Last week I began exploring Shadows over Innistrad Standard by going to a familiar place: putting lands into the graveyard. This time around, the lands belonged to me for a change and our frog overlord sat watching over the process from his horrific throne. Pyromancer's Goggles was one way to build with The Gitrog Monster, but certainly not the only way. I wanted to use Traverse the Ulvenwald to help act as additional copies of the frog horror without actually having to play three or four copies of it as it is a legendary frog at that.
After some initial brewing, I was having difficulty getting Traverse the Ulvenwald to work with the Pyromancer's Goggles shell. Pyromancer's Goggles asks a lot in terms of deck construction; a significant portion of your cards need to work with the artifact. Similarly, Traverse the Ulvenwald needs a bunch of creatures and lands to reach delirium. Both cards were pulling in different directions too much with really only Tormenting Voice holding them together, so I decided to ditch Pyromancer's Goggles and see where Traverse the Ulvenwald could take me.
Traverse the Ulvenwald needs delirium in order to be a playable card, so we need to keep that constraint in mind when building. A card like Hangarback Walker is going to provide us with a key bonus as it fulfills two card types in the graveyard. Similarly, a card like Oath of Nissa is an easy way to fit an enchantment into our deck while gaining a little more tutor power to add consistency to our toolbox shell that Traverse the Ulvenwald already asks for.
I specifically wanted to take this idea to an extreme and litter my list with a ton of different one-ofs that would provide value in a wide range of situations. For example, Dragonmaster Outcast is not a card I want to be running four copies of, as it is just so bad in too many situations, but when I can conveniently tutor it up on turn six and cast it for a small mana investment, it gets much better.
Other cards make sense in larger numbers, like Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, but we can still afford to shave numbers here just to fit in more overall answers. Meanwhile, our sideboard can house additional strong cards like Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. Here is my first attempt at Traversing the Frog.
It is important to not focus on any single tutor target in this list as we can adjust that sort of thing with more testing and as the metagame takes shape. Instead, we want to focus on the greater shell here. Does our tutor package actually work? Are we enabling delirium consistently? How is our mana and curve? Do we have any obvious weaknesses to address with the board?
We have tried to answer some of these questions, which is why there are three copies of Radiant Flames in the board, but only playtesting is going to validate any of this.
The Gitrog Monster might have a lesser role in this list than in the previous iteration, but he still ribbits strong when he does hit the table. Because there's so much recursion, every single copy of a creature in our deck can come back many times over, providing a lot of extra utility on top of having a wide range of answers. The Gitrog Monster is mostly a generic threat with card advantage built into it here, but that works nicely with similar cards such as Ulvenwald Hydra.
Next week I will likely be looking at two different brews. One of these will go all-in on The Gitrog Monster, harder than last week's brew even, while the other will begin exploring other directions to take in Shadows over Innistrad Standard. Until then, thanks for reading!