Following last week’s Weekly MTG Livestream, players were left somewhat baffled by the near complete absence of spoilers. Despite Shadows over Innistrad Remastered launching in two weeks, at the time of the livestream, Wizards was being bizarrely coy. Across social media, YouTube, and Wizards website, there was nary a peep beyond a few tantalizing MTG reprints. As you can imagine, this left many MTG players wondering where on Earth all the spoilers were. After all, throughout recent years, players have been inundated with non-stop spoilers, so why stop now!
Thankfully, after almost a full week of being flummoxed by the lack of spoilers, Wizards has finally made things right. Dumping a vast number of reprints within the latest MTG Arena Announcements post, players finally now know what’s going on. With dozens of awesome reprints being announced to bolster Historic and Pioneer, players certainly have a lot to get excited about. Even with these reprints, however, the timing of this announcement may still see Shadows over Innistrad Remastered being completely overshadowed.
Shadows of the Past
During last week’s Weekly MTG Livestream, Wizards revealed Shadows over Innistrad Remastered Limited events would be rather unusual. Unlike a regular set which is released and left for players to solve, Shadows over Innistrad Remastered events would be rotating every week. Swapping in and out cards from the Shadows of the Past bonus sheet, Wizards promised a Draft experience that stayed fresh and interesting. This is despite the set being primarily comprised of seven-year-old cards.
A week after this initial announcement, Wizards has finally revealed what’s going on by divulging the Limited format’s rotation schedule. Across four weeks, Wizards will cycle in and out reprints from the original Innistrad block in batches of around 20 cards. While it’s unclear how much impact these reprints will have each week, there’s nevertheless a lot to be excited about.
Alongside Snapcaster Mage, the Shadows of the Past bonus sheet has plenty of bombs to spice up events. For better or worse, however, Limited is likely going to be the only place many of these cards are relevant. Both Balefire Dragon and Avacyn, Angel of Hope for instance, are devastating threats in Limited that aren’t much use elsewhere. Thankfully, some reprints, such as Griselbrand and Séance, are still worth getting excited about.
Supplementing the Limited bombs, the Shadows of the Past bonus sheet contains fair few powerful Spirit tribal cards. Between Drogskol Captain, Geist of Saint Traft, and Battleground Geist, there’s a lot to enjoy. As with many Shadows of the Past cards, these Spirit cards don’t see extensive play in competitive formats. That being said, these cards should nevertheless be a lot of fun for avid Historic Brawl players.
A Surprise to Be Sure, but a Welcome One
By reprinting classic Innistrad cards, the Shadows of the Past bonus sheet has understandably captured the attention of many players. While these reprints are nice, they’re hardly the main draw of Shadows over Innistrad Remastered for MTG Arena players, however. That, instead, is the swathes of Pioneer playable cards that have been promised to players time and time again. While Explorer still has a ways to go before being one-to-one with Pioneer on MTG Arena, these reprints will help bridge the gap. So much so that following the set’s launch, 95% of cards from Pro Tour ONE will be in Explorer.
Obviously, this high percentage is great news for Pioneer fans looking to play their favorite format on MTG Arena. By not being 100%, however, many MTG players have been left wondering about the fate of an understandably troublesome card. Thanks to their ability to take control of your opponent’s next turn, many players assumed Emrakul, the Promised End, would never come to MTG Arena. Surprisingly, however, Wizards of the Coast has recently confirmed they’ve done the seemingly impossible. Emrakul, the Promised End is coming to MTG Arena!
Frequently seeing play within the Gruul Ramp and Green Devotion decks Emrakul, the Promised End is a surprisingly popular Pioneer card. Costing 13 mana, playing this Eldrazi titan is obviously not easy, however, once in play, the game is effectively over. Even though they’re not the most played Pioneer card, Emrakul’s inclusion within Shadows over Innistrad Remastered is undeniably important. As more than anything, it shows Wizards’ dedication to Explorer and the path to Pioneer. It would have been straightforward, after all, to kick the problem down the road and exclude their problematic mechanic from the set.
Unfortunately, as exciting and important as Shadows over Innistrad Remastered may be, the set may be doomed to fail. This isn’t due to any lack of powerful MTG reprints, but instead, the time it is launching. Surrounded by previews for The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, and March of the Machine’s release ramping up, Shadows over Innistrad Remastered is falling by the wayside. Considering the set is a reprint comprised MTG Arena exclusive set, this may not be the end of the world. Nevertheless, it seems like an odd decision from Wizards to practically bury this potentially lucrative set beneath other sets.
Sadly, despite Wizards’ recent experimentations with spoiler seasons, it appears this frustrating issue won’t be going away any time soon. This is due to MTG sellers and Local Game Stores needing a pre-beat to gauge interest in the upcoming set. Since this information would almost definitely be leaked if given out in private, MTG players get to join in too. This creates the First Look previews for sets, which typically happen multiple months before each set’s release. While these First Looks may crowd an already busy release calendar, there’s nevertheless plenty to look forward to. Especially with the upcoming Tales of Middle-earth preview, which already looks amazing.