Insider: Shadows over Innistrad Set Review (Mythics)

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Stay a while, and listen. It's been a few weeks, folks.

I'm back for yet another full set financial evaluation, Shadows over Innistrad (SOI) edition. Like with every set, I'm going to break down the mythics and rares and discuss the set from a financial perspective. First up is mythics. Check out my other article on rares going up tomorrow.

We're back to a normal set launch, so this time around we don't have to consider Expeditions. This is a relief (for analysis purposes), and provides some extra incentive to extract value from this set.

Before we get into the full analysis I wanted to disclose some notes I've taken prior to writing this review and reflect on my Oath of the Gatewatch (OGW) review as well.

Shadows over Innistrad notes:

  • Without Expeditions this will be a normal set where normal supply/demand is in full effect.
  • This set seems extremely top-heavy with emphasis on competitive viable mythics, including four planeswalkers. I suspect most of the value will be evenly distributed across mythics, with some rares (which I review in the next part) holding value as well.
  • Shadow lands give us a semi-soft floor, but likely won't cause the same scenario as Battle for Zendikar (BFZ) and OGW. There will be expensive cards in both rare and mythic no doubt, and most of the set won't be under $5.

OGW Mythic Review:

  • Most of my mythic evaluation was solid. There were some really sharp increases in the Mid Tier as I suspected. My praise for World Breaker held true. What I didn't expect was Chandra, Flamecaller and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet to increase as drastically as they did. Well, maybe Kalitas.
  • Turns out I (as well as others) ended up being wrong about Kozilek's Return. It's by no means a bad card, and could make a glorious comeback, but it's undeniable how much the card tanked in price. More than a 50% decline.
  • To the same end Nissa, Voice of Zendikar increased rapidly from $14.99 to $29.99 by the end of pre-orders. It's now sitting at roughly the price it started at---and the future is bright for Nissa with the release of SOI. I was extremely confident in this card, and I think rightly so. This has slowly and steadily gained in price. Be on the lookout for a deal if you need these; the chance to buy at value has come and gone.

Now, on to Shadows over Innistrad!

The Tier System

Breaking the cards down into a tiered list makes it easier to determine what will hold the majority of the set’s value. I will most likely use this methodology going forward in evaluating future sets. I also wanted to do it this way because I don’t like attaching a future value to any of these cards. I feel like that method is a tad inefficient and doesn’t take into account future card printings that could potentially make these cards better. It's really all based around what's in the card pool. So, I like to display a snapshot baseline power for these.

So, in that regard I wouldn’t want to attach a low value to a card that’s inherently powerful like I have in the past. Or attach a high price tag to a card that looks good on the surface, but just isn't good in the pool around it. (Underworld Cerberus anyone?). That will happen when we only look at the card with nothing around it. I wanted that to really influence the cards placement. The truth is while a card may look terrible right now, we don’t know the future and how this card could interact with cards that are printed after them. Any one of these could suddenly become much better than another.

As an avid player of fighting games, the tiered method makes the most sense to me, since it also allows for cards to move around, which undoubtedly will happen as time goes on. This happens all the time in many of the fighting games in their life cycles as well.

This is my explanation for each tier in the list:

  • Top Tier is reserved for the cards that will most likely hold the majority of the value in the set. More commonly known as the “chase cards.”
  • Mid Tier is reserved for the cards that aren’t necessarily bad but may be overshadowed at this current point. These could easily jump to top tier in the future, or vise versa.
  • Low Tier is reserved for the cards that will most likely be near bulk. Like Mid Tier these cards could easily jump up to higher tiers but the road traveled will be harder. Again, I don’t think these cards are necessarily bad but my analysis is that they will be the cheapest cards in the set.

These tiers are built primarily for Standard, however if a card has clear implications in Modern or beyond, it will also appear in a higher tier. Commander and casual appeal are not factored heavily into these ratings.

Mythic Breakdown

Top Tier

  • Archangel Avacyn
  • Arlinn Kord
  • Olivia, Mobilized for War
  • Mindwrack Demon

Mid Tier

  • Jace, Unraveler of Secrets
  • Sorin, Grim Nemesis
  • Nahiri, the Harbinger
  • The Gitrog Monster
  • Relentless Dead
  • Ulvenwald Hydra
  • Sigarda, Heron's Grace

Low Tier

  • Descend upon the Sinful
  • Goldnight Castigator
  • Season's Past
  • Behold the Beyond
  • Wolf of Devil's Breach
  • Startled Awake
  • Geralf's Masterpiece

Top Tier Mythics

Archangel Avacyn

archangelavacyn avacynthepurifier

Everything that can be said about Archangel Avacyn has likely already been said. It's incredibly powerful. I'll go through the motions and talk about it yet again, but likely won't say anything you don't know already. When we discussed this on QS Cast, as with other writers, it was the consensus pick for most sought-after card. And for good reason.

Avacyn is extremely potent this time around, and both sides of the card are really packed full of value. I wouldn't be surprised if this had enough power to battle something like Baneslayer Angel in Modern, even.

Gigantic Ambush Viper on one end (and providing indestructible to everything) and Anger of the Gods on a 6/5 flier on the other. Each side is proving to be fantastic in early deck building, and the unanimous assumption is that this will be in a wide variety of decks during SOI Standard.

I fully anticipate this card to maintain a high price tag. Not only is it just extremely good, but it has everything else going for it too. It's an angel, it can be used as a Commander (in just two colors), and it's double-sided which historically is a bonus. This is likely to stick in the $20 range for quite some time.

Current Price: $30

Arlinn Kord

arlinnkord arlinnembracedbythemoon

Okay, I know I'm a little biased here. I'm trying really hard to be objective for the sake of the review, and every time I still feel like I can't place this any lower. Arlinn Kord is a viable walker, and it's a flip-walker which always adds brownie points (even for prices in the future).

It might take some time, but Arlinn Kord is going to find a home somewhere. It just has so much depth and too many options not to. The player base is really undecided regarding Arlinn Kord, and that can only mean (to me anyway) that the long run will probably show we got it wrong somehow.

I'm liking some of the initial decklists in articles about SOI Standard, and there are a lot I can get behind that utilize Arlinn Kord in a successful way. You can check out some of these decks by our very own Adam Yurchick, but I also pulled up a sweet list by Micheal Majors:

Will Arlinn Kord sustain its current price? Likely not; there's room for it to decrease. I don't think this is a sub-$10 walker though just from the casual appeal and its inherently playable abilities. Even with the price decreasing I'm still going to leave this card in the High Tier category. Like a wise man once said: "Pepsi bottle, Coca Cola glass---I don't give a damn."

Current Price: $25

Olivia, Mobilized for War


Just as strong as ever, Olivia returns in another iteration. This time she's extremely aggressive and less midrange. What's ironic is that Olivia might actually end up reaping the most value in midrange lists. That's what's so great about this card---it's not a vampire-specific card, and it's not strictly aggro.

The ability is just good all the time. When we look at the larger picture and the card pool surrounding this card, you can start to realize that there can be many successful archetypes built around (and with) Olivia 2.0.

As pointed out by Pascal Maynard, Olivia can be extremely potent when built into a Collected Company shell alongside Deathmist Raptor as essentially a "free" card to use in order to buff other creatures.

I'm excited to see where Olivia ends up, but right now it feels like the price is justified. It might decrease somewhat, but if it starts to near the $10 mark (or, wishfully thinking, under that) I'd be looking to move in just for value (and playing) purposes. similar to Drana, Liberator of Malakir, this is mythic that can suddenly double in price in an instant.

Current Price: $15

Mindwrack Demon


I understand this is a Duel Deck promo, but that doesn't seem to matter. This card clearly isn't going to be held down, and could likely settle in the $10-12 range. It's already been increasing since I've started writing this article and could be more by the time it's published. It's turning out to be the same scenario as Polukranos, World Eater.

It's an extremely effective flying threat, and not that many cards can deal with it. Sure it "dies to removal" but it's one of the best delirium enablers, attached to a body that can tussle with most anything in SOI Standard. Having trample is a nice bonus.

I see this being utilized as a delirium enabler for certain cards (Traverse the Ulvenwald, for instance). Or why not just pair it with Archangel Avacyn in black-white and have two huge flying threats? It survives the red flip side of Avacyn, and that's just gravy.

The placement of this card was probably the most difficult of the mythics, and ultimately I felt it was good enough not to leave out. The current price trend is obviously reflecting that.

Mid Tier Mythics

Remaining Walkers

I'm obviously bunching these together and they will all go into Mid Tier. They're all viable and have distinct roles. I felt none of these should have been placed lower since none are anywhere close to Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded.

Jace is simply a blue clone of Ob Nixilis Reignited. It's strong, and does three blue things---fairly uninspiring but not in any way bad. It's not really exciting, but it's a Jace card which adds brownie points for future pricing.

I think this could end up at the $8-10 mark and could trend up a bit if control dominates Standard. It may take some time for control to establish itself but it could be amazing as early as Pro Tour SOI.

Current Price (Jace): $15

Nahiri might be the walker everyone is sleeping on. The ultimate feels like a precursor to pair with some creature we haven't seen yet. At the same time Boros walkers are really a hit or miss. This is far from Ajani Vengeant but still good enough to consider.

If this trends down low enough I would grab them for a value play, or for any deck you would want to construct around Nahiri. It's not a terrible walker by any means, and if any of these walkers prove us wrong it will probably be Nahiri. I anticipate Nahiri will also be in the $8-10 range for quite some time.

Current Price (Nahiri): $12

Finally we have Sorin. Another six-mana walker, huh? This one seems to be hitting it off well with the Commander/EDH crowd, since it hits multiple people with the first ability. This Sorin is quite powerful and severely proved me wrong once I cast this card. I felt the game ended relatively quickly once this version of Sorin was on the battlefield, which is where we want to be for a six CMC walker.

The one big flaw for Sorin is the fact that it's really weak when you're behind. He likely won't pull you out of as many dire situations like Elspeth, Sun's Champion, or even Chandra, Flamecaller.

I expect Sorin to settle in the $10-12 range.

Current Price (Sorin): $20

The Gitrog Monster


If nothing else this large and in charge toad has to be the coolest mythic in the set. That has to count for something right? It likely will mean something for foils, considering there will be a whole new wave of Commander players that will want The Gitrog Monster as their commander. I don't blame them---I do too.

I really think this is the quintessential "Rock" card and can really add a ton of value to a midrange deck. Or it can be built around as an engine and I would love for this to make a card like Death Cloud viable again. I don't need a good reason to sleeve up a Death Cloud deck. At five mana that could be wishful thinking, but at the very least something along the lines of a Life from the Loam deck could incorporate this somehow.

In Standard we have Drownyard Temple to consider, and on QS Cast Doug brought up some interesting interactions with Groundskeeper and/or Molten Vortex.

This card will likely hang out in the $5-7 range unless we realize this is much better than we're giving the Monster credit for. We don't want to end up in its mouth, do we?

Current Price: $8

Relentless Dead


Relentless Dead is extremely strong and I really like it. That being said I ended up settling on Middle Tier for this card. The main reason is it has a chance of not finding an immediate home. I know that might sound crazy, but it's a real possibility.

I do feel like this is surely a mythic that will shift into Top Tier eventually. It has so many uses, not just delegated to Tribal Zombies or a black-based aggressive list. It can continuously feed cards like Nantuko Shade or Kalitas. It gains strength in multiple copies, and it can obviously extend into Aristocrats archetypes which gain value with this card's ability to constantly trigger death trigger cards like Zulaport Cutthroat.

Such a potent two-drop also has the potential to revive Mono-Black Devotion in Modern. The deck severely lacked cheap cards, and could warrant revisiting now.

Like I said, this will likely trend up into Top Tier and its current $15 is justified. I just wanted to take everything into consideration, and with a PT on the horizon it's possible pro groups could pass this over initially.

If this card decreases, it likely won't be by much.

Current Price: $15

Ulvenwald Hydra


Normally I would be upset over a card like Ulvenwald Hydra. I try to love every green card, but I wasn't excited about this---at first. Then I decided to playtest with it and incorporate it into Ramp shells, and it was doing some really good things.

Fetching any land is actually quite powerful right now in Standard (I'm going to leave Commander talk out of this). We can be sneaky and grab cards like Rogue's Passage, or we can set up some World Breaker chains with our Sanctum of Ugin. It's also good at grabbing Westvale Abbey in the decks built around Cryptolith Rite that have started popping up.

It's also worth mentioning how important reach is right now, with Mindwrack Demons, Avacyns and Olivias running around.

Will all this transfer to financial success? Maybe. At the very least Hydra is far from the bulk mythic it would normally be in most circumstances.

There could be some upside here. Not much, but there's probably some room to grow. I do think this will end up staying in the Mid Tier though. This is probably a solid price for purchase if you need them for a deck. Foils have some appeal as well for obvious reasons.

Current Price: $3

Sigarda, Heron's Grace


Sigarda 2.0 is interesting. It's obviously oozing with flavor, and could potentially be a top end card in a Humans list. At the same time I wasn't really enamored with this iteration of Sigarda, and wouldn't be surprised if it ended up at a paltry $2-3.

The good thing is you can exile any card from the graveyard and activate it at any time. It doesn't die to a flashed-in Avacyn, and can wall an opposing Mindwrack Demon.

Other than that it's really vulnerable. It's not deserving to be in Bottom Tier, so I wanted to place it in this tier on the off chance it gets incorporated in some capacity into Human lists.

Current Price: $4

Low Tier Mythics

Let's go through the motions, shall we? Here we round out the bulk mythics of SOI. I don’t have much to say about these, so I’ll just leave some thoughts in the form of bullet notes:

  • Goldnight Castigator could be worthwhile somewhere, in some situations. I just don't see many red decks adopting this, and when it doesn't win the game it will likely ensure your loss.
  • Seasons Past could be an interesting one-of in some midrange or control list. If you get three cards with this I think that's great value, and likely the sweet spot. Interesting card, but not likely to be financially relevant. Foils could be appealing, so keep that in mind.
  • Descend upon the Sinful - If you think about this card as a six-mana 4/4 that exiles all other creatures (when delirium is active, of course) it makes me feel a tiny bit better about it. Still likely to end up a near-bulk mythic.
  • Startled Awake - As cool and flavorful as this card is it just won't equate to financial upside. I'd wait to grab this if you need a copy for any deck, as it will undoubtedly decrease. Foils could be interesting. Obviously this is a bomb Limited card, but that's about it.
  • Behold the Beyond - Commander, I suppose? I'll let the format's aficionados weigh whether seven mana and your whole hand is worth exchanging for the three best cards in your deck. It's probably a decent rate, but still a near-bulk to bulk mythic.
  • Geralf's Masterpiece could be decent in some spots. It is terrible to play normally, but it does have some good Zombie/Dredge implications. I want to see the positives in this card, and they are certainly there, but they don't change my final evaluation of the card as bulk.
  • Wolf of Devil's Breach - Yuck.

Up next, rares! I have discussed these rares and mythics in my spoiler coverage and on QS Cast, so if you want to hear additional information and opinions feel free to check those out.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Feel free to comment below or message me via social media. Hopefully this list is helpful going forward to decide what’s worth trading for or buying at the prerelease and beyond!

- Chaz @ChazVMTG

3 thoughts on “Insider: Shadows over Innistrad Set Review (Mythics)

  1. Startled Awake reminds me of Glimpse The Unthinkable and Archive Trap, so the long term value looks to be there.

    Not sure how these observations work with your tier system, it seems like it doesn’t gel well with long term thinking.

    Goldnight Castigator is the exact type of card that has the potential to be misunderstood by everyone and suddenly shoots up in price if the drawback isn’t as bad as everyone makes it out to be. I’m prepared to be wrong and I have nothing riding on it but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear people talking in a few months about how it should have obviously been a good card because it is easy to mitigate the downside by just killing them or something else.

    1. There’s room for long term thinking but truthfully it’s not a huge factor. I will usually make a note if that’s the case but I feel like being in the now is slightly more important than stacking up a newly released card for 5 years into the future.

      In terms of Archive Trap – it might just be a better card than Startled Awake? I would ask people more well versed into the format but I can see it being fine after a longer time frame to appreciate.

      I really have been on the fence about Goldnight Casitgator, and I do think that situation is capable of happening but with some of the decks I’ve been testing with and see drawing a lot of attention (look to spikes on Reddit) I feel like a 4/9 that gives opponents the better crack back feels out of place even if it is a decent card otherwise.

      I think the buy-in is low enough that if anyone feels that strongly about it they can hedge bets. I just dont feel I can endorse it as a better mythic (both for financial and play reasons) than any of the others I listed higher than it.

  2. I picked up 3 playsets of Goldnight Casitgator for 10.49 a set preorder just in case. The interaction that I am most interested in but have not heard people talk about is eldrazi displacer with Avacyn. You get to reset her to gain indestructible and you get to flip her again when you lose a non angel creature.

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