The Ugly Monster
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The Ugly Monster

Oona, Queen of the Fae | Adam Rex

Magical Thinking: Shadowmoor

Welcome back to Magical Thinking, a look at the cards and art of Magic: the Gathering, set by set, from the beginning. All through the eyes of a casual fan. This week we start the Shadowmoor block with the titular set, May 2008’s Shadowmoor.

The Great Aurora has come, and has changed Lorwyn from a bright and sunny place into a dark and terrible world of nightmares and horrors. This change has altered the color identity of its natives, and their personalities in some cases. What is the cause of this mysterious change, and what will become of Rhys, the only elf on Lorwyn who wasn’t a racist jerk? Lets find out.

We’re starting off strong with the kithkin. They don’t seem to have changed too much. They seem a bit more paranoid here, but I don’t think it will be that bad…

…And there it is.

Hey, you guys remember The Dark? When White was the color of angry mobs, witch hunters, and disemboweled goblins? Well I hope you enjoyed that because that’s White in Shadowmoor.

See? Angry mobs and everything! Did I lie? Also, I never want to hear anyone complain about 5e halflings ever again because at least they don’t have creepy bug eyes like kithkin.

When Cabbage Patch collecting goes horribly wrong.

Also here we have one of the new mechanics introduced in Shadowmoor: Conspire, where you can copy a spell if you tap creatures that share its color. Apparently it was considered a failure and never used again. And, yeah, the problem is a lot of these failed mechanics just aren’t that interesting.

Here is another mechanic from Shadowmoor: Untapping creatures to activate effects. I don’t think this caught on either because it didn’t appear outside this set (at least I don’t think so, I think I would remember seeing the untap symbol somewhere), which is strange because this seems really powerful. Also, two of my favorite tribes: giants and spirits, together at last.

This is also a setting that did some interesting stuff with hybrid mana, like this here where you can pay three white or six colorless, or any combination there of. A pretty interesting idea.

Yep, even in Shadowmoor the elementals are still weird as heck.

Its worth noting that of all the races on Shadowmoor, faeries changed the least in the change over from Lorwyn, in that they didn’t change at all. Funny that.

And the comparisons to The Dark continue. I mean, The Dark had a Blue card that depicted a guy with a hole in his head as well. Although I think this card is better than Amnesia.

Well, one thing Shadowmoor has that Lorwyn doesn’t: kraken. I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Also, as a fan of mill decks, I appreciate cards that help mill win in other ways, like having an 8/12 with shroud.

I like the flavor here, where the Leech Bonder has leeches on their body, and they fling them onto opponents when they untap. Also, Shadowmoor is a set that loves them some +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters.

There’s nothing like some good old fashioned faerie shenanigans in card form. Just steal all your opponent’s best stuff. Scornful Egoist, your time has come!

In mythology, kelpies are shapeshifters who appear as horses in order to drown unsuspecting people in lakes and rivers. On Shadowmoor, kelpies are…a mess apparently. Also, we have another new mechanic: Persist. Persist creatures are hard to kill, coming back from the dead with a -1/-1 counter on it, but only once.

I gotta say, I think the flamekin got the worst of it from the Lorwyn changeover. Now they’re these ash monsters and it just looks like it’s really painful to be one of them. Poor guys.

Ick. That pretty much sums up that card.

Oh come on! There’s nothing disturbing here. Just two ladies out on a Saturday night with their shovels...digging…something. Well, at least they are having fun.

Hey, another thing Shadowmoor has over Lorwyn: demon dogs.

I love the art here. It inspires memories of Bosch and other classical depictions of Hell, like Fall of the Rebel Angels.

…What? I can know a little about classic art? Give me some credit.

I think we’re starting to move into Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark territory. Also, say hello to wither, another new mechanic. I told you this set likes the -1/-1 counters.

DnD character concept: a swarm of faeries in a trench coat. Or, a bunch of faeries piloting a corpse “Weekend at Bernie's” style.

Hey, Torture! I haven’t seen this card since Homelands. This wasn’t a card that was in The Dark, but it almost could have been, huh?

So, gone are the cute thieving dummy goblins of Lorwyn. Now Shadowmoor has hungry mess-you-up goblins. These kind of feel like they were the inspiration for the goblins from Pathfinder.

Well, I mean he burned the chili a little bit it’s nothing to get too upset over…and that isn’t chili, is it?

Insert joke about awakening a sleeping giant here.

He’s got the best batting average in all of Shadowmoor…wait, hang on, let me check… no sorry. I meant he has the best battering average. Why is that a thing?

Were there dragons in Lorwyn? I don’t think there were. Seriously, where were all these big monsters before the great aurora? Were they out for coffee or something? I mean, how do you lose track of a dragon? Or a kraken for that matter?

Rage Reflection: When you’re so angry you’re willing to pick a fight with a mirror.

I love giants in Magic! I don’t think I can state that enough.

Yeah, this is the version of The Wizard of Oz directed by Eli Roth. Not for the faint of heart to be sure.

So remember how elves were racist pieces of crap in Lorwyn? Well apparently they are less racist assholes and more just trying to survive. So I guess I wont give them too much crap like I did before. But I got my eye on them.

Another guy who looks like he came from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Also, I like the flavor since in mythology spriggans are little folk who can grow to giant size, and here we have a goblin who has the Giant Growth built right in.

Now this is a troubling troll. Not only are they effectively indestructible, but they can also become a 25/25 if you convoke them. If you add trample to that somehow you got an instant win button.

Wait, who is Gond? Should we know who that is? Was I supposed to do some reading for this expansion?

Okay, yeah, the Shadowmoor elves are definitely nicer than they were back in Lorwyn. Can we just keep these elves if we shift back to Lorwyn somehow? I like these guys way better.

This is a neat use of wither. Basically this guy takes all damage in the form of -1/-1 counters, but if it damages an opponent it gets restored. A lot of incentive to keep attacking with it (and to give it trample).

So is this THE enchanted evening, or just some enchanted evening? Also, this is one of those cards I wished was in a Theros set.

One of the things about doing this is I don’t really get a good look at the cards till I put them up to write about them. So I kind of missed the HUGE FREAKING EYE that Goddess is sporting. I mean, she must corner the market on Clear Eyes.

Fall of the Rebel Angels. Go look it up, you wont be disappointed. It’s culture, and it’s the weirdest stuff you’ve ever seen outside of Alpha cards.

I think it’s well established that Swans are the biggest assholes in the bird kingdom, and this just reinforces it. Don’t mess with swans because they will wreck you.

Apparently kithkin have hive minds or something? It’s unclear, and something I missed in Lorwyn.

Oh hey, shapeshifters! I haven’t seen any of those in Shadowmoor. I guess they all went wherever the dragons and other big stuff was hiding during Lorwyn. Except this trooper, probably a few others here and there too.

This is a card I want to be in standard right now so badly I can taste it! Like, take that, Ozolith!

I love the art on this one. But I wonder who that little guy at the bottom is? Is he the witch’s familiar? Some kind of magic spell? Who knows. He’s creepy as all get out, though.

And here we have Oona, the big bad of Lorwyn/Shadowmoor, and the one responsible for all this aurora stuff and why the plane is a dumpster fire half of the time. She’s pretty powerful too, and she was recently printed in Zendikar commander.

I really like the versatility of this card. It does different things in different decks, and in the right deck it does both. It’s also a pretty roundabout way to destroy a creature.

Behold, the deadliest weapon in existence: A wasp tied to the end of a stick! I mean, I’m clearly terrified.

It’s the ghosts of barbecues past. They’re back for vengeance. Terrible, hickory smoked vengeance.

Hey, another card I wished I had in standard. I really wish Arena existed back then so I could have played with these cards (Also, Lorwyn and Shadowmoor remastered when?).

Man, it’s been a while since we had a good old fashioned horror. When was the last time we saw them? Mirrodin? Maybe before even that, I legit can’t remember. Welcome back, you horrible thing.

Hey, remember when I said I felt sorry for the cinderkin? Yeah, scratch that, those guys are assholes. Also, you’d think the ultra-paranoid kithkin would notice the water oddly boiling, but whatever. Maybe he’s thinking of his fantasy football picks.

Nothing I love more than a good old fashioned treason effect. And this is… kind of close to that, I guess. Well I like it.

Ah, Goblins with a battering ram. The Gruul clan would be proud.

Also, I love how it has flames coming out the back like exhaust ports, but it doesn’t even have wheels. They’re carrying it.

This may seem cruel, but it’s actually an enrichment activity for the giant. Giants don’t just want to be fed, they want to have fun too. Remember to always care for your giant responsibly.

There’s nothing I could possibly say that could top raid o’ clock.

Poor Rosheen, it must be rough to remember Lorwyn when you’re stuck in crappy Shadowmoor. I wonder, were there anyone who remembered Shadowmoor when it was Lorwyn?

Well that’s terrifying. Getting Pathfinder goblin vibes again.

Okay, so it looks like Auntie Wort has adjusted well to Shadowmoor. Also, her kids are way less cute than I remember. They grow up so fast.

So basically as long as they only try and kill it once per turn this guy sticks around forever, getting rid of those pesky -1/-1 counters.

Also, apparently it’s a spider-snake-pig? Can we come back to this plane at some point? I am loving these elementals.

Don’t you hate it when guests drink directly from the milk carton? Get a glass, you creep.

See, it’s a nice dichotomy from the Lorwyn elves. Instead of hunting down beings they consider ugly, they protect things they consider beautiful. Nice change of pace. And speaking of…

Hey look, its Rhys! And he got his horns back. Good on him. Also, this card was released on Arena for historic, so I think I might have seen this guy before, but maybe not.

Okay, that’s a little iffy right there. I’ve been giving you guys points this whole time. Don’t turn around and make me look like an asshole in retrospect.

You wouldn’t think so, but Shadowmoor has a strong Scarecrow tribal thing going on. For some reason. There must be a market for it, right?

Huh. I wonder if Oona is responsible for the whole great aurora thing? I can’t tell with clues this subtle.

Hey, it’s one of the guys from Nine.

You know, that movie about the burlap sack robot guys?

Like I said, there are a lot of scarecrows in this set.

And of course we need the king of the scarecrows. Because why not? Shadowmoor crows must be bad ass. Or maybe it’s for those killer swans.

I gotta say, the Scarecrow thing is starting to grow on me. I might actually spin this into a Ravenloft adventure or something.

Umbral Mantle, AKA your opponent is never going to attack again because you can always untap your creature and make them bigger with this.

I mean, it’s doing wonders for that tree.

And here we have one of the land cycles of this set: The mana fixing lands, which make one mana a combo of two. A pretty good bargain I think.

And of course a cycle of tapped lands that do other stuff if you control enough permanents.

A must-have for any multicolor deck.

And with that our reflection on Shadowmoor draws to a close. Tune in next week when we continue our exploration of Shadowmoor in Eventide. Until then, stay Magical.

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Jessie Staffler

Jessie Staffler

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Creative Writer looking to make money writing. Prefers to write stuff based on fantasy, Sci fi and horror