The Diary of a Pro Player: Preparing for Shadows over Innistrad Standard

I play a lot of Standard before a rotation to know if an existing deck can still be viable in the new format. Unfortunately, I played very little Oath of the Gatewatch Standard due to the Grand Prix schedule.

I’ve watched a ton of it on coverage though, and at least know what the decks look like.

For the first time, we are going to experience a “small rotation,” with only Khans of Tarkir and Fate Reforged rotating out. Because of that, I expect more “old” decks to stay viable after rotation, and some of them are even untouched!

Let’s look at which decks could technically survive the rotation.

Bant CoCo

This list doesn’t include any of the new cards or anything from Khans of Tarkir and Fate Reforged, yet, it looks very good. The mana base is a little rough, but I’m sure the new lands will help accommodate that.

From the current spoiler, the first 2 cards look like they would definitely have a future in any Collected Company strategy. I’m particularly interested to see Duskwatch Recruiter in action—it is pretty sweet combined with instant-speed creatures like Bounding Krasis and Collected Company.

Declaration in Stone is a removal spell you play in any proactive strategy, depending on whether Dromoka’s Command is good in the metagame or not—I’d be happy to shave a few for some Swords to Plowshares/Path to Exile action.

Red Eldrazi

Kent Ketter ran this list in an SCG Open last weekend—I don’t know if he’s preemptively playtesting the post-rotation format or if this deck is actually good, but I’m leaning toward the latter. This deck looks awesome.

Vile Aggregate won a Pro Tour in Modern. Imagine Standard!

This is the only card spoiled so far that could have an application here. It ramps into a turn-3 Reality Smasher or turn-4 Chandra, Flamecaller, which is pretty neat. I doubt this kind of strategy wants card disadvantage like Vessel, but who knows.

Even if nothing has been spoiled for this deck, I wouldn’t be surprised if it stayed very good. Everyone’s mana base is going to be clunky and slow (compared when we had the fetches) and this deck’s mana base is obviously fast and perfect.


Cut Rattleclaw Mystic and Ugin, add more Dragonlord Atarka and Ruin in Their Wake. There are probably a billion ways to build this. Either way, it is staying a tier 1 archetype after rotation.

All these cards look like they could easily have a spot in this deck. A mana dork that turns into a deadly blocker when you flood—sign me up!

Traverse the Ulvenwald is a land that eventually turns into a better Green Sun’s Zenith later. Oath of Nissa is a great card in Ramp because it lets you cheat on the number of lands and threats you play to find the right balance. Traverse is sort of the same thing—it’s just a matter of being able to turn on delirium.

Vessel of Volatility plays a better role in this deck. You don’t care about card advantage. Casting your boom-boom is the priority. Chandra, Flamecaller is especially insane when cast before turn 5 since your opponent will likely not have anything with more than 3-4 toughness in play at that time.

Esper Dragons

This deck takes a huge hit, that’s for sure. Nonetheless, the core Dragon cards like Dragonlord Ojutai, Silumgar’s Scorn, and Foul-Tongue Invocation are still around. It is very possible that the loss of Dig Through Time and a perfect mana base makes the deck unplayable, but I wouldn’t discard it just yet—it’s got some new tools to work with!

Anguished Unmaking + Painful Truths leads me to think that a few Ojutai’s Command are necessary for life gain, and if that’s what it takes, I can get behind that. Dead Weight, depending on the size of creatures played, could range from awful to great.

Those 2 dual lands are probably at their best in a deck playing up to 27 lands, especially with cards like Painful Truths, making sure that you always have a land to reveal.

UB Aristocrats

I wrote about our creation for PT Battle from Zendikar months ago and sadly the deck was overshadowed by 4c Rally being a better version of the same plan. Now that Rally the Ancestors is gone and this deck is basically untouched… can it be revived?

Bloodsoaked Champion and Murderous Cut are the main losses. Relentless Dead can act as a better Bloodsoaked Champion. Murderous Cut is hard to replace, but it will not be any good if fetches are gone anyway. Sinister Concoction could be a reasonable replacement, as milling yourself could have utility.

The mana base will probably stay pristine with 4 Sunken Hollow, 4 Choked Estuary, and a mix of Evolving Wilds and regular tapped lands.

The spoiler will soon be complete, and it will be a brewer’s paradise. I’ll see you next week in heaven!

1 thought on “The Diary of a Pro Player: Preparing for <i>Shadows over Innistrad</i> Standard”

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