Six mana, eh?
In a world with cards like Stormbreath Dragon and Polukranos, World Eater running around, six mana needs to buy you something pretty saucy to want to go that high. It needs to compete with cards like Elspeth at its mana cost.
So, what does it take to make a six-drop awesome in Constructed? What would get you excited about my preview card?
Well, it probably needs to be big, for starters. Stopping the bleeding the turn you cast it and then turning around the next turn and smashing in for a bunch of damage is going to be important.
Big? Okay, check.
But how about resiliency? It's important that it still does something even if it's removed right away. There are enough removal spells in Standard that your six-drop still needs to give you some benefit even if it pays the Ultimate Price.
Oh yeah, my preview card is resilient as well. In fact, this card helps foster resiliency outside of just itself.
If you haven't heard, there's a new cycle of six-drops in town called the Souls. And now it's time to take a peek at the black one, which hails from one of the most beloved planes of them all. Introducing: Soul of Innistrad!
Okay, so let's break this down in a little more depth.
We'll start with the basics: it's a six-mana 6/6. That's certainly intriguing enough to go on and fulfills the "big" requirement. If unanswered, your opponent is going to be on the back foot. The deathtouch is a nice bonus, too, causing problems should the opponent, say, double block to kill it. But that is far from being good enough on its own—it's the other set of abilities that really brings this creature to a whole new level.
If your opponent lets you untap with a Soul of Innistrad, it is going to be very hard for him or her to get back into the game.
For five mana, its activated ability essentially draws you three cards. And not just three random cards, but precisely the three creatures that will be the most backbreaking. If your opponent lets you untap with a Soul, that doesn't bode well for your opponent's odds of dealing with your next three creatures!
But it's the other ability that really provides the crucial bit, the sought-after resiliency that high-mana cards often need to be considered.
Let this sink in: Even if your opponent kills it, you're still getting three cards.
Soul of Innistrad | Art by Adam Paquette
Your opponent only has so many removal spells. Sure, he or she may have spent one on this Soul, but now you have three more creatures to follow up with. And unlike similar cards in its vein, it even works if it's countered; it doesn't need to actually enter the battlefield to do its thing! Soul of Innistrad is perfect for grinding out matches.
So, how does this fit into a deck? Well, there are two primary ways to play with Soul of Innistrad. Let's take a look at representations of both!
...or, at least, more fair than the other deck.
Let's take a look at what this looks like:
At its core, this is a black-green midrange deck, not too unlike the ones that were popular a few months ago. Using the core of Sylvan Caryatid and Courser of Kruphix, it can power out big threats quickly. Additionally, it can also put pressure on fast: turn-two Pack Rat causes as many headaches as one might expect, and a fast Polukranos can cause your opponent to be searching for answers.
But Soul of Innistrad adds a whole new level to this sort of deck.
Sure, there's the obvious one of enters-the-battlefield effects. Bringing back Shadowborn Demon or Gray Merchant of Asphodel can be pretty devastating; a very easy way to run away with the game is to return multiple Gray Merchants with the Soul's ability.
Soul changes up that game play.
It can also make a Lotleth Troll gigantic out of nowhere! No blocks? Discard a bunch of creatures, activate the Soul I discarded to get three back, discard them again—take 9!
Oh, and it's also just a 6/6 finisher when you need it to be.
Now, this version of the deck uses the Soul as a tool to be resilient, and it's plenty strong. But how about in a deck that fully takes advantage of it?
When I see Soul of Innistrad, the first thing I think of is something that dumps plenty of creatures into its graveyard and makes Soul a flashback spell I can use. (With the upside of occasionally casting it.) And fortunately, there's an incredible shell for that in Standard right now.
Let's take a look at what that might look like:
The graveyard deck has been close for a while in Standard—and Soul of Innistrad might finally put it over the top.
The deck has always been outstanding at milling itself quickly, but it had a problem with drawing the right combinations of cards. What if you draw all self-mill and didn't find any gas? What if your opponent killed off your one or two huge Nighthowlers? Then you would suddenly find yourself sitting in a town called Mercy, staring at the top of your library and desperately hoping to find a Whip of Erebos.
Soul of Innistrad radically changes how this deck plays. Now it almost never runs out of gas!
Not only do you have a big, must-kill threat to cast in a pinch if you flood on a mana, but you have a seemingly endless supply of Nighthowlers and Nemesis of Mortals. If you mill multiple Souls, you can even use one Soul to return another and force your opponent to have a removal spell for it! Most Mono-Black Control draws can't even try to keep up with the raw number of threats this deck produces.
While there are some answers to this deck in the metagame like Scavenging Ooze, there isn't a ton being played right now. It's time for Innistrad to reign!
Exploring Magic 2015
Even more than any core set in the past, there's plenty of new and crazy stuff to do and explore in Magic 2015. From powerful mythic rares to the fifteen brain-bending outside-designer cards and more, this set is poised to add a new layer to Standard. Be sure to check back every day for the rest of this week and next week to see more of the new potential this set has to offer.
In the meantime, I'm excited to see what you all out there can do with it! It's time to kick off the Magic 2015 challenges!
Restrictions: You must use/build around one Magic 2015 card.
Deadline: July 1, at 6 p.m. Pacific Time.
Submit all decklists at the email address provided below. Please submit decklists using the following template. (The specific numbers below are arbitrary, so please don't feel a need to use them—it's just how an example of how a decklist should look when laid out.)
4 Other Spell
4 Other Spell
Find a card (or more!) that strikes your fancy and try building with it. You can either build around a specific card or just slot Magic 2015 cards into a deck—either is fine. I'm just excited to see what you come up with!
I pushed the deadline to next Tuesday to give you a bit of extra time to see more previews. That way, if you want to wait until later, once more cards are revealed, to send in your decklist, go ahead.
Looking for where to submit your decklists? Please email your decks to ReConstructed (at sign) Wizards (dot) com.
I hope you enjoyed this take on Standard and preview of Soul of Innistrad! I would expect to see it on Standard tables (and especially graveyards) in the months to come.
I'll be back next week, when I finally preview a card that players have been hoping would exist for a while now. Have fun building with Magic 2015, and talk with you then!