Innistrad Block Constructed – Archetypes and Results

Innistrad Block Constructed was recently dramatically altered with the banning of Intangible Virtue and Lingering Souls, which were just too oppressive for the format to handle. Before the banning, the major decks in Block were W/B/g tokens (splashing for Gavony Township and Garruk Relentless) and R/W/b tokens (splashing for Lingering Souls), which forced out basically any other strategy—other decks were just not able to keep up with the card advantage created by Lingering Souls and the damage output Intangible Virtue could provide.

Lingering Souls
Intangible Virtue

The post-ban format is still defined by two cards, but rather than being the two defining elements of a single strategy, these two cards lie on the opposite end of the spectrum from one another: Hellrider and Huntmaster of the Fells. Hellrider is the MVP of the new hyper-aggressive R/W tokens strategy and it can essentially be seen as making up for the lost Intangible Virtue, whereas Huntmaster is used by the controlling strategies of the format, most notably Jund (B/R/G) and R/U/G. The post-ban format is probably still not mature, but this overview of the format will provide a snapshot of the format as it is right now on Magic Online.

The Block Metagame

Block right now is not a particularly diverse format mostly because of cost. A play set of Huntmasters is around 100 tickets, making the decks that rely on him much more expensive than the Hellrider deck, which is a leading cause for R/W to be almost half the field. Another reason for R/W’s popularity is that it’s relatively easy to play (attack, then cast Brimstone Volley and/or Devil’s Play), making the format much more accessible than Standard, where the learning curve is high due to having to either play Delver or play against Delver.

The premier deck of the format is once again a white-based agro deck. The deck seeks to play a number of low-drop creatures and maximize the damage dealt during the early turns and close out the game with Hellrider, Rally the Peasants, and/or the eight burn spells. The deck has an incredible amount of reach thanks to Brimstone Volley’s morbid and has the most powerful nut draw in the format with turn-one Champion of the Parish, turn-two Gather the Townsfolk, turn-three Fiend Hunter (if the opponent has a threat) or turn-three Midnight Haunting, and turn-four Hellrider (which is lethal).

The deck is relatively simple to play and your goal is to maximize early damage with creatures in order to enter the (as PV calls it) burn phase and quickly close the game out. The deck has no long-term game plan, and it becomes significantly weaker as the game goes on. More recent versions of the deck have adapted to do better in the mirror by playing cards such as Stromkirk Noble.

The most-played Huntmaster deck of the format, Block Jund is as quintessentially midrange as you can get. The deck plays undercosted removal (Geistflame is especially good against the R/W decks) to make it past the early stages of the game where its threats can swing the tide. Jund also plays the same eight burn spells as R/W, but they are used mostly as removal to survive the early game rather than as a way to close out the match.

Jund is also not particularly hard to play—all of its cards grant incremental advantage that eventually adds up to take the game. Huntmaster is the most powerful card in the deck, and it is hard for other decks to catch up if it transforms even once.

The Block R/G agro deck is a port of the Standard version. The deck is significantly slower than the R/W aggro deck, but it theoretically has a higher quality of creatures. However, this deck is awful (as you’ll see in the results section below), and you should just not play it. If you have a set of Huntmasters, just play Jund or R/U/G.

This deck is fun, cheap, and surprisingly good. There’s not very much to say about it, but your goal is to maximize the number of creatures in your graveyard, play one of your very undercosted fatties, and win with them. The deck even has Gnaw to the Bone in order to ensure that it can make up for all the time it takes to put cards into the graveyard.

My favorite deck to play in the format, R/U/G has the most diverse threat selection as well as the best long-game plan thanks to Snapcaster Mage. It also has the unique ability to play Ranger’s Guile in order to protect Daybreak Ranger or Huntmaster and increase the probability that they transform, which is a major plus—one transformed Werewolf can essentially take over the game. Post-sideboard, it is able to play a much more controlling role against the other Huntmaster decks (as their actual threat density is so low). Unfortunately, the deck is also the most expensive deck in the format, so that probably limits the ability of people new to Magic Online to play it.

From my experience with the deck, I have been unimpressed with the Thought Scours, and I have replaced them with Faithless Lootings, although removing the ability to play Snapcaster Mage as a {1}{U}{U} cantrip does come at a cost.

Have you ever just wanted to tell your opponent to go fuck himself? I f so, this is the deck for you. The deck is a combination of the most efficient and hard-to-answer creatures in the format combined with enchantments that speed up the clock. If you’ve never been on the controlling end of a Stromkirk Noble with a Spectral Flight on it, it’s just as good as it sounds. The deck has some issues with Geistflame, but it’s a solid deck overall. If you don’t own a set of Huntmasters, this is the best deck to play, and if you don’t enjoy playing this style of deck, you should play Dredge instead.

Results

I recorded the results of five Daily Events (by recording the result of every match—I have no life after all), and the results are below. As you can see, R/U/G is the best-performing deck overall, and Stalker is the best-performing non-Huntmaster deck. (And your winnings can let you save up for Huntmasters!)

– Chris Mascioli
@dieplstks on Twitter (follow me!