Rise Of Aintrazi – New Toys: An Early Look at Innistrad Standard

Reigning US National Champion Ali Aintrazi wants to play with his new toys (Christmas comes early!). He builds all his favorite archetypes including U/B Control, Reanimator, and Grand Architect. Who says blue isn’t the best?

“New toys? For me? I promise I won’t break them this time!” XT-002 Deconstructor

So we have the full spoiler, and what a set this is! We get say goodbye to hawks and ladylands* woooot! I for one am happy with this; I despise seeing those cards on the other side of the table when I’m playing a control deck. It seems as if Standard will be a little slower and not as bursty. By bursty, I mean less Lotus Cobra and Valakut. Decks will have a clock on you, but you no longer have to fear dying from a turn 4 Primeval Titan. Things will progress steadily and smoothly.

We don’t know what the metagame is going to really look like just yet. We will have to wait for it to develop. We do however know that the decks that didn’t lose much were Tempered Steel, Puresteel Paladin, Birthing Pod, and Tezzeret decks. So we want to build decks with those decks in mind. I won’t talk about those four decks. Instead I’ll explore new options!

We get so many new cards and tools I don’t even know where to begin! It’s like Christmas, and everyone is opening presents at the Prereleases and Release events, and shortly after we have States! I don’t know where to start. Okay, okay, let’s take a breath. We’ll try something simple. Something I’m sure has been on everyone’s mind. If you want to raise the dead, I would start here.

Sadly we don’t have any graveyard tutors like Entomb and Buried Alive. So instead I went with a Runed-Scarred Demon package. You want your first target to be the Demon, which will allow you to get an answer for what you are playing against. So he’s kind of like a wish effect in that sense.

Playing against a really aggressive deck? Get Timely Reinforcements. Your opponent swarmed the board with creatures? Wrath them all away. Don’t have any more fuel in your hand or in an attrition battle? Get a Jace and fill your graveyard with cards. Need to deal with a pesky non-land permanent? Oblivion Ring will do the trick. Are you ready to lock your opponent out of the game? Get Mr. Gitaxias.

Forbidden Alchemy is the bread and butter of this deck. It allows you to have nothing, and then all of a sudden you’re threatening to reanimate some fatty. It’s such a well-designed card. I just wish we had another good discard outlet. Oh well, we will make do with what we have.

The reasoning behind one Jin-Gitaxias instead of three is that I don’t want my threat to be easily answered by a Dismember. I’d rather net immediate value if possible, and the Demon does that. If in the future I don’t see many lists with Dismember, that’s when I would play three Jin-Gitaxias.

The sideboard is mostly makeshift. Stony Silence seems like a really good answer against some of the best decks like Tezz, Puresteel Paladin, Birthing Pod, and maybe even U/W decks with swords. Sadly we lost Duress and Inquisition of Kozilek. We really don’t have strong hand disruption anymore. I’m not sure if Distress is good enough; it seems a bit slow to me. We haven’t had a good Reanimator deck in Standard for a while. Hopefully we will now. I really enjoy playing this archetype!

Next up, I was working on a U/W Venser deck, but sadly those colors no longer offer any more good creatures with come into play abilities. We’ve lost Wall of Omens, Sea Gate Oracle, and Spreading Seas—so pretty much all our card draw. All I really found were Snapcaster Mage, Aether Adept, Stonehorn Dignitary, Blade Splicer, and Lone Missionary. Those don’t seem too appealing to me, so instead let’s look at a U/W tempo deck.

Squadron Hawk may be out of the format, but this type of strategy isn’t. This is one of the few decks remaining that has a ladyland, and boy can it abuse it. Nexus has always been amazing with swords, and it’s no exception now.

Sadly I don’t think Invisible Stalker is good enough. He is obviously insane with a Sword of Feast and Famine, but so is any creature. I’d rather have my creature do something on its own in case I don’t have a Sword. I’m also not playing Geist of Saint Traft, as you’ve might have noticed. I personally like Mirran Crusader more. The Saint is bonkers if your opponent doesn’t have any board presence, but so is Mirran Crusader. Crusader may as well have hexproof since it doesn’t die to any black removal, Beast Within, or Lightning Bolt anymore. I do however like the Saint against control decks, since he puts on a very quick clock. I’ll keep him in the sideboard for the time being.

I know you’re probably wondering why I’m not running four Snapcaster Mage. Don’t get me wrong. I think the card is good, but it just doesn’t do enough here. We only have 13 targets for it, two of which already have flashback. Don’t kid yourself. The Mage is not good enough if he’s not bringing anything back. Creatures in Standard have come a long way, and two mana for a 2/1 with flash isn’t good enough. I think two is the right number for now.

What else can I say about this deck that you don’t already know? The deck is less controlling and a little more aggressive, but other than that, it’s pretty much the same. I don’t see it losing Tier 1 status anytime soon. Be prepared to battle it!

Hmmm what’s next? How about we look at a U/B deck! :D

While we are on the topic of control, I really want to stress that Ponder is not the same as Preordain. Please stop jamming them into your control decks. Ponder does not filter, and you can no longer pick one card and shuffle the rest away with a fetch. Don’t play it in control.

Now where were we? Oh yea U/B! Your eyes don’t deceive you. That’s right, Sword of Feast and Famine in U/B! If U/W can do it, so can we. We’ve lost a lot of our good discard, so I’ve added the beautiful Liliana and some Swords to make up for it. No more Tectonic Edge, so I’ve also picked up Inkmoth Nexus for opposing Nexuses, and I hear it carries a Sword relatively well.

I’m going to give Solemn Simulacrum another shot. He works well with Liliana, letting you get back some card advantage that you may have lost. He should be much better now that the decks he was bad against have died down. He was pretty awful vs. Twin, Valakut, Red Deck Wins, and wasn’t amazing against Caw or the mirror. Hopefully he can redeem himself in the new Standard.

Jace, Memory Adept is taking over the slot of old Liliana Vess. He can’t tutor or cripple the opponent’s hand for us like his predecessor could, but he does what little Lilly can’t, and that’s drawing us cards. Not to mention little Lilly will still be shredding cards from our enemies’ hands.

I don’t think the sideboard is really correct. I need to see what decks are getting played in order to shape a better main deck and sideboard. Right now I have Torpor Orbs for the Birthing Pod decks and Witchbane Orb for the red decks—you have an extremely hard time beating a Shrine of Burning Rage, and the Orb should go a long way in helping with that. I think the rest of the sideboard is self explanatory. I’d be happy battling with this deck tomorrow if I had the choice.

Let’s look at one more deck. How about Architect?

Well this deck didn’t lose much either. Sadly we can’t ramp anymore with Thrummingbirds and Everflowing Chalice, so we lean on Architect a little more. A Kuldotha Forgemaster is always a threat, since it can tutor for pretty much any answer you want. It can destroy any permanent, kill them with one Blightteel swing, take their next turn, wrath their entire board, or gain you some much needed life.

Spellskite protects everything in the deck, and if you don’t need it in the late game, you can always sac it to a Forgemaster or Phyrexia’s Core. Spellskite will also stop early beats, so you can establish your board presence and take over. Please oh please don’t put your boots on the kite. :]

Phyrexian Metamorph is an all-star. It can act as the second anything for your deck or just copy your opponent’s biggest threat. If you manage to have a Spine of Ish Sah along with a Phyrexia’s Core in play, you can start vindicating permanents for three mana and returning the Metamorph to either destroy another permanent or to copy something else.

One thing to note: if this deck gets big, a Stony Silence shuts it down completely. The only way to beat that card is to splash another color (probably green) or to kill it with a Steel Hellkite. If you want to play a combo/control Architect over the Phantasmal Bear Architect (yuck), I would start with this deck!

Well that’s all I got, boys and girls. I hope you’ve enjoyed this article. If you think you have stumbled onto a sick idea and want to share it, by all means I’m all ears. :]

Have fun with your new toys and kick some ass at your Release and State events!

Later taters,

Ali, Whispering One

* Patrick Chapin +1

P.S. Release events are a great way to get new people into the game, and it’s also a great way to meet people. If you see someone making errors, help them out. Tell them how to improve in a non-condescending manner. Kick butt, open some sick rares, and have fun!