I’ve never had the chance to live in a country that enjoys four different seasons, but I’m sure it doesn’t take much to understand what a wonderful season spring is. The harsh cold of the winter makes way for the crisp chill of spring, life starts to flourish again…and the smell of fresh new Magic cards is in the air!

Yes, the much-hyped Shadows Over Innistrad hits shelves Friday, and though I can’t say the same for the people of Innistrad, I’m so looking forward to it!

Going over the card list, I see several cards that pique my interest, but for reviews I’ll defer to the wisdom of Mr P. and the rest of the team.  Instead, I’m just gonna share with you the second thing that went through my mind as I reviewed each card (The first thing would’ve been something like “Bingo!” or “Next…”), and do it as a sort of “quick hits” style.

Before that, though – here’s a PSA on some of the mechanics that will strike your group with a vengeance soon:

Transform

Unless specified otherwise, transforming a permanent doesn’t trigger any zone-changing abilities, since it’s not leaving the battlefield…and no, picking up the card, removing it from its sleeve, turning the other face up, and then putting it back doesn’t count.

A double-faced card can enter the battlefield face-down, thanks to manifest and Illusionary Mask. However, once you turn it face-up, you can’t turn it back face-down – Ixidron does nothing against DFC – ha!

Other than these two, there are a couple of changes to the DFC rules which take effect with the release of Shadows, and you can read about them in the excellent article written by the great Rules Manager Matt Tabak. You can read about them here 

Delirium

In the process of casting an instant/sorcery spell, putting the card into the graveyard is the last thing to do, so delirium won’t count the card itself. I’m sure quite a number of us “shortcut” the process, putting the cast instant/sorcery card into the graveyard and then doing what it says. Don’t let that confuse you!

Madness

This is truly an insane set, isn’t it? There’s delirium, and now there’s madness…again!

As you know it now, when you discard a card with madness, it goes from your hand to either the exile zone (if you choose to cast it), or the graveyard (if you don’t). Going forward, that same card will now always go to the exile zone first. It’s a pretty subtle difference, one that’s not likely to matter much as we go about our games…

 

[spoiler title=”Click to dig a little deeper…”]So the bit above trailed off, and that’s because I actually have a bit more to say about this change – one that’s not related to EDH. See, I’m a computer science graduate, and somewhere along the way I’ve studied about state diagrams. This latest change to how madness works baffled me at first, until I sat down to draw the following two diagrams:

Drawing1

This graphical contrast before and after is why I like this change so much!  It’s so easy![/spoiler]

 

On to the cards!

White

(Before I start, I should clarify that when I mean white, I mean “color identity white” – so please don’t blast me for not putting Archangel Avacyn here!)

Descend Upon the Sinful: Bye, Final Judgment!

Drogskol Cavalry: Finally, a new recruit for my Karador Spirit tribal deck!

Eerie Interlude: Never too much blinks for my General Tazri Allies tribal.

Hanweir Militia Captain // Westvale Cult Leader: Almost makes it into my BW Cleric tribal, but that front face though…

Odric, Lunarch Marshal: Wall of text, but decent otherwise.

So, slim pickings in white so far.

Blue

Aberrant Researcher: Don’t miss the epic conclusion to the Delver of Secrets trilogy!

Daring Sleuth // Bearer of Overwhelming Truths: His back face has such a lengthy name only because there’s no need for mana symbols there, what a mouthful.

Engulf the Shore: Thematic shoo-in for my Thassa ‘Denizens of the Deep’ deck-to-be 🙂

Epiphany at the Drownyard: Any card that asks your opponent to make the final decision can’t be any good unless you make a deal, and I’d hate to be at the mercy of anyone.

Jace, Unraveler of Secrets: New member to my League of Super Friends, potential selection headache coming up.

Rattlechains: I love this card, because it seriously makes me wanna build WU Spirit tribal, but Karador would fiercely disapprove.

Rise from the Tides: Potential finisher for any spellslingers, with the sorcery type being a minor speed bump.

Startled Awake: I want this for my Phenax mill deck!

Thing in the Ice // Awoken Horror: Board control that packs a punch, sure to go into my Mizzix spellslinger!

Blue seems like the deeper color of the two so far…

Black

Accursed Witch // Infectious Curse: My Oloro deck could use another torture device – death by a thousand cuts!

Behold the Beyond: Great – mono-black so needed another combo tutor, kappa.

Relentless Dead: I’d love to get my hands on this, but damn Standard players wouldn’t stop hyping it up.  What a starting pricetag…

Triskaidekaphobia: I’d love to watch someone show this to his/her friend with said affliction – please share videos!

Westvale Abbey // Ormendahl, Profane Prince: I’d love to let loose my spot removal on whoever tries to transform him – cue evil laughter!

Now I’d readily admit that I’m not much of a black player, but even then, there’s nothing really to get me thinking here.  The black cards all seem really obvious to me.

Red

Falkenrath Gorger: Making me reconsider pulling the plug on my Olivia Voldaren Vampire tribal…

Geier Reach Bandit // Vildin-Pack Alpha: Make this legendary, and it’d be the best RG Werewolf general – Wizards plz!

Goldnight Castigator: Wicked Zedruu gift.

Skin Invasion // Skin Shedder: This card gives me the creeps, well done.

Green

Duskwatch Recruiter // Krallenhorde Howler: This card has so much utility, I’d put this in whatever deck I can fit him in.

Seasons Past: This will need an intricate setup to reap maximum benefits.

Ulvenwald Hydra: Prime Time you’re not, but oh boy do I love you already!

Multicolor

Altered Ego: One more clone for my Riku Xerox deck!

Archangel Avacyn // Avacyn, the Purifier: When I first saw her, I immediately thought about how to flip her back and forth, but that idea has since died 🙁

Geistblast: Sneaky gem for a spellslinger deck, I know I’ll try to find a place for this one.

The Gitrog Monster: Such an interesting general, but I bet everyone and their mothers have already come up with The Best List To Netdeck(™)…

Nahiri, the Harbinger: Most likely to flunk the interview for my League of Super Friends, but perhaps my Boros deck could use her?

Nahiri’s Machinations: Sleeper hit for any Boros combat-based deck.

Olivia, Mobilized for War: Seems like a much more capable leader for my BR Vampire tribal, if I haven’t taken it apart already…

Sorin, Grim Nemesis: I think I might need more than one copy of this, simply because it fits into several of my deck themes!

Colorless

Brain in a Jar: Gosh, so many options for my Mizzix spellslinger in this set…

***

Now I’m sure anyone here at GDC could have written a much better first-impressions article. This is the first time I’m trying my hand at this, so any feedback would be much appreciated! Drop me/us a message at our Facebook page!

-CK
@ElderDragonMint