Solving the Limited Puzzle - Shadows over Innistrad Pick Order, Commons & Uncommons [Haibing Hu - Archmage, Level 46]
Shadows over Innistrad has just hit the shelves and it's time for a whole lotta cool new things to happen. We've had major changes to Modern with the bannings and unbannings. Standard has rotated and we lost 4C Rally and Siege Rhino decks, but we've gained Declaration in Stone and Westvale Abbey. And probably most importantly, we've got Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad lurking over us.
So today, Haibing Hu brings us his infamous pick order list to help everyone improve their drafts and evaluations. Let's take a look at how he ranks the commons and uncommons of the set.
White - Commons
Oring is Oring even if you have to sac a permanent. Enables delirium. The first 2 are high picks, then it moves down to 5th best white common.
Solid curve creature that helps with flooding.
Good removal spell. People have to respect the light.
Solid guy to push through damage. Inspiring is momentary. Support is permanent.
Good curve guy that gets better.
Makes blocking hard.
Emissary of the Sleepless
3/5 flyer def worth the price. Doesn’t compete with other commons at the 5 slot. First is very good.
Vessel of Ephemera
5 mana for two 1/1 flyers is too much. Helps delirium. 1 is fine, but I wouldn’t be happy playing more.
Decent curve guy. Depends on how many 1 power guys there are in the format.
Great with madness, close to unplayable without.
Weak curve guy with mediocre upside. Not thrilled if it ends up in my deck.
Survive the Night
3 mana tricks suck. Drawing a card does make up for it.
3/4 vigilance isn’t that great.
Strength of Arms
Ok turn 2, crap every turn after.
Barely playable in aggressive decks. Not good as a defensive card.
Not terrible if you have a ton of little guys. Sorcery speed hurts. Not giving first strike or anything else hurts. The difference between 3 and 5 mana isn’t that much because you’re never casting this early in the game.
Investigate is not great. Might sideboard in versus lots of 1 toughness creatures.
Gain 5...at sorcery speed. Quit copying Hearthstone.
White - Uncommons
Bound by Moonsilver
Arrest, check. Enable delirium. What doesn’t it do?
Fantastic, but sometimes you won’t have an equipment. P1P1 ranking. Move lower or higher in packs 2 and 3.
Reaper of Flight Moonsilver
Ok curve guy. Delirium turns it into a I win now card.
Fantastic with delirium, and playable without.
Good blocker if needed. Fair costed flyer even without ability.
Solid aura. The bad thing about auras is the card disadvantage which this gets around. Enchantments in this set are a tad better with delirium. Can win games. How many flyers can most decks hold off?
Necksnap is playable.
Can get blanked, but the upside is there.
Solid guy without delirium. Better with. Turning on delirium mid combat is gas.
Solid both sides. Can win games by itself.
Humble the Brute
More of a sideboard card. Non-werewolves don’t get that big.
Weak sideboard card. Can turn off delirium. Too bad it’s a sorcery.
Unplayable. Must attack creatures are tricky to begin with.
Hope Against Hope
Auras are weak. Big guy can get chumped for a few turns.
Open the Armory
Blue - Commons
So annoying. Solid if you're ahead or behind.
Removal is removal.
Just the Wind
This card is insane with madness.
You’re probably not going to catch too many people, but the cost is fair.
Niblis of Dusk
It flies and dies.
Annoyingly decent. 2/1 gets through a lot of werewolf decks.
Lamplighter of Selhoff
Great curve topper. Odds are you’re not going to play the madness card.
Not great since you’re essentially looting twice. You draw 2 and discard 1 and put this in your yard. Good with synergy, crap without. Luckily there's a ton of synergy in this set.
Time Ebb cost 3. Don’t know if paying 4 more mana to draw a card is worth it. Solid 1 of.
Blocks 90% of non-rare, non-werewolves.
Solid on offense and can act as a bounce spell. Enable madness and puts an enchantment in the graveyard. Very good with delirium. Solid all around synergy card.
Mediocre all the way around, but the 2/4 is good at holding the ground while you fly over.
Somewhat weak. It does nothing. In constructed you’re ok with paying mana to look for cards. In limited you’re better off not paying mana and drawing since there’s less synergy and fewer combos.
Press for Answers
Weak trick. Tapping something down for a turn is ok, but not at the cost of a card.
Vessel of Paramnesia
3 mana to cycle and enable delirium. Ok in the right deck.
Counters are playable, but terrible against werewolves.
Sideboard versus 2/1s.
Might attack twice. Not worth the effort.
Pieces of the Puzzle
Unplayable. You’ll hit 1 if you’re lucky.
Blue - Uncommons
P1P1 I think I’m taking this. Madnessing and drawing a card is very good. Heard it here first folks.
It’s probably not that easy to flip, but you’re getting a fair 3/2 flyer for the cost. 5/4 flyer is basically a dragon, so upside is insane.
Pore Over the Pages
What’s not to love about this? Essentially a 3cc card. Enables madness and delirium. Discarding a land feels sucky, but isn’t bad at all since you have at least 5 already.
Solid flyer that comes back? Enables all the stuff. Sign me up.
3/3 unblockable is a very fast clock.
Recoil if you have a zombie? Only downside is it might help opponent’s delirium.
Ok trick. More defensive than offensive.
Rise from the Tides
Not a high pick pack 1, but can move up quite a bit by pack 3. Ideally you want spells that make creatures if you draft this so you can have a high creature and spell count. Black has a few of these cards.
1/3 flyer for 2 isn’t terrible. Double investigating can get out of hand. Great in the right deck, but not a high pick.
Drunau Corpse Trawler
Overcosted. You get split hill giants stats for mana. The ability is marginal at best. Sneaking though 2 points on offense is fine. Leaving open 3 mana to deter attackers feels weak.
Can get out of hand, but it’s hard to flip and hard to push through.
Cancel is playable, but not good.
Card does nothing when it comes into play. Unplayable.
Trail of Evidence
Terrible too. Cards that do nothing by itself suck. You need 3 triggers before it’s worth the card.
I can’t believe someone (Will Lowry) played with both of the mill cards in a 4 color deck.
Sideboard. This delirium trigger has no value in Limited.
Black - Commons
Fantastic. Kill stuff for less mana than they spent. Enables delirium. Makes a big creature manageable.
High upside when you madness this baby out at instant speed. Much better than assassinate.
Solid 2 drop that offers value later on. What’s not to love.
Twins of Maurer Estate
Tons of upside. One of the better madness cards. Good blocker if madnessed out at instant speed.
Crow of Dark Tidings
Dies to spirit tokens unfortunately. Decent.
Solid. Does what you want it to do.
Playable. Can attack while waiting for big target to appear.
Stallion of Ashmouth
Upside on a fair costed creature. Black has good delirium enablers.
Decent curve guy.
Hound of the Farbogs
Weakish. 3 toughness means it’ll trade down a lot. 3 toughness also means it doesn’t block well. Delirium isn’t that easy to get.
Late game, but good late game card. Bring back 2 decent creatures and killing a tapped creature for 4 mana is quite good.
Not exciting. 4/2 is weak. Pumping is fine. Put it together and it’s just a little weak.
Can be good if you have madness enablers. Spending 4 mana to block fatties late game isn’t the worst.
Interesting. Weak stats but blocks well. Discard could matter.
Alter’s Reap cost 2. Being able to sac a land is slightly better in the late game. Odds are you’ll draw 1 land with the 2 cards drawn.
Vessel of Malignity
Discard that they see coming sometimes. Delirium enabler.
Not terrible and possibly very good sideboard card.
Crap trick. Life doesn’t matter most of the times. Adding 1 toughness means creatures could still die.
Crap. Not an early game card. Getting a 2/2 turn 5 doesn’t do anything.
Alms of the Vein
How many times have you played Bump in the Night? This is worse because it’s not linear. Dealing 6 is better than dealing 3 and gaining 3. Even if you madness it out, what’s the point. It doesn’t add to the board.
Black - Uncommons
This is like my favorite card in the set. Kill a guy for cheap, madness, and delirium. Fantastic all around.
Delirium isn’t that hard for the black deck. You have a ton of discard and a very good enchantment. Probably a 6 drop because you don’t want to give your opponent a chance to kill it.
Heir of Falkenrath
Solid. Turn 2 play to set up turn 3 madness. Black has a few 3cc madness cards.
Solid without madness as you get 4 power and 4 toughness for 4 mana which is more than fair. Fantastic with obv.
Great for pinging. Late game upside.
This guy is huge and incredibly hard to block. Sacing a land is no issue turns 6+.
Good late game card that keeps coming back.
Interesting card. No issues trading down. 1 point drain per turn adds up quick.
Pale Rider of Trostad
Harder to set up madness because it’s not a 2 drop when you do.
Call the Bloodline
Madness enabler. Need about 4 madness cards before starting this. Not worth it to discard 2 land for 2 1/1 lifelink guys. Makes people respect instant speed madness.
Solid and aggressive. One dimensional though.
You kill half your guys. Better in GB. Might be better to start in sideboard.
Sacing a creature to permanently pump half of your team is not worth it. Might be ok in the most dedicated vampire deck.
Pick the Brain
Coercion is close to unplayable. Delirium is pointless in limited.
Does nothing a lot of times. On average opponent lose less than X life.
Behind the Scenes
Not playing an enchantment to give my team skulk.
This does nothing. Way too situational. Opponent can go to 0 cards pretty easily. Need to hit 6 life for it to be worthwhile.
Red - Commons
Best common in the set, at least top 3. Madnessing this out from a loot is simply unfair. Ember Shot cost 7 iirc and was playable.
3/2 haste that takes away a blocker. Once your opponent gets low he has to play around this. Will steal a ton of wins or push through for a ton of damage. The threat will keep a lot of creatures back.
3/3 for 3 is very efficient. There are a ton of wolves and werewolves so blocking is not difficult.
Reduce to Ashes
5 damage kills everything. 1 is very good.
Big guy that gets bigger. Happy with 1.
Hard to double block because instant speed removal will wreck. Then again taking 2 is not a bad option for your opponent.
Weak but necessary curve card.
Prowess doesn’t do much. People will be happy to take 1 most of the times.
Trades down way too much. Getting a counter on it doesn’t really help that much. You’ll still trade down.
Playable if you can instant speed madness this. Poor otherwise.
Terrible. I’ve played with 2 before. This format it can be hard to get 23 good playables.
I like 1 per deck a lot. Will rarely give you value, but a 1 mana trick is hard to come by.
Rush of Adrenaline
Poor trick. +1 toughness isn’t good enough.
Too much of a card disadvantage. 1/1s for 1 suck.
Not great. Pumping puts you behind in tempo.
Weak trick. White and green pump spells cost 1 or 2. Very rarely will you kill someone with double strike.
Falter ain’t what it use to be.
Vessel of Volatility
This adds an enchantment, but it’s pure card disadvantage and doesn’t add a huge tempo boost.
Pillage is unplayable.
Red - Uncommons
Premium removal spell with massive set synergy.
Gets out of hand if you get going with it.
4/3 haste is no joke.
Kill most creatures, almost all fatties.
Solid base stats and can break games if flipped.
Solid enabler. There's no Wild Mongrel so we'll have to settle for this.
4 mana is a lot to pay, but you’ll rarely have to pay it.
Dance with Devils
Good trick. Be careful because a 4/4 attacker can assign all the damage to 1 devil.
Easy to flip turn 1 because most decks don’t have a turn 1 play. A 2/2 menace is very good early.
I’m pretty sure this is solid, and maybe amazing. Putting it on an opponent 2/2 and make it suicide. Get a 3/4 for 1 mana.
Solid curve guy that’s somewhat hard to block.
Solid. Can turn into finisher in long games.
Mediocre removal spell with high upside.
Solid trick, but it does cost 4. Can turn a creature into a game winner.
Dissension in the Ranks
This looks really good as it’ll kill two 4/4 blockers, but it is incredibly difficult to set up. Getting a 2 for 1 is difficult, most of the time you’ll have to settle for 2 for 2. Half the time you have 1 attacker or they have 1 blocker.
Crap. Card disadvantage.
Green - Commons
Green has enough big guys that this is usually a doomblade. Better paired with red because of werewolves.
Good curve card that offers card advantage.
Solid curve dude that isn’t irrelevant late game.
5/6 is no joke. Limited is about card advantage, evasion, or a big guy to finish things off. This offers the big guy at 4 mana.
Somewhat weak for the cost. 4/2 trampler might be able to push through for a few points. You still want it for the curve.
One time pump. All flip cards are humans, so it’s better in RG. Fine in GW.
Kessig Dire Swine
6/6 is huge. It’s slightly better than the vanilla 4/5 because 6/6s are so much harder to kill. Trample is relevant vs the 1/2 black guy that comes back and the 2/2 flying bounce spirit.
Watcher in the Web
Solid even though it cost so much.
Fairly costed, but competes with better common fatties in green.
Vessel of Nascency
1 card delirium enabler. Playable if you need it.
Fork in the Road
Again playable. It’s hard to fit more than a couple of non-creature, non-removal cards into decks.
Might Beyond Reason
Cost a lot, but leaves behind a big guy. Worth it most likely.
Solid trick. +2+2 is fair. Untap and reach makes it very good.
Confront the Unknown
It’s +1+1 most of the times which is ok. Aggressive Urge cost 2 and was pretty good. This is a cheaper trick even though it cost more for the entire effect.
Good sideboard card.
Also good sideboard card.
Almost unplayable. The stats suck and drawing a land when you can combo isn’t great. Congrats on drawing a land when it’s probably better in the yard.
Elves getting weaker.
The hell? This does nothing.
Aura. Let’s pretend I didn’t drink all day and put at least 1 into my deck.
Green - Uncommons
Absurd. You get 6 power worth of blockers or you get power worth of attackers. OR both. Turns on werewolves when you pass the turn.
Kills most stuff. Transform werewolves by passing.
Solid early and card advantage engine late.
4 mana for a 4/4 trample hexproof? Need to be in the right colors as it’s not a very good splash.
Big on curve guy that can stop flyers.
Solid guy early, has some value late. Never fantastic, but that’s ok.
Cult of the Waxing Moon
This needs a lot of set up, but turning your wolves into Huntmasters is absurd.
Having a big blocker on turn 2 is fine.
Hermit of the Natterknolls
I mean everything gets played mainphase so you’ll never get a trigger. But that’s fine. The creature is slightly small for the cost, but you don’t have to worry about instant speed tricks or removal. Sometimes it’s merely ok, and other times it’s very good. Hard to tell when it’s good though.
Good curve guy that gets better late.
Solid if you get to investigate once.
I mean it can get out of hand. Odds are it won’t. Still +2+2 flash aura with upside is worth considering.
Meh. Seems like a big set up. I’ll admit that it is great if you get to the super late game. This should draw you 4-5 cards easy.
Ok if you have a combo, not very good otherwise.
Ok blocker if you’re playing the clues game.
Not very good. Splashing is not great in this set. You ramp from 3 to 6. The extra mana is useful if you have a lot of investigate.
Payoff is not worth it. Maybe you get 3 into play and go off? Good luck.
Artifact - Commons
Good with delirium. 4 mana is not that much for 2 damage when you're able to split the cost up. It's not like you're playing another 1 drop.
Weak, but playable. 1 toughness means it dies easily which is probably what you want if you're playing it.
Not great. 4 mana for +1+1 and vigilance is too much.
Shard of Broken Glass
Unplayable unless you’re super delirium. Even then you might not be able to attack with a creature to mill yourself.
Artifact - Uncommons
Mask of Memory was a great card in Mirrodin and that set didn’t have madness or delirium. You draw one less card, but gain skulk to sneak through.
Fantastic on both sides. Leonin Scimitar was solid. This has an upside. Very high pick if you have cards that flip easily.
Decent in a control deck. Getting 2 lands is great.
Decent. It’s a weak creature that turns into a weak equipment, but the cost is fine when you’re getting both.
Not a huge fan. I think it’s playable though. If you’re heavy delirium getting a T1 blocker is fine. 4/2 flyer trades with a lot of flyers in this set, but it's still a win condition.
The cost is still too high, but the card is interesting. In a dedicated madness deck it’s fine, but I wouldn’t play it without 4-5 madness cards.
Meh, I doubt I’ll play more than one game where the activated ability comes into play. The stats are weak.
Trash. Equipments need to boost power and toughness in Limited.
Talk about complete trash. 6 mana to draw a card?
Trash. Don’t play the card disadvantage game.
Lands - Commons
Solid. It’s hard to find a turn to sacrifice early in the game. Getting a land in the yard is valuable.
So there you have it. Hopefully this helps you with drafting Shadow over Innistrad. Also, we'd love to know if you agree or disagree with anything.
A Little Bit about Haibing Hu
Bing started playing during Urza's Block. And since then he's played in 9 Pro Tours, making day 2 at 8 of them. He was also on the 2011 U.S. Nationals team. He loves Limited but isn't too fond of Constructed.