Morningtide standouts: Black – Shatter! Blossom!

Lorwyn gave me two black cards I really enjoy, Liliana Vess and Profane Command. Liliana is discard and tutoring, both things that please me (and both used in equal measure in my games so far), while Profane Command is a versatile, solid package of win conditions.
Although nothing so stunning appears in Morningtide, black still manages to cough up a couple of really intriguing cards that may end up seeing some real long-term play. More in the extended, along with a B/R Sligh-style decklist using two new cards.


MindShatter.jpg
Mind Twist with an extra black tacked onto the cost? Seems fair, and much better than other “fixed” versions of the Twist. Wizards gave it to Mike Flores to preview (click here for that article), suggesting that they expect the Shatter to see some of the tournament play the Twist did back in the day. Of course, times have changed, and a big old X discard spell is not necessarily the powerhouse it once was. Sure, Teachings decks played a one-of Haunting Hymn to destroy the opponent’s hand in the mirror match, but do you really want to wait around in most games for the mana for that X to be worthwhile?
Well, maybe. A B/x deck that’s on a longer plan, like a typical B/G Rock build, might benefit from being able to Shatter away an opponent’s entire hand. Or perhaps not. After all, the most valuable use of discard of late is early game disruption against control or combo builds. There, you’d probably rather have a Thoughtseize or a Stupor than a Shatter. A late-game X spell only comes after early disruption in those matchups.
Hmmm. Tricky, isn’t it?
I’ll have to test Mind Shatter to see if it’s worth having around or not.
BitterBlossom.jpg
What’s that, you say? You’re playing a black tempo or aggro deck and you’d like some card advantage?
My little note to myself here says, “This feels cool to me, but that might be basically flavor fun. I don’t yet know if -1 life per turn is worth it for a 1/1 per turn.”
Screw that. I was being too tentative. This card is awesome. Sure, it’s just kicking out 1/1s. Evasive 1/1s. You’re the beatdown, right? Turn one – something. Turn two, Bitterblossom. Turn three, get a creature, play another creature of some kind, and move on. Watch your opponent helplessly try to hack away at a growing swarm of 1/1 flying dudes while you go on with the rest of your game plan.
This might be great in B/R Sligh-style builds. In that case, we get something like:
Turn 1: Fanatic
Turn 2: Blossom
…or…
Turn 1: Suspend Gargadon
Turn 2: Blossom
It makes me happy just thinking about it.
And beautiful Rebecca Guay art. I’m altogether pleased with the Bitterblossom.
Stenchskipper.jpg
A finisher for a Goblin deck. It’s a little risky, inasmuch as they might clear your board, but that’s bad for you anyway. It’s not super-exceptional, but it is a 6/5 flying creature for four mana, which means it fits the curve constraints of a typical Goblin deck.
You can decide yourself if any Goblin deck is really good (although the winning build from this year’s car tournament was a Goblin deck…).
MaralenoftheMornsong2.jpg
I wrote about Maralen when Wizards previewed the card. I continue to be unsure if this is a worthy creature or just an exceptionally odd Lightning Bolt that occasionally loses you the game altogether by letting your opponent get the card they most need. As people on the forums have pointed out, in addition to the obvious combo with Aven Mindcensor, Maralen turns every “draw and then discard” spell into a pure discard spell. Non-main-phase Careful Consideration targeting your opponent suddenly becomes a three-card discard.
That’s not really so great, since you could just have packed some actual discard spells, especially as you’re already allowing for double black to cast Maralen.
Given her tendency to be a quirky Lightning Bolt, the best use for Maralen might be in the same kind of B/R deck that accommodates our favorite flower. Let’s give that a whirl:

16 Creatures:
Magus of the Scroll
Mogg Fanatic
Dauthi Slayer
Maralen of the Mornsong
22 Spells:
Shard Volley
Rift Bolt
Bitterblossom
Incinerate
Titan’s Revenge
Molten Disaster
22 Land:
Sulfurous Springs
Graven Cairns
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Swamp
Mountain
15 Sideboard:
Magus of the Moon
Greater Gargadon
Cryoclasm
Pithing Needle

Again, this is an off-the-cuff design. The idea is to put the opponent on a fast clock in general, and to force the issue with Maralen. With the caveat that she may occasionally just let them win, Maralen ranges from a continuous source of burn for you to a one-off, quirky Lightning Bolt. Not bad at all in a super-aggressive deck. I’ll have to give this one a shot.