With Shadows Over Innistrad, the next Magic: the Gathering set, releasing Friday April 8 comes 297 new cards. Many of those cards are originals with some (such as Unruly Mob and Macabre Waltz) being reprints.
Now that the prerelease is over and we're approaching release day, we highlight what we perceive to be ten of Shadows Over Innistrad's best original cards.
|Arlinn Kord // Arlinn, Embraced by the Moon (Mythic) - Arlinn is one of the most interesting and most capable planeswalkers we've seen in quite a while. And she is certainly the most powerful to feature a red-green casting cost. Her initial +1 ability is a nice one to have, even if it does fire off at sorcery speed, but her zero basic ability is the winner on Arlinn's side "A". A free 2/2 is nothing to scoff at, but add in her transformation to a OMG werewolf powerhouse and you've got something special. Arlinn EbtM has three terrific abilities on one card. The werewolf's +1 is a nice offensive boost to your entire creature base and its -1 is a Lightning Bolt that sets you up for another free 2/2 creature the next turn. Then, of course, there is EbtM's -6 ultimate which should win the player the game more often than not so long as they have a couple of creatures on the board -- and with Arlinn Kord's zero ability, that shouldn't be an issue.|
|Archangel Avacyn // Avacyn, the Purifier (Mythic) - Serra Angel who? For the same cost as the iconic Angel card of yore, Archangel Avacyn is so much more capable. Boasting Flash in addition to flying and vigilance is nice enough, but then you add in her ability to make your creatures temporarily indestructible sends her soaring over the top. Beyond that, she can easily flip (and flip out) to become Avacyn, the Purifier. Pulling an Akroma and transitioning from a white to red creature, the protector of Innistrad becomes its (and your opponent's) greatest threat. She bolts your opponents and acts as an Anger of the Gods against all creatures on the board other than herself. Granted, outside of that she's just a 6/5 vanilla flier, but 6/5 fliers aren't exactly a joy when you're on the receiving end.|
|Sorin, Grim Nemesis (Mythic) - In limited play, this newest version of the planeswalker Sorin can win games. Despite his six casting cost, he'll find a nice home in standard and EDH play. His +1 is basic card draw that puts the downside on your opponent and players can easily stack the deck to put things in their favor (Hello, Conduit of Ruin). His -X helps board control and, thanks to his starting loyalty of six, should be able to wipe out most any single creature or planeswalker threat right away if needed. Sorin, Grim Nemesis' ultimate ability, the -9 token creature generator, isn't necessarily game breaking but it can not only seriously turn the tide for players who find themselves on the losing side of a lopsided game, but it can also give players that nice edge to win the game they already have pretty well in hand.|
Ever After (Rare) - Despite its six mana casting cost, the rare card Ever After just reeks of play value. The card should absolutely shine in grindy, gritty matches where comes-into-play abilities and cheat-the-creatures-into-play abilities can be all too important. There is a lot of potential with this card and that includes the potential for it to seriously swing a game into your favor. Can you imagine using SOI's discarding mechanics to cheat a couple of Eldrazis into play at the same time at a nice discount? How about getting extra uses out of cards like Goblin Dark-Dwellers or Sidsi, Undead Vizer? There are a bunch of options to use and abuse Ever After. The only limits, it seems, are in the player's creativity and card base.
|Nahiri, the Harbringer (Mythic) - Nahiri is back and, yet, is making her debut as a card that can actually be pulled from a booster pack. After making an EDH splash as a title card in Commander 2014 as Nahiri, the Lithomancer, this new Harbinger version is quite different. Aside from being red/white rather than mono-white, Nahiri seems to have turned away from playing with toys (equipment) to dealing with threats at hand. She's a madness enabler with her +2 ability which, as it should be pointed out, is completely optional as she can +2 for no reason at all. Her -2 is nice, though it's a bit too reactive rather than pro-active. Her easily-achievable -8 ultimate, however, is where the real meat-and-potatoes are. Nahiri, the Harbinger lives up to her title with this one, essentially giving every artifact or creature card in your deck Dash for free along with the ability to tutor and use that creature or artifact right away. Expect to have a lot of fun using this card.|
|Declaration In Stone (Rare) - First off, let's address the elephant in the room. Yes, Declaration in Stone is a sorcery speed removal card. Yes, that is just fine. Why? Well, because it's not often you can get such a potentially powerful removal source for all of two mana. When could this card be best used? Against token generators. Vampires, Thopters, Eldrazi Scions, they all go pop in one fell swoop. Of course, nobody is going to scoff if you use it to send Ulamog off to an early vacation. Sure, there's the trade off of your opponent getting a bunch of Clue artifact tokens that could help them draw cards (at the benefit of tying up their mana to do so) or assisting Affinity and other artifact-focused decks in Modern, but for Standard play Declaration in Stone should be worth heavy consideration.|
|Olivia, Mobilized for War (Rare) - A key card to include in R/B aggro Vampire decks, this 3/3 three-drop boasts not only flying but she also insta-buffs any creature that comes in after her. She is essentially a walking power ramp for every creature in your deck. She also has amazing synergy with another card in this list, Call the Bloodline. SOI's vampires are, for the large part, very efficient and the tribal deck should do well with or without Olivia (better with, of course), but her capabilities extend beyond tribal. She should see considerable play in EDH, sure, but also in other Standard and Modern decks. The creatures that come into play can be anything and come in however you'd like. This means that Thopter tokens, Eldrazi Scions and Spawns, Goblins... whatever. Olivia has a lot of appeal for aggressive players and their decks would likely benefit from including this version of Olivia.|
|Jace, Unraveler of Secrets (Mythic) - Oh joy. Yet another Jace. While player fatigue with this planeswalker has likely never been higher, that doesn't mean he's not useful. While nowhere near as good as his previous printing, Jace, Unraveler of Secrets still has his uses. Control decks should love his scry-then-draw +1 ability. His -2 ability is, admittedly , rather weak overall -- especially when you consider the prevalence of comes-into-play effects in today's game -- but his -8 ultimate is a pain in the butt to deal with. Literally, it's the flipped side of Erayo, Soratami Ascendant, but it's much easier to pull off. While WotC might like to shy away from things that make the game less interactive rather than more, that's exactly what this latest version of Jace does and we're okay with that.|
|Call the Bloodline (Uncommon) - A madness enabler that also spits out lifelinked weenies, Call the Bloodline is a card that probably snuck past R&D a little bit. We say that largely due to its casting cost, which is one or two mana less than it perhaps should be. Sure, WotC neutered it slightly by allowing players to only use its creature making ability once per turn, but keep in mind that's once per each player's turn. In a standard two-player game, that's a pair of lifelinked 1/1s per go-around. Couple this card up with Madness cards like Fiery Temper, Alms of the Vein, or even Falkenrath Gorger, and you've got quite the advantage on the table.|
|Anguished Unmaking (Rare) - Aside from being a great card flavor wise as it represents Sorin's slaying of Avacyn, the angel he made to protect Innistrad from evil rather than destroy it, Anguished Unmaking is simply an important card to keep in mind for today's Standard format. While not quite as good as Utter End, Anguished Unmaking does cost one less to cast even if it does it at the nothing-to-scoff-at loss of three life. Still, as we depart from one block where the exile zone is an important part of gameplay to one where the graveyard is likely to play a large role, this card is very relevant.|
Shadows Over Innistrad releases April 8 with Wizards of the Coast holding the set's Magic Game Day a few weeks later on April 30 and May 1, 2016.