OK, first things first…I am deeply sorry for not getting any more Magic: the Gathering news and articles to you, my loyal readers, friends, and Knoxville / East Tennessee area players, over the course of the past year or so. I mean, the last article that I published was about the Worldwake spoilers in January 2010. Life happens, you deal with it, and you supposedly make lemonade or something. OK, enough about me and my excuses, let’s get this underway.
There are good sets all throughout the history of Magic and there are bad sets. Arabian Nights, Alliances, most of the entire Lorwyn and Urza blocks, they all have had their time in the spotlight. For much different reasons, so has Prophecy. And Fallen Empires. And Homelands. Wizards of the Coast has done a great job recently with not only making sure that a vast majority of the cards have an increase in power level, they have also been able to keep with the flavor or theme of the set / block as well, thus getting more and more people either into the game for the first time, or like myself, back into the game after a long hiatus. Let’s take a look at some of the new set on the block, Dark Ascension.
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad is THE reason to buy all the Dark Ascension packs / fat packs / boxes that you can get your hands on. Period. What’s that you say? Thank you Captain Obvious? Well, I get where you are coming from, but some people are still saying that he isn’t all that good. For those of you who still think this way, I’ll let you do so until you are sitting across the table from him at one of the local venues and you are dead before you know it. (Insert shameless plug for local stores where you can play M:tG here…CM Games and Toys, both East and West locations, Organized Play in downtown Knoxville, and various Packards locations throughout the area. If there are more out there let us all know about them in the comments. – gkk)
So to conserve space, this will not be a card-by-card review of the set, but a couple of above average cards and overall thoughts about each color and the set overall. Since we have the BMOC already mentioned above, here are a few others that we should talk about:
- Huntmaster of the Fells – Bloodbraid Elf he is not, but this could be seen in a similar light. Some of the Knoxville crowd have even mentioned him as a sideboard card in a RUG control style deck, which is a very interesting thought.
- Drogskol Reaver – Dying to play this card, even though I know all the drawbacks that have already been mentioned – Dismember kills it easily, Consecrated Sphinx is better, SEVEN mana casting cost…but let it survive a couple of turns on my side and I’ll love it for life I say!
- Gather the Townsfolk – Probably the most realistically playable card for standard with the new “Fateful hour” mechanic. It’s also a common. AWESOME!
- Ghoultree – That’s not a butt, THIS is a butt!!!…OK, I know what you’re thinking, “the thing doesn’t even have trample!”. You’re right, it’s actually a pretty vanilla card that can be cast for as little as one green mana. That, my friend, frees up the other green and three untapped red mana you have for the Fling and Reverberate in your hand though, seeeee??? Alright, it really is an FNM card only I’m pretty sure, but it still seems like a fun surprise for someone.
(FNM = Friday Night Magic, for those of you that prefer to hang out on the underside of a rock)
- Gravecrawler – Not usually a player of the Black mana symbols, this card is growing on me. For those of you that love to play a deck that seems to be a little on the unfair side when it comes to recycling your spells later in the game, grab these now. A very good job by Wizards of the Coast of extending the excellent flavor of this block into Dark Ascension as they were able to do in Innistrad as well.
- Faithless Looting – The first card that was spoiled for us in this set, and the first one that I will be getting a playset of. I don’t care what you say, even Goblins can use this card.
- Grafdigger’s Cage – For those of you who don’t want to see Gravecrawler or other Zombies coming back for more, or detest Mr. Snapcaster Mage from Innistrad, you need to grab this card RIGHT NOW…with the multitude of uses in older formats to help, this card could be the most useful of all.
- Vault of the Archangel – Ah, new lands. So many mages adore lands in Magic, and rightfully so. Wouldn’t we all just love to see a Library of Alexandria or Mishra’s Workshop get reprinted so that we could enjoy the power of lands again? Oh, yes Mr. Suitcase, we would only like to see those reprints if they did not make the value of your originals plummet…In all seriousness though, this card as a one- or two-of can be a finisher that should prove hard to deal with. Just please, if you find a way to cram it in your Primeval Titan deck and I have to play you, tell me ahead of time so I can concede now and go grab a bite to eat…
All in all, this set seems like it could be fun. At first glance it does not have the standouts that Innistrad does, although that could be proven to be an incorrect statement in the coming weeks as we all get to enjoy playing these cards for the first time. Hidden synergies could be found, and we could have some diamonds in the rough, much like Spellskite turned out to be not too long ago. I will safely say that this is not a set on the (sub-)par with Homelands…only time will tell just how much we get out of it. Let me know what you find out from the pre-releases and initial tournaments in the comments as well as thoughts for upcoming articles and reviews as well.
Happy card slinging to you all and it’s great to be back!