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Strategy level low for Shards of Alara?

September 13, 2008

Perhaps it is too soon to tell, but with no holes in the Grixis ‘unearth’ mechanic, it seems like a very straight forward, one time ordeal. Bant’s ‘exhalted’ mechanic unfortunately is easy to shake the foundations of due to only one creature attacking (unless perhaps we see them gain Thorn Elemental’s way of dealing damage, or become unblockable due to the blue in that shard) which isn’t very ‘white’ oriented due to the lone attacker aspect and no blocking aspect and that alone isn’t very thick with strategy. Just do the unearth with one and attack with one creature. I am hoping things add to the melting pot. The Planeswalkers Sarkham Vol and Tezzeret are both the ones to really look out for in this set. Sarkham Vol, with his feet dipped into green automatically will see mana acceleration. You also might have noticed Gilder Bairn as my header, well that is with good reason. Gilder Bairn can get your Planeswalkers to their maximum potential in no time, or in a team game, double your teammate’s Planewalker’s loyalty counters in one swift untap. That leads us to our next mechanic from, Jund: Devour. It is like a weaker ‘amplify’ seeing as how you have to chow down on your own creatures only to get +1/+1 counters out of it. It is like a unique branch of planeshift, where they will probably have all new familiars for each shard. Also like planeshift though, they have a beautiful land that will streamline any mana issues you might have playing a shard‘s unique spell or creature without having to return another land to your hand.

Although it comes into play tapped (cipt), Arcane Sanctum helps out Esper (where Chrome Mox probably couldn’t due all of the artifacts in that shard). I am only assuming that there will be a cipt tri-color land for each of the shards, but all bets are off due to each shard being so different from each other. Esper still has some tricks up it’s sleeve though. The only mechanics their cards have had so far are ‘flying’ and things about artifacts, nothing out of the ordinary or new. Yet.

Even though the over-all strategy level of the spoiled Shards of Alara cards might seem relatively low, I still have high hopes for this set. I foresee Jund being a fan favorite, with Naya and Grixis pulling second place. Esper has the most potential for being an overpowered shard (just look at the mirrodin block) and being about as overlooked as Bant in casual play. I will be playing Bant/Naya crossover more than likely. Also, casual players should take heed that cards like Prismatic Omen, Joiner Adept, and the already mentioned Chrome Mox will become sought after. By the way Card Kingdom already has Sarkhan Vol priced at $25 and Tezzeret the seeker priced at $20. Then again, these prices are before all of the cards have been spoiled and the strength of them in Standard is still yet to be discovered, so we shall see how these prices fluctuate with time.

I will more than likely have my own Guide to Alara by monday or tuesday, with further knowledge into each of the shards for those who like the universe of Magic’s inner workings just as much, if not more than, playing with the cards. Some nice scans and thoughts to come.

With each shard having it’s own personality, which one do you think you will be playing? Which mechanic is the most interesting to you so far?

Bon Voyage,


4 Comments leave one →
  1. notwithstanding permalink
    September 14, 2008 12:14 am

    hello dillon. i am extremely new to the world of magic. i first took an interest in white decks because of an awesome kithkin militia and now while doing more research on shards of alara i find myself being drawn to the blue-ish esper. do you have any other information on esper so i know if i’m choosing the right shard for me?

  2. Dillon permalink*
    September 14, 2008 3:01 pm

    A Kithkin deck is a great beginners tool, but with the way things are looking right now, Esper will most likely be vastly different from the Kithkin militia preconstructed deck. Esper is a plane (a place where planewalkers can venture) where the abundant mana of choice is, blue. Blue mana is spell heavy and are inclined to Wizards, or in Esper’s case, Vedalken who are mages that live above and below a sea called “Sea of the Unknown”. It is an awe inspiring, artifact based plane where they worship Sphinx that they consult about any problem they might have. Humans are also on Esper and they have various forms of magic studies ranging from the control of the sea’s tides to the magical shifting of weather and thoughts.

    If you like all controlling magic, powerful artifact infused mages and knowledgeable flying Sphinx then I’m sure you will enjoy playing Esper. Also, be sure to check back when I have a full article detailing even more!

  3. September 15, 2008 9:24 am

    Dillon – Solid write-up on the Shards set so far !
    Looking forward to reading another summary once the set is fully spoiled.

  4. September 16, 2008 3:51 pm

    I don’t like exalted/devour abilities… but unearth sounds interesting… I don’t also like to see old of some cards such as oblivion ring/naturalize and others… and after all I could have seen there’s nothing so shocking to play Alara but Planeswalkers and two or three creatures… Lands are not “new” to the game… And cast a Three color card is not as easy as we can thing… Maybe Esper brings more emotion to me, though color artifacts are great enough to me…

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