Preorder MTG Lord of the Rings Tales of Middle-earth today!
   Sign In
Create Account

Ten New Brews (5+5) For Shadows Over Innistrad Remastered



The decks you are about to see are mostly untested first drafts! They were played Tuesday and Wednesday on stream during the release of Shadows Over Innistrad Remastered on MTG Arena and are my first stabs at the new Historic and Explorer formats. Most are brews jam packed with Shadows Over Innistrad cards, while there are also a few updates to previously established archetypes, but it's important to note that these are the first steps and not finished products! Use them as stepping stones for your own deck brewing process, but play them card for card at your own risk!

Hey wait, this isn't a Standard set!

Shadows Over Innistrad Remastered is a new set release on MTG Arena. It's not actually a new release, per say, but rather a remastering of the original Shadows Over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon sets to bring these cards to MTG Arena for Historic, and perhaps more importantly Explorer as it continues its quest to eventually get all the cards necessary to become full-on Pioneer.

Snapcaster Mage
Lingering Souls

But wait, there's more! Shadows Over Innistrad Remastered also contains a "Shadows of the Past" bonus sheet similar to Strixhaven's Mystical Archives or The Brothers' War's Retro Artifacts, which is an additional 81 cards that are on theme with Innistrad but not actually from Shadows Over Innistrad or Eldritch Moon. These cards will not be legal in Explorer/Pioneer, but will provide exciting new additions to Historic!

As such, I have built my usual Ten New Brews for this set, but there are a few key differences from my usual Ten New Brews. There are five Historic Brews and five Explorer brews, and because there is no Early Access Event for this release, I played 3 best of three matches with each deck with full sideboarding.

Today we are going to go over all ten decks I played, briefly going over each list and my thoughts on how it was, giving it a letter grade, and talking about what kind of potential it has going forward. I played three matches with each deck in best of three so the deck's record will also be included. We'll start with the Historic decks and then get to the Explorer/Pioneer decks.

Let's go!

Historic Decks

Deck's Record: 2-1

Deck's Grade: B+

Deck Potential: Medium to High

Standout Card: Crucias, Titan of the Waves

Boy did Griselbrand pick a poor time to show up on MTG Arena.

Atraxa, Grand Unifier

Since it's printing, Griselbrand has largely been heralded as one of the best creatures to cheat into play of all time; Reanimate, Sneak Attack, Show and Tell... just get Griseldaddy in play and call it a day. However, the recent printing of Atraxa, Grand Unifier has largely unseated Griselbrand in almost every format, providing a bunch of cards without paying life as well as pitching to Force of Will, Solitude, etc.

As such, I played a single copy of Griselbrand to give it a try but Atraxa still feels like the best reanimation target.

Nahiri, the Harbinger
Lingering Souls

However, the rest of the deck performed well, as did the new additions. Crucias, Titan of the Waves and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki are two of the best cards in the format and both perform perfectly here, and newcomers like Nahiri, the Harbinger and Lingering Souls were not out of place. Nahiri in particular is excellent against hate cards, being able to exile things like Rest in Peace or Leyline of the Void, or just use the ultimate to put Atraxa directly in play.

There's a powerful plan at work here with an abundance of the format's most powerful cards, meaning there's something serious here for sure!

Deck's Record: 0-3

Deck's Grade: D

Deck Potential: Low

Standout Card: Snapcaster Mage

Jeskai Control with Snapcaster Mage like it's 2013? Somebody pinch me!

Snapcaster Mage
Lightning Helix
Sphinx's Revelation

There are a lot of all-time classics here, but the lack of good 1 mana spells really killed us here. No Lightning Bolt or Path to Exile means that Snapcaster Magic is often going to be a 4-drop not a 3-drop, which means the deck ends up feeling quite clunky. Furthermore, there just isn't a good two-mana counterspell in the format, so playing glorified Lightning Strike and Cancel just doesn't get it done.

Make no mistake, I think it's awesome to see Snapcaster Magc in a format without Lightning Bolt, but it does mean that we're going to need to reevaluate the card. Playing Black with Fatal Push and Thoughtseize may be the way to go.

Deck's Record: 3-0

Deck's Grade: B+

Deck Potential: Surprisingly High

Standout Card: Avacyn's Pilgrim

From something old to something new.

Jodah, the Unifier
Hajar, Loyal Bodyguard
Melira, the Living Cure

Every time I play Jodah, the Unifier in any format I am impressed. It is the definition of a must-kill creature, and with awesome lands like Plaza of Heroes and Secluded Courtyard casting him is fairly trivial. There's also just a whole host of awesome legendary Humans available, many of which do a great job of protecting Jodah and your other important creatures, but also do so at great rates.

Avacyn's Pilgrim

However, aside from many of the usual suspects like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Crucias, Titan of the Waves, the biggest addition to the deck from Shadows Over Innistrad Remastered, and one of the biggest additions to the format as a whole, is the simple Avacyn's Pilgrim. This is not Modern, and we are not spoiled with Noble Hierarch, Birds of Paradise, Utopia Sprawl, etc. The only one-mana accelerators in the format are Llanowar Elves and Elvish Mystic, and they are supremely important. Avacyn's Pilgrim gives us another one that does better in multicolored decks, and is also very importantly a human.

This deck absolutely steamrolled people, and don't forget this was not on the Early Access event where everyone is playing brews - this was three matches in high Diamond on the open ladder.

This one is cool!

Deck's Record: 1-2

Deck's Grade: C

Deck Potential: Not High But Better Than Record

Standout Card: Kemba's Outfitter

Colossus Hammer has been a major player in Modern for a long time now, but has never really made the jump to any other format.

Colossus Hammer
Sigarda's Aid
Kemba's Outfitter

Shadows Over Innistrad Remastered brings us Sigarda's Aid, which is already legal in Pioneer, but isn't enough by itself to carry the archetype. Well luckily the most recent Alchemy release gave us Kemba's Outfitter, which is an absurd enabler for Colossus Hammer both in hand or on the battlefield. With eight good ways to equip for only a single mana, we're starting to reach a good level of redundancy.

Cacophony Scamp
Stoneforge Mystic
Urza's Saga

While the deck is capable of turn two kills with Cacophony Scamp, it just doesn't have the consistency of that the Modern deck has. Without tutors like Stoneforge Mystic and backup plans like Urza's Saga, the deck is just too one dimensional.

Belt of Giant Strength

There could be something here however, and one possible way to build the deck would be to add Green for Belt of Giant Strength, as the biggest issue is finding the equipment. More work is needed!

Deck's Record: 1-2

Deck's Grade: C

Deck Potential: Blandly Medium

Standout Card: Drogskol Captain

Spirits is the definition of medium.

Spell Queller
Avacyn's Pilgrim
Drogskol Captain

Sure, there are a bunch of new additions like Spell Queller, Avacyn's Pilgrim, and Drogskol Captain which increase the overall power level of the deck when they join cards already on MTG Arena like Rattlechains and Skyclave Apparition, but the deck is never doing anything fundamentally powerful.

The only real benefit you get for playing a bunch of spirits is a few medium lords, as you're not getting paid off with something like Muxus, Goblin Grandee or Svyelun of Sea and Sky.

The deck is fine but nothing to be excited about.

Explorer / Pioneer Decks

Deck's Record: 1-2

Deck's Grade: C+

Deck Potential: Low

Standout Card: Glissa Sunslayer

From Historic to Explorer, from Spirits to Zombies, but largely the same story.

Diregraf Colossus
Champion of the Perished

There are some pretty awesome tribal zombie cards, with Cryptbreaker and Champion of the Perished being excellent 1-drops, but there isn't really a big knockout card that slams it home for putting a whole bunch of zombies into your deck. The lords are only okay, and the benefits from the listed cards are good but not great.

As such, the deck feels like it is missing something vital.

Glissa Sunslayer
Collected Company

One bright spot however was the Green splash, as playing a card as individually powerful as Glissa Sunslayer in your tribal deck where your opponent will be burning removal spells left and right is awesome, and Collected Company is as good as ever alongside approximately 30 creatures.

This deck would need something more to be a serious contender.

Deck's Record:2-1

Deck's Grade: B?

Deck Potential: Uh, Not Sure?

Standout Card: Sheoldred, the Apocalypse

Uh, this is an odd one.

Fevered Visions
Sheoldred, the Apocalypse
Narset, Parter of Veils

Fevered Visions is an awesome card from Shadows Over Innistrad, and I wanted to try it alongside Sheoldred, the Apocalypse and Narset, Parter of Veils. Beyond that? How about a bunch of good, cheap Grixis interaction I guess?

Thing in the Ice
Fiery Impulse

Thing in the Ice plays well here as an additional threat that can reset the board and stuff their hand for Fevered Visions, but is a bit awkward with the enchantments and planeswalkers. Otherwise, you're just trying to interact as cheap as possible and wreck what they are doing while you set up one of your engines.

I'm not going to lie, I'm not sure what to make of this one. We had a winning record and the deck felt fine, but also felt like it didn't have a clear idea of what it wanted to do. Not sure where to go from here.

Deck's Record: 1-2

Deck's Grade: C+

Deck Potential: Low to Medium

Standout Card: Liliana, the Last Hope

Ah yes delirium, the headline mechanic of Shadows Over Innistrad, as well as the headline card in Emrakul, the Promised End.

Grim Flayer
Traverse the Ulvenwald
Emrakul, the Promised End

Golgari Delirium decks were a terror in Standard when they were legal, but haven't really made the jump into Pioneer despite many of the individual cards being quite powerful. Grim Flayer is a powerful card but ultimately too weak to removal when cast on turn two, while Traverse the Ulvenwald is powerful but not really enough to bring it all together. Emrakul, the Promised End does play well as the ultimate lategame as a one-of to search up with Traverse the Ulvenwald, but the issue is that most of the decks in the format will either have won or lost by that point.

Which comes to basically the biggest issue the deck has - it's just too fair.

There're a lot of big and powerful things happening in Explorer and Pioneer, which makes setting up Ishkanah, Grafwidow or Consuming Blob in the midgame just not worth the trouble. Not to say that this deck is bad, as it's got plenty of play and a ton of fun cards, but it certainly isn't optimal for the format.

Liliana, the Last Hope

One word about Liliana, the Last Hope however; Liliana was surprisingly good. Easily forgotten about in Pioneer, Liliana has some legs and should be explored more.

Deck's Record: 2-1

Deck's Grade: B

Deck Potential: Surprising

Standout Card: Fable of the Mirror-Breaker

Various versions of Angels have been a thing in Pioneer and Explorer for a while now, but I wanted to try something a little different.

Gisela, the Broken Blade
Bruna, the Fading Light

I wanted to meld! The original meld cards were from Eldritch Moon, and Brisela, Voice of Nightmares was the meld face card for the set. It's important to note that Gisela, the Broken Blade and Bruna, the Fading Light are both perfectly reasonable creatures, and are of course both angels, slotting them into this slightly bigger angel deck that isn't bothering trying to play Collected Company or Kayla's Reconstruction.

Fable of the Mirror-Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki
Nahiri, the Harbinger
Lyra Dawnbringer

Removing the requirements for Collected Company and Kayla's Reconstruction means that you don't need to play weak angels like Youthful Valkyrie and a full set of Resplendent Angel, making room for more individually powerful cards up the curve like the meld angels and especially Lyra Dawnbringer. Helping facilitate this is the always awesome Fable of the Mirror-Breaker as well as Nahiri, the Harbinger.

One of the biggest issues Angels always had has been not having any way to smooth out their draws. Drawing too many or too few lands or removal spells/threats in the wrong order was rough, but with Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and Nahiri in the deck you now can smooth things out and get the right cards at the right time.

With Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and Nyxthos, Shrine to Nyx helping ramp the mana and all the usual strengths of Angels, this deck was surprisingly sweet!

Deck's Record: 2-1

Deck's Grade: A-

Deck Potential: High

Standout Card: Traverse the Ulvenwald

Hey wait, that's not a brew!

Vessel of Nascency
Traverse the Ulvenwald
Greasefang, Okiba Boss

Eli Loveman, David Inglis, and Zach Kiihne all brought this unique version of Abzan Greasefang to Pro Tour Phyrexia last month, and while Reid may have won the whole event with our team's Izzet Creativity deck, it was actually Abzan Greasefang that had the best win percentage in the whole tournament. Their build was especially awesome as it utilized this delirium tutor package, something very new to the archtype.

So, why is it here in Ten New Brews?

Well, the reality is that any release on MTG Arena for Explorer is ultimately trying to eventually get Explorer to cease to exist and be replaced with full Pioneer on MTG Arena. As such, many times these releases are less about brewing (because the cards already exist in Pioneer), and more about getting Explorer more in line with what Pioneer currently is.

This deck wasn't playable on MTG Arena before Shadows Over Innistrad Remastered, but is now, and it's probably the best version of this very powerful deck. If you like creature combo and ranking up, you know what to do!

What's Old Is New

I'm a big fan of these releases on MTG Arena, and I also love the bonus sheet bringing fun and classic cards like Snapcaster Mage and Lingering Souls into the Historic format. It's also great to see the progress of Pioneer on MTG Arena, as hopefully they will complete it sooner rather than later.

Next up is March of the Machine next month as the Magic: The Gathering set release schedule rolls on, and it promises to be a whopper!

Register for CommandFest Orlando March of the Machine Prerelease today!

Limited time 30% buy trade in bonus buylist