Spicy Spoilers from Shadows Over Innistrad

WotC hasn’t even kicked off proper spoiler season yet, but we’ve already seen some really exciting cards get unveiled. The return to Zendikar didn’t quite capture the magic, har har, of the original set, but Shadows Over Innistrad is looking promising so far. Not only are we seeing some powerful cards, but the art and flavor has been especially on point. Here are a few of my favorite reveals so far.

Archangel Avacyn / Avacyn the Purifer

Holy mother of god this card.

A point of reminder, WotC actually started taking [mtg_card=Serra Angel] out of core sets because it was too good, at least in limited. I know! Let’s give it flash, temporary indestructible for your team, and a more aggressive flipped side.

This is certainly the most pushed we’ve seen Avacyn at being an inclusion in a 60 card deck, with [mtg_card=Avacyn, Angel of Hope] and [mtg_card=Avacyn, Guardian Angel] being better suited in 100 card formats and a limited bomb respectively. The potential blowout plays with Archangel Avacyn are kind of crazy. Whether it’s protecting your team from a board wipe or aggressively flashing in before blocks and eating up a bunch of your opponents attackers. And when that’s all said and done, your opponent starts taking 4 damage in the air that they can’t profitably race due to vigilance.

The reason why Archangel Avacyn gets away with a lot of this is that flipping into Avacyn the Purifer can be a hefty drawback. Granted they still have a giant 6/5 flyer to deal with, but if your board is a bunch of small creatures your opponent can use Archangel Avacyn to their own advantage. Though in some situations the same can be true for you. Sometimes it’s going to be right to point a removal spell at one of your own creatures, or use a sacrifice outlet, to wipe your opponents board. Also, if you really don’t want her to flip you can just include her in a deck of nothing but angels.

Just the Wind

I love this card if for no other reason than it being a near perfect matching of flavor and mechanics. Heh, get it. It’s “just the wind” because it’s an [mtg_card=Unsummon] that bounces the scary monster away. Some bonus points are involved that when it’s a particularly spooky situation, like you’re searching around the house fumbling with everything in terror, you get to cast it for cheaper.

Thing in the Ice / Awoken Horror

A lot of folks are really hyped for this card, and it has shot up in presales to be roughly the same as Relentless Dead and Archangel Avacyn. Granted you need to jump through some deck-building hoops, but it’s essentially a 7/8 that resets the board, much in the same way that [mtg_card=Delver of Secrets] is a 3/2 flyer for 1.

Imagine playing this in a control deck, you drop a decent 0/4 wall early and use it to soak up some damage. As the game goes on you counter some spells, cast some card draw, and point some removal at your opponent’s creatures. Now you’re on your last ice counter and you’ve got a ton of control over the game. Your opponent can’t really commit another creature to the board otherwise you get to snap off anything to set them back on tempo and crack them for 7 damage.

Or on the opposite spectrum, you can try and build Thing in the Ice into a combo deck. T2 play Thing in the Ice, and then on T3 you play a bunch of phyrexian spells, [mtg_card=Mutagenic Growth], [mtg_card=Gitaxian Probe], etc, and then an [mtg_card=Assault Strobe] or [mtg_card=Temur Battle Rage] to flip into the Awoken Horror to bounce any blockers and kill them.

The one saving grace that might keep this in check in Standard will be [mtg_card=Reflector Mage]. Though I’m of the mind that getting your Awoken Horror reset isn’t the worst, you even get to cast Thing in the Ice immediately since it has a different name despite being the same card.

Heir of Falkenrath / Heir to the Night

Considering it’s Innistrad, we know graveyards are going to matter. We’ve already seen both Madness and Delirium as mechanics that promote you discarding cards and filling your graveyard. What’s still a little up in the air is just how good it will be, but so far signs are favorable.

For instance, there is a 5 mana 4/3 haste vampire with a Madness cost of 3 which fills out the curve nicely to be attacking with both a 4/3 and a 3/2 flyer on Turn 3. See also pitching any Madness removal spell, ideally having a strong tempo turn of powering out multiple spells early. The real key is that Heir of Falkenrath is a discard outlet that doesn’t require any cost, and the fail state of a [mtg_card=Goblin Piker] isn’t that miserable.

Also, this card has a hilarious “can’t unsee” use of negative space on the front side. I’ll give you a big hint, the little red gems hanging off the neck are eyes.

Relentless Dead

For starters, how can you not love that this card hearkens back to [mtg_card=Endless Ranks of the Dead]?

As I mentioned last week, I believe there’s a grindy mono-black deck bubbling up into Standard. Relentless Undead, [mtg_card=Risen Executioner], [mtg_card=Erebos’s Titan], [mtg_card=Liliana, Heretical Healer], [mtg_card=Despoiler of Souls], and [mtg_card=Grasp of Darkness] are all strong reasons to build a deck with a lot of [mtg_card=Swamp]s.

What will be especially interesting to see is how the support pans out. I could see it taking a more aggressive zombie tribal angle, a resilient mid-range one, or you can also use maybe just Relentless Undead and [mtg_card=Risen Executioner] as these near-unkillable win conditions in a control deck. [mtg_card=Risen Executioner] saw a brief amount of play as such, and take special note that Relentless Undead doesn’t have the usual “can’t block” attached to it. With one in play and one if the graveyard you can build your own [mtg_card=Reassembling Skeleton].

Watch out for [mtg_card=Silkwrap]s though. Mono-black typically can’t get rid of enchantments without splashing into another color.

Any cards that I missed that you’re excited about? We still haven’t seen any of the planeswalkers yet, and we’ve gotten a redacted preview of the Rare and Mythic flip checklist card, which we can confirm 3 cards so far, that some folks have been pouring over for clues. Spoiler seasons starts next week.

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