Shadows over Innistrad limited, specifically draft, resembles Innistrad. Both limited formats are archetype-driven but each archetype is based on a wide range of linear options.

In Battle for Zendikar, you could end up in any color pair and have a good deck, but the identity of that G/W deck probably wasn't very different from your R/G deck. Support could be drafted around, but it does not have the same payoffs as drafting a tribal deck, which is something Shadows over Innistrad captures.

It's easy to compare Shadows over Innistrad to Ravnica. Ravnica tends to have ten archetypes defined by color pairs, but that doesn't happen until an entire Ravnica block is out. So far, there have not been all ten color pairs in just one Ravnica set, while Shadows over Innistrad supports all ten color pairs. In addition, Shadows over Innistrad contains a ton of individual build-arounds or hybrid strategies that combine two linears into something brand new.

For example, in the videos you will see one of my opponents in R/G Wolves, which is one of the more defined archetypes in the set. They added black to their list for added delirium-enabling and removal. In Ravnica, a bunch of gold cards limited what you could do, but Shadows over Innistrad has the archetypal feel of those gold sets without actually containing any multicolor cards at common or uncommon. This allows the mixing and matching of cards and strategies to happen that much more often.

Looking at the commons and uncommons of Shadows over Innistrad, it's easy to identify a bunch of different strategies, with a ton of build-arounds at rare and mythic as well. Some of the louder themes that surface include:

Red/Blue Instants/Sorceries
Accursed Witch
Black/Red Madness
Green/Black Delirium
White/Green Humans
Black/Red Vampires
White/Red Auras/Equipment
Uncaged Fury All In
Green/Red Werewolves
Blue/Green Clues
Blue/Black Madness
Blue/Black Zombies
Blue/White Spirits
White/Red Tokens
White/Black Tokens
Liliana's Indignation
Rise from the Tides
Green Lands Matter
Blue Mill

Most of these archetypes can cross over with another to form a hybrid. In the video, we begin by wanting to pursue a token strategy based in white. As the packs continued to pass though, less and less token synergy came around while more and more spirits were shipped to us. By the end, we have a hybrid of spirits/tokens that worked rather well.

Another common hybrid I have seen has been Grixis Madness. Because the majority of madness stuff and discard enablers falls into these three colors, incorporating the best of the best means playing them all, although your fixing needs to be on point to pull this off.

Innistrad had a similar structure as two-color pairs had obvious incentives, but cards like Spider Spawning and Burning Vengeance enabled entire archetypes on their own. This creates a deep and replayable format; not only is there a wide variety of things to play, but each different thing has varying degrees of success. Drafting the Spider Spawning deck or Rise from the Tides deck at 60% feels a heck of a lot different than drafting it at 100%. This lottery effect of drafting the best possible version of your archetype helps make each draft that much more fun.

Synergy Vs Power

Typically in limited, I am a big fan of power before anything else. In other words, bombs, good removal, and two-for-ones just hold so much individual power that the best play is to try to play as many of those as possible. In Shadows over Innistrad, that remains true, but the bar moves up quite a bit so that a mediocre synergy card might edge out a more powerful card in the hopes of arriving at the best possible final deck.

You can see me take this gamble on multiple occasions during the posted draft. I take Inspiring Captain knowing that it only goes into my deck with enough token support. Despite having a good number of fliers, I simply could not justify the card in the end because of too many four-drops and a lack of synergy putting it over the top. Meanwhile, a card like Tenacity is powerful enough in a U/W fliers shell that it made the cut despite serving a similar role. Risking picks on synergy over power can have huge returns. If my deck had ended up with three or four more token producers, those Inspiring Captains would've moved to the maindeck in a heartbeat.

Do not be afraid to draft around sweet rares and mythics, even if they aren't something you have drafted around before. Cards like Second Harvest, Bygone Bishop, and Eerie Interlude can provide huge payoffs for strategies that are already not too bad without them. (Second Harvest works with clue tokens, by the way!)

Most importantly, have fun with the set. There is so much depth and fun stuff to do that it can get really boring just drafting the same archetype over and over again because you think you know it better than another one. Becoming a master of the set means learning all of the various archetypes and being able to draft them when it is correct to do so. So get to exploring. There are clues to be investigated.

--Conley Woods--