Sometimes brewing is pointless because the best deck in the format is too oppressive. Decks that fit this description are Mono-Black Devotion, Caw-Blade, and Faeries. Other times, though, the decks are all pretty even, and you can win with almost anything as long as you put time into it. Shadows over Innistrad Standard is an example of a format like this.
Shadows over Innistrad Standard is pretty wide open. Formats like this are a brewer's paradise. So for this week I have a treat for you. I have two brews from two friends that are very exciting. One is Gitrog with Molten Vortex in Standard and the other is a Planeswalker Modern Brew. I've only played a handful of matches with both decks and both show promise. These are both sweet lists so I'm pretty excited!
First up is the Gitrog Vortex.
The deck is full of value and once it gets going, it's hard to stop and you'll threaten to bury your opponent in an avalanche of card advantage and… lands. Let's go over the maindeck and some of its interactions.
Magmatic Insight: A nice way to trade lands into actual spells in the late game. It's also great to discard a Nephalia Drownyard just to ramp with it.
We want these twins here for the extra land drop per turn clause and to give our big creatures trample like The Gitrog Monster or Ulvenwald Hydra. A lot of decks are also moving away from Grasp of Darkness and more towards Ultimate Price which makes this more resilient.
Molten Vortex allows you to play a mini-control game. The deck doesn't run the full four because multiple drawn copies don't add anything.
A creature that tutors a land and can later become a Planeswalker? Sign me up!
Pulse of Murasa: Buying back lands and creatures is what the deck wants to do. We also get to gain life so we can last longer and get to the mid/late game.
One of the best board wipes in Standard.
Seek the Wilds: I wish Seek the Wilds put the cards in the graveyard or let you pick both. Even though it doesn't it's still pretty good here since it allows us to make our land drops early and late game allows us to find our threats.
Arguably the best green creature in Standard. Fantastic early since it stems the bleeding and great mid-game. I'm sure it will have to talk to Tireless Tracker first but there is no denying the power level of Sylvan Advocate in Standard. Mina and Denn, Wildborn can also help us get to that magical six lands and to do some real damage.
I've praised Chandra, Flamecaller many a time and this occasion is no different. She's great at defense, offense, and refueling.
This frog will not only eat our lands but it'll also eat our opponents. With Mina and Denn, Wildborn, he can gain trample, and the combination of Deathtouch and Trample is a nasty one. The Gitrog Monster will also trigger the draw ability from other sources a good amount. Evolving Wilds, Molten Vortex, Magmatic Insight, and Chandra, Flamecaller all work to draw extra cards.
Speaking of drawing cards. Tireless Tracker draws cards and grows to a monstrous size if left unchecked. Mina and Denn, Wildborn are also great here, not only giving it trample but also giving you more landfall triggers!
The six-mana tutor creature that really wants Mina and Denn's trample ability, but even if the board is clogged, just go ahead and get a Rogue's Passage to push through those last points of damage. The card you usually get however is Mirrorpool so you can start cloning your Ulvenwald Hydra and amass green monsters and lands.
I won't break the cards in the sideboard down but just know the deck can turn into a tapout control deck with the help of Languish, Chandra, Flamecaller, Radiant Flames, and Groundskeeper who will help you buyback lands so you can continue killing creatures with Molten Vortex. Don't play Groundskeeper as a one-drop since you have Radiant Flames and Languish. Try to control the board a little bit first then play it to buyback some lands so you can reuse them, even if that's just to discard right back to Magmatic Insight.
This deck has a lot of small synergies and it tends to do well against a lot of decks, but can struggle pretty hard against ramp strategies. That's nothing new though — most midrange decks will struggle to beat a ramp player without dedicating a lot of slots to the sideboard.
Next up I want to talk about a Modern Planeswalker list. This one was designed by my buddy Darryl Donaldson. If you remember when Modern first started out there was a Bant Planeswalker deck floating around that was doing pretty well against all the midrange decks but never really stuck. Oath of Nissa which changes things a lot. It not only helps us hit land drops or our bombs, but it also helps cast them. Here is the list.
Bam! A beauty/monstrosity only a mother could love. The deck takes advantage of the creature ramp like many decks in Modern. However, the similarities end there.
People that play creature ramp tend to also play a lot of other creatures. This deck doesn't. It plays a few more creatures but those creatures either draw you cards or ramp you some more. The goal of the deck is to ramp into a Planeswalker or two and then defend them until they can take over the game. We are defending them so hard that we are even willing to lose them to wipe the board clean with a Supreme Verdict.
I haven't played this deck yet but I'm excited to do so. The only thing I want to try and change are the Sylvan Caryatid into Fertile Ground and maybe the Birds of Paradise into Utopia Sprawl. However, I will try the list as is first and then make adjustments accordingly. The creatures don't get bounced with Cryptic Command and they can't get Ghost Quarter'd. Maybe the Sylvan Caryatids give you big game against the aggressive strategies in the format by blocking a couple times or even going under the bus.
Let's talk about this Commander all-star for a moment, shall we? Doubling Season allows all your Planeswalkers except Kiora, the Crashing Wave to ultimate right away. Ultimating a Jace, Architect of Thought or Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker as soon as they enter the battlefield is game over. Ultmating a Tamiyo, the Moon Sage insures you never run out of gas ever again. Let's just say if you have Doubling Season out your opponent should be nervous.
Obviously this deck is a very new brew so if you decide to take it on and build on it then keep some of these cards in mind.
Fog/Dawn Charm: This a good way to protect your Planeswalkers from your opponent's creatures for one turn. With Tamiyo, the Moon Sage's ultimate it will lock out opponents that play creature-based decks without infinite combos.
Fertile Ground / Overgrowth / Utopia Sprawl / Garruk Wildspeaker: Mana fixing and ramping. Consider Garruk Wildspeaker if you decide to test out Fertile Ground or any other land enchantment ramp spell.
Liliana of the Veil/Ensnaring Bridge: Ensnaring Bridge isn't usually good here since you have so many cards that cost a bunch of mana but if you are play a lot of Liliana of the Veil, then Ensnaring Bridge becomes more appealing.
Explore: Just another way to ramp. The only problem with this card is it isn't guaranteed ramp like everything else.
Serum Visions: This could be good in addition to Oath of Nissa. Serum Visions is never really exciting but it does get the job done.
Time Warp/Savor the Moment: Extra turns are fantastic to have when you're playing Planeswalkers. However, when you don't control a Planeswalker they're just a glorified Explore. Doubling Season is kinda like Time Warp except it's slower but threatens to kill the opponent on the following turn.
Eternal Witness/Venser, the Sojourner: This little combo will get you a lot of value. It's also infinite turns if you happen to play Time Warp or any other extra turn affect that doesn't exile itself.
I wouldn't play Emrakul, the Aeons Torn unless I played at least three Nahiri, the Harbinger.
Hope you enjoyed this nice little break from the established decks. Sometimes it's nice to breathe a little and play a brew. I love it, especially since that's why I started playing Magic. I've always liked playing off-the-wall decks or decks that I've designed. These two brews are sure to turn some heads wherever you play them.
As always thanks for reading!
Until next time,