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By: Arnnaria, Sean Costales
May 14 2008 11:11pm
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Welcome to Pure Standard!

The first big Standard tournament to feature Shadowmoor took place this last weekend.  Star City Games hosted the $5,000 open in Richmond, Virginia and over two hundred contestants showed up to sling spells and determine who the best player of the bunch was.  What was interesting was the top two decks featured no Shadowmoor cards at all!  The top two decks were blue-black faeries, and the decklists did not even run Sunken Ruins, sticking to the old classics of River of Tears, Secluded Glen, and Underground River.  This just proves how powerful the tried and true faerie deck is – it is still competitive without adding any of the powerful cards of Shadowmoor in it.

However, I’m not here to talk about faeries.  I’m here to talk about the top Shadowmoor cards that saw play in the top eight of this tournament.  Each card got one point for each instance in the main board, and half a point for each instance in the sideboard.  What was the most played card in the top eight?  The answer may surprise you.  Here are the top ten Shadowmoor cards out of this particularly competitive top eight:

10. Heartmender – 3 points

Heartmender might seem like a slow card, but if it goes unanswered for long it is nigh unkillable.  It turns all your persist creatures, itself included, into threats that come back for more.  A Damnation isn’t the answer anymore because all the -1/-1 counters will be removed the next upkeep.  To truly kill your army you’d have to have two Damnations back to back, and with decks only running three Damnations or three Wrath of Gods, that’s not something you can really count on.  The deck that ran Heartmender also ran Overrun, so an army of 1/1 and 2/1 persist creatures can easily attack for the win after an opponent taps out to cast that Wrath of God.

9. Safehold Elite – 4 points

Safehold Elite might seem like an ordinary bear with a new ability.  But this isn’t just an old dog with a new trick.  Combined with Shield of the Oversoul, another card on the top ten, it turns into a 4/4 indestructible flyer.  That’s a third turn threat that can’t be killed with Terror or Flame Javelin.  And if your opponent manages to kill it with let’s say a Profane Command, it comes back for more due to it’s persist ability.

8. Cursecatcher – 4 points

This is what I said about Cursecatcher in my review of Shadowmoor blue: “I actually think Cursecatcher will find a home in a Standard deck: Merfolk.  Not only does Cursecatcher get the bonuses from Merrow Reejery and Lord of Atlantis, I think its ability is better than Tideshaper Mystic for the one-drop spot of merfolk.  It delays their Cryptic Command and Primal Command by one whole turn, and when you’re racing to twenty damage that could be the difference between life and death.”  Apparently, Cursecatcher found a place in a merfolk deck after all.  Here’s the decklist if you’re interested:


Daniel Snell - Star City Games $5,000 Open
4 Cursecatcher
4 Lord of Atlantis
4 Merrow Reejerey
4 Silvergill Adept
4 Stonybrook Banneret

Other Spells
4 Cryptic Command
2 Mirrorweave
4 Ponder
4 Sage's Dousing
3 Aquitect's Will
11 Island
4 Adarkar Wastes
4 Mutavault
4 Wanderwine Hub

4 Dragon's Claw
4 Burrenton Forge-tender
3 Merfolk Assassin
4 Flashfreeze
Lord of Atlantis


7. Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers – 4 points

Green and white finally get a 3/4 for three mana.  Not only do they get a good stat bonus at an efficient price, they also get vigilance thrown in for free.  While vigilance seems like a mostly white ability, Mark Rosewater states that it’s an ability that both green and white share, just like flash.  Color pie arguments aside, the Cavaliers are impressive for their mana cost and warrant play in any green/white deck.  This is not even to mention the next two cards that are on the top ten list, which make the Cavaliers an even better option to play with. 

6. Wilt-Leaf Liege – 4 points

Mike Flores called this a “fair Dodecapod” in his article, Swimming with Sharks, recently.  While this is an apt comparison, I don’t see this ability being relevant at all in Standard.  The only discard being run is Thoughtseize, and your opponent isn’t going to chose this creature and put it into play unless they forgot about its ability.  It’s true that some decks sideboard in Mind Shatter to decimate their opponent’s hands, but if your opponent knows you are playing white/green and running the Liege, I doubt they would side in the Mind Shatter.  Either way, Wilt-Leaf Liege gives all your green/white hybrid creatures +2/+2 and leaves behind a 4/4 body to attack with.  Wilt-Leaf Liege is hands down the most powerful of the Lieges, and with the next card on the countdown being as powerful as it is, I expect to see this card in Standard for a long time.

5. Shield of the Oversoul – 4 points

Wondering why there are so many green/white hybrid creatures on the top ten list?  The answer is here: Shield of the Oversoul.  For just three mana, you give your green/white hybrid creature +2/+2, flying, and turn it indestructible.  Armadillo Cloak and Griffin Guide, both three-mana auras, saw play and weren’t nearly as powerful as this.  The good news is that there isn’t much enchantment removal out there to destroy your Shield.  The bad news is, there is a card out there that can deal with indestructible permanents effectively: Oblivion Ring.  However, Shield of the Oversoul will still see play even if people start main boarding Oblivion Rings because its ability is that powerful.  Here is the “mono green” aggro deck that abuses Shield of the Oversoul that made top eight.  I put “mono green” in quotations because the deck runs many green/white hybrid cards, only using green mana for them and eschewing some of the more powerful white cards:

Mono Green Aggro
Daniel Samson - Star City Games $5,000 Open
3 Heartmender
4 Imperious Perfect
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Safehold Elite
4 Wilt-leaf Cavaliers
4 Wilt-leaf Liege
4 Wren's Run Vanquisher

Other Spells
4 Shield Of The Oversoul
3 Overrun
21 Forest
1 Pendelhaven
3 Cloudthresher
3 Oversoul Of Dusk
3 Wheel Of Sun And Moon
3 Krosan Grip
3 Squall Line


4. Deus of Calamity – 4 points

If Deus of Calamity was a 6/6 trample for five mana it still might see play.  The second ability to destroy a land if it hits for all six points is just icing on the cake.  Surprisingly, only one of the other “five hybrid” creatures made it into the top eight: Oversoul of Dusk.  Oversoul of Dusk didn’t make it into the top ten because it was only found in the sideboard of one deck.  The much hyped Demigod of Revenge didn’t crack into this tournaments top eight.  I think, despite the Demigods powerful ability, his mana cost is going to be too prohibitive for him to see competitive play.  The Deus and the Oversoul will both see play because of the intense mana fixing in green; Green has Birds of Paradise, Llanowar Elves, Garruk Wildspeaker, and Into the North.  Black doesn’t have the color fixing of this depth to get the five black and red mana to cast the Demigod.  While the Demigod might be the most powerful of the bunch on paper, it just might not have the acceleration that green does to see play.

3. Fulminator Mage – 4 points

I’m not a huge fan of Fulminator Mage.  It’s not that I don’t get the card.  The card seems really good on its own and I see it getting play in Extended and Mannequin decks in Standard.  The fact that I’m not a huge fan of the card is because it seems so slow.  With turn three seeing such threats as Shield of the Oversoul and Kitchen Finks, a turn three creature that you need to sacrifice to get its ability seems rather slow.  Now, if Fulminator Mage destroyed a land as it came into play, I’d get the hype.  Instead, it needs a sacrifice and doesn’t leave a threat behind.  Fulminator Mage didn’t get played in a Mannequin deck in the top eight, instead it got played alongside a Deus of Calamity in a red/green land destruction deck.  If you’re interested, here’s the decklist for your netdecking needs:

R/G Land Destruction
Brian Kelly - Star City Games $5,000 Open
4 Avalanche Riders
4 Birds Of Paradise
4 Deus Of Calamity
4 Fulminator Mage
2 Llanowar Elves
4 Magus Of The Moon
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Wall Of Roots

Other Spells
2 Flame Javelin
3 Garruk Wildspeaker
4 Tarfire
6 Forest
4 Snow-covered Mountain
4 Fire-lit Thicket
4 Karplusan Forest
4 Treetop Village

1 Chameleon Colossus
2 Faerie Macabre
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Raking Canopy
4 Naturalize
Avalanche Riders


2. Fire-Lit Thicket – 5 points

I’m actually kind of surprised that the other filter lands didn’t make the top ten.  But with the Future Sight duals, the race lands of Lorwyn, and the painlands from Tenth Edition, there’s plenty of color fixing to go around.  Not only that, but people want to play the man lands from Tenth Edition, and that takes another land spot out of the running for the filter lands of Shadowmoor.  But I think there is a reason Fire-Lit Thicket saw play in the red/green decks and Sunken Ruins didn’t see play is because the red/green Future Sight dual is horrible right now in Standard.  Grove of the Burnwillows sees some play in combination with Kavu Predator decks, but right now Standard is so aggressive that you can’t afford to be giving your opponent life. I expect the filter lands to see more play when Future Sight rotates out with Time Spiral and takes away its good dual lands.  Until then, the filter lands might be shelved for better mana fixing.

(Editor's Note:  The reason Sunken Ruins does not see more play in Standard builds of Faeries is a simple one.  Suspending Ancestral Visions on turn one is the best play the deck can make.  Running Ruins gives you a slightly worse chance of that play happening.)

1. Kitchen Finks – 12 points

Persist has turned out to be a rather good ability as this is the third Persist creature to make the list.  Right now, aggro and midrange decks are dominating the format.  Each deck is trying to outrace the others to deal that twenty points of life.  Kitchen Finks throws a monkey wrench into that plan.  Not only does it leave a substantial body behind, but it gains you two life the instant it comes into play.  That’s not the best part though.  The best part is that if your opponent manages to destroy it, it returns back as a 2/1 and gains you another two life.  Kitchen Finks outscored the second most popular card by seven points and is a creature that will see a lot of play in Standard from here on out.


Silly by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Tue, 05/20/2008 - 22:03
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Silly. These decks are useless.

by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Sat, 05/17/2008 - 23:39
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture're not really getting the point, are you? :p

by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Sat, 05/17/2008 - 15:14
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this list is a pretty bad one. You just took the new (bad) mono green deck, added cursecatcher, and for some reason one of the hybrid lands, (plus the obvious kitchen finks) and called it a top10. GJ

Sigh by walkerdog at Thu, 05/15/2008 - 02:53
walkerdog's picture

I was going to make a sarcastic remark and everything!  Dang!  But yea, that made me go, "Wait a minute!"  Prof Command is still nice, just not THAT nice.

by iceage4life at Thu, 05/15/2008 - 07:55
iceage4life's picture

Faeries>the format

by Trumpetman at Thu, 05/15/2008 - 02:09
Trumpetman's picture

Heh.  Profane Command > Persist

by embermage34 at Thu, 05/15/2008 - 02:50
embermage34's picture

Profane Command doesn't stop Persist from happening, as the creature with persist must have a -1/-1 counter on it for Persist to not be triggered, or the creature is put somewhere other than the graveyard.  All Profane command does is forces the creature to go to the graveyard in a way that isn't destroying the card.