The Worst Preconstructed Decks of Innistrad Block

To night, day. To up, down. And to vanilla, chocolate. The things of the world have their opposites, so why should the precon decks of Innistrad block be any exception?

Last time we took a look at the top five, the very picks of the litter – those decks that for one reason or another inspired and impressed. As an added bonus, we even looked at the top two Event Decks that emerged from the block. This time around, however, we’re headed down… down, down, to the bottom of the barrel. Opposites, right?

It’s a fact of any rating system that not everything can be equal – why else have a rating system? And if there are winners, by definition there must also be losers. That isn’t to say that those on the bottom end of the scale are terrible – if your top-end is “here’s a free hundred-dollar bill” and your bottom is “here, have a fifty,” that’s still not a bad deal.

But no, no such relativistic positions will save us here – some of the decks we’re about to spotlight aren’t the marginally worst of a fantastic bunch… no, they’re just, well… born bad.

If that’s indeed the case, then it begs the question… what makes a deck bad? Let’s have a look at our finalists and find out…

5. Carnival of Blood (Innistrad)

One interesting thing about the ratings we give the decks on Ertai’s Lament is to see how they fall in the spectrum of the block. In this case, they quite literally selected themselves – five decks scored less than 4.00 out of 5. Coming in just under that mark is Carnival of Blood.

When the decks of Innistrad released, it was a lot of fun to tear into the first real tribal offerings in some time. Not every tribe was represented, of course – we’d never see a Werewolves deck for a number of reasons throughout the life of the block – but the main ones sooner or later got their turn in the spotlight.

In addition to Humans and Spirits, Innistrad gave us a Vampire-themed offering, Carnival of Blood. In a typical build, a creature-focused swarm deck lives and dies on its ability to go either around or through what opposes it, draining an opponent’s life total dry. If the red zone becomes clogged and congested, however, these decks tend to stall out and then die as the opponent sets their game in motion.

Carnival of Blood tried both approaches feebly. It offered you a whiff of evasion with cards like Cobbled Wings and Gruesome Deformity. You got a sprinkle of removal and burn. But overall, this Red and Black deck couldn’t deliver a single piece of targeted killpower outwith a singleton Fireball.

Instead, despite the set having several pieces of toned-down removal, you had to make do with two [card Tribute to Hunger]Tributes to Hunger[/card]. However thematic the selection, the Vampires – and by extension, the deck’s pilot – deserved better.

4. Swift Justice (Dark Ascension)

When we assessed the deck, we concluded that the deck’s name was “cruel, cruel irony” given that the deck wanted to behave like an aggressive Boros swarm decks with your average creature having a converted mana cost of three. If that was the only problem, we might well have soldiered on, but the deck had a few other things working against it.

First was the creatures’ fragility. If you’re paying that much for your beaters, you have a right to expect a bit of durability. Instead we’re treated to a host of 1-toughness creatures that are begging to be traded out with the 1/1 Spirit tokens that are crawling all over the environment. Unless your name is Ashmouth Hound, that’s a serious problem.

Just like the Vampires, Swift Justice struggled with removal. We have the White-feeling Burning Oil, which is highly conditional and can’t tough nettling utility creatures that don’t risk their necks in the red zone. For those, there was a pair of [card Wrack with Madness]Wrack with Madnesses[/card], but at four mana it was a bit of an ask for a sorcery-speed spell.

It’s all well and good if you want to have an environment that promotes creatures smashing into each other rather than surgical removal through spells. But if that’s the case, how far did they expect you to get with your 1-toughness dorks and a few fat angels?

3. Solitary Fiends (Avacyn Restored)

The best Intro Packs are often those that highlight and support a particular theme or mechanic of the set they are released with. A look at the top five shows this clearly to be the case, with decks like Eldritch Onslaught (flashback) and Dark Sacrifice (human sacrifice) making their way onto the list.

Of course, the unspoken assumption is that the mechanic or theme being highlighted is worthy of being called out. We’ve seen a number of mechanics come and go that weren’t able to support a deck on their own, like imprint from Scars of Mirrodin, and knowing when to build a deck and when to pass is the very soul of wisdom.

Unfortunately, the thematic “bad guys are isolated” theme of Avacyn Restored might have played well in the flavour, but it didn’t seem to translate all that well in practice. Aside from getting big guys more cheaply (Fettergeist) or a rare splashy effect (Lone Revenant), there really wasn’t enough payoff for having to hamstring yourself on the battlefield. If you were lucky, you might find one of the only three support cards – singletons all – that rewarded the strategy (Homicidal Seclusion, Demonic Rising, Predator’s Gambit).

One of the common charges leveled against exalted, the Bant mechanic from 2008’s Shards of Alara that has made a triumphant return in Magic 2013, is that if your opponent manages to bounce or kill your lone attacker, you’ve essentially just [card Fog]Fogged[/card] yourself and handed over a turn. This is not unfair, but, on the upside, even the least of your creatures can become truly massive if you’ve found enough exalted support.

Therein lies the crucial difference. If your opponent solves your exalted attacker, you just attack with a different creature next turn. You might have “lost” a turn of offense, but if so you’ve lost just the one.

With Solitary Fiends, you don’t have any backup support. If you’re playing the deck as it was intended, that creature you just lost was your only one, and now you’ll lose a second turn while you wait for your replacement’s summoning sickness to wear off. Here’s another point to consider: all those exalted guys just sitting around pumping up your champion? They can block, too.

Trying to mount a successful defense with Solitary Fiends is on par with trying to pluralize “Lone Ranger.”

2. Slaughterhouse (Avacyn Restored)

This one had promise, oh did it have promise! Some of the best Theme Decks to have seen print are those that succeed at crafting an intricate sacrifice engine. Mirrodin’s Sacrificial Bam and Coldsnap’s Beyond the Grave are two that are held up as paragons of the archetype, and it was hoped that Slaughterhouse would do for Humans what the others did for artifacts and Insidious Bookworms (sorry, Humans).

Alas, it was not to be. If those other decks were finely-tuned chrome engines, Slaughterhouse was one held together with plastic tubing, duct tape and good intentions. Although it has moments of glory, mainly involving early deployment of [card Demonic Taskmaster]Demonic Taskmasters[/card] or the Demonlord of Ashmouth, the rest of the deck seems out of tune.

Too much of the deck seems to be fighting over too few sacrificial resources, though [card Butcher Ghoul]Butcher Ghouls[/card] and the [card Reassembling Skeleton]Reassembling Skeletons[/card] were a nice touch (a third would have gone a long way). Other options, like the Maalfeld Twins, are more clever than they are effective, and, given the mana cost pricetag, a luxury the deck can scarcely afford.

Indeed, that’s another of the deck’s ails – too many expensive things that don’t directly move the deck forward. Raging Poltergeist. Grave Exchange. Even the ones that do synergise with the deck, like the aforementioned Maalfeld Twins and Gang of Devils, still clog up your hand and mana curve.

The deck could stand to be a few shades leaner, and the tools are there to polish it up quite a bit, but as we concluded in our initial review, “we have to take the decks as they are rather than how we wish them to be.”

1. Deathly Dominion (Innistrad)

Is there something to the decks of the first set that make them particularly vulnerable to charting high on the list of infamy? In our previous installment, Scars of Mirrodin’s Deadspread took top (dis)honours, and while a particularly clunky execution of totem auras snuck Rise of the Eldrazi to the top of Zendikar block, Zendikar itself took place and show.

To be fair, there’s a limit to ambition in those first sets that’s lessened as the year goes on. In the beginning, the available card pool is at its narrowest. Not only that, but we’ve only just seen the new themes and mechanics begin to be developed; often, they grow as the set goes on. Sadly, the bell tolled here for morbid, and it was a very quick and undignified burial.

For one thing, the Innistrad environment tended to put less emphasis on removal that we’ve seen in blocks like Scars of Mirrodin or Zendikar. This is fine- except the entire raison d’etre for the morbid mechanic is things dying. Your robust removal suite? A Prey Upon, a Doom Blade and a couple of [card Dead Weight]Dead Weights[/card] – that doesn’t exactly scream reliability. It’s especially difficult when some of your morbid creatures are so expensive, such as the Hollowhenge Scavenger and the Morkrut Banshee, and you have to add the costs of the removal spell and the creature.

That being the case, you’d expect the deck then to pack in a solid sacrifice suite, giving you ‘free’ ways to trigger your own central mechanic, but the sacrifice suite is wildly inconsistent. Your self-sacrificer, Brain Weevil, costs four mana, and there’s not much else that really offsets the inherent card disadvantage of that path.

Gaining life with the Disciple of Griselbrand? Equipping a mediocre artifact in the Demonmail Hauberk? This was a deck that needed the fodder-generating power of the Jade Mage, who was in legal rotation at the time. Instead, we ended up with a deck we compared to Scars of Mirrodin’s Deadpsread – a cool concept sadly let down by its execution and lack of development.

Sadly, although we’re treated to a score or so of new Intro Packs each year, they can’t all be winners. Some, like this block’s winner, are good ideas with a disappointing execution. Others seem to have been troubled right from the start. Still, credit to Dark Ascension, which had the least number of entries on the list!


Last time we added a new bonus feature to our look at the ‘best of,’ picking the top two Event Decks. In the interests of opposites, our theme from the outset of the piece, here are the two that occupy the bottom two rungs for Innistrad block.

2. Deathfed (Innistrad)

Let me start by saying that Deathfed isn’t a ‘bad’ deck, but someone’s got to be at the bottom of the list. In another world, perhaps, the deck sits somewhere in the middle, but the block had some standout performances with this product line. In a nutshell, Deathfed is a self-mill deck that looks to exploit the steady stream of cards tumbling into your graveyard with graveyard-dependent beaters like Splinterfright and the Boneyard Wurm. This is a solid enough objective, given the inclusion of playsets of Forbidden Alchemy and Armored Skaab. Indeed, these latter two part of the core of the recent Magic 2013 Event Deck Sweet Revengeso clearly something’s working there.

The problem with Deathfed was that it played out in a very pedestrian manner. You spend the early part of the game stalling and sifting and sifting and stalling, and for what? A fat Boneyard Wurm your opponent can chump until the end of days? A Bonehoard? The Splinterfright, at least, has that all-important trample, but it’s just one card. Even the swarm of Spiders you could make with Spider Spawning isn’t all that menacing when it costs a full seven mana- including one of your splash colour- to flash back.

The final nail in the coffin for Deathfed came a set later when it was reproduced in Intro Pack form for Dark Ascension’s Grave Power. Grave Power had the very same strategy and even crossed over on a tactical level (see: Boneyard Wurm, Armored Skaab, Splinterfright, et al), but with some other splashier, more engaging cards like Ghoultree and- yes- Chasm Drake, it accomplished what Deathfed could not: fun.

1. Gleeful Flames (Dark Ascension)

It’s hard to feel good about poor ol’ Deathfed appearing here, since it actually rated fairly well but suffered from the quality of its peers. The same cannot be said for Gleeful Flames, which ranked well below.

Gleeful Flames is as good an example of a ‘glass cannon deck’ as you’re likely to find. Loaded with four-ofs, it has a laudable consistency. But much like a Belcher deck, you have to have the right set-up from the start or it can all go pear-shaped very quickly. The creatures you’re fielding are nearly all 1/1’s, and if you can’t find something to do with them – and soon – your odds of victory rapidly plummet as your opponent either starts deploying larger and larger threats or simply has more time to enact their game plan.

The deck also suffers from some questionable decisions. A Curse of Stalked Prey seems wildly optimistic, and it was seldom something we were happy to draw in playtesting, while a trio of [card Infiltration Lens]Infiltration Lenses[/card] seemed a shade too cute for its own good. Swapping the four out for even more burn would have helped even out the deck a bit. Our final word on the deck summed it up rather well: “there are players who don’t mind taking their lumps if it means that they get to shine brightly every now and again, and this deck is right in their bailiwick. For everyone else, we’d recommend giving it a pass.”


Thanks again for joining me today in a walk down the halls of infamy. We review a ton of decks, and while we always appreciate the hard work and effort that goes into making them, sometimes a child really is just ugly. The joy from the best of the bunch are more than enough to offset whatever misery these un-magnificent seven have offered us, and will keep us playing Innistrad block long after the set’s day has passed.

Jay Kirkman


Post categories: Ertais Lament, Free

Are you a Quiet Speculation member yet?

If not, now is a perfect time to join up! Our powerful tools, breaking-news analysis, and exclusive Discord channel will make sure you stay up to date and ahead of the curve.

Have you joined the Quiet Speculation Discord yet?

If you haven't, you're leaving value on the table! Join our community of experts, enthusiasts, entertainers, and educators and enjoy exclusive podcasts, questions asked and answered, trades, sales, and everything else Discord has to offer.

Want to write for Quiet Speculation?

All you need to succeed is a passion for Magic: The Gathering, an aptitude for getting value from your cards, and the ability to write coherently. Share your knowledge of MTG and how you leverage it to play the game for less – or even turn a profit.

Jay Kirkman

Jay Kirkman started playing Magic: the Gathering during Alpha, and despite some significant pauses his love for the game is as strong as ever. His area of focus is in the preconstructed products, and he runs the review weblog Ertai's Lament. He favours Grixis, is addicted to discard, and lives in Frankfort, Kentucky with his wife, stepkids and brand new son (and future Pro Tour stalwart) Liam.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:

Enjoy what you just read? Share it with the world!
Share on Reddit
Tweet about this on Twitter
Share on Facebook

27 thoughts on “The Worst Preconstructed Decks of Innistrad Block

  1. Good dday very nice blog!! Guy .. Beautiful .. Superb ..
    I’ll bookmark your bloog and take the feeds additionally? I
    am happy to search out a lot of useful information right here inn the post, we need develop more techniques in
    this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .

    Also visit my blog post – minecraft server hosting help (Lorna)

  2. Facebook requires businesses to create a Facebook
    page to promote their business or events. What can you do over the next 2 years to help position yourself well using SMM.
    However, as Shaver (2014) points out, the reality is that most sales executives do not have
    a common social selling methodology and set of tools implemented at their business.
    Social media is one of the superior platforms to increase your trade.
    To exploit the business opportunities Facebook offers, first create a
    company profile and a company network. There’s a lot more and some of these social media sites have
    ways to promote your small business for a fee. Getting your site known and listed on directories can help in numerous ways:
    . You remember the old way to do business – using the
    post office, well it still works, but only if you actually use it.
    Use of these platforms alone would be considered ‘Social Media Marketing 1.
    Staying updated will keep your content fresh, so people think that they
    are reading something new and exciting.

    Feel free to visit my site boca raton social media marketing help

  3. Closing the last half mile to Bay Shore, the “Lauren Kristy” swallowed gulps of the now oily-black water with its bow,
    seeming caught in a sea-and-sky void presently pierced
    by the pinpoints of light defining the approaching
    coast ahead and the 7. They also boast more restaurants and dining options than days of the
    week. The second thing that’s helpful to know about French door refrigerators is
    that they come available with some of the greatest number of special features of any type of refrigerator on the market.

    Feel free to surf to my page; marine refrigerator shoe repair Melbourne florida

  4. Check out Movers review, it’ll assist you simply slim down the alternatives then choose many sensible movers.
    As your relationship continues into a long term relationship, narcissists
    will start to make veiled threats, with statements like:
    “my relationships have never lasted more than two or three years. From the years since inception of Moving – Relocation, a number of other websites begun to emulate the degree of customer support it offers.

    my web page … storage facilities in tucson arizona

  5. With just few dollars, you can achieve a golden-bronze tan and
    also manage to look gorgeous and hot. Often the cancer can be removed from the skin, but 2,000
    people still die annually, according to the
    American Cancer Society. Does it give out an aura of all-around cleanliness.

    Feel free to surf to my website sunjunkie spray tan

  6. If you want an email notification each time a post
    is left, there are options within the settings to organize this.
    Google optimization conditional on the premise that the more often people
    that like aimed at your web, extra valuable it is
    required to be and the more significant ranking it deserves searching
    results. Most of the things you think you know about
    search-engine optimization, or SEO, may have been true
    a few years ago but have changed.

    Look at my page … sheares marketing beach Road

  7. The note provided that all principal and
    accrued interest was due in a single balloon payment
    at the end of the note term, and neither principal
    nor interest could be prepaid. Outsourcing accounting services for small
    business owners is workable for those who want to turn their focus on their
    companies and find a way to maximise their profitability.
    You would possibly make an sum of cash similar to a consequence of the Regional group.

    my page financial advisor ann arbor

  8. Islamorada tarpon fishing involves the fishing of an prehistoric rare fish tarpon through the scientific name Magalops Atlanticus which is a prehistoric fish considered to
    be one in every of the diverse & interesting creatures across the country which
    can be present in both side of Atlantic also referred to as as the
    tarpum tarpon or else the silver king due to it’s majestic appearance
    & colour which lays 15 million eggs. Keep in mind the
    Cooper Mountain resort design their activities. Another
    important application of second law of thermodynamics is found in refrigerators
    and heat pumps, which are based on the principle of reversed Carnot cycle or reversed Carnot theorem.

    My website marine refrigerator 22 conversion Conversion kit

  9. Firstly, it is important to check all of your foodstuffs
    for traces of the insect. For the young professional families that can no longer afford
    King William have chosen Mahncke Park and have started refurbishing the run down homes with wraparound porches.

    The employer may want to explain how to do something differently than how you have been doing it.
    A move is not easy; it is hard for the entire family as there are many new
    things to adjust to, many things to give up and of course plenty
    of details to take care of. Your other option is to
    sell your metal scrap or give it away to your local dealers who buy
    scrap metal. The word stiletto, stilus in latin, is Italian in nature, and it means “any pointed instrument” or “stake”.

    Ideally, modern design prefers L-shaped workstations to save space while encouraging interaction among office employees.

    They will used simply by several sportsmen, celebrities, artists and also superstars for instance
    – Supra Skytopwill be duplicated, of his concerts and also roller skates celebrations.

    Once you have the right house plan that fits your preferences, you
    should then consider the materials. A good facility management company has an industry-specific expertise and
    performs its duties through proven methodologies, techniques
    and tools.

    Also visit my web page movers inventory sheet

  10. Furthermore, feeding live food is difficult as all
    live meals have a much higher risk in bringing bad bacteria or microorganisms that maybe harmful to your fish.
    Nowadays, these super coolers are used for
    both commercial and domestic purpose. Be sure to vacuum floors,
    rugs and upholstery your pet comes in contact with regularly.

    my page – deck designs and plans

  11. Several recent studies have shown Proscar is effective for hair loss and can help regrow some
    hair on some people, but as I said before, the use of 5AR inhibitors
    only deals with a part of the problem and are generally not very
    effective when used as the only treatment. You can choose among the natural remedies, cosmetic
    products and surgery, and the medications. * Ginkgo Biloba is an herb which
    has properties to help improve blood circulation to the

    My blog … skin care products with glycolic acid

  12. So the next time you use Social Media remember
    it’s potential power and always be on the lookout for
    ways you can use it to your advantage. Promote multiple affiliate programs in your website but don’t promote every little thing the world has to offer.
    Submitting articles is an excellent way to
    market your website.

    my site … laguna beach marketing

  13. The futon generally has to be unrolled, and the
    mattress is traditionally thinner and less padded than standard bedding.
    With almost 2,000 water parks all over the world, there are a lot of options for you to choose from.
    Such storage facilities have created sensations among people owning loads of things.
    To travel in the MD 902 there’s no easier or quicker way to
    travel to your destination and then go back home. Due to safety reasons,
    many business individuals still prefer Sea Freight Forwarder with the belief
    that the sea transport or ocean freight is the best
    mode of transportation. The support companies possess
    the necessary security safeguards, making certain the files will not fall in the wrong hands.
    Yasuo Fukuda was the first son of a former Japanese Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda.
    All you need is a dedicated crew that can be prepared for
    the shifting process so that they can handle
    every type of stuff carefully. Mso – Normal – Table mso-style-name:”Table Normal”; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:
    0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes;
    mso-style-parent:””; mso-padding-alt:0in 5. Berkeley has an assortment of restaurants, spas and
    boutiques, mostly centered on Tennyson Avenue.

    Also visit my blog; Moving And Storage Jobs Texas

  14. In a blind panic, I opened a spare bottle of sparkling wine I ɦad aƅout the house even thoսgh
    I’d hoped not to have to drink that day. Third World’s success continued through the 1980s and
    into the 1990s ԝith several label changes (CBՏ,
    Mercurу) and thhe releaѕae of many moire albums with crossoνer hits that reached the R&В, pop and dance charts and added
    to their international stature. This tooҟ place in the parishh church of St Martin’s in the
    beautiful village of Вladon, wwhere Winston Churfhill is buried,
    which is sigificant given that Dr M.

    Feel free tto visit my web page :: second hand metal drums

  15. Packers and movers Pune will fulfill their duty with utmost care and this is their specialty
    of services. Prada sunglasses come in a variety of styles from aviator and shield to cats eye and oval.
    Hence, only a company that makes sturdy products sustains in the long term.
    One of the most common and time tested criteria for measuring success is the return on investment or ROI.
    You will be responsible for the delay of goods that are to be
    transported. You can start to pack items that
    you will not need until you move to your new home, these could be items from your garage or loft.
    There are many online packers and movers services in which people are taking
    interest without walking out a single step from their home.

    They pack the goods safely and handover to the other departments.
    Replacing a pane of glass successfully requires overall taking simple precautions, and paying attention to detail
    and details. Breaking down these barriers, NAS and SAN
    enabled managed storage services always proves to be
    an effective solution for organisations right across the world.

    Feel free to surf to my weblog; west palm beach moving

  16. Arrest their attention by using rich colors and well defined graphics.
    Many people spend countless dollars on entertainment, sports or hobbies, but finding resources
    for an online business seems to elude them. Generally speaking, if a website’s
    goal is to monetize content that is not original or high quality, then it is likely that
    the site has been targeted by Google.

    my web page … marketing ancol beach city

  17. Ιt is alwayѕ safe to avail acupuncture service fгom an expert acupuncturist.
    Нe will аlso ask you aboսt ʏour expectations frоm the procedure including
    уour preferred breast size. The healing process can be optimized
    furthеr if Sclerotherapy Vein Treatment іs ɗone
    in conjunction wіtҺ Vasculight Laser Therapy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Want Prices?

Browse thousands of prices with the first and most comprehensive MTG Finance tool around.

Trader Tools lists both buylist and retail prices for every MTG card, going back a decade.