Wednesday, January 25, 2012

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.


  1. Geralf's Messenger, Ghave, and Ashonds Altar means all targetable oppenents lose all their lives...

  2. Yeah, there are a ton of insta-win combos with Ghave, which I usually try to avoid, but sometimes you just wind up with an infinite combo you didn't even mean to put in the deck. Ghave's cool like that.

  3. Increasing Ambition, tutor for Coffers, flashback for Vampire Hexmage and Dark Depths, RELEASE THE KRAKEN!

  4. Corner case, but Black Cat is pretty sick in a Shirei deck. Its not quite as good as noxious toad, but the instant speed random discard is sweet. Also Meow