Shadowmoor – Color Me Unimpressed

I attended (if you can call it that) the Sunday Shadowmoor prerelease in Syracuse over this past weekend and I felt I needed to chime in a bit about my initial impressions. First I should say I didn’t play too much. I opened my packs, realized I wasn’t winning, played one match where I went 1 and 2 (I had my opponent to three life in the first game and four in the last but it wasn’t enough obviously), dropped and went home.

What’s My Deal?

In my entire pool of cards I didn’t have a single removal spell and I only had one playable “trick”. As I have mentioned before reacting to my opponent is what I enjoy so there was no way I was going to spend another four hours playing a deck I had no interest in. Some people prefer playing to the bitter end in all things but I am a firm believer in quitting when you’re not having fun.

What’s the Deal With Shadowmoor?

I will admit that my card pool and performance have probably tainted my opinion but quite frankly at the moment my opinion is so low that it would take quite a lot to get it to mediocre. The set feels very vanilla and lacking in interesting interactions. In fact in three games I never once blocked my opponent so if they were trying to make a set about interesting combat situations so far (yes very early on indeed) it seems they have missed.

It seems to me there are far too many cards that do nothing other than become bigger when you have a certain color out, are unable to be blocked by a certain color, or are only interesting because they are hybrid and for me that doesn’t make them interesting at all.

Wither sounded like a neat concept but after looking at the cards more closely I felt that it was more like saying “Hey, this guy isn’t vanilla. Look! He deals damage as -1/-1 counters!” About half the time my answer to that is… “so?” since often the creature will be just trading with another creature anyway and thus the counters mean nothing.

My Bizarre Tastes

I realize that I have strange tastes when it comes to Magic and thus I guess I should try to temper my temper. For example I loved Champions and hated (with the fire of a thousand suns) Ravnica. I will be sad to see Lorwyn go as I think it may well have been my favorite limited set ever, and following that perhaps Shadowmoor was at a disadvantage.

Last Words, for Now

I think it’s possible I could change my mind on Shadowmoor. My opponent, for example, had two Burn Trails so I know there is some removal out there but it still doesn’t seem enough to me. When the set comes out online and I can play it in drafts I will get a real feel for it but until then I guess the best I can say is that I am disappointed.

Tune in later this week when I complain about Magic Online III! (Oh and make sure to leave comments about how cool Ravnica was and Shadowmoor is.)

    Matt Says:

    Man i just wrote this nice long post about my impressions, but I clicked submit before I put in my info and lost the whole thing. So here’s the short version.

    Wither – Interesting in that blocking with them creates smaller creatures on the other side which can buy time and open more avenues for answers. As far as attacking goes I suppose it does the same to the opponent blocking with their bigger creatures, but they won’t stay big for long. So it makes the opponent make a decision to block, lose a creature, or make they bigger creature smaller. Not enough to hold the set up by itself.

    Hybrid – Not bad, but seems to create the old Ravnica problem. Each hybrid is higher power then the mono-colored cards so the more you have the more powerful you deck is and it seems to create the bomb verses bomb scenario which isn’t very fun.

    In all I agree that the set seems unimpressive, but it seems that we’ll give it another shot soon as it comes out to the public.


    Last night I was thinking about the differences between an ability like Evoke as compared to Wither or Persist. Basically, Wither is always Wither. It never does anything but put -1/-1 counters on when dealing damage to a creature. Yes, Evoke JUST triggers when it enters play or leaves play (set depending) but what is triggered is always different. Persist is sort of the same though they did make some have come into play abilities so they are more interesting that just getting another shot with the creature but some creatures just come back a little smaller once and that by itself doesn’t interest me too much.

    Matt Says:

    Seems to be the only decent thing is conspire. Although the macanic by itself again is not very innovative(tap two creatures, make a copy of the spell). However the copy can make a couple things quite interesting. If you want to cancel the effect via counterspell you need two as conterspell will only stop one copy not both seeing as the are seperate on the stack. The other is that the Conspire spell themselve don’t seem to bad but if you get the copy as well they seem almost game breaking (Burn Trail being a big one).


    Even conspire seems a tad on the dull side to me since the cost is always the same unlike Evoke which was more flexible.

    Scott Says:

    Matt- I can’t help but note that if you were using Opera you could have just hit “back” and your original comment would still be there. For what that’s worth.

    Since I am uncertain whether I’ll have time to do a proper follow-up post of my own, I’ll throw in my condensed take on this stuff for now.

    Shadowmoor’s still got the same type of mentality as other recent blocks. “‘X’ matters”, where X was graveyard, creature type, hand size, etc. and now X is color and creature size. Any set which includes +1/+1 counters generally doesn’t do much with them, but with -1/-1 counters the possibilities opened up further and allowed them to really focus on that aspect.

    Is it engaging, or boring, to care about the changing size of your creatures? I’m still undecided on that score, but there are other things influencing that dynamic than just wither.

    Some of the hybrid creatures are pretty vanilla, and some are absolute bombs. I generally don’t like vanilla creatures because I like the extra complexity posed by lots of abilities interacting, but in a way having more vanilla creatures meshes with the focus on creature size. What I mean is that a 3/3 for four mana becomes a bit more important when simply having solid bodies is something of a must.

    My judgement is still out on the question of whether they chose a focus of interest, or executed in such a way as to create interest, but as of yet I can’t necessarily fault their direction.

    I’ll also add that I did have a lot of fun at the pre-release. Oh, and I do welcome the return of artifact creatures, that’s something I definitely took advantage of in each flight.