No chitchat. No messing around. We are going straight into decks and explanations!
Aside: The reason for this is because I don't have a super-special-awesome Prerelease story. I was stuck at home playing in the Magic Online Championship Series with my two byes and lost three in a row with Bant Pod. I'm definitely running Best Blade in the Player of the Year Magic Online Championship Series Tournament this weekend. Wish me luck!!
So much for jumping straight into decks and explanations… but that starts now!
When I see a new batch of cards, I like to come up with at least one decklist for an always present archetype. This time, I chose to go with White Weenie.
The game plan is relatively simple: you just play dudes and smash them. However, you need to be very curve conscious and decide how much and what kind of removal you want to play. First, I will discuss the new cards.
Mentor of the Meek is a very interesting card. You can potentially chain a bunch of small creatures in a way that is a lot like Puresteel Paladin. If they had the same mana cost, I would say that Puresteel Paladin would be the worse of the two. However, since Mentor of the Meek makes you pay an extra mana to cast him and another mana to draw a card, the fight is a little closer. Personally, I like playing a lot of small creatures instead of a lot of equipment. This makes decks that play Mentor of the Meek able to operate without the card present, unlike Puresteel Paladin. For instance, this type of White Weenie deck would go in a completely different direction if it played Puresteel Paladin.
Next up is Mikaeus, the Lunarch. It feels like this card would be perfect in a ramp strategy as a huge finisher. Unfortunately, the Titans exist and are much better to ramp into. For that reason, it makes me feel like Mikaeus, the Lunarch should be used as an Ajani Goldmane or Steel Overseer. Having the ability to pump your team is really good, but you don't want to only have pump effects. A hand with three Honor of the Pure does nothing. However, if you have a pump effect with legs, like Mikaeus, the Lunarch, you can always be attacking your opponent. Lastly, remember that if you have Mikaeus, the Lunarch on one counter and Honor of the Pure out that you can pump your team and have it survive as a 1/1 with zero counters on it.
Lastly, Champion of the Parish seems really good to me. It was what Hada Freeblade always dreamt of being. You are able to play this card in any deck with Humans, which have a lot more support than what Allies had. I picture Champion of the Parish being easily a one-mana 2/2 if you play it on turn one. It can lead to some very explosive starts and makes Humans seem like it can be a very dominant strategy in Block Constructed and Standard.
All of the other cards don't need much explanation. I've been in love with Mirran Crusader and Hero of Bladehold ever since I put Best Blade together. Blade Splicer has given me similar success, and Grand Abolisher prevents certain Snapcaster Mage shenanigans on your turn. It is possible that if the metagame shifts, Grand Abolisher could be replaced with Elite Inquisitor or even Fiend Hunter. I kind of wanted to fit a singleton Angelic Destiny into this list, but I managed to do that in the next list!
This is my attempt at keeping a similar strategy to Best Blade alive. Instead of Squadron Hawk and Spellskite, I elect to use Invisible Stalker and Snapcaster Mage. I did not want to need to fully support Snapcaster Mage with a ton of spells to flashback, so I simply decreased the number of Snapcaster Mages. It could be wrong; it could be right. Time will tell what the number should be in this style of deck.
I like how both Geist of Saint Traft and Hero of Bladehold only need one more creature or just an equipment to be able to take down Gideon Jura. All of your hexproof creatures make it hard for decks with a ton of spot removal to take over the game. Ponder is not in this deck to simply replace Preordain. It is necessary to provide more consistency in your draws and late game. Without having a lot of cool manlands at our disposal, such as Celestial Colonnade, we need to make sure we can fix our draws one way or another.
However, without Tectonic Edge in the format, you can run non-basic lands just to help the deck with flashback, or in this case, save life with Dismember. I feel like since your curve almost ends at three mana, it would be okay to have a land that enters the battlefield tapped later on in order to reduce life loss in the late game. This can also allow you to feint a bunch of spells by keeping a Darkslick Shores untapped instead of an Island.
Next up is a different U/W variant:
I, for one, am incredibly excited about the combo of Nevermore and Gitaxian Probe. You simply get to counter a card in their hand and potentially make some of their draws dead. As the decks in the format get more well-defined and mainstream, it will be easier and easier to just “blindly” hit with Nevermore.
Snapcaster Mage attempts to do a lot in this deck, allowing you to Day of Judgment multiple times, block an attacker, or cantrip with Gitaxian Probe or Ponder. Remember that you can still pay two life to flashback Gitaxian Probe when using Snapcaster Mage. Don't be afraid to trade the Mage with your opponent's creature, since this deck does not have a lot of spot removal. The rest is designed so that you shouldn't have to tap out that often on your turn, and when you do, it is only to answer a threat. The high-end cards are split up as singletons because I personally have no idea what to expect from this format and would need to test a lot to see which cards are better.
One control list I have been very excited to work on is a Super Grixis Friends list.
Snapcaster Mage plans on playing a Mystic Snake/ Flametongue Kavu duty in this deck. On the early turns, you want to be able to just ward off any early threats and slam down a Liliana of the Veil. If they only have one creature, you probably want to -2. If you can't ensure that Liliana of the Veil will live to the next turn, I suggest you hold off on her unless if you have another one in your hand.
Personally, I think Desperate Ravings is really good. This deck doesn't make the best use out of it, but I think it gives you extra copies of Think Twice that are still very good in conjunction with each other. It also has some odds of simply being a draw two with flashback when you're holding a couple lands in your hand in the late game.
Tribute to Hunger feels pretty good. I mean it is an edict effect that allows you to gain life. Without a drawback, I figured it was a sorcery, but I was a little bit surprised when I saw that it was an instant. If decks start to focus on single powerful creatures, like Consecrated Sphinx, I could see this type of card being very useful.
Chandra, the Firebrand hasn't seen enough play lately, and I don't really understand why. She can kind of protect herself but also makes a lot of your spells so much better. Double Tribute to Hunger your board? Time to scoop ‘em up! Having both Liliana of the Veil and Chandra, the Firebrand in the same deck gives your deck enough planeswalkers to keep the board under control.
What is there to do when planeswalkers are stopping your opponent from winning? Oh, I know! Play a planeswalker that can end the game!
Jace, Memory Adept can do this job. While it may not be as efficient as Jace, the Mind Sculptor was, it gives you the ability to mill the opponent out of the game if your opponent is not playing the type of deck that uses the graveyard. If many graveyard decks become popular, I could see this being either Consecrated Sphinx or more Grave Titans.
Let's go from a deck with hardly any creatures to a deck with a billion creatures!
- 1 Perilous Myr
- 1 Phyrexian Metamorph
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Spellskite
- 1 Sylvok Replica
- 1 Wurmcoil Engine
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 1 Bloodgift Demon
- 1 Entomber Exarch
- 1 Evil Twin
- 1 Grave Titan
- 3 Llanowar Elves
- 1 Morkrut Banshee
- 1 Phantasmal Image
- 3 Phyrexian Rager
- 1 Skaab Ruinator
- 1 Skinrender
- 1 Viridian Emissary
- 1 Grimgrin, Corpse-Born
- 1 Sheoldred, Whispering One
- 1 Thrun, the Last Troll
This past Standard season had both RUG Pod and Bant Pod, so why not BUG Pod this time? Without Sea Gate Oracle, Phyrexian Rager is there to pick up the slack! Ponder allows you to dig for your namesake engine as well as it can. Let's look at the new cards because everyone likes looking at their shiny new toys.
Skaab Ruinator seems absolutely bonkers. It is a huge flier that can end the game in a few turns and doesn't even die to Dismember! You can Birthing Pod into Skaab Ruinator as early as turn 3 courtesy of Birds of Paradise/ Llanowar Elves and a two-drop creature. I think this card will be a Block Constructed staple and should have a big impact on what type of removal people play. I know that I would never want to be facing down a 5/6 flier that comes down so early.
Morkrut Banshee has some natural synergy with Birthing Pod. It allows you to turn your Skinrender into a 4/4, killing two of your opponent's creatures in the process. I tried to find other morbid effects that work well with Birthing Pod, but this was the only one that fit the bill. Woodland Sleuth seemed like it would be alright, but Entomber Exarch already exists. If I was not playing black, I would play Woodland Sleuth in a heartbeat.
Evil Twin is a tricky card to evaluate when compared to Phyrexian Metamorph. Phyrexian Metamorph has the ability to become another Birthing Pod and come down for three colorless mana. Evil Twin costs an extra mana and doesn't have the ability to mimic your opponent's Sword of Feast and Famine. However, you are able to kill the original copy. I think this effect is amazing, since you can kill multiple copies of that card. Evil Twin might just flat out be better than Phyrexian Metamorph, but once again, this would probably have to wait for the format to be more defined.
Bloodgift Demon is your own little drawing engine that has the potential to kill your opponent. Later on in the game, you might be able to copy your Bloodgift Demon with Phantasmal Image, Phyrexian Metamorph, and/or Evil Twin, and be able to Sign in Blood your opponent to death. It has been a while since we had a black creature card that has the ability to draw you at least one card every turn.
The last card I want to talk about today is Grimgrin, Corpse-Born. When I was told what this card did, I did not believe anyone. It was a card that just needed one or two creatures in play to survive Dismember and then you get to kill your opponent's best creature every turn so long as you have another creature… in a deck full of expendable creatures. It seems like the perfect win condition in a creature heavy deck such as Birthing Pod. Even now, I still think this card is a lot better than it looks in terms of Constructed. If only Abyssal Persecutor were still around…
So, those are my five new decklists for Innistrad. Hopefully, I see a deck resembling one of these in the Top 8 of the StarCityGames.com Open in Indianapolis. I wish I was able to go, but I have to play in the Player of the Year Magic Online Championship Series event this week. Once again, wish me luck and happy brewing with all of these sweet new cards!
Thanks for reading,
Jonathan “Watchwolf92” Sukenik