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By: Gardevi, Lee McLeod
Sep 28 2011 1:12am
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(Note - Since PureMTGO hasn't yet updated for Innistrad cards, please use a visual spoiler when browsing this page to reference cards)

As always, I have no idea where to start on for the new Standard, with the arrival of Innistrad and the departure of Zendikar. One thing I dislike about it, though: the manabases. Everyone around me is playing triple-colored decks (usually Esper), justifyin their color decision with full playsets of all three of the M10/Innistrad duals, and then the two allied Scars duals. But... you're only playing like 4 basics then, so you're playing with a deck full of Coastal Towers. Not a place I'm a big fan of. 


So let's start thinking about Innistrad Block Constructed instead. 

Block Constructed has the dual benefits of being a much easier starting place than Standard and it's huge on Magic Online. It's easier than Standard because there are less powerful cards in the format as a whole. 

So how do we try and tackle an unknown format? Well, control is a possibility - I love the idea of throwing Think Twice, (Forbiddne Alchemy), and Dissipate in a deck); but, as appealing as that sounds, I want to first examine the possible aggro strategies in Innistrad Block. I like to know what I'm fighting against before leaping to a control deck. 

So, let's discuss some of the monsters of Block.

Vampires

Vampires is a tribe that looks to be super aggressive and well-off to premier as the first and foremost aggro deck in the format. Rakish Heir and Bloodline Keeper are both insane cards that catapault the vampire deck into a hard monster to stop once it gets going. 

Vampires 1
Innistrad Block Constructed
Creatures
0 cards

Other Spells
4 Bloodcrazed Neonate
4 Bloodline Keeper
2 Falkenrath Marauders
1 Altar's Reap
4 Brimstone Volley
2 Stensia Bloodhall
3 Liliana of the Veil
4 Stromkirk Noble
4 Vampire Interloper
4 Diregraf Ghoul
4 Crossway Vampire
4 Rakish Heir
0 cards
Lands
10 Mountain
10 Swamp
20 cards
 
Pili-Pala

First thing to note is that Diregraf Ghoul is not a Vampire. What gives, isn't this a Vampire deck? Well, yes, but there's only  one Vampire 1-drop. And though Stromkirk Noble is a doozy, you can't really play an aggro deck with just one 1-drop. Otherwise, you'll just end up starting at two. That's not the worst on the play, but if you're going on the draw, your chances of winning are just greatly diminished without a 1-drop. Without the extra four copies of a two-power 1-drop, you're missing out on some very relevant damage, and every point counts. This does have the unfortunate side effects of Diregraf Ghoul feeling like the worst card ever when you have a flipped Bloodline Keeper and a Rakish Heir out. 

Actually, you know what? I think Reckless Waif might just be better than Diregraf. I'm not sure how readily Reckless Waif will flip (just pretend every time I say 'flip', I mean transform) in the format though. If it ends up being a bunch of aggro decks, I don't see it being better than Diregraf, because they'll be playing spells during their turn and it's very bad to stop playing spells to flip a werewolf (in this particular deck); you just want to curve out into Vampire Interloper, Rakish Heir, and Bloodline Keeper.

The top of the curve is filled by Falkenrath Marauder, a card that is somewhat speculative on my part. I'm not sure how many fliers will be played in the format. If there are only a few, Falkenrath can swoop in and immediately become a 4/4. Then he's just very hard to kill. Otherwise, he's very miserable. 

Liliana and Brimstone Volley fill the same role in this deck - getting rid of opposing creatures to allow your vampires to connect (Crossway Vampire also does this while giving you an additional creature). Liliana also can wreck the hands of control players and functions as two removal spells against aggro (albeit a few turns apart). Brimstone Volley was originally Bump in the Night to make the deck a little faster, but I became uneasy how I only had Crossway Vampire and Liliana to get in my vampires unblocked, so I added in more removal. I don't expect the morbid to come up often, but just as a Lightning Bolt, it can still finish off your opponent.

Vampires 2
Innistrad Block Constructed
Creatures
0 cards

Other Spells
4 Bump in the Night
4 Bloodline Keeper
4 Curse of Stalked Prey
4 Bloodcrazed Neonate
1 Stensia Bloodhall
3 Liliana of the Veil
4 Stromkirk Noble
4 Vampire Interloper
4 Diregraf Ghoul
4 Crossway Vampire
4 Rakish Heir
0 cards
Lands
9 Mountain
11 Swamp
20 cards
 
Pili-Pala

This alternative build is more geared towards fast starts and landing a (Curse of the Stalked Prey) to make all of your creatures insane. Because of a reduced land count, I cut the Marauders and put in Bump of the Night to make this list a little faster. 



My next monsters up for consideration are Werewolves! 

Werewolves are an interesting tribe. I expected it to be very hard to flip them in limited; turns out it wasn't at the prerelease. But what about in block constructed, where Think Twices will be plentiful? Well, I'm not sure. But you DO get to play four Moonmist, so... why not?

Werewolves
Innistrad Block Constructed
Creatures
0 cards

Other Spells
4 Reckless Waif
4 Mayor of Avabruck
4 Gatstaf Shepard
4 Darkthicket Wolf
4 Daybreak Ranger
4 Kruin Outlaw
4 Instigator Gang
4 Moonmist
3 Brimstone Volley
2 Garruk Relentless
3 Kessig Wolf Run
0 cards
Lands
10 Mountain
10 Forest
20 cards
 
Pili-Pala

I tried to put all the best Werewolves in this deck and avoid things like Village Ironsmith just because they fit the curve and are werewolves. Darkthicket Wolf, for example, fits the curve and gets pumped by Mayor of Avabruck (or, rather, by Howlpack Alpha), but also allows you to use your mana to do 'nothing' on your turn in order to flip your werewolves. The all-stars in this deck are Mayor of Avabruck (the main reason to play this deck at all), Daybreak Ranger (werewolves are gigantic, it's hard for them to lose fights), and Garruk Relentless himself. the 'other' planeswalker in the format, Garruk is still quite good. Planeswalkers are quite a hassle in Block. It's very hard to lose the game if a Planeswalker sits in play for a few turns. It's possible I want fewer Brimstone Volleys and just more Garruks. Testing will reveal this. 

Testing will also show how to play the deck. Right now, I'm of the opinion that you just want to play mediocre Humans  until you have a critical mass enough to dump your turn into Kessig Wolf Run or Darkthicket Wolf in order to flip into all of your werewolves, each of which is a monster in itself. Alternatively, keep playing Humans until you can Moonmist. The werewolf mirror seems like it would have extremely strange dynamics - flipping on your opponent's turns is the best (so you can attack and then de-transform by playing two spells), but your opponent has control over whether or not he'll play a spell during his turn. So it'll probably end up being a fest of human brawls until someone plays Moonmist at end of turn. 

Werewolves are the largest creatures in the format (other than corner cases like the hard-to-cast blue zombies), so it seems very hard to lose if you have a pack of werewolves in play. However, the humans are all mediocre without Mayor of Avabruck in play, so the deck is largely reliant on having Moonmist, Garruk, or Mayor in order to compete with the field. If a deck can deal with all three of those cards, the werewolf deck flounders. 


Brainssss
Innistrad Block Constructed
Creatures
0 cards

Other Spells
4 Diregraf Ghoul
4 Walking Corpse
4 Deranged Assistant
4 Ghoulraiser
4 Armored Skaab
4 Unbreathing Horde
2 Skaab Ruinator
1 Undead Alchemist
4 Moan of the Unhallowed
1 Grimgrin, Corpse-Born
4 Dream Twist
3 Nephalia Drownyard
0 cards
Lands
12 Swamp
9 Island
21 cards
 
Pili-Pala

I really, really like this deck. Unlike the other two decks, which are very clearly classic aggressive decks where you play a bunch of dudes and attack with them, this Zombie deck is more attrition based. Like Werewolves, your creatures are mediocre, but unlike werewolves, you can't turn them into giant monsters each capable of single-handedly mauling everything that is in their way. Instead, Zombies rely on synergy and grind out games until it can drop a giant Unbreathing Horde, Skaab Ruinator, or (Grimgrin Corpse-Born). 

That means this deck blocks. A lot. Your creatures can't really compete with the other aggro decks in the format. Instead, make trades with your Diregraf Ghoul and Walking Corpse or just straight up block them with Armored Skaab. Don't worry, you have mechanisms to gain card advantage. The milling from Armored Skaab and Dream Twist's main goal is to put zombies in your graveyard. You get them back with Ghoulraiser, flashback Moan of the Unhallowed (a great attrition card, even if a mite expensive to flashback), and replay Skaab Ruinator

Skaab Ruinator is an all-star in this deck, though I'm not sure how many this deck actually needs. It's very hard to cast in the early game; you may just want to mill it and play it that way. It has excellent synergy with Ghoulraiser in that you get to remove cards you don't want to grave-dig back out of your graveyard. Ruinator, along with Unbreathing Horde, are your main win-conditions. 

Lilliana should probably go in this deck (it's a black planeswalker, and I'm playing black), but I don't know where exactly in would fit in, since you need a critical mass of Zombies for Unbreathing Horde. Also, a quick note on the singleton Undead Alchemist. I don't think it's good enough to play because it stops your clock and converts it back into mill, but I like the miser's copy since it does interact favorably with a few different decks without attacking. Any Dream Twist and Forbidden Alchemy that that puts creatures in the graveyard gets exiled and makes you zombies without needing to attack! That means just a singleton copy of a Zombie can ruin any sort of Unburial Rites deck that tries to reanimate a huge creature from the graveyard by milling it into the grave. And, if they happen to be milling their own deck, that means the damage to mill conversion the Alchemist provides might actually kill them faster. 

I didn't include Ghoulcaller's Chant simply for lack of room, but it's worth fiddling around numbers and testing it. 


And, these aren't monsters, but they are an aggro deck (which is really what this article is about). 

Humans
Innistrad Block Constructed
Creatures
0 cards

Other Spells
4 Avacyn's Pilgrim
4 Mayor of Avabruck
4 Elite Inquisitor
2 Geist-Honored Monk
4 Champion of the Parish
1 Angel of Flight Alabaster
3 Mikaeus, the Lunarch
3 Slayer of the Wicked
4 Mentor of the Meek
4 Hamlet Captain
3 Gavony Township
4 Fiend Hunter
0 cards
Lands
7 Forest
13 Plains
20 cards
 
Pili-Pala

A classic white weenie deck with green cards. Though there are only 12 green cards in the deck, there's a high forest count because (Avacyn Pilgrim) is quite important to have in play on turn 1. This could be wrong, and maybe the times you won't be able to play Elite Inquisitor on turn 2 far outnumber the times you'll be able to have the Pilgrim out. If that's the case, the forests will have to be scaled back a little. But I think this should be fine. 

Not much can be said about this deck list - like all white aggro decks, it's very straightforward and doesn't have any reach. You just play a bunch of guys, pump them with Mayor of Avabruck or (Mikaeus the Luminarch) (who is only a 3-of due to his legendariness), and then turn creatures sideways until they're dead. Luckily for white, all of it's removal is centered in creatures - Fiend Hunter and Slayer of the WickedSlayer of the Wicked is probably the best four-drop human I found because it also hits creatures in the other three decks I've shared today. Something to keep in mind though, is that Slayer can't kill every monster. Things like Bloodgift Demon or (Luvdeck's Abomination) will be immune to any such slaying. 



That's all I have for this time. I'm just brewing here, so all of these decks are untuned and untested. I welcome any suggestions and feedback you'd care to leave in the comments section. Next time, I'm going to be looking at some control strategies for Block Constructed, and then after that I'll go into some more non-traditional decks, so be sure to keep checking back with me for some more decklists and possible ways to tackle the new Block format!


Lee McLeod
Gardevi on Magic Online
@Gardevi on twitter

13 Comments

Good article as innistrad by ShardFenix at Wed, 09/28/2011 - 02:27
ShardFenix's picture
3

Good article as innistrad looks to be a seriously fun format. Though Im think of running GU Kessig Cagebreakers/Splinterfright self mill.

The only downgrading is from the decklists. Now I know the cards arent linkable through mtgo traders yet, but you can at least move the text to put it in the right columns...

You're reading my mind! I by Gardevi at Wed, 09/28/2011 - 09:03
Gardevi's picture

You're reading my mind! I made a Splinterfright deck yesterday I really like; I'm going to share it in the next article.

Do not hurry! by milegyenanevem at Wed, 09/28/2011 - 04:23
milegyenanevem's picture
2

You don't even mention Olivia Voldaren for vampires and Full Moon's Rise for werevolves. Also, you could add sideboards. Angel of Flight Alabaster should be Angelic Overseer I guess.

Full Moon's Rise is probably by Gardevi at Wed, 09/28/2011 - 07:59
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Full Moon's Rise is probably pretty bad. I'd rather play creatures than it, and regenerating all your wolves isn't that necessary when the only mass removal spells are Sever the Bloodline (which exiles) and Divine Reckoning (which isn't that great when you just choose to save Howlpack Alpha or Terror of Kruin Pass). The trample isn't that relevant when the wolves just kill everything anyway; Kessig Wolf Run does much of the same thing without being a spell slot.

I considered Olivia Voldaren, but she's just too slow. I'd rather play Bloodline Keeper, flip it, and actually just threaten to kill them that or the following turn. Olivia can be good in more sideboarded games (because they are slower) so I'd probably put her in the sideboard, but I wouldn't maindeck her until I know more about the format.

For sideboards, I don't really know what the format is going to be, so I can't really put together a real sideboard. I'll give it a shot for next time, though.

And yes, Angel of Flight Alabaster should be Angelic Overseer. Sorry about that.

Also, I just noticed this - by Gardevi at Wed, 09/28/2011 - 09:04
Gardevi's picture

Also, I just noticed this - I'm not sure why my spoiler text on the front page was cut off, as I definitely put a complete sentence in there when I submitted it. Sorry about that though!

I see this line at the top of by JXClaytor at Thu, 09/29/2011 - 01:10
JXClaytor's picture

I see this line at the top of the article.

(Note - Since PureMTGO hasn't yet updated for Innistrad cards, please use a visual spoiler when browsing this page to reference cards)

So you mentioned dissipate by Paul Leicht at Wed, 09/28/2011 - 10:45
Paul Leicht's picture

So you mentioned dissipate and think twice in the beginning and then never posted a control deck with them as the "answer" to the aggro decks you posted as potential adversaries.

And in the very same by Gardevi at Wed, 09/28/2011 - 11:16
Gardevi's picture

And in the very same sentence, I say "...I want to first examine the possible aggro strategies in Innistrad Block". Then in the closing paragraph; "Next time, I'm going to be looking at some control strategies for Block Constructed..."

Such a tease! by Paul Leicht at Wed, 09/28/2011 - 14:08
Paul Leicht's picture

Such a tease!

apaulogy's picture
4

You know how they say "look to block constructed to predict the future of a rotating Standard". Well, maybe they don't say THAT verbatim, but you get the drift....

I think R/G Werewolves only need a couple more support cards in the next block sets to be a serious contender. Mayor of Avabruck transformed is ridiculous.

I really hope I get one of him in my limited pool.

Nice article and a good starting point for the block format.

block con by mlcoolg at Wed, 09/28/2011 - 14:57
mlcoolg's picture
4

Good article.

Do they put block constructed queues and DE's up on mtgo as soon as Inn is out or will they wait until drak asc?

As soon as Innistrad is out. by Gardevi at Wed, 09/28/2011 - 16:26
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As soon as Innistrad is out.

GW Humans by Garryth at Wed, 09/28/2011 - 21:15
Garryth's picture

My problem with the Mayor in a Mentor deck is that he busts the Mentors card draw ability, which is the only reason the Mentor is there in the first place. My "first draft" Block Constructed deck puts Daybreak Ranger in that slot (along with some Clifftop Retreats in the manabase) to give the deck a bit of defense against spirits and other fliers. I'm not sure why you included Angel of Flight Alabaster since there are no other spirits in your deck. I honestly don't know what to think about Giest Honored Monk until I see her in play.

Also, what is your take on Ambush Viper as instant speed ground removal for G or GW decks?