A Lot Of Shadows Over Innistrad Standard Decks

You may find a few Shadows over Innistrad Standard decklists here and there, but you won’t find ones that were built by GerryT! The Magic veteran has a deck for every occasion, including #SCGBALT, right here!

Shadows over Innistrad Prerelease March 26-27!

This is the time of the year where I get to brew a bunch of decks using ideas from the new set where I’ll ultimately miss a bunch of important stuff.

Let’s get to it.


Shadows over Innistrad has a bunch of tribal synergies, so that’s where I’m starting. Let’s see what the set is capable of, starting with the most obvious.

The key to finding a good aggressive deck is either finding something that’s a little too fast for the rest of the format to keep up or finding something that is powerful and has staying power. Given the lack of one-drops and burn spells, we need to find something with staying power. G/W Megamorph was perfect for that last season, but we may have a similar option in R/B Vampires.

When spoilers first started rolling in, I was wary of packing my deck full of things like Ravenous Bloodseeker in order to turn on my mediocre madness cards. Those cards go dead very quickly and they don’t scale very well either. Since then, it’s become clear that while Ravenous Bloodseeker isn’t anything to get excited over, it’s by far the worst card in the deck. You play it because it’s aggressive and a madness outlet, which is what the deck wants to some degree, but wouldn’t jam as many of that effect into your deck as possible.

On the flip side, Heir of Falkenrath is great. It’s a flier that hits hard and functions similarly to a mana accelerator. For a 1B 3/2 flyer, that’s an incredible rate. Olivia, Mobilized for War is the real payoff card, which is odd considering it’s also an enabler. You get another flier, which has been an increasingly important keyword for Standard as of late, and she can give your creatures haste, which will put you ahead even further.

Ultimately, you need more payoffs than just Olivia. At the end of the day, Falkenrath Gorger is a 2/1 and Heir of Falkenrath is a 3/2, and neither of these creatures gives you any staying power. The rest of the deck is similar. If Asylum Visitor sticks, great, but what are the odds? Also, if there’s no good reach or no way to come back from a deficit, what’s the point? There will be close games where you’re ahead and Asylum Visitor cements your advantage, but how do we win when we’re behind?

Avacyn’s Judgment is the other huge player we didn’t know about until recently. As a two-mana Forked Bolt, it’s passable, but being able to scale it up is huge. At five mana, it’s not unreasonable to use it with madness to clear away some tokens from Gideon, Ally of Zendikar or Arlinn Kord, making it much easier to finish off those planeswalkers. If X is any higher than that, and you’re looking at a reasonable finisher.

I imagine the battlefields are going to become very cluttered. Thanks to some of the Vampires having flying, that shouldn’t be a huge issue, but it’s nice to have different answers to the same problem, especially when those answers are versatile.

Call the Bloodline

Call the Bloodline is the card that not enough people are playing. Not only is it a difficult-to-remove madness enabler, it gives you a reasonable late-game and the lifelink is important for winning races or stabilizing. “Activate this ability only once each turn” isn’t a huge downside when you can still use it on your opponent’s turn.

Out of the sideboard, Goldnight Castigator should do a reasonable job against G/R Ramp decks. World Breaker and Dragonlord Atarka are issues, so maybe Act of Treason is a better answer. Since Goldnight Castigator has applications in other matchups, like control or other midrange decks, Goldnight Castigator should probably get the nod.

The next deck isn’t exactly tribal, but it does have Dragon and Thopter synergies and is an attempt at an Olivia, Mobilized for War deck that isn’t centered on the Vampire theme.

I’m currently unsure how many lands I need to play in order to consistently turn on Foreboding Ruins. Is eleven enough? I’m guessing that, if we’re trying to curve up to four- and five-mana plays, it likely won’t be, but maybe it won’t matter. You’ll play the Shadow lands first when you can, but they’ll be poor topdecks when your deck is trying to cast bigger spells. In those scenarios, the only way you could mitigate their drawback is by lowering your curve. In this scenario, I’m also concerned about curving out early, which means I can’t have too many lands enter the battlefield tapped.

With Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury gone, maybe Swift Warkite is the other Dragon we want? It’s nice to pick up a dead Bearer of Silence or Thopter Engineer for another go. Or is it Dragonlord Kolaghan’s time to shine?

To the Slaughter is a possibility over Ruinous Path, perhaps with Evolving Wilds instead of Cinder Barrens and a Wastes for Bearer of Silence. Dead Weight would help turn on delirium also. Eliminating the need for BB might be key to making the Thunderbreak Regent / Bearer of Silence deck work. Maybe Blighted Fen is better than some of the Foundry of Consuls.

A Note on Humans

I haven’t investigated this tribe yet, mostly because that would require a Gatherer search and I don’t think we’ve seen enough of the spoiler. Sure, there’s Thalia’s Lieutenant, but what else are we doing?

Small green and white creatures don’t interest me very much, so this archetype has been put on the backburner.

I like Zombies. However, if the format is all Archangel Avacyns and World Breakers, Zombies isn’t where you want to be. They are very easy to go over the top of.

Zulaport Cutthroat could be a notable omission here, but I don’t like it unless we’re specifically comboing someone out. Without that, I feel like it’s too weak of a card. We’re probably going to be sacrificing a lot of things to Nantuko Husk though, so maybe this deck is more combo-y than I thought.

This is a pretty easy starting point, as Collected Company and the Zombies work so well together. However, B/G isn’t our only option.

This is the type of Zombie deck that might actually be able to beat G/R Ramp. You have some beefy fliers; Liliana, Heretical Healer; and Compelling Deterrence to get rid of big creatures. Out of the sideboard, you have counterspells in addition to discard to help keep your opponent off seven mana.

You also have the Relentless Dead / Fleshbag Marauder combo against anyone playing fair. It’s mana-intensive but it gives you a sort of inevitability going late. Prized Amalgam and Geralf’s Masterpiece also assist in that regard.

Diregraf Colossus, while powerful, didn’t make the cut in this version. I saw this deck as more of a recursion deck based on Liliana, Heretical Healer rather than a full-on Zombie theme deck. Perhaps its omission is a mistake, just based on power.

Merging the two decks may be the correct way to go, as Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy plus Collected Company is still one of the most powerful things you can be doing. However, that power comes at a cost, as the mana is not forgiving. It’s certainly one of the things I’ll be working on though.


This is likely my best deck, but there are too many good options. I can’t possibly know if this is the best version.

You could play up the Wasteland Strangler aspect of the deck with more Eldrazi Displacers (and more colorless lands, such as Foundry of the Consuls or painlands). Angelic Purge is another way to process that’s cute with Hangarback Walker. If you want to be a crazy person, you could also pair that with Demonic Pact.

If you’re looking for a Standard deck with a reasonably fast clock, removal, disruption, and staying power, this is probably your best bet. You gotta do something to fix the G/R Ramp matchup, though. Them losing Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is huge, but if they replace those with Dragonlord Atarkas, it might be just as bad if you don’t have Archangel Avacyn at the ready.

At the moment, W/B Midrange is my frontrunner for #SCGBALT.

There is no shortage of excellent planeswalkers in Standard, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see various “Super Friends” decks out there. Just be wary of Sorin, Grim Nemesis, as he’s the king in mirror matches.

This list is as straightforward as they come and is mostly in here to showcase how building a three-color manabase is possible, even though it isn’t pretty.

Ponder + Preordain

Standard might have a new power couple.

Both of these allow you to find lands early and find threats late, which is very similar to the effect you get from the blue cantrips that are banned in Modern. There are clear differences, as neither Oath of Nissa nor Traverse the Ulvenwald can find you a removal spell. However, you can attempt to make up for that by playing creatures that break that rule, such as Den Protector, Dragonlord Atarka, or Sidisi, Undead Vizier.

Traverse the Ulvenwald for Reckless Bushwhacker is a game-changer. You no longer need to play multiple Bushwhackers that would clog up your hand. Instead, tutor for one when you need it and be done with it. Maybe Traverse the Ulvenwald won’t have delirium often enough, but that’s why we actually need to play the games. If it’s not, some sacrifices can be made, such as including additional Evolving Wilds.

This is the best type of deck for Arlinn Kord. Not only can you take advantage of each of her abilities, but you also do a good job of protecting her with Sylvan Advocate, Hangarback Walker, and Thopter Engineer. She’ll help your menagerie of creatures turn the corner quickly.

The removal suite available to G/R is mediocre at best. We could play raw Draconic Roar, but I think I prefer Oath of Chandra with eight planeswalkers. Roast is medium with Vampires and Archangel Avacyn around, but for now, I’m going to try a mix. Having each of your removal spells deal three damage (including Arlinn Kord) is going to leave you in some trouble against things like Sylvan Advocate and Thought-Knot Seer. Plus, the mix of card types is nice for Traverse the Ulvenwald.

Clip Wings could be Plummet, but I fear Thunderbreak Regent. Then again, they might have a random Thopter token, plus you don’t want to take out a transformed Heir of Falkenrath when what you really wanted was their Olivia, Mobilized for War.

This deck never really worked before, but now we have access to a lot of filtering. Again, I may be underestimating how difficult it is to achieve delirium, but we can always fix that later.

The goal is to survive and eventually assemble Eldrazi Displacer, Zulaport Cutthroat, and Brood Monitor, which certainly isn’t going to be easy. If it were ever doable, it would be now.

Shrine of the Forsaken Gods is kind of worthless here. There’s only one Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger to ramp to (although I like the idea of playing the second copy in the sideboard), plus there are no Ugin, the Spirit Dragons anymore. What are we using it to accelerate into? This version is trying to hit seven mana, not ten, as that’s where the payoff cards are.

Instead of Shrine of the Forsaken Gods, we can play some Wastes to actually turn on Ruin in Their Wake. We have twelve copies of Wastes if we count Evolving Wilds and Traverse the Ulvenwald, but Oath of Nissa can help too. I imagine that most opening hands with Ruin in Their Wake can use it as Rampant Growth on turn 2.

Corrupted Grafstone could work its way in here as well. At that point, I’d be very worried that Oath of Nissa is going to miss a bunch, so those would probably have to go. As is, Oath of Nissa is dangerously close to missing consistently.

Arlinn Kord deserves a look in these decks, not because she helps with the overall strategy, but because we’re accelerating to four mana with some ease.

Control Decks

Much like with the Humans decks, I’m not going to touch this one. I’ll save that for someone else.

Next week: the full spoiler and more brewing!

Shadows over Innistrad Prerelease March 26-27!