Innistrad Type 4 Set Review

The full Innistrad spoiler is now out, and that means it’s time for set reviews from everybody and their mother. But this is no ordinary set review, this is a set review specifically for Type 4! Woohooooo!

For the uninitiated, Type 4 is a casual game with a shared stack/deck of cards, infinite mana, and the ability for each player to cast up to only one spell a turn (one on your turn, one on player 2’s turn, one on player 3’s turn, etc.). The full rules and an introduction can be found here, courtesy of our very own Stephen Menendian.

Ultimately, each builder of a Type 4 stack will determine the flavor and play style of their stack by how it is constructed, with the delicate balance of creatures, tutors, removal, counterspells, and everything else. They will also dictate the power level by what spells are deemed acceptable or too powerful. No matter how your stack is constructed each new set ultimately brings forth a few new interesting cards. With the Innistrad spoiler now in the wild, join us as we review all of the top contenders for slots in your ever expanding Type 4 stack!

Before we begin, just a brief word on Type 4 flavor and cards we’re generally looking for. In a relatively balanced stack I don’t consider X spells like Fireball (deal X damage, or unlimited) very entertaining, so we’ll pretty much completely ignore those or things with Firebreathing (ie infinite pump abilities), as I want more interactive games. It is also assumed that most people’s Type 4 stacks will generally be laden with most of the best and most powerful spells, so stuff like a random Instant that destroys target attacking creature and does nothing else probably isn’t going to cut it when there are many better options available. With that said, let’s jump right in.

Army of the Damned
Put thirteen 2/2 black Zombie creature tokens onto the battlefield tapped.
Flashback 7BBB

Like a Crush of Wurms on steroids, Army is a nice card in that it creates a ton of creatures that can do a sizeable amount of damage. It can basically only be answered by a Wrath effect and is immune to singleton creature removal, and it also has Flashback! This is an auto-include in nearly every Type 4 stack.

Reaper from the Abyss
Creature – Demon
Morbid – At the beginning of each end step, if a creature died this turn, destroy target non-demon creature.

This card effectively doubles each removal spell played, by killing another creature on any players end step in which another creature died, so it can be particularly effective in larger multiplayer ring games. For many stacks seeking more creatures this is a nice option, but won’t make the cut in jam packed stacks.

Tribute to Hunger
Target opponent sacrifices a creature. You gain life equal to that creature’s toughness.

Another piece of Instant speed removal (the best kind), this can gain you life and kill an opposing threat. Most players generally won’t have more than one creature in play at a given time, so this effectively acts as targeted removal at Instant speed with the caster gaining life. This is probably good enough to make it into most Type 4 stacks.

Unburial Rites
Return target creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield.
Flashback 3W

A generic Reanimate spell by nature, what makes this card playable is the fact that it has Flashback, which means you get to Reanimate a couple of fatties from your graveyard that the opponent has already dealt with, gaining you some nominal card advantage. Decent, and probably worth trying out to see if this will make your stack.

Victim of Night
Destroy target non-Vampire, non-Werewolf, non-Zombie creature.

There aren’t many Vampires, Werewolfs, and Zombies making the cut in anybody’s stack, so aside from that restriction this is more Instant speed targeted removal that should be good enough for most builder’s stacks, and is an auto-include in any Pauper-style stack (commons and uncommon only).

Back from the Brink
Exile a creature card from your graveyard and pay its mana cost: Put a token onto the battlefield that’s a copy of that card. Activate this ability only any time you could cast a sorcery.

This card is very interesting for a number of reasons. It essentially lets you rebuy all of the other creatures you’ve cast and your opponents have already had to deal with, and when replaying them from your graveyard as token copies the activation won’t count as your spell for the turn, meaning as the game progresses you can be making tokens and still have your other spell up for the turn (such as a counterspell to protect your beefy creature, Instant speed removal, etc.). Flavor-wise this is also cool and rewarding for those few who actually like to draft and cast creatures during a Type 4 battle.

Cackling Counterpart
Put a token onto the battlefield that’s a copy of target creature you control.
Flashback 5UU

Another interesting spell for those who like to cast creatures, the fact that this is an Instant and flashes back makes it appealing. But then again many of the creatures I would personally want to draft and copy, such as Bosh, Iron Golem, are Legendary, which doesn’t play nice with copies.

Forbidden Alchemy
Look at the top four cards of your library. Put one of them into your hand and the rest into your graveyard.
Flashback 6B

If you like Impulse effects this is decent, and better than Impulse because of the Flashback ability (two for one card advantage). The fact that you put the cards you don’t want into your graveyard isn’t really a drawback, as there are plenty of ways to manipulate the graveyard, and many cards you draft you won’t want to every actually cast anyway, so this lets you filter. If you’re light on draw and search effects (especially at Instant speed) this would make a nice addition.

Lost in the Mist
Counter target spell. Return target permanent to its owner’s hand.

Vanilla Counterspells really don’t do it for me, but cards like this with an additional affect are quite nice, and a welcome addition to any Type 4 stack. Counter your spell and bounce target broken permanent at the same time? Sign me up!

Ludevic’s Test Subject // Ludevic’s Abomination
Creature – Lizard // Creature – Lizard Horror
1U: Put a hatchling counter on Ludevic’s Test Subject. Then if there are five or more hatchling counters on it, remove all of them and transform it.
0/3 // 13/13

A 13/13 trampler for two mana is pretty good, so this will probably end up in nearly every stack.

Snapcaster Mage
Creature – Human Wizard
When Snapcaster Mage enters the battlefield, target instant or sorcery card in your graveyard gains flashback until end of turn. The flashback cost is equal to its mana cost.

If you play Type 4 with the variant that alternate casting costs (IE anything not in the upper right hand corner paid) does not count as your spell for the turn, and subsequently the Flashback mechanic as an alternate casting cost, Snapcaster is nice to rebuy any previously used broken Instant or Sorcery. I don’t play with alternative casting costs, but if you do this will be a welcome addition.

Destroy target noncreature permanent.

This can destroy anything that isn’t a creature, which is nice, but it’s at Sorcery speed, which is mediocre. If you have weak removal in your stack you could replace one of those cards with this, otherwise it’s probably not good enough.

Creeping Renaissance
Choose a permanent type. Return all cards of the chosen type from your graveyard to your hand.
Flashback 5GG

Kind of like a Regrowth on steroids, but can only target permanents from your graveyard. Return all creatures or artifacts will probably be the mode most often played, but rebuying all of your bombastic creatures that your opponents have already had to deal with once (and use a bunch of removal on most likely) isn’t that bad of a deal. This is borderline playable, but when thinking about how drafts go this most likely would not be a last pick, meaning it’s often better than some cards that are actually in existing stacks, so it’s probably worthy of inclusion.

Moldgraf Monstrosity
Creature – Insect
Whenever Moldgraf Monstrosity dies, exile it, then return two creature cards at random from your graveyard to the battlefield

An 8/8 fatty that Reanimates two creatures in your graveyard to play is pretty strong. I would consider this better than most other Green fatties currently floating around in Type 4, so this should be an auto-include.

Balefire Dragon
Creature – Dragon
Whenever Balefire Dragon deals combat damage to a player, it deals that much damage to each creature that player controls.

A vanilla 6/6 that can do damage to another creature, only if it deals combat damage to that creature’s owner. FAIL. This is simply not good enough, so don’t waste your money on this card which is somehow a Mythic rare.

Blasphemous Act
Blasphemous Act costs less to cast for each creature on the battlefield.
Blasphemous Act deals 13 damage to each creature.

Another Wrath of God effect that can clear the board, this won’t be making it into my stack because of the casting cost. When given all of the other Wrath effects that are available, the casting cost of this is higher making it worse when taking into consideration how it plays with other opposing cards like Kaboom! and Parallectric Feedback which punish you for having overcosted cards in the deck you drafted. If you need or want more Wrath effects in your stack go for it, otherwise skip.

Charmbreaker Devils
Creature – Devil
At the beginning of your upkeep, return an instant or sorcery card at random from your graveyard to your hand.
Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, Charmbreaker Devils gets +4/+0 until end of turn

The fact that this is only a 4/4 creature makes it seem kind of sketchy, but something that returns Instants and Sorceries (which are generally the best cards in any Type 4 stack) from your graveyard to hand every turn, makes this a decent card. The fact that it can grow when casting a Sorcery or Instant makes for a nice bonus as well. This seems like it was designed strictly for casual formats and will probably end up in a few stacks.

Past in Flames
Each instant or sorcery card in your graveyard gains flashback until end of turn. The flashback cost is equal to its mana cost.
Flashback 4R

Like Snapcaster Mage above, Past in Flames works well with the Type 4 variant that allows you to use the Flashback mechanic as an alternate casting cost. Past in Flames works so well with this in fact, that I probably wouldn’t even allow it to be played in my stack because of power level reasons. The ability to play a ton of cards all in a single turn kind of breaks the flavor of Type 4 and would certainly win you the game on the spot, so I would be leary of including this, but the option is there for those who don’t mind.

Divine Reckoning
Each player chooses a creature he or she controls. Destroy the rest.
Flashback 5WW

This card is interesting, but in a format where Wrath of God (destroy all creature) effects are plentiful, this is kind of lacking, especially since many people usually don’t have more than one creature in play at a time. I would be more apt to put this in a Chaos Stack* type addendum to a regular Type 4 stack.

Smite the Monstrous
Destroy target creature with power 4 or greater.

Pretty average removal spell that can kill most of the best creatures in any Type 4 game, and is similar to Reprisal, but worse for the fact that the creature can actually be regenerated with this card. If your stack is very light on Instant speed removal this might be an option for you, otherwise it’s probably not good enough.

Gold and Multicolored
Evil Twin
Creature – Shapeshifter
You may have Evil Twin enter the battlefield as a copy of any creature on the battlefield except it gains “UB,T: Destroy target creature with the same name as this creature.

Evil Twin has great flavor and will be a welcome addition to most Type 4 stacks. It can copy any creature and has the edge of inevitability in that it can tap to kill the creature it copied. It can also immediately deal with many of the best creatures in Type 4, such as Bosh, Iron Golem, Memnarch, and many others which are Legendary, as the Legend Rule will immediately kill both of them. This card is unique and deserving of a slot.

Olivia Voldaren
Legendary Creature – Vampire
1R: Olivia Voldaren deals 1 damage to another target creature. That creature becomes a Vampire in addition to its other types. Put a +1/+1 counter on Olivia Voldaren.
3BB: Gain control of target Vampire for as long as you control Olivia Voldaren.

As pointed out to me by a fellow Type 4 afficionado, this card is pretty savage. It is like Vampiric Dragon/Masticore in its ability to shoot creatures, and also like Memnarch in that it can steal said creatures. You lose control of the creatures if Olivia dies, but you would just shoot them all before losing control of them anyway, so it is very effective at controlling the board. This should be an auto-include in your stack.

Grimoire of the Dead
Legendary Artifact
1,T, Discard a card: Put a study counter on Grimoire of the Dead.
T, Remove three study counters from Grimoire of the Dead and sacrifice it: Put all creature cards in all graveyards onto the battlefield under your control. They are black Zombies in addition to their other colors and types.

Kind of like a slower version of Living Death, Debtors’ Knell, or Twilight’s Call, but with a slightly different effect. The fact that this takes 4 turns to be useful is an obvious detriment, but the fact that you get all creatures in all graveyards directly into play under your control means you can likely swing for the win against multiple players at once if this gets active. It’s the kind of card that probably no one would counter and it will just sit in play for a couple of turns before anyone notices, so that actually might make this stronger than initially though. If you can pick one of these up for $1 or less (Mythic junk rare) I’d say go for it and test it out to see if you like it, otherwise skip it for now.

These are the cards that are the narrow list of playable and semi-playables for Type 4. Innistrad isn’t the greatest set, but here’s what I will definitely be including:
Army of the Damned
Tribute to Hunger
Victim of Night
Back From the Brink
Lost in the Mist
Moldgraf Montrosity
Evil Twin
Olivia Voldaren

Here are the cards I will be picking up and testing in the stack for further evaluation:
Unburial Rites
Creeping Renaissance
Divine Reckoning (for Chaos Stack*)

When analyzing cards from a new set that can go into your stack, the two main questions I ask are “what would this replace in my current stack,” and “in what order would this card be picked in?” In the evolution of any Type 4 stack you generally weed out cards that are too strong, too weak, or just unfun. Cards that are too weak will generally be last picks, and any new cards that you add should never consistently be a “last pick,” or it shouldn’t be included in the stack.

While Innistrad isn’t the greatest set in the world, it appears as though it will still deliver at least a few new cards for very powerful stacks and a nice half dozen plus cards for many other stacks, depending on what you are looking for in new cards. Until next time, may you mana be infinite and may your spells be uber.

Appendix and Reference
Type 4/Limited Infinity Introduction
Type 4: A Way to Enjoy Magic Again Part 1
Type 4: A Way to Enjoy Magic Again Part 2
Type 4: A Way to Enjoy Magic Again Part 3
The Fourth Type

* Chaos Stack – a Chaos Stack is a separate stack of cards in addition to the normal Type 4 stack, and is used in conjunction with the Chaos Rule, which is essentially if X or more spells have been cast in a single turn (where X is an amount agreed to by the players beforehand), all spells on the stack are paused and the top card from the Chaos Stack is immediately flipped up and resolved, and then the stack and rest of the game is unpaused and continues as normal. Spells in the Chaos Stack will usually affect everybody (such as Eureka, Timetwister, Sway of the Stars, Time Stop, Howling Mine, etc.).