Two-Card Synergies in Shadows over Innistrad Draft

Posted in Event Coverage on April 23, 2016

By Marc Calderaro

Many Pros are calling Shadows over Innistrad draft a "game of inches" rather than miles. If inches are the size of the yardstick, rather than huge strategies, it's the little things that can get you the edge. Shadows is an extremely synergistic format, and leveraging those interrelations can be the key to success, even when your deck isn't built around such mechanics.

Here are just some of many interactions various Pros highlighted. Maybe they aren't building their decks around just them, but if you've drafted one half, the second should be rated higher when you see it passed to you at the draft table.

Though perhaps we're starting off with an obvious one, the impact of this combination cannot be overstated. This combination reads for RR you get, "Deal 5 damage to one creature and 3 damage to (usually another) creature or player." It's often a two-mana board sweeper, and at instant speed to boot!

The only problem with this combo, No. 12 Thiago Saporito said, was that you really have to first-pick that Lightning Axe, or you'll simply never see it. Just like when the card was first released in Time Spiral, the synergy with madness cards overall is off-the-charts awesome, and you'll always find something good to do with it.

You feel so good when you get this combo, you'll never want your draft to end. As I'm sure many of us know from experience.

Call the Bloodline is very powerful card. Though it's best in a build-around home— overflowing with madness and more—it can be just as impactful with one or two cards to lean on what it does best.

Indulgent Aristocrat and Call the Bloodline are a two-card engine. Sure, it gets better the more Vampires you have, but even with just one or two, you have the ability of "3, Discard a card: Add a +1/+1 counter to all your bloodsucking duders." But how will you get those duders? With the original ability of the Bloodline of course!

Slightly less cheeky, but just as infuriating for your opponent, is Call of the Bloodline with Sanitarium Skeleton in your hand. Combined, your new recurring ability is "3B: Make a 1/1 lifelink Vampire." Just discard the Skeleton with the enchantment, then bring it back to your hand.

For extra shenanigans, add all three cards together. Gross.

And for an even more classic draft strategy, Ari Lax suggested pairing Indulgent Aristocrat with Malevolent Whispers. If there's one downside to Whispers, it's that your opponent gets their creature back at the end of the turn. Indulgent Aristocrat says, "That's a problem that I can fix," allows you to sacrifice the stolen creature (usually after you've attacked with it), and then get the +1/+1 counters for good measure.

Some of the hidden rumblings from the Pros before the tournament began was how good Shard of Broken Glass could be. The humble little equipment can really do work for any deck that wants two things: (1) To activate delirium by getting four cards types in the graveyard, and (2) Break through the wall of 2/4s other decks off. With the added bonus of dumping any cards in your graveyard you wanted dumped, Shard of Broken Glass is at your service.

Ari Lax suggested pairing it with Dauntless Cathar. "I'm not even talking about on the battlefield," he said. "Just having the Cathar in your deck at all."

What about the Shard with Paranoid Parish-Blade or even the lowly Militant Inquisitor? The Inquisitor becomes much more serviceable as a 4/3, unable to be blocked well by Drownyard Explorers and many of the other big-butted stop signs.

Surely some of you have been killed already by the gut punch that is Neglected Heirloom and Heir of Falkenrath. Swing for 6 damage in the air starting turn three? Sounds decent. Or what about Avacynian Missionaries? Equip, pass the turn, exile a creature, and have a 7/7 first strike?

Neglected Heirloom is a card that already does wonders in Red-Green Werewolves, but its utility has been expanding to others colors, thanks to the double-faced cards that transform in varied ways. However, no, Harvest Hand or Startled Awake will not work out too well.

One of the more subtle interactions with the Heirloom is Lambholt Pacifist. Though not sure-fire by any means, a 4/4 Pacifist can attack, making it less likely you have to cast a spell on your own turn. One turn of neglect will also net you a 7/7 first strike for your restraint.

Corey Burkhart brought up this "Oops, I win" interaction and was met with a chorus of aggressive "Yes!" chants from both Tom Martell and Brian Kibler. It was like Daniel Bryan walked into the room.

This four-mana, instant-speed trick means your creature has +3/+2, trample, and double strike. If you cast it on a 0-power creature after blockers, that's six extra damage. But what about casting it on a Bloodmad Vampire? That's 15 damage for four mana at instant speed. Oops, you won.

Currently undefeated, 23rd-ranked Brad Nelson brought up this little ditty. Sacrificing the Vessel will all-but guarantee a land or two in the graveyard to return with Stoic Builder. Though nothing like dealing 15 damage in a turn, the Black-Green delirium decks need to power out card types into the graveyard while also gumming up the ground in the early game. This turn one-two-three sequence will almost get your there by itself.

Though Nelson did mention that Fork in the Road can also accomplish something similar, he said that the Vessel provides a better chance at keeping delirium. It's fairly likely to net two lands in the graveyard, rather than one. So after the Builder comes down, there's still a land in the 'yard for your Moldgraf Scavengers.

Shadows over Innistrad is replete with these little synergies to make your draft deck hum. Some are more board-altering than others, but in the game of inches, small tricks can make all the difference. Pro Tour Hall of Fame member Brian Kibler mentioned Silverfur Partisan and Expose Evil. "Tap your guy, make a wolf; draw a card," he explained. "Yup, I'm in." Or even something as simple as Briarbridge Patrol and Rabid Bite can help turn the tides.

We could go on all day like this. Instead, let's just start drafting and discover more of these out the fun way. I'll start the draft queue now.

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