Well hello all of my faithful readers. Yes it is I, Corlando your guide through the world of Magic the Gathering and I am writing from the States once again. Things did not turn out well in Japan due to multiple issues, so I decided to return home to my family, friends, and familiarity. Along this line, in just a few weeks, Magic players will journey to the unfamiliar plane of Innistrad, a plane of darkness, spirits, ghouls, vampires, and werewolves. Wizards has already given us a few great cards leading many to say that Innistrad is going to be one of the best sets ever. Will this be true? Only time will tell. In the mean time, why don’t we look at some cards?
Innistrad is a place of horrors. It is a plane where only the brave travel for life can be brought to an end quickly from thousands of different threats. In fact, the main goal for most residents of Innistrad is to live a good life, not for salvation but so they may sleep undisturbed by the powers of some necromancer. One of the gravest threats on Innistrad are the Werewolves. Vicious anthropomorphic wolves who desire nothing more than to devour the flesh of their weaker human counterparts. So far Wizards has revealed 5 werewolves for us to use with the promise of a few more coming. In game form, these werewolves take the form of flip cards. These are cards have no actual Magic the Gathering side, but instead have another creature on the back with information on the creature. This is not a terrible idea. When the requirements for a transformation occur, a player simply flips the card over and you have a new creature. Bad news is with no official Magic the Gathering backing, both you and your opponent will know what you are about to draw or what you have in your hand. To answer this problem Wizards has created checklist cards were you mark off what card the checklist card is supposed to be and when you play it you switch for the actually card in your sideboard. Wizards has also suggested players could use sleeves and proxies to accomplish essentially the same job without having to pull the card out each and every time the creature transforms.
Today we will just look at two of the werewolves we currently have at our disposable, one of them being the lord of werewolves. Mayor of Avabruck is probably one of the cheapest lord ever printed in Green. For two mana you not only summon a 1/1 that gives all other humans +1/+1, but you also have the ability to change him into Howlpack Alpha. Howlpack Alpha gives all Werewolf and Wolf creatures you control +1/+1 and gives you a 2/2 wolf token at the end of your end step. This a pretty nice ability and it is easily obtained by only playing one spell a turn to transform your werewolf creatures. Granted, some would say this is quite a hindrance and I would agree, but there are ways to get around this annoyance. Simply play the card Moonmist and all your werewolves will transform and take no damage from non-werewolf creatures. Werewolves might be fickle creatures, but I think there is a way to make them work.
Another great werewolf to have in your deck is Kruin Outlaw. This three mana red Rogue gives you a 2/2 first striker for a pretty good price. However, if the moonlight hits her just right, she transforms into the Terror of Kruin Pass a 3/3 Double Striker. That is freaking awesome. Combo this with Howlpack Alpha and you have yourself a fairly powerful card ready to feast on those who would dare challenge it. But that is not the only thing this werewolf does. Terror of Kruin Pass is not only a big threat, but makes all of your werewolves unblockable unless they are blocked by two or more creatures. I would call this a pretty strong ability that has the potential to win games right out of nowhere. I love this card and all the other werewolves we already seen. At this level of card, I think it could be possible for werewolves to be competitive in one form or another.
Moving along, we come to one of Innistrad’s big hopefuls, a playable Black planeswalker. Many have hoped for this idea as they looked at the five mana of Liliana Vess and the six of Sorin Markov, longing for a planswalker ally they could rely on for aid. Well, the desire for a good Black planeswalker has been answered. Liliana of the Veil is a three mana planeswalker, yes you heard me right three mana planeswalker, that does mana useful and powerful things to assist those who call on her. First up is her +1 which forces everyone to discard a card. Okay, first ability does not seem all that helpful… but it is. Remember back a few weeks ago when we were looking at M12? One of the cards I was excited for was Vengeful Pharaoh, a being that can kill another attacking creature from the graveyard. This is actually a pretty cool combo with Liliana because if you do manage to take combat damage, vengeful Pharaoh will rise from the grave, kill any attacking creature, and go back on top of you library. This means every turn you can reset the trap and get important kills or stave off attacks. Plus with Innistrad barely spoiled there are certain to be more creatures or flashback spells to put into your graveyard with Liliana. Next up is Liliana’s -2 ability which forces target player to sacrifice a creature. This is a pretty good ability in a Black deck, especially if your facing someone who has a bunch of hexproof creatures. One combo that makes me rather happy is this ability combined with Grim Affliction, a card from New Phyrexia which gives target creature a -1/-1 counter then proliferates. The way I see it is, let’s say your opponent has a Puresteel Paladin and a Leonin Skyhunter on the field. Activating Lilana’s -2, your opponent sacs the Skyhunter. Then you play Grim Affliction, give the -1/-1 counter to Puresteel, proliferate bringing Lilana up one loyalty and killing the Puresteel. Fun little combo. Liliana’s ultimate is quite powerful. At -6 target opponent must separate all they have on the field into two piles then choose one pile to sacrifice. This has the potential to just destroy your opponent’s ability to fight back. Imagine playing Black Sun’s Zenith for 4 or 5, wiping out your opponent’s board, then activating Liliana’s ultimate to make them discard half of their lands. Talk about overkill. Looking at Liliana of the Veil I cannot say right now that she will be an absolutely awesome card, however I do not believe she needs much to make her a key part of someone’s Black deck.
In Innistrad, Blue is the color of intelligence, of scientific breakthrough. However, the way the natives of Innistrad ally this new knowledge is in pursuit of power over the dead. Innistrad has many alchemists and mad scientists who desire nothing more than to field armies of the undead to do their bidding. One spell that comes out of this is the recently spoiled Rooftop Storm. Mimicking the classic scene from Frankenstein when lightning crashes down on the scientist’s roof to reanimate the infamous monster, this card gives players the ability to play all of their Zombie spells for free. Right now there are not that many great Zombies to cast for free. Skinrender would be cool, Vengeful Pharaoh, possibly Cemetery Reaper, and possibly Sutured Ghoul but that one requires you to have creatures to exile from your graveyard. Innistrad could give us plenty more Zombies to play for free meaning this Rooftop Storm might brew into a magical typhoon of power.
The final card we will look at today is the Elite Inquistor a man who wants nothing more than to hunt down the monsters of Innistrad and protect those he loves. With intense training, this 2/2 First striker with Vigilance will not only be ready to attack, but he will always be on his guard. Add in his protection from Vampires, Werewolves, and Zombies and you have yourself a real leader for a White Weenie deck. In fact, Innistrad has put forth a lot of good cards for really good White Weenie deck. From Fiend Hunter, which banishes creatures, to Mentor of the Meek which allows you to draw a card for a little extra mana if a creature with 2 or less power enters the battlefield. Add in Accorder Paladin, Leonin Skyhunter, Honor of the Pure, and Mirran Crusader and you have yourself a pretty strong deck filled with 2-3 drops ready to defeat those who would harm them. I am so looking forward to what else comes our way in Innistrad.
Well with that Ladies and Gentlemen, it is time for this article to come to a close with the Closing Questions section:
1. What is your opinion of Liliana of the Veil?
2. What is your opinion on flip cards? If you do not like them, how would you have done transformation?
3. What is your favorite Innistrad card spoiled so far or what are you hoping to see from Innistrad in the next few days?
Thank you all for being patient with me as I rebuild a few things in my life for the second time in three months. I’ll hopefully have another article up next week as we continue into the darkness of Innistrad. Thanks for reading and remember, “Etherium is Limited. Innovation is not.” This is Corlando signing out.