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Three Innistrad Standard Brews


Hello everyone. If you're like me, you're excited for Innistrad: Crimson Vow to be released. While we're almost there, we still have another full week until the official release. So, this week, we'll be taking one final look at decks built without these upcoming cards. The following two weeks, I'll be showcasing some sweet, new builds with Innistrad: Crimson Vow cards. Let's get started with our first deck that you can play right now.

Gruul Stompy

We start this week by looking at a Red/Green deck that features a bunch of creatures that can stomp your opponent into the ground.

Kazandu Mammoth // Kazandu Valley

This deck utilizes a couple of different ability words to gain an advantage over its opponent. The first of these is landfall. Kazandu Mammoth // Kazandu Valley gets a +2/+2 bonus whenever you achieve landfall. With a little bit of planning, you can have a 7/7 Elephant on the battlefield, by getting a double landfall bonus when you play a land and use the activated ability of Evolving Wilds. You can perform similar tricks with Akoum Hellhound, but its base stats are much smaller. Brushfire Elemental similarly gets a +2/+2 bonus when landfall happens, which can be devastating for your opponent since it can't be blocked by creatures with power 2 or less. Finally, Phylath, World Sculptor gives four +1/+1 counters to a Plant you control, plus it creates Plant creature tokens when Phylath enters the battlefield.

The other ability word that is very useful in this deck is pack tactics. Pack tactics is found on three different creatures, and each effect is unique. Hobgoblin Captain gains first strike. Werewolf Pack Leader allows you to draw a card. Targ Nar, Demon-Fang Gnoll gives your attacking creatures a +1/+0 bonus for the turn. Each of these advantages are very useful and can enable you to take control on the battlefield.

With all these large creatures at your disposal, you should be able to attack for quite a good bit of damage, but this deck also includes some other heavy hitters. Owlbear is a 4/4 with trample that draws you a card when it comes into play. Froghemoth has both trample and haste. Whenever it deals combat damage to an opponent, you'll have the ability to make it grow even larger with +1/+1 counters and gain you some additional life. Inferno of the Star Mounts also has haste and flying, allowing it to attack evasively. All of these creatures pair well with Toski, Bearer of Secrets, since Toski allows you to draw a card whenever a creature you control deals combat damage to a player. More damage leads to more cards, which leads to more damage. It's a vicious circle for your opponent to have to deal with.

Orzhov Clerics

The next deck I have for you is a tribal Cleric deck that utilizes the power of Pyre of Heroes. Let's check it out.

Righteous Valkyrie
This deck has a lot of synergy and even includes an alternate way to win. Every creature in this deck is a Cleric. That allows you to gain a lot of life when you have a copy of Righteous Valkyrie in play. Gaining that extra life not only helps you stay alive longer, but it also can allow your team to gain a +2/+2 boost from Righteous Valkyrie if you have 27 or more points of life. That bonus helps you block bigger creatures and might make your opponent reconsider attacking you.

The Cleric synergy is also important when you have a copy of Orah, Skyclave Hierophant on the battlefield. Whenever Orah or another Cleric you control dies, Orah allows you to return another Cleric card from your graveyard to the battlefield, as long as that Cleric has a lesser mana value than the Cleric that died. Orah and Skyclave Valkyrie work well together, as the Cleric Orah brings back will trigger the life gaining ability of Righteous Valkyrie, enabling you to gain life simply by allowing your creatures to chump block.

With all of the life you're able to gain, you might be able to win without dealing lethal damage to your opponent by having Angel of Destiny on the battlefield. As long as you have at least 15 more life than your starting life total, attacking your opponent with Angel of Destiny will trigger its ability at the beginning of your end step that allows you to win the game. By utilizing Pyre of Heroes, you'll always have the means of finding the single copy of Angel of Destiny from your deck, although it might take you a turn or two, depending on the mana value of the creatures you currently have in play.

Rakdos Treasure

The final deck I have for you this week features numerous ways to gain Treasure tokens, and plenty of ways to spend them.

Kalain, Reclusive Painter
Kalain, Reclusive Painter provides a massive power boost to this deck. While very unassuming looking, this little 1/2 Human Elf Bard enables each of your other creatures to enter the battlefield with an additional +1/+1 counter on them. This happens if you spend a Treasure token to create the mana used to cast that creature spell. Since this deck includes numerous creatures and spells that create Treasure tokens, you won't often find yourself in a spot where you're not able to gain the +1/+1 counter when you cast a creature spell while Kalain is in play.

Those Treasure tokens can also serve another purpose for you later in the game. By using them when you cast Orcus, Prince of Undeath, you'll be able to make the value of X quite large. You might be able to make it big enough to either wipe your opponent's battlefield completely, or to return every creature card in your graveyard back to the battlefield. If you return creatures to the battlefield, they'll gain haste, and you might just be able to attack for the win unexpectedly.

This deck includes some nice removal to help you keep your opponent's side of the battlefield in check. When Shambling Ghast dies, you'll often want to choose the option to create a Treasure token, but there will be times that giving an opponent's creature -1/-1 will be better. Grim Bounty straight-up destroys any creature or planeswalker in play, plus you get to create a Treasure token when this happens. Finally, Magic Missile provides a bit of uncounterable damage that you can deal to up to three different targets. It can also be used to deal the final blow to your opponent if the battlefield gets clogged up.

Wrapping Up

Even though I'm excited for the release of Innistrad: Crimson Vow, the decks I've shown you today prove that there's still a lot of innovation in our current Standard card pool. Hopefully the addition of a new set adds to the amount of innovative decks that are viable threats.

What do you think of these decks? Do you have any suggestions for improvements? Let me know by leaving a comment below. Also, feel free to share this article with your friends anywhere on social media. And be sure to join me here again next week as I continue my search for innovative decks in Standard. I'll see you then!

-Mike Likes

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