Duel Deck Sorin vs Tibalt – A deeper look

Innistrad makes a quick return with the latest duel deck pitting vampire Sorin and the devil Tibalt in a long anticipated duel. Regardless which side you choose, prepare for a bloody battle!

Sorin’s Deck

Sorin likes to take a slower approach by amassing an army of evasive tokens. There are a bunch of effects that makes this deck capable of swarming and beatdown. Bloodthirst encourages damaging players. Lifelink ensures your life total is always healthy.

Sorin’s win condition is a little unclear at first glance. The main goal is to create an army of tokens. It appears to be more creature centered than Tibalt’s deck but it only has one more creature (not counting token generators). This deck seems to suffer from an identity crisis. On one hand, it wants to be a token army deck but on the other hand, it wants to be a vampire deck.

Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole lot of combos for Sorin’s deck. What I think this deck was hoping for is to have creatures dying to trigger effects. There aren’t nearly enough cards that have such an effect. There are no sacrifice engines (the one time a Bloodthrone Vampire would help if it is reprinted but is not) and there are only few cards that takes advantage from dying (Doomed Traveler and Mausoleum Guard only).


Zealous Persecution: Your “big” finisher. It does more than you think in a deck like this.

Vampire Nighthawk: As with any vampire theme decks, Nighthawk is a staple, easily outclassing every other 3 drops.

Spectral Procession and Lingering Souls: Generates Spirit tokens. Without a decent flyer of their own, Tibalt’s deck will have to waste removal cards to answer your Spirit army.

Unmake and Mortify: Both removes creatures. Mortify has the option of destroying an enchantment but there’s actually only 1 enchantment in Tibalt’s deck.

Wall of Omens: The cantrip is great but what’s actually amazing about this card is the ability to block nearly all of Tibalt’s creatures without any effects applied beforehand. That alone is impressive.

Runner Up: Fiend Hunter: Fiend Hunter is a great creature to have at anytime by removing a problem creature you don’t want to see.

Fighting Tibalt

Sorin’s deck included Decompose to mess with Tibalt’s graveyard. Mesmeric Fiend disrupts Tibalt’s ability to discard properly. Sorin’s deck have his share of removal cards but it’s not likely going to be used too often because Tibalt users will already have a hard time trying to keep a creature field presence. A lot of their cards have lower toughness. Just remain patient and try to pull off any life gain effects so your opponent will have a hard time catching up. Sorin players don’t really have to worry about Tibalt himself. He takes long to charge loyalty and his looting is random so let your opponent destroy itself.

What Could Be Better

I really hoped to get Vindicate or the original Sorin reprinted but that would’ve been asking much. Angel of Despair would present a giant problem to Tibalt users. Also, adding the recent Rest in Peace would completely devastate Tibalt’s deck. This deck can go to two directions. One is the white black token making deck. In that case, Intangible Virtue, Midnight Haunting, and Vault of the Archangel would be nice to have. Bloodline Keeper, Blood Artist, Vampire Nocturnus, Bloodghast, and many others are solid additions if you wish to take the vampire route. Do note if you wish to have vampires, it is best to abandon white and run them in mono black.

Tibalt’s Deck

Tibalt’s deck is a red black graveyard deck. It reanimates and recast spells from the graveyard. As such, the deck works more slowly but tries to pay off in the long run. They start the engine by filling the graveyard and then cast the spells at the appropriate time.

Initially, I didn’t think mono red would work with the “looting” theme because of all the graveyard interactions. The black splash saves this deck from being a complete catastrophe. We have Unearth and Flashback cards both of which can be expensive to play. The whole looting theme is very inconsistent, very situational and it can leave your hand empty. Finally, the deck build also suffers an identity crisis. On one hand it wants to be a red/black aggro rush with cheap aggressive creatures but on the other hand, it wants to be a reanimator control deck with high end spells. This makes it really hard to determine the win condition.

There aren’t many combos I can name because a lot of cards either really mediocre or likes to be standalone. The graveyard recurring cards are one trick ponies too. Unearth only lasts 1 turn and Flashback can only be cast once before it’s exiled.  I would try to use the looting cards as soon as you have good targets to dump into your graveyard. Save Torrent of Souls until the best possible moment because that is your ticket to winning duels.


Browbeat: It’s either 5 damage to the face or a +2 hand advantage which is really good for a red card. It may be a 3 mana sorcery with little control on your end but you are given 2 copies.

Hellspark Elemental: Another awesome card with two copies. This card ups the pace of an otherwise slow deck. Cast these for a nasty surprise on your opponent.

Pyroclasm: The allstar against Sorin’s deck. It destroys 90% of Sorin’s token army.

Terminate, Blightning: Classic Jund cards shine in this deck and are really effective.

Lavaborn Muse: Lavaborn Muse punishes opponents for going all out. It deals Lightning Bolt level of damage every turn.

Runner up: Hellrider: Assuming it is not looted away (you only get 1 copy of it), Hellrider is an amazing mid game creature to cast and starts an aggressive assault.

Fighting Sorin

Against Sorin, your creatures are a little more “midrange” so chances are they will survive combat or at least trade if Sorin starts pumping the creatures. Your arsenal of burn spells, particularly Pyroclasm, can clean the field of tokens with little effort. Do be careful of flyers and save your best removals for them.

What Could be Better

Ashenmoor Gouger, Ashenmoor Liege, and Vexing Devil are somehow missing in this deck which is disappointing. Anything from the Rakdos guild would’ve been nice even if it doesn’t match Tibalt’s flavour. Some Hellbent or Madness cards would’ve worked nicely with this theme. I would completely overhaul this deck into a black red reanimator. Faithless Looting is the main card while Tibalt is your 2 mana looter. Add dragons, demons (especially Griselbrand) or an Eldrazi creature for reanimating targets, use cards from Premium Deck Series: Graveborn to revive them and you have yourself a winner.

Overall both decks are mediocre at best. There are some good reprints and both planeswalkers are alright albeit harder to use than the planeswalkers from older duel decks. Players purchasing this set need to think beforehand what they want to accomplish with the cards because they are not easily played out of the box like the other duel decks. I’ve only listed some possible directions to take but there are many more alternatives. Thank you for reading!

Source: (Wizards.com, mtgsalvation for deck list)

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