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CasualNation #53 – Innistrad Decks!


Hello, Nation! After every set is released, I love to build decks with the new cards! Who doesn’t? Decks, decks, decks! With all of the crazy cards in Innistrad, coming up with some decks won’t be the hard part—it’ll be narrowing them down enough for one article!

Let’s begin the deck attack.

I wanted to rock a Spirit deck led by the Angel of Flight Alabaster. Instead of just tossing Ashes of the Fallen into any old deck, I wanted to intentionally build around the Angel—and this was the result. A lot of great synergies exist in a deck like this. For example, with so many Spirits here, why not play Oyobi, Who Split the Heavens? Not only does it increase your Spirit count and come back with your Angel, but it also should make some 3/3 Spirits.

Since I have Oyobi, who triggers when you play Spirits, I tossed in a pair of Nikko-Onna. Play a Spirit, trigger Oyobi, and bounce the Nikko-Onna back to your hand to replay and trigger again. If you have both Nikko-Onnas, you have yourself a little combo.

After that, I wanted some defense. Windborn Muse and Guardian of the Guildpact sprang to mind. Along with Angel of Flight Alabaster, these are the only creatures played as a four-of. As I looked at the creature base, it really suggested a lot more pairs than quartets.

Eternal Dragon was an obvious choice for inclusion. It cycles to net you a Plains—not only that, but you can also bring it back with Angel of Flight Alabaster if you don’t want to spend the mana to recur it with its own ability. I even included some Mistveil Plains if you want to tutor for them.

Celestial Kirin was the next card in. It’s important for its ability to kill off stuff. However, it’s not exactly a team player, and I didn’t want the deck to screw itself, so I didn’t play more than two of it.

I wanted a bit more beef, so say hello to Spirit of the Hearth and Yosei. Hello, Yosei! Both give the deck more flying beef, and Yosei can really hurt someone if it’s killed. You really want to bring it back with the Alabaster Angel. In order to kill it off for recursion, I tossed in a pair of Miren, the Moaning Well. The Well is also there if you need to recur a Spirit for triggering a Spirit-trigger—for example, the Kirin or Oyobi. You’ll find some nice uses.

After that, I wanted a pair of Karmic Guides to round out the deck and to give me a 5-mana body for the Kirin. It plays well here, and if you fail to play the Echo, it hits the graveyard for Angel recursion. I added Gallows Wardens to also have two more 5-drops.

Once I had those guys all in, I had only a few slots for other cards, so in went Swords to Plowshares and Return to Dust to give me some non-creature-based removal. I felt these Spirits were good enough on their own, and that they didn’t need things like Adaptive Automaton, Long-Forgotten Gohei, or Celestial Crusader.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Spirits, so I’m happy to build another deck around them here!

Izzet Innistrad? I think so! (I hate Izzet puns; they’re always the dregs of jokedom.) With just fourteen creatures—most of which are rather small—how does this thing work?

The idea is to play a lot of spells. A seriously large lot. (Bad grammar alert!) Lots of burn, lots of spells, and so forth. You want to play a spell and pump the Dragonauts and Devils. You want to play a spell to untap a Gelectrode. You want to play a spell to replicate it off the Djinn Illuminatus. You want to play a spell and then recur it or flash it back with Snapcaster Mage and Charmbreaker Devils. Rawr!

With cards like Forbidden Alchemy and Jace, Memory Adept, you should have a nice full graveyard in no time. You can easily stock up the good spells for your situation. Imagine tossing a Lightning Bolt with a Djinn Illuminatus out. You can replicate it for every r you have, which just might be a lot.

Cheap spells have awesome Replicate and Flashback potential. Electrolyze? That’s great creature removal, player removal, and card-draw. Ponder will draw you a ton of cards with a Djinn Illuminatus out. Pyromatics can scale for damage based on your mana base. Then prepare yourself for Past in Flames! All of your spells have Flashback—oh noes! Here’s another Ponder, another Lightning Bolt, and another Forbidden Alchemy. And all of this time, my Wee Dragonauts and Charmbreaker Devils ramp it up for a huge hit. See also Gelectrode and its untap ability.

At the end of your turn, let me flash out this Snapcaster Mage and give my Pyromatics Flashback. Now let’s cast it and replicate it six times. Rawr!

With fun cards and an all-or-nothing style of play, this will be quite the pleasing deck at the kitchen table. I like it a lot!

This odd deck was built around Brain Weevil. When I saw it, I wanted to abuse it, and the first idea that popped into my head was Shirei. Well, there was my deck idea. After that, it was a simple matter to add cheap creatures with a power of 1 or less that fit my deck idea.

Bone Shredder is perfect. You play it to kill something, then fail to pay the Echo, and it comes back under Shirei, kills something, and you fail to pay the Echo . . . It’s creature removal and a powerful card combination in one—and that’s always a package I appreciate.

Bottle Gnomes have long been combined with various cards for more life. Corpse Dance and Bottle Gnomes gave us the powerful Dancing Gnomes decks. You also had a lot of other cards—from Lifeline to artifact-recursion spells. I like the Gnomes here with the Shirei abuse as a way to gain life and also to keep back attackers—they have the biggest defense in the deck!

I knew I wanted Bile Urchin. Every turn, you can sacrifice it to make a player lose 1 life. It doesn’t sound like much at first, but that really adds up quickly. Add to that Plagued Rusalka for removal. You can spend a few b to sacrifice Bile Urchin, Bone Shredder, and Bottle Gnomes to give a creature -3/-3 and kill it. Once I had my deck, I went with Spike Cannibal as the surprise card. It can really mess with an opponent, or it can be just an expensive 1/1. Once you’ve paid the mana, it doesn’t matter, and you just chump-block or sacrifice it to keep recurring it.

Unearth made total sense in a deck with this many cheap creatures. You can bring a previously dead creature back to start killing it off and recurring for Shirei games. Feel encouraged to cycle it when you don’t need it, since we don’t have a lot of natural card-drawing in the deck. I added four Ambition’s Cost and four Cycling lands, but that’s it.

This deck does ask an important question—what do you do when Shirei dies? Opponents aren’t just going to sit around and let you combo-kill them slowly. The answer is Volrath’s Stronghold, which should enable you to bring back a Shirei for more engine fun!

I felt a Meekstone was a nice touch. It gives the deck some class, and it serves as a surprise for those not expecting it. The last card I pulled was Fog of Gnats (instead of Will-o’-the-Wisp) for blocking in the air. You could still include it if you wanted.

This is very different from your normal deck, and I hope that you enjoy it!

This is another spin on Shirei. I was building another deck, and then I realized that Mentor of the Meek would really break the deck wide open because you can tap mana for cards constantly. It replaces the Ancient Craving from the other deck and works perfectly.

Once I added White to the deck, I knew that I could toss in Capashen Unicorn. It fits the theme perfectly and allows me to destroy artifacts and enchantments. Shoring up weaknesses that the mono-Black version had is a great way to harness the power of another color.

Once I had done that, I had a question to ask. Should I add Peacekeeper? Ideally, this deck wants to combo-kill you with Bile Urchin. I realized that I could use Plagued Rusalka to sacrifice the Peacekeeper if I wanted to swing with things like my intimidating Brain Weevil for 1 damage (plus, it would come back in play to stop my foes). I knew I had my deck. Everything else worked just as much in this deck as the first one.

I did drop Meekstone, because I felt Peacekeeper largely replaced it. I also had to massage my creature numbers a bit. The Peacekeepers and Mentors make this feel much different than the previous deck.

All right, let’s do a deck that doesn’t include Shirei.

The goal of this deck is to put most of your library in your graveyard through the activation of a Hermit Druid. Since the deck has no more than four basics, you should end up with a whole lot of cards in the graveyard. After drawing a Forest naturally and finding another with a Terramorphic Expanse, you may only have two Forests left when you use the Druid. That’d be great. Once you’ve amassed a huge graveyard, abuse it by playing a giant creature or using Flashback.

Boneyard Wurm wants to be bigger than Tarmogoyf for the same mana. You can drop one for cheap in the early game, and if it’s not at least a 10/10, you’ve done something wrong; activate the Hermit Druid again! Splinterfright is the same way, except that it can mill your deck some more, and it has Trample. In addition, we have Lhurgoyf and Bonehoard to beef up and go “rawr”—in that order.

On the subject of Trample, note that you have a pair of Brawns to give you that extra gas. Genesis can recur an important creature. You can recur and play a Boneyard Wurm for just 5 mana, so be prepared to do that early.

Werebear is a mana-accelerant and almost guaranteed to be a 4/4 at all times. It’s a perfect fit for the deck.

Then, we have some spells to use and abuse the graveyard lovin’. Krosan Reclamation is an essential here. You don’t want to deck yourself, and it can keep you stocked. Flip over a couple, and if your deck is too low, just flash them back to restock it. If your deck is too small, I’d recommend using one to restock the other. You could even use Creeping Renaissance to bring back both, and then play one, the second restocking the first one, and go back and forth to keep your deck stocked indefinitely.

Speaking of Creeping Renaissance, it’s great in here. You have so many options. After a Hermit Druid activation, you can bring back a bunch of lands and cycle Thickets for cards or grab free cards off Mosswort Bridges and regenerate a beater with Yavimaya Hollow. You could also bring back your sorceries to return a Renaissance, or Spider Spawning, or even a Green Sun’s Zenith to your hand. You’ll find that more uses from your spells is always helpful. You can even recur Bonehoards and Cauldrons.

Note that this deck needs to have Hermit Druid out, so I am running Green Sun’s Zenith. If you already have a Druid, you can tutor for your cheap beaters, like a Boneyard Wurm or Splinterfright. You can even rock a mana-accelerating Werebear.

Cauldron of Souls is your resistance to removal. By giving some creatures Persist, those creatures can survive a Wrath of God or Terminate. You also have Yavimaya Hollow to help against Go for the Throat and Day of Judgment.

The lands are a bit weird. I love Mosswort Bridge in this deck, but after that, it was hard to find good nonbasics. Too many lands enter the battlefield tapped. If you have the rare fetch lands that can bring a Forest right into play, replace Terramorphic Expanse with those. Khalni Garden made a sort of sense. After that, I was trying to find things that didn’t feel out of place, but I included Oran-Rief and Sapseep Forest anyway. They don’t have any synergy with the deck. I didn’t include any 1-drops because of the lack of tempo this mana base has.

We are done with another quintet of decks. Whew! That’s always fun.

See you next week,

Abe Sargent

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