Insider: Scouring for Synergies in Innistrad’s Old and New

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We're off to see the angel, the wonderful angel of Innistrad! Is she good? Bad? Who cares? This is Innistrad, baby.

It is almost time. The spoilers are getting ready to roll and everybody is at a fever pitch about the upcoming Magic release. The release of Oath of the Gatewatch (OGW) and its impact on the secondary market really made a strong impression on me about how I'm going to approach future sets moving forward.

In particular, how I see cards like this one:

A new set that revolves around rehashing old themes creates opportunities for old cards to gain value. I mean, I know that things have changed on Innistrad since last we were there, but seriously how much could things have really changed?

Zombies? Check.

Vampires? Check.

Humans? Check.

It's the same old land of classic horror that we've all learned to fear and love.

So, my thought process for pre-buys and specs leading up to the spoilers was to look for iconic or powerful undervalued original Innistrad block cards that could be made better by synergies with the new set. Who would have expected that Eye of Ugin or Eldrazi Temple would suddenly spike in value with the release of OGW? The answer: people who made a lot of money!

Garruk Relentless

Garruk is getting better just with the rule change to how flip cards work. It turns out that flipped cards no longer have a converted mana cost of X=0 and will retain the mana cost of the preflipped version they transformed from. The long and short of it is that Engineered Explosives on x=0 or Abrupt Decay no longer destroy flipped cards like Garruk.

Garruk also has some street appeal because it is a transforming planeswalker, which is pretty darn cool by any stretch of the imagination. The card certainly has casual appeal as well. So, based on the low tag, the Constructed gains, and the casual appeal, I like picking up Garruk Relentless right now.

Planeswalkers are the cast of players on the Magic stage and one as unique as a transforming one could also have iconic appeal somewhere down the line (especially if they ever do a Magic movie).

Champion of the Parish

Champion of the Parish is my #1 pick in this article. The card is insanely popular from a card selling perspective. It is impossible for stores to ever keep it in stock. It basically sells out as soon as it comes into stock and yet the price tag doesn't really change.

This phenomenon is the benchmark of a card that is universally underpriced. I also think that if there are any good tribal human synergies in the upcoming block there is a chance the card could become Modern-playable. Well, more so than it already is! There are certainly some lower tier Modern decks that already utilize the Champion of the Parish.

One-drops are a really big game in Magic and any human tribal deck is likely going to play this card from now until the end of time. That alone should be a reason to consider that the price tag on this card is too low! Humans love to play humans!

The card is already a great card and underpriced. It seems likely that there will be at least some human-themed card in the block that makes it even better.

This is a card that will literally take you to church!

Mayor of Avabruck

The flip card change makes Mayor better, as does the potential for new humans.

Basically, all of the reasons that make Champion of the Parish a strong spec target also apply to Mayor. At the very least the Mayor is a two-mana human lord. If Merfolk have taught us anything it is that 2cc lords are a huge game in constructed formats.

The card also has that cool, cool flavor that casual players love. The respected village elder who by night transforms into a terrifying werewolf? Very cool card that perfectly captures the flavor of Innistrad.

I'm hoping that the Mayor will get a new card or a shout-out in the new set. I remember getting absolutely crushed by the Mayor in Innistrad limited. They play it on turn two on the play and you are unfortunate enough to not have a two-drop? Game over!

As far as mayors who will straight up kick you in the butt and wreck things up, the Mayor of Avabruck is right up there with Kwami Kilpatrick.


I wrote a whole article last week about potential zombie winners on the verge of Innistrad and noticed small gains in these two cards already. I don't need to belabor the point, but I don't think these cards have hit anywhere near their possible potential. Something to consider...

I'm really feeling the undead specs right now. Sometimes you've just got to follow your heart on these picks and zom-be yourself!

Wolfbitten Captive

Are you hungry like the wolf? Well, if you are considering building a werewolf deck this is a potential one-drop to consider. It isn't the most insane one-drop I've ever seen by a long shot but it could certainly have some sweet casual appeal. It's basically hanging around as a bulk rare and this card could end up making its way into a lot of kitchen table decks as players look for more wolves to fill out their tribal decks.

Obviously, this card is a far cry from a Modern-playable but I think it's worth the tiny risk for the casual potential.

Bulk rares are one of my favorite places to look for spec targets. The upside is that they cost almost nothing to acquire and when they hit you make a very large margin on them. Even if you can get $1 out of the card one day, the chances are that you can pick them up for a quarter. So, you quad up! That is the kind of profit margin that really makes me want to howl at the moon.

Descendants' Path

Descendant's Path is an interesting card because it is inherently very powerful. I strongly considered playing this card in Modern in my Eldrazi-themed deck. What could be more grand than just casting free Eldrazis off the top of one's deck? Conduit of Ruin for an Emrakul or Ulamog and go nuts!

The fact of the matter is that Descendant's Path has a lot of potential in a lot of different tribal decks (both constructed and casual). I also feel like it is unlikely to see a reprint just because it is sort of casual and under the radar. I also like this card in tribal Commander decks. I had one in my Sliver deck at one time when I used to play that format regularly.

My evaluation is that the card has room to grow. It has gone up a little bit over the past two weeks and I don't think we've hit the ceiling yet. I've been trying to pick up as many as possible.

Finding cards that have both obvious constructed and casual appeal is always a strong sign that you've found a winner and are on the right "path."

Silverblade Paladin

Silverblade Paladin was a strong card back when it was in Standard and it has a very effective and powerful set of abilities. The fact that it has semi-haste when it comes down and gives a creature double strike is really sweet. For three mana the amount of power and damage it throws around is at a ridiculous output.

I don't think it is out of the question that this could be in a human tribal Modern deck at some point, especially if there are a few winners in the upcoming Innistrad sets.

At the very least I still believe this card is much better than a typical bulk rare and that it certainly has room to grow. After all, the card is a great Magic card and has a lot of positive qualities going for it and has a fairly low mana-cost-to-damage ratio.

Maybe I'm a little nostalgic for this card (I played it quite a bit back in the day) but great cards are always solid to own. Just because it doesn't have a home right now doesn't mean it won't ever. Good cards tend to have a way of finding a place eventually.


I'm sure I've overlooked cards. Magic is so big that it's always impossible to see everything from every possible angle. The complexity is part of what makes Magic finance such a rewarding and difficult job. All it takes is to see a card and think, "What if this card gets paired up with a new card..." and bam! You've found a winner before the rest of the herd.

I do think there's a lot of value looking to the old Innistrad block for cards with inherent synergies with the new block. Keep your ears to the ground and your eyes on the spoilers!

3 thoughts on “Insider: Scouring for Synergies in Innistrad’s Old and New

      1. … and them in magical Christmasland…

        T4: Collected company: hit 2 humans, one of which is another mayor, the other another paladin… swing for 14 w / champ, 8 w / 1st paladin and 4 with 1st mayor… love it! 🙂

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