Today it’s time to dig deep into Shadows over Innistrad for some of the more intricate interactions in the set. There are so many in this set that I see new ones all the time. Here are some of my favorites:
Neglected Heirloom // Ashmouth Blade
Everyone’s been beaten down by a quick Heirloom that transforms after a turn-2 Logger turn-3 equip, but don’t forget that the Heirloom transforms with the equipped creature regardless of the direction. I haven’t had it come up that often, but I’ve managed to transform my Heirloom with my Werewolf flipping back to its Human side. To set this up, you want to hold your Heirloom for a second spell so you can equip and immediately flip it back as this tends to be more of a late-game play.
Thing in the Ice // Awoken Horror
The first tip is an obvious reminder to look for weird Horrors. Stitched Mangler, Scourge Wolf, and Stitchwing Skaab are all Horrors that are great since they can slot in as one of your few creatures in UR spells, but perhaps the trickiest Horrors to remember are transformed creatures. Aberrant Researcher transforms into a giant flying Horror as Perfected Form, and Thraben Gargoyle sneakily transforms into Stonewing Antagonizer, another Horror. That one is especially nasty to watch out for since your opponent can flip it in response to the Awoken Horror trigger.
Additionally, one of my favorite play sequences with Thing in the Ice is to cast Rise from the Tides as my fourth spell to transform Thing. All the creatures will get bounced and then you get a ton of Zombies. Good luck dealing with that!
Bound by Moonsilver
On the surface, Bound is a premium removal spell, but it also has the upside of being movable, and enables delirium by letting you sacrifice key card types when you move it. Remember, though, that if your opponent only has 1 creature, you can still sacrifice a permanent to “move” the Bound to the same target if you want to sacrifice a permanent. Additionally, you can sometimes move the Bound to your own creature to keep it on the battlefield so that you can move it back to an opposing creature later. This can come up if your opponent has a bunch of 2/2s—one of which has Bound on it—and you want to clear them all with a Biting Rain.
Also, don’t forget that Bound keeps the creature from transforming! I’ve kept an Archangel Avacyn at bay and have been able to go back to trading off creatures normally because of this upside. But perhaps my favorite instance of this is on an opposing Aberrant Researcher when my opponent is getting low on cards in their deck. No matter what gets flipped each turn, they’re going to keep on getting closer to being self-milled out of the game.
Burn from Within
Burn from Within is great, and you know that, but I especially love it with the extra text on Infectious Curse. There are very few ways the cost reduction matters in this set, but this is an important one to remember. An extra damage for free—value!
Sadly, you only get one 1/1 a turn no matter how many lands you flip, but it’s each turn. This means if you can find a way to get a land in the graveyard on an opposing turn that you’ll also get a 1/1 there. The most common way to do this is by cracking your Vessel of Nascency, but I’m also a fan of discarding lands via Call the Bloodline. At that point though, just get the full value and add in a Groundskeeper to live the dream.
Humble the Brute
A common way to “retrick” (answering a trick with your own trick, often for a 2-for-1) in this format is to pump your creature in response to a Puncturing Light. A sweet way to retrick Humble the Brute is by literally going under. Jace’s Scrutiny is pretty great at winning combats, but in UG it can save your big Werewolves from this nasty instant and you even get your Clue while your opponent looks sadly at their fizzled spell. This also works with your own Throttles if you have a huge (but not too huge) monster like Morkrut Necropod.
Elusive Tormentor // Insidious Mist
If your opponent foolishly taps out on turn 4 for their Tormentor and you can’t kill it, but do have Dead Weight, then you’re still in pretty good shape. As a 2/2, you can beat the Tormentor in combat and it will transform into a -2/-1. Similarly, if you can madness out a Biting Rain on a turn the Tormentor flips to kill it, that’s another way to get rid of this obnoxiously hard to kill creature.
Kindly Stranger//Demon-Possessed Witch
Transforming and killing a creature feels pretty great, but why stop there? There are a multitude of ways to bounce your Witch and replay it for some more killing. Even better, Essence Flux sets up the Kindly Stranger again for a lowly 1 mana, and if you’re looking for more in-color ways for incredible value, trade off the Witch and Macabre Waltz it back later. Perhaps my favorite iteration of all this value is with a Nahiri ultimate. Get Kindly Stranger and transform right away, bash for 4, and bounce it end of turn to do it all again next turn. Unlikely? Yes. Sweet? Undoubtedly.
I’ve had hope a few times when my opponent played their Demon and then had creature, land, and sorcery as the only types in their graveyard. Then with the 4 damage trigger on the stack next upkeep I’m met with an instant that grants my opponent delirium, at which point my hopes of winning a race are suddenly dashed. You could be the next person to pull off this nice timing trick!
Startled Awake//Persistent Nightmare
Pretty much any time you manage to cast Startled Awake twice you’re going to win, but connecting with the Persistent Nightmare can be tough against certain decks, especially those with some Sanitarium Skeletons lying around on the battlefield. Luckily, as a blue mage you can skirt the necessity to deal damage by bouncing your Persistent Nightmare and getting it into your hand to mill the final 13 cards.
Ever After and Seasons Past
You’d think that the bottoming clause on these 2 cards is just a nice flavor win in Limited, but it can actually set up a looping engine where you can self-mill your whole deck then cast these cards on repeat until you win. That sounds nice, but what happens if you simply mill these cards and that plan no longer works? The secret is an Epitaph Golem and access to a Macabre Waltz or two to help build redundancy into the plan. At that point, either draw Golem or Waltz it back when you mill your marquee spell, and even if the Golem dies, you can get it back with either card and be able to recast anything in your graveyard until your opponent loses to the loop of your choice.