Innistrad draft has been widely acclaimed as one of the best draft formats ever, if not THE best. The green/white Travel Preparations deck is considered by most to be the strongest in the format, with the Spider Spawning and UW Tempo/Token deck also in the running. I think it’s a testament to the Limited environment in which we are operating. Although all of these decks are undeniably very good, they’re also very well known and people are always on the lookout for them.
My rogue-brewing penchant is well known, and it extends to the draft format. In Innistrad I’ve had most of my success with a BW deck that is steeped in synergy an makes good use of some otherwise mediocre cards that you can often pick up late. It has a solid curve and can grind out a win just as easily as it can stomp face. Let’s look at some of the cards you want to pick up.
The cards you really need to make the engine work.
Village Cannibals, Unruly Mob, Thraben Sentry – These guys often go mid- to late pack and are they keys to all the synergy in the deck. There are a lot of Humans that you don’t mind killing, and these guys really don’t mind you killing them.
Falkenrath Noble – One of the best creatures in the format. Mini-drains every time something dies are good in any black deck, but here where you are often killing your own stuff it really shines. They also allow you to block more aggressively, always taking the trades where you can get them and letting some guys through if there’s no favourable block. Noble often makes players reconsider swinging in, which gives you time to find more synergy.
Doomed Traveler, Mausoleum Guard – This should not be a surprise. These guys are good in almost any white deck, but they really shine here. I am not above attacking with these guys just to get them killed, then Rebuking them in the End of Combat step if they aren’t killed.
Nice to have
These are the cards that go well in the deck, but you can get by without them.
Selfless Cathar, Silverchase Fox – Two efficient creatures that have a useful sac ability but in this deck can make for some intriguing combat maths. You shouldn’t have trouble picking either one up late.
Demonmail Hauberk – A lot of people HATE this card. Nobody denies that +4/+2 is a huge bonus, but sacrificing a dude is a big loss, especially with the potential of being blown out by a timely Smite the Monstrous. That said, it is rather ridiculous in this deck.
Altar’s Reap, Disciple of Griselbrand – Both of these enable instant-speed sacrificing for a benefit, and make combat maths hard for your opponent. If you have BB untapped not many people are expecting you to sacrifice an attacking creature to flip your Sentry, buff your Cannibal and Mob AND draw two cards. It’s just not on the radar for a lot of players.
Rares and Mythics
You won’t always get them, but they’re nice to have. This deck benefits from not actually NEEDING any rare bombs to be very good, but these all go well in the deck. I won’t add obvious first-pick bombs here (like Olivia) unless they are markedly better in the deck.
Reaper from the Abyss – Definitely gets better in this deck. Creatures are GOING to die in this deck, and likely every turn. It might occasionally be right to kill off your OWN creatures with his ability.
Playing the deck
Although on the face of it this is a pretty straightforward deck, there are some tricks here that you need to keep in mind. With all the sacrificing and growing that can and should be going on, doing so at the right time is very important.
Sacrificing a Selfless Cathar is one of the most important tricks in the deck and possibly the most powerful. For some reason people often overlook it, even though it’s an onboard trick. They either forget the +1/+1 or forget the counters it’s going to get you.
Elder Cathar is a really strong card here. You’re playing a lot of Humans so more often than not you’re going to get the two counters. When you attack (which should almost always be en masse to make the maths as hard as possible for the opponent) he becomes very difficult to block effectively. When blocking, throwing him in front of something with first strike can actually be a huge benefit for you.
I mentioned attacking en masse, and the reasons are various. For one thing you have hopefully snagged a couple of Village Bell-Ringers, and that’s just a blowout in any deck. You’ve also got tricks to turn a tapped creature into an untapped blocker or two, and leaving back a High Priest and another guy can make attacking even more hazardous for the opponent. Bluffing Rebuke can also make your opponent more conservative, and the Noble is another scary card to deal with.
Overall what we have is a powerful engine with a ton of synergy that can slot in with most of the good, strong rares in the colours. It’s also a blast to play. Have fun!