Shadows Over Innistrad has been out for over a month now, and the Limited formats are finally starting to be solved. The set features werewolves, which punish mulligans and slow starts. It is also a set where you’re nudged towards certain archetypes, but not forced into playing them. The field exhibits a medium pace that leans toward the aggressive side, while slower midrange strategies are perfectly acceptable. True-blue control decks are not very prevalent, and the same can be said about rush style aggro strategies. The tools are just not really there, but that doesn’t mean we won’t check into the deeper ends of the spectrum that one might explore.
There is a noticeable disparity when looking at the power level of the colors in this set. Let’s go over the booms and busts with which you should affiliate yourself. It’s worth noting that this is the current opinion of the field and is subject to change.
White is the best color by a large margin. The synergies are strong, the bombs are huge, and the value cards are bananas. If you can strap yourself into White without forcing it, I would heavily suggest doing so.
- Notable Bombs: Archangel Avacyn, Thalia’s Lieutenant, Always Watching
- Build-Around Uncommons: Topplegeist, Reaper of Flight Moonsilver
- Killer Commons: Town Gossipmonger, Dauntless Cathar, Thraben Inspector
- Best Removal: Declaration in Stone, Angelic Purge
At common, Black has great creatures and solid removal, making it a very easy color to transition into if you’re being forced off of an archetype. It’s strong as a primary or secondary color. Not much stronger than Green or Red.
- Notable Bombs: Ever After, Accursed Witch
- Build-Around Uncommons: Behind the Scenes, Liliana’s Indignation, Call the Bloodline
- Killer Commons: Rancid Rats, Twins of Maurer Estate, Ghoulcaller’s Accomplice
- Best Removal: To the Slaughter, Sinister Concoction
This set is very light on great removal, so the combat tricks that Green boasts are at a premium. Green is also the main home of the Werewolves, which is the easiest way to punish your opponent for having a sluggish start.
- Notable Bombs: Silverfur Partisan, Tireless Tracker
- Build-Around Uncommons: Howlpack Resurgence, Ulvenwald Mysteries
- Killer Commons: Kessig Dire Swine, Moldgraf Scavenger, Aim High
- Best Removal: Rabid Bite
Red has the second best removal, some synergies as far as archetypes go, and good build-around strategies. It’s very close to Green as far as power level is concerned.
- Notable Bombs: Goldnight Castigator
- Build-Around Uncommons: Stensia Masquerade, Lightning Axe
- Killer Commons: Insolent Neonate, Uncaged Fury
- Best Removal: Fiery Temper, Burn From Within
Blue is the forgotten child this set, but is not unplayable by any stretch of the imagination. There aren’t really any cards that make it splashable. If you’re in Blue, you made a strong decision that you wanted to be there.
- Notable Bombs: Startled Awake, Jace, Unraveler of Secrets, Thing in the Ice
- Build-Around Uncommons: Erdwal Illuminator, Rise From the Tides
- Killer Commons: Jace’s Scrutiny, Stitched Mangler
- Best Removal: Just the Wind, Sleep Paralysis
The multicolor cards are all fantastic in this set. If you get one in your colors, it’s in your best interest to play it.
Where Do We Go Now: The Best Emerging Archetypes
GW Humans: Probably the best strategy you can get yourself into. This is an aggressive go-wide deck that may or may not have a strong Human synergy. The more Humans, the better, because they work very well together in this set.
UR Prowess: Another contender for best deck. The card draw spells make this deck incredibly resilient and the creatures can often blast through any sort of board your opponent may accrue.
BG Delirium: This color pair has an insane midgame. The creatures are all very bulky and can be incredibly daunting for an opponent to try to attack through. Look to control the early game to develop your Delirium strategy, and then finish them off with an army of big guys.
UG Clues: The value deck of the format, this deck utilizes Clues to regain any card advantage lost through trading creatures and playing spells.
GR Werewolves and RB Vampires: The two most parasitic of the archetypes, but very rewarding if you can get the main pieces to these decks. Howlpack Resurgence and Olivia, Mobilized for War can champion a well built army to swift victory.
- Werewolves: Howlpack Resurgence, Duskwatch Recruiter, Geier Reach Bandit
- Vampires: Heir of Falkenrath, Insolent Neonate
UW Skies: This is your typical Blue White Flying draft archetype. You can keep it low and go wide, or curve up to Reaper of Flight Moonsilver. A flying strategy like this can be great against aggressive decks with gummed up board states. These decks often have some percentage of a Spirit subtheme, and can also slot Skulk creatures in the low end for some more evasion.
Overall, Shadows Over Innistrad sports a very diverse Limited format. There are definitely a few decks that rise above the others, but there are no unwinnable matchups. Stay away from two mana 2/2s without upside, pray you don’t have to mulligan, and, most importantly, don’t lose!