Welcome back to another installment of Dig Through Time. Today we’re going back to my college days when Shadowmoor and Eventide were first released. These two sets are a little bit quirky, a little bit creepy, super unusual, and are among my absolute favorites. This block is unique for a number of reasons. First, it is the second of two two-set mini blocks (Lorwyn/Morningtide and Shadowmoor/Eventide) which helped Wizards test the water before switching to the two-set blocks that we have today. Second, based heavily on Celtic mythology, both mini blocks are located on the only world we’ve ever visited that has no humans. Mechanically, the block explored hybrid mana extensively, which hasn’t been done before or since, due to the inherent difficulties of designing cards that overlap across two colors. Finally, the set is the first to showcase -1/-1 counters…somewhat like another set that recently came out. That’s right, Shadowmoor/Eventide play nicely with all of your favorite new cards from Amonkhet! Let’s take a look at some of this block’s coolest cards.
Leech Bonder sees play in 221 decks. Even though Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons as a commander doesn’t have access to Leech Bonder, you could build a nasty Sultai deck focused on -1/-1 counters. The Mimeoplasm, Tasigur, the Golden Fang, and Vorosh, the Hunter would all be fine commanders to jam both Hapatra and Bonder in the 99 to support a -1/-1 counter theme. Since Leech Bonder activates by untapping, you need some methods of tapping it for value, and green provides that with cards like Cryptolith Rite, Earthcraft, and Nullmage Shepherd. You also have access to Holdout Settlement, no matter what color you run, for all of your tap down needs.
Experiment Kraj plays Leech Bonder the most at 118 decks. Since Leech Bonder doesn’t care about the type of counters it moves, it also lets you move around +1/+1 counters, charge counters, time counters, whatever. Of course, Kraj cares about +1/+1 counters, but there are a ton of other cards that care about a ton of other counters. Leech Bonder moves them all.
Soul Snuffers is a fantastic board shrinker that sees play in 114 decks. There are a ton of cards in Amonkhet that like to have -1/-1 counters on them, like Channeler Initiate. If you use up all of the counters on Initiate, and need to refill, Soul Snuffers can do that while simultaneously making all of your opponent’s creatures smaller, and hopefully killing off a few utility creatures and mana dorks.
Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons plays the most Soul Snuffers at 39 decks, and rightfully so. Dropping Soul Snuffers on a crowded board will make you a deathtouch snake for every single creature on the battlefield. It’s also great, of course, in Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice. Throw in Blowfly Infestation, Crumbling Ashes, and a Brago, King Eternal for maximum -1/-1 oppression.
Soot Imp sees play in 78 decks, and is a fun tax card. You can even hit your mono black opponents a few times, if they happen to be playing any mana rocks. Lifeline and Endless Whispers, or any repeatable reanimation effect, helps take this card from a minor annoyance that dies to a board wipe, to a very resiliant drain effect.
Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker plays Soot Imp the most at 20 decks. Shirei tends to run a low curve, so mana rocks are less necessary than other mono-black decks, ensuring Soot Imp doesn’t ding you too much. Without heavy recursion, Soot Imp is likely to be removed via a board wipe, or perhaps you’ll need it as a blocker due to the hate it may draw. Shirei doesn’t care about that since he recurs the Imp indefinitely. This card also works nicely in Kambal, Consul of Allocation as an extra drain effect.
Impelled Giant sees play in 78 decks. It’s more or less the red version of Mossbridge Troll. This is a great way to sneak damage past Propaganda effects and blockers via a single trampling creature. I’ve talked about other cards that enable you to take your token strategy from wide to tall when I talked about Junkyo Bell. Unless you want the delayed sac outlet, this card is better. You can wait until combat to sink your tokens into him, powering up for an alpha strike. You can even wait until after the declare-blockers step. If they fog, you have no need to tap all of your blockers down,
Lovisa Coldeyes plays Impelled Giant the most at 35 decks. This card would be fine for a Krenko, Mob Boss, Grenzo, Havoc Raiser, or Xenagos, God of Revels deck. Also, Hazoret the Fervent, and the rest of the new gods from Amonkhet are able to “attack” via Impelled Giant even when they’re turned off. Something their fellow deities from Theros block are unable to match.
You may have already heard of Flourishing Defenses in the wake of Amonkhet prerelease, but it still only sees play in 111 decks. It’s basically a redundant Hapatra effect that isn’t susceptible to creature board wipes. This card is fantastic in combination with the recently reprinted Cauldron of Souls, or Cauldron Haze (both of which happen to be from this block).
Obviously this pairs well with Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons, who, according to EDHREC, plays this card the most at 48 decks. It also works well in an Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice that is jamming tokens, or possibly for a carefully crafted Melira, Sylvok Outcast or The Mimeoplasm deck list. The intersection of +1/+1 counters and tokens in EDH is pretty well understood at this point, but the intersection of -1/-1 counters and tokens is in the beginning stages of exploration, and I’m very excited to see where that takes us. Pick up this card, if for no other reason than to pioneer that deck building space.
Dramatic Entrance is a powerful surprise effect for any green commander that sees play in just 68 decks. Sure, it only drops green creatures into play, but Terastodon, Avenger of Zendikar, Acidic slime, and, hell, Primeval Titan or Sylvan Primordial (if you’re playing on MODO, where it’s legal, for now) are all green creatures. Wouldn’t you like to drop one of those down at the beginning of your last opponent’s end step? Not to mention Gxx multicolor creatures like Atarka, Worldrender or Xenagos, God of Revels you could flash in.
Mayael the Anima and Omnath, Locus of Mana both play Dramatic Entrance the most at 5 decks each. Since this card both flashes a creature in, and cheats the mana cost, it’s definitely worth a try in any deck running big guys. Play it in your next Riku of the Two Reflections or Wort, the Raidmother deck for added, copying value.
Dream Salvage sees play in 80 decks, and, with just a little set up, generates tremendous card advantage. This thing plays well with wheels. Drop a Dark Deal or Whispering Madness, and then draw back all those cards your opponents discarded as well. Throw in Geth’s Grimoire or Words of Waste for additional discard options. This one weird trick makes your opponents hate you. (I can’t imagine why).
Nekusar, the Mindrazer plays Dream Salvage the most at 13 decks. I’m one of those decks, and believe me, this card is insane. Dream Salvage works in Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder and Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix + Vial Smasher the Fierce, and since those decks often runs wheels. Building around discard with a commander like [card]Nicol Bolas, Crosis, the Purger, or Gwendlyn Di Corci will also yield a lot of value with this card. And, hey, if you’re an MTGO player, you can still build Leovold, Emissary of Trest (though you really shouldn’t. Don’t be that guy). If you do, Dream Salvage should be near the top of your list, just after wheel effects.
River’s Grasp is a really nice two-for-one that sees play in 35 decks. The sorcery speed is kind of a shame, but instant-speed discard is rare because of how powerful of an effect it is. This card is pretty cool because it’s an indirect kill spell. Putting a creature directly into the graveyard from the hand, it gets around indestructible and regeneration, and also averts death triggers, if that’s an issue in your meta. Or you could force them to discard any other nonland card, if you see that they have a bigger threat. Additionally, you can bounce your own creature with River’s Grasp, and then target any opponent for the discard effect. Overall, the card is very versatile.
Lazav, Dimir Mastermind plays this card the most at 13 decks. Among other things, River’s Grasp is one of the few ways for Lazav to turn into an Avacyn, Angel of Hope that has already resolved. It’s also good in Sedris, the Traitor King, Damia, Sage of Stone, and Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker + Ravos, Soultender. Definitely throw this into your next deck playing Dimir colors.
Safewright Quest sees play in 91 decks. Since WotC has not been shying away from printing dual lands with basic land types, this card keeps getting better over time. You can fetch up any of the ABUR duals that you’re lucky enough to own, any of the Shocks, any of the Havelands, and any of the Bicycle lands that are either forests and/or plains. Safewright also finds you Murmuring Bosk, Mistveil Plains and Dryad Arbor.
Rhys the Redeemed plays Safewright Quest the most at 10 decks. It’s pretty goodstuff. Give it a try in any deck that cares about specific plains or forests. Remember that Mistveil Plains is one of the ways to repeatedly cast your instants with Sunforger, and, if you run Safewright Quest as a means of finding it, that means you also have access to Wheel of Sun and Moon, which is another means of looping your spells. Definitely worth considering in a Saskia the Unyielding brew that’s attempting to abuse Sunforger.
Mercy Killing is an unusual kill spell in unusual colors that sees play in 307 decks. Armed with some devastating flavor text, this card isn’t even suppressed with sorcery speed. Enabling you to force a sacrifice at instant speed, this handily gets around indestructible and regeneration effects. Sometimes, you even want to target your own creature, like a Lifeblood Hydra or Chasm Skulker, to cash those sweet 1/1 elf tokens in for yourself.
Rhys the Redeemed plays Mercy Killing the most at 58 decks. This card is basically just a better Polymorph, in weird colors. Naya, in particular, lacks a lot of quality, instant-speed removal outside of Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile. Jam this in a G/W deck and go to town.
Astonishingly, Impromptu Raid sees play in a mere 56 decks. This card is great with the newly released Vizier of the Menagerie, and it’s not bad with any of the cards that let you play with the top card of your library revealed like Oracle of Mul Daya and Courser of Kruphix, though in that case, your opponents will know what’s coming.
Mayael the Anima plays the most Impromptu Raid at 17 decks. Surprisingly, Riku of Two Reflections does not appear as a top commander for this card, even though he has some of the best access to top deck fixing/peeking across all colors, and gets the added benefit of creating a copy of any creature that Impromptu Raid hits. Something to think about for all of you Riku players.
Everlasting Torment sees play in 463 decks. This is a little bit higher than I’d usually like to talk about, however, for a card that came out in a recent precon, that’s still a pretty low number. This card provides three very strong effects at a cheap cost. One hidden benefit of Everlasting Torment is that it turns off infect. Since all the creatures with infect are dealing damage as though they had wither, they deal normal damage to players, while still shrinking creatures down. Another bonus is that it affects burn spells. Lightning Bolt now puts three -1/-1 counters on a creature. Starstorm is now a better Black Sun’s Zenith. Clan Defiance now dings an opponent for six damage, while simultaneously taking out Kefnet the Mindful, Oketra the True. That. Is. Awesome.
Saskia, the Unyielding at 122 decks, mostly due to the precon effect. The second most Mogis, God of Slaughter at 62 decks. Personally, I think it’s worth running in most decks that are B/R. Kaervek the Merciless and Oros, the Avenger, in particular, become pretty mean with Everlasting Torment on the battlefield.
Pyrrhic Revival is an obscure mass-reanimation spell that sees play in 93 decks. Considering that Twilight’s Call, which is a very similar effect, sees play in 776 decks, you would really think more people would be running this card. Your opponent’s mana dorks and very small utility creatures won’t survive their revival, whereas you built around the card, and are going to get everything back, taking full advantage of the spell.
Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice plays Pyrrhic Revival the most at 18 decks. Being able to proc the -1/-1 counters on your opponent’s creatures the same turn that you revive them for an additional, one-sided board wipe seems very strong. Not to mention that having Nest of Scarabs, Flourishing Defenses, or Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons out on the battlefield when you cast this is going to make you a crazy amount of tokens. This card is good.
Leering Emblem is a neat piece of equipment that sees play in 113 decks. While it doesn’t offer the same kind of protection that Lightning Greaves, Swiftfoot Boots, or Darksteel Plate offer, it’s still a protective piece that doubles as a combat trick.
Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest plays Leering Emblem the most at 30 decks, using it as sort of two extra prowess triggers that stack with Shu Yun’s native prowess. While not quite as good as Diviner’s Wand, you could make pretty good use of this card in Arjun, the Shifting Flame or Mizzix of the Izmagnus as a means of pumping for Commander damage. Your Brainstorm, Ponder, and Preodain all turn into an almost giant growth. This really wouldn’t be bad in any spell-slinging commander.
For this week’s action segment, how could I resist building Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice? All of those beautiful -1/-1 counters turning into more and more -1/-1 counters, while my board fills up with tokens. I’ve also chosen an unorthodox take on card draw in order to better showcase Dream Salvage. There is a parallel universe out there where I have chosen to highlight it even more with cards like Nath of the Gilt-Leaf, Geth’s Grimoire and Jace’s Archivist, but alas, in this universe I couldn’t quite find the room for them. Wheels aren’t bad when you’re running mass reanimate effects. I wanted to include more things like Living Death and Rise of the Dark Realms, but, again, I ran out of room. Regardless, the list I’m presenting today is pretty sweet. It fears no creature, since it’s constantly spamming the board with -1/-1 counters, getting rid of tokens, indestructible creatures, hexproof dudes, everything. Everything except for its own stuff. I hope you enjoy the build, and please check back in two weeks for another Dig Through Time.