When Nekrataal and Man-O'-War were printed in Visions, they changed the game. Ever since, creatures with enter-the-battlefield effects have been among the most important and format-defining cards in Magic. A defining factor in the dominance of these creatures is their ability to be reused and recycled, which unlocks their abilities multiple times. I can clearly remember the moment I came across the idea of combining Flicker with Deranged Hermit — the moment my life changed forever. Years later, Momentary Blink was the centerpiece of my Standard deck with cards like Venser, Shaper Savant and Riftwing Cloudskate. Most players are familiar with Restoration Angel, a creature that has earned notoriety for its own powerful enter-the-battlefield ability of Flicker-ing another creature, among the most important cards during its Standard run, has remained a key card in multiple Modern decks and even sees play in Vintage. Flicker effects go hand-in-hand with enter-the-battlefield creatures wherever they are available.
Ghostway, which offers the ability to re-use the enter-the-battlefield triggers of an entire team of creatures, has spawned its own Modern deck. The printing of a functional reprint, Eerie Interlude, in Shadows over Innistrad is cause for celebration in casual play circles, but it's also important for Standard players that have a great new tool in their arsenal. Eerie Interlude offers the ability to selectively exile creatures as opposed to all of them indiscriminately, so it offers even greater potential than Ghostway, with token-generators in particular. The past Standard season was dominated by a Rally the Ancestors deck that took full advantage of creatures with enter-the-battlefield effects, and while that deck is gone, most of its creatures and many others still remain. Eerie Interlude has a spooky amount of potential in Standard, and today I'll explore some of the ways we make the most of it.
In some ways, Thraben Inspector is the white version of Elvish Visionary. Casting Eerie Interlude with Thraben Inspector in play will produce an extra clue, so it's a real source of value, especially when multiple copies of Thraben Inspector are in play. This combination serves as an excellent card advantage engine that will fuel any Eerie Interlude deck throughout the course of a game. The 1/2 Thraben Inspector isn't impressive, but it's important as a warm body that fulfills the requirement of being a Human. This steers us in towards an Eerie Interlude Human tribal deck.
Shadows over Innistrad brings us another card with an excellent enter-the-battlefield effect for Eerie Interlude: Thalia's Lieutenant. It's also the perfect building block for a Human deck. Pumping all other Human creatures when entering the battlefield is excellent, and it's even better when done multiple times. Thalia's Lieutenant also has the ability of growing whenever another Human enters the battlefield, so it means Eerie Interlude has another synergy, the ability to Flicker other creatures and grow Thalia's Lieutenant. Things get really interesting when you consider what happens when Thalia's Lieutenant enters the battlefield at the same time as another creature: Thalia's Lieutenant will get a +1/+1 counter for each other Human entering play at the same time, and it will put a +1/+1 counter on each other Human in play, including the ones entering the battlefield at the same time. This means Eerie Interlude can create a massive impact, especially when multiple Thalia's Lieutenant are involved .
Shadows over Innistrad brings another excellent Human to the fray, Hanweir Militia Captain. It's not much to look at, but the flip side, Westvale Cult Leader, can be a legitimate threat, and its ability to slowly grow an army and consequently grow itself means it will inevitably win the game if not dealt with.
There has been a recent trend in Standard of excellent two-mana creatures that are functional in the early game but scale upwards into larger threats as games play on, and Hanweir Militia Captain fits the same mold. It's going to be a staple creature during its time in Standard, and it's going to be best in decks that can take advantage of its Human subtype.
Making the most of Hanweir Militia Captain means transforming it as soon as possible, so it needs to be paired with a high density of creatures. Starting with a creature on turn one allows for transforming Hanweir Militia Captain sooner, so it will be best alongside a healthy assortment of one-mana creatures. Kytheon, Hero of Akros is the best of the bunch, and because it too needs a critical mass of creatures to function, it's an ideal card in a deck with Hanweir Militia Captain. Since it's a legend I don't want too many, especially because it's best in draws with multiple one-mana creatures. Thraben Inspector, Expedition Envoy and Dragon Hunter are the next-best options. Town Gossipmonger is very playable, and it could prove best of all.
Hanweir Militia Captain begs to be combined with token generators. Secure the Wastes is the card I most often hear associated with the card, but my mind immediately gravitates towards Thopter Engineer and Pia and Kiran and Nalaar, which are also perfect candidates to use with Eerie Interlude.
Abbot of Keral Keep is another Human with a great enter-the-battlefield effect, so it's another incentive to play red. Combined with Thraben Inspector it gives this deck a ton of Staying Power to rival any card advantage that control decks can produce. Village Messenger would be a consideration for a one-mana inclusion in this deck, but it's not a worthwhile card here because it's flipped side isn't a human and doesn't gain a counter from Thalia's Lieutenant.
The deck includes a playset of Declaration in Stone, which, so far, is my favorite card in the set. I slept on it, but in the past week it was brought to my attention that it is playable. The more I think about the card, the better I think it is, and now I believe it's not only playable, but it's in the same category as Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile. The big cost is giving the opponent a clue, but I believe this cost will prove minimal compared to the massive battlefield advantage it's capable of producing. Clues will be a currency commonly changing hands in the future battlefields of Standard, and in the case of Declaration in Stone, clues will be a nominal price to pay. A clue seems insignificant compared to the free land ramp provided by Path to Exile, a former Standard staple. Declaration in Stone also has the upside of removing all other copies of the same creature! I believe that Declaration in Stone would be one of the best removal spells in Standard even without this clause, and as printed it's overpowered. It's going to be a defining feature of Standard immediately, and I'm going to include four in all of my white decks until I have a reason not to. Don't forget that Declaration in Stone can also be turned around and used as a card drawing spell, turning spare nontoken creatures into clues.
Eerie Interlude and Ghostway don't work exactly like Flicker, Momentary Blink, and Restoration Angel, because the creatures enter the battlefield at end of turn as opposed to immediately. The effect is similar, and they have the same practical purposes of reusing enter-the-battlefield triggers or moving a creature out of the way of a removal spell, but there are some play differences that can occur. Flicker effects can essentially untap a creature, so it can be used to ready a surprise blocker, which Eerie Interlude can't claim to do. On the other hand, Eerie Interlude can be used to completely protect creatures from battlefield sweepers.
With some knowledge of the rules, this fact can be used to proactively break the parity of your own battlefield sweepers. Eerie Interlude's wording means that if it's cast in the "end of turn" step, where players are used to operating, the creatures actually won't enter play until the end of turn of the next turn. This is somewhat restrictive, because it means Eerie Interlude must be used during the opponent's second main phase instead of their end step if you want attackers for your next turn. This stitch in the rules does open up a cool trick, however, because it allows creatures to be selectively exiled from play for a turn cycle. This allows you to turn a sweeper like Planar Outburst into Plague Wind. It's a powerful interaction, and because aggressive white decks have historically turned to battlefield sweepers in their sideboards, it's definitely something I want to take advantage of in my Standard Eerie Interlude decks.
Cleric of the Forward Order is called to the majors thanks to Arashin Cleric's retirement, and it's especially good with Eerie Interlude. Any Cleric of the Forward Order entering play will trigger for each Cleric of the Forward Order in play, including other copies entering play at the same time, so two entering play at once will gain eight life, three will gain eighteen life, and four will gain thirty-two life.
The red creatures combine with the new white creatures and Eerie Interlude to create a coherent and convincing deck. It looks to be competitive, and it's something I look forward to playing with more.
Don't lie, the first creature you thought of when you read Eerie Interlude was Reflector Mage. The idea of abusing that particular enter-the-battlefield ability is a fantasy we have all entertained, and it compels us to explore a W/U Eerie Interlude deck. Reflector Mage is a human, so I set out to build W/U Eerie Interlude Human decks, especially considering that Whirler Rogue and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy are also humans.
There may be the tools for a great W/U Human deck in Standard, but I have not been satisfied with any of the decks I've put together. To best utilize Hanweir Militia Captain, Eldrazi Skyspawner can replace Thopter Engineer, but it's not a Human and won't be a fit in a Human deck. As it turns out, my mistake has been my focus on the human theme. Moving away from Thalia's Lieutenant opens up deckbuilding space and allows me to take a slightly different direction.
One of my qualms with my Eerie Interlude decks thus far is that the one-mana creatures beyond Thraben Inspector have no synergy with the card. Blue offers a one-mana creature that begs to be blinked, Faerie Miscreant. If two copies enter the battlefield at the same time, both copies will trigger, so it has the potential to generate massive card advantage with Eerie Interlude. This package of eight one-mana creatures capable of producing cards serve as the perfect backbone to a W/U Eerie Interlude deck.
More than a source of card advantage, Faerie Miscreant also helps maximize our ability to flip Hanweir Militia Captain. They can become quite threatening in multiples, and they are brought to their fullest potential when combined with another card I love with Eerie Interlude, Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit. This legend doesn't actually have an enter-the-battlefield effect, but it gives one to each of your creatures that do enter play. Combined with Eerie Interlude it generates a bolster trigger for each other creature you control, which is effectively a do-it-yourself anthem.
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy is a lot of fun in this deck because it can recast Eerie Interlude. This ability is also great on Declaration in Stone, and along with Reflector Mage provides this deck with plenty of disruption for opposing creatures.
Eerie Interlude is great for producing value, but maybe it can be taken even further. The Four-Color Rally the Ancestors deck proved the value of pushing things to their limit in Standard, and it inspires to me to make every attempt to break Eerie Interlude in the post-rotation format.
Magic Origins brought the Elf tribe to Standard, and with it a nearly self-contained Elf deck. It has not been competitive in Standard, but rotation has completely changed the rules of the format, and it brings previously underpowered decks like Elves back into consideration. It offers many creatures with great enter-the-battlefield triggers, and it has just enough tools to create a complete deck based around Eerie Interlude. Elvish Visionary draws extra cards, Dwynen's Elite produces extra tokens, and Sylvan Messenger digs for extra creatures. It's all rounded out by a payoff of Shaman of the Pack, which can be Flickered to cause the opponent to lose life multiple times.
I'm hesitant to try three-color decks in Shadows over Innistrad Standard, and I've been focusing nearly the entirety of my efforts on one and two-color decks, but this is worth exploring. I initially discarded the idea entirely simply because it was three colors, but I had to revisit the idea. I'm staunchly against playing extra colors for the sake of it, so I only ever consider playing extra colors in decks if it's a necessity. Rather than a forced three-color deck to work, I realized that this deck was an example of deckbuilding naturally arriving at a three-color deck, so it's the perfect case study for making a three-color manabase work in the format. If I am going to play a three-color deck it's because the deck is so powerful that it overcomes the downsides of being three colors and that it couldn't exist without the third color. This deck is built around its synergy, which is extremely powerful, and which hinges around Eerie Interlude, so three colors is a necessity.
The mana of this deck is surprisingly strong, and specifically the eight untapped black painlands casting Gnarlroot Trapper on turn one gives it very stable legs to stand on. The creature lands give this deck an even greater power level. Combined with Sylvan Advocate, they provide a dynamic aggressive element and secondary plan to back up the Eerie Interlude value strategy.
Eerie Interlude has potential with the many creatures in Standard with excellent enter-the-battlefield abilities, and it will only get better as more creatures are printed. I haven't mentioned its great interaction with Goblin Dark-Dwellers, which can cast Eerie Interlude from the graveyard, which Flickers itself to cast another card. What other ways can we use Eerie Interlude? Share your ideas in the comments!