Shadows Over Innistrad Remastered releases in just a few short weeks and I cannot wait. There are a ton of Pioneer staples from the original SOI block that will be format-defining in Explorer. Since Explorer is slightly lower-powered than Pioneer at present, even corner case cards have the potential for major impact. This week, I'm highlighting five cards either confirmed or expected from this upcoming release that I'm especially excited for.
5. Thing in the Ice
First up is Thing in the Ice // Awoken Horror, which was one of the first cards officially confirmed for the set. I have a soft spot for this little horror both in the Arclight Phoenix deck and the Pyromancer's Ascension deck from yesteryear. With a 0/4 body, it stabilizes well against most aggressive threats, forcing the opponent to spend time and resources to go-wide, only to have those bounced back to their hand once Thing flips. By that point, a 7/8 creature is going to be the largest stat line in most matchups.
Even though cards like Fatal Push and Portable Hole mean that Thing isn't as big of a threat as it used to be, it's still a powerful creature that helps to enable spell-slinger strategies. While we wait for Treasure Cruise to get the full Phoenix experience, I'm interested in exploring Thing in the Ice as a sideboard juke for control strategies to beat decks siding out removal.
4. Sigarda's Aid
Easily one of the most anticipated cards for Explorer is Sigarda's Aid. This enchantment went from bulk rare to staple thanks to the printing of Colossus Hammer, which essentially gives a permanent +10/+10 to a threat at instant speed. The Hammer Time deck is extremely potent in Modern and right on the cusp of playable in Explorer. It's just missing an enabler or two. With Aid joining the fray, we're one step closer to Hammer Time supremacy in all formats.
3. Eldritch Evolution
Much like its cousin, Neoform, Eldritch Evolution has never been used fairly and I don't expect that to change here. The Pioneer decks featuring this card primarily use it in conjunction with delve creatures such as Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Hooting Mandrills to tutor out a seven mana game-ending threat like Velomachus Lorehold or Atraxa, Grand Unifier.
While we don't have those delve creatures quite yet, Evolution is a powerful tutor effect for combo and mid-range toolbox decks. In particular, the Enigmatic Incarnation deck that features a plethora of three-drop value creatures can tutor out Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines by turn four. The prospect of turning a Llanowar Elves into something like an Archon of Emeria is also very appealing.
2. Emrakul, the Promised End
Emrakul, the Promised End is a monster of a card, having earned itself a ban in Standard. It saw some play back when Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath was still legal in Pioneer and was a mainstay in the Modern Four-Color Control deck up until the Yorion, Sky Nomad ban. I think Emrakul has a lot of promise as a sideboard win-condition for Control decks, decks featuring Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, and ramp strategies featuring Omnath Locus of Creation. I could see a shell popping up with Lotus Cobra and Genesis Ultimatum with the goal of just going over the opponent. In any scenario, Emrakul is a scary card to face down and everyone is a little less safe with it around.
1. Geier Reach Sanitarium
The card I'm most excited to see from this product is Geier Reach Sanitarium. This simple looting land is a combo piece with Narset, Parter of Veils. When activated on the opponent's upkeep, they will loot, then skip their normal draw for the turn. If the opponent doesn't have any cards in their hand when this sequence starts, they will be soft-locked out of the game unless they can get rid of either Narset or Geier Reach. Ultimately, this will be a massive boon for control strategies as they're already incentivized to play Narset and the deckbuilding cost of an untapped colorless land is nearly nonexistent.
There are so many great inclusions in this product I didn't even get to! Spell Queller, Pieces of the Puzzle, and Traverse the Ulvenwald are especially nice additions. Given that we got cards like Anger of the Gods in Amonkhet Remastered, it's very likely we'll see other reprints that weren't even in the original SOI block. Even if it wouldn't be Explorer-legal, I'd love to see Snapcaster Mage make its way onto Arena and this would be a perfect product for it!
Spoilers are already underway and Shadows Over Innistrad Remastered releases on March 21st, so get ready! You already know I'll be diving into new brews with the cards on future installments of Adam Plays Magic.