Set Theory – Winning at Innistrad Sealed (Part 2)
We've shown you the double faced cards and told you what you should and shouldn't be playing. Now let's show you how we'll be killing those pesky transformers.
When you're evaluating a set for limited play, you need to know what removal spells there are, whether they're instant speed or not, and what hoops you have to jump through to get the desired result.
- Avacynian Priest can keep your opponent's largest non-Human tapped down turn after turn. It won't stop a card like Bloodgift Demon from getting incremental advantage on you, though.
- Blazing Torch's first line of text should be more relevant in Innistrad, but as long as you have a creature around that doesn't want to attack, you can represent two quick damage.
- Bonds of Faith will either pump a friendly Human or pacify something else. Be careful about putting this on a Werewolf.
- Brimstone Volley is your typical Volcanic Hammer variant. This one gets better if a creature dies. More on Morbid in a bit.
- Claustrophobia can keep anything locked down. Still doesn't do a ton about bombs that don't need to tap or attack to create advantage, like Bloodgift Demon or Grimgrin, Corpse-Born.
- Corpse Lunge needs you to have a creature in your graveyard to kill a creature.
- Dead Weight is essentially a sorcery speed Disfigure that can't be countered with a pump spell.
- Frightful Delusion is the evil twin (not Evil Twin) of Runeboggle.
- Geistflame will draw comparisons to Lava Dart. Getting two damage out of it will always take five mana, which makes it worse than the one mana and done Dart. It'll also draw comparisons to Firebolt. It's in an awkward spot in between those two cards, but both those cards are probably too good for burn spells.
- Harvest Pyre can kill just about anything in the format... if you have enough cards in your graveyard.
- Lost in the Mist is the common hard counter in Innistrad. Expensive, but countering a spell and bouncing a land seems super-cute.
- Pitchburn Devils need to die to perform their Mudbutton Torchrunner impression. The 3/3 body is a lot more scary than Mudbutton's 1/1 frame, though.
- Prey Upon might be the best piece of green removal ever. You just need a creature.
- Rebuke and Village Bell-Ringer are going to leave opponents confused. They're both going to punish careless attackers in different ways. Very reminiscent of Choking Flames vs. Dispense Justice.
- Smite the Monstrous looks at Reprisal and feels very sad. Then it looks at some of the monstrous transform cards and smiles.
- Typhoid Rats are essentially a removal spell that sometimes pings you for 1. Bad if they get Geistflamed, though!
- Urgent Exorcism does double duty. There are a lot of good Auras in this set, and this blows them up and the pesky Spirit here and there. Dearly Departed is glad there's no exile clause.
- Victim of Night will be killing any non-monster creature it can find. The types of creatures that this card can't hit are going to come up more than you think, though.
- Burning Vengeance is a draft around me type card in the vein of Raid Bombardment. By itself it does nothing. In the right deck it will single-handedly win the game.
- Dissipate is Cancel with tons of upside in a flashback world.
- Fiend Hunter is a cheaper Faceless Butcher. Same sweet timing tricks apply.
- If you absolutely, positively need a flier killed, Geistcatchers Rig is here for you.
- Into the Maw of Hell is doing a pretty nice Plague Spores impression.
- Morkrut Banshee turns an odd trade or attack into a Flametongue Kavu with better stats.
- Rolling Temblor is a quality mini-Earthquake that you don't mind not getting max value out of the first time you cast it.
- Skirsdag Cultist can turn on your Morbid spells and shoot down something (or someone) in the process.
- Slayer of the Wicked does just that. The anti-Victim of Night won't be able to hit as many things, but he'll still be important in limited.
- Tribute to Hunger is a sweet Diabolic Edict with minor upside for just one mana more.
The first thing that jumps out is that there's not a ton of instant-speed removal in this format at common and uncommon. There's a lot of quality removal, but it's slow or conditional. This means cards that break creature stalls, like fliers, mass protection effects, Falter-type effects, and tempo generating spells should be more important. It also means that if you are trying to be aggressive in this format, you'll need to push the speed of the game using bounce spells as well as removal.
The new ability word in Innistrad is Morbid. Morbid abilities give your spells and creatures a bonus if something died in the turn. This encourages creature trades by players with more Morbid spells in your deck. Only 9 cards have the Morbid ability word, though, so it won't come up a ton. Here's what you need to be on the lookout for when your opponent makes an 'obviously bad' attack.
- Festerhide Boar and Somberwald Spider come onto the battlefield with +1/+1 counters. This and Morkrut Banshee are the most dangerous of the common and uncommon Morbid cards.
- Woodland Sleuth gives you a random Gravedigger effect and a better body.
- Hollowhenge Scavenger gives you 5 life to help win the race.
There isn't a ton of Morbid effects in the set, so you should be able to get a good read based on what open mana the opponent has if they're setting up a morbid trigger.
Hopefully, armed with this information, you'll be able to wrestle the most packs possible from the darkness at your Innistrad prerelease!