I have a favorite archetype in Shadows Over Innistrad, one which hearkens back to one of the sweetest Limited decks of all time (which conveniently enough, was in the original Innistrad and likely inspired Wizards to create this deck). It’s blue-red [casthaven]Rise from the Tides[/casthaven]. It’s a pure combo deck, the likes of which we haven’t seen since Innistrad’s [casthaven]Spider Spawning[/casthaven] and Modern Masters 2013’s blue-red splice decks.

I had my first crack at it last Wednesday, and it did not disappoint.


Rise from the Tides

Lands (18)
Warped Landscape

Spells (17)
Press for Answers
Just the Wind
Tormenting Voice
Fiery Temper
Pieces of the Puzzle
Dance with Devils
Reduce to Ashes
Rise from the Tides
Epiphany at the Drownyard

Creatures (5)
Erdwal Illuminator
Ravenous Bloodseeker
Pyre Hound
Aberrant Researcher

Funnily enough, I didn’t mean to draft [casthaven]Rise from the Tides[/casthaven]; I’d simply ended up in blue-red and was having trouble getting enough playables at the end of pack one. So, I pivoted into a deck that would hopefully want [casthaven]Pieces of the Puzzle[/casthaven]s and was fortunately rewarded with two copies of [casthaven]Rise from the Tides[/casthaven].

The deck was a blast. As long as it hit its land drops, it was consistently able to resolve [casthaven]Rise from the Tides[/casthaven] on turn six. It lost one match, when it suffered mana problems against an exceptionally fast UR aggro deck (aggro being the deck’s most obvious weakness). [casthaven]Pieces of the Puzzle[/casthaven] was quite strong, doing a decent [casthaven]Dig Through Time[/casthaven] impression and making the deck exceptionally consistent. [casthaven]Dance with Devils[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Just the Wind[/casthaven] were MVPs, as they were interaction that kept me alive just long enough to put 20+ power of zombies onto the battlefield.

Spider Spawning

As said earlier, this archetype is very reminiscent of [casthaven]Spider Spawning[/casthaven], as its most important cards ([casthaven]Rise from the Tides[/casthaven], [casthaven]Pieces of the Puzzle[/casthaven]) are draft chaff and many of its important enablers ([casthaven]Press for Answers[/casthaven], [casthaven]Jace’s Scrutiny[/casthaven]) aren’t high picks. It utilizes the graveyard as a resource, it’s surprisingly consistent (when built correctly) and has devastating mid-to-late game impact. That said, there are several important differences between a [casthaven]Rise from the Tides[/casthaven] deck and a [casthaven]Spider Spawning[/casthaven] deck.

Balustrade Spy

Oops, All Spells!

[casthaven]Rise from the Tides[/casthaven] has one major strength over [casthaven]Spider Spawning[/casthaven]: it doesn’t need to play any creatures. [casthaven]Spider Spawning[/casthaven] usually needed to play about 9-12 creatures. Their quality usually didn’t matter, as you were trying to put them in your graveyard. The problem is that most didn’t aid what the deck was trying to do—dump your library into your graveyard as fast as possible (which is why [casthaven]Armored Skaab[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Selhoff Occultist[/casthaven] were so important).

[casthaven]Rise from the Tides[/casthaven] has no such problem: every spell you cast adds to your zombie-making machine. Most or all of your spells will either draw you cards or function as removal. Accordingly, you can afford to be exceptionally creature light, or even play zero creatures and have your deck be all the stronger and more consistent for it.

Doom Cannon

Glass Cannon

[casthaven]Rise from the Tides[/casthaven] has a significant drawback compared to [casthaven]Spider Spawning[/casthaven]: its defense is substantially worse. 2/2 zombie tokens are much better attackers than 1/2 spider tokens with reach, but they’re much, much worse at playing defense. Because your zombies enter the battlefield tapped, you need to be able to survive an attack on turn 6 with little to no defense. That can be a tall order if you’re not prepared. If you’ve been casting [casthaven]Just the Wind[/casthaven], [casthaven]Fiery Temper[/casthaven], [casthaven]Jace’s Scrutiny[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Press for Answers[/casthaven], you’ll likely be fine, but you need to be doing so in order to guarantee you’ll live to untap with your zombie hordes.

Meanwhile, a resolved [casthaven]Spider Spawning[/casthaven] protects you from death more effectively than a [casthaven]Watcher in the Web[/casthaven] (unless your graveyard isn’t well-stocked, but [casthaven]Rise from the Tides[/casthaven] is similarly ineffective in such a situation). Additionally, [casthaven]Spider Spawning[/casthaven] benefits from [casthaven]Gnaw to the Bone[/casthaven], perhaps the most powerful massive life gain spell ever printed. It was almost trivial to gain at least 10 life from a single casting of [casthaven]Gnaw to the Bone[/casthaven], buying you the time you needed to combo off. [casthaven]Rise from the Tides[/casthaven] has no access to life gain; it’s better suited to interacting with the opponent in the early game than [casthaven]Spider Spawning[/casthaven] was, but far worse at coming back from behind.

Backup Plan

One Hit Wonder

[casthaven]Rise from the Tides[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Spider Spawning[/casthaven] both have backup plans, but they’re quite different.

[casthaven]Spider Spawning[/casthaven] was able to play an extremely long game by flashing back [casthaven]Spider Spawning[/casthaven], winning with [casthaven]Laboratory Maniac[/casthaven], or going infinite by looping [casthaven]Memory’s Journey[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Runic Repetition[/casthaven]. The deck was already consistent and these additional options gave it staying power.

[casthaven]Rise from the Tides[/casthaven] goes in the other direction; it has synergistic cards which can accelerate its clock (but also open it up to conventional interaction). A single [casthaven]Pyre Hound[/casthaven] can quickly grow to being a 5/6, and an [casthaven]Aberrant Researcher[/casthaven] is both likely to transform and will help fill your graveyard with either useless non-spells or a zombie-producing, fly-metamorphing spell.

Terashi's Verdict

The Verdict

Overall, [casthaven]Rise from the Tides[/casthaven] is a bit slower than [casthaven]Spider Spawning[/casthaven] (since there’s no cheap self-mill in Shadows Over Innistrad), substantially weaker on defense, stronger on offense, and is comparably sweet. As with [casthaven]Spider Spawning[/casthaven], it’s not a very hard deck to draft, it just requires one to be disciplined about drafting what the deck needs.

Your most important cards are cheap interactive spells, particularly [casthaven]Fiery Temper[/casthaven], [casthaven]Lightning Axe[/casthaven], [casthaven]Dance with Devils[/casthaven], and [casthaven]Just the Wind[/casthaven] (which you’ll be fighting for with other red and blue drafters). You’ll also want to prioritize [casthaven]Tormenting Voice[/casthaven], [casthaven]Press for Answers[/casthaven], [casthaven]Jace’s Scrutiny[/casthaven], and [casthaven]Compelling Deterrence[/casthaven] (which are really important, since they buy you time, but aren’t high picks for most players).

You should expect to wheel [casthaven]Rise from the Tides[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Pieces of the Puzzle[/casthaven]; if you don’t, someone’s fighting with you or hating your cards and you’ll have to settle for playing UR Madness, which is also a strong deck. [casthaven]Reduce to Ashes[/casthaven], [casthaven]Gone Missing[/casthaven], and even [casthaven]Nagging Thoughts[/casthaven] are also fine cards, but not as good as your other available options.

You really don’t want to prioritize creatures: [casthaven]Aberrant Researcher[/casthaven] is really strong, but not as important as a removal spell and possibly not as important as a [casthaven]Press for Answers[/casthaven]. [casthaven]Pyre Hound[/casthaven] is card you should wheel and potentially not play many copies of (it’s good, it’s just not an instant or sorcery). [casthaven]Erdwal Illuminator[/casthaven], [casthaven]Ravenous Bloodseeker[/casthaven], and [casthaven]Sanguinary Mage[/casthaven] are good for keeping you alive and generating some value. [casthaven]Seagraf Skaab[/casthaven] works almost as well, but they’re not as important as getting your spell count as high as possible.

Finally, I think that [casthaven]Trail of Evidence[/casthaven] is unplayable in [casthaven]Rise from the Tides[/casthaven]. You want to be casting spells every turn, not cracking clues. You might have time on turns four or five to crack a clue or two, but really, [casthaven]Pieces of the Puzzle[/casthaven] is all the card advantage and flow you need, and by the time you hit six mana, you want to be casting [casthaven]Rise from the Tides[/casthaven] and ending the game, not drawing more cards.


That’s it for this week. I’m delighted that there’s such a sweet and bizarre deck as [casthaven]Rise from the Tides[/casthaven] in Shadows Over Innistrad. It’s unlikely to be nearly as oppressive as [casthaven]Spider Spawning[/casthaven], but accordingly, it’s more likely to be open and less likely to be hated.

If you liked the breakdown of this archetype and would like to see more such articles, if you’ve drafted your own copy of the deck and would like to share your list, or if you otherwise have thoughts you’d like to share, leave ’em in the comments section below.

And as always, thanks for reading.

—Zachary Barash


Zachary Barash has been playing Magic on and off since 1994. He loves Limited and drafts every available format (including several that aren’t entirely meant to be drafted). He’s a proud Cube owner, improviser, and game designer (currently going for an MFA in Game Design at NYU). He has an obsession with Indian food that borders on being unhealthy.

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