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Shadow of Mortality Art by Anato Finnstark

How Does Shadow of Mortality Compare to Its Predecessors?

Hello everyone! There has been an unbelievable amount of cool cards spoiled so far in Streets of New Capenna, and every time I think we’re seeing the last of the hotness, Wizards has to go and release another banger. There are two types of super cool cards to come out of sets: the completely new designs and a throwback (or even reprint) or an older one. Today, we’re going to examine an older one with Shadow of Mortality!

Shadow of Mortality Borderless

So Shadow of Mortality is a 15 mana 7/7, which normally, wouldn’t be too good of a deal. I mean, you can cast Emrakul, the Aeons Torn for that mana, and I think I know which would be more impactful.

Of course, Shadow of Mortality isn’t truly a 15 mana card as for each life you lose from the starting total, it becomes 1 mana cheaper. So once you hit 7 life, you’re looking at a BB 7/7 which is obviously a pretty fantastic deal. However, the prevailing question is: how good is Shadow of Mortality? To answer that, we need to look at some older designs to help us out.

For the first iteration of this card, we have one of the biggest sleeper cards ever in Death's Shadow. For the longest time, Death's Shadow was considered an unplayable card. It was a weird rare from Worldwake that would only work in gimmicky strategies. However, around 2014 players realized that in conjunction with fetch and shocklands, you can get your life total very low very quickly and deploy a cheap huge threat. This took Modern by storm as people were flinging out 8/8s on turn two like it was nobodies business. Obviously the barrier for Shadow is that it needs to be played in a format where you can consistently get your life total low, but if you can, it’s a very powerful card.

Then we move on to the newer version of this effect with Scourge of the Skyclaves. Scourge always costs 2 mana, but instead of relying solely on your life total, it takes both players into account. This does make it a strictly worse version of Death's Shadow as just getting your life total low is not good enough, but it also doesn’t require as hefty of an initial investment as you can still play a 2 mana 1/1 if both players are at 19. This still does want you to lower your own life total, but now it can be in more measured investments as you chip away at the opponent’s life total and your own.

So all that said, how does Shadow of Mortality stack up? Compared to Death's Shadow, I think it’s clear this is pretty inferior. At 7 life you can have a 1 mana 6/6 or a 2 mana 7/7, and the lower you go, the better the 1 drop gets. If we compare instead to Scourge of the Skyclaves, we come up with very different cards. Shadow of Mortality demands as big of an investment as Death's Shadow, but you don’t need to worry about your opponent’s life total either. This can make it a nice replacement or even board option in the Historic Shadow deck for situations where Scourge of the Skyclaves is a dead card. Speaking of Historic though, playing Shadow of Mortality does mean that you can’t companion Lurrus of the Dream-Den which was a pretty big draw to those strategies.

Historic isn’t the only place you could use Shadow of Mortality though! There are two potential applications for Shadow in Standard. One, you can have it as a sideboard card in Black decks against the creature decks. This may seem silly, but imagine you’re trying to beat down Esper Planeswalkers when they wrath, untap, and slam a 7/7. That would be pretty hard to beat! The second application is a lot jankier, but also way more fun! If you play Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos, you have the opportunity to use the Red activated ability to flip this over and dome the opponent for 15 damage! While that isn’t particularly consistent, you have to admit it’s very funny.

If you want a nice mix between janky and competitive, Shadow of Mortality also has great applications with Calibrated Blast in Modern. Calibrated Blast is a deck looking to cast multiple Blasts with super high CMC cards which is a surprisingly effective strategy, and with Shadow of Mortality, that deck gets an expensive card they can actually dream of casting! This may be a game changer for the deck that normally only has one game plan where it can have this weird back door beatdown plan.

So where is the best place for Shadow of Mortality and is it better than either of it’s predecessors?

(H) Deaths Shadow
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $454.04
best of 1
7 mythic
39 rare
13 uncommon
1 common
Creatures (25)
Esper Sentinel
Death’s Shadow
Selfless Savior
Giant Killer
Adanto Vanguard
Ranger of Eos
Instants (5)
Fatal Push
Infernal Grasp
Sorceries (9)
Lands (21)
Ifnir Deadlands
Shefet Dunes
Godless Shrine
60 Cards

Although I really do like the idea of boarding it in against aggro decks, the best place for it has to be Historic. Shadow of Mortality is definitely worse than Death's Shadow, but if you have a lot of lands that can hurt you, I could definitely see it being better than Scourge of the Skyclaves. To be frank, without playing it, it’s going to be really hard to tell which is the better payoff, but I’m pulling for the one that requires less work on your end and doesn’t care what the opponent is at.


Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Shadow of Mortality has a lot going for it, but it definitely can’t fill the shows that Death's Shadow left. It may see play in Historic, but I think it’s mostly going to be relegated to niche sideboard play or little play overall.

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Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is the content manager of MTGAZone and a high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and coaching! Join our community on
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