Card advantage wizard gives card advantage

This is today’s “preview card of the day”:
Oooh. Cards. And life.
The Augury Adept is a pretty cool take on the “pal who gives you card advantage” archetype embodied in other cards like Shadowmage Infiltrator and Dark Confidant. The best thing, of course, is the potential of an extra card per turn. A resolved, defended Confidant or Infiltrator is an exceptional beating, and quickly becomes too much card advantage to recover from. Add in the potential for bonus life as a bulwark against aggro, and the Adept seems quite solid.
However, unlike the Infiltrator, it won’t be some much infiltrating as simply attacking, so if you want to reap those card and life benefits, you need to keep the field clear. However, in a W/U control build, this may not be such a problem.
For super bonus fun, until October, you’ll be able to play the Adept side by side with the Shadowmage in the same deck. Neat, eh? Shadowmoor and Shadowmage, together.

Viral marketing, Shadowmoor style

This week, Wizards sent out a Shadowmoor preview booster pack to five game stores. One of them, Myriad Games in Salem, posted the card images (and the advertising material, which is worth a look on its own) to here. Some of the cards have been spoiled already, but others are brand new. Interesting cards include Sapseep Forest, a Forest with a lifegain ability, the blue-black Avatar, Boggart Arsonists, the first Plainswalker in quite a while, another scarecrow, and Safewright Quest, a cute little land search spell that grabs a Forest or a Plains (perhaps rendered especially functional by the number of lands bearing basic land types in the combined Lorwyn-Shadowmoor block).

Something to wish for

When Shadowmoor officially releases (and becomes tournament legal) on May 2nd, there’s a card you may want to have on hand for your Standard decks:
According to Mark Rosewater’s March 17th Making Magic column, having 7 of 15 cards in the Shadowmoor preview booster be hybrid cards is no mistake, but is instead representative of the set. So what goes well with a set that’s almost 50% multicolored?
Glittering Wish hasn’t seen extensive use so far. When it came it, it briefly showed up in a Rock variant called “Glittering Wish Control,” then kind of slipped off the radar as Ravnica and its wealth of gold cards rotated out of Standard, leaving a meager selection of useful options (and I foolishly played a Glittering Wish deck at GP San Francisco anyway…).
But now there’s a decent chance that Shadowmoor will enable a very solid wishboard for a Glittering Wish control deck. You can perhaps see the outline forming already — maybe five-color blue, or a more modest white-black-green affair that has three maindeck Doran, along with one more and some other fun toys in the sideboard (I always like having Harmonic Sliver and Teneb, the Harvester on standby). Of the cards previewed so far, one might imagine having a lone Fulminator Mage to kill problematic lands…and that’s about it so far, as solutions go. Hopefully, we’ll see more coolness worth wishing for as previews go along.
I’m happy to see one more chance to use the Wish in Standard before it rotates into Extended in October. Of course, when that rotation happens, Glittering Wish will suddenly be the only wish in Extended. Neat, eh?

Shadowmoor preview: Beseech the Queen

In the latest Latest Developments article, Devin Low discusses the origin of monocolor hybrid. Did you miss that? Back when they previewed a booster, one of the standout cards for me was Beseech the Queen, which can be payed for with BBB, BB2, B4, or 6. When I saw that, I wrote to Mark Rosewater about just how cool that looked to me.
Now, here’s the whole card:
A tutor! I do love a tutor.
It will take some testing to see how this works out in practice. If I stick this in a B/G Rock build, will I tend to be playing this at BB2 with four lands in play? Who knows? But the land-based restriction is fascinating, and in combination with the price puts a sort of limiter on when this will be played and what you’ll be picking up with it.
…and it’s Uncommon, which is quite nice.
Now, setting my enthusiasm aside for a moment, Diabolic Tutor grabs any card, sans restriction, for BB2, and isn’t played. After all, 4 mana to put a card in hand suggests that the card really, really needs to do something impressive, because you probably aren’t playing it that same turn. This is why, in contrast, Primal Command is exceptionally strong. Tutoring for a solution against aggro? Tutor and gain 7 life. Tutoring for a solution against a control or combo deck? Tutor and bounce a permanent to put them off tempo. Primal Command succeeds because, even though you “lose” a turn to the tutoring, you don’t have to get completely helplessly kicked around for that turn. Diabolic and Beseech, on the other hand, mean you have to hand over a turn in exchange for tutoring.
Good or not? We’ll see. Cool? For sure.

Best creature ever?

This week’s Shadowmoor previews included the Wilf-Leaf Cavaliers, a three-mana, 3/4, Vigilance creature (check it out here). Obviously, this is a good value for the price, much like Watchwolf from Ravnica. I’m not so excited, however, because a 3/4 Vigilant guy doesn’t really do much.
And that brings us to many people’s pick for “best creature ever,” Tarmogoyf. It’s cheap, it’s efficient, it’s typically a 4/5 or 5/6 when it comes in during most Extended games. It’s a great little beater.
But that’s all it does. Even the theoretical, maxed-out 8/9 Tarmogoyf can be chumped all day by Bitterblossom tokens, and it can be capped by any old Terror (although not fellow Future-Sight inhabitant Death Rattle). In other words, Tarmogoyf is aggressively costed, but all it does is attack and block.
People sometimes make fun of you for saying things like that.
Back during PT Valencia, Evan Irwin asked players if Tarmogoyf was the best creature ever (you can see that toward the end of his PT Valencia coverage, here). Most people just say, “Yes.” Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa disagrees, however, saying “It attacks, it blocks” (at 12:12). Zac Hill echoes this, saying, “No. That’s stupid…not every deck needs a dude with Power and Toughness” (12:42). I’m with them. I want my creatures to do something. I want them to double as removal, to bring disruption, to recur things, or at least to be evasive so they can push winning damage through a stalemate or past a lone blocker.
So what are my best creatures?
I don’t have a comprehensive list, but check the extended for some of the ones I like, and why.

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Shadow previews: The railroad, the ruins, and another 4/4 for 4

The Shadowmoor previews continue apace. This time around, I’m interested in a dual land, an aggressive creature, and another solid creature, and underwhelmed by -1/-1 counters.
Today’s card of the day, Sunken Ruins, confirms earlier rumors and matches the presence of Graven Cairns in Shadowmoor by adding in the blue/black hybrid land. The hybrid lands are good, middle of the road duals that emphasize two-color play without pushing for the use of basic lands (compare with Nimbus Maze). In contrast to the shocks and pains, the hybrids don’t accelerate your game quite as much and aren’t as solid a choice in three- or more color decks, as the wrong two lands in your opening draw can leave you with a dead hybrid. I’ll look forward to rounding out my set of hybrids (naturally, I have the Cairns already), as they are solid in two-color decks.
Over at MTG Salvation, they’ve spoiled the “Vexing Shusher,” a 2/2 Goblin Shaman for {r/g}{r/g} with two abilities:
“Vexing Shusher can’t be targeted by spells or abilities.” (Nice, uncounterable bear.)
“{r/g}: Target spell can’t be countered by spells or abilities.” (!)
Nice, right? Mogg Fanatic turn one, Vexing Shusher turn two, uncounterable Tarmogoyf turn three, and so forth. This may push control players away from more mono-blue approaches, as the Shusher can ram spells right past a wall of countermagic, and demands immediate removal.
Or, you know, X-for-1-ing the aggro player with a turn four Damnation or Wrath after they do that Fanatic, Shusher, Goyf series.
The Wilt-Leaf Liege is a 4/4 for 4 with an ability, which is the Ravnica-and-onward benchmark for green creature power. Its ability is especially interesting — not the Dodecapod ability, but the pump one. Tarmogoyf into Liege is nasty, and dual Lieges is especially nasty, as each one becomes a 6/6 (note that the pumps are on two separate lines, which means that yes, they stack if a creature is both colors).
The Scuzzback Marauders show off the persist mechanic in its basic form — you gotta kill the creature twice. Persist is pretty cool, but I’m not onboard with the -1/-1 counter theme yet. This may just be a function of a very basic human appreciation for absolute, rather than relative values. That is to say, it’s a demonstrated fact that humans are bad at tracking proportional or adjusted changes in values, yet are hyper-aware of absolute differences. If your new pay raise is less than inflation, for example, you just lost money. On the other hand, if the economy is undergoing deflation and your pay is kept the same, you’re unhappy — even though in terms of purchasing power, you did better in the second example than in the first.
So, even if everything in Shadowmoor is priced appropriately for the -1/-1 counters to be fully balanced (and I am confident that everything is priced correctly, because the designers are good at that), it’s still intuitively displeasing to watch all the creatures shrink, and to have the counters on them mean a negative, rather than a positive thing.
Let us all contemplate the humble Quirion Dryad and feel better.