Age of Ascension Set Review: Shadows CotA Reprints 6 of 7
Shadows, the most dominate house from CotA. while a statement like “most dominate” sounds like it could be very controversial, I believe there are very few that will argue for any other house as a whole from top to bottom that can really compare to Shadows. Sure, some combos in other house combinations can be very powerful, but none have the raw card power of Shadows. Bait and Switch is gone, so will Shadows have what it takes to stay near the top, or has this group of thief’s day in the light come and gone.
Bad Penny – Returns to your hand when destroyed. I’m sure there will be combos with it where you are fine with sacrificing the Penny just to reuse it. However, beware that Bad Penny can clog your hand and needs to be discarded when appropriate. Sealed 1-3, Archon .05-3
Miasma – This card is rarely dead. Classic shadows card to stall your opponent. In addition, they now have to consider slowing down by a turn or try to stay ahead and generate more aember. If they produce more aember, that’s when you hit them with something like Too Much to Protect, stealing all but six aember. By the way, both cards for this combo are back! Sealed 5, Archon 4
Nerve Blast – Isn’t as good as Relentless Whispers since your opponent has to steal in order to deal two damage. Although, I usually prefer a couple Nerve Blasts in my deck than two Routine Jobs. The tempo gain and ability to take out pesky static creatures makes this top tier. Sealed 4, Archon 3.5
Umbra – Another card that benefits from being in the right house. It is literally Bat Drone but in Shadows. Arguably the worst creature in house Shadows from CotA. Bat Drone, however, is no where near the worst in Logos because Logos has fewer ways to control aember. Sealed 3, Archon 2.5
Duskrunner – So for an upgrade it’s above average. Being able to play and use this on a ready friendly creature in the same turn is solid for key control. The fact that you have to have a friendly ready creature to get use out of most upgrades makes them too situational for me and I would rather just have Urchin or even Umbra in this slot. Sealed 1, Archon .5
Hidden Stash – My Favorite card overall. It’s got great game play flexibility in Shadows. It’s flavor text is second only to Too Much to Protect. This card is just A+ all around, its raw power level is a little low but you combo it with cards like Bait and Switch which I’m sad to see leave it gets even better. Sealed 4, Archon 4
Lights Out – The tempo swings a card like this can create are amazing. It gets through Taunt and Shadowself’s ability. You have the versatility of bouncing the taunt guy and then fighting the static creature or you can bounce the static creature to buy your self a turn. With Deploy cards coming out, this card might be less valuable as your opponent can put those creatures anywhere in their battleline rather than just on the flanks. Bouncing creatures from different houses can really set your opponent back as well.
Oubliette – One of the better pin point removal cards from CotA so I’m happy to see it back. Being able to hit and purge Time Traveler can be huge! This card also hits lots of the other static ability creatures which can really change a game. Getting through taunt and shadow self make it one of the better targeted removal spells in CotA and it should do well in AoA. Sealed 4, Archon 3.5
Skeleton Key – I have heard some people saying they really like this card, but its been quite underwhelming for me. Since you have to wait a turn to use it and most of the time your opponent is gonna get that aember back eventually. It feels a bit pointless and is only a delay tactic which doesn’t lead to winning lines. It can take them off aember for a key on a big turn, but it tends to be more situational than most. Sealed 2, Archon 1
Special Delivery – The new Deploy mechanic in AoA stands to make this card much less effective. Although, it is still playable as it nets you an aember and is Omni allowing you to use it in any house. You can fight off a creatures to set up the one you want on the flank for an explosive package. Sealed 4, Archon 3
Subtle Maul – This card is one of the more frustrating cards to see on your opponents side of the battlefield. It’s action effect forces your opponent to discard random card from their hand. I’m personally not a fan of random actions as they tend to be less than consistent but this is one that can be really back breaking. Especially if it comes down early. Sometimes just the threat of Subtle Maul will make your opponent play differently. Your opponent may feel rushed to play their better cards earlier than they planned in order to get some value rather than none. Sealed 4, Archon 3.5
Too Much to Protect – Not quite as good as Bait and Switch in a vacuum, but can be better than Bait and Switch in the right situations. If you have ways to consistently capture or push up the key cost of your opponent, forcing them to go over or never make a key, this card’s value grows. Since this card isn’t limited to one like Bait and Switch, two can be really nasty. Sealed 3, Archon 3.5
Bulleteye – Top Tier! This card can control a board all on by itself. I love this card every time I play it. It’s reap ability destroys a flank creature. Elusive makes it hard to kill unless your opponent can flood the board or use a pin point removal. This is the type of card that will change the way they approach committing to the board and I like putting them in that situation. Sealed 5, Archon 4
Customs Office – Slows down artifact decks but in the long run doesn’t really stop them. Forces your opponent to pay you one aember in order to play an artifact. Can be annoying but doesn’t do enough for me to want it in a deck. Sealed .5, Archon 0
Deipno Spymaster – Omni on a creature is something I can get behind that. It’s not as good as Mack the Knife which we will get to in a few, however, it allows you to use a friendly off house creature. A solid effect. Sealed 3.5, Archon 3
Key of Darkness – The worst key cheat card in CotA. With shadows losing a lot of its steal, I don’t imagine this got any better. During CotA I would strait pass on any deck with this in it. Maybe that is a strong prejudice, however, it’s near impossible to get this card to work. Sealed 0, Archon .5
Longfused Mines – Since it has to sit in play for a turn before you can use it, its not quite as good. Giving your opponents a full turn to respond and situate the battle line how they like forces the opponents to play around it but not in away that is always good for us. It does have omni and does make an amber so it’s not the worst, but deploy will give you opponents even more wiggle room so I’m expecting it to drop some in playability. Sealed 3.5, Archon 2.5
Mack the Knife – I mentioned him earlier, Mack the Knife is my favorite creature in CotA. A lot of people like Mother, Succubus, and Ember imp for their static abilities but for me, Mack the Knife has gone a long way. He can be used as if he belongs in the active house, has elusive, and if that wasn’t enough, has seeker needle’s ability. If you can get him next to a Shadowself or Taunt creature he can really shine. Even just reaping for an extra amber every turn can add up. Sealed 5, Archon 5
Ring of Invisibility – 🙁
Routine Job – When this card first came out I was super high on it. Having played with and against it quite a bit it isn’t as good as I originally thought. Having four in a deck with cards like Sound the Horns can be very good, but the card on by itself isn’t. Your opponent has to have available aember on the turn you choose shadows. One or two of these in your opening hand against a deck that is gonna set up board position before making aember can be very detrimental to progress. Sealed 3.5, Archon 2.5
Selwyn the Fence – I have seen so many Selwyn the Fence decks without creatures that capture amber. Maybe my opponents will play Blood Money… In all seriousness, similar to Sacrificial Alter without humans why would you print this without capture effects. The card scales quite a bit as the more capture effects you have the better it makes Selwyn. Sometimes it’s just a vanilla 3 power creature and that’s not good enough, especially for a rare. Sealed .5-4, Archon 0-4
Sneklifter – The best artifact hate in the game and artifact hate is at a premium. As I have mentioned before, I would rather have Sneklifter and my opponent not have artifacts than be stone cold to artifacts when my opponent does have them. The upside of the artifact hate makes getting a vanilla creature fine. Where Selwyn the Fence upside is at most stealing an aember which is why I’m okay with this card being plain sometimes and not the other.
The Sting – Quite the skill testing card. It can swing some matchups in your favor if played right, but can be very detrimental if not. I don’t prefer this card, but in the right set up it can be very strong. Sealed .5-2, Archon 0-3
Treasure Map – The Alpha and Omega before the key words. This card is one of the most powerful turn one play in the game. Even late game setting it up with a strong shadows board and netting 4 aember can be a huge tempo swing. At worst, you get 1 aember and move on. Sealed 4, Archon 3.5
After reviewing the returns, I think the thieves of house Shadows have been toned down some since their debut in CotA, where they wrecked havoc. I don’t believe they will be the worst house in AoA. I also don’t believe they will continue to be the best. Somewhere in the middle is where they will fall. They haven’t lost everything from CotA, but having Bait and Switch replaced with Swindle is quite a let down. Not seeing Nexus back is disappointing but maybe they will find artifact hate some where else. It’s been a long few days for me, as this series comes near an end. I’ll be back tomorrow with the last reprint house review, Untamed. Till then, REAPOUT!