Over the next few weeks, I want to do something a little different. Most weeks, I choose to write about and/or record with various brews I have been working on. Usually, this is fine as I am focused on a single brew and want to show its progress. Occasionally though, too many sweet ideas are circling around in my head and I can't figure out where I want to focus my efforts.
There are so many sweet cards and mechanics to build around in Shadows over Innistrad Standard that I have not found the time to tackle them all. That is why this week, I wanted to open the floor for brew input and suggestions.
Below, I will briefly cover some of my favorite cards or strategies from Shadows Over Innistrad that have not been fully fleshed out by the community at large. So while Esper Dragons won't be an option, Vampires and Triskaidekaphobia, which have not really caught on, will be.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to vote for up to three of these cards/decks that you would like to see featured next week. I will be brewing around the most popular choices as noted in the poll below and then showing off the result of that brewing as well as matches with each list next week.
Delirium which tends to offer some big payoffs. Cards like Soul Swallower, Traverse the Ulvenwald and Mindwrack Demon are extremely powerful once you do the work to turn on delirium, but no card goes from chump to champ quite as well as Autumnal Gloom. A three-mana 4/4 hexproof trampler is strong and when you are not there, at least the frontside works toward getting you there.
I posted a very basic version of this deck right after the release of the set, but this is an idea that can use further iteration and attention.
Behold the Beyond is one of the more exciting cards from Shadows over Innistrad. It's effect is both powerful and flexible, so there are a million different ways to go with it. I wanted to give people a chance to vote on it.
One of the most fun cards in Shadows over Innistrad, and it's been mostly overlooked thus far. It is possible that this just requires too much work to be worth the effort, but it is also possible that this is a sleeper waiting to be broken.
I am leaving this one open and focusing primarily on the concept of milling yourself and gaining value off that way. Liliana's Indignation has a clear function, whereas Epiphany at the Drownyard can easily be used as a draw spell but picks up synergy all over the place. Chances are good that a deck does not want to play both of these, but some further exploration can certainly be done.
One of my favorite cards from Shadows over Innistrad that has not really seen the competitive Exploration that I would have hoped. This acts like a powerful reanimation spell on the surface. While it does cost a few more mana than most Zombify, you theoretically are getting back double the value off of your Zombify.
So let's assume that Zombify typically returns an eight-drop to play, it actually saves you four total mana (ignoring the costs to discard the fatty). While Ever After costs two more mana than Zombify, if you manage to return two equally-deserving fatties that cost eight mana each, you are actually saving a total of 10 mana (six cost, generating 16 mana worth of value). So while this has a 50% cost increase, it rewards you with 100% increase in value.
If we can take this even further and have the two creatures we return combo with each other in some way, then we can actually just win the game for our six mana. To understand this, think back to Tooth and Nail. While the card could easily find a couple of giants, what it was used for most often was to grab two creatures that comboed off, like Triskelion and Mephidross Vampire, or Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Sundering Titan.
Because it requires creatures in the graveyard, Ever After far harder than Tooth and Nail to set up, but unlike Tooth and Nail, we don't need nine mana to go off, so this strategy works in a wider range of shells than just ramp.
Just to kick us off, here are some of the better expensive creatures to bring back from the dead:
Angel of Deliverance
Deceiver of Form
Kozilek, the Great Distortion
Omnath, Locus of Rage
Sphinx of the Final Word
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
While I started playing Magic in 2003, I did not really become interested in the competitive scene for a few years after that. I remember watching Pro Tour Honolulu in 2006 as my first live Pro Tour. During that event, while there were a lot of sweet "traditional" decks, such as Zoo and W/B Midrange, there was also a very odd deck known as Owling Mine. The deck was awesome because it won on an axis that other decks did not even explore. Its goal was to keep your hand full at all times to kill you through Ebony Owl Netsuke. Alternatively, the deck could occasionally deck you, but in general, Ebony Owl Netsuke's damage was the win condition.
Fevered Visions gives you the win condition aspect of Ebony Owl Netsuke while also giving you the Howling Mine needed to support it. Other effects like Engulf the Shore need to be used to ensure you triggered your Fevered Dreams, but the deck concept seems mostly in tact and I would love to explore it further.
This deck is rather linear but has a lot of different directions to go in. Clues offer a lot of payoffs in addition to cycling naturally, so building around them makes sense. Some type of combo strategy involving Second Harvest, Confront the Unknown, and Tamiyo's Journal could be really saucy (albeit slow).
Cards like Graf Mole offer you a ton of life along the way to keep you afloat while Tireless Tracker just does its broken thing. Some of the more appealing cards for this strategy include:
Confront the Unknown
When the set first came out, one of the decks I was excited to explore was B/R Vampires. The deck seemed to make coherent sense, with a lot of powerful cards. As I explored the set more, Vampires was pushed to the back burner, not because it didn't seem strong, but because so many other cool decks and ideas kept coming up. Working on Vampires doesn't sound nearly as fun as putting together Traverse the Ulvenwald stacks or messing around with Brain in a Jar.
I have noticed a few people ask for Vampire follow ups over the past few weeks, so I wanted to give an official chance at a deeper look. While I have the feeling that most people will arrive at close lists to my own, I also realize that the newest tribal deck has not gotten too much premier level attention as of yet.
While Second Harvest makes a lot of sense in the clue strategy, that is hardly the only home for a spell that doubles all of your tokens.
Tokens are generally thought of as an aggressive strategy, but Standard has great midrange and control options as well. Just to give you an idea of the depth here, check out a brief list of options:
From Under the Floorboards
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Secure the Wastes
While some of these are not as great with Second Harvest as others, there is some real potential behind a lot of these.
Not a lot of explanation is needed here. Ideally, this would fit into some kind of offensive mill strategy, although it is possible that this is good enough as a standalone win condition in some type of control deck.
Another one that doesn't need much of an explanation. Triskaidekaphobia is the definition of a build-around as it asks you to go on a very specific quest that typical win conditions do not. A deck built around this card would have the ability to manipulate your opponent's life total as well as your own, in both directions. You also probably want some additional way to win the game, but that is something we can explore should this make the vote!
There are a lot of cards in Standard that could have made this list, but these are the things I feel most motivated to work with and passion is always important when you are channeling creativity.
Again, vote for up to three of the ideas above and I will be building lists of the top two or three vote-getters and battling with them next week. Until then, thanks for reading and be sure to drop your votes below!