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Ten New Innistrad: Crimson Vow Standard Brews!



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

Who doesn't love weddings!

Innistrad: Midnight Hunt was a breath of fresh air (alongside the exit of Throne of Eldraine and Ikoria) into a very stale Standard format, bringing new cards as well as the beloved plane of Innistrad to the forefront. Well, like the blocks of old our next set will not just be jumping ship to a whole new plane, as we get to stay on Innistrad and build on the themes that have already been established which is awesome.

Graveyards, zombies, werewolfs, vampires, and more, and in the midst of it all humans just trying their best to survive! It's going to be a ton of fun to meld the old with the new and see where these themes take us.

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: B

Deck Potential: Medium

Make no mistake, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is a high-profile reprint.

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Thalia is one of the best White cards ever printed, seeing play in literally every single format she is legal in. Standard will be no different, although with a smaller card pool it can sometimes be a bit difficult to get around her very high creature requirement. This isn't the case in this Standard format, as there are a ton of great creatures that have spell like effects.

Hamlet Vanguard
Katilda, Dawnhart Prime
Sigarda, Champion of Light

The new and very impressive Hamlet Vanguard joins Katilda, Dawnheart Prime and Sigarda, Champion of Light as payoffs for putting a bunch of humans in your deck, and they all accomplish a pretty wide array of goals; huge power and toughness, mana boost and sink, as well as a big evasive threat that can provide card advantage.

Brutal Cathar // Moonrage Brute
Adeline, Resplendent Cathar

However, it's perhaps the non-human payoffs like Brutal Cathar // Moonrage Brute and Adeline, Resplendent Cathar that are the biggest draws to the deck. Brutal Cathar provides much needed removal on a human body, while Adeline is just an absolute house that attacks, blocks, goes wide, and kills fast; it's hard to ask for more.

The deck was pretty reasonable, but the lack of both good one-drops as well as enough interaction made things a bit tough if we fell behind, which we did a number of times. There's something here, but I worry it's not enough when you could just play Mono-White Aggro or Mono-Green Aggro.

Deck's Record: 4-1

Deck's Grade: A-

Deck Potential: Medium to High

Prior to Crimson Vow, there were the beginnings of a nice burn/Red aggro core in Standard, even if it fell a bit short of the other decks in the format. Well, now it's got a really nice one to help put it over the top:

Chandra, Dressed to Kill

Chandra, Dressed to Kill is a very powerful, albeit limited in scope, planeswalker. Three mana for a four loyalty planeswalker is an excellent place to be, and like Chandra, Torch of Defiance she can make mana to cast a spell to defend herself immediately and then untap to start drawing cards. She's certainly limited to Mono-Red or mostly Mono-Red decks because you need to lesson her fail state if you don't hit a Red spell, but in the right deck she is mighty impressive.

Play with Fire
Spikefield Hazard // Spikefield Cave
Frost Bite

With a full quarter of the deck castable off of her +1 to add Red mana, this task is accomplished very well. The low curve fits the aggressive theme of the deck, while the cheap removal helps ensure you don't fall behind and can get ahead and stay ahead.

Flame Channeler
Bloodthirsty Adversary
Moonveil Regent

Bringing this all together is an aggressive creature base that plays extremely well with all the burn spells. Flame Channeler is just awesome as a two-mana 3/3 that can also draw cards, while Bloodthirsty Adversary and Moonveil Regent scale super well as the game goes on.

With the ability to be both very aggressive as well as kill things and draw cards in longer games, this deck was very impressive.

Deck's Record: 2-3

Deck's Grade: D+

Deck Potential: Low

Olivia, Crimson Bride, the star of Crimson Vow, is a pretty wild Magic card.

Olivia, Crimson Bride

There's no doubt that "reanimation with haste" is a very powerful ability, despite needing a good amount of setup to get paid off, but in a format where Fading Hope is a maindeck card, as well as various forms of maindeck graveyard hate, this one was probably just too cute.

Return Upon the Tide
Ludevic, Necrogenius // Olag, Ludevic's Hubris
Thirst for Discovery

The idea of melding this sort of reanimation deck onto a Dimir control shell is a cool one, but the reality is that the format's reanimation spells are rather lacking, even if Ludevic, Necrogenius // Olag, Ludevic's Hubris is a sweet card. A lot needed to come together to make it happen, which meant there were just too many spots for something to go wrong.

The deck was certainly a blast, and I'd imagine you could build a really sweet transformational sideboard with Smoldering Egg // Ashmouth Dragon and Sedgemoor Witch, but if your goal is strictly to win this deck is a pretty big bust.

Deck's Record: 3-2

Deck's Grade: B+

Deck Potential: Medium To High

From the most memey to perhaps the most competitive.

Lolth, Spider Queen
Shambling Ghast
The Meathook Massacre

I've played a lot of this Mono Black Aggro deck pre-Crimson Vow in both high Mythic and in the MTG Arena Open and have been very impressed with it. It is a great board control deck very adept at fighting creature decks, but maintains enough of a clock by skipping out on expensive sorceries like Blood on the Snow to make sure it has a chance against the Izzet decks. With cards like Lolth, Spider Queen and The Meathook Massacre headlining, grinding your opponents out is a breeze.

Sorin the Mirthless
Fell Stinger
Concealing Curtains // Revealing Eye

Sorin the Mirthless feels like a natural fit for the deck, providing Lolth with some backup as you look to set up a powerful midrange board state and grind out the card advantage. The overall average mana value of the deck is pretty low as well, making Sorin a similar engine to Lolth when it comes to drawing cards. Fell Stinger steps in for some copies of Village Rites, providing a very solid body on top of the draw. It was good, but is more of a two or three of than the full four because the life loss does add up. Concealing Curtains // Revealing Eye was the dud of the bunch, as it's hard to risk activating it and getting blown out. If your opponent kills or bounces Concealing Curtains in response to you activating it and you don't get to flip it it's a tempo disaster.

This list was a bit too heavy on the new cards as I wanted to try them out, but there's a very solid deck here that I like a lot.

Deck's Record: 2-3

Deck's Grade: C

Deck Potential: Medium

I just keep trying to make magecraft happen.

Clever Lumimancer
Leonin Lightscribe
Festival Crasher

There's a really explosive things happening here, as I've played this deck as Mono-White, Green/White, and now Red/White. Unimpeded, this deck has the explosive potential of a Modern deck, but of course "unimpeded" is a pretty hard thing to assume. From Blizzard Brawl to Skyclave Apparition, even the creature decks have some sort of interaction, and without something like Gods Willing for protection things can get rough.

Ancestral Anger
Reckless Impulse

The impetus for trying Red in the magecraft shell were the addition of good burn spells, as well as a duo of new cards in Ancestral Anger and Reckless Impulse. Giving trample to Clever Lumimancer and friends is absolutely critical in a deck already interested in a one-mana cantrip, while Reckless Impulse is the exact kind of card advantage a deck with all one and two mana spells wants. Both cards were not drawn often but overperformed heavily when they were.

There's something here, but the lack of protection as well as another good 1-drop is a tough sell.

Deck's Record: 3-2

Deck's Grade: B-

Deck Potential: Medium

What a surprise!

Orah, Skyclave Hierophant
Pyre of Heroes
Vanishing Verse

The Pyre of Heroes/Orah, Skyclave Hierophant deck has been floating around for a little while now, just outside the fringes of Standard. There's enough reasonable clerics available to make a deck, with Standard all stars like Elite Spellbinder and Luminarch Aspirant both having the type, and Orah is quite the engine.

Voice of the Blessed
Cleric of Life's Bond
Righteous Valkyrie

However, the big addition here from Crimson Vow is Voice of the Blessed. A slightly harder to cast Ajani's Pridemate with some major upsides, Voice of the Blessed got big very fast. Battling alongside Cleric of Life's Bond and Righteous Valkyrie gave the deck a nice beatdown plan in games where the Pyre of Heroes stuff didn't come together.

However, when that stuff did come together it was quite the sight to behold.

This is a difficult deck to build and play, but there's something pretty cool here. There's a good engine, as well as enough cards that are individually powerful enough to make things work when it's not coming together. It may need a little more to break into serious Standard play, but this is a fun one to work on. Getting to play Vanishing Verse, one of the best kill spells in the format, is a nice plus as well.

Deck's Record: 1-4

Deck's Grade: C+

Deck Potential: Higher Than Record Would Indicate

Okay, so a Farmer, a Taxidermist, and a Butler all walk into a bar...


Egon, God of Death // Throne of Death

Deathbonnet Sprout // Deathbonnet Hulk
Willow Geist

I'm not going to lie, I was very excited about this one. I saw Ross Merriam play something similar on VS Live last week and I knew I had to take a stab at it. This is one of the benefits of getting to stay on one plane for longer than a single set, as cards like Willow Geist and Deathbonnet Sprout // Deathbonnet Hulk finally felt like they were getting enough support to start to make things happen.

Reclusive Taxidermist
Undead Butler

Reclusive Taxidermist feels like a big sleeper in the set, as its mana creature side is already almost good enough, while Mulch is an awesome graveyard enabler. Throw in some stuff like Undead Butler, Skyclave Shade, and Old Stickfingers and we've got a nice little brew on our hands.

Unfortunately, sometimes it just doesn't work out. This was a brutal set of games, where the deck functioned well but our opponent's decks were also firing on all cylinders and were up to the task. We had numerous Willow Geists hit double digit power and toughness, but just couldn't close the deal. Lack of interaction was a big problem, as I wanted a creature-based removal option but Gelatinous Cube was just too clunky.

This is not an easy deck to build and despite the record it did play out pretty well; I think there's something to be found here.

Deck's Record: 4-1

Deck's Grade: B+

Deck Potential: Medium to High

Power creep is certainly a thing, and Wizards of the Coast has not been shy about putting a lot of power into one single card. We see this in with Esika's Chariot, Adeline, and Alrund's Epiphany, but we can also see this with new cards as well.

Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr // Katilda's Rising Dawn
Geistlight Snare

Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr is a comically good Magic card. It is routinely a three mana Baneslayer Angel, and the disturb aura you get if it dies is arguably better as it gives the power and toughness bonus on top of what the creature already has as well as lifelink, flying, and essentially haste. Enchantments are great at sticking around, which means you've usually always got something to at least get Katilda started. Add Geistlight Snare to the equation and you've got a great reason to put a lot of spirits and enchantments into your deck!

Skyclave Apparition
Clarion Spirit
Spectral Adversary

There's already a number of staple cards that just happen to be spirits, with Clarion Spirit helping you go wide and Skyclave Apparition and Spectral Adversary helping to provide you with interaction. You've gotta play a few underpowered 1-drops, but who doesn't this day and age.

It may need some tuning, but building around Katilda and Geistlight Snare is a great place to start.

Deck's Record: 0-5

Deck's Grade: D

Deck Potential: Low

There's always gotta be a stinker, and while the games certainly didn't play out in our favor there just wasn't enough going on with this deck to make an impact.

Slogurk, the Overslime
Wrenn and Seven

The idea of the deck was to have a lands theme with Mulch, Slogurk, the Overslime, Wrenn and Seven, and helpers like Druid Class. You could flesh out a robust mana base, kill things with Binding the Old Gods, make your land drops, and get set up for a powerful endgame.

Port of Karfell
Cemetery Desecrator
Cultivator Colossus

Port of Karfell allowed you to turn lands into big threats, while Cemetery Desecrator and Cultivator Colossus provides those big threats. Sprinkle in some removal and some recursive threats like Skyclave Shade and Malevolent Hermit // Benevolent Geist and you've got a deck, right?

Not really.

Magic cards are just too good these days, which means you really can't afford to just sit around and accrue some value off your lands and hope to win. Esika's Chariot and Alrund's Epiphany don't just wait around for you to set up and we got tossed around pretty hard in this set. Deck looks cool but just can't recommend.

Deck's Record: 4-1

Deck's Grade: B

Deck Potential: Medium

Our last deck of the bunch was built around one of my favorite cards in the new set, Overcharged Amalgam.

Overcharged Amalgam
Grafted Identity

Overcharged Amalgam is an extremely impressive card. The rate your getting of a 3/3 flash flier for only four mana is already very solid, and the fact that you get actual unconditional Counterspell as well as a Stifle option is extremely powerful. As long as you've got the fodder for it, you're in business, and zombies make for great fodder! Blue also gives you access to the awesome Grafted Identity, which is an extremely powerful card with similar requirements.

Headless Rider
Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia
Tainted Adversary

Luckily making random bodies to sacrifice isn't that hard. Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia is perhaps best at this, although don't underestimate Headless Rider either. Headless Rider is an easy card to sleep on, but the fact that it triggers on itself dying as well is huge.

Champion of the Perished
Shambling Ghast
Dungeon Crawler

Perhaps the biggest draw to the deck is the fact that you get to play with three reasonable 1-drops, two of which are very good. Champion of the Perished is probably the most powerful 1-drop on rate in the format, with Shambling Ghast being a great piece to the puzzle to. Throw in some Bladestitched Skaab for a clock, or The Meathook Massacre to help battle creature decks, and you've got a deck with some good angles of attack.

Figuring out exactly what mix of three mana cards you should play will be a bit tough, but once the deck is ironed out and a good sideboard is made, this deck should hopefully be able to battle it out against all sides of the format, from White Weenie to Alrund's Epiphany with access to the best that Black and Blue have to offer.

Stay Awhile And Listen

As someone who grew up with Magic sets being released in "blocks" of three sets on the same plane, where they would slowly expand on themes throughout the block, I'm loving this multiple set take on Innistrad. Jumping around every set ends up feeling disjointed thematically, but also just doesn't give set mechanics like party or magecraft enough room to be fully developed.

Many of these decks felt like they were headed in the right direction, which is all you can ask of a first draft. I look forward to working with the most promising ones and seeing where the format takes us!

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