19, Nov, 21

Which Magic: the Gathering Innistrad Block Was the Strongest?

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Article at a Glance

We’ve just seen the launch of the second set of the second return to one of Magic: the Gathering‘s fan favorite planes, Innistrad. Each of Innistrad’s past blocks and sets have had a fundamental impact on the game and it’s various formats, but which one is the strongest? Today, we’ll take a look at some of the pivotal cards from each Innistrad Block, and compare the overall design strength, and overall impact they had on Magic.

Original Innistrad Block

Original Innistrad had a lot to prove. It was the first time that Wizards took on this kind of Eldritch Horror, Monster Movie type of theme, and there was a lot riding on the cards. That being said, WotC didn’t disappoint. The cards in this block were bonkers. There’s a lot of them but here’s a few notables

We can’t talk about original Innistrad block without talking about the 3 most expensive cards in the block. Snapcaster Mage, Liliana of the Veil, and Cavern of Souls have had a massive, format defining influence on Magic: the Gathering. They’re seen across multiple decks and formats and have commanded some high prices.

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben has been a huge player for Death and Taxes and Mono White Aggro decks across formats. Griselbrand for a long time has been one of the go to Reanimation targets for Legacy, and Avacyn, Angel of Hope is one of the best bombs you can play in Commander.

There’s so many other cards that were hugely format impacting for their time, so here’s the cards that I didn’t mention.

  • Delver of Secrets
  • Blood Artist
  • Craterhoof Behemoth
  • Geist of Saint Traft
  • Restoration Angel
  • Unburial Rites
  • Lingering Souls

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Shadows Over Innistrad Block

Shadows Over Innistrad block was our first return to Innistrad, and it came at an interesting time. We had just gotten a return to another fan favorite plane, Zendikar, but had a lot of hype and anticipation for it. There’s a couple less cards in this set here, but since there was only 2 sets, it makes a bit of sense.

With Shadows block, we have another powerful Liliana in Liliana, the Last Hope, which was huge in Modern and Pioneer for a long time. Thalia’s Lieutenant has been a staple of humans decks that have come about over the years, whether it’s Mono White, or even 4 color Humans.

Prized Amalgam feels like it was the missing piece that pushed dredge over the edge, and Tireless Tracker is still an incredibly strong 3 drop for various decks. We definitely can’t forget mama Emrakul, the Promised End, who tortured Standard and other formats.

Here’s the other cards that I picked for the most impactful from this block

  • Cryptbreaker
  • Declaration in Stone
  • Grim Flayer
  • All the Madness Cards
  • Nahiri, the Harbinger
  • Spell Queller

This set was towards the beginning of an era of very pushed Magic cards, but while they were powerful, the impact that these cards had on the game in general wasn’t nearly as long lived as Original Innistrad. I will say that some of the staying power that came in this set was due to the fact that there were some solid Madness cards in the set.

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Innistrad: Double Feature Block

The newest set of Innistrad sets, Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow seemed that they were more story telling and thematic element focused that before. We are still very early in this set’s life cycle, so we have yet to really see a huge impact across multiple formats outside Standard, so I’m going to highlight a few cards here that I believe have the potential to be strong as time goes on.

Yes most of the cards here are blue, but they’re very very good. Consider is making splashes in various decks in Historic, Modern and Pioneer. I think that Fading Hope is a fantastic spell, it’s incredibly versatile and cheap. Malevolent Hermit is a very powerful control tool, and I think that it’s worth considering in Pioneer.

Lier, Disciple of the Drowned is seeing a ton of play in Standard right now, and I think that it’s powerful enough that it could be played in control in Pioneer. In a similar fashion, Hullbreaker Horror is an insane control finisher. Lastly, The Meathook Massacre has proven to be a very strong removal spell in black and it’s flexible enough that I think this will see play as time goes on.

Which is Strongest?

I think that it’s pretty clear that original Innistrad block was the strongest block for impacting multiple formats for the longest time, and Shadows block came in and did make an impact, most of the cards were eventually overshadowed by other powerful cards in other sets. Innistrad: Double Feature is still very young as I said before, and we do have some strong cards. I don’t know that it’s up to the power level that the older blocks were.

That being said, I think that while the older sets had some incredible cards, I think that Double Feature is probably the strongest of the 3 if you’re only looking at standard or limited environments. With the expanded card pool of older formats like Modern, Pioneer, or even Historic, we’re able to better use the powerful spells of older Innistrad, but generally as a stand alone block, the newer stuff is incredibly strong.

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