Welcome to my Shadows over Innistrad Constructed Set Review! I do things a little differently than in the Limited review:
I evaluate the cards that have a shot at seeing play in Constructed. Sorry, Cathar’s Companion, you’re in the doghouse when it comes to Constructed. Sometimes I leave a card off that ends up seeing play, but I try and cast a wide net.
I try and talk about non-Standard formats if something seems applicable. For example, Insolent Neonate seems best-suited for Modern, so I’ll bring that up when I get to it. If I don’t mention a specific format, assume I’m talking about Standard.
The ratings scale is slightly different as well. I will have to change it next set to factor in Jace, Unraveler of Secrets, but for now it stands. There’s an argument for Jace, the Living Guildpact to be a 1.0, but 1.0 is the only rating that’s remained unchanged since Riki Hayashi first wrote the description 7 years ago and Jace could have seen play, even though it didn’t.
5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Collected Company. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren. Radiant Flames. Shambling Vent.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Zulaport Cutthroat. Explosive Vegetation.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept. Anticipate. Transgress the Mind.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living Guildpact. Naturalize. Duress.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. (One with Nothing). (I believe it was tech vs. Owling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.)
A 3-mana 4/4 trample hexproof would be incredible, and this is close enough in the most dedicated delirium decks once you hit turn 5 or 6. The main concern is that it usually isn’t that on turn 3, at least without playing cards like Vessel of Nascency. Still, this is a good payoff for going deep on delirium, and worse comes to worst, it can help you get there with the activated ability.
I love this card. It’s fun to play with and rewarding to activate, with a flip side that synergizes very nicely with the rest of your deck. You will often want to pass and use it on your opponent’s upkeep in response to the flip trigger, though keeping mana up to cast a cheaper Bounding Krasis or Avacyn is not unrealistic at all. This is the exact kind of card Collected Company decks are looking for, and given the power level, I could see it fitting in plenty of other places too.
There are worse ways to stop aggressive creature decks from attacking you, and a 2-mana 3/3 that flips into a 4/4 can dominate a board of 2/1s and 2/2s. This would be a little better if red had a realistic beatdown deck, but it stops the aggro Humans decks pretty well too.
An anti-flying card that can hit Ojutai is cute. Additionally, the traditional drawback of sacrifice-based removal applies much less to Clip Wings, as the opponent is unlikely to have a ton of flyers. This is an interesting card, and may be positioned to see some niche play.
Cryptolith Rite is a very powerful card. It can add 10 mana out of nowhere, and makes accumulating a bunch of tokens much more frightening. Secure the Wastes or Nissa can flood the board well, giving you a ton of mana to play with. What you do with that mana isn’t clear yet, but there’s got to be something. My biggest concern with Rite is that the second copy does absolutely nothing, and you likely need to play multiples so that your deck functions. I wouldn’t be surprised if this ended up being great in the right deck, despite the inherent inconsistency.
Deathcap competes with Sylvan Advocate in the 2-drop spot for many midrange decks, which is a tough battle to win. I like that this is an accelerator that provides multiple colors and has real late-game relevance. Add all that together and you have a very solid card.
If you have delirium quickly, this adds a ton of stats to the board. Getting delirium by turn 4 isn’t trivial though, and on turn 6 or 7, even a double 3/3 isn’t quite what I’m looking for as a payoff.
I didn’t know just how good I had it with Birds of Paradise and Noble Hierarch, as the build-your-own version is still a playable card. Decks that flood the board with cheap creatures (Cryptolith Rites anyone?) could very easily play Loam Dryad as a high-impact 1-drop.
Everything I said about Inexorable Blob applies here, though at 2 mana, this does fit the curve better. The payoff is lower but still a real one. Tarmogoyf this isn’t, but it could still be worth it in a delirium shell.
Green has enough cheap delirium cards that there may be a deck here. Obsessive Skinner is another, and if you have delirium going, comes down as a virtual 3/3. That is a good start, and things get better from there. I like this more than Blob or Scavenger when it comes to delirium payoffs.
6/5 worth of stats for 4 mana is not a bad deal. Even if most decks would rather be casting Collected Company, this could fit into a green deck that’s looking for more instant-speed interaction.
This is a very powerful and interesting card. It’s most likely to show up as a 1- or 2-of at most, only because you don’t need to cast a lot of these to win a game of Magic. Note that it does start at 0, meaning you can get a land + a ton of other stuff back, which frequently means drawing 4-6 cards out of your graveyard. I’ve played this card and enjoyed it, and like it as a finisher in green-based midrange/control decks.
Wolves and Giant Growths sounds more like a Limited deck than a Constructed one, but there are enough cheap targeting spells that draw a card (Expedite and the like) that you may be able to build your own wolfpack here.
Tireless Tracker put up some results this weekend as a cheap card draw engine that pressures the opponent. The Tracker does those two things without asking a ton from you, and being a Collected Company hit automatically adds a lot of value to any green creature. Cracking Clues doesn’t sound like the fastest thing, but stacking them up means you can never completely run out of gas, and it doesn’t take much before this becomes unstoppably large.
Traverse the Ulvenwald
Watch out, I’m going to harp on how powerful flexibility is again. Traverse being a split card of land/creature is huge, even if the second part isn’t active until later in the game. It turns out that’s perfect as you need lands early and creatures late! This is cheap enough that it can be cast when you are very short on lands, and I’ve already kept plenty of 1 land + Traverse hands. You don’t even need to do that much to enable delirium because the opportunity cost is so low in a base-green deck.
Traverse is one of the best Constructed cards in the set, and the decks that use it well are going to have a sizable advantage. Getting to play virtual 27-28 lands while also having 4 of those lands turn into Eladamri’s Call (plus Sylvan Scrying) in the late game is incredible.
I’m not quite as high on Ulvenwald Hydra (or Khalni Hydra, for that matter). It’s a powerful and sweet card, but without setting up a Valakut-style kill, it’s not the second coming of Primeval Titan. Getting Westvale Abbey or Rogue’s Passage might be the best thing to do right now, and whether that’s good enough or not isn’t completely clear. I do like that this is a 7/7 reach at worst, which is better than what Titan brought to the table.
Vessel of Nascency
This basically gets you to delirium by itself, though at a cost of 1 + 2 mana. That’s a real cost in Constructed, so to use Vessel well you need to be going hard on delirium and delirium payoffs.
Top 5 Green cards
I really like what green has going on in this set. Getting multiple engine cards, a good mana accelerator, and a bunch of individually powerful cards make for a lot of deck building action. Between Seasons Past drawing 10 cards and Cryptolith Rites adding 10 mana, there are definitely sweet things you can do. Traverse adds consistency and the ability to play a bunch of powerful 1-ofs, and if you are on the beatdown side of the table, Duskwatch Recruiter and Tireless Tracker are also great cards. It’s a good time to be a green mage.