The Shadowy Road To #SCGBALT

CVM can’t wait to get his hands on Shadows over Innistrad! #SCGBALT’s Standard debut next weekend begins when we all descend upon the Prerelease this weekend! What cards do you need to make all the difference in your upcoming Standard events? CVM highlights the all-stars!

Shadows over Innistrad Prerelease April 2-3!

The Shadows over Innistrad are fully upon us, and much like all of you Clue seekers out there, I am planning on heading to my local Prerelease this weekend to see just what is up with Jace and Tamiyo’s Journal.

What exactly is causing the madness on Innistrad? Did Nahiri really call Emrakul there because she was mad at Sorin? What will happen with Jace and Liliana? Is Arlinn Kord bae? (Spoiler alert: yes.)

All of these questions, and more, hopefully will be answered this weekend!

I truly love Prereleases, not just because I get to play my most favorite format ever, Two-Headed Giant, but because it just feels magical. I do a lot of traveling around and playing in events, both competitive and not as much, but the feeling you get while you are at a Prerelease is one-of-a-kind.

When the large regional Prereleases went away, I was a bit sad and didn’t really want to take part in something that just wouldn’t feel the same, but over the last few years, I have to say that I have been adequately pleased with my Prerelease experiences all over the place. Local game stores try their hardest to make it a unique experience for everyone, and while there are times when not everything or everyone can be accommodated, the vast majority of the locally run Prereleases are great!

Don’t be afraid to thank and acknowledge all the work that your local game store puts in to make these Prereleases awesome. Midnight flights in addition to firing flights and drafts throughout the rest of the weekend is a lot of work, and I know that I, for one, am happy that I can just battle in a flight and then go home and sleep because I am old and cranky.


Looking past the Prerelease, we have a new Standard format starting to shape up. The full spoiler has been out now for almost a week and there have been plenty of articles on StarCityGames.com talking about what’s leaving and staying. How the mana is going to change and be much worse. What cards are going to be powerful and make an immediate impact.

There is one deck, though, that I think has the potential to over-perform the first weekend that Shadows over Innistrad is legal.

Michael Majors did very well with G/W Megamorph Battle for Zendikar release weekend, and I actually think that the deck is the perfect call for #SCGBALT next weekend.

Now, I know that I was touting the Mono-Red Eldrazi deck pretty highly before, and I don’t think that deck is going to be a bad choice in Baltimore, but my gut just tells me that G/W Megamorph is going to be the standout deck and there are a few reasons for that.

First, Archangel Avacyn is busted.

I believe that Archangel Avacyn is the most powerful card in Shadows over Innistrad and that the G/W Megamorph shell is going to be the best place for her. Having flash definitely lends to her being playable in basically all different types of strategies that can cast her, but I think that she is at her best in combination with Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and the rest of the G/W Megamorph package.

As if attacking with Deathmist Raptor was a fearless move before, now it is even more so since we can just save our Raptor with an Archangel Avacyn while letting the deathtouch ability do its thing. She is able to fight with Dromoka’s Command, and there are even times where we will use the fight mode while all of our creatures are indestructible.

Archangel Avacyn is just one of the many reasons that I think that Hidden Dragonslayer is going to have a heyday in Baltimore, and the synergy that we gain from having more megamorph creatures in the G/W Megamorph deck is great.

Now, let’s talk about this card:

We got to see Oath of Nissa start to pick up steam in the different flavors of Abzan and in the G/R Eldrazi Ramp decks towards the end of last season, but I think that Oath of Nissa is even better here in G/W Megamorph.

Basically everything in the deck is gas, which is the perfect home for Oath of Nissa. Granted, we have a few bricks, but with cards like Den Protector; Hidden Dragonslayer; Gideon, Ally of Zendikar; Nissa, Vastwood Seer; and Archangel Avacyn all being more than just normal creatures, we can get a lot of value out of Oath of Nissa.

With cards like Silkwrap and Stasis Snare on the upswing as some of the premier cheap ways to interact with creatures, the “sacrifice an enchantment” mode will likely end up being relevant again. The mana changing so drastically is going to facilitate more two-color strategies, and Dromoka’s Command is going to be one of the best payoff cards for being G/W.

Versatility is key when it comes to slots like this. We want a card that can be aggressive when we need it but help us control the battlefield when the time arises. These are all things that Dromoka’s Command can do very well.

There are a few things that I think should be changed from the list. I think that Michael had just put together a generic G/W Megamorph deck for initial testing, and after playing with some cards I think that some alterations can be made to the deck.

First off, I have been really impressed with Sigarda, Heron’s Grace and think that there should be one in the maindeck. We aren’t a dedicated tokens theme, but the 4/5 body on top of being able to generate even more of a battlefield presence has been awesome. The more I play with the new Sigarda, the more impressed I become.

Not dying to Grasp of Darkness, Ultimate Price, or Roast is pretty big game. There really are only a handful of removal spells that can actually hit her, and if something like To the Slaughter ends up being popular because of the large number of awesome planeswalkers available in Standard, getting hexproof from her is just the icing on the cake.

The other change is that I want one or two more copies of Westvale Abbey in the deck. The more I play with this card in two-color decks, the more I love it. Generating 1/1s happens more than you’d think, and making a 9/7 flying, indestructible, haste, lifelink Demon is a real thing and is not easy to beat.

Other than that, I really like where this deck is sitting for #SCGBALT.

Now for something completely different, but nonetheless something that I am absolutely in love with, is this U/B Reanimator deck from Mike Sigrist’s Premium article from earlier this week.

I don’t know if you’ve seen this thing yet, but anything with a full four copies of Dragonlord Atarka already has my attention. But we’ve also got platinum hits such as Catalog and Oath of Jace.

It even has this number that the future Mrs. VanMeter tweeted about last week.

Hey it's @Chris_VanMeter and I in less than two weeks! pic.twitter.com/TILZxx4CIa

— Nicole (@inkadelphia) March 25, 2016

The gist of the deck is that we want to use Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy along with Mindwrack Demon, Catalog, Oath of Jace, and Pore Over the Pages to put some big creatures into our graveyard that we can then reanimate with Necromatic Summons or Ever After.

This is an impressive list of fatties.

Thankfully the newfangled versions of the Eldrazi are without the “shuffle into library if put into graveyard from anywhere” clause, which means they are ripe for the Reanimator picking.

I especially like the use of Kozilek, the Great Distortion here. Even though we aren’t getting the draw trigger, we do get a huge menace threat that can end the game in a few short turns along with the ability to pitch cards and counter spells. With Crackling Doom gone, there really isn’t a lot that can even kill a quick Kozilek, the Great Distortion.

I think that this deck is pretty fringe and requires more testing to try to figure out if it’s viable, but I do plan on trying to get it together so that I can battle with it at FNM during the Shadows over Innistrad release weekend, since I don’t have any larger events to attend.

Last, I want to talk to you about Arlinn Kord and just how much trouble I am having figuring out the right place for her. There is just an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the four-drop spot in those colors and figuring out just where she fits in and what kind of deck to build is giving me fits.

First I wanted to just jam her in an Atarka Red style tokens deck, but that doesn’t feel right. I think she may have a spot in an Eldrazi G/R Ramp style deck, but even that doesn’t feel right.

I really wish that we still had Elvish Mystic, but alas, we do not, so Deathcap Cultivator will just have to be the go-to creature for that department. Jund could be the answer, but I still feel like the mana is terrible. Everything enters the battlefield tapped. Without fetchlands we aren’t really able to guarantee that we can hit all of our color requirements on time. Maybe it turns out that we just want a light black splash, but even then, is it worth it?

4 Deathcap Cultivator
4 Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
4 Arlinn Kord

This is the shell that I want to start with, but finding the rest of the puzzle is the tricky part. I’m pretty thankful that I have another week before the actual Shadows over Innistrad release, so maybe some of my fellow Stormbeards have been working on Arlinn Kord and have some insight to share.

All of these cards are playable options. Maybe, between Oath of Nissa and lands like Haven of the Spirit Dragon and Westvale Abbey, we can even afford to play Reality Smasher as our topper on five.

Much like Jace following the clues on Innistrad, I feel like something awesome is right there at my fingertips waiting for me to put the pieces together. I keep getting flashes of Dragonlord Atarka and Draconic Roar. What do you think it all means?

Could the Shadows over Innistrad be Dragons’ wings?

You know I hope so!

Shadows over Innistrad Prerelease April 2-3!