Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Building Standard - The Archetype Enablers of Innistrad

Hey all, release is next weekend! After opening up more Fevered Visions than I would ever want to, pre-release is over, and it's time to start looking forward to constructed with Shadows over Innistrad.

This is not very good.
I'm sure some of you popped open better promos than I did. Actually, I imagine most of you who didn't open Fevered Visions did. But were these balling new rares and mythics standard allstars, or are they going to be tossed into the bulk bin right after you're done unsleeving them?

We're going to look at what cards we feel have the chance to drive some new archetypes in standard. Some of these are controversial, which feels really stupid to say about a trading card game, but I've come to accept that my priorities in life aren't exactly where they should be. On the other hand, some of these are obviously strong cards and it would be surprising if they didn't see any play.

Hmm, nope, can't see any reason to ever run this.
And still others have a potential power level that's like Goku's after training in that spaceship thing, but may not have the support crew to help them out. These ideas aren't ranked in any order of power, and you can consider this more of a blob of stuff rather than a numbered list. The last card isn't necessarily better than the first. I may obnoxiously say which I think is best, but I am a biased P.O.S. so feel free to ignore that part.

I'm also not going to talk about cards that are going to see widespread sideboard play, but not much maindeck. For example, there's no denying that Dual Shot could be a huge play in the right matchups, but no one is going to mainboard four copies just in case the opponent is running a bunch of one toughness dudes. Besides, no one wants a common to be remembered as the most played card of a set.

Yeah, that'd be a stupid set if a common was the most played pro tour card.
I'm also not going to talk about dual lands. Actually, you know what, I will. I give all the rare duals first place because they'll see more play than the other cards. There, that's out of the way.

So let's check it out! If you aren't sure what you want to be playing in standard this time around, maybe one of these cards will tickle your pickle in just the right way, and you'll finally get that constructed inspiration you need.

Is Red/Green here to beat some face?

He will stand on stuff and scream until you put him in your deck.
This set brought a lot of cool tribal cards, and some of these have even been pushed hard enough to see standard play. This is a nice change, since the past few limited-focused tribes like Thopters and Elves never put up much of a showing. One of the tribes, Red/Green wolves and werewolves, has one particular card that is highly hyped. Is she enough to push the deck into constructed tiers?

Wolf, bolt, wolf, bolt...
No one can deny that Arlinn's abilities can fuck some shit up. Those of you who were lucky enough to play her in the prerelease probably got to see just how stupid giving anything +2/+2 and vigilance is when you're ahead. Then spawning free guys and killing stuff when your behind isn't a bad deal either. Arlinn makes a deck beat down hard. Her front side plus can give your big guys you've just played haste, or you can come back from a losing board with a bunch of 2/2s and -1 bolts. Her lovely red/green color brought some friends to play, too.

In my head-canon this is Tibalt in his final form.
Though Sin Prodder is, to quote, "wildly unplayable in constructed" according to LSV (Note: He later took this back and wrote a huge essay about it that I was too lazy to read, but I guess his final opinion is that it's "ok"), I'm gonna go out on a limb and say like 50% of us still try to make him work. He can do damage with his menacy body, and his other words present potential burn or card advantage. He may end up being a flop, but if a deck wants him, I imagine it will be a midrange/beatdown deck, and not the top end in an agro deck, since he is a bit slow for that.

Duskwatch Recruiter is another one featured above that could make the cut. A two drop bear that can be a mana-sink for card advantage later is a good play at most points in the game. His flipside making dudes cheaper is nice, and will be a nice side to be on after you activate his ability once or twice and have a hand full of tasty fatfats. Duskwatch's biggest problem is the slot he's in - is the two drop already too crowded? We have Sylvan Advocate, Deathcap Cultivator, Hangarback Walker, Makindi Sliderunner, Abbot of Keral Keep, and probably a bunch of other great cards that I can't remember clogging up that spot.

Oh, and let's not forget that Collected Company is great here as well. Thank you everyone for popularizing the name Coco-pups, cause that's perfect. And speaking of pups...

Maybe you're more a fan of gimmicky combos:

Similar to Sponges, wolves reproduce by budding.
Silverfur and a buttload of werewolves would be a lot of fun with pump spells. The new Rush of Adrenaline to shoot through damage, Titan's Strength to... well, shoot through damage, and whatever other pumps we have available. Sure, that sounds great, but if only we had some other insane-but-not-efficient card to throw in there...

Oh, yeah, this will do.
Zada and a board with Silverfur a few pups is enough to take Rush of Adrenaline from "boring pump spell" to "oh jesus, how much damage goes through?"

You'll get 2/2 wolves equal to the number of wolves on the field, and everything already on the field gets +2/+1 and gets trompley. The new Rabid Bite + Zada and a field of wolves is also one of the sexiest two cost removal combos I can think of.

Do I think this deck is going to be tier 1? No. Do I think this deck is going to surprise-murder a couple of tier 1 decks at FNM? Oh god yes.

Sorry, I'm more of the kind of guy that doesn't want any friends after a game:

Jace, Unraveler of Playgroups.
Control looks set to rock and roll in this meta. New Jace is basically Blue Nixilis, and he's neat. He won't be the cornerstone of decks, but he certainly looks like he'll help. Sleeve up a copy or two and try a control deck! That is of course assuming you already have your playset of childhood Jace.

For the low buy-in of $100 per card, you too can play blue!
I don't think every blue deck needs to play JVP to be competitive, but let's be honest. They probably should. This card is stupid, and with madness, it is stupider.

Well, fuck.
Jace, Vryn's Perfection is now also a burn spell! Hooray! Tap him, draw a card, cast bolt. Alternatively, tap him, draw a card, bounce a non-land permanent. U/R based control has access to this heresy, and I expect I'll have to get used to it sooner or later. Going Grixis also gets you access to that dope card draw with Ob Nixlis and Painful Truths. Throw in Kalitas and Chandra as your finishers, and it sounds like your BFZ-standard-priced control deck is ready to roll! Hey - at least you don't need fetches, right?

There's also a good chance that Esper control stays dominant. We still have Ojutai in standard, after all. Sorin and Anguished Unmaking are amazing cards from the new set that push Esper with the Jace crew as well. Sorin's plus is a great win condition; it draws you a ton of cards and conveniently shoots their face for a bunch. Personally I'm a fan of Grixis, because casting Fiery Tempers and Avacy's Judgements off of toddler Jace sounds too good to pass up, but we'll see what flavor ends up winning as time goes on.

Woah, woah. All of these decks sound like I need to think. I prefer to turn sideways indiscriminately:

Yeah, I got you.
Rakdos is back and ready to rumble. Olivia is lookin' fit, and she can make your deck stupid by making all of your creatures +1/+1 and hastey. Vampires could be a very aggressive deck with the right support. All along the curve they have some great plays, and the synergy is real between a few key pieces. Like, check this asshole out.

Literally built to turn sideways ASAP.
Giving all your vamps madness is going to be very powerful later in the game. With cards like Heir of Falkenrath and Olivia, madness will range from quite useable to baller as hell. I mean, how does this sound:

Turn 1 Mountain and Falkenrath.
Turn 2 Swamp, swing, and Heir.
Turn 3, land, madness in Olivia to flip Heir, swing.

Seems dumb. Then you can play another Heir, Gorger, or Olivia's Bloodsworn with a madness'd Fiery Temper to give it haste and a counter. Or just madness in an Heir to give your Bloodsworn haste and a counter. So many choices! Just do it, man. It sounds like it'll feel fuckin' gooood, and I wish I had the 4x Kalitas that this deck will inevitably need as well.

Man, I still dunno. Multiple colors confuse me:

Still technically multiple colors, but whatever. Shut up.
IS IT FINALLY TIME? DO WHITE WEENERS GET THEIR CHANCE FOR GLORY? Man, I have no idea, but mono-white looks like it's ready to rock and roll. We got a new team-vigilance enchantment, and this one is significantly better than Brave the Sands.

Cue music by The Police.
Always Watching, though a creepy concept, is a card with a lot of potential. I figured this out as I got my face fucked by like 40 5/5 vigilance dudes over the weekend. It was rough. But does it have the power to burst into standard? I can't be sure, but if it does, here's how I think it would.

Thraben Inspector and Kideon are the one drops. Thraben can get you a card later, or right on turn two if you fucked up and have nothing else to do. Kideon is obviously just strong, and if you can get him to flip early, his walker side is good threat that can double as defense.

I have to include both images of this card, because unlike Jace, we haven't had him shoved at us every game for half a year.
In the two-drop slot you have Knight of the White Orchid to get you some lands or Consul Lieutenant for more pumps. You also get Declaration in Stone, some primo white removal from SoI. Then at three we have our staple, Always Watching. Getting near the high end we have the absolute powerhouses of full-grown BFZ Gideon, Archangel of Tithes, and Avacyn. Archangel of Tithes in particular looks just stupid with Always Watching, and that is not a combo I ever want to be facing down.

Its vulnerabilities are similar to any other agro deck, in that early boardwipes hurt, and later game there's a chance to run out of steam. Luckily Shadows was good to us once again!

Spooky ghost lady will keep you safe.
This anti-boardwipe tech is especially powerful in the deck I just outlined. Avacyn and Knight of the White Orchid both re-trigger their ETB effects, which are delicious, if not always relevant. Most importantly is Thraben Inspector. The card draw from her clues will already carry you to the mid game, and using Eerie Interlude to blank removal or a boardwipe while also netting another clue is going to be some big game. I look forward to trying this, but like most decks, I don't have the big required mythic, so I'll be playing the next deck instead.

I dunno, all of those decks look like they could actually be good. How about a pile of cardboard garbage:

Ok, now we're getting closer to my price range.
Groundskeeper is letting me finally realize a dream that I have had since Origins was dropped. Folks, it's time for Land-control.  Hear me out.

Molten Vortex is hilarious - I think we can all agree there. Wanna know what I find more hilarious? Just basing your entire terrible standard deck off of it.

Groundskeeper makes Molten Vortex a very repeatable three mana for two damage. Sure, that's not the fastest two card combo, but it's good fun. If you're playing against a low-toughness deck, quite often you can just murder everything as it hits the field, then reclaim your lands as you see fit when you want to kill them. These two need a bit of support, but it isn't a ton, and it makes for a dirt cheap deck.

Along with our two main pieces you'll want to run a bit of draw. Tormenting Voice is top tier in this deck. Once you already have a Molten Vortex, the others are junk unless they have enchantment removal. Being able to toss it to grab two more cards (probably land) is big. Magmatic Insight helps in the exact opposite scenario - you have too much land but don't have a Groundskeeper or Vortex.

I also like to include a playset of Jaddi Offshoot. They can block early drops and can grab you a few points of life, which can keep you in the game long enough to burn everything out. Alternatively (or in addition to) you can run Pulse of Murasa, which will gain you life and also bring back fallen Groundskeepers. Toss Reclaim in the board to bring back whatever you most need, and we've got a crappy brew.

But Dan, that's only like 16 cards. What are the rest? BRUH, IT'S NOTHING BUT LANDS. For real. Throw in four Game Trails, four Cinder Glades, four Drownyard Temples, and then just fill in the rest with Forests and Mountains. That should put you around 40 or so land. Mulligan until you have at least a Vortex, and begin the pummeling. Will this be tier 1? Haha, absolutely not. Will it randomly win FNM? Man, again, probably not. But if you do use this deck to beat someone playing a tiered deck, you are guaranteed to at least extract some salt.


What do yall think? What other sick decks have you thought of?

This is of course not an exhaustive list, and I'm sure I totally glanced over some huge new archetypes that are going to see play. I definitely skipped over U/W Flash-control with Spirits. I plan on writing another article about it soon, as that's the standard deck I plan to fail with this time around. Either way, Innistrad gave us some cool new tools to play with, and hopefully it'll create a fun, diverse, and new standard for us. Or we could just get repetitively destroyed by Jace. But you know, it's better than Siege Rhino.

Like what you read? Want to share your dope homebrew ideas? Think there's a new rhino in town? Let us know by dropping a comment below, or sending a message using the form on the sidebar!


  1. Haha I like your articles- always good for a laugh. Keep up the good work!