What’s the Pick? Shadows Over Innistrad #1

With Multiple Limited Grand Prix Top 8 Competitor Neil Rigby

Right, so Shadows over Innistrad is here.

I enjoyed the prerelease and I’ll be drafting a ton now it’s on MTGO, so I thought I’d try and make something useful out of that. The trouble with the Podcast’s once-a-blue-moon crack-a-pack (other than the fact that it makes our Patreon giveaway look anemic), is that it doesn’t satisfy my ceaseless hunger for draft.

This gave me an idea, and a way of filling my daily train commute with more than just gawping out of the window: in a completely original and groundbreaking move, I’m going to start a ‘What’s the Pick’ article series. Aimed at helping you, our avid listener/reader, to get insight into how the best Limited player ever to grace these beautiful shores thinks SOI drafts should start (I’m good friends with Fabrizio, so I’ll get his thoughts on stuff, but I’ll probably give my opinion too).

Initial impressions after Prerelease weekend tell me that the main strategies are GU Clues-and-buggering-about.dec, UB zombies, RG werewolves, RB vampires and Wx humans. From what I have seen up to yet, an important aspect of this format is enablers, and by that I mean cheap/free discard outlets for Madness and ways of getting Delirium. Delirium is a thing, but I haven’t yet found if there is a particular colour combination that definitely wants it and how best to set it up. The blue vessel is probably a good start, but if Delirium is something you really want, you need to plan early during the draft and be thinking about how you’ll actually achieve it from the start.

So what’s in the pack?

What's the pick?

What’s the pick?

Seagraf Skaab, Shamble Back, Dauntless Cathar, Vessel of Paramnesia, Vessel of Malignity, Howlpack Wolf, Moldgraf Scavenger, True-Faith Censer, Vessel of Volatility, Hinterland Logger, Hope Against Hope, Skeleton Key, Graf Mole, Odric, Lunarch Marshal

So at first glance this pack seems pretty weak to me, in that it has no evasion monsters, no removal and no enablers. The rare can be powerful and getting it first pick means we can allow for it in upcoming choices, but it’s not necessarily something I’d consider a bomb (although I haven’t actually played with it yet). Sadly, given our lack of options, we’ll probably just end up taking it anyay.

Having asked the other podcast members, they largely agree:

Matt light profile


Matt – Odric, he’s at worst a respectable size, potentially great


Matteo Orsini Jones profile


Matteo – Isn’t it just always the rare?


Rob wagner profile


RobSword of the Meek


Bit of a disappointing pack to be honest. Dauntless Cathar is, I think, a very solid card and one of the better common creatures of the set. Howlpack Wolf is aggressive and Hinterland Logger a fine role player but not really much to talk about. So…. Let’s do another pack. (yay!)


Rottenheart GhoulSurvive the NightFurtive HomunculusGrotesque MutationEmissary of the SleeplessSenseless RageRoot OutSanguinary MageThraben GargoyleElusive TormentorMorkrut NecropodWoodland StreamPack GuardianEerie Interlude

Well, this pack at least has some discussion to it. Eerie Interlude is a good card to get early in a draft because you can prioritise ‘Enters the Battlefield’ effects in future picks. Pack Guardian was a card I must have glossed over in the set list because I was unaware of until until it mugged 2 of my guys in combat (it also lets you discard a land card to make a 2/2 wolf as it comes into play).

Elusive Tormentor is a difficult to deal with card that is also a cheap discard outlet to enable Madness. The commons in general in this pack are slightly better but none really compare to the 3 cards mentioned, and I think it’s far too early in the format to try and be cute and take Eerie Interlude (unless you know something I don’t). As a side note, I could definitely see myself taking the Thraben Gargoyle quite early: it’s one of the better Artifact creatures and people in our drafts have been busting out a coven of Wicker Witches trying to turn on Delirium.

So, Elusive Tormentor or Pack Guardian?

My pick is Elusive Tormentor, but I’m not sure that’s 100% right given that I’ve only seen impressive things from Pack Guardian. But, still, the Tormentor’s ability to help with Delirium and to act as a cheap Madness enabler pushes it up the ranks as a flexible first pick.

What did the others think?

Matt light profile


MattElusive Tormentor (Matt’s opinion might be tainted by the fact that we’ve been in the same drafts, and he’s generally unable to form opinions of his own.)


Matteo Orsini Jones profile


MatteoPack Guardian (Matteo took about 10 seconds to answer, and that included the time it took him to type out Pack Guardian.)


Rob wagner profile


RobThopter Foundry


Well that’s where I’m at after Release Week. Let me know what you’d have picked, and what you’d have done differently, in the comments below.

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