5 Tribal Standard Decks of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt
Hello everyone! I’m unbelievably stoked for the release of Innistrad as not only is it a super cool looking set, it marks a full Standard rotation which is easily the most exciting time to be a Magic player. With that, the metagame is going to be in a complete flux which allows a lot of new decks to shine, even if it’s only for a bit. Whenever a new set comes out, there’s always one style of deck that always has to be tried: Tribal.
It’s pretty rare a set doesn’t bring some sort of tribal synergies into it, but in terms of Innistrad, it actually brings a whopping FIVE supported tribes! Let’s break down each of the tribal decks and see how good each one is! At the end of the article, I’ll rank the tribal decks as well so you know exactly how I feel about each one in relation to the others.
First on the list is Azorius Spirits. When the cards were being spoiled I was mostly unimpressed with a lot of the Spirit cards as they predominately looked like Limited cards with a medium Lord thrown in. However, my largest mistake when I was first evaluating this deck was missing the existing cards that could slot into this archetype.
First let’s talk the existing spirits. Usher of the Fallen at the beginning of our curve is great as most good tribal decks start at one. It’s not amazing or anything, but definitely solid. Next we have Clarion Spirit, which despite the name, initially slipped my mind as being a Spirit. This card is very powerful, but needs to be built around. As you can see from the deck, I definitely hard constructed with this in mind. The final spirit is Skyclave Apparition which is just a nuts good card and we’d likely play it whether or not it was a Spirit.
Next, we have two vital enchantments for this deck’s success. The first is Rally the Ranks, a card I’m extremely high on. This is a more conditional Honor of the Pure, but buffing your squad permanently for 2 mana is a great deal. The second vital enchantment is Monk Class which works perfectly with Clarion Spirit and this deck in general. It helps us double spell to get ahead, has an interactive mode, and then churns us into gas in the late game! It’s functionally everything we want on a card, wrapped into one.
Finally, we have the new cards to fill out the ranks. Lunarch Veteran is very unexciting, but it’s a cheap play that turns into a cheap Spirit so it’s acceptable. Spectral Adversary is great not just as a cheap Spirit, but a great way to protect your threats from removal later in the game. Dennick, Pious Apprentice is a very solid 2 drop that transforms into a grindy Spirit which makes both sides appealing. Patrician Geist is our lord that makes our few Disturb cards cheaper which is great. Finally, Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset is a great top end to go along with all the other mana sinks we have in this deck since it can pressure the opponent, draw cards, and has an excellent ultimate.
I decided to go for a more board centric version of the deck as there is a little bit of support for a more Flash game plan, but the cards really don’t seem to be there beyond Spectral Adversary.
Overall, this deck has a great curve, high card quality, and a lot to do with it’s mana. Hard to do better than this in a Tribal deck!
Very similarly to Spirits, Humans didn’t have any inherent tribal support before Innistrad and now it does, and in the same vein, looks really powerful.
We’re not playing many old cards, but three of the four are excellent . I’m sure I don’t need to extol the good word of Luminarch Aspirant as that card is just insanely good at every point in the game and works insanely well with the Coven keyword. Elite Spellbinder gives the deck reach and hand interaction which is obviously powerful. For even more anthem effects, you get Rally the Ranks in this deck as well! Lastly, I play Codespell Cleric, not because it’s particularly great in the deck, but just that we needed more cheap spells to lower the curve.
In terms of new cards, Humans really got it good. Champion of Alms is far from exciting by itself, but in conjunction with the various Lord effects it can grow into a really dangerous attacker.
Intrepid Adversary is a solidly statted Human that gives us an additional Anthem effect on top of being an insanely good mana sink which is just unbelievable for a aggressive tribal deck.
Katilda, Dawnhart Prime isn’t exactly a Lord, but allows you to accelerate insanely fast and can even recoup it’s own cost the turn it comes in really easily, especially in conjunction with Join the Dance which is the (nearly strictly better) Human version of Dragon Fodder.
Brutal Cathar is our interaction as this is likely the second best Banisher Priest creature ever (behind Skyclave Apparition). Adeline, Resplendent Cathar is a functional Brimaz, King of Oreskos, but is infinitely better since we have so many Lords!
Then, Humans gets yet another payoff with Sigarda, Champion of Light which is absolutely insane. She hits hard, buffs your team, and draws you cards, how does it get any better than that?
Humans is in a super exciting position going into Innistrad and could even be a Tier 1 option!
MONO BLACK ZOMBIES
Zombies is one of my favorite tribes so when Champion of the Perished was one of the first cards spoiler for Innistrad, it was safe to say I was hyped. Unfortunately, that’s mostly where the Zombie synergies started and ended. I was expecting a Lord or something, but just a minilord tat’s Dimir was not was I expecting. So, is it worth going Zombies just to make a 1 drop really good? Honestly, probably. The card quality of the existing Zombies is pretty high so it’s not that hard to make a Monoblack Zombie that’s Zombie themed.
To start with, we have 10 solid one drops (we could play 12) including the aforemtioned Champion. On top of Champion, we have Shambling Ghast which is great at trading up or ramping and Dungeon Crawler which is just a 2 power 1 drop. Next we have Tainted Adversary which has a great stat line inherently while also being a great mana sink! Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia isn’t a Zombie himself, but makes a shambling friend every turn for us which is good enough for me! Wight is a very underrated Zombie that hits hard and makes trading with it feel absolutely miserable. Unfortunately, we have no good Zombie 3s, but we do have Ebondeath, Dracolich as a 4 which is just a generally powerful card! The last threat is Lolth, Spider Queen who is just bonkers in every situation, and doubly so if you’re a creature deck.
Per the course for Black, you get to play some removal so I opted for 7 removal spells which seems like a reasonable number to start off with on the blind. Furthermore, since we’re monocolored, our mana is excellent as we get Faceless Haven and Agadeem’s Awakening (and you could even play some Hive of the Eye Tyrant).
Overall, Zombies does lack the tribal payoffs we’re looking for (I really don’t want to play Death-Priest of Myrkul), but it still seems pretty strong regardless.
Now we’re starting to get a bit spicier! Vampires really haven’t been a supported tribe since the days of Vampire Nocturnus so it’s nice to see some love! Although there weren’t many Vampires in Standard prior to Innistrad, we have two of my absolute favorite creatures in Standard: Nighthawk Scavenger and Immersturm Predator. Scavenger has felt absolutely nuts for me in Standard 2022 so I would be shocked if that trend didn’t continue over to new Standard. Similarly, Immersturm has also been excellent as a large, nigh unkillable flier that’s for some reason a Vampire! It’s definitely reassuring starting out a new deck with 2 extremely powerful cards.
For new cards, Vampires only got a single one drop, but it’s a pretty nice one in Falkenrath Pit Fighter. Most of the time it’s just going to be a one mana 2/1, but the ability to potentially filter some of your cards later in the game is likely better than it looks. Continuing the trend, we’re using the Bloodthirsty Adversary as either a hasty 2/2 or a mana sink that can flashback removal in the late game!
To add on to the late game 2 drops, we have a single Nullpriest of Oblivion to either be a better Child of Night or a way to resurrect a solid creature later. Next, we have one of the more interesting and likely the best lord in the set, Vampire Socialite. It does require the opponent to have lost life in order to not just be a 2/2 menace (which is still a solid stat line), but it’s like a better Thalia’s Lieutenant if you can consistently hit the opponent which is insane!
Next, we have some card advantage with Florian, Voldaren Scion which can accure a lot of value as long as you can hurt the opponent which is the cherry on top for this deck.
To fill out the rest of the deck, we have our removal spells that’s great in general and easy to flesh out since we’re Rakdos. Lastly, like many of my Black creature decks, I put in Lolth, Spider Queen at the top end as it’s too strong of a card to not play.
Despite not having many tribal synergies yet, Vampires is still poised to be a very solid deck.
For our final tribe, we have the set’s poster child tribe, Werewolves. Werewolves was definitely the most interesting tribe to work with as you don’t just have to balance the classic worries of how to construct a tribal deck, but also how the day/night dynamic impacts the deck. I may be wrong for this approach, but I wanted to avoid the Day/Night dynamic as much as possible as I feel that the opponent has too much control over what time of day it is. I figured if we played all solid cards, the deck is going to solid inherently.
To start off the deck, unfortunately we don’t have any one drops for the deck to play. I did consider Jaspera Sentinel, but it didn’t really work with the deck’s curve, so I nixed it, so I started at 2 mana. My 2s were pretty forced as there are only 2 playable Werewolves: Outland Liberator which doubles as a Naturalize on a stick and Kessig Naturalist which is a psuedo ramp spell and lord. To fill out the 2 drops, we get to play Ranger Class which is just a great card that has synergy with the deck and Tangled Florahedron for extra lands and plays.
Next up, we have plenty of 3 drops to work with. Reckless Stormseeker is just a great card that happens to be a Werewolf which are the types of cards I’m looking to play in Tribal decks. Tovolar, Dire Overlord is our secondary lord that is nuts on both sides which makes it particularly potent. To continue the trend, we have the last adversary with Primal Adversary. Just like all the others, it’s a great card on it’s face and provides late game value as well!
To top the curve off, we have Esika’s Chariot and Arlinn, the Pack’s Hope. To summarize, bth of these cards are busted 4 drops that make multiple bodies and are insane value engines. I’m not positive the right ratio or even how many 4s we should play, but both are amazing.
The biggest surprise in this list is probably the exclusion of Moonrager’s Slash, but I’m not big on how clunky it is when it isn’t night. Sure it can be good if you pass the turn, but this deck is looking to curve out so it can be hard to play it at opportune times.
Out of all the tribal decks, Werewolves may have the highest power level since the individual strength of most of the cards are quite high.
So now that we reviewed all the Tribal decks, I’ll do the near impossible task of stacking them up and explaining where I think each rank.
5. Mono Black Zombies
This was a really tough decision, but I think Zombies is the weakest of the bunch. It does have a solid curve, removal, and creatures, but the power level is a bit low and having no good 3s or strong tribal payoffs is definitely awkward. I want to be clear that I think this deck is still going to be solid, but it’s likely the weakest of the tribes right now.
4. Gruul Werewolves
I was really close to ironically putting Werewolves at the bottom of this list since the curve is pretty bad and there’s hardly any removal, but the power level of the cards eeked out Zombies. The deck has a decent amount of synergy and some absolutely busted cards so if you have a strong curve you can definitely outmuscle a lot of the decks in Standard.
3. Azorius Spirits
It’s getting harder and harder to rank these, but I think Spirits is next. I absolutely love the build of the deck as you have really fast starts and a lot to do with your mana, but this deck also lacks interaction beyond Apparition which makes catching up when behind pretty difficult. Double spelling consistently can definitely help catch you up, but this is definitely a quantity deck over a quality deck which can lead to issues of getting overpowered by bombs like Esika’s Chariot or Goldspan Dragon. On the bright side, the curve is absolutely excellent in this deck, easily the best curve out of all the tribes.
2. Rakdos Vampires
I can see solid arguments to switch this with Spirits, but I think Vampires is slight better. Although the curve isn’t as nice as Spirits, It’s still quite a nice curve, you have some high card quality, great grinding tools, and removal to help catch back up or accelerate ahead. My only contentions with the deck is that it really needs another one drop and another tribal payoff, but Vampires looks rock solid.
1. Selesnya Humans
I could be wrong, but I think Humans is the best tribe by a mile in this set. The curve is not as nice as I like it and I guess I could play another mediocre one drop human to improve that, but the deck is absolutely packed with synergy and power. Your good starts are going to be near unbeatable , you have 12 different Anthem effects, and the deck can grind really well as a lot of the cards are just so strong on their own.
What tribe are you most excited to play? Let me know in the comments!
Thank you for reading!