Sperling’s Sick of It, Shadows over Innistrad Edition

New set = new stuff of which to be sick. Welcome to Sperling’s Sick of It. Here’s what’s been rubbing me the wrong way recently:

  1. People who get flooded and count “how many lands I drew that game” and include both the fetchland and the land they fetched with it.
    I noticed.
  2. Hunter Pence playing lands next to creatures.
    This is a style of play I wasn’t even aware existed.


I won’t tell Hunter Pence that his unorthodox twitchy batting stance and swing look stupid. Baseball is his game. But I’m the Goose Gossage of Magic and I can’t sit idly by while he lays out his cards this way.

Does Hunter Pence play chess on a diagonal, while facing one of the four corners of the board?

Does Hunter Pence butter only the crust when making toast?

TL;DR: Go Dodgers!

Parting Thoughts about Battle for Zendikar Block

I was hoping eventually I would figure out why some Eldrazi triggered when they entered the battlefield and others triggered when they were cast. That day never came. Both types appear at common rarity and at rare. Even at the same rarity, in the same set, Blight Herder makes tokens as a cast trigger, Drowner of Hope makes tokens as an ETB trigger. Duh Matt, Blight Herder processes a card and that’s why it’s a cast trigger. Wasteland Strangler is a rare from BFZ too. You just have to read the card. Each card, each time, unless you’re absolutely sure.

Great design.

The Shadows over Innistrad Section

Magnifying Glass

First of all, what is with these mundane objects? Grandpa’s Reading Glasses, 1, Artifact, T: Look at target player’s graveyard.

You probably don’t even realize how badly they botched the design of Magnifying Glass—what a missed opportunity the card represents. It should have said: “T: Destroy target Ant creature.”


Skulk is a new keyword meaning it can’t be blocked by bigger creatures. Several problems here. “Skulking” was already slang in Magic for “sacrifice when targeted.” Not even pure slang—this was part of Magic card naming on Skulking Ghost, Skulking Fugitive, and Skulking Knight. The set right before Shadows over Innistrad has a “Skulker” that doesn’t have Skulk. Even worse, Skarrgan Pit-Skulk has the opposite ability of skulk—it can’t be blocked by smaller creatures. Lastly, Gutter Skulk has no abilities. It is simply a 2/2 Zombie Rat for 1B. It is also the coolest of all these skulk cards, new or old.

Forsaken Sanctuary

Would it have been possible, if they tried, to make this art look more like Orzhov Basilica? Was the art direction here “confuse EDH players or anyone who sorts their collection by type and then searches by type”? The artist received those instructions and replied, “say no more.” Look, I get it, there aren’t 500 cool designs for a WB dual land, but you can do better than this. Art on lands that produce black mana is usually very dark which washes out distinguishing features.  But not everything eerie or forsaken is pitch black.  Now that you have new lands that are indistinguishable from past ones, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

Port Town, etc.

2 out of the 5 lands in the cycle have flavor text. Sometimes I sit back and wonder about these people. What makes them tick? And why don’t the other people in these meetings speak up?

Tireless Tracker

This guy has a landfall ability. And yet he doesn’t have the word “landfall” printed on him. Landfall isn’t some relic of the distant past. The last block had landfall. How can this happen? How can you allow it? Your choices are these: 1) Print this card with the landfall keyword in order to be consistent and speed up comprehension of a new card for anyone who has been playing as long as a few months or anyone who plays in mechanic-heavy environments likeCube or EDH and could use the shortcut or 2) don’t print landfall in the set after a landfall block if you don’t want to reuse mechanics that aren’t evergreen that fast or 3) say F*** it and print it as is, and that hope pathetic disgruntled niche article writers don’t notice.

Angel of Deliverance

Fans of ’70s thrillers expected a very different card. “I bet I can make you squeal like a Brindle Boar.” -Avacyn

Ethereal Guidance

Please look at the ghost, err geist, err spirit, in this card’s art. Even the person who drew Forsaken Sanctuary thinks this artist mailed it in.

Humble the Brute

The story of Conley Woods falling off the PT train had to be told on a card eventually.

Strength of Arms

“Hey Sorin, the breast exam chick is on channel 9 again!” (Heard from the floorboards.)

Stern Constable

Majlaton Constable is more HOF-worthy, in my opinion.

Daring Sleuth

“No matter the cost…” The cost is 2 colorless. Always 2 colorless.

Pyre Hound

The set has Wolf and Werewolf tribal. So you know what you should do? Add another vague canine called “Hound” that doesn’t work with the Wolf tribal cards. 1/100 people will think the distinction is cool. 5/100 will try to beef up their Pyre Hound with Wolf cards in the supported RG tribal-themed Limited deck and get blown out. I’ll bark to that. Maybe you have to pump Human Werewolves with your wolf pack tribal stuff even though it doesn’t really make sense, but I know you don’t have to print Hounds in the set. I guess they wanted it to be a flaming elemental dog and those aren’t really pack animals like wolves are…

Wolf of Devil’s Breach

Oh, a flaming elemental dog creature type… WOLF—WHAT THE HELL!!?? Arlinn is even talking trash about this thing in the flavor text. Yup, this deserves the tribal wolf pack bonuses. #mythicprivilege

Jace, Sorin, & Nahiri

3 different planeswalkers with plus abilities that round to “draw a card” and minus abilities that are removal? So this is it—this is the single acceptable design for ‘walkers. If it isn’t, why would you do it 3 times in a single set (Arlinn Kord is cool, feels mythic, and I assume was added to this set last minute)? Oh, and don’t forget the previous block has Ob Nixilis, of which the new Jace might as well be a timeshifted version. When I read the new Jace, there was absolutely not a single exciting thing about it. Just what you want for your mythic rare main character planeswalker.

Olivia’s Bloodsworn

Classic “A thesaurus is all you need to come up with flavor text” fail.

Vessel of Volatility

100% predictable effect. Substantially less volatile than the green and blue vessels. Nice.

Tooth Collector

“Honey, I still can’t believe we got this apartment for less than 2/3rds what we were paying at our old place. We should go say hi to the neighbors.”

2 thoughts on “Sperling’s Sick of It, Shadows over Innistrad Edition”

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