Time To Brew With Innistrad!

Adam Prosak introduces some intriguing new possibilities in the format. He combines Heartless Summoning and Grand Architect, and then builds a couple Burning Vengeance control decks! Look here for ideas for SCG Open: Indy this weekend.

Did you know that a new Magic set is about to be released?

Time to brew!

A few Innistrad cards have captured my attention, and I am determined to play these terrible cards before everyone figures out that a full Scars of Mirrodin block will dominate an Innistrad block with only a single set released.

The first card I’d like to talk about is Heartless Summoning, considering I have a base to build on already. Here is the deck that I was playing regularly during the last days of Zendikar/Scars Standard.

This is a pretty standard Grand Architect deck, and nearly every card in this deck survives the rotation. However, a lynchpin to the strategy, Everflowing Chalice, is gone. With a deck like this, you really needed either an Everflowing Chalice or a Grand Architect to have a functional deck. Much of the power of a deck like this lies in its explosive mana, and relying only on Grand Architect is a recipe for disaster. Now that Everflowing Chalice is gone, I have turned to Heartless Summoning for a second explosive mana source.

Heartless Summoning has quite a bit of appeal in a deck like this. Treasure Mage becomes an exceptionally cheap tutor for something like Wurmcoil Engine. That portion of the deck becomes much stronger. Unfortunately, the proliferate theme simply is not worth it any longer. First, you can’t proliferate onto Chalice for explosive mana. In addition, many of the wins came from Inkmoth Nexus and Thrummingbird poisoning an opponent. That isn’t exactly the strongest plan when all of your creatures get -1/-1. Instead, let’s focus on the interaction with Treasure Mage and Heartless Summoning

The sideboard is extremely primitive, and I would probably never take this sideboard to an actual tournament. There is an obvious weakness against artifacts in the deck, which is probably not the best place to be when 60% of the sets in Standard are artifact themed. I would love to play Phyrexian Revoker to combat the Swords and Birthing Pods I am sure to face, but Heartless Summoning has some significant design constraints.

If you could guarantee a Summoning in play the entire game, then there are some exciting possibilities, including Rune-Scarred Demon and Sheoldred, Whispering One. However, I have not yet figured out how to get advantage from Heartless Summoning in this way without excessively relying on it. Birthing Pod seems like one possible direction to take it, but it’s hard enough to find creatures worth playing in a Pod deck that don’t instantly die to the Summoning.

Now for something with a ton of Innistrad cards!

I can see something like this being the Astral Slide/Lightning Rift equivalent of our new Standard. Think Twice and Desperate Ravings are basically the engine of this deck, allowing you to play a Draw-Go style while gaining card advantage. Once you have a Burning Vengeance in play, you get a ton of value out of simply playing Magic.

Snapcaster Mage is primarily on Mystic Snake duty in this deck, so he may not be worth it, considering that cutting him would make you creatureless (which blanks all of their creature removal spells). Then again, Snapcaster Mage is the second coming of Dark Confidant, or whatever the current hype machine is spouting. I suppose it is better to play the potentially busted card until he doesn’t pull his weight. One weakness this deck has is to any creature with a large toughness, hence why the otherwise out of place Dismember makes an appearance.

Forbidden Alchemy was considered, but I think there is diminishing returns on the number of Think Twice style cards one can play without simply getting run over. With Burning Vengeance, cheap flashback cards get the nod, and splashing black for the flashback on Alchemy isn’t exactly free for the mana base.

I’m pretty down on Past in Flames as well for the same reasons. I was brewing up a version with Pyretic Ritual and Past in Flames before I realized that the Ritual is not legal. There is no way I can justify enough creatures for Infernal Plunge, and that is the only ritual that is Standard legal.

One version I have considered using Alchemy employs a far different strategy.

First things first, the mana is probably terrible and likely derails this deck even before we get started on the spells. Even this deck’s mother doesn’t like its mana base. I made the deck with Terramorphic Expanse until it was pointed out to me that we no longer have access to that either. The mana on some of these Standard decks is going to be pretty bad. I’m sure Tempered Steel will just smash all of these brews simply because of superior mana.

Even if we just assume Magical Christmasland mana, I could see this deck doing nothing in some games. However, the engine in this deck is much stronger, and you can fill your graveyard up with more goodies than you know what to do with.

This is also a deck designed to take advantage of Liliana’s abilities. Patrick Chapin wrote about the power of a three-mana planeswalker here, and I have to say that I completely agree with the possibilities created by Liliana of the Veil.

One thing seems certain with Innistrad. The attrition-based decks will likely involve the graveyard in some capacity. There simply isn’t enough card drawing available without using the graveyard. Birthing Pod may be the exception, but graveyard hate is not outside the realm of possibility there either.

I will be honest; I have no idea if any of these decks are any good. I am simply thinking aloud. It’s entirely possible that I missed a card interaction or twelve. This is part of my deck brewing process, and I hope that something positive comes out of these primitive lists. If not, then I’ll have to try again…

Some Inquest combos that I haven’t fleshed out decklists for involve Snapcaster Mage/Chandra Firebrand + Sorin’s Vengeance and Warstorm Surge + Army of the Dead (not for the faint of heart). For the most part, I can’t figure out how to generate a large amount of mana reliably.

On Mental Misstep

Before I go, I’d like to take a moment to give my thoughts on the banning of Mental Misstep in Legacy.


Mental Misstep could have easily ruined Legacy. The format simply was not as fun when it felt like an accomplishment to resolve a spell. Many of the decks that made Legacy so dynamic and fun (43 lands, Storm, Goblins) are simply unplayable due to Mental Misstep countering the key cards in those respective decks. When the announcement went up, many of my friends posted something on Facebook to the effect of “YES! Now I can play deck X” where deck X was different every time.

With Survival and Mystical Tutor, you were dealing with overpowered cards, but those cards were fun to try and fight (or play with!). With Misstep, nobody enjoyed casting the spell or playing against the spell. I’ll be honest and say that I did not expect Misstep to get banned, even going so far as to sell my beloved Counterbalances because I’d never thought I’d get to play them again. My initial reaction to the banning was equal parts shock and joy.

I’m not alone when I say that the period between the banning of Survival and the printing of Misstep was probably the best six months in the history of Legacy. Let’s hope that we can return to that format, where both the games and the decks are very interesting. I don’t know about you, but I am ready to shuffle up my Counterbalances again. I hope you have something that you are excited to shuffle up again.

Adam Prosak