Innistrad has a decent amount of archetypes that you can build. In draft, what tier 1 deck types exist?
Loosely speaking, I think strong Dark Ascension Limited (i.e. the official format, DKA-INN-INN) decks fit into one of three strategies corresponding to the three stages of play (which I have given these semi-descriptive labels):
- "Aggro": Try to win before your opponent can really get rolling.
- "Midrange": Build up a crushing advantage with powerful two-for-ones.
- "Control": Hope to take over the game by making your opponent's stuff irrelevant, usually with a big bomb.
Decks that don't do at least one of these -- such as a deck full of mid-sized creatures but no way to actually turn them into card advantage -- tend to be at a disadvantage. Note that there's a lot of overlap here, probably much more so than in Constructed decks. You really can't classify most cards as belonging to just one strategy. Instead, the goal here is to view the card differently, and prioritize it accordingly, based on your particular gameplan; and to adjust your gameplan and later picks based on your cards. Darkthicket Wolf is a primo aggro card and a good midrange card, for instance; your "Human Sacrifice" deck may turn into a more controlling deck if pick up a really good late-game bomb.
I've never drafted with the pros and I don't play MTGO (where you can draft til you pass out from exhaustion), so I can't speak for the subtleties of "tier 1" vs. "tier 2", but I can list what I've found effective. Names in quotes below are those that are widely used, to my knowledge; I've made the other ones up based on whatever described a deck acceptably. Colors are suggestions rather than set in stone; each archetype has good cards in some of the other colors.
These are decks that aim to win with an explosive start. Drafting them involves careful attention to your mana curve.
I think the top-tier decks in this category are:
White-weenie-style (W/G): Attack fast with dudes; keep attacking with lots of dudes. "White weenie" is a proven strategy in any format where white has strong low-cost aggressive creatures. Thalia, Champion of the Parish, and Cloistered Youth definitely fit the bill, as do Darkthicket Wolf and Hamlet Captain. Basically this deck depends on its low curve to win with speed. In addition to the usual pillars of efficient creatures and a bit of removal, these decks can benefit greatly from Travel Preparations. I think it's good to have at least one of Faith's Shield, Spare from Evil, or Feeling of Dread in the deck -- a card you can use to either push through damage or stop an opponent's attack while creating an opening for a decisive counter-blow. Be careful with CC cards like Loyal Cathar and Strangleroot Geist, since it's not always easy to actually cast these on turn 2.
Red-Deck-Wins-style (R/B): Attack fast with dudes; sacrifice board position to push your dudes through if needed; use burn to finish the job. The big difference from white weenie here is burn, with the standout card being Brimstone Volley. Evasion is usually part of the game plan: cards like Vampire Interloper, Crossway Vampire, Wild Hunger, and Feral Ridgewolf.
These are decks that build up card advantage Jund-style. Dark Ascension has been good for this style of deck, with many of its premier cards having some component of built-in card advantage: Huntmaster of the Fells, Strangleroot Geist, Lingering Souls.
Some examples of good decks are:
"Human Sacrifice" (W/B): Trade your value-added weenies for your opponent's strongest creatures to build an advantageous position on the field. The "ideal" version of this deck starts with Skirsdaag Flayers; you feed them cards like Doomed Traveler, Loyal Cathar, and Elder Cathar. This deck also benefits from Human-token-makers like Gather the Townsfolk, and death-trigger cards like Wakedancer and Thraben Militia. Easy access to expendable dudes also makes cards like Demonmail Hauberk and Falkenrath Torturer better than they are in other decks. I like the Hauberk in particular because it's a good "escape plan" if you've picked up the relevant white cards but black has dried up: you can turn your deck into a pretty solid W/R or W/G morbid deck with potential for really crushing attacks.
Morbid two-for-one (G/B): Pressure your opponent with mid-sized creatures; when your trade, use morbid and undying two-for-ones to come out ahead. There are two morbid Grey Ogres I absolutely love in Dark Ascension Limited: Wakedancer and Ulvenwald Bear. Both of these are easy-to-pick up cards with a lot of mid-game power. A mixture of these guys, undying beaters (basically all the Strangleroot Geists you can grab), and quality combat tricks allows you to build up card advantage and superior board position; Victim of Night and Tragic Slip are also very desirable to help answer your opponent's biggest threats. Outside of rare bombs like Vorapede, the ideal big creature for this deck is Galvanic Juggernaut. Try to avoid the bad undying creatures -- 2/2 can't-block four-drops and 3/2 flying six-drops are not what you need to win the game. And don't just focus on morbid and undying: any source of incremental advantage is great; good rares for this plan are cards like Mayor of Avabruck or Gutter Grime, for instance.
"Werewolves" (R/G): Play dudes that become better than your opponent's dudes. Werewolves are a lot better with the additional cards from Dark Ascension. The key card here actually isn't Huntmaster: he doesn't really care about the creature types or colors of the rest of your deck; it's Immerwolf. The werewolves plan has always been to punish an opponent's slow development with a crushing tide of big creatures. Immerwolf and Moonmist make it much easier to consistently ride that plan to victory. As with all decks, don't get hung up on creature types; any card that fits the gameplan will work fine for this deck. Also, be choosy! Not all the werewolves are good.
These are decks that want to waste time until they can play something that trumps your stuff, like a big Spider Spawning or a Reaper from the Abyss. Basically my standard for determining whether a deck is "control"-y in Limited is "Will this deck ever want to cast Think Twice?" Control gains some defensive power in Dark Ascension with the addition of quality defenders like Headless Skaab and Nephalia Seakite, but it loses a lot due to pack dilution. In particular, the "Mill Yourself" decks -- like Burning Vengeance or Spiders -- are weaker in Dark Ascension because their key cards are less likely to show up now that you're drafting from 2 Innistrad boosters instead of 3.
So far, I think the most consistently draftable deck in this category is actually a rather boring one:
- Flyers (U/W): Clog up the ground, beat your opponent to death with evasive guys. I'm calling this a control deck for Limited purposes because it's really hoping to make most of an opponent's creatures irrelevant with some huge defenders and tricky plays, then grind out a win with evasion. Cards like Nephalia Seakite and Dungeon Geists are representative of your gameplan: they're basically flyers that double as removal. A big advantage of drafting this archetype is that you can often late-pick "big backside" cards for your defense.
A previous question covered the major archetypes for Innistrad draft. Most of the information there is still relevant, as Dark Ascension hasn't dramatically altered the draft landscape for most of the core archetypes there.
However, there were two marginal strategies in ISD draft that have become significantly better with the addition of DKA, if you open the cards for them in your first pack.
Getting a dedicated mill deck in triple-ISD was chancy, but it was playable if the pieces came together. Adding DKA has made this a tier-1 strategy, so long as you get this:
Increasing Confusion by itself can mill your opponent for 15 or more after you flash it back, and it's definitely first-pickable. If you get it in your DKA pack, you should strongly consider moving into a blue control deck with the rest of your picks. Take strong defensive creatures such as Armored Skaab, Fortress Crab, and Stormbound Geist, tempo-based cards such Silent Departure, Grasp of Phantoms, and Griptide, and additional mill components like Dream Twist and Curse of the Bloody Tome. If you get an Undead Alchemist in your ISD packs, you'll do a little dance, since that zombie is unplayable in most decks, but nuts in a dedicated mill deck.
Note that even if your U/x mill+control deck doesn't come together, you can still use Increasing Confusion as an alternate wincon in any number of other decks, or even a deck that's splashing blue.
Intangible Virtue was a late pick in ISD, simply because there weren't often enough tokens to make it worthwhile. But throw in DKA with Lingering Souls, Gather the Townsfolk, and Increasing Devotion, and it becomes plausible to have a deck that uses tokens for its primary creature base. This deck obviously wants every copy of Intangible Virtue and Midnight Haunting that it can get.
Note again that all of the cards above are perfectly playable on their own, and you don't have to have a "mono-tokens" deck in order for them to work. But the existence of these extra token generators makes a token-heavy white aggro deck an especially attractive choice in DKA draft.