9 Oct 2011


The release of Innistrad has led to a transformation of the standard format. The recent rotation has seen Valakut, Splinter Twin, Zendikar Vampires and Boros (to name but a few) builds to fade in the aether.

The deck least effected by Innistrads release is Tempered Steel, although it did lose both Ornithopter and Steel Overseer. This deck has been dubbed the fastest in the format as it can quite easily kill people on turn three or four. A typical list centers around Blade Splicer, Memnites, Signal Pest and Vault Skirge to mount a quick offence then casting the namesake of the deck to deal lethal damage. Here is a sample list:

Plains x 18
Inkmoth Nexus x 4

Memnite x 4
Signal Pest x 4
Vault Skirge x 4
Blade Splicer x 3
Glint Hawk x 4
Porcelain Legionnaire x 4

Tempered Steel x 4
Dispatch x 4
Mox Opal x 2
Glint Hawk Idol x 3
Origin Spellbomb x 2

The biggest problem with this deck is that if you don't draw Tempered Steel things start to slow down. If your opponent is also packing a lot of removal then this can also ruin your day, especially if it effects both creature and artifact.

Perhaps the biggest change to the standard environment is the loss of Squadron Hawk. These little 1/1 flyers were the bane of many Magic players existence as they gave their owners a lot of card advantage. This was further re-enforced when they were equipped with one of the swords from the Scars of Mirrodin block.
The hawks departure has been quickly filled by two new dangerous creatures. The first of these is Invisible Stalker which has generated a lot of discussion. Two mana for a 1/1 creature that is both unblockable and untargetable by your opponent is pretty powerful. Equipping one of these invisible men with a sword should swing the game in your favour.

Geist of Saint Traft is a card that I'd been looking forward to playing with since it was previewed. The ghostly remains of Traft can deal out righteous retribution, attacking for six on turn four. With a sword equipped he becomes more potent as the additional toughness means he is less likely to be killed by blocking creatures.
Here's what I played at the Gambit Games Launch Party:

Seachrome Coast x 3
Glacial Fortress x 3
Ghost Quarter x 2
Plains x 8
Island x 8

Invisible Stalker x 3
Geist of Saint Traft x 2
Fiend Hunter x 2
Sun Titan x 1
Consecrated Sphinx x 2

Ponder x 4
Think Twice x 3
Mana Leak x 4
Timely Reinforcements x 2
Oblivion Ring x 3
Tumble Magnet x 2
Day of Judgement x 2
Gideon Jura x 2
Karn Liberated x 1
Sword of War and Peace x 1
Sword of Feast and Famine x 1
Sword of Body and Mind x 1

The deck performed reasonably well but with the absence of Jace Beleren and Preordain the deck has less options to dig than it used to. I'm not sure whether to keep Think Twice or switch to Divination. The former can be cast at instant speed so if you don't end up countering a spell you can draw a card instead and the flashback cost is quite reasonable. That said, you end up paying five mana to draw two cards.
Divination, meanwhile, offers two cards for three mana albeit at sorcery speed so if you prefer to play a tap-out control deck this may be a better option.

If I had to make any changes, I would probably remove Karn and replace him with Angelic Destiny as enchanting one of the hexproof creatures is a better play. Unfortunately, the aura doesn't interact with Sun Titan like the swords do but it is still returned to your hand when the enchanted creature dies.

That's it for now but I'll post some thoughts on standard decks soon. If there are any particular builds people want thoughts on then leave comments or talk to me at the club.



  1. Hey Dude, Good list, have you thought about 'Flight Spellbomb' as a replacement for think twice? It'd potentially give 'Traft' Flying making him less susseptable to block based death you'd pay the additional to get your card and the 'Sun Titan' would return it to go again?

  2. Robbie12:00 am

    I really like these kind of posts, they give clueless people like me a glimps of the meta as well as some sample deck list ideas.
    More like this would be cool if you have the time.