With the Arena Open this weekend, I wanted to finish covering the two-color archetypes of Shadows Over Innistrad Remastered Limited for anyone who may need a reference point.
We’ve had our first rotation of Shadows of the Past cards, saying goodbye to the tribal lords like Stromkirk Captain and Immerwolf, and have moved into Fatal Flashback! I’m really enjoying the set overall, and the change to the metagame each week is a fun concept I hope Wizards of the Coast (WotC) runs with for future Remastered sets!
To reiterate a point from my previous article, I’ll do my best to exclude the Shadows of the Past cards, as that will affect each archetype any given week. Instead, I will do my best to give a bare-bones version of each archetype that will stay true for as long as Shadows Over Innistrad Remastered is available to draft!
Orzhov doesn’t have too much going for it when we’re looking at Shadows over Innistrad Remastered alone. White is one of the deepest colors, with black being on the opposite end of the spectrum.
The main problem with this archetype, one we’ll revisit with Golgari, is that black doesn’t really have any good commons to add to the deck. Dead Weight, Gisa’s Bidding, and Olivia’s Dragoon are decent here, but they’re decent (if not better) in every other deck as well. The same goes for Accursed Witch, Haunted Dead, and Kindly Stranger, which are good in almost every deck. The gold uncommon, Anguished Unmaking, is a good removal option, but rarely is it much better than Angelic Purge or Bound by Moonsilver, and it can be a liability, especially in Best-of-One.
Unless you have good reason to be playing black (bombs), try your best to pair your white with any other color. I should add a caveat for the third week’s rotation, when Doomed Traveler and Falkenrath Aristocrat enter the fray, as you can aim for a more traditional Orzhov Tokens build that looks to be a bit more promising.
In true Izzet form, this functions as a spells deck with a couple of ways to win. My personal favorite is using Rise from the Tides as a win condition, preferably with a way to cast it again with Shreds of Sanity (or a second copy). This deck simply tries to address the threats on the battlefield via red burn spells like Incendiary Flow and Galvanic Bombardment, paired with blue spells like Drag Under and Jace’s Scrutiny, to slow down your opponent. Once you hit a critical mass of spells in the graveyard, you unleash the water Zombies!
Another version of Izzet is more contemporary and versatile, using Thermo-Alchemist, Mercurial Geists, Ingenious Skaab, and Pyre Hound as your main sources of damage. You will look to use cheap spells and line up some huge attacks with the “growers,” or combine them with a finisher like Uncaged Fury. Take Inventory is at its best in these decks, but you don’t want to pick your first one later than mid-Pack 2 or so, as the likelihood of getting three or more from that point is pretty low. Curious Homunculus is another all-star in the spell-heavy deck, checking most boxes of what the deck craves!
Golgari is looking to use the graveyard and activate delirium in order to win. The gold card, Mournwillow, doesn’t really offer much, but I could see it being a good sideboard option in certain Best-of-Three matchups. Similarly to Orzhov, black doesn’t really add too much into the mix from the base set, and there aren’t too many reasons to be just these two colors aside from some Shadows of the Past cards that will rotate, such as Spider Spawning.
The one thing the deck can do well is be a Reanimator deck. This requires some expensive bombs, but can come together nicely. Using cards like Grapple with the Past and Crawling Sensation can fill your graveyard with Rise from the Grave targets. It’s a powerful strategy that doesn’t come together often enough, and doesn’t really guarantee a victory, but at least you can say you did the thing. Instead of Golgari, you’ll more than likely be playing some three-color variation, with Sultai being the most common, as you gain access to more powerful cards as well as more synergy between the three colors.
Boros is a deck that most players overlook, but one I’ve had success with. The gold uncommon, Ride Down, is pretty unimpressive, yet can be a great sideboard card in Best-of-Three against high-toughness creatures that are hard to get around. The best strategy is to go as fast as possible, utilizing cards like Devilthorn Fox, Deranged Whelp, or Insolent Neonate. This is the one archetype I’m almost always happy to put Lunarch Mantle into, and Gryff’s Boon is at its best as well. Sequencing Insolent Neonate into Lunarch Mantle, or Devilthorn Fox into Gryff’s Boon, are the sorts of very real threats that you want to present early and often.
This is another deck where your threats are far more important than removal, only dedicating a few slots to top-tier removal for the deck like Bound by Moonsilver, Fiery Temper, and Incendiary Flow for their flexibility. Some of the better vanilla creatures for the deck include Guardian of Pilgrims, Fiend Binder, and Howlpack Wolf – yes, a 3/3 for three that can’t block is good in the deck. I should also add that this is one of the best decks to include Neglected Heirloom in. Not only does the deck want a vanilla Short Sword, it also has some of the best/easiest transformers, like Lone Rider, Conduit of Storms, Village Messenger, or the best Neglected Heirloom holder, Town Gossipmonger!
Simic is for anyone with a propensity for monocles, a meerschaum pipe, and looking for Clues! There are a lot of different routes this deck can go to seek out a victory, so I’ll try to keep each one brief.
A personal favorite is the mill deck, winning via Manic Scribe and Fleeting Memories. One nice perk of Manic Scribe in this deck is you can buy it back from the graveyard with Grapple with the Past, which also helps to enable delirium. Erdwal Illuminator works wonders in this deck, and generates tons of value via Ongoing Investigation. If you’re going to mill your opponent, you don’t need to worry about their life total, and can use defensive options like Spontaneous Mutation, Fogwalker, Geist of the Archives, Graf Mole, and Gnarlwood Dryad.
The other, more vanilla option is to attack their life total like a conjurer of cheap tricks. Blue doesn’t add a ton to the deck besides some flyers; instead, you’ll need to look to the trees. Bloodbriar will be your main threat in the deck, and can become a problem for your opponent very quickly. Other solid green options include Byway Courier and Obsessive Skinner, with Confront the Unknown being a way to win most combats, or just kill your opponent out of nowhere!
In either deck, if you are generating an abundance of Clues, it’s important to be able to use them as often as possible. Mana generators like Ulvenwald Captive, Deathcap Cultivator, and Weirding Wood pay dividends in the mid- and late-game, when you can use all of your Clue tokens and still cast spells.
Good luck this weekend!
Lose and Learn, Learn and Win!