Last weekend I played Shadows over Innistrad Limited in Grand Prix Albuquerque. Unfortunately, I managed 2 unintentional draws on Day 1, but I was lucky enough to guarantee myself a Day 2 slot with—you guessed it—a third (albeit intentional) draw, ending the day at a somewhat ridiculous 5-1-3. Thankfully this was still 18 points, or a virtual 6-3 finish. On Day 2, however, all was right in the world as I went 2-1 and 3-0 in my draft pods, netting me a 69th place finish and 2 Pro Points. But more importantly, one step closer to Gold and Rookie of the Year!

All that said, I’ve learned a few things since I started playing this format. Namely, there are certain uncommons that can not only take over a game if left unchecked, but can also define decks and strategies. Today I’m going to go over my Top 8 uncommons that fit into this category. Keep in mind, however, that this isn’t a list of the Top 8 best Limited uncommons from Shadows over Innistrad—that’s why you aren’t going to find things like Kindly Stranger here.

8. Veteran Cathar

In the Human deck, this card makes combat virtually impossible to win for your opponent. You’ll notice this is going to be a trend on this list. There are a lot of cards in this format that can either lead to absolute bloodbaths, or simply make it impossible to block—they’re all pretty tribal. The fact that this guy is a 2/2 for 2 mana and also gets all the Human perks the format offers is just an added bonus.

7. Stensia Masquerade

The first time I saw this card, I thought it only gave Vampires the first strike bonus. I did not win that game. The fact that this has madness, allowing you to use it as a combat trick, is just huge, but even if you cast it during your main phase you’re still hard-pressed to lose combat. While the +1/+1 bonus to Vampires is nice, don’t think that having an army of Vampires is required for this card to be an absolute blowout in combat.

6. Ulrich’s Kindred

Like Veteran Cathar, Ulrich’s Kindred is an incredible addition to his tribe. Something to note is that, unlike a lot of similar abilities, Ulrich’s Kindred can indeed target itself with its ability—this is more and more uncommon nowadays. The fact that it has trample is just such a crazy bonus on a creature with this ability. If you’re on the offense, Ulrich’s Kindred is another creature that makes combat simply unbearable (unwolfable?) for the opponent.

5. Duskwatch Recruiter

This is another 2/2 for 2 mana that essentially lets you draw your creatures with all your extra mana. This isn’t the last time you’re going to see a green card providing a good deal of card advantage in this list, though this is one of the more impressive ones in the set. Meanwhile, his back side is a very reasonable 3/3 with another efficient ability that allows you to skimp on creature costs.

4. Howlpack Resurgence

If you’re drafting the Werewolf deck, don’t pass this card. I had 4 of these in my second draft on Day 2. I could only play 2 of them because I needed room for more creatures, but your opponents usually have no favorable blocks when you have one of these in hand. Again, it can be played at instant speed, much like Stensia Masquerade, but you don’t need a madness outlet to enable it. This is also great for allowing your Werewolves to flip. Once you get to the late game and your 5/6 One of the Pack is now a 6/7 trampler, you’ll get why this card is so good.

3. Graf Mole

Aside from having an amazing rate as a huge 2/4 for 3 mana, this card pairs incredibly well with any deck that is able to generate Clues in any reasonable (or unreasonable) number, much like the #1 and #2 cards on this list. At the prerelease, my opponent had 2 Graf Moles and a Tamiyo’s Journal. Needless to say, I wasn’t winning any game where he was drawing 2 cards and gaining 6 life a turn. Even on a smaller scale, sacrificing something like 3 Clues still equals an extra 9 life over the course of a game, which is huge.

2. Ongoing Investigation

The only problem with Ongoing Investigation is that it’s blue, which isn’t a very popular color in SOI draft. Other than that, this card is an engine in and of itself. If you’re able to get through with at least 1 unblocked creature each turn, you’re basically drawing 2 cards a turn. The thing is, when I first played this card, I didn’t realize the activated ability also let you investigate… and I was still miles ahead just from the damage-based investigate trigger and the 2 life ability. If you can build around this card, do it.

1. Ulvenwald Mysteries

Is this the best uncommon in the set? As I mentioned in the beginning, no, I don’t think so, but this card leads to such a huge advantage in so many games. Despite the 2 mana investment of Clues, it allows you to draw a card and put a 1/1 into play every time one of your creatures die. In my experience, this card allows players to survive numerous turns past what they should be allowed to. This card is crazy and only marginally better than Ongoing Investigation, which also provides a similar advantage.

One thing you probably noticed is that there are essentially 7 green cards on the list. That’s not a mistake. Green is incredibly deep and powerful in this format—there’s no getting around it. While cards like Ongoing Investigation and Ulrich’s Kindred aren’t really green, they basically are. Again, looking at a card like Kindly Stranger, it may be one of the best uncommons in Limited, but it doesn’t affect the board anywhere near as much as I have found the cards in this list to do. These all basically force your opponent to play a little bit differently when they’re in play, lest they fall far behind in the attrition war.

Thanks for reading and I’ll catch you guys next week!