Friday, January 27, 2012

Dark Ascension EDH Set Review Portal

Hello, all. I'm providing this post as a convenient way to access all 7 parts of my Dark Ascension EDH Set Review.

Please leave comments if I missed a card, f you think I assessed a card wrongly, or if you just have some cool use for a card in the set.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dark Ascension EDH Set Review: Double-Faced Cards

Last but not least, we've got some DFCs to take a look at. Well, okay, maybe "least" after all, since I pretty much hate playing with these cards. Yeah, some of them are actually good enough to warrant fiddling around with them (Bloodline Keeper!), but they're just such an inconvenience and a hassle.
That said, I have a friend with a Uril the Miststalker deck with a Wolf/Werewolf subtheme, so her deck, at least, will get some love from Dark Ascension!

Loyal Cathar/Unhallowed Cathar
In a weird twist, this guy actually gets worse after he Transforms. Either way, he's still clearly  not an EDH card and will get no love in this format.

Soul Seizer/Ghastly Haunting
Cool flavor and concept, but I can't imagine every playing this over Treachery, Volition Reins or any other Control Magic variant where you don't have to jump through hoops to get it to work. I mean, how does this thing help you deal with Akroma, Angel of Wrath? It doesn't.

Chosen of Markov/Markov's Servant
Sexy art is about all this Limited fodder has going for it. Not even Vamp tribal would want a vanilla 4/4.

Ravenous Demon/Archdemon of Greed
Meh. Pretty bad over all. Not very good untransformed, transformation condition is a pain, and the end result is pretty unspectacular, especially with that extra drawback. Lame.

Afflicted Deserter/Werewolf Ransacker
A utility-effect Werewolf might be a little unwieldy to use - by the time you can transform it and get the effect, it might be too late. But, by the same token, this might be just what a Werewolf deck needed. It's certainly worth trying out, and you can always just run some hard removal like Hull Breach or something as a backup in case this proves too difficult to use effectively.

Hinterland Hermit/Hinterland Scourge
Why is this "Hinterland Noun" when Hinterland Harbor made U and G mana? Who knows. What I do know is, this is pretty mediocre even in a dedicated Werewolf build. It's not the worst Werewolf in the block, but it's pretty far down the list.

Mondronen Shaman/Tovolar's Magehunter
This one is pretty sweet. Once you get it transformed, your opponents' flurries of spells to try and transform all your Werewolves back into Human will at least do some damage to them. They'll still probably go ahead and do it, because most of the time it'll be worth taking 4 to the dome to negate all those awesome Werewolf abilities. But, if your running Werewolves, you'll definitely want this one.

Lambholt Elder/Silverpelt Werewolf
It's no Hystrodon, that's for sure. Still proably worth running in most Werewolf builds. I really wish it had Trample, but it's not like Green doesn't have plenty of ways to grant Trample!

Scorned Villager/Moonscarred Werewolf
Mana dorks like this are typically pretty awful in EDH. I'd still run Joraga Treespeaker before I'd run this, and I never run Treespeaker. Good luck, Mana Wolf, but you're not EDH material. Sorry.

Wolfbitten Captive/Krallenhorde Killler
Werewolves did need a compelling one-drop and this fits the bill pretty nicely. Sure, the "nce a turn" restriction limits it's EDH applications somewhat, but the Wolf side gets enough of a boost to remain relevant in the late game.

Huntmaster of the Fells/Ravager of the Fells
It goes without saying that this is the cream of the crop, as far as Werewolves go. No matter wich way it transforms, you're gonna get something out of the deal. Flip it one way, and you get to sling a couple Shocks around. Flip it the other way and you get a Wolf token and some life. Pretty damn sweet. My only complaint is that it doesn't play well with Immerwolf, but that's a minor quibble really.

Chalice of Life/Chalice of Death
Cute, but probably too hard to transform to be truly worthwhile. Still, if you have a deck that consistently and reliably has 50+ life, it might be worth consideration.

Elbrus, the Binding Blade/Withengar Unbound
Ha ha oh wow. This is certainly splashy, flavorful and attention-grabbing - all the qualities you'd look for in a Mythic rare. Unfortunately, it's pretty janky. It has Black in it's color identity, which slightly limits it's playability, but if you're playing Stoneforge Mystic and Stonehewer Giant in a deck that also has Black cards in it, you might have a little more luck with this. Hard-casting it just seems like a bad idea. It's too much of a huge removal target to be worth the full eight mana investment.

   And that concludes our look at Dark Ascension. There really wasn't a whole lot to excite me, unfortunately, but then again a lot of the cards in the set are just specific to certain deck types. Fans of Werewolves and Zombies should be perfectly happy, while Vampires mostly got the shaft. The W/B color pair got a lovely pair of bombs in the form of Sorin, Lord of Innsitrad and Vault of the Archangel.

Myexcitement level is not nearly as high for this set as it was for Innistrad, but they did have much more room in INN to play around and make non-Thematic cards. I'm mostly just left hoping the next and final set of the block has more broadly-playable and useful cards.

Dark Ascension EDH Set Review: Multicolor and Lands

Um... yeah. There was a paragraph here, but the Internet ate it. Or something. Anway, cards. Mmmmm... Magic cards.

Sweet abilities, less sweet CMC. Seems pretty playable overall, but possibly too easily outclassed by other cards. Time will tell if this takes off or not, but I can only see myself playing this when I am specifically trying to avoid "good stuff".
Um. Yeah. This is awesome. Hope it doesn't stay ridiculously expensive for long, because I'm gonna need a couple.
We go from Olivia Voldaren to this? WTF? Haste is pretty darn compelling in EDH, the Land of Unending Wrath Effects. But the Sac-A-Human mechanic in this set is a big turn off. The set seems to want you to play Tribal decks, yet it wants you to dilute the Tribal themes with off-tribe creatures. That design fits really well flavor-wise, but it leads to diluted and wonky deckbuilding. Not a fan.
This guy is pretty good. Probably going to be the top Mythic for EDH purposes. The deal-breaker, in my opinion, is that you cast the creature from the graveyard for its original mana cost, so against decks that aren't your colors, this is useless. But, it can get your own creatures back too, so that's a plus.
Seems better in a Grixis deck than straight U/B... we'll see.
Good vampire lord. Should be a sure-thing in any Vamp tribal deck. I do wish it granted Haste instead, but First Strike isn't terrible.
Ghost pirate! Sweet. Very strong and compelling lord for Spirit decks. Definitely a must-run for W/U Spirits.
Another top-notch lord that should basically always be played in the deck of its appropriate colors and tribe. I like how it's versatile enough to go in Werewolf decks or just straight Wolf tribal.
Wow, 5 for 5! Not bad, WotC, not bad. All five of these "lord" cards are very playable and accentuate their respective tribes nicely. This one is no exception.
Compelling at first glance, this thing seems to have a lot going on. However, it probably will prove a little awkward and unwieldy. I expect it to underperform in most decks, but it could be a very important role-player in mono-color decks that don't have a lot of good removal options.
Yuck. Fuck this noise.
Seems way too slow/bad/expensive to be playable. I don't even like how the mechanic gets across the "flavor" of Jar or Eyeballs. Swing and a miss.
BAD. ASS. This should get plenty of play in any W/B deck, or W/B/X deck. Quite a swingy effect for (effectively) five mana. Very cool! Can't wait to get this into my Ghost Council deck.
Super-relevant EDH reprint with gorgeous art? Yes please! I simply must have a foil of this one. The art reminds me of Skyrim.
Meh. Not super exciting, but certainly playable in decks that can really use it. Definitely a boon to Savra decks and the like. At least it can occupy a Land slot, unlike Phyrexian Altar and such. Definitely a step in the right direction.
Pretty underwhelming when you consider stuff like Volrath's Stronghold exists in the format. But, this doesn't have a Black color identity so it's more widely useful. Also, there's Crucible of Worlds to help it along. This isn't going to be a huge megastar in the format, but it should definitely see some play.

Okay, so that's almost all of it. We've got the Double-Faced Cards to look at, and then we're done. Enjoy!

Dark Ascension EDH Set Review: Green

Green cards, and theorycraft, abound below. Check 'em out:

Decently playable, but not by a huge margin. I don't like that you put the rest into your graveyard, but that's precisely why a certain number of players will like this. Since it requries you to be in Blue as well as Green, I simply think there are too many better options to seriously consider this, unless you're specifically in need of Flashback spells or something.
Man, if it weren't for the Morbid trigger, this would be a huge deal for Animar decks. Perhaps they can still make use of it, but not as reliably as I'd need, for this to be appealing to me. Oh well, it's not like Animar needed the help. He's already stupidly good.

Garbage uncommon is garbage. Oh well.
So weird that this guy has a Sac-a-Human ability, but it does make sense given the flavor concept. He's pretty narrow, though. I don't see too much use for him. The +1/+1 counter angle makes me think, again, of Animar and also of Ghave, but he doesn't seem stellar in either.
Not playable in EDH, but I wanted to feature it here because of the amazing artwork. So beautiful...
I usually don't like things that just get big and don't have evasion. Well, this things evasion is that it just keeps attacking over and over and over... until eventually they run out of blockers. However, any token producer a la Selesnya Guildmage or whatever will hold this at pay indefinitely. Still, this could be useful in decks that can give it Trample (with say, Brawn, for example).
Oh, yay, another way to make Mono-Green decks even more annoying. Still it's a pretty silly card and might be fun for a while. Obviously, the more colors you play, the worse this gets - I don't even see it as viable in a two-color deck.
I'd like this a lot better if it weren't six mana. That plus the "nontoken creature" clause makes it pretty abysmal in my estimation. Possibly worth considering for dedicated Wolf tribal decks, but not much else.

Pretty sweet Mythic, but I'd have preferred Haste over Vigilance. Still, this is pretty playable, though not on the same level as Prime Time or Woodfall Primus, etc. In other words, it won't be a staple of Green decks everywhere, but if there's even a hint of a +1/+1 counter theme in your deck, it is definitely worthy of consideration.
Man, the Fateful Hour part of this is sexy, but given that 90% of the time this is going to be a three-mana Fog and nothing more, the sexiness factor drops off pretty damn quickly. You could just play Tangle and/or Constant Mists, and you'd likely get far more mileage out of those cards.
Boring. a vanilla 10/10 is vanilla at any cost. Sure, this would be great to cast on turn two or three, but that ain't likely to happen. Even at a reduced cost, by the time this hits the table, it's lack of evasion will likely render it irrelevant except as a big dumb blocker.
Again, non-Blue card drawing always deserves some kind of consideration, but I can't see this being realistically good outside of Dredge, and even then it's debatable if those decks even need to draw a boatload of cards. Chances are, they'd just replace all the draws with Dredge activations.

Nice. Odd  combination of effects, but the versatility is there. That and it's hard creature kill for Green which doesn't really get tons of it. I don't know that you'd play this over Plummet... but you might.
I keep bitching about how these mana-fixer guys are always just worse than Sakura-Tribe Elder and Wood Elves. This on is no different, but it's a lot closer than what we've been getting. It's comprable to STE, but in exchange for having to pay a mana to activate it, you get a 2/2 instead of a 1/1. Seems fine for Limited, but I dont' see the slightly bigger body as being worth giving up the free activation. Close... but no cigar.
Another potential Animar helper - if you can somehow make Morbid work for you. Not worth it, in my opinion though.
Probably only really playable if you're looking specifically for Wolf creatures that don't suck. This doesn't suck, but neither is it particularly good either.

Nice aggressive two-drop. EDH is not known for hinging on aggressive two-drops, but this one is still worth playing in the right decks. Those being highly aggresive decks like Rafiq, etc. I do think this could make the cut in Rafiq at the very least, and probably anything else as aggro. Also, any deck that can do cute tricks with Undying.
Okay, now THIS is pretty much guaranteed inclusion in Animar decks. Possibly Ghave as well, though it's not quite as compelling there. But yeah, totally an Animar card, and best of all, it can help you rebuild after a Wrath effect. Replaying Animar and immediately putting 10 counters on him is a great start to rebuilding.

Also funny: Targeting Mindles Automaton with this turns it into a Harmonize!

Next: Multicolor, Lands and Artifacts. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dark Ascension EDH Set Review: Red

And so, we have come to the Red cards, and I'm really hoping for at least one or two playable Vampires. Let's see what we can come up with.

At first I was like "How the hell did Green get this for G while Red has to pay six?" Then, I realized it didn't require one of the creatures targeted to be under your control. While the six mana price tag is still quite unatractive, the multiplayer implications are quite intriguing. Making any two creatures fight means that, if you're careful with it, you can get rid of two troublesome threats at once. Still, it's probably only playable in Red decks that don't have access to better removal options.
If this were a Wheel of Fortune with Flashback, I'd be drooling right now. Alas, it's not and I am sorely disappointed in this card. I can't imagine using this anywhere, even in a deck built around Flashback as a mechanic.
Pretty sweet combination of effects. You get the Goblin War Drums thing going on, but you have to attack with this wolf to get it. However, the Wolf is hard to block as it's effect covers itself. And in the even he does get blocked or targeted for removal, he has Undying as yet another layer of protection. Pretty good for 3 mana. I think this is pretty playable in Red Zone decks.

River Kelpie meets Pandemonium. This is a bit too specific to be widely playable. Most of the time I'd just rather have Spitebellows and Flametongue Kavu. But in the right deck this could be a powerful enabler.

Another largely useless card that could still be an important to certain decks. Mono Red mages might find this to be a worthwhile form of spot removal. I don't play Mono Red, though, so I can't say for sure. Seems worth trying out.

Probably, not even the presence of Haste will make this truly worth playing. But it MIGHT be playable in a very dedicated vampire deck with all the available Vamp lords to pump it up to a respectable size.
Ha ha, oh wow. Possibly the most compelling Curse we've seen yet. On the flip side, though, putting this on an opponent in a multiplayer game will definitely earn you the ire of that player, and possibly the rest of the table too. Unless the person you put it on is "that guy", which is pretty amusing. I like this, but don't expect to see widespread play. It's going to be a niche card for sure, but there is definitely a home for it somewhere in the format.
Surprise, surprise. After a string of utterly horrible Red mythic dragons, this one is pretty damn sweet. It's hard to tell if that's only because it looks so good next to it's janky bretheren, but at the very least this should be widely played in Kaalia and Rith the Awakener decks. Firebreathing for your whole army is a new twist on the mechanic and it's quite exciting. Time will tell if it actually matters or not, but I think it will be relevant.
Another card that should at least find a home in Rith the Awakener decks. Also, Sek'Kuar or any other token decks that have Red in them.
Hilarious effect, but the CMC of eight is rather sobering. I really don't see this taking off in the format, but it should at least be a "pet card" for a few players. It basically says "Destroy all creatures target player controls", but in a much wordier and confusing fasion. Also, if their biggest guy has Shroud (or Hexproof) you'll be a little sad about this.

Another Haste-y vampire, but this one is just as iffy as the last one. It might prove to be a reliable yet expensive utility creature, allowing your vampire army to punch through for an unexpected alpha strike. Still, I'd rather just kill blockers outright. Borderline playabe at best.
The cheapest of the "Increasing" cycle, and the most playable as well. The only downside is that it can only copy spells you control, which means Reiterate and Wild Pair will still be preferable to this in most decks. However, this definitely has huge amount of potential and seems like a sure thing for virtually every R/U deck out there.
Finally! A vampire in this set that I'm unconditionally willing to play. Doublestrike means this thing will get really big, really fast. Coming down to start swinging on Turn 4 means there will almost always be one opponent open for attack at that point, so it should be swinging as a 3/3 on Turn 5. Combine with Rakish Heir or any "Lord" and it really can get out of hand.
Well, that's it for Red, and while I'm somewhat disappointed, I did get the minimum of one really good Vampire, so it's not a total bust.

Next up: Green. Enjoy!

Dark Ascension EDH Set Review: Black

Now it's Black's turn under the microscope. My predictions for this set: Zombies get love, other decks get the shaft. Let's see if I called it or not.

Well, right of the bat, evidence seems in favor of my prediction. This card is pretty damned awesome, though. Flavor-Mechanic relationship is dead on, and the effect is insanely powerful. Here, the tribal limitations that make the card narrow also help balance the card appropriately. One one hand, it's a bit sad that this is pretty useless outside of a Zombie tribal deck, but it'd just be too powerful to print without that restriction. Zombie are already a thing in EDH - expect them to get way more popular after this set's release.
Sorry, but I don't want to pay 5 mana to kill something and then maybe get a little bit of life gain out of it. I'd just straight up play Go for the Throat over this anyday.

Mediocre card, gorgeous art. Completely unplayable in EDH, but great Limited card. Too bad...
Should be great in Kresh/Savra/Sek'Kuar decks that tend to have strong sacrificing themes. Gets rid of damn near anything, even Indestructible dudes like Blightsteel or Ulamog. If you have trouble with cards like those, this will be a bood, but against the rest of the field, standard removal options will likely be preferable.
Holy balls. There's already a theoretically optimal play for this. Tutor for Cabal Coffers, Exsanguinate and either Urborg or an Extraplanar Lens/Gauntlet of Power variant, proceed to kill whole table with massive Exanguinate. That's pretty lame, though. I hope to see slightly more varied and creative use for this... but I don't have much optimism on that count. That said, I still like this card quite a bit. It's clearly an EDH-worthy powerhouse, though it's very expensive (thankfully!). As long as you're not diggin up dirty combo peices this should simply be a powerful but fair card.
Yet another Skullclamp-able draw engine, very reminicent of Bloodghast. I like Bloodghast better in a vacuum, but if you have any kind of zombie theme (and are playing Rooftop Storm!), then this is clearly the better choice.
Sexiest art in the set, hands down. Too bad the card itself isn't as sexy. That's not to say it's unplayable, though. It's a great combination of effects for a very cheap cost. Flashback is nice too, but the off-color cost limits the number of decks that can play this. As a Sorcery, this is probably not going to get a ton of play. If it were an Instant, it'd be more widely useful. Still, it's not out of the question that this could see a bit of play here and there.


Wow. A "Curse" that does nothing but let you further Curse your opponent. Much like Bitterheart Witch in the last set, the quality and playability of this depends entirely on the quantity and quality of the Curses themselve. So far I don't see the Curses being all that great. A couple are quite playable, but havign two to three curses in your deck isn't enough to warrant an enabler like this or the Witch. Lame.
Precon rare, and a disappointing one even allowing for that fact. I dislike the "sac a human" thing vampires have going on in this set. While I understand the flavor and appreciate that aspect of it, it leads to awkward deckbuilding decisions. I don't think it's worth diluting a Vampire theme with Humans to enable this card, as it's not all that strong anyway.
Whats with all the vastly-worse-than-Nekrataal cards like this lately? Since when is Shriekmaw too good, that they need to make useless chaff like this? Terrible, even in a Zombie tribal deck.
Now THIS is a Mythic! Exciting, splashy and not too narrow, Mikaeus is one of the more enticing cards in the set. Sure the anti-Human destruction effect is ridiculously narrow, but the rest of the abilities are anything but. Granting your whole non-Human army Undying and +1/+1 is just going to wreck your opponent who was counting on his Wrath of God to save him. Now his board sweeper just removes his blockers and makes your army that much more powerful! This should get a ton of play from the EDH format.
Sort of a reverse-Kitchen Finks, this has some pretty sween potential, but it doesn't exactly have the "oomph" needed for many decks, but any kind of Zombie deck will certainly be able to make great use of this. I really don't like the ETBF tapped clause, but it's still pretty sweet nonetheless.

Yet another Curse that depends on having a strong Curse sub-theme to be good. So far the Curse mechanic just seems way to parasitic and self-referencing to be worthwhile. At this point to make use of the better curses, you'd need to run most, if not all, of the Curses, including the shitty ones.

Factor in that they start to look even less compelling in multiplayer than they do in 1v1, and their stock really starts to drop, at least in the EDH world.
Non-Blue card drawing is often worth a look, but there are better options in Black. This isn't completely out of the question, but it's not going to be your first or second choice either. Meh.

Finally, a vampire that doesn't have the Sac-A-Human thing going on, and it still sucks. Boo. I really hope Red has some decent Vampires, cause my Garza Zol deck has gotten no love at all from this set thus far.

Next up is Red, of course. Enjoy.