finally completed, and it's time to start evaluating the new cards for the new Standard format after rotation.
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