Limited Resources #99 – Innistrad Set Review


This week on Limited Resources, Jon and Marshall cover every single common and uncommon in Innistrad in order to get you ready for prereleases and upcoming limited events!

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  • Jrod


  • Drake (KoMODO)

    Grammar Nazi Attack!!!!!

    ‘Patron’ is not a verb, it’s a noun.

    This weekend, I will be patronizing Card Kingdom, giving them my patronage, and maybe even becoming a patron of their fine establishment, but I will not ‘patron’ them.

    Unless of course you were referring to the brand of Tequila; I’m pretty sure any sort of alcohol can be used as a verb.

    Ex: “I was having a great night until Jenny went and Smirnoffed all over the place.”

  • Oraymw

    Orchard Spirit: This is a Wind Drake!!! In green!!!

    Prey Upon – Remember, there are three green commons with Morbid. If you’re guy dies, you then turn around and cast a 4cc 5/5 trampler. This card is good.

  • AlohaRover

    Marshall, 4 hours? Really? Maybe cut it up into a couple of smaller chunks for those of us that still only have 3G service :)

  • beardo

    Marshall – you ARE grumpy.
    Jon – you ARE overly excited.
    but that’s what makes you guys great!!
    it’s the classic ‘Odd Couple’ synergy: youthful exuberance tempered by experienced wisdom, world-weary cynicism lightened by a fresh pair of eyes!

    all through the red and green cards, you guys referred to the ‘werewolf’ deck. but as you mentioned last show, there’s only gonna be 24 DFCs in any given draft pod, and not all of those will be werewolves. do you really think any one or two players will be able to get enough of them to call their deck a ‘werewolf’ deck? or is it more likely that 2/3 of the decks in the pod will be running a couple of werewolves? i ask, because i’m terrified to have to plan out my turns around those cards, and would love to know that they’re not really going to be running around as rampantly as everyone is making it sound…

    thanks for another great show!
    can’t wait to see what you have planned for #100!

  • mike

    w00t four and a half hours long!!

  • Parallaxal

    Great review! I always love listening to these.

    I think you guys were a little too harsh on Victim of Night. It sounds like it’s very limited, but it isn’t anywhere near as restrictive as Deathmark. I believe there are about 38 Zombie, Vampire, and Werewolf creature cards in the set, which means the majority of the creatures in Innistrad still die to it. And that number is actually a bit inflated as well, since like the above person noted, the “werewolf” deck is pretty limited given that there will probably only be ~16 or so werewolves opened in any given draft (out of 24 DFCs). In fact, if we just go by raw numbers, I believe Victim of Night kills a slightly higher percentage of creature cards in Innistrad than Go for the Throat did in the entire Scars block.

    Every single color, every single deck will probably be running something you’d want to kill with Victim of Night. Even colors like black and red will have stuff like Scourge of Geier Reach, Kessig Wolf, Morkut Banshee, Screeching Bat (not a vampire on this side!), and the various devils. Plus, since you’re in black yourself, you can cut a good number of vampires and zombies in the draft, thus improving the value of Victim of Night even further.

    It just seems odd to me that you’d rate Victim of Night lower numerically than Tribute to Hunger. Surely an instant-speed targeted kill spell that kills approximately 72% of the creature cards in the set has to be better than a spell that will always only kill your opponent’s worst guy, right?

  • Parallaxal

    Okay, I just ran some basic math.

    # of zombies/vampires/werewolves in Innistrad: 39
    # of creatures total: 127 (adjusted for the fact that DFC show up twice in gatherer search)
    88 / 127 = 69%

    # of artifact creatures in SOM/MBS/NPH: 86
    # of creatures total: 246
    160 / 246 = 65%

    What does this mean? This means that if we just go by raw numbers, Victim of Night can kill a slightly larger proportion of creature cards in Innistrad than Go for the Throat can kill in Scars block.

    This does not take into account creature tokens, stuff with hexproof/shroud/indestructibility, and other nuances like the fact that Stalking Vampire isn’t always a vampire. Still, I’d imagine that wouldn’t change things too much.

    Bottom line: you can hate on Victim of Night for being double black, but don’t dismiss it for being too narrow too quickly.

  • Oraymw

    @Parallaxal: I ran these numbers as well, but with the numbers adjusted for rarity, and it kills more like 62% of the cards. I think it’s more along the lines of Shock in M12 than GffT in Scars. But it costs BB, which makes it worse than Shock.

    Compare that with Doom Blade which kills 80%.

  • Parallaxal

    @Oraymw: But we don’t have Doom Blade in the set, and removal is worse overall here, so relatively speaking Victim of Night is pretty much what passes for premium removal in Innistrad. It “removes” more creatures than Bonds of Faith does, is not as awkward to power as Harvest Pyre, costs less and is instant unlike Claustrophobia, and is less conditional than a lot of other stuff too. Only Brimstone Volley and maybe Dead Weight can outclass Victim of Night out of the common removal, I believe. I just don’t see how the set’s relative premium removal should get only a 2.5-3 on the rating scale.

    And Shock was excellent in M12, so I don’t see how that’s exactly a bad thing. Sure, it’s not a Lightning Bolt, but it did its job by killing the majority of the set’s common and uncommon creatures.

  • oraymw


    Actually, it kills less creatures than Bonds of Faith, which kills 70% of the set, and can also give a +2/+2 to a human if you want it to. Also, Claustrophobia is much better than this. Claustrophobia is top 3 removal in the set. It’s like an Arrest.

    I’m not saying it is terrible. But how much worse would Shock have been if it was RR instead of R? The thing is that people think this a Doom Blade, but it definitely, definitely isn’t. I think you are definitely overvaluing it. I would rather have Bonds of Faith, or Avacynian Priest.

  • Parallaxal

    You sure about those numbers? I’m pretty sure that’s only true if you ignore the fact that Bonds of Faith is pretty bad against the day side of the Werewolf cards. In fact, quite a few werewolves are about just as good or even better on their day sides with Bonds on them compared to their night sides. And that doesn’t even get into stuff like how poor Bonds is against utility creatures.

    Claustrophobia is a whole lot worse than Arrest. Arrest stops more activated abilities than it does, and the double blue is no better than double black on Victim of Night. It can’t be used as a combat trick or in response to auras. Sure, it’s very good removal, but is it really 1.5-2 points higher than Victim of Night?

    And that’s really the problem I have with the rating system. You think I’m overvaluing Victim of Night, but my whole point is that I really think Jon and Marshall are underrating it. Jon gave Victim of Night a 2.5. For comparison, he gave a higher score to Markov Patrician, Stromkirk Patrol, and almost sort of did for even Walking Corpse. If you’re in black, are you seriously going to pick those cards over Victim of Night?

  • oraymw

    @Parallaxal: Those numbers aren’t taking into account that it doesn’t really kill werewolves. In that case, it kills about exactly the same numbers as Victim of Night. Claustrophobia is still one of the top 3 removal cards in the set though, and it is significantly better than Victim of Night. But I agree that Marshall and John are underrating Victim of Night. It kills 20% more creatures than Deathmark, and it actually kills many creatures that you want to kill (except the werewolves). If we use the same relative scale that Marshall and Jon were using, then Victim of Night pretty much has to be a 3.5. Maybe like a 3.3.

    Also, consider that Claustrophobia is in Blue, which typically doesn’t have good removal. Even not considering that factor, it is definitely one of the top 3 removal cards in the set.

    So I think that we are actually a lot closer than it might appear. I think that the biggest drawback on Victim of Night is the BB, not that it only kills 62% of the set. I expect my BB removal to be Grasp of Darkness good. Not Shatter good.

    Here is an interesting exercise. Order these removal spells in order from best to worst:

    Avacynian Priest
    Bonds of Faith
    Ghostly Possession
    Smite the Monstrous
    Urgent Exorcism
    Village Bell-Ringer
    Sensory Deprivation
    Corpse Lunge
    Dead Weight
    Victim of Night
    Brimstone Volley
    Harvest Pyre
    Ambush Viper
    Prey Upon
    Blazing Torch

    I just put them in color order here, but I think it is a super relevant exercise.

    Also of note, there are about 30% more common removal spells in this set than normal for a big set. The removal is also about 20% weaker. What does that mean?

  • Parallaxal


    Yeah, I guess we are closer than we appear.

    I’d hate to nitpick, but I’m kind of wondering where you got your 62% from regarding the rarities. According to my calculations:

    16 Zombies/Vampires/Werewolves
    52 Total Creatures
    36 / 52 = 69%

    10 Zombies/Vampires/Werewolves
    34 Total Creatures
    24 / 34 = 70%

    9 Zombies/Vampires/Werewolves
    30 Total Creatures
    21 / 30 = 70%

    Mythic Rare:
    3 Zombies/Vampires/Werewolves
    11 Total Creatures
    8 / 11 = 73%

    As you can see, if we account for rarity, the number of creatures that Victim of Night kills is still a lot closer to my initial estimate of 70%. Are you sure you didn’t miscount by accidentally including the werewolf DFCs twice? If you’ve been using Gatherer or some other search engine, take note that they count both sides of each werewolf as two separate cards, which will skew your results.

    (PS, I miscounted in my initial estimate; there are only 38 Zombies/Vampires/Werewolves, not 39.)

  • oraymw

    Here’s my math:

    Commons have a rarity weight of 1. Uncommons have a rarity weight of .56111. (An uncommon shows up 56% as often as a common). Rares have a rarity weight of .185273. Mythics have a rarity weight of .093519.

    Dual-Face Cards show up at a slightly different rarity weight, but I have no way to access those numbers, but Mark Rosewater said they got the rarities pretty close to the same frequency, so I just calculated them at the same rate.

    Now, in my math, I included cards that produce tokens, and cards that change types, which definitely skews the math a little bit, but I’m still pretty sure that the math is pretty accurate.

    At those rarity weights, we get the following percentages:

    Human: 30.9%
    Vampire: 9.41%
    Spirit: 13.1%
    Zombie: 10.26%
    Werewolf: 7.89%

    Everything else: 28.44%

    Now, one of the problems is that humans actually crossover with Werewolves. But if you remove the Werewolf typeline, you get 33.54% humans. The trick is that the ratio changes back to 30.9% at “night.”

    Remember that Victim of Night doesn’t kill humans that are werewolves during the day, since they still have the Werewolf typeline.

    With these numbers, Victim of the Night only kills 62.9442% of the set. Now, keep in mind that this is essentially counting werewolves as werewolves and as humans. If you don’t do that, then Victim of Night only kills 60.5% of the set.

  • Parallaxal


    I don’t think you’re adding your numbers up correctly.

    Zombie: 10.26%
    Werewolf: 7.89%
    Vampire: 9.41%
    Total: 27.56%

    Human: 30.9%
    Spirit: 13.1%
    Everything else: 28.44%
    Total: 72.44%

    I think you’re missing the fact that Victim of Night kills Spirits just fine…

  • Oraymw

    Hmmm. You are right. I put this all together in a spreadsheet, so I just trusted the math, but apparently the math got mixed up somewhere. I was probably counting Spirits in there, like you said. In that case, Victim of Night kills 72.44% of the set, with a little smaller percentage when you consider that Werewolves are also counted as humans, which knocks off about 2.2%. So Victim of Night kills about 70% of the set. Which is a sight bigger than 62% of the set, which means that it is probably just better than Bonds of Faith, but still a bit worse than Brimstone Volley, Dead Weight, or Claustrophobia.

    On Dead Weight. That thing outright kills about 60% of the set, and essentially nullifies another 16%. That thing is awesome.

  • Parallaxal

    Upon thinking about it more, I’m starting to come around on Claustrophobia. I realized that double blue isn’t as bad as I thought it’d be, especially since if I’m blue I’d probably want to go heavy blue anyway for Stitched Drake, Murder of Crows, and Think Twice + Lantern Spirit (both of which are better if you have double blue). Plus, I like the fact that it can remove a blocker on your turn.

    I’ll accept Claustrophobia as top 3 common removal along with Brimstone Volley and Dead Weight. 4th and 5th would probably be Victim of Night and Bonds of Faith.

  • GyroNinja

    Great show, but I think Marshall is dismissing Bump in the Night a bit too quickly. Sure, 3 damage doesn’t seem like a lot, but remember the principle of fire; if all of your cards can reliably do 3 damage to your opponent’s face, you only need to cast 7 spells to win the game. Obviously this is an absurd example, but imagine every single pack has a Bump in the Night and you draft the 24 Bump in the Night deck; that’s a deck that can pretty reliably win on turn 4-6, and that’s not even including the flashback. With cards like Vampire Interloper, Ashmouth Hound, and Crossway Vampire at common, I definitely think there’s an aggressive deck that won’t mind having one or two of them in the deck. It’s terrible outside of an aggressive deck and I really wish that the flashback was 4R instead of 5R, but I think it’s still at least a 2-2.5

  • ALawley

    I do think that you two are underrating Victim of Night a little, but Oray, one important thing that the numbers don’t show is that as a whole the monster tribes have an extremely high density of playables/good removal targets. The raw numbers for what % of creatures Victim can kill don’t really matter. What matters is what % of creatures that my opponents will play/that I’ll want to kill will it remove?

    Doing a Gatherer search for common and uncommon zombies, vampires, and werewolves, almost every single card that comes up is solidly playable to very good. The only ones I’d really hesitate to play are the 5/1 Zombie Snake and the 3/1 Lifelink Vampire. 32/34 playables is pretty ridiculously dense, and I’d have an extremely hard time believing that the non-monsters would have that high a success rate.

    Most of the monsters make for good removal targets to. Of the playable monsters, there’s really only 3 that I’d feel bad about Doom Blading: the 3 2/2 Zombies that are vanilla aside from EtB effects (the bear, the 1-drop and the random gravedigger). Compare that to the non-monster tribes where you’ve got several humans with nice death triggers and an entire archetype of small guys/tokens.

    29/34, or about 85% of the monsters are creatures that this type of removal is really relevant, and although I haven’t done the math for the targets it can hit, I’m guessing that that number is going to be quite a bit lower, meaning that Victim of Night hits a lot fewer than 72% of the relevant targets in the set.

  • ALawley

    Oops, now that I go back it looks like it was Parallaxal, not Oraymw, who first ran the % arguments. My apologies.

  • Parallaxal

    @ ALawley

    I didn’t include any creature tokens in my calculations to begin with.

    Going back through all the creatures in the set, here’s a list of things that Victim of Night can hit that I probably wouldn’t be happy spending removal on:

    Doomed Traveler
    Elder Cathar
    Mausoleum Guard
    Silverchase Fox
    Selfless Cathar
    Invisible Stalker (can’t hit it)
    Lantern Spirit (ditto)
    Laboratory Maniac (I’m guessing this is unplayable)
    Snapcaster Mage (already did its job)
    Bitterheart Witch (close to unplayable without the black rare curse anyway)
    Disciple of Griselbrand
    Manor Skeleton
    Riot Devils
    Avacyn’s Pilgrim
    Lumber Knot (also unkillable)
    Geist of Saint Traft (ditto)
    Creepy Doll (ditto)
    One-Eyed Scarecrow

    Ignoring rarity (several of those I named are rare/mythic), if we take those 18 cards plus the 5 you named out of the equation:

    71 / 104 = 68%

    Hardly that much lower than my initial estimate of 70%. If we take rarity into consideration, this number will go up, mathematically speaking. You can feel free to add any more creatures to the list if you’d like, but do note that the proportion of playable monsters in this set isn’t really that much greater than the proportion of non-monsters (if that were true, then blue, green, and especially white would suck as colors). Sure, every werewolf is playable, but that’s also by far the smallest supported tribe in the set.

    Unconditional removal is extremely scarce in Innistrad, as we discussed earlier. Not everyone is fortunate enough to draft multiple copies of Brimstone Volley and Claustrophobia. A 2-mana instant removal spell that kills the majority of relevant creatures in the format should not be passed up so lightly, as you’re probably just going to end up playing with sub-par removal anyway.

  • Oraymw

    I think the important thing to remember is that this is a threat focused format, not an answer focused on.

    That is a really difficult/abstract concept for people to get, but we have some great recent examples. Scars block was a very answers based format. There was a lot of removal in Scars block, and a lot of it was fairly unconditional. In Scars of Mirrodin itself, we had things like Galvanic Blast, Grasp of Darkness, Arrest, Turn to Slag, and such. We saw more such cards in the other sets: Spread the Sickness, BTI, Volt Charge.

    Because of this, Scars was very much an answer based format. One of the key axes of the format was getting more good removal spells than your opponent.

    Contrast this with Rise of the Eldrazi. In any other set, the removal in Rise would have been quite good. Flame Slash, for example, would kill like 90% of Innistrad for a single R. But Flame Slash only killed as many things in Rise as Shock killed in M12. It was very good, but it was still kind of narrow. There was a lot of “removal” in that set, but a lot of it was not very good at dealing with the creatures that you really needed to deal with. Getting good removal was still important, but the way you won in Rise was more centered on two other axes: Archetype synergy and playing the best threats. My mantra for Rise became “Pick good dudes over mediocre removal.” Lots of people tried to compensate for the narrowness of the removal by overdrafting removal, but then you just ended up with a deck that sometimes didn’t draw the correct answer for the opponent’s threats. Often, you were just better served by being the guy to pick the best threats.

    I think this format is going to be like that. You are going to be winning by playing the guys that are difficult to answer, and that close the game very quickly. Doing that is going to be more important than filling your deck with removal spells so that you know you will be able to “kill everything.”

  • Lobster667

    Hey guys, first of all, really great show! I only listened to it today and I’m planning to go to my first Innistrad Draft tomorrow. I played in the Sealed prerelease this sunday though and would like to share some thoughts, especially on Black/Red which was the colours I ended up in.

    Now, super-short, I ended up in BR due to bombs; Instigator Gang, Falkenrath Marauders, Olivia Voldaren and Reaper from the Abyss. I had a pretty powerful but zero-rare Blue/Green build in the board if it wasn’t working out but I was running the Red/Black despite some really unimpressive/mediocre inclusions.

    A few of those cards actually were much better than I had expected…

    Bump in the Night: Really solid in the super-aggressive Black/Red, I was never sad to have this spell in my hand (if you’ve got no other 1-drop in hand, the first shot is almost “free”, as Jon says). It’s great reach in the lategame and I won one game where I just pulled down an opponent almost only through noncombat damage, playing both of these early and flashbacking them later in the game to end the thing. Not preferable, but decent in B/R.
    Certainly not “unplayable”.

    Altar’s Reap: VALUE. Instant Speed is SO good on this. I feel like playing this in response to a removal spell is often more satisfying than countering the removal would’ve been – especially if the opponent is on the backfoot and spends his removal on subpar targets that you aren’t too attached to (like a Rotting Fensnake or a Vampire Interloper that are fine attackers but by no means unstoppable).

    Feral Ridgewolf: Really worked well for me; I had two werewolves, I think, but even then, occassionally having one of these (I played two) was good to have a mana investment (or just a threat of activation on opponent’s turn, especially with Altar’s Reap, too). The Kessig wolf is still better, though.

    One card I’ve seen a lot of people underrate is the Galvanic Juggernaut, and I think you guys are undervaluing it a lot too. Apart from Mythic Rare Olivia Voldaren, this might be the best fourdrop in Innistrad, period. It goes in ANY deck, at all, and is just such a huge threat. As you noticed, chumping it doesn’t work, but you’re rarely going to be able to block it profitably and things ARE going to die outside the combat with this thing too (Altar’s Reap on another dude for untap and kill one of your attackers? Priceless). It might be at its best in a really aggressive deck, but it’s always solid. Sure, there are matchups where your opponent answers this with a Typhoid Rats and you’re just sad, but there were matchups in M11 where an opponent replied to your Baneslayer with “Doom Blade + Rise from the Grave” too, and that didn’t make Baneslayer worse. Basically Juggie is a 5, hands down.

    I also played a Vampiric Fury (with a fair number of Vampires incl. Olivia, ofc.), and it’s a really good card in Black/Red because you really want to block the Vampires that “grow”. I used this to help my 4/4 Falkenrath Marauder kill a Somberwald Spider that had its morbid on and it was just insane. And I wasn’t even that Vampire-Heavy (I think I played five or so).

    I also played a Rotting Fensnake, which is a pretty decent animal, Five power kills a lot of stuff and the only piece of removal that kills this but doesn’t kill a 5/2 is Geistflame and X=1 spells, basically. It’s great with the Zombie recursion, but I found it perfectly servicable without any of that. It can almost always trade (“up”, in terms of manacost/card desirability) and is a great answer to an opposing Juggernaut.

    I also faced a few cards that I think deserve mention…

    Nightbird’s Clutches / Bloodcrazed Neonate. In a Red/Black mirror I faced these and they just wreak havoc together. The Neonate has enough falter-support in Red that its drawback can be negated, I feel.

    Removal in general; Especially the White. I found that Rebuke and Smite the Monstrous are both really good (obviously better against an offensive deck like mine, but still), and the “removal on legs”, too. Another really powerful play was the T1 accelerator in Green (the one that taps for White). Facing the 2/3 werewolf T2 and having your only defender blown away by Slayer of the Wicked T3 certainly blows you out of the water. I know I am preseing the worst-case scenario (or best-case, on the other side of the table), but my point is that there is a really aggressive Green/White deck (so much in those colours care about dying so aggro just means that your next plays will be completely sick) and therefore some cards in these colours deserve some respect that might initially be obvious.

    A few things you did hit spot on (not to sound like the other stuff wasn’t, generally speaking you’re really good but without having played with the set yet, you know you can’t be right about everything):
    Werewolves: I was really critical of these but I feel like your appreciation for them was much closer to the respect they deserved. They can be truly scary!
    Speed: A lot of people were talking about how it would be nice to play in a format that was that much slower and I guess I just kind of assumed that it would be slow for that reason. I think the format is going to be pretty slow and aggro-centric and I think you got that feel, perhaps by starting in Red.
    Travel Preparations: I’m so on Jon’s team here, I wanna draft the Travel Preparations deck! :D

    Also, I feel you underrated Green as a colour. In the commons/uncommons section, I feel it is the strongest colour.


  • oatestwer

    great show guys Johns working out great! its funny, everything marshell is on the fence about and john gets behind i seem to love. Feelings of dread is one of my fav commons in the set i adore it, and i think rate it higher than frost breath becasue of the versitility if you can flash it back

  • TheJGits

    Great show as always, just a few comments on Inquisitors flail. I think you both underrate this card. It’s a little clunky, but there are definatly times when it’s just plain awesome. It lets your evasion dudes put on a fast clock, it lets your small dudes trade with their large dudes, and it’s sick on creatures with first strike. The cast/equip cost is a little clunky, but the upside in the right deck for this is awesome.

    • TheJGits

      PS. Value!