Take-Away Points

Posted in Limited Information on July 1, 2008

By Steve Sadin

Eventide is coming. And soon.

Prereleases are the weekend after next, and I know where I'm going to be. And that's at Neutral Ground in New York, getting my first chance to play with cards like Unmake, Shorecrasher Mimic, and Primalcrux.

Don't know the preview cards yet? Then check out the Eventide Visual Spoiler on the Eventide minisite to see all of the cards that have been previewed on magicthegathering.com or anywhere else.

Before we move onto Shadowmoor / Eventide Limited, let's take a look at some of the things that we learnt from Shadowmoor.

Blue Is Still Good

At the Shadowmoor Prerelease, just like any other prerelease, you could hear tons of people talking about how "blue actually isn't any good this time."

Of course, they were wrong.

I'm sure that one day the blue nay-sayers will be right, and blue will actually be "bad" in Limited for a few months, but for the color that hosts the most: evasion creatures, card drawing, bounce and counterspells, that day still hasn't come.

If you need further evidence that blue is still good, then look at Kamiel Cornelissen's Grand Prix–Brussels-winning draft deck:

Kamiel Cornelissen

Download Arena Decklist

Or, for an even more striking example, take a look at Jelger Wiegersma's nearly mono-blue Grand Prix–Indianapolis-winning draft deck:

Jelger Wiegersma

Download Arena Decklist

Playing Magic is Like Riding a Bike

Augury_AdeptIf someone who is very good at Limited, such as, say Kamiel Cornelissen, decides to step away from the game, to pursue other things such as school, he can still immerse himself in the current format and dominate. Just as he would have been able to had he still been placing a lot of his focus on Magic.

I think that this is an important thing that a lot of people forget.

Even if you have, or are, taking a break from playing Magic, you can still win. Sure, it might take a few times playing to shake the rust off, but all of the things that you know about Magic are still there, even if you think that you've forgotten them.

Heck, when I won Grand Prix–Columbus, I hadn't played a game in months. And while I wouldn't necessarily recommend going into a major tournament completely cold, I know that the break from the game that I took allowed me to become a far better player then I would have been otherwise.

In short, if you're taking a break from Magic, don't be afraid to start playing again. Sure, you might take a few lumps while you get your bearings, but you will be able to get up to, or even surpass, your old level, in less time then you think.

Just Because a Card Looks Like a Control Card...

...doesn't mean that it actually is.

Sometimes cards can be deceiving; they look like they belong in a specific type of deck, but you try to play them in that deck and they wind up doing very little. But instead, when you play that same card in a deck that it looks way out of place in, it turns out to be one of your best cards.

That is Gnarled Effigy in a nutshell.

Gnarled Effigy

On first glance, Gnarled Effigy looks like a control card that would be good in a control deck. Or at least that's what I thought at first.

After playing with the card more, I realized that Gnarled Effigy is actually quite out of place in most control decks. Where Gnarled Effigy is actually right at home is in aggressive decks.

Take for example, the Sealed Deck that Jamie Parke used to go 9-0 on day one of Grand Prix–Indianapolis:

Jamie Parke

Download Arena Decklist

The reason why Gnarled Effigy is so good in an aggressive deck like Parke's Indy Sealed is because you get to play out all of your cards, and then put your mana to good use for the rest of the game by putting counters on things with your Gnarled Effigy.

If you are playing a control deck, on the other hand, you generally spend the early parts of the game trying to contain your opponent's offense, and then start playing powerful cards to take over the game.

Gnarled Effigy might work well in a control deck with a very low curve, using Gnarled Effigy as one of the cards that it plans to take over the game with, but more often than not, if you are playing a control deck then you probably already have a lot of good things to do with your mana as the game progresses, meaning that you won't have much time to use your Gnarled Effigy until waaay late in the game—a stage of the game that you might not get to if you have a lot of slow cards in your deck, especially slow cards that don't have immediate effects... such as Gnarled Effigy.

I'm going to come back to this idea soon, but in the meantime, be sure to take a closer look at cards that might not seem like they belong in your type of deck. You just might find something special.

Stay Flexible

Steel of the Godhead
In every draft format, there are lots of rewards for remaining flexible while drafting, but this is especially true when drafting hybrid sets.

As we witnessed in my last article, Jelger Wiegersma started off his Grand Prix–Indianapolis Top 8 draft with two blue-white hybrid cards with untap abilities and then moved into what unsurprisingly wound out to be an awesome blue deck with 2 Power of Fire.

When drafting Shadowmoor, you want to put yourself into a position where you can take advantage of as many overpowered cards that you see late as possible.

If you have a Corrupt, a Steel of the Godhead, a Burn Trail, a Blowfly Infestation, or a Power of Fire, and you make the most of it, and your opponent doesn't have anything particularly powerful of their own (or an answer), then you are probably going to win.

If you don't put yourself in a position to take advantage of the best cards that you see, then you are going to miss out on a lot of good opportunities.

The Hybrid Auras Are Awesome...

...but they might not be as good once Eventide is released.

With one less pack of allied-color creatures, you are going to have to be careful to make sure that you have enough creatures that can put Steel of the Godhead or Runes of the Deus to good use.

Sure, many of the hybrid Auras are still OK if you only have a creature with one matching color, but there is a huge difference between making a Safehold Sentry a 3/3 flyer with a Shield of the Oversoul and making a Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers a nearly unstoppable flying, indestructible, vigilance 5/6 with that same enchantment.

So, when you are drafting Shadowmoor / Shadowmoor / Eventide, and you see a Steel of the Godhead, remember that you have one less pack to get blue-white hybrid creatures. Now, I'm not saying don't take that Steel of the Godhead, but you might not want to pick it up first pick, first pack now.

The Sealed Wheel

During my absence, Jacob van Lunen filled in for me and showed us all how to properly look at our Shadowmoor Sealed pools. If you haven't read his article yet then you should definitely give it a read, as it makes it way easier to build Shadowmoor Sealed Decks.

Jake's method, in short, is to lay out your Sealed pool to create a wheel where each color is seated next to each of its hybrid buddies. So you would have white next to white-green, which is next to green-red, which is next to red, etc. all the way to white-blue and then back to white.

It's so simple and intuitive, once you've heard it.

After the Shadowmoor Prerelease I was pretty clueless as to how to lay out my Shadowmoor Sealed decks, but as soon as Jake told me what to do, the whole process became way smoother.

Elsewhere Flask Is Really Good

As usual, enablers are very important. And Elsewhere Flask is one of the best enablers in Shadowmoor. With Elsewhere Flask, you can play Godhead of Awe(some) in your red-green deck, you can make eight 2/2s with Howl of the Nightpack in your blue-black deck, or you can simply use it to make sure that you can cast your Wasp Lancer on turn three in your blue-white deck.

Puca's Mischief Is Awesome

If you ever see a Puca's Mischief, especially early in the draft, take it.

Puca's Mischief

Every time I've played against Puca's Mischief I thought I had a chance to win the game. Then my opponent would play a Torpor Dust on my biggest creature, steal one of my smaller guys by trading me the Torpor Dust (thanks for the gift!), and just proceed to whomp me.

3/3s Are Very Important

In Shadowmoor, more than in any format in recent memory, playing a turn-four 3/3, such a Sootwalkers, is very important.

There just aren't that many good, cheap, high-toughness (or -power) creatures to stop four-mana 3/3s at a time profit. If you are going to trade with a four-mana 3/3, then you are probably going to have to pay at least four mana.

I don't think I appreciated just how important it is to fill out your curve with good four-drops in Shadowmoor Limited until I saw Jelger take a Wanderbrine Rootcutters over a Puncture Bolt in his Grand Prix–Indianapolis Top 8 draft.

In fact, not having enough good four-drops was one of the main reasons why I didn't make Day 2 at Grand Prix–Indianapolis.

Be on the Lookout for Fun Combos

While I was on my absence, Dane Young filled in for me with an article where he talked about some fun combos that you can pull off in Shadowmoor Limited.

While some combos may seem a bit goofy, such as the Morselhoarder + Power of Fire + Sinking Feeling combo that Dane talks about, or the double Enchanted Evening quadruple Gleeful Sabotage deck that BDM drafted in a recent New York draft, there are a lot of less intense combos that people get all the time, or even incidentally.

The Power of Fire + creature with untap ability combo is the first easily pulled off combo that comes to mind. But Elsewhere Flask + Jaws of Stone is also easy to put together. Both of these pairs are seen frequently, and threaten to dominate the game whenever they rear their ugly heads together.

Elsewhere Flask
Jaws of Stone

Then there are "incidental" combos, when you have two cards that work well on their own, but work amazingly together. These types of interactions are often seen between two uncommons, or an uncommon and a rare, so they don't come up very often.

In the same draft where BDM got his Enchanted Evening package, Gerard Fabiano drafted an aggressive mono-white deck with Armored Ascension.

I had drafted a blue-white deck with not one but two Biting Tethers. When Gerard flopped an Armored Ascension onto his Ballynock Cohort and hit me for 9, I thought for sure that I had him, as I was about to untap and Biting Tether his guy (who would still be huge thanks to the Armored Ascension, which would still count Gerard's Plains).

However, Gerard had different plans.

When I went to Biting Tether the Ballynock Cohort, Gerard played Mercy Killing on his Ballyknock Cohort in response and killed me the very next turn with his newly created army of 1/1s.

What Have You Learned?

There are a million things to take away from Shadowmoor Limited; these are just some of my favorites. What are some of the things that you've learned from Shadowmoor Limited?

Take care,
Steve Sadin

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