Dark Ascension Review Black
Welcome everyone, it’s that time of year again. The Dark Ascension set has been fully spoiled and that means that it’s time to talk about the new cards. For the most part I write these reviews for the new players at my shop to help them develop their card assessment skills, but that doesn’t mean most of my readers don’t enjoy hearing my ideas on the new cards as well.
Also Mages and Sages is have another Sealed Box Tournament on February 5th, so I’ll be adding advice at the end of each part of the review articles for those playing in that event. With that said, let’s start the review.
Other reviews in the set: White, Blue, Black, Red, Green, Artifacts, Multicolored and Lands.
Black Cat – 1B – Creature – Zombie Cat – C – When Black Cat deis, target opponent discards a card at random. 1/1
Please for the love of God let there be an enchantment card in this block called Nine Lives that gives all cats Undying. As it stands this has potential in Pod decks for Modern and Standard to play some kind of tempo build. In draft this also gives you a tempo build with Typhoid Rats that forces the opponent to have to think before attacking.
Chosen of Markov // Markov’s Servant – 2B – Creature – Human // Creature – Vampire – C – Tap. Tap an untapped Vampire you control; Transform Chosen of Markov. 2/2 // 4/4
Yeah, I would tap it. Here’s the plan, assign blockers, then activate this to kill. Solid Draft pick for Vampires tribal, and if Vampires can get their act together might see play in standard. As for Modern we have better options.
Curse of Misfortunes – 4B – Enchantment – Aura Curse – R – Enchant Player. At the beginning of your upkeep, you may search your library for a Curse card that doesn’t have the same name as a Curse attached to enchanted player, put it onto the battlefield attached to that player, then shuffle your library.
Over priced at five, if it would have cost four I would have said playable in Standard and maybe Modern. Even with this costing one and using counters to limit the curses you could tutor for would have been cooler. As it stands the Curses.dec is never going to make it because they all cost to much even with this making one or each free a turn. As for Limited, yeah Curse.dec still isn’t good because you are dying to the aggro of skipping turns two to five to just yell at you opponent.
Curse of Thirst – 4B – Enchantment – Aura Curse – U – Enchant Player. At the beginning of enchanted player’s upkeep, Curse of Thirst deals damage to that player equal to the number of Curses attached to him or her.
It’s a trap! Sure you could go turn two Curse of Pierced Heart and bring them to 19, turn three another CoPH to bring them down to 17, turn four another CoPH and bring them to 14, and then play this dropping them to 3 and dead next turn. In order to do this you need a god hand, sweet top decks, and to draft all the unwanted curses over removal and beaters. Now if you are B/R and the curses are going late this could be a great backup plan, but that’s all it is a backup plan when you can late pick Curses.
Deadly Allure – B – Sorcery – U – Target creature gains deathtouch until end of turn and must be blocked this turn if able. Flashback G.
In limited this is a great combat trick. If B/G starts to rise up I could see this making it into Standard to fight Delver Blade and kill Geist of Saint Traft all day.
Death’s Caress – 3BB – Sorcery – C – Destroy target creature. If that creature was a Human, you gain life equal to its toughness.
I can only see this as a late game removal spell in Limited. The reason is that in the other formats it’s not going to be able to gain life because you can’t bet on their being a Human you want to kill. With that said, in Commander it is another all-round creature kill spell that doesn’t have any restrictions on the target.
Falkenrath Torturer – 2B – Creature – Vampire – C – Sacrifice a creature: Falkenrath Torturer gains flying until end of turn. If the sacrificed creature was a Human, put a +1/+1 counter on Falkenrath Torture. 2/1
Nice in limited, and with a copy of Loyal Cather it lets you bash for three in the air on turn four. In Limited I can see this being a hit in B/W decks that have the ability to make tons of Human tokens. Hmm, maybe in Standard as well as part of the Sorin build.
Farbog Boneflinger – 4B – Creature – Zombie – U – When Farbog Boneflinger enters the battlefield, target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn. 2/2
Removal Zombie is awesome. Does have the down side that its ability doesn’t say, “may,” but that can be played around. Limited is where this is going to shine.
Fiend of the Shadows – 3BB – Creature – Vampire Wizard – R – Flying. Whenever Fiend of the Shadows deals combat damage to a player, that player exiles a card from his of her hand. You may play that card for as long as it remains exiled. Sacrifice a Human: Regenerate Fiend of the Shadows. 3/3
Nice, I could easily see this being part of the same B/W Human deck as Falkenrath Torturer in Limited.
Geralf’s Messenger – BBB – Creature – Zombie – R – Geralf’s Messenger enters the battlefield tapped. When Geralf’s Messenger enters the battlefield, target opponent loses 2 life. Undying. 3/2
Everyone is calling this is the new Kitchen Finks. It’s not. Finks could black on turn three and then attack for two points. This really can’t block until turn five, but does deal seven until then. I can see this as a surprise dude in a deck running Black Sun’s Zenith or some kind of B/G/X Pod deck that runs BSZ. The reason being is that BSZ plays the same role as Melira in that the Undying creatures become reusable over and over.
Gravecrawler – B – Creature – Zombie – Rare – Gravecrawler cant’ block. You may cast Gravecrawler from your graveyard as long as you control a Zombie. 2/1
Dredge style decks needed this because it allows you to play the self mill and still net creatures other than the ones you draw. I see it as being great in limited and think it might help Dredge return to Standard.
Gravepurge – 2B – Instant – C – Put any number of target creatures cards from your graveyard on top of you library. Draw a card.
This is the bomb in our Dredge limited decks. The point is that you can mill yourself out of cards and then stack you deck to be nothing but creatures and draw the best one off the bat. At that point you might as well be scoop as the game is going to be so over. The fact that this is a common shows that R&D has no clue what they are doing when designing graveyard decks.
Gruesome Discovery – 2BB – Sorcery – C – target player discards two cards. Morbid – If a creature died this turn, instead that player reveals his or her hand, you choose two cards form it, then that player discards those cards.
Hymn this is not, but it still is a good tempo card for Limited. Having not limited on what cards types you can chose allows you to really hit them hard if a creature died in combat. I don’t see this making any wave in Constructed formats.
Harrowing Journey – 4B – Sorcery – U – target player draws three cards and loses 3 life.
Hmm, Signed in Blood was a good card. This will see play for the same reasons in Limited, Commander, and Standard. It can refill you hand and can be a finisher when the opponent is at three or less.
Highborn Ghoul – BB – Creature – Zombie – C – Intimidate. 2/1
Another that I was thinking would be different based upon the name. In truth, I don’t think this is going to be a card to write home about outside of Limited sometimes. Yes, if you can cast it it will hit hard on turn three, but Limited Zombie decks want to be heavy blue and not heavy black.
Increasing Ambition – 4B – Sorcery – R – Search you library for a card and put that card into your hand. If Increasing ambition was cast from a graveyard, instead search for two cards and put them into your hand. Then shuffle your library. Flashback 7B.
Tutoring for one card is good, tutoring for two cards is even better. It’s mana greedy so it’s slow, but I think Black based control decks with Snapcaster Mage is going to run one or two of these in Constructed as the mage makes this a five and seven drop. In Limited this will see play so the caster can have an out in long games. If this ever gets cast from the graveyard it is going to be a finisher. Every copy I get of this it is going strait into my black Commander decks.
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed – 3BBB – Legendary Creature – Zombie Cleric – M – Intimidate. Whenever a Human deals damage to you, destroy it. Other non-Human creatures you control get +1/+1 and have undying. 5/5
Setting the flavor error of having both a light and dark side Mikaeus in the same block, I still don’t like this card. It’s really late game with a commitment to extra-heavy black. The only decks I would use this in is maybe Melira Pod in Modern, and as a Commander if someone at the shop, or in my play group, had a Human tribal deck. With Persist creatures you can stack the Undying and Persist triggers so that you can keep bouncing around the counter they get so Mikaeus becomes another Melira encase you opponent has target her out with removal and hate.
Ravenous Demon // Archdemon of Greed – 3BB – Creature – Demon // Creature – Demon – R – Sacrifice a Human: Transform Ravenous Demon. Activate this ability only any time you could cast a sorcery. // Flying, trample. At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice a Human. If you can’t. Tap Archdemon of Greed and it deals 9 damage to you. 4/4 // 9/9
Look, it’s an even worst Lord of the Pit. Best thing to do is pass this over in Draft and kill any Human you see with removal. If you can get them all you win, just like Whack-A-Mole. If this does make it into Standard for some ungodly reason, it will be in a B/W Human token deck which if you are already hating out in you sideboard will be no problem for you as Ratchet Bomb kills this two, and Sudden Disappearance with flip it back into Ravenous Demon. Good thing it is rare, or else this would be the crap uncommon you never want to see be auto-passed to you. Granted if you take this and try to make it work you cannot let any Human token making spells past you or any good Humans and mana fixers. This means you’ll be fighting with everyone else to build your deck
Sightless Ghoul – 3B – Creature – Zombie Soldier – C – Sightless Ghoul can’t block. Undying. 2/2
But if it can’t see, who can it know which way to go when it attacks? All joking aside, it’s a good four drop for the Zombie deck in limited. If Undying takes off in Standard it will make the deck because it doesn’t ask for a heavy black commitment.
Tragic Slip – B – Instant – C – Target creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn. Morbid – That creature gets -13/-13 instead if a creature died this turn.
So it is either spot removal, or over kill removal. Great in Limited, and might make it into Standard once Dismember rotates.
Undying Evil – B – Instant – C – Target creature gains undying until end of turn. Nice combat trick for limited. It is even better than regeneration effects because the creature doesn’t get tapped. Regenerate might not see play outside of Limited, but I don’t think the same is going to be true about this.
Vengeful Vampire – 4BB -Creature – Vampire – U – Flying, Undying. 3/2
Great in limited, but I don’t see this making it into my idea of an undying Standard deck.
Wakedancer – 2B – Creature – Human Shaman – U – Morbid – When Wakedancer enters the battlefield, if a creature died this turn, put a 2/2 black Zombie creature token onto the battlefield. 2/2
Hmm, it’s a body for BW Humans at least. That is all I can say about this or then Limited combat fodder that might be helpful.
Zombie Apocalypse – 3BBB – Sorcery – R – Return all Zombie creature cards from your graveyard to the battlefield tapped, then destroy all Humans.
That triple black in the casting cost turned this from an epic bomb into an epic dream in Limited, Block, and Constructed. It’s last hope is Commander where you can get the mana base you need for it along with all the self mill you’ll need. If this some how became good in a competitive format we would need to have lands that make Dredging even more powerful. Such as a land that when it goes from you library into you graveyard it comes into play tapped and only makes colorless mana. In the end even that is too powerful and would be broken in Legacy Dredge builds. Also it would be the kind of broken that would allow Modern to have a Dredge deck even without unbanning Dread Return of Golgari Grave-Troll.
Well, that’s it for the black cards. I give this part of the set an A+ on flavor and a C+ for playability. Now it’s time to review the red cards. See you in a few minutes.
Jeffrey Carmichael II
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