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Ten New Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Standard Brews!

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Warning!

The decks you are about to see are mostly untested first drafts! They were played during the very first day that Innistrad: Midnight Hunt was legal on MTG Arena and are my first stabs at the new Standard format. Most are brews jam packed with Innistrad: Midnight Hunt 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!

What a great day it is!

Goodbye Yorion, Sky Nomad! Goodbye Embercleave! Goodbye Bonecrusher Giant! Goodbye Emergent Ultimatium! Goodbye Throne of Eldraine... and good riddance!

A lot of the excitement today has to do with the release of Magic's third return to the beloved plane of Innistrad - A new set and fall rotation is always one of the most exciting time for Magic. However, this one is extra special because it also sees the exit of two sets that have led to a very dark time in the history of Standard, Throne of Eldraine and Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths. Both have cast a long shadow over the last few set releases, but now they are both finally gone!

This means that not only is this a party for Innistrad, but also a party for all the Strixhaven, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, and Kaldheim cards that just couldn't cut it in a world of Bonecrusher Giants and Lovestruck Beasts! It really feels like we're getting more than one set of new cards here and that is awesome. It also helps that Innistrad: Midnight Hunt looks like an excellent and exciting set, so let's get right to it!

Today we are going to go over all ten decks I played as part of my Ten New Brews on YouTube and stream, 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 five games with each deck in best of one so the deck's record will also be included.

Let's go!


Deck's Record: 2-3

Deck's Grade: C+

Deck Potential: Medium to High

Figuring out the minutia of this deck is going to be a bit difficult, but there's definitely something real here.

Poppet Stitcher // Poppet Factory
Sedgemoor Witch
Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia

Poppet Stitcher // Poppet Factory and Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia join Sedgemoor Witch to form quite the trio of token makers, pumping out a huge number of resources. These tokens can of course attack, and in the case of Sedgemoor Witch block too, but this deck is looking to put them to other use as well. And once Poppet Stitcher Flips the game looks to end in short order.

Lolth, Spider Queen
Grafted Identity
Village Rites

There are some smaller ball things going on like Village Rites, but the real draw here is the big-time payoffs in Grafted Identity and the deck's namesake Lolth, Spider Queen. Grafted Identity overperformed as Control Magic is already powerful, but when you add the +1/+1 on top of it you're almost always outsizing whatever their biggest thing is. Lolth is also quite the engine, providing fodder, card draw, and gaining loyalty left and right as your various tokens bite the dust.

Of course, the difficulty is finding the right mix of enablers, payoffs, and just normal cards. The three losses this deck took were all to mono-colored aggro decks, a spot where both a more refined build as well as a good sideboard would have gone a long way.

It may not look exactly like this, but there's something very real here.


Deck's Record: 5-2

Deck's Grade: B

Deck Potential: Medium

Good ol' midrange Jund!

Prior to rotation, playing a true midrange deck was very difficult. Decks always had some big play to punish you if you tried to play a nickel and dime grindy game, whether it was going way over the top with Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, Emergent Ultimatium, or Yorion, or just killing you with Embercleave and The Great Henge. However, with all that gone it's once again safe to play some planeswalkers and grind!

Wrenn and Seven
Lolth, Spider Queen
Arlinn, the Pack's Hope // Arlinn, the Moon's Fury

Here we get our first look at Wrenn and Seven, which is perhaps one of the most impressive cards in the new set. Able to draw cards and make threats with a reasonably loyalty, it's a great place to start. We see Lolth again, which plays well with all the tokens, as well as Arlinn, the Pack's Hope // Arlinn, the Moon's Fury and Zariel, Archduke of Avernus. Arlinn and Zariel underperformed a bit, with Arlinn in particular being frustrating as she was often just a four mana sorcery that made two wolves, but the core is there.

Lotus Cobra
Binding the Old Gods
Bloodchief's Thirst

Did you remember that Lotus Cobra is legal in Standard? Once out from the shadow of Bonecrusher Giant's boot, it's quickly apparent that Lotus Cobra still has what it takes. Whether it's ramping out a four-mana play on turn three or eating a removal spell to slow your opponent down, Lotus Cobra is back. Alongside it is Binding the Old Gods, which is just too powerful not to see a ton of play in the new format.

Briarbridge Tracker

One card I think I did miss on with this build was Briarbridge Tracker, as the deck lacks card draw and velocity which the Tracker can provide while also synergizing with the various other token effects. Having a two for one that can play offense and defense in a deck like this is very important.

Like the previous deck, these sort of midrange decks need to be properly tuned for the expected metagame, but be put on notice that midrange is back on the menu!


Deck's Record: 5-0

Deck's Grade: B

Deck Potential: Medium?

And the award for most surprising result goes to... Boats and Plows!

After starting off with some midrange good stuff decks I decided to take one of the wilder brews out for a spin and boy was everyone surprised when we pulled off the clean sweep.

Colossal Plow
Giant Ox
The Blackstaff of Waterdeep

Last seen memeing in Kaldheim drafts, Colossal Plow and Giant Ox get joined by The Blackstaff of Waterdeep to give just enough redundancy to allow the Plow to get some time in the sun. With Ingenious Smith, some scrys here and there, and Oswald Fiddlebender all available to help put things together, it was reasonably consistent. The deck also has a nice mana sink for all that White mana in Emeria's Call.

Cosima, God of the Voyage // The Omenkeel
Ingenious Smith
Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset

Add this to a motley crew of artifacts and creatures like The Omenkeel, Portable Hole, Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset, and more, and you've got a sort of odd aggressive deck that can also switch gears into a more controling gameplan when the time calls for it. Icebind Pillar was also extremely impressive, helping to lock down cards like Esika's Chariot and Goldspan Dragon.

Not sure if this was just a fluke, but it's nice to know there's something here!


Deck's Record: 4-1

Deck's Grade: B+

Deck Potential: Medium to High

Orzhov Angels only really gets one new card from Innistrad, but it is definitely a good one.

Liesa, Forgotten Archangel

Cut from the same cloth as Baneslayer Angel, Liesa, Forgotten Archangel is quite the house, protecting your own creatures, screwing up your opponent's graveyard stuff, but most important just being a huge stabilizing force with that all important fifth point of toughness to block Goldspan Dragon and survive.

However, the success of Angels in Standard has more to do with subtraction than addition.

Firja's Retribution
Rampage of the Valkyries
Starnheim Unleashed

Firja's Retribution is actually a phenomenal Magic card, presenting basically everything you could ever want out of a threat. However, it just couldn't hold up in a format defined by ridiculous over the top finishers as well as a super clean answer in Brazen Borrower; it was too easy to bounce the token or just ignore by playing something massive. Well now those big endgame cards as well as Brazen Borrower are gone, which leaves room for Firja's Retribution as well similar cards like Rampage of the Valkyries and Starnheim Unleashed to finally find their chance to shine.

With the huge bodies and board control elements of both enchantments to help deal with aggressive decks as well as sideboard tools to battle against the slower decks of the format, Orzhov Angels has some serious sleeper potential in the new format.


Deck's Record: 4-1

Deck's Grade: A-

Deck Potential: High

This deck seemed to put together everything we've discussed already.

Lotus Cobra
Emergent Sequence
Binding the Old Gods

With Bonecrusher Giant gone, cards like Lotus Cobra and Emergent Sequence once again have a chance to shine and help ramp to the midgame. It doesn't hurt that they work very well together either. Throw them together with Binding the Old Gods and some removal and you've got a great early game. However, it goes beyond that.

Felidar Retreat
Kaya the Inexorable
Consuming Blob

With all the major endgame cards gone from the format, the midlevel cards like Felidar Retreat and planeswalkers get to come out and play again. Felidar Retreat was perhaps one of the most powerful cards in Zendikar Rising without a home and it works wonderfully here with all the incidental landfall stuff. Throw in some other planeswalkers and the very exciting new Consuming Blob and we have what looks to be another solid midrange deck.

But it's actually more.

Storm the Festival

I called Storm the Festival a bust in my set review and I do still think it's the kind of card you can't just play in a normal deck and expect good results. However, playing it in a landfall deck flips the script because now your whiffs end up not being so bad. If your failstate is a Felidar Retreat and an Evolving Wilds when you already have a Lotus Cobra in play, that's pretty good! Add this to a very solid density of powerful four- and five-mana threats and answers, as well as a decent chance to flash it back, and we've got a very nice one on our hands.

Oh, and did I mention how well Wrenn and Seven plays in the deck as well? Especially with Esika's Chariot copying the treefolk token! This is one to watch.


Deck's Record: 5-0

Deck's Grade: A

Deck Potential: High

Boy is it nice to see a Red deck that isn't just 34 creatures and four copies of Embercleave!

Rem Karolus, Stalwart Slayer
Flame Channeler
Bloodthirsty Adversary

This deck is a much more normal looking aggressive Red burn deck - a dozen or so creatures, a bunch of burn and removal, and some nice engines. Rem Karolus, Stalwart Slayer is phenomenal, providing a good evasive body, mild protection for your creatures, and most importantly extra reach on your burn spells. Flame Channeler is perhaps the most underrated card in the entire set, giving you a two-mana 3/3 that can draw a ton of card as the game goes on. And Bloodthirst Adversary functions well at all points on the curve in this deck, which is just as happy with Robber of the Rich as it is Goblin Dark-Dwellers.

Play with Fire
Sacred Fire
Magic Missile

Of course, none of this would be possible without the burn spells, and while they may not exactly be Lightning Bolt and Lightning Helix, they are very serviceable. Most importantly, they can all go to the face too which isn't a very common sight in recent Standard formats. Play with Fire and Spikefield Hazard do a great job enabling Flame Channeler, while Magic Missile is incredible with Rem Karolus. Even Roil Eruption gets in on the fun as a solid roleplayer.

Showdown of the Skalds

Topping it off is one of the best cards in the format in Showdown of the Skalds, giving the deck an enormous amount of reach both in combat as well as just finding those last few burn spells.

This one was mighty impressive and pulled off the clean sweep; there's something very real here.


Deck's Record: 2-3

Deck's Grade: C-

Deck Potential: Medium If Rebuilt

This deck was the most split decision of the entire bunch.

Suspicious Stowaway // Seafaring Werewolf
Dragon Turtle
Spectral Adversary

The idea was to play a flash gameplan around the incredible Suspicious Stowaway // Seafaring Werewolf, which is just a phenomenal card and even better if you can build around it by saying go on turn three so you can flip and defend it. Every game we had Suspicious Stowaway in play for more than a turn felt awesome, with the other flash threats like Dragon Turtle and Spectral Adversary playing a good complimentary role.

Reject
Negate
Fateful Absence

The counterspells aren't amazing or anything but they did the job reasonably well, with this also being the best deck I've seen for the overrated Fateful Absence. Even Fading Hope was great, as you were able to put your opponent in tough spots and tempo them out quite well.

Cosmos Charger
Glorious Protector

The problem was that the foretell package wasn't being held down by the Eldraine cards... it just wasn't, well, good. Getting Cosmos Charger in play safely was tough and the payoff just wasn't there. The idea of being able to foretell and still flip Suspicious Stowaway was cool, but the card just frankly doesn't need that much help to be good.

There's probably a good Suspicious Stowaway deck to be found in this format as it feels like one of the best cards in the set, but this deck isn't doing a great job of going about that.


Deck's Record: 3-2

Deck's Grade: B-

Deck Potential: Medium to High

There's no doubt that Gruul is in a great place in new Standard.

Ranger Class
Magda, Brazen Outlaw
Esika's Chariot

Even without Bonecrusher Giant and Lovestruck Beast, there's a fantastic core of Gruul cards already available to use even before Innistrad. The Jaspera Sentinel plus Magda, Brazen Outlaw duo is what mana curve dreams are made of, while Ranger Class and Esika's Chariot both do a little bit of everything. A Werewolf Pack Leader here and a Lair of the Hydra there and it's clear there's good stuff going on.

This deck however goes further to explore the new Werewolf cards to varying results.

Tovolar, Dire Overlord // Tovolar, the Midnight Scourge

Kessig Naturalist // Lord of the Ulvenwald
Reckless Stormseeker // Storm-Charged Slasher

Tovolar, Dire Overlord // Tovolar, the Midnight Scourge is extremely good, as it also counts normal wolves which keeps Ranger Class tokens and Werewolf Pack Leader in the mix too. Reckless Stormseeker // Storm-Charged Slasher is just a great card in and of itself, but is an unbelievable curve into Esika's Chariot, while Kessig Naturalist // Lord of the Ulvenwald is a super solid 2-drop that can both make mana and be a very serious threat. However, while all of these cards overperformed, there were a few duds.

Arlinn, the Pack's Hope // Arlinn, the Moon's Fury
Moonrager's Slash

Arlinn, the Pack's Hope // Arlinn, the Moon's Fury often struggles to do what you want it to, as it's not uncommon to be on the wrong side for what you want during that present turn. This leaves Arlinn often playing like Esika's Chariot without the Chariot, which isn't so good in a deck that can already play actual Esika's Chariot. Furthermore, Moonrager's Slash was about as awkward as can be, never costing one Red mana when you really needed it and then often leaving unused mana when finally cast on the night side.

The best Gruul list is likely just going to be most of the good cards we already know about plus a small complement of the best werewolves; trying to go too hard into werewolf synergies is probably going to be a mistake.


Deck's Record: 1-5

Deck's Grade: D+

Deck Potential: Low I Guess?

This was the deck I was most excited about.

Homestead Courage
Fateful Absence

Homestead Courage felt like it was exactly the card this deck needed, as it was already very close with Clever Lumimancer, Leonin Lightscribe, and Clarion Spirit providing an awesome core. Homestead Courage helped to trigger all of the "second spell" effects by itself, while also providing double magecraft triggers for only two mana and one card.

Add this to the fact that Bonecrusher Giant and Lovestruck Beast, two absolute roadblocks for aggressive decks were rotating, and my hopes were extremely high. Five losses later and we were left wondering where it all went wrong.

Given that this deck did pretty well last ten new brews, it's hard to pinpoint exactly. Maybe Defiant Strike and Fight as One were more impactful than they seemed, providing velocity and more importantly protection, or maybe the deck just isn't consistent enough.

I'm sure I'll try it again, but this was the only real disaster of the group this time around.


Deck's Record: 4-2

Deck's Grade: B-

Deck Potential: Medium With Rebuild

Our last deck is a wild one, looking to mesh two "set mechanic Phoenixes" together to form recursive monstrosity.

Sunstreak Phoenix
Retriever Phoenix

Sunstreak Phoenix is the latest in a long line of recursive Red creatures with a primary set mechanic on it and it's a pretty good one. Triggering a switch from day to night or night to day is pretty easy to do if you really want to and the mana you leave up can be immediately used on your opponent's turn to return the Phoenix. Retriever Phoenix is a bit smaller but a much better blocker and further aided by the fact that the learn enabler cards can also just loot it away rather than get a lesson.

As such, the deck has two jobs - learn and get the day/night cycle going.

Professor of Symbology
Obsessive Astronomer

This is accomplished pretty well by a suite of value-oriented creatures like Professor of Symbology and Obsessive Astronomer, which all have small impacts on the game and board while advancing your primary plan. Brutal Cathar // Moonrage Brute offers removal, Gavony Dawnguard can draw cards, while Obsessive Astronomer filters through to more phoenix.

Thrilling Discovery
Moonrager's Slash

However, the filler cards in the deck were quite bad. You only ever need to discard eight of the cards in the deck, making Thrilling Discovery feel like a total waste of time and cardboard. Once again, Moonrager's Slash also vastly underwhelmed, as the floor is just too low to justify the payoff of having a Lightning Bolt that's never cheap when you need it to be.

There's something pretty cool here, but it would need to be more creature and threat focused without the wheel spinning cards.

Has Standard Returned?

I think this may have been one of the most successful batches of decks I've ever had on a Ten New Brews series, with multiple undefeated runs as well as winning records with most of the decks, all in Mythic.

I don't want to jinx anything, but the overall feeling I got after playing for 50-60 games was that the format felt awesome. Wizards of the Coast has been careful to avoid power-level outliers in the last few sets, which is great for design but not so great for breaking in with Eldraine and friends. Now that we've finally rotated the sets with obvious design mistakes, things feel great.

I can't wait to keep brewing in this format and exploring it more and truly hope that Standard is finally back!

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