Casual Encounters – Top 10 Casual Cards From Shadows Over Innistrad
With the set releasing this weekend, I thought today would be an excellent opportunity to go through my top ten casual cards from Shadows Over Innistrad for all of you. Now, these may not be all the hottest competitive cards. Sometimes there are other cards that are spicy and fun to play with, but may not be particularly good in the competitive Magic scene. However, even casual players appreciate mana-efficient, powerful cards so don’t be surprised if some of those also appear on this list too. Let’s get down to business and see what I’m excited for in this new set!
Honorable mention: New rare land cycle
I always get excited for new land cycles because having good mana is so crucial to playing this game. I have maintained now for a long time that good mana is often better than having the premier spells because you can reliably cast your spells if you’ve got the correct mana. The new lands give us one more tool to help fix our mana, but the interaction with the Battle lands, namely that the Battle lands are dual typed, means that you can have this new cycle come into play untapped quite reliably. They aren’t exciting and most people aren’t thrilled about them, but I think they are one more viable land option. The other piece is that these lands should be fairly readily accessible and inexpensive for the foreseeable future making them an inexpensive investment and something that helps casual players get the mana fixing they want without breaking the bank..
10- Sigarda, Heron’s Grace: While the other angels have gone crazy, Sigarda has stayed pretty true to her original printing. She’s still 5 mana, is a good body, but now she gives your humans and you hexproof. This doesn’t seem like it is very relevant, but she goes in tribal human decks very readily. Whether you are playing human Allies, Warriors, or even pre-transformed werewolves, she is relevant and could make life difficult for your opponents. I’m not sure if she has a future in constructed decks yet, but I know casual players will be excited for her to be played in tribal decks.
9- Triskaidekaphobia: I feel like this will be one of the cards that leave a lasting impressions on this set long term. Triskaidekaphobia is not likely to see much in the way of Constructed play, but it is templated beautifully for Multi-player games giving it more appeal for Casual players. The real draw here is that it is an alternate win condition for a deck that is interested in that sort of thing. I know some EDH deck is going to brew with this thing and I have a few friends who will take a stab at making this viable, but that will only see the light of day around the kitchen table. The art on this card is insane too in that it calls out to so many different instances of the number 13 that it is almost comical. This will certainly be remembered and is extremely unique even for a set as rich and flavourful as Shadows over Innistrad.
8- Seasons Past: As a casual player, this speaks to me very clearly. For 6 mana I can regrow MULTIPLE targets? So, sure, it is NOT what a Constructed deck wants, but I can imagine getting all sorts of things back in a Casual game very easily. Just think about your favorite 1 drop. Do you have it in mind? Great. Now a 2 drop. Repeat that for a 3 drop. Keep going…how about 4 now…and 5, and 6, and, and, and. Seasons Past is exactly the sort of card that will scale ridiculously depending on what’s in your deck and we all know casual players are more apt to have bigger, splashier things in their deck. This could be amazing… and the stories you will tell will start like this “Remember when I cast Seasons Past and got back…”. Yeah. I’m pumped.
7- Odric, Lunarch Marshall: Wow…so, you know when I had Sigarda playing guardian angel for a tribal humans deck? Well, I want this guy to be the reason I win that game because he just grants all my other creatures silly abilities. It isn’t hard to imagine this guy being ridiculous and casual players are ready and willing to give this guy a brand new home leading their decks. Just a sweet new treat to make decks unbelievable. Fellow looter JP Vazquez is also excited by Odric, so check out his article if you haven’t already!
6- Thalia’s Lieutenant: Hmmm…tribal humans just got another lord. Ok. Sign me up. I could almost see this guy helping to build the foundation for a silly Humans build in Modern playing alongside Champion of the Parish and Hardened Scales but even without that push this is hard to miss.
5- Second Harvest: I read this card and had to stop and look at it again. For 4 mana for that ability doesn’t seem THAT good. Oh wait, what am I talking about. I’m clearly wrong and can’t wait to play this and do some degenerate token shenanigans with it. Think about playing this in some of the EDH decks out there that are focused on token strategies: Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice, Ghave, Guru of Spores, Rhys the Redeemed, just to name a few. These decks look to go wide. This lets them go WIDER. At instant speed. We’re all going to die to this card in EDH. I accept it and want my chance to try and cast it too.
4- Epiphany at the Drownyard: This is perhaps my favorite card in this whole set. I love drawing extra cards and nothing makes me happier than being able to do that at Instant speed. The fact that this scales in the late game when I have a pile of mana is very appealing and could help me stock my hand all over again. The similarities between this and Fact or Fiction is unmistakable and further adds to the appeal of the card because I love forcing my opponent to make a choice and see if they make a bad one for me to capitalize on. This is a very strong card and certainly not something I will overlook.
3- Trail of Evidence: I’m using Trail of Evidence as a placeholder for cards that allow you to create multiple Clue artifacts. I think these Clue artifacts are an ingenious way to help smooth out limited play by allowing players the chance to draw more cards. If you can draw more cards you might find that answer you desperately need to stave off your death. The result is very positive for Limited. However, for a Casual player, these Clue tokens create a very interesting opportunity when paired with Ghirapur Aether Grid because you can use your Clue tokens to help deal damage to your opponent. Any time you can weaponize something that is essentially harmless you have something that will appeal to a certain type of Casual player.
2- The Gitrog Monster: This is a wild card that has entirely too much text on it for it to NOT be something that Casual players are going to drool all over. Don’t ask me where it goes…maybe it is the general for a whole new EDH deck…but I know that this thing is a) stupid big b) packs a ton of powerful abilities and c) has super cool art. I want me one of these guys.
1- Arlinn Kord: This was a tough choice because I kind of wanted to put Avacyn in this spot. The reason I picked Arlinn is just because she is the first Planeswalker with the ability to flip back and forth under your control. Garruk Relentless flipped over and stayed that way with no chance of flipping back. Same for the more recent flip Planeswalkers in Magic: Origins. This is the first time that we’ve seen a walker who can go back and forth at will. That makes her unique and something that can’t be overlooked ever. She will undoubtedly be a strong competitive card in Constructed, but Casual players are going to love her too. I mean, she packs 5 abilities, is a Werewolf, and looks amazing…she’s a casual all star and takes top spot on my list.
Well, there we have it. My top ten is likely very different from most top tens. Heck, I left Sorin, Avacyn and Relentless Dead off my list! Don’t get me wrong, these are going to be amazing cards but they will find their home in Constructed Magic right away. Some of the cards on my list will see competitive play, but there are others that will never see the light of day at a major tournament and will shine brightest around the kitchen table.
Was there anything else that caught your eye or has you super excited? Let me know by finding me on Twitter or by leaving a comment down below. This is clearly going to be a terrific set and I’m excited to see these cards dominate kitchen tables for years to come.
Until next time good luck and have fun wherever you play Magic and be sure to stop by next time for another Casual Encounter.
@bgray8791 on Twitter