The first Pro Tour of the year is over. While the weekend yielded many stories, I want to focus on the cards. The Top 8 was extremely diverse in terms of archetypes, colors, and individual cards, which is a good sign for Shadows over Innistrad Standard. Most Top 8s, even diverse ones, have one or two decks with multiple copies, making this one of the more exciting Top 8s for someone who likes to brew.

Brewing with a specific deck in mind as public enemy number one is certainly a thing, but it requires a much different approach than brewing for a field as open as this. Here, we should look to be a little more proactive while maintaining a wide range of answers so as to not be caught off guard by any particular deck or card. Playing the likes of Ruinous Path is going to be safer than Ultimate Price. Transgress the Mind is likely safer than Duress and Thought-Knot Seer is safer than both.

We want to be prepared for as many things as possible using as few cards as possible. In addition to that, we need to execute on our own game plan.

There are some powerful combos and synergies in Standard in the Pro Tour Top 8, and to ignore them completely would be foolish. Instead, I want to get the best of both worlds and work on something that was resilient, proactive, and powerful.

One of the cooler synergy cards in recent memory is Pyromancer's Goggles. The card has a sweet text box, but its applications in Standard has been limited; mostly burn spells and small toolbox spells were what we had to work with. The Cruel Ultimatums of the world are pretty few and far between. But value can be had with the Magmatic Insights and Fiery Impulses of the world, as the Top 8 of Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad showed us.

What if we took it further, and found another engine to work with those spells.

Enter everyone's favorite frog horror.

The Gitrog Monster has a unique set of cards that it synergizes with, but the cross-section of where it overlaps with Pyromancer's Goggles is pretty loud. Both Magmatic Insight and Tormenting Voice are great with both five-drop engines. Additionally, if you decide to go with Molten Vortex, the red mana from Goggles can come in handy there. After a day of brewing, this was where I arrived for my first round of playtesting.

DECKID=1264454

Many of the cool The Gitrog Monster interactions that I wanted to include did not end up making this list, but I actually think showing that restraint was good in this case.

This leaves us with a very Jund-esque shell. Our creature base is a little bigger and we have a little more synergy, but our wins are going to come from our card-advantaging our opponents and sneaking in damage, chunks at a time.

There are a lot of different directions to take this deck and I certainly want to keep exploring them. Some of the better options I did not show include:

Arlinn Kord
Duress
Atarka's Command
Ulvenwald Hydra
Crawling Sensation
Nissa's Renewal
Dragonmaster Outcast
Mina and Denn, Wildborn
Molten Vortex
Nissa, Vastwood Seer
Sylvan Advocate
Traverse the Ulvenwald

Next week we will be exploring more of these directions, running multiple lists through a mini-gauntlet, so expect more matches and more decklists then! Until next week, thanks for watching!

--Conley Woods--