Draft Analysis – Shadow

We’re coming into the home stretch! Check out my analysis of Justice here along with the rest of the Eternal draft ratings I’ve done!

Amethyst Acolyte – 3

There are a lot of X/1s in Eternal limited – like, for instance, all of the Acolytes… – and it’s rare you won’t be able to kill something with this card’s trigger. Even if you don’t kill something, you can hobble it, making the ability useful at just about any point in the game.

Amethyst Monument – 3

Amethyst Monument is the second worst of the cycle, although I still rate it a fair amount higher than Granite Monument. I’d play this in all but the most tempo-focused decks.

Annihilate – 4.5

Annihilate kills probably 80% of the creatures that you’ll likely play against in Eternal limited, making it one of the most efficient answers you can pull. It doesn’t hit everything though, which is a not immaterial drawback, but it is a fast spell which is a huge plus.

Argenport Instigator – 3.5

A 3/3 for 2 is really solid, and since its ability is symmetrical you’re just as likely to be able to capitalize on it as your opponent. Still, don’t go crazy thinking it’s insane simply because of its rarity and constructed viability. It’s only slightly more beefy than a Bold Adventurer or Argenport Soldier.

Argenport Ringmaster – 3.5

Connecting with Argenport Ringmaster should be game over like 90% of the time. That said, he has no evasion and the faction that can give him evasion, Feln, doesn’t really want to play a slow 6-drop in the first place. In keeping with trying to rate things more objectively, I’ll note that I, personally, rate him about a 2.5.

Ashara, the Deadshot – 3.5

If your opponent doesn’t have removal, Ashara is going to ruin their day turn after turn. Six attack is no joke, and there’s just about no way to remove her through blocking.

Azindel’s Gift – .5

Way too slow. Presumably at 7 mana your opponent has already played their relevant cards and this really only ensures they won’t have tricks on on your turn.

Back-Alley Bouncer – .5

I’d never ever play a 4-mana 4/3 if I had the choice, but sometimes you just have to add a unit to your deck. Compare this to Ravenous Thornbeast and it’s obvious as to why its vastly underpowered for its cost.

Beastcaller’s Amulet – 1 to 4.5

If you have a few two-powered flyers, even mediocre ones like Scavenging Vulture, Beastcaller’s Amulet can put a game away as early as turn 3. If you don’t have any way to capitalize on the Infiltrate however, this is a 3-mana do-nothing.

Blackguard Sidearm – 2.5

I have a huge soft spot for Blackguard Sidearm. It makes any creature a potent attacker, and on some specific units like Xenan Destroyer or Lethrai Ranger, it can just win the game if your opponent doesn’t have any removal.

Blood Beetle – 2

Blood Beetle has the unfortunate distinction of being insane on the play and really awkward on the draw. If you knew whether or not you were playing first, it would go a long way towards informing you of its strength. I’m a man who likes to live life on the edge though, so I often include it.

Cabal Countess – 3.5

A 6/1 with Quickdraw is pretty powerful. Unfortunately you have to invest 7 mana (albeit over two turns) to get there. Still, I’d probably be pretty happy to pick this up, as even a 4/1 Ambush unit is likely to be powerful as it is.

Cabal Cutthroat – 2

Decidedly worse than Xenan Destroyer surprisingly. A 2/2 is just not very durable in a world where every deck is playing Strangers, so generally you’re going to see this trade early and that’s about it.

Cabal Recruiter – 1.5

I personally never play this card as a 1/4 doesn’t normally work in either the Stonescar or Feln decks that I try and draft. Recruiter’s effect can be powerful, but it can just as easily be mediocre. It would probably be okay if sideboards existed because you could bring it in against Rakano decks with Warcry, but as it is you have to jump through too many hoops for an unreliable payoff.

Dark Return – 3.5

Dark Return is one of those cards that’s just way better in practice than it seems on the surface. Late game, you get whatever your best threat has been that you’ve drawn thus far. Early game, you can convert it to redeploy a fallen two-drop or whatever. It lets you double down on Infiltrate, works with Echo, the works. I actually splash this card in Elysian decks frequently.

Dark Wisp – 2

Dark Wisp is a fine card; at the very least it will replace itself. It’s not very aggressive though, which is how I think both Feln and Stonescar have to be drafted in order to be successful. A solid filler card regardless.

Deathstrike – 5

Now this is removal! A 5 rating might be too high, but this literally deals with anything and is a fast spell. What’s not to love!

Desperado – 3.5

Desperado’s value is entirely dependent on the ways you have to give it evasion. Have a fair number of Cobalt Acolytes, Levitates, Cloaks, Flash Freezes or even something like Morningstar or Rampage? He should be an all-star. At the very least, his mere presence forces your opponent to pump the breaks.

Devour – 2

Rather deck dependent. If you have a bunch of tokens or Madnesses or Haunting Screams or Stonescar Magi, this can be a great “trick.” If not, you’ll likely be able to convert it at some point by sacrificing a creature that’s dying imminently. Just be aware that you won’t always be able to cash it in whenever you want depending on the board state.

Direfang Spider – 2

Direfang Spider is a solid enough one-drop. It’s likely to trade with a ground unit if the opponent doesn’t have a way to remove it. The trade off is that it’s not a very effective attacker, can’t kill fliers, and is fairly susceptible to removal. I’m usually fine with playing one, but wouldn’t want to play too many more.

 

Direwood Beastcaller – 4.5

Direwood Beastcaller’s Infiltrate bonus is probably the strongest thing you can do in limited as it can flat out end a game if it connects on turn 4. For that reason, I tend to prefer it in Feln as they have better options to ensure a hit, like Levitate or Flash Freeze. Beastcaller is fragile and it needs some help to really work, sure, but its power is so over-the-top that I’m willing to forgive it for that.

Direwood Rampager – .5

A really miserable vanilla creature. I’d have to be really hurting for units to play this.

Execute – 4.5

Execute is powerful. It’s relatively cheap, kills most things, and has a fairly relevant additional piece of text. I’ve killed a few weapons, not to mention players, with the extra two damage. Not being able to use it on the offensive or to (usually) kill units with Endurance is a frustrating for sure, but Execute is such a strong spell despite those shortcomings that I still rate it incredibly highly.

Ghostform – .5

I rarely ever want a Ghostform in my deck. It’s card disadvantage with only a marginal benefit. Unless I had a card I was really trying to get through (like Direwood Beastcaller) without many other means, I would be really hard pressed to run this.

Grasping at Shadows – 1.5

On the plus side, Grasping at Shadows acts as the best unit you have cast this game that’s died. In that sense, it has a lot of power via its flexibility. On the bad side, how often is that unit that you’re returning going to be worth 5 mana? Also, what about when you don’t have a good unit in the void? Overall, I’d rather just cast a regular ol’ unit unless I had, like, a few really solid bombs that I wanted to reanimate. Note: this is substantially worse than Dark Return because the latter both provides a stat boost, works with units that have Echo, and is more flexible, mana-wise.

Horsesnatcher Bat – (Me) – 1.5 (Apparently everyone else) – 3.5

There are a few cards in Eternal limited where people (read: me) have vastly different evaluations than the public at large. Other folks see Horsesnatcher Bat as a solid finisher, being able to attack unimpeded through the opponent’s defenses, taking huge chunks of life out in the process. I see Horsesnatcher Bat as clunky and expensive. I’m not usually looking for 6 drops in my Shadow decks, so take my rating with that in mind.

Impending Doom – 5

Impending Doom is huge. It’s a 5/5 flyer for 4. That’s insanely large. Unless you opponent has removal, they are dead very, very quickly. The drawback is not immaterial, but it is negligible compared to the boost in stats.

Knifejack – 2

In a normal draft format, I wouldn’t think of Knifejack that highly. Indeed, in one of my first videos, I express this exact opinion. I’ve since come around a bit. Both Shadow factions – Feln and Stonescar – tend to to do the best when they’re aggressive, making the one-mana 2/2 not an unreasonable pick even with its obnoxious draw back. This gets better the more aggressive your deck is.

Lethrai Nightblade – 2

I tend to like Lethrai Nightblade a fair bit more in Stonescar. There are quite a few weapons that can make the unblockable unit quite the quick clock, Ornate Katana being the most ubiquitous of the bunch. I’m never unhappy to play Nightblade, and it’s slowly growing on me.

Lethrai Ranger – 4.5

Lethrai Ranger is the marquee card for Feln and the tempo setter for the format. If you play a Ranger on turn 2 going first, your opponent needs to find an answer or a 2-power blocker quick lest they rapidly lose tempo. If they don’t even have a two-drop and you’re able to develop your board further, they’ve probably lost. I’m probably overstating Lethrai Ranger’s power, but it feels like it wins a lot of games for me.

Lifedrinker – 2

Lifedrinker is a removal spell for low-cost creatures and that’s about it. In a vacuum it’s not that bad, but there are plenty of other removal options for Shadow that are better.

Lurking Sanguar – 2

I don’t have a high regard for high-cost units that have 2 health. It’s just such an awkward threshold for a format with ubiquitous 2/2s and the additional two attack this has over Cabal Cutthoat isn’t really worth the three additional mana. All this said, if your deck is able to consistently cast this for free, it’s probably pretty solid. Finally, this card is exceptional with Blackguard Sidearm.

Madness – 3

Madness is one of the most important cards for the sacrifice-themed Stonescar decks. Not only does it have awesome synergies there, it’s just a generally good card for most aggressive decks as it completely change the dynamics of combat. I probably wouldn’t more than one unless I had a few Devours, Combusts, or other ways to remove the stolen unit.

Merciless Stranger – 1.5

I’m really only interested in this guy in a dedicated Stranger deck. Outside of that, it’s ok. A 3/3 with Deadly will trade with something, and in another format it might be a solid playable, but I’m generally not looking for these types of controlling cards when I’m in Shadow. Other folks might rate this higher.

Oblivion Spike – 3

Sometimes Oblivion Spike will awkwardly sit in your hand, as none of your stupid units have bothered to die yet. Sometimes Oblivion Spike will be an insane late-game top deck and take over a game. More often than not I’d consider it about the same as a Mithril Mace, but one that can be occasionally slightly worse and occasionally significantly better.

Pilfer – 1

Pilfer is not really a good card although, technically speaking, it’s not card disadvantage. Its effect is just really random which leads me (and others) to not want to play it terribly often. It would be a better sideboard card if that was a thing in limited, as it can really hose a deck with a lot of Warcry units. Ultimately, I’ll play it over “worse” cards with the understanding that it will oftentimes whiff.

Plague – 4

Plague can be a very strong removal option, especially if you’re savvy with your attack step. I’m almost always happy to play one or two as it can be devastating against the right deck, but there will be times when your opponent will have just a few sizeable bodies where a more localized removal spell would be better. Still, an all-around great Shadow card.

Rapid Shot – 3.5

Rapid Shot is another reason why I see this draft format, and Shadow in particular, as faster and more tempo-driven than it otherwise might. For a single mana you can essentially win any trade in combat if you’re attacking. It also has an incredible damage-to-cost ratio if you’re just looking to deal damage to the opponent. Like Finest Hour, your pauses might give away your trick (since it’ll show if you even have a single mana unused). If you’re on an aggressive deck, Rapid Shot is an awesome inclusion.

Ravenous Thornbeast – 3.5

If you’re in the sacrifice-themed Stonescar deck, Ravenous Thornbeast most likely has a much higher rating. Even if you aren’t, it’s still a 3/3 for 3 which is a pretty solid body for its cost. You’ll also occasionally be in a position to sacrifice something regardless–if your opponent Permafrosts another unit for example–making this a solid pickup.

Sabotage – 1.5

I’m not really keen about playing Sabotage in limited. You’ll whiff much more often that is acceptable, and those times when you do hit you’ll be getting a 1-for-1 trade, and it’s not even one your opponent had to spend mana on. It’s not the worst card to include though, so if you’re hurting for playables don’t count it out.

Scavenging Vulture – 2.5

Scavenging Vulture is a 2-mana flyer in Shadow that often has two power. It’s not the best unit in the world, but it fills a nice point in the curve of most decks and is much needed evasion, even if it is a bit fragile.

Scheme – .5

I don’t really like Scheme at all in limited. Unless your deck has some incredible cards, the minor filtering ability really isn’t worth the mana, especially since it’s not card advantage.

Shadowlands Guide – 3

If your deck doesn’t have any 1-drops, Shadowlands Guide isn’t really great at all. If you have a few, it can be rather powerful, especially if you’re getting solid units like Twilight Raptor, Blood Beetle, or Pyroknight back. This is one of those cards whose value fluctuates wildly throughout the drafting process. If I’m near the beginning, I might value him higher and draft with him in mind. If I’m near the end and I have few one-drops, I’ll probably avoid him.

Slumbering Stone – 3.5

If you’re in the Stonescar sac deck, Slumbering Stone is incredible. Playing it on turn one and curving into a Ravenous Thornbeast is extremely powerful. Even when you aren’t, I’m always happy to play these guys as they provide a nice chump blocker while also netting you a solid flyer in the process.

Soul Collector – 2

I’ve seen Soul Collector do some very powerful things in draft, but more often than not it just tends to be rather mediocre. It’s often just too slow I’ve found.

Spirit Drain – 2

Even though Spirit Drain is removal, I don’t often play it. It’s expensive and doesn’t even kill a lot of things that need killing. For such a high cost, I’d expect it to do more, and the meager lifegain just doesn’t justify it.

Sporefolk – .5

I can think of few decks where I’d ever want to play Sporefolk. Its stats are terrible, and unless you have some sort of synergy in your deck, his ability is actively detrimental due to decking being a real possibility in draft.

Steward of the Past – 4.5

Steward of the Past is very, very powerful. It’s sizeable for its cost, has Deadly – making it both a great attacker and blocker – and its ability is occasionally extremely useful. It should probably be a 5, but I hesitated since it doesn’t provide an actual benefit in terms of card advantage and doesn’t end the game in a hurry like Sandstorm Titan or Impending Doom can.

Stonescar Magus – 2.5

I always think Stonescar Magus will be a lot better than he is when I draft him. Still, he can help neuter an otherwise troublesome threat, which can be especially impactful if you can do it as a surprise mid-combat via Devour.

Subvert – 3

I really like Subvert. Like, a lot. It’s slow and occasionally worthless (e.g. when both players are top decking), but there are times when you can catch your opponent with only a single card in hand, nabbing their bomb/removal spell that they’ve been sandbagging. It is usually card advantage, but be advised that you can’t always plan what you get.

Suffocate – 2.5

I have become disillusioned with Suffocate. While it’s extremely efficient at what it does, too many times I’ve died to a random creature I can’t target. I’ll almost always include one in my deck, but it’s one of the removal spells that I don’t mind cutting if I have an abundance of reactive spells.

The Last Word – 1

The Last Word costs a ton and is extremely fragile. That said, it’s also extremely powerful, usually killing an opponent’s best creature and threatening to pick off more. I probably wouldn’t play it in most Shadow deck despite its power simply based on its high cost.

The Witching Hour – 0

I love The Witching Hour so it pains me to give this a 0 rating. It’s just way too hard to pull off in draft though.

Torrent of Spiders – 2.5

If you can get 2 or more spiders, this is probably worth it. Generally I’d be surprised if you got more than 3.

Touch of the Umbren – 2

I’ve played Touch of the Umbren in draft before and it was always a disappointment as I was usually never able to cast it in a timely manner. That said, it’s still a powerful card if you’re able to steal your opponent’s best creature. That sort of stuff goes a long way toward winning.

Umbren Reaper – 4

Umbren Reaper is incredibly potent although it is fragile, incredibly susceptible to silence, and influence-heavy which are the main things holding it back from greatness.

Vara, Fate-Touched – 3

Probably the second best Scion. Even getting something mediocre back with Vara is huge, and if you’re able to get even more value beyond that you’re likely going to win. Still, 8-mana is a lot, so I usually hesitate playing it myself (as I tend to draft more aggressive decks if I’m in Shadow).

Venomfang Dagger – 1

Venomfang Dagger combos with Stormcaller and creatures with Quickdraw, so if you have a fair number of those in your deck you might want to take it higher. Otherwise, it’s fairly lackluster and often ends ups resulting in a 2-for-1 for your opponent without any sort of payoff on your end.

Venomspine Hydra – 4

Venomspine Hydra is large, thereby demanding an answer from the opponent. Fortunately, it comes with built in insurance if they succeed. I don’t usually rate 7-drops this highly, but I’ve seen this guy be insane.

Whispers in the Void – 1.5

If you’re a slow, controlling, heavy Shadow deck, then by all means play this. If you’re not, you may have trouble converting the value into victory, if you can even cast it in the first place.

Xenan Destroyer – 3

I’m a pretty big fan of Xenan Destroyer. It’s a 3/3 body paired with Lifesteal which is great at racing your opponent. Having Reckless does lead to problems sometimes, but that’s the price you pay for a minion with solid stats and ability for 3 mana.

Wrap up

We’re nearing the end, as that’s it for the colors! Join me in my final piece where I’ll tackle the multicolored, power, and influence-less cards!

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