Shadows Over Innistrad Standard Pauper Set Review

 

Click on the pic above to launch the video set review

 

 

1)Rotation:  Notable cards leaving the format

2)Review Hits and Misses From Oath of the Gatewatch

3)Review Newly Legal Up-Shifted Commons

4)Review Shadows Over Innistrad

5)Color Rankings in Shadows Over Innistrad

6)Top 10 Shadows Over Innistrad Commons

 

Rotation:  The First of it’s Kind

Both Khans of Tarkir and Fate Reforged are being eliminated from the standard pool.  Here are the relevant cards that you will not be playing around nor playing with anymore:

White: Mardu Hordecheif, Sandsteppe Outcast

Blue: Disdainful Stroke, Treasure Cruise, Whirlwind Adept, Jeskai Sage, Whisk Away

Black: Gurmag Angler, Sultai Emissary

Red: Goblin Heelcutter, Temur Battle Rage, Arc Lightning*, Pyrotechnics*

Green: Hooting Mandrils, Savage Punch

Multi: Abomination of Gudul

Colorless:

Land:  All 10 gain 1 life duel lands

 

Upshifted Commons

Reckless Scholar

Mad Prophet

Lightning Axe

Color Ranking
5) Blue
4) White
3) Red
2) Green
1) Black

Top 10

10) Confront the Unknown

9) Shamble Back

8) Byway Courier

7) Twins of Maurer Estate

6) Pieces of the Puzzle

5) Moldgraf Scavenger

4) True-Faith Senser

3) Thraben Inspector

2) Dead Weight

1) Fiery Temper

 

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Standard UWR Control – An Update to EFro’s #GPABQ *28th* Deck

winner

2-times

 

While Owen Turtenwald was busy hogging all the attention after winning back-to-back GPs with UWR Delver and Mono-Black, I feel like a gem was missed.  A lone UWR Control Deck that had the tools to win every control mirror and was prepared for devotion and aggro alike made the top tables.  Piloted by Poker pro, future hall of fame inductee, and CFB landlord in Las Vegas –  EFro piloted UWR to a 28th place finish at GP Albuquerque.  Since then I haven’t seen the deck at the top tables anywhere.  Was it even good?  Why hasn’t it had repeat success in the last 4 weeks?  Is it because EFro himself hasn’t played in the other events? (probably).  But I want to know why pros like the UW or Esper decks more than UWR in the current meta.

Froehlich

Nice Lands – Per Usual

 

EFro did a sweet deck tech with Marshall Suitcliffe.  It starts at 5:26:18.

Rewind to 4 weeks ago.  I haven’t played Standard in my life.  I wanted to hit 750 PWPs to get 2 byes at #GPSAC in January – so I needed to get 60 PWPs to hit 750 in less than 2 weeks.  With only one Standard GPT (3x multiplier) in the area, I figured 4 round Standard events at ChannelFireball Game Center would be better at generating points compared to 3 round drafts.  My friend Chris Davis had a serviceable UW control deck I could borrow, and that is where my journey in standard began.

I quickly realized I’m awful at constructed and maybe should have just stuck with what I’m good (better) at.  That is, until I saw the list posted by Eric Froehlich that incorporated red in order to gain access to a plethora of key gold Izzet/Boros spells that helped against decks I had trouble beating.

@EfroPoker’s List

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I played with his list for a week and was impressed with my improvement in the Mono-Black and Esper match-ups.  I was still having problems against Mono-Blue, Mono-Red Aggro, Boros Aggro, Rakdos Aggro and Gruul Devotion.  Surely I could make some tweeks to shore up those match-ups.

Stanislav Cifka’s list from GP Vienna turned me on to a few cards.  I tuned the EFro list and last weekend I played in my first ever SCG Open Series with the following list:

Lands (26)

4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Steam Vents
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Temple of Triumph
2 Azorius Guildgate
1 Izzet Guildgate
5 Island
2 Plains

Creatures (0)

Spells (28)

4 Azorius Charm
4 Detention Sphere
4 Supreme Verdict
4 Sphinx’s Revelation
4 Counterflux
2 Warleader’s Helix
2 Turn // Burn
2 Last Breath
2 Assemble the Legion

Planeswalkers (6)

2 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
4 Jace, Architect of Thought

Sideboard (15)

3 Izzet Staticaster
2 Last Breath
1 Pithing Needle
2 Negate
1 Jace, Memory Adept
1 Aetherling
2 Wear // Tear
3 Gainsay

The deck was amazing against the field I was paired against.

4 Mono-Black (3-0-1) (forgot to play Sphin’x Rev in response to Erebos – died because of it – game went to a draw)
1 Mono-White Devotion (1-0)
1 Boros Aggro – Nathan McWilliams who top 8’d (0-1) – didn’t play around g2 Brave the Elements, played around Boros Charm and got punished for making Elspeth tokens instead of casting Supreme Verdict
1 Junk (0-1) – let him dig 6 spells deep with Reaper of the Wilds (Verdict all my Assemble tokens), cast Azorius charm on the next Reaper, then attacked all 12 of my Assemble tokens leaving back no blockers against a Reaper + 8/8 Mistcutter Hydra for exactsies.
1 Mono-Blue (0-1) failed to scry a Sphinx’s Rev to bottom when I already had one in hand on turn 1.  The Supreme Verdict I needed was the top card in library the turn before I died to 5 creatures + Thassa

1 Orzhov Control (1-0)
1 Golgari Aggro (1-0)

All those costly play mistakes landed me at 6-3-1, good for 65th and a big kick in the junk.  A proficient pilot would have 8-2’d at worst had they been in my shoes for the day.  I attribute that to my 4 hours of sleep, a full-week of work at the clinic, and a lack of physical/mental preparation for 10 rounds of a constructed tournament with a control deck of all things.

From exclusively playing limited for as long as I can remember, I’m not accustomed to the mental energy expenditure it takes to play constructed level control games.  For example, I lost game 1 against Golgari aggro and had to play like I was on crack to win two games in under 25 minutes.  My APMs were certifiably insane to get that one completed.  I never knew I had that gear in me until I was stressed enough.  It was really fun to get in the flow but that amount of energy output really fatigued me as the day chugged along.

Anyway, the deck was the greatest.  I felt like I couldn’t lose if I could survive until turn 7 against so many decks, and only then could I lose due to the previous described punts you would expect from someone who has never played Standard before.

The deck only had mana issues in one match (Mono-Blue, game 1 no red source, game 2 kept a 2 land/1-scry land on the play and never drew a second land).  The main selling point was that it stomped on black decks all day long.  I didn’t face a single control mirror while friends of mine played against 4+ matches of UW or Esper.  I only saw 2 other copies of UWR in the room throughout the whole day.  That has got to be a mistake.

Here’s my update to the deck, with changes highlighted:

Lands (26)

4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Steam Vents
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Temple of Triumph
2 Azorius Guildgate

izzet_guildgate_by_noahbradley-d5zbw03
2 Izzet Guildgate:  +1 Red source for Anger of the Gods in the SB

boros_guildgate_by_noahbradley-d5z84y0
1 Boros Guilgate:  +1 Red source for Anger of the Gods in the SB
4 Island:  – 1, Still need some basics for Burning Earth, untapped mana is a treat
1 Plains:  -1, Still need some basics for Burning Earth, untapped mana is a delicacy

Creatures (0)

Spells (28)

3 Azorius Charm:  -1, Fine card but we helped our early game with other spells so we can rely on this less.  It missing on the Protection from White/Blue creatures that exists is annoying, but cycling is always a good option.  Lifelink is definitely a relevant option since we often stabilize on less than 10 life, so pounding in with 10 tokens from a t5 Assemble the Legion on turn 8 to gain 10 life can really help us with buy time before the next
Revelation gets fired off.

4 Detention Sphere
4 Supreme Verdict
4 Sphinx’s Revelation

Don’t mess with the Azorius golden core – they are bossy.

4 Counterflux:  +1, The Control Mirror Breaker.  Had to add the last one – I can’t live without this card.  Sometimes Dissolve would have been better, since this is can’t help protecting your spells if they have 2 counterspells, but it is the Last Word at stopping their win-conditions from resolving.  If I didn’t think control mirrors would be all over the place I would switch to Dissolve, but UW and Esper and the mirror will happen – so I wanted to be fully prepared.

0 Warleader’s Helix:  -2, Cut entirely because Planeswalkers that are problematic all tick up to 5 immediately except for Domri Rade.  The life gain again is nice but the 4 mana-cost is a huge draw back – I’d rather deal with problematic creatures/planeswalkers before they hit play, hence the switch to Essence Scatter/Syncopate.

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1 Essence Scatter:  +1, gets Thassa on the draw, all the Gods, Desecration Demon, Blood Baron of Vizkopa, Pack Rat, Strombreath Dragon, Aetherling – all the things trying to kill us.  A blank against some other control decks so want no more than 1 main.

1 Turn // Burn:  – 1 because it didn’t feel needed very often.  Great card for blowouts, taking care of the classic t2 or t3 Mutavault attack into UR mana, and a devoted God.

Last-Breath-9_25-x-12_5

2 Last Breath:  +2, Inclusion over Divination since we desperately need to interact in the early game.  Kills Mutavault, Nightviel Specter, Grey Merchant of Asphodel, Ash Zealot, Master of Waves, Tidebinder Mage, Solider of Pantheon etc, etc, etc.  Taking a turn off to spend 3 mana to get ahead on cards is not something I have found to be very rewarding – most times I get punished for tapping out too early in the game.  The ability to gain life from targeting your own Solider token is quite handy when facing the awkward stage of the game against Boros Charm/Lightning Strike/Magma Jet decks – you know, when they can kill you if you in response to any life gain effect you have.  Last breath a solider to go up to 8 from 4, , in response Boros Charm you (no cards in hand), in response Sphinx’s Revelation for 3 – felt real nice to have that buffer in game 1.

2 Assemble the Legion:  Owning Mono-Black until they plan for it with the green splash for Golgari Charm // Abrupt Decay for Detention Sphere

Elixir-of-Immortality-300x193

1 Elixir of Immortality:  +1, Without this card I do not know how we can beat the UW Control decks that do run this card.  Either we counter it or it slips past us.  If they shuffle their whole graveyard when we can’t then our Counterflux’s won’t be able to keep up with their redeployments.

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2 Syncopate:  +2, Another great catch-all that can stop the dreaded t3 Underworld Connections or Thassa, God of the Sea alike.  Definitely don’t want more than two since it has diminishing returns as the game drags on.  Randomly exiling is great against the Elixir decks since it’s one less threat to deal with – can lead to some early concessions if you hit their Elspeth or Aetherling.

Planeswalkers (6)

2 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion:  +1, Aetherling was awful in most situations when I first tested the deck.  He is there to beat the decks with Jace, Architect of Thought that can also keep Elspeth from hitting her ultimate.  Overall the flexibility of destroying 4+ power monsters + creating multiple chump blockers against aggro has proven its merit.

4 Jace, Architect of Thought:  Super versatile against control and aggro, not sure why you would cut to 3 unless you ran some number of Divination.

Sideboard (15)

anger_of_the_gods_by_noahbradley-d6lw3cj

3 Anger of the Gods:  +3, Izzet Staticaster did not pull it’s weight, especially against the Devotion decks.  Against them you need to clear their board, and up to three toughness takes care of every creature in Mono-White (even when they have Spear of Heliod save Frontline Medic), Tidebinder Mage, Evloved Cloud-Fin Raptor, Nightveil Specter, 3 Pack Rats, Sylvan Caratid, Boros Reckoner (at a cost of 3 life), Ash Zealot, and Burning-Tree Emissary.  Our deck needed to up its red source count by 2 to help yield a turn 3 double red draw.  The Guildgates may prove to be a liability, but one that helps us more than hurts I hope.  Key against Xantrid Necromancer in the new CFB Orzhov aggro deck since the exile clause is relevant.

1 Last Breath:  Access to all 4 may be the way to go. You simply cannot be bullied by early aggro/devotion strategies with these and Mutavault, the only aggro creature that evades our Wrath, is struck with the splash damage.  Xantrid Necromancer, Chandra’s Phoenix, and Voice of Resurgence all require an exile clause to maximize value, which complimented by Anger of the Gods, keeps our board safe and clear of riff-raff.

1 Pithing Needle:  Didn’t even realize this could name Mutavault at first.  Card keeps getting better.  Turning off Jace, Architect of Thought it important when we are trying to win with a bunch of 1/1 soldier tokens.

1 Aetherling:  Necessary evil against the control mirrors.  Killing with 1/1 tokens is challenging against Jace, Architect of Thought, so we need a plan other than Elsepth Emblem to win in timely fashion against them.

2 Negate:  Planeswalkers, Underworld Connections, sometimes protects last card Sphinx’s Revelation from Thoughtseize/Duress in the mid/late game to devastating effect.

1 Jace, Memory Adept:  Alternate win-con against control decks.  Card advantage engine if you can’t logically win in a few turns of milling.

1 Wear // Tear:  -1, Don’t need more than 1 against most decks.  Burning Earth, Detention Sphere, Pithing Needle, Underworld Connections, Bident of Thassa, Whip of Erebos, Hammer of Purphoros, Ratchet Bomb, and Assemble the Legion are all good targets.

3 Gainsay:  Mono-Blue, 2 mana answers, so good so good.  Countering Revelation, Aetherling, and even Prosnostic Sphinx in some control lists.

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1 Debtor’s Pulpit:  +1, Blood Baron of Vizkopa and Stormbreath Dragon both dodge Azorius Charm, Detention Sphere, and Warleader’s Helix (part of why we cut it).  They don’t die to anything but Turn // Burn and Supreme Verdict.  This allows us to circumvent the pro-white clause since the land has the ability.  It allso stops a late Mistcutter Hydra and most importantly Aetherling, without which we would be completely cold should he ever resolve.  I’ve been on the fence with this slot between Celestial Flare because it can do a lot of the same work for less mana, helps against the Gladecover Scout/Ethereal Armor deck, and as a spell it recycles with Elixir.  In the end I think the Pulpit taking care of an Aetherling for good is it’s primary Allure

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1 Glare of Heresy:  Problem permanents in Mono-White like Ajani, Caller of the Pride and Spear of Heliod, but mainly to break the game wide open against the Control mirror for Detention Sphere and Elspeth.

If I had planned properly then I would have made travel arrangements for the SCG Open in Las Vegas this weekend.  Normally it would be because I want to do work at a Draft Open, but all that I see available for limited is a Sealed Open (not the same).  I would be more excited to play this deck at the Standard Open.

ld54_divination

If you want to beat all the other control decks then this deck looks pretty sick to me.  The only consideration, say if you knew you would play against only other control decks all day, would be to put some number of Divination main.  Most likely for the Essence Scatter and Syncopate(s), but I love having access to more things to do with 2 open mana on turn 2 or turn 3 with a comes into play tapped land against the majority of the field.

I hope some good players bring UWR. I think it is poised to take down the SCG Invitational.

@DrChrisBakerDC