The Eldritch Moon prerelease is headed our way in another week. Innistrad is, predictably, about to get wrecked. You know what that means? It’s time for another installment of my intermittent top ten series! Behold, my Shadows Over Innistrad Top Ten limited list!

My rankings are based on holistic review of the cards. Any possible reason can support making the list, but usually the reasons are good. Power level is part of my analysis, but varies in importance. Art, flavor, intangible aesthetic qualities, and humor all count.

Here we go!

reaper

10. Reaper of Flight Moonsilver

Fallen Angel was an iconic card our my playgroup back in middle school. It and Atog and Diamond Valley kindled my sacrificial interests early in Magic. When Reaper of Flight Moonsilver showed up in Shadows, I was quite pleased. She’s mostly just a 3/3 flier, but even that is really good. Having a white sacrifice outlet really opens up some strategic options in token and weenie decks. I’ve even looked at her for Standard, at least aspirationally.

On top of all that, the name Reaper of Flight Moonsilver tickles me. I love the quirky nomenclature of angel “flights” on this card and the great emo-arted Angel of Flight Alabaster. The inverted syntax is like something stinky that gives you an adrenaline rush when you smell it. Oh yeah.

 

flux

9. Essence Flux

Nobody ever expects this card. Blow up removal spells. Surprise attackers with a block. Get some incidental value. The key for blue in Shadows draft is to put out small creatures and leave up some mana to interact against the opposing assault. Jace’s Scrutiny, Just the Wind, Essence Flux. You can’t just play out your cards, draw a few extras, and expect to win. Build your victory with skillful interaction.

 

epi

8. Epitaph Golem

At Grand Prix Albuquerque in April, right after Shadows was released, I was discussing Epitaph Golem with a friend. I said, “this activated ability must be useful, because it makes no sense to randomly stick it on a card that was obviously designed mostly for limited.” Sure enough. It’s basically Memory’s Journey plus Runic Repetition, stapled onto Thraben Purebloods for free! Sadly I haven’t had many chances to play with Tapher, but I’m sure I’ll get more quality time with this power bottom once Eldritch Moon comes out.

 

mole

7. Graf Mole

I never met a mole with four toughness before, but call me a fan. This card screams, “get thee to an Epitaph Golem!” because decking yourself is the only way you can lose. Multiple times I’ve two-for-oned myself with an aggressive deck to kill an opposing Graf Mole. That’s the wrong side of the equation to be on. It would be good against aggression even if it were only a 2/4 for three mana. But not only that, once you stabilize, you can start cracking clues to pad your life total. To find one is a boon, indeed!

 

geistblast

6. Geistblast

So there was that time I won a sealed PPTQ with Geistblast and Startled Awake. You can also discard it to Lightning Axe then copy. Doubling up on Compelling Deterrence when you control a zombie is pretty sweet. So is killing a Quilled Wolf.

 

inspector

5. Thraben Inspector

Inspectah Deck was up on the Emrakul conspiracy from the beginning. The whole “mic test, one two, one two” thing really makes this card a champion. Ask yourself this. Have you even been happy to see your opponent cast Thraben Inspector? Two permanents. One mana. You know my steez.

 

heir1heir2

4. Heir of Falkenrath

I’m trying to decide which is better: curving Heir into Crawling Sensation or Stoic Builder. We don’t need your silly vampire madness synergies. Those famous bloodlines are doomed. Olivia is mobilized for losing a war. This little card is mobilized for some serious graveyard recursion value. I mean, yeah, curving Heir into Incorrigible Youths is better than both of those. But aggressive madness is so all in. Why not play the long game in case they can kill your 3/2 flier? When it comes down to it, flexibility is the key. You do you. Heir of Falkenrath will follow your lead.

 

censer

3. True-Faith Censer

Here’s a recurring theme of my column: vigilance is underrated in limited. Blah blah human whatever, vigilance makes this card good. The crux of most limited strategy is how much to attack versus hold back. Slap a True-Faith Censer on something and you might as well do both. This is why Always Watching is an unbeatable bomb.

Useful equipment in general is underrated in limited. This goes in any deck with creatures. I guess they call it generic mana now, but cards that cost generic mana are good in limited because you can put them in any color deck. That’s why morph is so strong. Add on vigilance and this card is like the mulldrifter of underratedness. Even I’ve got it down at number three! I love you, TFC, just not thaaaaaaat much.

 

elus2elus3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Elusive Tormentor

I’ve got an idea for a new card! Let’s make a 4/4 for four mana, in black. Instead of flying, we can make it impossible to kill for one extra mana and unblockable for three extra mana! That sounds kind of blue? Ok, ok, we’ll make it kind of blue as well. I don’t put rares on my top ten lists, but when I do, I get paid by a beer company to pretend like it means something. In this case, it means Elusive Tormentor is a great card with unreal flavor, and that also happens to be Dimir.

 

myst

1. Ulvenwald Mysteries

If the game is about trading creatures and drawing cards, it’s hard to do better than Ulvenwald Mysteries. I hear people complain about how Shadows sealed is so rare/mythic-driven, but this is the most important card in sealed by far. If you open Archangel Avacyn, yes, she’s better and you’re lucky. Rares are great, but the deep pool of uncommons define the power level of Shadows limited. Ulvenwald Mysteries is the best uncommon in a set full of them.

Ask yourself this: sitting down for a match of sealed at a GP or PPTQ, with no knowledge of your opponent’s deck, what is the probability that they have Ulvenwald Mysteries? I set the over/under at 20%, and I want to take the over. I feel like I played it in more than 20% of my decks, at least! Maybe I just remember the good ones. Decks with UMyst are definitely good ones. Number one! With a bullet (sent off to CSI: Kessig for study).

Brendan McNamara (MTGO: eestlinc, Twitter: @brendanistan) used to play Magic in the old days. His favorite combo was Armageddon plus Zuran Orb. After running out of money to buy cards and friends who were willing to put up with that combo, he left the game. But like disco, he was bound to come back eventually. Now he’s a lawyer by day and a Dimir agent by night.

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