Welcome to the guide to cards there’s no way your opponents will have at Grand Prix Sydney 2016! This is intended to be a comprehensive list of fast, interactive effects to watch out for in Shadows Over Innistrad / Eldritch Moon limited, focusing a bit more on sealed than draft.
I’ve left out instant-speed cards that do not interact with the opponent (ie. Scour the Laboratory, Succumb to Temptation), and the only one that I feel is a bit contentious is maybe Catalog, as it provides an instant-speed Madness outlet from hand, so has the potential for some sick blowouts.
Enjoy, and if you make it to the end actually reading my commentary, you’re truly a masochist.
Strength of Arms: The one mana trick, bane of the combat step. About as generic as it comes, but if you take ONE THING away from this article, let it be this: Tristan is great. Or that there are a lot tricks in this set that give +2/+2, so your first check should always be “how much of a blowout is +2/+2”?
Expose Evil: An important common to keep in mind during close races.
Puncturing Light: Remember that you can always play around this little fella by pumping your guys before they attack or block.
Blessed Alliance: This is just a nightmare to attack into. A strong reason to never go alone.
Long Road Home: Not much to see here, most likely to thwart a removal spell or snag a token.
Repel the Abominable: Worth remembering if they have A LOT of humans, unlikely to make much of appearance over the weekend, unless you’re on the bubble.
Eerie Interlude: Incredibly niche, and at rare I wouldn’t devote any brainspace to worrying about this.
Survive the Night: Decent as any other trick with “Investigate”, but probably one of the least commonly played.
Borrowed Grace: The first of the Escalate common tricks that are going to be a nightmare to remember. So just remember this mnemonic: +2/+2!
Drogskol Shieldmate: Reasonably low impact, I wouldn’t worry about this guy much unless I was hell-bent on aggression and full up on 2/2s. Most common/uncommon flash guys in this format have 3 toughness, so there’s another little shortcut for you.
Silverstrike: I love it when my opponent passes with 3 and a white open, and the look on their face when you just pass it straight on back. 9 times out of 10, it’s Silverstrike.
Tenacity: Some people are really high on this card, but I’m not such a big fan. Keep it in mind when opponents go for weird alpha strikes.
Give No Ground: This card is pretty much unplayable, so I’m pretty much guaranteed to lose to it at some point. I wouldn’t worry about it.
Archangel Avacyn: Scoop, go next, cut her to the bottom.
Humble the Brute: If you suspect this is what’s up, you might want to keep your creatures’ power under 4, but at uncommon out of 2 packs I wouldn’t stress too hard.
Spontaneous Mutation: Having a big dude turned into a wall is annoying, but not usually a blowout.
Not much to be worried about for U except for Just the Wind w/ Madness!
Jace’s Scrutiny: Great trick, turns trades one-sided. Remember this one.
Rattlechains: I included Shadows Over Innistrad rares on this list out of respect, but if you think I’m spending any time writing or worrying about them, you’re kidding yourself.
Displace: Probably unplayable? I doubt I’ll give this any thought unless I’ve shown my opponent lots of removal or they have a heap of enter-the-battlefield effects.
Summary Dismissal: Maybe be cautious about filling the stack up with too much goodness? At rare though, not really worth worrying about.
Confirm Suspicions: How come they get to draw so many cards when I get to draw so few?!
Stormrider Spirit: Generic flash flyer.
Borrowed Malevolence: If we do some mental gymnastics, +1/+1 & -1/-1 is kind of like +2/+2… I would expect every black deck to have at least one of these.
Grotesque Mutation: Not super popular, probably not going to show up often.
Murderous Compulsion: Running into this really puts the ass into assassinate. Twice.
MURDER!!!: There’s nothing you can really do.
Biting Rain: Unlikely to show up as trick, but you should be aware of this if your deck’s full of x/2s and x/1s anyways.
Gisa’s Bidding / Twins of Maurer Estate / Voldaren Pariah / Weirded Vampire: Lots of 3-cmc black Madness critters to be aware of. I just want to mention that Pariah’s transform ability is instant speed, because at prerelease I saw a real sick play where someone Madness-ed in Pariah and transformed it and their opponent cried… Ok, it was me. I did the crying.
Throttle: One of the great pillars of the limited landscape.
There’s a lot of pump and burn going on at one R, especially with some Madness. Best bet is remembering what you see game one.
Senseless Rage: Hey! +2/+2!
Abandon Reason: This is the sort of nasty trick that will catch a lot of people out, especially with so many 3/2s in EMA.
Alchemist’s Greeting: Premium common removal for the format. Expect at least one from every red deck.
Stensia Masquerade: Pretty niche, watch out if they’ve got lots of vampires though.
Inner Struggle: Solid removal, not much to be said here.
Spiteful Motives: If you see this coming, great opportunity to flip the blowout back on your opponent!
Insatiable Gorgers: Hey look! A fast Madness guy with 3 toughness!
Dissension in the Ranks: As far as I’m concerned, this card doesn’t exist. What card?
Spreading Flames: I guess if your opponent gets to 7, watch out?
Avacyn’s Judgment: I wasn’t kidding about the SOI rares.
Confront the Unknown: I’m really sad that I don’t have 6 opportunities to open this card anymore. Worth watching your opponent’s behaviour with clues; if they’re not cracking them at every opportunity, this could be why.
Aim High: +2/+2!
Clip Wings: A nice twist on the usual green flyer kill-spell. Can be worth keeping a spirit around if you’ve got some bigger flyers waiting in the wings.
Howlpack Resurgence: I was originally going to lump this with Spirit of the Hunt, but that card is good, and this card is quite bad.
Clear Shot: This card is just excellent. Only way to play around it is by holding onto your own fast effects.
Spirit of the Hunt: A much better shieldmate. Note that it doesn’t buff itself, and so only has 3 toughness *taps nose*.
Woodcutter’s Grit: +3/+3?! What? Everything’s ruined.
Might Beyond Reason: +2/+2 but maybe +3/+3? Now they’re just messing with us.
Ride Down: Worth being aware of out of aggro RW decks, but not much to be done.