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Shards of Alara Review Part 2 September 26, 2008

Posted by James in : all, reviews, previews, strategy, tips, standard, extended , trackback

In this installment I will review Shards of Alara with the constructed tournaments formats (standard and extended) in mind. (I plan on reviewing Shards of Alara with “Shards of Alara block” in mind later.) I will take a look at five cards from Shards of Alara that might have significance in the constructed formats. Keep in mind that I am much more interested in limited tournaments (booster draft in particular), so my opinion concerning constructed will be less reliable than usual.

Standard (Type 2)

Shards of Alara is not a huge powerhouse. Don’t expect a lot of cards to be used in your current constructed deck, and don’t expect a whole lot of new tournament winning decks to be based on Shards of Alara. The Elves and Faeries in the set won’t help and Lorwyn will continue to dominate standard. (In fact, this is a set that appears to be primarily designed with Timmy in mind: lots of giant monsters, and they are too mana intensive to be tournament worthy.) However, there are some cards worth taking a look at.

Cruel Ultimatum

cruel ultimatum

This is my favorite card from the new set, but I don’t think I want anyone to play it on me. We already have a deck that plays tons of vivid lands and reflecting pool that can play this card: Quick’n'toast. This card has 6 abilities and can give you a card advantage of 8 cards. (You draw 3, the opponent discards 3, the opponent sacrifices a creature, and you get a card back from your graveyard.)

Wooly Thoctar

woolly thoctar

Just like Doran had significance in Standard, I expect that Wooly Thoctar will as well. It is an “almost Doran.” It’s lower toughness makes it more vulnerable, but it is still a threat by the third turn.

Ethersworn Canonist

ethersworn canonist

Ethersworn Canonist is one of the best white weenie creatures made in a while, and I could use it in my legacy white weenie deck. It tells the opponent that they probably won’t be able to play more than one creature each turn. The way around it is to play instants and play cards during the opponents turn, or to play artifacts. (In legacy you can also play Aether Vial to play extra creatures when this is in play.)


Shards of Alara appears even more powerful when considering Extended. Why? It helps affinity decks! Consider the following cards:

Salvage Titan

salvage titan

Salvage titan can be easily played by the first turn in an affinity deck. Play one 0 casting cost artifact, an artifact land, tap the artifact land for a one casting cost artifact. Now you can sacrifice all your artifacts for this card.

Master of Etherium

master of etherium

Master of Etherium is guaranteed to be a 4/4 by the time you play it in an affinity deck. You play three artifact lands, then play this. You’ll probably actually have 7 or 8 artifacts out by the time you play this. As a bonus it makes your frogmites and ornithopters bigger.

Some card images have been made publicly available via a scanned box as seen here.

I will review Shards of Alara while considering Shards of Alara block tournaments next Tuesday.

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1. Recoculous.com: Magic the Gathering Articles » Shards of Alara Review Part 1 - September 29, 2008

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