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By: Westane, Jeff Torres
Nov 15 2011 9:23am
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Flavorful Frustrations

I'm going to be honest (typically I'm lying to you) for a moment. At some point between Mirridon Besieged and New Phyrexia, I heavily considered quitting for a while. The whole setting had just gotten bland, and block constructed had turned into a field of white... I missed color! Still, the new hope of this upcoming set called Innistrad had me hanging on, and in the end I couldn't be happier. Innistrad is just oozing with flavor, making even the most terrible cards fantastic.

However, no matter how flavorful or fun some cards may be, they just simply are not playable.

But wouldn't it be nice? I've decided to compile a list of Innistrad cards I would love to be playing in ISD Block Constructed, but probably never will.

#8 - Rooftop Storm

I just can't get enough of the zombies in Innistrad, and Rooftop Storm will not be the last zombie-themed card on the list! I love this card so much, and I want to play it so badly, but there's too much working against it. First, and most obvious, is the 5U mana cost. In a UB Zombie deck the best case scenario would be playing a Deranged Assistant turn two and turn three, then dropping Rooftop Storm turn four with (hopefully) three zombies sitting in your hand... and they'd better be good ones! The next issue is that the zero mana cost doesn't bypass the summoning requirements of cards like Skaab Ruinator - you still need to exile three creatures from your graveyard.

What we need is a valid way to cheat this card into play, or more cantrip zombies. Hell, Ghoulraiser even counts. Moreover, by the time you can cast this, you have the mana available to cast just about anything else you want.

It would be great to be able to play this early in a deck full of Dissipates, Snapcasters and removal. Zombie Fish!

#7 - Past in Flames

Ever get the feeling they print cards that they know will see absolutely no play in the set they print them in? That's the vibe I get from Past in Flames. Sure, there's some Modern and maybe Legacy and Classic potential here, but I can't think of any possible scenario where this card would be good in block, or even Standard for that matter. A Brimstone Volley would cost 7 mana, two would cost 10. Any card worth flashing back already has Flashback, or it's an Instant. Maybe we'll be getting a whole bunch of red rituals in the next two sets?

Price it at 3RR, make it an Enchantment and get back to me.

#6 - Heartless Summoning

I may get some backlash but frankly this card isn't playable... yet. There is a ton of potential in this little enchantment, but frankly, there's no outlet. I guess you could go turn two Heartless Summoning into turn three Bloodgift Demon... into turn four Reaper From the Abyss... but in all reality I don't see that happening too often. Yes, there are synergies with Bitterheart Witch killing herself to find curses. Yes, it allows for 2 mana 4/4 juggernauts... so why isn't it seeing play?

Simple, because Burning Vengeance is. Everyone is packing mainboard Silverchase Fox, Naturalize and to a lesser extent Witchbane Orb because of the UR/x match up, and that's incidentally very good against Heartless Summoning. When you take both decks, and take away their flagship enchantments, you have a UR/x Control deck and a B/x Aggro deck, and one of those is clearly superior to the other.

I think with a bigger card pool this card will get better and better. It feels like Innistrad's version of Birthing Pod... kinda.

#5 - Ludevic's Test Subject

I would love to get this card into a deck, and I've seen it in a few opposing decks. Yes, I've seen it die to Brimstone Volley and Garruk Relentless, or worse yet, transform and die to Tribute to Hunger. I love the idea of hiding behind counterspells and adding counters to this card at the end of every other turn, but it's just too fragile. If there were a viable mono blue deck (there isn't) I'd be surprised if there weren't a few test subjects. Until then, casual fun.

#4 - Angel of Flight Alabaster

Okay, more truth time, this card isn't on the list for any particular reason, I just totally have this thing for redheads... Okay, that's only half true. It's not that I specifically want to play with this card, but the Innistrad Spirit tribe in general. There's no solid UW Control deck in the format, and given the flavor of the set I think that could be a lot of fun. Board control with ghosts and tokens, dropping angels in the late game to replenish your hand, and a valid excuse to play Rebuke. It doesn't hurt that a certain geist fits the colors perfectly either.

I'd be surprised if we didn't get a number of playable spirits in the next set, and maybe then I'll be rocking UW once more.

#3 - Back From the Brink

Another expensive blue enchantment, only this one affects creatures that have already died. As much as I'd love to be playing this card somewhere, I can't figure out where to put it. In a UB Zombie shell it could be a great way to reuse your zombies, again comboing nicely with Ghoulraiser. The six mana cost of this card isn't nearly as much of a deal breaker as it is with Rooftop Storm, as you want to have creatures in the yard when this comes down. Still, it feels a little winmoar, and I'd have to imagine that by the time you play this card the game is just about over one way or the other.

#2 - Garruk Relentless

...Just kidding...

#2 - Grimoire of the Dead

Such a fun card, I just wish the mana was altered just a little bit. Either making the artifact cost 3, or removing the mana cost from its discard effect. I would love to play this card in a deck with Forbidden Alchemy, Dream Twist, flashback cards and fatties. Remember that the grimoire brings back your opponent's creatures too.

In a heavy control deck, probably UB, I could almost see this card as being a good way to play creatures without tapping out. Once it's down, start throwing away your Bloodgift Demons and Manor Gargoyles and start playing the waiting game. A well times Naturalize from your opponent would kind of suck though...

#1 - Grimgrin, Corpse-Born

And at the top of the list, Grimgrin. This guy is borderline playable, I mean how can you argue with what is effectively a 7/7 (or 8/8, vigilance) for five mana? In a UB zombie deck that could play cards like Endless Ranks of the Dead and Moan of the Unhallowed I could see this guy being a blast. He's also a great followup to Undead Alchemist, who would fit nicely into that same deck.

 Sadly, as slow and clunky as he is, Grimgrin probably won't be seeing any competitive play any time soon, but his effects can't be dismissed. He's one or two interesting cards away from a combo deck in the block. Doesn't hurt that he's a good Morbid enabler either.

Closing Thoughts, and Recent Meta Analysis

So over the last few days I was able to play in a PE and a couple DE's. I wasn't successful in placing in either, but I did get a front seat look at how the meta is evolving. It's no secret that a new control deck has pretty much dominated the format, and my precious BUG deck seems to be phasing out. Having easy access to a set of mainboard Dissipates is just too important right now it seems. I was also able to play a Humans deck in a DE over the weekend, and while I only just made 2-2, the deck is much more resilient than I thought.

UGb Dredge has placed 4-0 and 3-1 repeatedly in the last few days... so I think I may have to take back what I said about it not being a deck.

Finally, no matter what deck you're playing, Garruk is still king of the format, so much so that mono colored decks are splashing just to play him.

Well that's about it for me this week. I'll be back next time with some event report or another.

Until next time!

-Jeff Torres

PS: I know the article is a bit light this week but... um... yeah...


I have to disagree with two by Paul Leicht at Tue, 11/15/2011 - 21:32
Paul Leicht's picture

I have to disagree with two of your card choices. And beg to differ on Garruk too :p Grimgrin has some small potential to be good. It is I agree probably more for the Commander and Casual crowd (Oozegrin?) but I suspect it might be better than advertised.

The other card I suspect may be slightly better than you deem is Heartless Summoning. Sure it makes all those mana dorks just dead but I am fairly certain it is seeing play in some pod variations. (Which in itself is not top tier at the moment but may become more so as other decks fall by the way side.) I think it will be a house once people figure out how to abuse it. Ok maybe not a house. A cottage? Well you get the idea.

I agree... but I wrote this by Westane at Tue, 11/15/2011 - 21:46
Westane's picture

I agree... but I wrote this exclusively pertaining to ISD block constructed :)