Morningtide: Shamanism Review (Part 2 of 2)
Next up in our revisit of the world of Lorwyn is a look at the Treefolk and their Shaman. Those pesky Rogues from Going Rogue are back, though, and with Jimi to lead them there’ll be no end of trouble!
I’m on the play for our opener, and begin with a Forest while Jimi leads with a Swamp. Back to me, I add a second Forest, using both to power in a Bosk Banneret. Jimi deploys an Island, bringing out her own of the Frogtosser variety.
Now turn 3, I miss my land drop but happily play a Thornbite Staff. Jimi plays a second Banneret, then follows with Auntie’s Snitch. Back to me, I then summon a Wolf-Skull Shaman, equipping the Staff to it for free as it comes into play. Over to Jimi, she attacks with the Snitch for 3, leading to the game’s first blood. With me down to 17, she then prowls in a Latchkey Faerie, drawing a bonus card before passing.
Although my turn 5 draw doesn’t trigger the Wolf-Skull’s kinship, I solve the Faerie using the Thornbite Staff. Though it kills the threat, Jimi then kills the Wolf-Skull Shaman with a Violet Pall, putting a 1/1 flying token into play. I end my turn, then Jimi attacks in for 4 with the token and Snitch. That puts me to 13, but Jimi then drops the hammer with a prowled Notorious Throng. This gives her four more 1/1 fliers, as well as another turn. She untaps, then turns everything sideways for 8. I’m forced to trade my Banneret for her Snitch, going down to 8. Back to me, I draw and pass. At the end of my turn, Jimi reinforces yet again, flashing in a Pestermite and Dewdrop Spy. I concede on the spot and save her the trouble.
I lead with a Vivid Grove to open my account in our rematch, which Jimi follows with a Swamp. Next turn I play a Forest to summon a Woodland Changeling, while Jimi returns with a Frogtosser Banneret. This time I get in first blood as next turn I send in the Changeling, following up with a one of the Moonglove sort. Jimi simply plays a second Frogtosser Banneret.
Now turn 4, I turn both of my Changelings sideways, delighted to get the jump on the match this time. I then play a Squeaking Pie Grubfellows and pass. Jimi’s turn is a delightful blank. Back to me, I reveal a Thorntooth Witch at the top of my library during my upkeep to hit kinship for the Grubfellows, forcing Jimi to discard a card (an Island). I attack for 4 with both Changelings to put her to 10, then add another Treefolk with a Reach of Branches. Things are looking good! But Jimi’s far from done- at the end of my turn she flashes in the Pestermite and Latchkey Faerie for some surprise attackers, then sends them in for 5 in the sky. I can’t stop them, and go down to 15. Jimi then prowls a Notorious Throng, giving her a swarm of 1/1 flitters and another extra turn. She immediately attacks again, hammering me for 10 and pivoting the game on the back of a single card. She follows with an Auntie’s Snitch and ends her second turn.
It’s now turn 6, and I’m in serious trouble. I draw and play a Forest, then pass. At the end of my turn, Jimi kills off my Moonglove Changeling with a Violet Pall, though I respond immediately with a Luminescent Rain to go back up to 13. Once Jimi’s turn arrives in earnest, she attacks for 11 to leave me at death’s door with 2 life. The kinship hit I get next upkeep for the Grubfellows is little consolation (she discards another Island), I simply can’t do a thing about her swarm and concede.
Again I open with a Vivid Grove, while Jimi starts off with a Prickly Boggart. Next turn I play a Forest and Wanderer’s Twig, cracking the Twig for a Swamp. Back to Jimi, she plays the ubiquitous Frogtosser Banneret, attacking in for 2.
I shore up my wide-open defense on turn 3 with a Moonglove Changeling, while Jimi brings out Cloak and Dagger before summoning Auntie’s Snitch, both of which see their costs reduced by the Banneret. Naturally, she equips the Snitch with the artifact for free.Back to me, I summon a Woodland Changeling. Jimi? Another Frogtosser Banneret.
Now turn 5, I deploy the Gilt-Leaf Seer, giving me some ability to dig for cards or win clashes. Jimi’s turn is a blank. Back to me, I finally land my first decent Treefolk with a Bog-Strider Ash, one particularly suited to combatting the Goblin-filled Going Rogue. Over to Jimi, she looks to refill her hand with Hoarder’s Greed. I respond by activating my Seer, letting me stick an Orchard Warden to the top of my library. She gets her two cards, but doesn’t have a prayer of winning the clash for the bonus two. Chagrined, she smites my Ash with a Violet Pall, giving her a 1/1 Faerie. We’re now tied at 18, but only one of us has done any damage- thus far.
Now turn 7, I replace my lost Ash with another one and pass. Jimi plays a third Frogtosser Banneret, then attacks in for 6 with her 1/1 token and the equipped Snitch. I trade my Woodland Changeling for her Snitch, having preferred to simply take the damage but unwilling to risk anther blowout behind a Notorius Throng. The 1/1 token gets in for damage, and Jimi follows up with a prowled Morsel Theft to syphon 3 life and draw a card. She concludes by equipping the Cloak and Dagger to the Faerie token, and ends the turn at 21 life, me at 15. Next turn she falls to 19 when I send in the Ash, swampwalking its way across. Jimi counterattacks for 3 in the air, and I burn a Nameless Inversion to kill her token, making sure to gain my 2 life off the Changeling spell from the Bog-Strider Ash. At the end of her turn, I use the Gilt-Leaf Seer to take a peek at my next two cards.
I get a little luck on turn 9 when I Recross the Paths for a Forest, winning the clash to get it back to my hand. I could cast it one more time if I tapped out, but I’m holding a Redeem the Lost as a hedge against any removal or shenanigans from Jimi and instead end my turn after another 2-point swing off the Ash. Jimi then equips the Cloak and Dagger to a Frogtosser Banneret, attacking in for 3. I block with my Seer, using the Redeem the Lost to save it- then winning the clash to get it back to hand. Back to me, I replay Retrace the Paths for a Swamp, but this time lose the clash. Empowered by her host of cost-reducing Bannerets, Jimi first plays a full-price Morsel Theft, stealing another 3 life before using that loss to power a Notorious Throng. She doesn’t get the extra turn since she didn’t pay the prowl cost, but she has grown a wee army out of nothing, equipping one of them with the Cloak and Dagger as it comes into play. It’s now 20-14, and again I trigger my Seer at the end of her turn.
Now turn 11, I summon an Orchard Warden after another Ash attack for 2. Jimi sends in the Faeries for 5, getting her Snitch back from the graveyard in the process. She immediately replays it and passes, and I trigger the Seer again at the end of turn looking for some fuel for the engine. Back to me, I strike for 6 with the pair of Treefolk, knocking Jimi down to a much more manageable 12. A second Orchard Warden then gives me a substantial packet of life, putting me right back up at 15. I’m immediately carved back down to 10, however, when Jimi attacks with the cloud of Faeries. Again I use the Seer to browse at the end of the turn, hoping to find another fat Treefolk.
During my upkeep on turn 13, Jimi flashes in a Pestermite to tap a Warden. I then play a Bosk Banneret, which while rather underwhelming as a card at this stage of the game still gives me another 6 life off the pair of Wardens. I hammer in with the Treefolk for another 6, and this time Jimi offers up a sacrifice as she chumps the Warden with a Banneret, taking only the 2 off the unblockable Ash. Back to her, she summons a Marsh Flitter, giving her more token creatures as it brings along a pair of 1/1 Goblins. She then attacks for 7 with the Faeries and Pestermite, and I fall to 9. Desperate for answers, I continue to trigger the Seer at the end of Jimi’s turn. Back to me, I then Lignify the Flitter, taking it out of the attacking equation. This sets up a 10-point attack as all three of my bigger Treefolk rumble across the red zone. Jimi chumps both Wardens, one with the now-useless Flitter, the other with a 1/1 Goblin token. This puts her at 8 off the Ash. Over to Jimi, she counterattacks for 5 with the Pestermite and equipped 1/1 Faerie token, holding the others back on defense. I’m now at 4 life and facing the end.
It’s now turn 15, and I have only one out left to play to. With all of Jimi’s blockers being Black, I can cast the Redeem the Lost to give one of my Wardens protection from Black. That’s now 6 damage going Jimi’s way, but I can’t get the rest through unless I’m able to win the clash and get the card back. Luckily, I’ve got the Gilt-Leaf Seer to help rig the contest, but unluckily the Seer can only work with what he’s got: a Forest and a Wanderer’s Twig. Still, since the Twig will beat any land card I’ve still got a 40% chance (or so) of winning the game.
Except I don’t. Jimi wins the clash, and my final mad plan comes to naught. Jimi takes the sweep.
Thoughts & Analysis
That’s twice now that Going Rogue has turned in a dominating performance, so at a certain point I have to wonder f the poor showing is due to Shamanism’s weakness or Rogue’s strength. Upon reflection, I’d have to conclude that the answer is something of both.
To be sure, Going Rogue was well-positioned to take advantage of my deck’s vulnerabilities. Shamanism has very few answers to aerial threats, considering that the Cloudcrown Oaks– a natural answer but an off-tribe one (Treefolk yes, Shaman no)- are in Warrior’s Code, not Shamanism. Much of Going Rogue’s effectiveness lies in evasion, and the prowl ability that is predicated upon it. When we both grabbed our decks I’d thought in a silly moment that I might have an edge thanks to the Bog-Strider Ash, but as it happened the advantage was all Jimi’s.
So where did the deck let me down? For one thing, it seemed a bit off-kilter colour-wise. This really seemed like it wanted to be a Black/Green deck, and the White is there for only two cards: Oblivion Ring and Redeem the Lost. I’d have welcomed a splash for the O-Rings alone if it meant I had access to more than a miser’s copy, but to splash only for two cards out of sixty seems to invite more trouble than it solves. Killing it would certainly have freed up two more card slots as well, as there’s be less need for the Wanderer’s Twigs then.
The other problem Shamanism has is in consistency- there are simply too many cards packed in here that try to do a little bit of everything rather than a few things well (which is what Going Rogue has going for it). Often these do good things, but less often than you’d want/need them to. The Thornbite Staff would be solid if it didn’t cost so much to activate, the extra Kithkin from the Guardian of Cloverdell might be nice if the deck cared about having extra creatures, Sylvan Echoes might be worth the gamble of a do-nothing enchantment if you had more cards that clashed, the repeatable removal of the Thorntooth Witch would be brutal- if she didn’t already cost six to play (thereby reducing the changes of you having a lot of Treefolk left in your hand to take advantage of her ability with), and so on. It’s hard to put a finger on precisely, but there just seem to be a lot of conditional, “could be good if…” effects that usually aren’t all that great, and when you jam them all into a deck you’re left with a fairly mediocre construction.
Having a look at the cards of the Lorwyn/Morningtide environment, there wasn’t a ton to work with here when Wizards set about making a Shaman deck. That’s little consolation when you’re on the end of this kind of beating, though.
Hits: Decent removal; fair tribal synergy means you’ll be able to get a little more bang for your buck…
Misses: …but not especially consistency- the deck is filled with conditional effects that are otherwise generally mediocre
OVERALL SCORE: 3.75/5.00