Shadows over Innistrad 2HG Hidden Gems

This guide shows which Shadows cards become better in Two-Headed Giant and which don’t. If you’re playing in a 2HG prerelease these are the cards to pay special attention to!

If you want to know more about the rules interactions, check out the 2HG Release Notes.

For the TL;DR version you can skip to the TOP 15 list at the end.


GENERAL NOTES

  • Prerelease power level: A prerelease 2HG pool consists of two regular prerelease pools, so 12 boosters instead of the customary 8 for 2HG sealed. Decks have a much higher card quality than normal sealed decks. A solid filler card that always makes the cut might be too weak for the 2HG prerelease.
  • Synergy: The larger pool also means decks can be more focused on synergy rather than the goodstuff decks that usually dominate sealed. Always check if you have a high number of uncommon and rare build-arounds for one of the draft archetypes.
  • Splashing: You want to play as many bombs as possible. With 12 packs that means you likely want to play all colors between the two decks. Splashing is aided by the fact that you also have more fixing in a larger pool and that the first mulligan is free, meaning you can mulligan color-screwed hands more easily.
  • Situational Answers: Color hosers, plummet effects and naturalize effects are normally not maindeckable, but with two opponents it’s likely they have a target. Depending on their individual power level those cards could be worth running maindeck.
  • Counterspells: These are also much better in 2HG. With two spell-casting opponents it’s less likely you kept mana up for nothing, there are more must-answer bombs overall, and it’s less problematic if you don’t do anything for a turn if your teammate can advance the board.
  • Evasion: With more creatures on both sides board stalls happen very quickly so the best kinds of evasion are king. Flying is especially important both on offense and defense. Repeatable pingers are also a reliable source to close out games. Menace on the other hand is much worse as twice as many possible blockers make it much more likely that there are profitable double blocks for the defenders. Skulk will be worse as well, again because the higher probability that there’s a suitable blocker.

CARD-SPECIFIC NOTES

Categories

  1. More Players
  2. More Creatures
  3. More Life
  4. More Optimal Conditions
  5. More Targets
  6. Hidden Duds

Some cards have individual comments but most cards will just be listed in one of these categories. They are sorted by rarity as a power boost is more relevant for lower rarities. That a bomb mythic is even better doesn’t really factor in your decision to play it or not.


MORE PLAYERS

These cards affect all players/opponents. They’re the most obvious ones to get better. With two opponents these cards have abilities that are twice as effective!

It should be noted that the templating choice of using “target opponent” instead of “each opponent” that was in effect for Oath of the Gatewatch, the 2HG set, seems to be continued here. Cards like Alms of the Vein and Wayward Disciple that would’ve probably said “each opponent” a year ago are targeted now. Although this means less hidden gems overall this is good news for 2HG enthusiasts as this means less unfun broken cards. Let’s see if this trend continues in the next few sets. If the change persists that means that 2HG has won out over MTGO streamlining!

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Gibbering Fiend | Topplegeist | Tooth Collector | Ongoing Investigation | Creeping Dread | Fevered Visions | Sage of Ancient Lore | Archangel Avacyn | Sorin, Grim Nemesis | Jace, Unraveler of Secrets

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Obsessive Skinner

The uncommon Delirium cycle with “at the beginning of each opponent’s upkeep” triggers is awesome in 2HG and the green one gets one of the biggest boosts of all. The others all affect a specific opponent and thus can’t be combined, for example the black one can’t give one creature -2/-2 and the white one can’t tap two creatures from one opponent, but the green one does have the option of targeting the same creature twice.

(For the other cards in this cycle, see above and way down below. Interestingly, the blue one gets weaker in 2HG and is in the Hidden Duds section)

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Clip Wings

Clip Wings has 2-for-1 potential, but depending on how abundant 1/1 flying spirit tokens are this might be a 0.5-for-1 too often, even in 2HG.

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Hermit of the Natterknolls

Most werewolves lose a lot of value in 2HG (see Hidden Duds below) but this one is very good even without the backside. Because counterspells are much better in 2HG you can count on this ability to be relevant in most 2HG games.

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Asylum Visitor

In a normal game you need to be hellbent yourself to make good use of this ability which can be stymied by drawing too many lands. In 2HG you can sculpt a situation where your teammate is hellbent all the time so that you consistently draw at least one extra card each turn.


MORE CREATURES

These cards affect all creatures. They scale well in 2HG because two opponents means twice as many creatures on the board to get with these. Situational ones will have an increased chance to be relevant but they might still be too situational overall.

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Magnetic Chasm | Biting Rain | Thing in the Ice | Engulf the Shore | Descend upon the Sinful | Archangel Avacyn


MORE LIFE

These cards get better because you start at 30 rather than 20 life.

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Sorin, Grim Nemesis


MORE OPTIMAL CONDITIONS

These cards are powerful because they’re situational; they require certain targets or board states to be effective. In a 2HG game, with twice as many permanents as a duel, that is simply more likely.

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Emissary of the Sleepless

This throwback to Morbid requires a creature to have died which is much easier achieved by a teammate with a turn’s worth of mana.

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Dissension in the Ranks

This requires multiple blockers and ideally two blockers that can kill each other. More likely with more creatures overall.


MORE TARGETS

Current Magic templating uses a lot of “you control” and “an opponent controls” in targeting restrictions, especially for triggers. (Too bad MTGO streamlining still wins out over Emergent Gameplay.) There are exceptions and we’ll mention all of those here.

Auras and combat tricks almost always fall into this category as well but by default they won’t be listed. The 2-for-1 downside of auras is even more prominent in 2HG where two opponents can have removal.

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Ulrich’s Kindred | Drunau Corpse Trawler | Olivia’s Bloodsworn | Rattlechains | Nephalia Moondrakes

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Veteran Cathar

The uncommon ‘multicolor’ tribal cycle has no “you control” restriction (except for Spectral Shepherd, the white/blue one). Veteran Cathar will be the most relevant as every color has lots of Humans so keep your teammate’s creature’s types in mind when you have this.

The other members of the cycle are much less likely to be relevant, as Zombies, Vampires, Werewolves and Wolves all stay within their two colors.

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Reckless Scholar

We can help our teammates with this because this is a reprint, if this was a new design it probably wouldn’t target. So let’s make the most of this one while we can!

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Weirding Wood

Enchant lands are much rarer than enchant creatures and also much less susceptible to card disadvantage so this one gets a special mention. How often have you wished to share mana with your teammate? Well, now you can! With multiple of these, the green deck doesn’t have to be the 3-color deck. A 2-color green deck could run these to fix the teammate’s 3-color mana.


HIDDEN DUDS

These are the cards that get worse in 2HG.

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Werewolves

The 2HG prerelease will not be the night where the werewolves get to shine. They have two problems:

  1. Transforming them is costlier. It requires both you and your teammate not playing anything for a turn. Do both of you have alternate uses for the mana? With two opponents it’s also more likely that an instant can ruin your plans.
  2. Keeping them transformed is harder as two opponents have a shot at finding two spells to cast.

Therefore you should evaluate werewolves mostly on their front side. If their front side alone isn’t a decent card, they’re probably not cut out for 2HG.

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Manic Scribe

Interestingly this member of the cycle gets worse in 2HG. Milling yourself is an upside in this set as there are so many mechanics and cards that care about the graveyard. You only want to mill an opponent if you have a dedicated mill deck and plan to mill them out. As most mill cards target a single player, that means you want to focus on one of the opponents. This card gets worse as you don’t want to also mill the teammate.

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Flameblade Angel

See the 2HG Release Notes for the specifics but the “to you” part basically does nothing in 2HG. Still a good card though.


TOP 15

To summarize here are some lists with the cards that have the biggest increase in power relative to their value in a normal duel. These are NOT the best cards to open overall, good removal is still good removal, etc. These are simply the cards that warrant special attention at a 2HG tournament.

The 10 commons/uncommons that gain the most:

  1. Hermit of the Natterknolls
  2. Dissension in the Ranks
  3. Gibbering Fiend
  4. Obsessive Skinner
  5. Reckless Scholar
  6. Topplegeist
  7. Tooth Collector
  8. Veteran Cathar
  9. Clip Wings
  10. Emissary of the Sleepless

Honorable mention: Weirding Wood

And then the 5 rares/mythics that gain the most. There aren’t a lot of contenders for these slots actually. Sorin’s plus becomes insane but other than that most of these aren’t boosted significantly:

  1. Sorin, Grim Nemesis
  2. Asylum Visitor
  3. Descend upon the Sinful
  4. Archangel Avacyn
  5. Nephalia Moondrakes

Do you disagree with this list? Are you missing a card in this article? How was your experience at the prerelease? Comment below!

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