Days of Future Future: Shadows over Innistrad

Posted in Latest Developments on April 29, 2016

By Sam Stoddard

Sam Stoddard came to Wizards of the Coast as an intern in May 2012. He is currently a game designer working on final design and development for Magic: The Gathering.

Hello and welcome to another edition of Days of Future Future, the feature of Latest Developments where I talk about some of our FFL decklists during the Shadows over Innistrad set.

Before I get started, I want to point out that many of these decks are not tuned, and many of them contain cards that have changed since we used these versions. Like all sets, we kept changing cards in Shadows until well after Eldritch Moon entered the FFL, so many of the cards in these decks are not the final versions. These are also not just a listing of the strongest decks in our FFL. Instead, I've tried to take a pretty wide sampling of fun and interesting decks that we created, to give you an idea of some of our thoughts during this period.

If you have additional questions about how the FFL works, I have put together an FFL FAQ article you can read here that may explain some things in more detail.

Anyway, let's get off to the decklists.

Tribal

We started off making tribal decks—the five tribes in Innistrad were important to the creative side, and also very popular casual decks that saw some top-tier Constructed play once Dark Ascension came out.

Now, these decks are of varying levels of both tribalness and power (much like how the decks ended up in the original Innistrad set), but they were good baselines for us to figure out how much stuff we would need to add in Eldritch Moon to help out the tribes and make them more powerful.

Mono-White Humans

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Blue-Black Zombies

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Black-Red Vampires

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Werewolves

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White-Blue Spirits

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Now, as I mentioned, not all of these decks were equal in power level, and we didn't expect them to be. The Spirit deck, for instance, ended up being a flying-tribal deck instead of actual Spirits, because we found we didn't have enough designs in Shadows alone that would work.

Old Guard

The next set of lists I want to present are the old guard—deck themes that were strong in the previous year of Standard that we could easily port over. This doesn't encapsulate all the decks we built, or all the decks we expected to be good, but a few representatives.

Black-Green Sacrifice

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While we didn't quite have the rally deck in Standard, we did have this deck that was quite similar. While this version doesn't actually get anything in Shadows, it was a good starting point to evaluate this deck, which we thought to be a player in the metagame.

Esper Dragons

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The strength of this deck is obviously that the Dragon package doesn't lose much. You still get Ojutai, Scorn, and Foul-Tongue Invocation, but you also get to pick up a little bit of madness and some new card-drawers with Epiphany.

Red-Green Ramp

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The final deck I'll show off for this section is the Red-Green Ramp deck, which we had identified as being a strong part of Oath Standard, and which really only gets Deathcap Cultivator as an upgrade. It may not seem like much, but having Evolving Wilds and Hedron Archive helps to get you delirium, enabling the use of Deathcap as an easy way to trade with a larger attacker and stay in the game.

New Hotness

This is, at least for me, the most important part of any FFL period—what are the new and interesting decks that didn't exist before this set?

Naya Aggro

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The first one is a Naya Aggro deck. The fact that both Collected Company and Dromoka's Command are instants helps you to flip your Lambholt Pacifist and Duskwatch Recruiter, and you get to splash Arlinn Kord for some extra power.

Dragon Reanimator

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The classic graveyard strategy of mill yourself, reanimate big things. Dragonlord Kolaghan plus Atarka is enough to take a huge chunk of your opponent's life total.

Black-Green Delirium

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The most exciting part of delirium to me is that it helps to switch up the types of cards you play in your deck. This deck, for instance, goes to Dead Weight for removal, partly to help you hit the delirium numbers you want to.

Green-White Good Stuff

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A pretty simple deck, very similar to the Hardened Scales deck before rotation, obviously minus Hardened Scales itself. The idea was to just play the strong aggressive creatures in these colors, and beat your opponent by not being cute.

We do test decks that are actually cute, however, even if they aren't always top-tier. The goal is to make sure that the decks are close to being playable, and we often bump up a few cards so that they will end up being about strong enough.

Mono-Blue Drownyard

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It may seem strange to have an instant/sorcery deck eschewing Jace and Thing in the Ice, but this deck's goal was really to turbo into a huge Rise from the Tides. I believe at the time we were testing this, Declaration in Stone still gave Clues for tokens, so that was less of a concern. While it's probable that Declaration makes the all-in version of this deck wrong, it is at least fun.

Grixis Madness

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We did play plenty of Jace in our blue decks, however. Above is a very typical version of a Grixis Madness deck, using as many discard outlets as possible and overpowering your opponent with either card advantage and Call the Bloodline or a late game Rise from the Tides.

Black-Green Sidisi

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Mindwrack Demon can work in decks that do more than just try to get delirium. This deck tries to fill its graveyard with powerful cards, then gets to use Sidisi, Undead Vizier to get a toolbox.

I hope you enjoyed that quick view into some of the decks we made for the Shadows over Innistrad FFL. Again, these are not the decks we thought were the best, or even highly tuned lists, just some interesting things we tested in the course of making the set for Standard.

Next week, I'll be back talking double-faced cards and how we balanced them.

Until next time,

Sam (@samstod)

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