Arnnaria's picture
By: Arnnaria, Sean Costales
Apr 29 2008 12:14am
4.25
Login or register to post comments
1753 views


Shadowmoor will be officially out in paper on May 2nd, which means us online fans have to wait a couple of weeks before we can play the cards.  But before we play, many of us do reviews over what cards we want to acquire, and what cards will be traded away as fast as possible.  In the online world, prices are pretty much set by the time the set arrives, but there are still some surprises to watch out for.  Today I’m reviewing the mono-blue cards in Shadowmoor from a Standard constructed perspective.  The review is very simple; a card gets * if it’s utter jank, *** if it’s average, and ***** if it’s excellent.

Advice from the Fae (2/U) (2/U) (2/U)
Sorcery
Look at the top five cards of your library. If you control more creatures than any other player, put two of those cards into your hand. Otherwise, put one of them into your hand. Then put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.
Rating: *** 

Advice from the Fae is better than Mulldrifter and Counsel of the Soratami if you are playing a creature heavy deck.  This fits perfectly in faeries where your Bitterblossoms pretty much guarantee that you will have more creatures out than your opponent.  However, you also have to remember that Advice from the Fae comes at sorcery speed so there is no “end of turn” shenanigans with this card.  I expect it to be tried out in some decks, but only testing will tell if it’s a keeper.

Biting Tether 4U
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant creature You control enchanted creature. At the beginning of your upkeep, put a -1/-1 counter on enchanted creature.
Rating: **

Stealing your opponent’s creatures is a very powerful ability.  However, there aren’t many big creatures running around that would negate the -1/-1 counters.  Theo only two I can think of are Cloudthresher and Akroma, Angel of Wrath.  Akroma is only played in Reanimator and G/W Big Mana – two decks that have taken a holiday from Standard.  So the only creature worth stealing is Cloudthresher, which only one archetype plays (G/R Big Mana).  Stealing a creature is usually a good thing but this card is no Threads of Disloyalty.

Briarberry Cohort 1U
Creature - Faerie Soldier; 1/1
Flying
Briarberry Cohort gets +1/+1 as long as you control another blue creature.
Rating: ** 

Briarberry Cohort seems right at home in a faerie deck.  Unfortunately, your blue creatures usually come out later in the game than turn one or two: Pestermite, Spellstutter Sprite, Mistbind Clique.  That means that in the early game, this will just be a fragile 1/1 until you get another blue creature out.  Once you do get a blue creature out, it turns into an aggressive flyer, but if you are going for aggressive flyers on turn two why wouldn’t you just play Oona’s Prowler?  I suspect that this card will have its fans in limited, but as for constructed Standard I doubt it will leave much of an impact.

Cerulean Wisps U
Instant
Target creature becomes blue until end of turn. Untap that creature. Draw a card.
Rating: * 

This card could be an interesting combat trick and cantrip all in one.  However, for one blue mana, wouldn’t you rather be running Ponder?  Cerulean Wisps other ability, turning the creature blue, doesn’t seem like it would matter much in today’s Standard metagame.  The wisp that turns creatures black might be a good defensive tool against Terror and Shriekmaw, but there aren’t any good cards that really matter if the creature is blue.  Perhaps this combat trick will be useful in limited but I don’t see it getting any play in Standard.

Consign to Dream 2U
Instant
Return target permanent to its owner's hand. If that permanent is red or green, put it on top of its owner's library instead.
Rating: *** 

This is a great hoser for blue; not as powerful as Flashfreeze, but a great card nevertheless.  Not only does it negate their next draw, it causes them to tap out to play the creature again.  The tempo advantage you gain in a deck like Faeries is enough to push you over the edge.  The added flexibility in that it doesn’t have to target just a red or green creature makes it versatile as well.  Expect to see Consign to Dream showing up in sideboards, especially if Mono Green Aggro and Mono Red Aggro become popular in the post-Shadowmoor Standard.

 

Counterbore 3UU
Instant
Counter target spell. Search its controller's graveyard, hand, and library for all cards with the same name as that spell and remove them from the game. Then that player shuffles his or her library.
Rating: **** 

I’ve always been a fan of Quash and its respective cycle.  But Counterbore one ups Quash in so many ways.  Countering their Profane Command, Primal Command, or Bogardan Hellkite gets rid of all their other instances of that card for the duration of the game.  Not only do you get to thin their library of that card, but you also get to counter the spell the first time around.  This is like a more pro-active Extirpate.  The only downside is the mana cost.  Cryptic Command is already expensive as it is and it sees play, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Counterbore will show up in control decks as well.  If aggro speeds up he format too much, Counterbore might be a victim of circumstance, but it still is a great card to see print.

 

Cursecatcher U
Creature – Merfolk Wizard; 1/1
Sacrifice Cursecatcher: Counter target instant or sorcery spell unless its controller pays 1.
Rating: *** 

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.  However, outside of merfolk, I don’t see this card getting much play.

Deepchannel Mentor 5U
Creature - Merfolk Rogue; 2/2
Blue creatures you control are unblockable.
Rating: ** 

In a dedicated aggro deck, you should be winning by turn six.  This card is just too cute for its own good.  It’s too expensive for both faeries and merfolk, and while I see mono color aggro decks coming out for every other color, I think blue is the exception to this rule.  This might be a limited bomb, but as for Standard it’s a weak card that won’t see any competitive play.

Drowner Initiate U
Creature - Merfolk Wizard; 1/1
Whenever a player plays a blue spell, you may pay 1. If you do, target player puts the top two cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
Rating: * 

Wizards has been really pushing milling strategies lately.  However, even when Standard had the best milling cards during Ravnica (Glimpse the Unthinkable, Vedalken Entrancer, etc.), a serious milling deck never emerged in competitive play.  Now the millers of choice are merfolk, with Drowner of Secrets and Grimoire Thief taking up the mantle.  However, Drowner Initiate won’t see play because no one has taken up the milling strategy.  The fact of the matter is, it’s easier to make your opponent lose twenty life than it is to decimate their deck of sixty cards.

Faerie Swarm 3U
Creature – Faerie; */*
Flying
Faerie Swarm's power and toughness are each equal to the number of blue permanents you control.
Rating: *** 

The only reason I gave this card three stars is because I think that this card could be very important for limited.  It has evasion and can get pretty big with all the hybrid cards running around.  However, for constructed, it isn’t better than Mistbind Clique in a faerie deck.  And the other blue based deck, merfolk, wont’ play it because it doesn’t get bonuses from (Merfolk Reejery) and Lord of Atlantis.  Maybe if Bitterblossom made blue creature tokens it would have a possibility of seeing play.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t so this card will sit in your trade binder.

Flow of Ideas 5U
Sorcery
Draw a card for each Island you control.
Rating: **

This card didn’t see any play when Ravnica was around, and Ravnica’s blue duals (like Steam Vents and Breeding Pool) had the basic land type “island” in them.  Without the Ravnica duals, it has even less of a chance of seeing play this time around as most blue decks take advantage of non-basics for their bi-colored potential.  Flow of Ideas is cute, but cute doesn’t make the cut.

Ghastly Discovery 2U
Sorcery
Draw two cards, then discard a card.
Conspire (As you play this spell, you may tap two untapped creatures you control that share a color with it. When you do, copy it.)
Rating: **

If you have two creatures out, you want to be attacking with them.  The only time you would have creatures available is if you are in the middle of a creature stall.  But with faeries having flying and merfolk having islandwalk, the chances of being in a creature stall are slim.  Still, if you are worried about a creature stall you should play a card that actually prevents a creature stall or stops a creature stall from occurring.  Ghastly Discovery does neither of those things.  Stick with Mulldrifter for your card drawing; at least with that, you don’t have to discard a card.

Isleback
Spawn 5UU
Creature – Kraken; 4/8
Shroud
Isleback Spawn gets +4/+8 as long as a library has twenty or fewer cards in it.
Rating: **

This card will see no play in constructed.  The only reason I gave it two stars is because of its limited potential, where its second ability could actually matter.  Even without its second ability, a 4/8 creature with shroud is nothing to scoff at.  However, for constructed, feel free to scoff away.

Kinscaer Harpoonist 3U
Creature - Kithkin Soldier; 2/2
Flying
Whenever Kinscaer Harpoonist attacks, you may have target creature lose flying until end of turn.
Rating: ** 

Four mana for a generic 2/2 flyer is the norm for nearly all the colors save maybe green.  So for that price, it better have a decent ability to be worth the cost.  Kinscaer Harpoonist has a sub-optimal ability that doesn’t really matter; if they have a creature with flying that can block and kill the Harpoonist, wouldn’t they be attacking you with it?  Sure there’s summoning sickness, but those rare opportunities where they can block you will be far and few in between. 

Knacksaw Clique 3U
Creature - Faerie Rogue; 1/4
Flying
1U, oQ: Target opponent removes the top card of his or her library from the game. Until end of turn, you may play that card. (oQ is the untap symbol.)
Rating: ** 

Getting Knacksaw Clique tapped isn’t the hard part; providing the mana to cast the spell it reveals is.  Unless you are playing a five-color deck or the mirror match, there’s no certainty that you are going to be able to play the spell you revealed.  And even then, there’s the possibility that you’ll just reveal a land or a spell that’s of no use to you.  Now, if Knacksaw Clique let you play the spell for free there would be much potential for abuse.  But Wizards of the Coast learned a long time ago that “free” is pretty much a no-no yest the Johnny combo players take over the competitive scene again.

Leech Bonder 2U
Creature - Merfolk Soldier; 3/3
Leech Bonder comes into play with two -1/-1 counters on it.
U, oQ: Move a counter from target creature onto another target creature. (oQ is the untap symbol.)
Rating: ***

Getting Knacksaw Clique tapped wasn’t the hard part; it had flying.  But getting Leech Bonder tapped is a problem.  Luckily for us, Leech Bonder is a merfolk and merfolk have all sorts of ways to tap their creatures.  With the -1/-1 counter theme being so pervasive in Shadowmoor, Leech Bonder has the potential to be a powerhouse alongside Drowner of Secrets or even (Merfolk Reejery).  Not only can he off one toughness creatures, but once he removes all his -1/-1 counters onto your opponent’s troops he leaves a substantial body behind.  In limited he’s going to be harder to tap, so I would think his power in limited devalues somewhat compared to constructed.

 
Merrow Wavebreakers 4U
Creature - Merfolk Soldier; 3/3
1U, oQ: Merrow Wavebreakers gains flying until end of turn. (oQ is the untap symbol.)
Rating: * 

For five mana in blue I expect my 3/3 creatures to already have flying.  This card is just a poor attempt to showcase the untap mechanic.  It might deserve two stars, but I’m giving it the lowest rating because it’s a mockery to Air Elemental, a card that’s ten times better but still sees no competitive play. 

Parapet Watchers 2U
Creature – Kithkin Soldier; 2/2
(W/U): Parapet Watchers gets +0/+1 until end of turn.
Rating: * 

I can’t think of any possible deck that would use this card.  As such, it gets the lowest rating possible. 

Prismwake Merrow 2U
Creature – Merfolk Wizard; 2/1
Flash
Flash When Prismwake Merrow comes into play, target permanent becomes the color or colors of your choice until end of turn.
Rating: **

Unlike Parapet Watchers, Prismwake Merrow has an ability that is semi-useful.  The added bonus of flash gives you even more incentive to play around as you can cast it anytime you can an instant.  However, this ability seems like it is more suited to the “color matters” theme of limited than to constructed. 

Puca's Mischief 3U
Enchantment
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may exchange control of target nonland permanent you control and target nonland permanent an opponent controls with an equal or lesser converted mana cost.
Rating: *** 

I’m not Ajani.  Pardon, I’m not a Johnny.  So I can’t think of a million combos for this card off the top of my head.  However, I know that there are a handful of Johnnys out there who can and will think of ways to abuse this card.  It could be quite fun with Colfenor’s Plans; you get one of their creatures and they are prevented from drawing any cards.  This card screams to be broken, and someday, some crazy Japanese player will break it. 

Put Away 2UU
Instant
Counter target spell. You may shuffle up to one target card from your graveyard into your library.
Rating: ** 

If this card shuffled your entire graveyard into your library, it would be decent.  If this card shuffled three cards from your graveyard into your library, it would be mediocre.  This card shuffles one card from your graveyard into your library.  And at that cost you can get Counterbore for one mana more, and Cancel for one mana less. 

River Kelpie 3UU
Creature – Beast 3/3
Whenever River Kelpie or another permanent is put into play from a graveyard, draw a card.
Whenever a spell is played from a graveyard, draw a card.
Persist (When this creature is put into a graveyard from play, if it had no -1/-1 counters on it, return it to play under its owner's control with a -1/-1 counter on it.)
Rating: *** 

This card has combo potential written all over it.  Anytime Wizards creates a card that offers free card draw, someone somewhere will abuse the hell out of it.  Notice the first ability doesn’t say “your” graveyard, so it triggers off your opponent’s persist spells too.  Reanimator is already a popular rogue archetype and River Kelpie will only serve to make it better.

Savor the Moment 1UU
Sorcery
Take an extra turn after this one. Skip the untap step of that turn.
Rating: *** 

This card will be broken, but not in Standard.  The only Standard deck I can imagine using this is Merfolk alongside Merrow Commerce.  But I think its potential for abuse with Early Harvest and other untap engines will see it get some play in Extended, Legacy, or even Vintage.  Wizards doesn’t print many cards that give you extra turns, but this one might be cheap enough to matter.

 

Sinking Feeling 2U
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature doesn't untap during its controller's untap step. Enchanted creature has "1, Put a -1/-1 counter on this creature: Untap this creature."
 Rating: ** 

This card gives you the ability to activate the activated abilities of creatures over and over again.  However, every time you reuse the ability it weakens the creature more and more.  I don’t see a place for this card in Standard, and the fact that it ultimately gives you a useless creature in the long run doesn’t really give it a place in limited either.  Maybe someone will come up with a cool combo for this, but I can’t think of anything for the present moment. 

Spell Syphon 1U
Instant
Counter target spell unless its controller pays 1 for each blue permanent you control.
Rating: *** 

The question is whether or not this spell is better than blue’s two other two mana counterspells: Rune Snag and Remove Soul.  I think in the early game, both Rune Snag and Remove Soul are the better cards.  However, Spell Syphon might find a place in blue decks when Rune Snag rotates out of Standard which happens when Shards of Alara comes out.  If Shards of Alara doesn’t give us a better two mana counterspell, I could see Spell Syphon making the final cut in the main sixty.  Until then, I see Rune Snag seeing play over Spell Syphon. 

Thought Reflection 4UUU
Enchantment
If you would draw a card, draw two cards instead.
Rating: **

For seven mana, a card better outright win you the game.  Instead, this card gives you a cutesy ability that you aren’t really going to be able to exploit until the next turn.  Sure, this means that your Tidings hits for eight, but then you’re just playing a “win more” game.  Stick with big beaters for that expensive of a mana cost; Rimefeather Owl costs seven mana and it can win you the game the next turn. 

Whimwader 4U
Creature – Elemental; 6/4
Whimwader can't attack unless defending player controls a blue permanent.
Rating: **

Whimwader won’t be able to attack against over half the field of Standard right now.  So, for the most part, you’re going to be playing a 6/4 wall.  Against blue players, Whimwader could potentially do some damage, but it lacks evasion and isn’t supported by any of the blue tribes; it’s not a merfolk or a faerie.  Whimwader will be a defensive threat (and sometimes an offensive beater) in limited, but it’s constructed playability is weak. 

Conclusion

There you have it, a review of the 27 mono-blue cards in Shadowmoor.  I don’t see any if the cards creating new archetypes in Standard besides River Kelpie.  River Kelpie might be the card Reanimator needs in order to be competitive; River Kelpie is also right at home with the sets many Persist cards.  As for Puca’s Mischief, I think it’s too cute for its own good and will be tried out in some decks but nothing of competitive caliber.  Thanks for reading! 

Sean Costales

Arnnaria on Magic Online

andredomino@gmail.com

5 Comments

by Anonymous (Unregistered) 208.191.180.96 (not verified) at Sun, 05/04/2008 - 12:06
Anonymous (Unregistered) 208.191.180.96's picture

hamtastic, well whats the point of vigilance if it can only block creatures with flying? 

Parapet Watchers by Rav (Unregistered) 67.168.130.53 (not verified) at Sun, 05/04/2008 - 15:51
Rav (Unregistered) 67.168.130.53's picture

Parapet Watchers 2U
Creature – Kithkin Soldier; 2/2
(W/U): Parapet Watchers gets +0/+1 until end of turn.
Rating: * 
I can’t think of any possible deck that would use this card.  As such, it gets the lowest rating possible.  Attack, and pump it's Tough, when they declare no blockers cuz it's just a 2/6 Flash in the Crookclaw Transumuter, 6 to the head! (yes.. note this is meant for casual) Rating: **

Knacksaw Clique by Anonymous (Unregistered) 99.249.155.13 (not verified) at Wed, 04/30/2008 - 08:20
Anonymous (Unregistered) 99.249.155.13's picture

I was under the impression that Knacksaw Clique would even allow you to play their lands if that is what you revealed, that makes the mana to cast their spells a lot easier to come up with.... I may be wrong though

by bigalw1414 at Tue, 04/29/2008 - 16:26
bigalw1414's picture

I like the artcicle, but I think the limited and constructed ratings and evaluations need to be separated.  Trying do rate both formats in the same paragraph is detrimental to both evaluations.  I would suggest either 2 separate articles or give 2 '*' ratings for each card.

by hamtastic at Tue, 04/29/2008 - 12:27
hamtastic's picture

Pretty much very good.  The only thing I disagree with you on is:

 

Merrow Wavebreakers 4U
Creature - Merfolk Soldier; 3/3
1U, oQ: Merrow Wavebreakers gains flying until end of turn. (oQ is the untap symbol.)
Rating: * 

For five mana in blue I expect my 3/3 creatures to already have flying.  This card is just a poor attempt to showcase the untap mechanic.

 

On paper, that's correct.  It looks bad.  But when you play it, it's much better.  Its abilities actually read more like:

Wavebreakers 4U 

Flying
Vigilance
~ May only block creatures without flying.

Since by the time you're attacking with him the amount of mana to untap him is not really an issue anymore.  At least, that's been my experience so far... 

Which is pretty good for a common, actually.  It's probably not a "***" star card, but it's at least a "**", borderline three.