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Top 10 First Picks for Innistrad Draft (Tips & Strategy) September 29, 2011

Posted by James in : all, strategy, tips, limited, draft , trackback

When drafting it’s a good idea to look for the best cards in each pack to decide what colors you should play and what themes you should try to get. The rares are often the right choice, but you can’t count on getting any rares in particular. What you can count on is choosing between commons and uncommons, so I will list my 10 favorite common and uncommon cards from Innistrad for draft:

1. Morkrut Banshee

morkrut banshee

Morkrut Banshee is a threat and it has a good chance of killing something.

2. Murder of Crows

murder of crows

Murder of Crows is the best big nonrare flying creature in the set.

3. Brimstone Volley

brimestone volley

Brimstone Volley is always decent, but it’s likely that you’ll be able to do 5 damage with it. This is the best direct damage of the entire set and it’s standard worthy.

4. Victim of Night

victim of night

Victim of the Night is the the best creature removal of the set other than Brimstone Volley.

5. Reckless Waif

reckless waif

reckless waif

Reckless Waif is the best nonrare aggro creature. If you play this first turn, there’s a very good chance it will turn over right away.

6. Screeching Bat

screeching bat

screeching bat

Screeching Bat is a great versatile creature. I like that it gives you the chance of attacking for 5 damage on turn four.

7. Dead Weight

dead weight

Dead Weight is decent creature removal, but I would consider it a step down from everything above it on this list.

8. Stitched Drake

stiched drake

Stitched Drake is a great flying creature. The drawback will be a problem every once in a while, so you should stick some small creatures in the deck that can die early game or some other method of getting creatures in your graveyard.

9. Civilized Scholar

civilized scholar

civilized scholar

Civilized Scholar is one of my favorite transform cards in the set. The chance of attacking for 5 damage on turn four is great, but I like that I also have an option to keep it in the Civilized Scholar state.

10. Slayer of the Wicked

slayer of the wicked

Slayer of the Wicked is likely to be able to kill something in every deck, but there’s a chance you’ll never see anything it can kill.

Related: Top 10 First Picks for Dark Ascension Draft (Tips & Strategy)


1. David - September 30, 2011

You can’t attack with screeching bat for 5 on turn 4. You have to flip it during your upkeep.

2. D - October 4, 2011

I’m new to Draft, what about Invisible Stalker? And how early/eager should I be to get artifact and enchantment destruction cards?

3. preyupon - October 5, 2011

Screeching Bat/Stalking Vampire actually wouldn’t be able to do 5 damage on turn 4. You have to pay the 2BB activation cost during your upkeep for which you’ll only have 3 lands down at that point. This creature is good but I feel that it may be overrated because if you pay the 4 mana and your opponent bounces it, a huge tempo swing occurs in your opponent’s favor.

4. asdf - October 16, 2011

I sense a strong black-red theme in this list. In white, I really like Voiceless Spirit and Mausoleum Guard — those little flyers have won me games.

5. James - October 16, 2011

Preyupon, Good point. I guess the card isn’t quite as good as I thought. Keep in mind that it’s not so easy for the opponent to bounce it. The bounce card in the set is a sorcery, so you can transform it and attack before it gets bounced.

6. Nathan - October 17, 2011

Mausoleum Guard? Invisible Stalker?

Seriously, if I see a Stalker in a pack, I’m windmill-slamming that badboy.

Doomed Traveler is a great card for feeding your blue zombies (Stitched Drake, assorted Skaabs) - nice aggro, and replaces itself.

The lack of really great removal (beyond the excellent Brimstone Volley) is a concern for me and has cost me in every draft so far.

7. James - October 17, 2011

I like that Mausoleum Guard is a 3-for-1, but I’m not super impressed with the other cards you just mentioned. What exactly would be taken off my list in favor of the other cards?

8. James - October 17, 2011


I’m new to Draft, what about Invisible Stalker? And how early/eager should I be to get artifact and enchantment destruction cards?

Sorry for taking so long to reply, but I was never notified about your message for some reason.

I’m not super impressed with Invisible Stalker, but it’s certainly good with equipment, so you can build around it. If you do, you really want to get more than one of them.

I don’t find artifact and enchantment destruction very important. You should be able to draft it easily for the most part, and no deck absolutely has to have it.

9. Nathan - October 27, 2011

I’d take a Stalker over a Slayer or Scholar every time. Slayer + Cleaver/TrepanationBlade/Silver Dagger = beats. I agree that you really need 2+ of them though.

Also, I think Falkenrath Noble should be a candidate for #1 on this list. Morbid isn’t easy to trigger against a savvy opponent - the Noble will be excellent whenever it gets cast.

in reply to D - In draft, artifact/enchantment removal really doesn’t matter - there aren’t many super good cards of those types in INN, though some of the equipments can be tricky in human decks.

10. Blacklung from Sacramento - October 27, 2011

Black and White are the BEST cards to draft in Innistrad only IF you get a few key cards.
Banshee, Slayer of the Wicked, Unburial Rights, Disciple of Griselbrand, Tribute to Hunger, Rebuke.
These cards can break another draft deck in half.
I have gone undefeated for 6 drafts and taken 2nd place 2 times with Black and White drafting and looking for these cards. If you can get Moan of the Unhallowed it begins to be very sick. Mausoleum Guard and other white creature cards that die and replace themselves are key to using Banshee. If you have Banshee out and a Unburial Rights in hand it becomes a killer combo for removal.
First strike and flying for Black White is awesome in these draftings also.
Another great card to draft with Black and white is the Geistcatcher’s Rig.
I thought I would share what works for me and has been tested by me.
Good luck and happy drafting!

11. Don't Agree - October 28, 2011

Had deck with 4 Murder of Crows and 4 Think Twice on Magic Online last night. Lost in first round vs. Mikaeus the Luminarch 3-color jank. My splash was red for 3 Brimstone Volley and some of the common flashback one damage spells. Mausolem Guard + Unburial Rites + Mikaeus with the common green shroud protection spell was unbeatable. He had some of the make 2 zombies flashback spell too… the tokens were just too much.

You aren’t giving enough credit to token generation.

12. James - October 28, 2011

Don’t Agree,

This “anecdotal information” does not prove your case. You aren’t even giving complete information. I would likely not draft exactly how you did, and the information provided here is certainly not enough to know everything about drafting.

If I am not giving enough credit to token generation, then something on my list would have to be removed and replaced by “token generation.” What would that be?

13. Dustin - November 4, 2011

This list is pretty far off of how I feel. I agree that the bat just isn’t that great, and tend to avoid Morbid because it’s unreliable at best. I also can’t believe you left off stuff like Stalker, Guard, etc. All things considered I think about 5-6 of yours belond in a top 10, but this list is hit and miss at best.

14. James - November 4, 2011

The morbid card on this list is a great card and deserves to be on the list. Screeching Bat isn’t as good as I thought and perhaps Civilized Scholar could be taken off the list. Other than that I still agree with my list after doing quite well in drafts.

Stalker should be taken if you want to build a deck around it, but it’s not the best all by itself. Guard is good but I’m not convinced it belongs on the list.

There are other cards I like that aren’t on the list and perhaps some cards could be switched. Fiend Hunter is a great card in particular. Smite the Monstrous, Bonds of Faith, Claustrophobia, Grasp of Phantoms, Lantern Spirit, and Silent Departure are also favorites of mine.

If you are building a certain deck in mind (tribal, two colors in particular, combo), then that will certainly change your priorities when drafting. I see Stalker as a combo deck card. The list I made does not have a specific deck in mind and judges the cards in isolation.

15. Zur's Apprentice - November 14, 2011

I think that this was a pretty good snapshot of how people felt when the set first came out, but is no longer accurate.

As to what should come off the list:
1) Morkrut Banshee-it’s an excellent card but Morbid is a lot more difficult to trigger than people first expected and a vanilla 4/4 for 5 is bad. It’s still a good card, but not top 10.
2) Screeching Bat-Fine card but overated. I’ve seen people play it as a 2/2 flyer for 2b and never flipped it, which makes it worse than even a lowly Chapel Geist. I’ve seen people flip it and get blown out by Silent Departure or Feeling of Dread. I see it more as a 2/2 flyer for 2b that can occassionally be something else rather than a bomb. Good flyer, but not top 10.
4) Victim of Night-doesn’t hit hard nearly as often as people expected because so many of the good cards in the format are werewolves, zombies, or vampires.
7) Dead Weight-good but not even the best removal in the format.
8) Stiched Drake-fine flyer but it can get stuck in your hand all too often and isn’t game breaking even when it comes out.

What I’d substitute in their place:
1) Fiend Hunter-it removes any creature from the game and it isn’t conditional. Opponent’s generally don’t have removal for it either. And it’s 3cc. I’d rate this the best uncommon in the set.
2) Geistcatcher’s Rig-I’ve found that it gets creatures more often than Banshee, is a key toughness bigger, and is colorless.
3) Butcher’s Cleaver-seriously. It’s conditional, but a bad loxodon warhammer is still bombtacular. It requires that you run humans, but when you do, it’s the best card in your deck.
4) Invisible Stalker-yes it requires equipment to be good, but when you have it, it’s the best thing in your deck. Lots of equipment tables because it is underrated, see above. The upside is huge. Overall, I think it will have more impact on your deck than something like Dead Weight or some of the others you listed.
5) Bonds of Faith-Pacifism that is probably better than Pacifism. In the core set, people tend to think that Pacifism is about as good as Doom Blade. In this set, Victim of Night actually hits fewer things than Doom Blade and Bonds of Faith is more flexible than Paficism. It can get one of their best dudes (as long as it isn’t human) or you can put it on your own human in the case that you’re ahead and want to win (see Invisible Stalker).

There are a lot of other cards that are about as good as these, like Uvenwald Mystics, which is probably as good as Civilized Stalker, but I don’t like green that much. Falkenwrath Noble is probably up there too, but I don’t think is good as the rest on my list. Silent Departure/Feeling of Dread can have as much an impact as some of the listed creatures but I think tempo tricks are generally worse than removal. In case you haven’t noticed, White/Black and to a lesser extent, Blue probably has the vast majority of the best commons/uncommons. There’s probably a lot that I’m leaving out, but this is what I think off the top of my head.

16. Brandon - November 16, 2011

I think doomed traveler should be up there, lol. Great for tempo, and two for one, good with morbid and humans, and if nothing else blocking twice AND junk in your graveyard! Certainly wont go head to head with reckless if it’s been flipped, but for a one drop its pretty amazing with all the versatility it provides.

17. Brandon - November 16, 2011

I like rebuke better than victim of night as well, because it’s able to kill more, sure it costs one more mana, but it’s more likely to succeed in this format with all the vamps, zombies and werewolves being played!

18. Ralph - November 18, 2011

It’s usually pretty simple that you are going to draft based on what rares and uncommons you can get that are very good. I just keep drafting the best creatures or removal that I can find each pick. Then, I simply pick the two colors that I have the best of and concentrate on that on pack 3. Unless of course, I open an amazing rare of a different color. Screeching bat is obviously pretty bad, fiend hunter would be an ideal replacement. Any creature that comes out and kills an opponents creature is awesome. Also, never underestimate cards like village bell-ringer, moment of heroism, traval prep, etc.

19. James - November 25, 2011

Zur’s Apprentice,

Thanks for your suggestions. I agree that the cards you listed are very good. I still haven’t won or lost from Invisible Stalker and Butcher’s Cleaver isn’t that great without humans. I like Bonds of Faith a lot, but the fact that it can’t hurt humans is sometimes a major drawback. I would rarely use it to enchant my own humans, and that would be a very specific deck.

I have had great luck with the Banshee and Stitched Drake, but I suppose Screeching Bat and Stitched Drake could be taken off the list.