Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep

Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep – Champions of Kamigawa

Date Reviewed:  July 13, 2023

Commander [EDH]: 

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.

Reviews Below: 


There have been surprisingly few legendary land cycles in Magic’s history. There was one in Legends, of course, but design technology then was rather simplistic by later standards. To the designers’ credit, they didn’t give up when the likes of Tolarian Academy and Kor Haven came out massively overpowered; indeed, not all that long after those cards, we got the Champions of Kamigawa cycle, whose legendary lands were actually quite reasonable.

Shinka is perhaps the second-most overlooked member of that cycle, since Eiganjo Castle’s damage prevention doesn’t really have a game plan beyond stopping everything from happening. I would argue it deserves a lot more credit. I think people forget about it because first strike is a “French vanilla” ability, and we don’t often think about what its full implications are. For example, one of Magic’s open secrets is that first strike is even stronger on defense than on offense, and since legendary creatures often have high power for their cost, they can become legendary defenders too, buying time for you to do whatever else you want. You presumably wouldn’t run it outside of Commander unless you have a notable number of legendary creatures, but there are plenty of good reasons to – decks based around the human creature type have an embarrassment of riches – and there’s essentially no downside when you do run it.

Constructed: 4
Casual: 4.5
Limited: 3
Multiplayer: 4.5
Commander [EDH]: 4.5

 James H. 


Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep is a fitting enough card to review here, seeing as how it got a flavorful reskin in the form of Helm’s Deep as one of the set’s box toppers. Part of the cycle of five colored legendary lands from Champions of Kamigawa, Shinka offers both a regular mana production ability and a secondary ability for legendary creatures to take advantage of; here, it’s first strike, and giving first strike to a legendary creature in a pinch can do a lot for turning a battle on its head.

Shinka’s a pretty unique card because it’s useful both normally and in a utility role, and it compresses roles really well for the deck that wants it. And it turns out that Modern’s mono-red decks do have a certain prime ape they love to play that’s also a valid target for Shinka; even with only 1 toughness, first strike puts in a lot of work for winning fights if Ragavan gets it. The only real downsides are that the legendary supertype can be clunky if you’re playing multiples of this, and it’s a hard land to reliably tutor up, but those are more minor complaints in the long run. The cost to playing this is fairly minor, but the upsides are often surprising.

Constructed: 4
Casual: 4
Limited: 3 (only in Kamigawa Limited, where legendary creatures were the norm; it’s not a liability, but you may have trouble finding the right creatures to make this shine)
Multiplayer: 4
Commander [EDH]: 4.75 (in Commander, as long as you’re in red, there’s no downsides to running this, but this may not be the perfect card for every deck)

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