March 15 2016 Tuesday at 01:42 PM

Telling Time - Let's talk about more Shadows spoilers - Arlinn Kord, Nahiri the Harbinger

More Shadows Over Innistrad cards are being spoiled every single day, and as the set begins to take shape we can start making guesses at what we will see in Duels.

Now we all know that the rarity restrictions keep epic Mythic cards from having a huge effect on the game (unless of course they come with tutors like From Beyond), and we know that the real action for Duels is in the commons and uncommons, but let’s get real - mythics are fun to talk about, commons are common!

Nahiri, the Harbinger

Is it just me or is Shadows turning into a GIRL POWER set?  I’m not complaining, just noticing that the ladies of Innistrad are transforming into bad asses!  Avacyn, sure, but there is more where she came from.  So here is our Boros planeswalker Nahiri.  There is a lot of odd stuff going on here.

+2:  Discard a card, if you do draw a card.  

So you don’t have to discard if you like your hand to get the loyalty.  A little bit of looting that could work well with Madness (check out Fiery Temper).  This is a pretty “eh” ability.  There are already walkers who +1 for card draw, which is much better.

-2:  Exile target enchantment, tapped artifact, or tapped creature.

This line of text is silly.  Who came up with “tapped artifact”?  Was just “artifact” too good?  I can’t believe that.  Putting aside an odd bit of “versatility”, this card is reliable at exiling enchantments, and that is probably what Nahiri is best at.  If you have white and red in your deck you can run Nahiri and not worry about junk like Felidar Cub or Solemn Offering.  Nahiri lines up with From Beyond and can nerf that card on turn four.  She can also hit Evo Leap and Suppression Bonds which will likely matter (but not Bonds on herself, awkward).  While we only get one copy of this mythic, I think it is likely we will get Call the Gatewatch in Oath, lending this walker a role in the deck builder’s toolbox.  Hitting tapped creatures isn’t the dirt-worst, but it isn’t that good since Nahiri may have to take a bump to use the ability, and her loyalty may be too low against other four-drops in the game to survive the exchange.  Still, she can hit a Reality Smasher without making you discard, but you still eat the five damage.

-8:  Search your library for an artifact or creature card, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library. It gains haste. Return it to your hand at the beginning of the next end step.

I expect a lot more for eight loyalty.  This line of text is good for the timmys, but not for me.  Why does it bounce back to your hand?  I ultimate a walker and I can’t even keep my big monster on the battlefield?  So if we live the brewer’s dream, we are playing Naya Ramp.  We play Nahiri on four and protect her while looting away some mana flood, then on turn six we -8 her and get Omnath, then cast Nissa’s Renewal.  Omnath bounces to the hand on end step but we keep the 5/5’s.  I guess that doesn’t suck.  And you can always go get Ulamog, attack, exile twenty and cast Oblivion Sower on the same turn.  All your land are belong to us.

My sum up on Nahiri is that this is a weak planeswalker in the bigger picture of the verse, and I expected better from this card.  In Duels, however, this card will make the cut if your deck has Red and White in it, because it is the best enchantment removal in the game because it can do other things if your opponent lacks enchantments.  She is also a walker that gets +2 loyalty per turn, making her hard to kill in Duels, so you play her just to annoy your opponent and make them choose who and how to attack.  Good enough for Duels.

Arlinn Kord

Woah, this card makes my head spin a little bit.  A lot of modes for one walker.  I remember when good players had trouble valuing the abilities on Garruk Relentless, and the answer was usually “make a wolf, if it is wrong it is not wrong by much”.  I feel like I will be making plenty of Wolves with lady Kord, but the +1 is interesting…

+1:  Until end of turn, up to one target creature gains +2/+2, vigilance and haste.

If the coast is clear (no untapped lands with removal in sight) then this mode is probably a good mode to use.  While Kord isn’t defending herself with this move, she is giving a creature you control the ability to defend her by granting vigilance.  

0:  Put a 2/2 Wolf token on the battlefield, transform Arlinn.

The interesting thing about this flip-walker is that you likely want the 2/2, but do you want to flip?  Is the other side of the card more appealing to your board state?  

Flip +1:  Creatures you control get +1/+1 and trample until end of turn.

This ability doesn’t help you defend Arlinn, but if you make a Wolf when you cast her you need to do this at least once, if you don’t the next ability will kill her….

Flip -3:  Deal 3 damage to target creature or player, transform Arlinn.

Lightning bolt something, and go back to the other side.  It isn’t terrible, but I would expect better for a likely suicidal -3.  I would have costed this at -2, nobody likes losing their walker, even for an emblem.  Speaking of which -

Flip -6:  You get an emblem, all your creatures get haste and tap to deal their power to target creature or player.  

I bet this will never happen.  Like, ever.  Both of the +1 abilities generate board advantage but not card advantage, so you have to keep up on cards in other ways, and I bet that means using the 0 and -3 flip abilities too often to ever use the flip -6.

I predict that this card will be awkward to use and produce a lot of misplays for new players.  Here is the play pattern I want to see her in -

Turns 1-3, cast some dorks.

Turn 4, Cast Arlinn, +1 on a good dork

Turn 5, make a Wolf, flip Arlinn.

Turn 6, Lightning Bolt something with the -3, flip Arlinn

Turn 7…..?  I want to make another Wolf, but I don’t necessarily want to be on the dark side of the moon where the only +1 option lacks any defense for the Walker.  That means that whatever I have done for the last three turns with my mana better include furthering an aggressive board state so that the +1/+1 trample ability wins the game.  

In a nutshell, Arlinn will likely be sad in Ramp and Control decks, perhaps out of place in midrange decks, and needs to be used in Aggro decks.  She needs to make friends with the new Nissa and a bunch of Dragon Fodder/Grizzly Bear types.  Fortunately for Arlinn and Nissa, the rotation of Perilous Myr means these types of decks will have a better shot than they used to.

Sage of Ancient Lore

Elvish Visionary, have you been working out?  The card is green and says “Draw a card” on it, so it will get Duels play for sure.  How much play will it see?  I am really not sure.  It isn’t like Duels players have a ton of good ways to fill up their hands, but Displacement Wave and Smothering Abomination come to mind.  Or for those more talented at getting lucky than I, Nissa’s Revelation.

Odric, Lunarch Marshal

This plus any other creature that doesn’t reek of vanilla equals combo!  Razorfoot Griffin squawks "How do you like me now?"  I don’t actually believe this card will see a ton of play, even if we get it, but it is fun to think about the possibilities.

To The Slaughter

Oh no, oh no no no no no.  I highly doubt we get this card in Duels, because the idea of making a Duels player sacrifice their planeswalker at instant speed makes for sad timmys and johnnys, but if we do get this card that will be awesome!  With so many planeswalkers entering the Duels meta, we have to get a spell to kill them sometime, or else why ever run creatures at all?

Writing about these awesome rares is fun, and that is why I do it.  However, we all know that there are two things that will make or break the Duels experience - lands and commons/uncommons.

If we get an awesome cycle of lands, three and four color decks get more playable, and Eldrazi get splashed more easily.  If we don’t, then most decks will choose to be one, maybe two colors with Eldrazi.

The commons and uncommons determine what kinds of synergy decks we can build.  Will Madness be another sad attempt at the processor/ingest mechanic that never amounted to anything besides some sad Dimir decks?  Wizards has to get the right mix of strong Madness COMMON and UNCOMMON enablers like Ravenous Bloodseeker and strong Madness cards like Fiery Temper to give us any hope of building a synergy deck that will work better than half the time.  Otherwise, spikes will just stick to Ramp.  

What cards do you want to read my opinion about?

<3 CGB

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