I suspected the title of this new expansion was a clever reference to The Shadow over Innsmouth, the H.P. Lovecraft story that’s one of my favorites, but I wasn’t sure so I didn’t say anything. Then I got my grubby little mitts on two booster boxes. Innistrad is a horror world in the realm of Magic: The Gathering so I was not surprised by all of the werewolves, vampires, zombies and spirits. What did surprise me, but shouldn’t have, was all the madness in this set. So. Much.Madness. This stands to reason if it is a call out to H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow over Innsmouth.
Transformations are a big deal in this set with multiple transformation cards including ones where humans transform into werewolves, the Thing in the Ice transforms into a Kraken Horror and kindly strangers transform into demon-possessed witches.
In this set every color got good cards. There are a lot of tokens and a lot of cards with the Investigate ability. The investigate ability allows the player to get a clue, Clue tokens included. A Clue is a token-artifact that for the low low price of two mana allows the player to sacrifice it and draw a card. There is a ton of card drawing in this set.
As one might expect there is a lot of graveyard recursion in Shadows over Innistrad. Between all of the ways to draw cards, madness casting and graveyard recursion the sense one gets of this set is that you’re not simply playing a 7 card hand so much as your entire deck and graveyard. An added bonus is that a lot of cards get boosts of one kind or another if you have four or more card types in your graveyard.
I’ve been working on a Gorgon/Vampire deck for some time now and with this release I will likely finish it up. I’d been leaning towards splashing blue but I may go with red due to some of the really good red cards in there. Not just Flameblade Angel either but there are also some Devils that are quite tempting. This is a release that plays to the strength of the complexity of Magic: The Gathering. I’ve been playing for years and there are so many triggered effects that I’m thinking it’ll be tough to keep track of all of them until I’ve played with the cards for a bit. I kind of feel sorry for whoever has to code these for the online version.
Just looking at the singles I can see one or two that might make the cut for my Orizov deck. Or might not. My Orizov deck is finely tuned to punish my opponent any time anything happens. Azorius is even more difficult to get things into so I may end up making a wholly new Azorius deck to play with. I really want to look at building a Dimir deck though, and some of the blue cards that might go into Azorius could go to Dimir instead. I’m not sure I have a good Dimir deck yet. The Devils, being low cost creatures could go into my Rakdos deck but I’ll have to see. It’s hard to get cards into some of my established decks. That I’m even considering some of these cards for decks I’ve already made is a testament to how well done Shadows over Innstrad is.
In my opinion, Shadows over Innstrad is one of the best expansions to be released for Magic: The Gathering. It plays on the Innstrad story line and expands it. The art is very cohesive and I love the flavor text. This is an especially good expansion for anyone who likes vampires or werewolves and I’ve rarely seen an expansion that was begging for a zombie or spirit deck like this one.