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Insider: Shadows over Innistrad Set Review (Rares)

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Welcome back for part two of the financial set review, Shadows over Innistrad (SOI) edition. If you missed my article on the mythic rares yesterday, be sure to brush up on that first. Next up, rares!

Like always, I want to take time to reflect on my evaluation of the last crop of rares, this time from Oath of the Gatewatch (OGW). Here are my notes:

OGW Rare Reflection:

  • It seems my placement of most¬†rares ended up holding true. While most of the set's rares¬†declined drastically there was one card that stood out. I listed Eldrazi Mimic in Mid Tier, and it easily jumped to Top. With the recent B&R announcements that will likely change again.
  • Sylvan Advocate did some work¬†during pre-rotation¬†Standard---but with the¬†new Standard landscape in April, Sylvan Advocate looks like it might be the best thing to do with¬†two¬†mana. If you play green you'll likely play this card, and even if you don't you will try very hard to incorporate it.

Let's dive into the rares, shall we?

Rare Breakdown

Top Tier

  • Thing in the Ice
  • Westvale Abbey
  • Shadow Land Cycle
  • Declaration in Stone

Mid Tier

  • Always Watching
  • Anguished Unmaking
  • Asylum Visitor
  • Avacyn's Judgement
  • Bygone Bishop
  • Cryptolith Rite
  • Deathcap Cultivator
  • Diregraf Colossus
  • Drownyard Temple
  • Eerie Interlude
  • Engulf the Shore
  • Elusive Tormentor
  • Epiphany at the Drownyard
  • Ever After
  • From Under the Floorboards
  • Falkenrath Gorger
  • Geier Reach Bandit
  • Hanweir Militia Captain
  • Odric, Lunarch Marshal
  • Prized Amalgam
  • Rattlechains
  • Scourge Wolf
  • Silverfur Partisan
  • Sin Prodder
  • Thalia's Lieutenant
  • Tireless Tracker
  • To the Slaughter
  • Traverse the Ulvenwald

Low Tier

  • Altered Ego
  • Angel of Deliverance
  • Brain in a Jar
  • Burn from Within
  • Confirm Suspicions
  • Corrupted Grafstone
  • Devil's Playground
  • Drogskol Calvary
  • Fevered Visions
  • Flameblade Angel
  • Forgotten Creation
  • Harness the Storm
  • Inoxerable Blob
  • Invocation of Saint Traft
  • Markov Dreadknight
  • Nephalia Moondrakes
  • Sage of Ancient Lore
  • Second Harvest
  • Slayer's Plate
  • Soul Swallower
  • Tamiyo's Journal
  • Triskaidekaphobia
  • Welcome to the Fold

Top Tier Rares

Westvale Abbey

westvaleabbey ormendahlprofaneprince

I knew right away that I liked this card, and that it would become important in the future. I didn't know the future would be the very next day when it spiked to $20. I guess that's just the nature of this hobby sometimes. To be fair this had a lot to do with early testing around Cryptolith Rite. Then more people realized it's just a good card in general.

That's sort of where I was coming from. I compared it to Gavony Township from the original Innistrad. It would be one of those lands that just got gradually better and increased in price steadily. When it turned out to be a contender for the defining card of Standard, that expedited the process.

This card is the real deal, and it's likely going to sit over $10 for quite a bit of time. It has more applications outside of Standard, and will likely supplant every other rare for "chase rare" status.

Even outside of Aristocrats built around Cryptolith Rite, black-white strategies are incorporating this simply because they can cast Secure the Wastes. We also talked about Ulvenwald Hydra and how important it can be by fetching certain lands---Westvale Abbey is another excellent target.

Thing in the Ice

thingintheice awokenhorror

This card increased quickly during pre-orders. It started at $3.99 and now sitting at $19.99 continues to sell. I think it's an extremely good card---but perhaps not in Standard as much as other formats. It's so much better when casting cards like Brainstorm or Gitaxian Probe, and with the added benefit of being pitched to Force of Will.

That doesn't mean that this too (alongside Westvale Abbey) won't command a fairly high price tag for quite some time.

Even in Modern there are plenty of ways to utilize Thing in the Ice // Awoken Horror and flip it to a gigantic threat quickly. That being said, this is likely not the second coming of Tarmogoyf. The big downside of Thing in the Ice is that each copy gets increasingly difficult to flip, while a card like Tarmogoyf just rewards you for playing Magic.

In Standard this will be a big problem (along with Reflector Mage), and something of an issue even in older formats. There won't always be a constant stream of spells to flip Thing in the Ice in a timely manner.

Declaration in Stone

declarationinstone

This card has really grown on me. It might be one of (if not the) best removal spells we have access to in SOI Standard. It's splashable and the drawback is mostly negligible, especially when trading with their best creature. Remember that giving them a clue token does not equate to drawing a card---not right away anyway. It's delayed and most of the time doesn't get cashed in for a while.

When dealing with multiple copies of a card, obviously some caution is needed. We want to be winning the game in short order before our opponent gains access to a bunch of clue activations.

The recent price increase is justified; it usually ends up making the 75, and like I stated earlier it's easy to cast. Exiling is important now, and Declaration in Stone basically does everything we want without giving our opponent a huge advantage.

Shadow Lands

The Shadow land cycle is a great boon to two-color allied lists. There's really not much to say here other than that they will be necessary to play Standard. After playing with them, they feel fine and I'm okay with these going forward. I don't think we need to elaborate more than that. I would keep an eye on all of them, since every one will see heavy play over the next year and a half.

Mid Tier Rares

In this tier I'm going to group a bunch of these cards together as there's a lot of cover. These feel better than the cards I would consider actual bulk. Just keep in mind that many of these prices can and will decrease. A select few might increase also.

The Human Militia

I like grouping these cards together because Humans is really strong. I've been able to test all different variants of the archetype and each one has really solid plays. Ultimately I think the blue-white version will end up coming out ahead---but only slightly.

Thalia's Lieutenant really is the backbone of the archetype, and it's extremely potent. I won't talk about Eerie Interlude on its own so I will throw it into this group as well. It's actually proven itself to be a card to dabble with in the main deck as a way to save creatures, as well as continue to extract value from Thalia's Lieutenant, or say a Reflector Mage.

Considering how much praise Sheridan have given this card for Modern (and rightfully so) I think it can be better than a $2-3 card in the future. We might well see a Humans tribal list pop up in Modern abusing this and Champion of the Parish.

Always Watching is really pushing the envelope for anthem effects much like Intangible Virtue once did. I always feel like there needs to be two of these in the blue-white version, and it can end games quickly.

I don't know where the ceiling on a card like this will end up, but it could maintain a price somewhere in the $4-6 range if it really takes off.

Tireless Tracker is really good. I really love green value creatures, and this one delivers. I always feel like this card is doing something great and I never have to invest much into it.

Other than paying for extra cards, Tireless Tracker provides a new dynamic to aggressive and even slightly midrange lists because it turns dead land draws into card advantage. One fellow QS writer really likes this card too (I'll divulge that below). As great as the card is though, I just don't know if it can easily surge past the $5 mark.

Vampires

Vampires received another boost with SOI, unsurprisingly to say the least. We have aggressively costed vampires, starting with Falkenrath Gorger leading the bloodsuckers to battle. It's not "just another 2/1 for R"---it has no drawback and all upside.

I've never seen a printing obsolete so many cards at the same time. Like previous red one-drops this could fetch quite a few dollars. The pre-order prices are correct and will likely stay that way for at least a few weeks to come. This likely stays in the $4 range and if Vampires ends up being better than we think we can always revisit it.

Asylum Visitor feels like it can slot into many archetypes besides Vampires. It's not just another Dark Confidant impersonator in a long line of failed experiments. This one might stick, and this card could trend into the $6-8 range quietly when it's in the spotlight. I think this card is fantastic, and I do expect it to find success in multiple archetypes.

Elusive Tormentor // Insidious Mist may look a little weird appearing in this Tier, even more so paired with really good vampires. Just bear with me---I only placed it here because it's a vampire, so you can calm down now. I just think this card is really well designed and very cool. It's also the Buy-a-Box promo, so I'm holding out that we may end up living the dream with this card.

I could care less about the four-mana 4/4 side (although that is on curve for the most part). I'm looking to flip this, load up the Mist with a whole bunch of goodies and go to town.

Maybe it's wishful thinking, but I'm leaving this here for now and I don't care what anyone says. We have to attach Invocation of Saint Traft to something, right? This will more than likely be $1 or below, but again I'm holding out stubbornly.

Value

Traverse the Ulvenwald is going to be hit or miss. Another QS Writer really likes this card, and I'll provide their opinion below. I have to say that in testing sometimes this card is really clunky, and casting it as Lay of the Land is just dreadful. When I'm casting it with delirium then I'm really happy.

So there's no in between. At the very least it does smooth out potential mana issues in three-color decks. At the same time this might compete a lot with Oath of Nissa. Sometimes they will be good together, sometimes they won't. I think this card's success (and price tag) hinges solely on delirium and how reliably it can be achieved. I say this sticks around in the $3 range and has some good upside.

To the Slaughter has been producing good results in testing. I've had this cast against me a plethora of times, and each time it seems to be good enough. The delirium is gravy, and it helps subsequent copies by putting an instant in the yard. I don't know if any of that translates to financial success which is why it's in this Tier. I feel like this stays in the $1-2 range despite all its good qualities.

Anguished Unmaking - I know it might be controversial not to put this in Top Tier, but I just feel Declaration in Stone will end up being the best removal of the bunch in Standard. This probably has some applications outside of Standard so there is some upside here.

If anything I would say this is a Middle Tier card (likely inexpensive compared to Declaration) but should be treated as a Top Tier card. Down the line this could trend upward since it removes so many cards. Three life is huge in Modern, and should be kept in mind. But with incidental life gain in Modern like Scavenging Ooze the cost won't be as devastating. To that end there's always Linvala, the Preserver in Standard.

I gave this the bump down because of its casting cost and because it won't be as ubiquitous as Declaration in Stone in Standard. It's a $4-5 card at best with some upside in the future.

Cryptolith Rite - I'll admit I was wrong here. I didn't respect this card enough when I first saw it. It's extremely powerful and is already forming the centerpiece of brews. It lets already-great cards like Catacomb Sifter enable even better cards like World Breaker, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and Ulvenwald Hydra. These cards hit the battlefield much quicker than they should---it's really an insane build-around card.

It might not hit a zenith like Westvale Abbey, but if this breaks into Modern I think all bets are off. Keep tabs on this card---if it starts gaining any more traction I'd say pull the trigger. For now it's likely to stay a solid $5, much like Jeskai Ascendancy did for a period of time.

Zombies

From Under the Floorboards is my sleeper pick of the set. I love this card and think it's extremely powerful. I haven't seen this anywhere in testing but I have a feeling this is the type of card we see unveiled at a Pro Tour where it dominates the tables.

Madness is really what does it for me. Being able to instant-speed cast this off a Jace, Vryn's Prodigy // Jace, Telepath Unbound is something I think will become commonplace. Even if you're paying the same cost you essentially have the option of casting it at any time. So it's not just a sorcery. I'm happy to stash these away when/if it closes in on $1 or less.

Diregraf Colossus could end up as pure bulk, but it feels a little better than that. It has the zombie tribal thing going for it and threatens to generate a lot of value for just 2B. Keep in mind you can trigger this by casting zombies from any zone. Gravecrawler makes some absurd stuff happen with the Colossus.

Ultimately I think this could go either way. It could trend down to under $1 or end up maintaining a few dollars.

Ever After - I guess this is technically a zombie card. I have no other explanation for this card other than this: I feel like a graveyard-based Tooth and Nail for six mana shouldn't be bulk. Two creatures for six mana is ahead of the curve, folks. Just pair this with cards like Dragonlord Atarka and good things will happen. It won't be another chase rare, but like I said, better than pure bulk.

Prized Amalgam is really awesome. I placed it here because it can go either way---either this makes Dredge decks viable or it's just another card.

Even if the graveyard-based list isn't centered around zombies as a tribe, this just seems amazing with Gravecrawler or Vengevine. It adds another dynamic to the archetype and provides more threats that recur themselves to continuously apply pressure.

In Standard this might be a natural pair with Relentless Dead in a Zombie Aristocrats list. With Nantuko Shade as a Standard-legal enabler there might be something there.

This will likely stick around $2-3 but can easily increase. Should this catch on in Modern foils will be even more lucrative.

The Rest

I love Rattlechains. I can't articulate exactly why---it's just efficient and really cool. Besides that I don't feel there's enough viable support around this card. There's just nothing really amazing for Rattlechains to protect! I suppose Topplegeist could be enough, or Anafenza 2.0.

This will likely be $1 or less but I think it will turn around and come back with the release of Eldritch Moon.

Sin Prodder - I'm not as down on this card as everyone else. I will say LSV stating this card is "unplayable" in Standard doesn't really bode well, but it could all just be mind games. Sin Prodder is the second coming of Vexing Devil and everyone hated that card also. Turned out Vexing Devil was good enough for Modern---who knew? I knew, that's who.

I think it's going to be the same scenario. If this finds its way into midrange lists then the triggers start to become extremely difficult for your opponents. Red-based aggro lists are obviously fine too. I think pre-order prices are way too high for this, but it's far from bulk.

Avacyn's Judgment is super efficient. Let's be honest; they weren't going to make this Forked Bolt with madness. This is really close, and the madness is insane. If there's a Grixis control list to be had based around flip-Jace and some madness cards then this and Under the Floorboards will be amazing.

I see this settling in the $2 range but I could easily see it trending back upward. At its madness cost it's really potent removal and can close out a game if need be.

Silverfur Partisan is an extremely interesting card. It can be great in multiples when you consider each triggers separately off of one spell. This could be part of some infinite combo, or merely a great value play with something along the lines of Dromoka's Command. For now I think it will maintain a couple dollars, but could creep up if the card makes it in a Constructed setting.

Deathcap Cultivator is an awesome new take on the new-age mana producers at two mana. Delirium is a bit easier to manage in Constructed, and in this instance it grants deathtouch. That means our mana dork isn't a completely dead draw off the top, and later in the game these can really clog up a board state.

That makes Cultivator a key card in midrange and ramp lists, for which it could fetch a few dollars. In the near future this may trend down closer to $1, similar to Rattleclaw Mystic. There is upside though because while it can't provide a third color, late-game deathtouch is probably better.

Drownyard Temple - This obviously pairs well with our friend The Gitrog Monster. It could be included as a one-of just to enable a very potent synergy. In other formats we will see if a self-recurring land is worthwhile. For now there could be an argument for a Standard archetype built around the Monster.

I'm excited to see the interactions as an engine piece. I don't know if there will be financial upside in the short term, but this might be one to think about in the future. For now I think Drownyard can stay in this tier---but it will likely trend down.

Wrap-Up and Writer's Choices

Instead of droning on about Low Tier junk I wanted to conclude this set review with something new. I wanted to add some commentary and select card choices from other writers here at QS. I asked them to choose a card to endorse as a sleeper, chase rare, value pick, etc. Here are their responses:

  • Ryan Overturf - Goldnight Castigator is his choice for "undervalued mythic."
  • David Schumann - From Under the Floorboards is his choice. His words: "The card is extremely powerful and plays really well with Origins Liliana."
  • Paul Baranay - Tireless Tracker is the choice here. He feels the card should have¬†been a 2/3 but thinks it's a neat card and has a spot in midrange archetypes.
  • Tarkan Dospil - Traverse the Ulvenwald was his choice for "safe bet." He figures this card can slot into Ramp lists and in Modern it will be easier to trigger delirium to tutor a creature.
  • Kelly Reid - Ulvenwald Hydra. "This card tutors for Rogue's Passage." 'Nuf said.

~

That wraps up the set review for Shadows over Innistrad. Hope you all enjoyed!

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 release and beyond!

- Chaz @ChazVMTG

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

  1. Tireless Tracker is an intro deck rare, which limits its upside. Also, I think Asylum Visitor belongs in low tier as it just feels like another bad Bob variant, but otherwise generally agree with your rankings.

    Ever After into Dragonlord Kolaghan and Dragonlord Atarka right now is 14 hasty flying damage plus kill some of your creatures. Not quite enough to one-shot someone, but the new Eldrazi don’t shuffle into your library anymore when they hit the GY and there’s rumors of a certain flying spaghetti monster returning in Eldritch Moon…

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