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The Great Aurora

I am rather enjoying the comparative art of Shadowmoor and Lorwyn . . .

"The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it."
Galadriel - Elf Queen of Lothlorien

Darkness fell. The Great Aurora swept across the plane, transforming it into an eerie world of permanent gloom, and wiping away almost all traces of its former nature.

Gilt Leaf Palace / Wooded Bastion

Rustic Clachan / Sunken Ruins

Ancient Amphitheater / Graven Cairns

Auntie's Hovel / Fire-Lit Thicket

Shimmering Grotto / Reflecting Pool

The denizens of the plane have transformed along with it, memories and all, and now only a precious few still remember the name Lorwyn.

Rhys the Exiled / Rhys the Redeemed

Sygg, River Guide / Sygg, River Cutthroat

Wort, Boggart Auntie / Wort, the Raidmother

All others know the world by its new name: Shadowmoor.


Wizards Play Network

Some fairly interesting and important news from WoTC we would like to talk about.

The Wizards Play Network Unfolds - Monday, April 21, 2008

Think Globally, Play Locally - Friday, April 25, 2008

The Summary

At Gama Trade Show in Vegas earlier this week, Wizards discussed with retailers their new Organized Play initiative, the Wizards Play Network, focusing on flexibility and a larger store reach.

The goal is to support more formats than what has normally seen in the past, such as fuller league support and multiplayer options. There will also be more robust digital support for organizers.

In a seminar Wednesday, Jesse Decker (OP Director for Wizards of the Coast) explained the changes and fielded questions and feedback from store owners and retailers. Just how much this works in to the restructuring of the States/Champs program and other changes seen in OP is uncertain, but at a local store level this program will certainly give more options to both organizers and players.

From what I gather, Wizards is working with DCI (The DCI is the worldwide organization that handles tournaments and organized play for Wizards of the Coast ) and local play organisers. The intention is to support players who are a bit more casual as well as give shop owners more flexibility in sanctioned events. What I think this may do is deliver a fair and level playing experience as well as creating more opportunities for players to play especially if they cannot always make an FNM or competitive event.

New assets and resources for retailers will be made available to help support non-tournament formats. These will include tools such as format guidelines for organizing play groups and rewards. The DCI intro kit and DCI tournament support kit will be incorporated into prizes and support within the Wizards Play Network participation kit provided at no cost. This will mean more formats and foily goodness at the local games club.

Not everyone is happy about this new initiative however. Many of the professional players are still rather miffed about WoTC discontinuing the State Championships. They see the shifting of resources to the Wizards Play Network as a detraction of the competetive tournament scene.

I will have to note that WOTC is a business and that the bottom line is the bottom line. Revamping the organised play offerings to attempt to get casual and non-tournament players to consider trying organized events, can only make the game more robust. As for the professional players who may feel left out in the cold, there is still a good number of tournament programs to get involved with such as the City Champs, Regionals, Nationals, World's, Pro-Tour, and Grand Prix.


Shadowmoor Rules Primer 2

Some very good Shadowmoor Rules Primer material was provided by Brandon Bozzi (Creative Coordinator/Associate Developer at Wizards) who walks us through the key mechanics in the new MTG Shadowmoor set.

The material of which I speak of is in the form of 5 short videos for those attention deficit players such as myself. I would like to imagine that Wizards took this instructional video idea from Mike Lopez of Expert Village.

These videos were posted to YouTube on 4/15/2008 and on Wizards today.

1. Hybrid
2. Wither
3. Persist
4. Conspire, and
5. Untap

Throughout the videos, Brandon kindly lets us have a peek at some Shadowmoor cards not yet officially spoiled on Wizards . . .

Power of Fire 1{R}
Enchantment - Aura Common
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature has "{T}: This creature deals 1 damage to target creature or player."

Giantbaiting 2{RG}
Sorcery Common
Put a 4/4 red and green Giant Warrior creature token with haste into play. Remove it from the game at end of turn.

Safehold Elite 1{WG}
Creature - Elf Scout Common

Parapet Watchers 2U
Creature - Kithkin Soldier Common
{WU}: Parapet Watchers gets +0/+1 until end of turn.

Happy and Safe Gaming,
and don't forget to 'burn a trail' to the Prerelease.


Shadowmoor Rules Primer

As promised in the previous post, we have for you the Shadowmoor Rules Primer from Wizards, just in time for this weekend's Prerelease event. The more comprehensive Shadowmoor Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document will be posted on Magic: The Gathering on Monday, April 21, 2008. At this time the Shadowmoor cards will appear in the Gatherer database and the Oracle card reference as well.

Here are some of the highlights from the rules primer.
Returning Mechanic: Hybrid
Hybrid mana symbols represent a cost that can be paid with either of two colors.
Example - Wasp Lancer
If a cost includes more than one hybrid mana symbol, you can choose a different color to pay for each symbol.
If an effect then reduces the cost to play that spell by one or more colored mana, it applies to that spell only if you've chosen a method of paying for it that includes those colors.

New Mechanic: Monocolored Hybrid
Monocolored hybrid mana symbols represent a cost that can be paid in either of two ways.
Example - Beseech the Queen
For example, {2/B} can be paid with either {B} or with two mana of any type.
It is not colorless. For example, Beseech the Queen above is black, even if you spend six red mana to play it.
A card with monocolored hybrid mana symbols in its mana cost has a converted mana cost equal to the highest possible cost it could be played for. Its converted mana cost never changes. For example, Beseech the Queen above has a converted mana cost of 6, even if you spend {B}{B}{B} to play it.

Theme: Color Matters
Many Shadowmoor cards have two separate abilities while they're in play that each check for a certain color. If a card matches both colors, both of those abilities will "work."
Example - Wilt-Leaf Liege
The abilities are separate and cumulative. If another creature you control is both of the listed colors, it will get a total of +2/+2.

Cycles -

Auras Cycle
Each member of a cycle of Auras checks the enchanted creature's colors.
Example - Shield of the Oversoul
If the enchanted creature is both of the listed colors, it will get both bonuses.

Wisps cycle
An effect that changes a permanent's colors overwrites all its old colors unless it specifically says "in addition to its other colors."
Example - Cerulean Wisps (card not spoiled yet)
Cerulean Wisps - {U}- Instant
Target creature becomes blue until end of turn. Untap that creature.
Draw a card.
Changing a permanent's color won't change its text. If you turn Wilt-Leaf Liege blue, it will still affect green creatures and white creatures.

Theme: -1/-1 Counters
The Shadowmoor set contains many cards that deal with -1/-1 counters.
When a creature has a -1/-1 counter placed on it to reduce its toughness to 0 or less, it is directed to the graveyard.
A creature with -1/-1 counters on it may have 0 or less power. If so, it deals no damage in combat.
abilities, such as persist, care whether a creature had -1/-1 counters on it as it left play. If a creature with +1/+1 counters on it receives enough -1/-1 counters to cause it to be destroyed by lethal damage or put into its owner's graveyard for having 0 or less toughness, the game will check its existence just before it leaves play. It still had all those counters on it at that time.

New Symbol: The Untap Symbol
The untap symbol is the analog of the tap symbol. Represented as {Q} in rules documents, it looks like a white J-shaped arrow (with the arrowhead pointing up) on a black circle.
Example - Merrow Wavebreakers
The untap symbol appears only in the costs of activated abilities. It means "Untap this permanent."
If the permanent is already untapped, you can't play its {Q} ability. That's because you can't pay the "Untap this permanent" cost.
The "summoning sickness" rule applies to {Q} - Ignore this rule if the creature also has haste.

Keyword Ability: Conspire
Conspire is an ability that appears on instant and sorcery cards. It lets your creatures team up to create one extra copy of a spell.
Example - Burn Trail
If you choose to pay a conspire cost of a multicolored spell, the two creatures you tap don't need to share a color with each other. Each one just needs to share a color with the spell that has conspire.
You may pay a spell's conspire cost only once. (If a spell has multiple instances of conspire, you may pay each conspire cost only once.)
A copy created with conspire will have a conspire ability itself. However, since that copy wasn't played, its conspire ability won't trigger. You won't get another copy.
The copy you create with conspire is separate from the original spell. If either one of them is countered, the other remains on the stack.

Keyword Ability: Persist
Persist is an ability that can bring a creature back from the dead.
Example - Murderous Redcap
All the Shadowmoor cards with persist are creatures. If one of them somehow stops being a creature while it's in play, persist will still work.
Persist triggers when the permanent is put into a graveyard. Its last known information is used to determine whether it had any -1/-1 counters on it before it left play.
If a token has persist, the ability will trigger when the token is put into a graveyard from play. However, the token can't return to play because it will have ceased to exist.
When a permanent with persist is put into a graveyard and then comes back into play, it becomes a new object and has "summoning sickness."
If a creature with persist and some +1/+1 counters on it receives enough -1/-1 counters to cause it to be destroyed by lethal damage or put into its owner's graveyard for having 0 or less toughness, persist won't trigger, and the card won't return to play. That's because persist checks the creature's existence just before it leaves play, and it still has all those counters on it at that point.

New Keyword Ability: Wither
Wither is an ability that changes the nature of damage dealt to creatures.
Example - Kulrath Knight
Kulrath Knight - (Card not spoiled yet)
{3}{B/R}{B/R} - Creature -- Elemental Knight - 3/3 - Flying
Wither (This deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters.)
Creatures your opponents control with counters on them can't attack or block.
Wither's effect applies to any damage, not just combat damage.
The -1/-1 counters remain on the creature indefinitely. They won't be removed if the creature regenerates or the turn ends.
Since damage from a source with wither is real damage, it follows all the other rules for damage. It can be prevented or redirected. When it's dealt, it will cause lifelink and other similar abilities to trigger.

Cycle: "Hybrid Enhanced" Spells
Some hybrid spells in the Shadowmoor set determine their effects based on whether mana of certain colors was used to pay their costs.
Example - Torrent of Souls (Card not spoiled yet)
{4}{B/R} - Sorcery
Return up to one target creature card from your graveyard to play if {B} was spent to play Torrent of Souls. Creatures target player controls get +2/+0 and gain haste until end of turn if {R} was spent to play Torrent of Souls. (Do both if {B}{R} was spent.)
The spell cares about what mana was spent to pay its total cost, not just what mana was spent to pay the hybrid part of its cost. For example, if you spend four black mana and one red mana to play Torrent of Souls, it will have both of its effects.
When you play the spell, you choose its targets before you pay for it. In the case of Torrent of Souls, you may target a creature card or not (regardless of whether you plan to spend {B}), and you must target a player (regardless of whether you plan to spend {R}).
The spell checks on resolution to see if any mana of the stated colors was spent to pay its cost. If so, it doesn't matter how much mana of that color was spent.

REMEMBER . . . When in doubt, call over a Floor Judge.

If you are heading out to the Prerelease, the best of luck and have fun!


Shadowmoor Tokens

As the Shadowmoor Prerelease events are just around the corner, it can mean only one thing . . . card spoilers are drawing to a conclusion. Even with only a few days left, there are still a good number cards yet to be revealed to us.

As Wizards of the Coast have already revealed the 12 tokens (on April 3rd, and April 10th) for the Shadowmoor set, one may be able to gain a minute margin of insight as to the 'parent' cards which may create them.

For newer players, lets review a moment . . .
A token in MTG is a permanent that is not represented by a card. Typically, but not always, tokens are creatures which are generated by some static or activated ability.

Following, for your enjoyment and casual review are the Shadowmoor tokens and their 'parent' cards both confirmed and unconfirmed.

Din of the Fireherd - 5(BR)(BR)(BR) - Sorcery -
Put a 5/5 black and red Elemental creature token into play. Target opponent sacrifices a creature for each black creature you control, then sacrifices a land for each red creature you control.

Oona, Queen of the Fae - 3(UB)(UB)(UB) - Legendary Creature - Faerie Wizard -
5/5 - Rare
Flying / X(UB): Choose a color. Target player removes the top X cards of his or her library from the game. Put a 1/1 blue and black Faerie Rogue creature token into play for each card of the chosen color removed in this way.

Rhys the Redeemed - (GW) - Legendary Creature - Elf Warrior -
1/1 - Rare
2(GW), T: Put a 1/1 green and white Elf Warrior creature token into play.
4(GW)(GW), T: For each creature token you control, put a token into play thats a copy of that creature.

Apparently, we may have another card which generates a GW Elf token . . .
Mercy Killing - 2(GW) - Instant -
Target creature's controller sacrifices it, then puts X 1/1 green and white Elf tokens into play, where X is that creature's power.

Also, still not officially spoiled is the card which generates a W Kit
Repel Intruders - 3(WU)
Uncommon - Instant
Put two 1/1 white Kithkin Soldier creature tokens into play if W was paid to play Repel Intruders. Counter target creature spell if U was paid to play Repel Intuders.

We also have not seen the official spoiler for the card which generates the Wolf token . .
Howl of the Nightpack - 6G
Sorcery - Uncommon
Put a 2/2 green Wolf creature token into play for each forest you control.

As for the straight green Elf token, this may be the card that generates it . . .
Flourishing Defenses - 4G
Enchantment - Uncommon
Whenever a -1/-1 counter is placed on a creature, you may put a 1/1 green Elf Warrior creature token into play.

Here is a shot the folks on the forums (we know who you are) for the card which is generating those red Elemental tokens . . .
Elemental Blessing - 3R - Enchantment / Aura - Rare
Enchant Creature
Enchanted creature has "T: Put X 1/1 red Elemental-creature tokens with haste into play under your control where X is this creatures power. Remove them from game at end of turn."

As for that Spirit token, here is what the folks are thinking . . .
Spirit Procession - (2/W)(2/W)(2/W)
Sorcery - Uncommon
Put 3(!) 1/1 white Spirit creature tokens with flying into play under your control.

As for the remaining four tokens (Goblin, Giant, Spider & Rat), we are still somewhat in the dark - We could make a wild speculation but that is exactly what it would be then . . .

As soon as I get my pickers 'n' grabbers on the Shadowmoor Rules Primer (hopefully issued before the Prerelease), I will hope to post the summary and perhaps some comments here.

Until then, Happy & Safe Gaming.