Welcome back ladies and gentlemen! So my past two articles, we discussed brews and potential cards and decks that could see play in Shadows over Innistrad Standard. I wasn't able to test out those lists since all the cards weren't fully spoiled and I didn't really have the time to put into them that I wanted to. The decks I'll talk about today have been tested by me, and the other one I found on Reddit, by user Tomato_SOUP, is reminiscent of Aristocrats, and tries to abuse Cryptolith Rite and Westvale Abbey. How cool is that?

The first deck, Esper Dragons!

DECKID=1262888

This deck may seem like it didn't lose much since you still have Dragonlord Ojutai, Dragonlord Silumgar, and the two mana dragon Counterspell, Silumgar's Scorn. The removal also didn't change that much but we did lose a big one in Crux of Fate. The biggest hits in my opinion were the fetches that made the deck's mana so good, and losing our big draw and tutor spell, Dig Through Time. We have had to turn to Painful Truths as our go-to draw spell and that really hurts, so we have to make up for it in a lot of life gain. In this list we have Shambling Vents, Ojutai's Command, Foul-Tongue Invocation, and Sorin, Grim Nemesis. That is usually enough to offset the life loss from Painful Truths and the newly-added Anguished Unmaking. Speaking of Anguished Unmaking, that card is fantastic and probably better in a deck that is aggressive or doesn't care too much about its life total. Here, however, we care a lot about our life total. Sure, our life total is a resource to use, but we are using most of it to draw cards with Painful Truths, which doesn't allow us much room to play too many Anguished Unmakings. Anguished Unmaking also doesn't hit lands, which can be a problem mid- to late-game, since Ultimate Price doesn't hit them either. Our best way to deal with lands is to have a Dragon out or fire off a Foul-Tongue Invocation when that is their only creature.

The sideboard is going to be hard to construct since it's tough to predict what Shadows over Innistrad Standard will look like. I just know Ramp didn't lose anything, so we have Mind Rot and Pitiless Horde to combat them. Tokens and Westvale Abbey can be a problem, hence the pair of Virulent Plague to stave them off. Deadly Wanderings and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet are for the low-to-the-ground aggro decks. Deadly Wanderings is very niche and cute, I know, but we usually only have one creature in play and it makes the creature swing for a lot and gain us some much needed life. It also makes Shambling Vents a 4/3 Lifelinker which is pretty huge!

I know control decks early on are typically not that strong in an unknown format but this control deck is unlike previous ones in that it has many threats to combat our foes. Dragonlord Ojutai will end the game with quickness! I wouldn't be afraid to play this deck or some variation of it early on in my big tournaments.

Next up is the deck by Tomato_SOUP. And it's a spicy one!

DECKID=1262889

This deck looks like a blast to play. It has so many cool things going on. For one it can make a bunch of small guys or tokens for little mana which allows Westvale Abbey to do a lot of work. This deck can make Ormendahl, Profane Prince extremely fast. It's probably the fastest deck that we know about in Standard that can flip the land so quickly. The deck can just explode with mana with the help of Cryptolith Rite. We can have so much mana that we can afford to play an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger! That's absurd!

The deck doesn't need Cryptolith Rite to win. It does speed things along, but the deck can easily win by making an army of dorks and growing them all with Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, or gaining a massive amount of card advantage that will bury our opponents thanks to Evolutionary Leap. If that's not enough, Evolutionary Leap isn't even the only thing that can generate tons of card advantage. Zendikar Resurgent allows all of our creatures to cantrip. It's basically like having a constant Glimpse of Nature, and that card is banned in Modern for a reason!

Looking at the sideboard we can clearly see that the deck can struggle against fliers. Without sacrificing a Hangarback Walker we really can't interact with them. If vampires become a thing, then Aerial Volley and Clip Wings can double up against that deck too. Collected Company and Deathmist Raptor are most likely for decks with board wipes. The only card I'm not so sure on is the Reclaiming Vines in the sideboard. I understand it's a nice catch-all, but I think I'd just play a couple of Natural States instead, unless Tomato_SOUP really wants the land destruction part of the spell.

This deck looks sweet to play and I really hope it's a real contender. It looks like it will be; the deck has a lot of things going for it. Fantastic job and major kudos to Tomato_SOUP. I love a good brew and this one is great!

The last list I want to talk about is a Golgari list that tries to take advantage of Traverse the Ulvenwald, Dark Petition, and Ulvenwald Hydra — basically a toolbox deck. This is where my current list stands.

DECKID=1262890

Card-by-Card Breakdown

Dead Weight: Just a removal spell that deals with early creatures. It is an enchantment so it will also fuel delirium.

Read the Bones: The next best thing from Painful Truths for non-three color black decks.

Seasons Past: The biggest draw spell we've seen in green for a while. This card reminds me a lot of Praetor's Council but for much cheaper. With all the diversity we have in the deck we can vary the cards we get back for that particular moment. Don't forget to get that land as a zero drop!

Duress: Just a good spell that can pluck annoying counterspells or removal for our creatures. It's also a quick way to get a sorcery into our graveyard for delirium!

Kindly Stranger: A nice tutor target when we want to kill a creature or get it preemptively to kill a creature. Don't want too many since you need delirium to flip it.

Deadly Wanderings: Pretty good, especially with our creature-lands, The Gitrog Monster, or Mindwrack Demon. You don't usually have many creatures out with this deck, believe it or not, and Deadly Wanderings help you pull ahead quickly against the attrition decks. It can also serve as a huge life swing against the aggro decks.

Nissa, Vastwood Seer: I wanted a planeswalker to tutor up with Traverse the Ulvenwald and Nissa seemed to be the best one. We can't abuse Liliana here since we can't really flip her.

Sylvan Advocate: Mid- to late-game it's a Tarmogoyf that grows Hissing Quagmire. A great card to have access to.

Languish: A great board wipe that most of our creatures will live through.

Dark Petition: Another way to tutor up a bullet. Card is pretty clunky, so you can't play more than one. It might not be necessary, but it's nice to find bullets against certain matchups. Allows you to "double up" on anything.

Vessel of Nascency: Another way to fuel delirium and is a good target to return with Seasons Past, but it can be a bit slow.

Mindwrack Demon: Delirium enabler and a 4/5 flying trampler. This thing will tango with any creature except a Reality Smasher.

Bearer of Silence: Another creature removal spell that can be quicker than Kindly Stranger if you have the colorless mana.

Virulent Plague: I'm afraid of token decks week one — so many thopters, elementals, and wolves that I don't want to deal with.

The Gitrog Monster: Huge body that generates great card advantage. Plays well with Evolving Wilds, Blighted Fen, and Drownyard Temple. Don't forget: he allows you to play more than one land per turn.

Traverse the Ulvenwald: The reason this deck got started. Early on, it can fix your mana. Mid- to late-game it finds everything you need. If that card is in your graveyard, then grab that Den Protector.

Ulvenwald Hydra: Important to know this tutors any land. This is why I'm playing a Mirrorpool and Mortuary Mire. Mirrorpool can copy Ulvenwald Hydra to get another land. It's also great to get a Mortuary Mire to regrow The Gitrog Monster or a different powerful creature.

Den Protector: Solid card advantage in green. Works extremely well late in the game. I like it more than Greenwarden of Murasa.

Ever After: A spell that can end the game quickly and pressure your opponent with two nasty threats, Then goes on the bottom of your deck for future use if you have a shuffle affect.

Pulse of Murasa: Can loop Den Protectors and also counter opposing reanimation spells.

Grasp of Darkness: A flexible removal spell, but the deck doesn't always have double-black early.

To the Slaughter: We usually have Delirium when it matters, so this card is fantastic.

Ultimate Price: It's an easier-to-cast removal spell than Grasp of Darkness, but I'm not sure how good it is in Shadows over Innistrad Standard.

Ruinous Path: A good target for Dark Petition. A nice catch-all too that can double as a threat late-game.

Ob Nixilis Reignited: The best Planeswalker Golgari has access to. He's removal, card advantage, and a win condition!

I really like this deck but I feel like I can't fully tune it until I know exactly what to expect — it's similar to Esper Dragons in that respect. I'm tempted to play this deck in Baltimore this weekend; I'm torn between this and Esper Dragons at the moment.

So now you have one really good tested deck in Esper Dragons and two tested brews that are both doing really cool things. Sleeve one up and take it to your next tournament! I know I will!

As always thanks for reading,
Ali Aintrazi
@AliEldrazi