Monday, April 23, 2012

Avacyn Restored EDH Set Reveiw, Part Three: Black

And now for something completely evil. Black is the Official Color of Evil on Innistrad - something WotC usually tries not to do. They don't like to paint any color in such strictly black and white terms (no pun intended). White isn't always inherently good, and  Black isn't always inherently evil. However, on Innistrad, where every day is Halloween, they felt it was justifiable and appropriate to go with the traditional Good vs Evil dichotomy.

And if you somehow need convincing, look no further than Griselbrand himself. He's one bad mother... shut yo mouth.Unfortunately, other than Grizzlebees himself, Black kinda got the shaft in Avacyn Restored. On one hand, the set was meant to be built around Avacyn's triumphant ass-kicking return, but every hero needs a good villain, and sadly only a few cards really provide such compelling opposition to the side of Good.

 One-for-one discard effects are usually pretty terrible in EDH. You're much, much better off with things like Syphon Mind or Unnerve that hit all of your opponents and offer a better ratio than 1:1. That said, if you're insistent on running something like this, you can do worse than Appetite for Brains. Nearly everything of import that you'd want to see your opponent rid off will be CMC 4 or greater. This is verastile, I'm just not sure it's good.
 Best reprint in the set, hands down. And much-improved artwork too. Good show, chap.
 Ha ha, a nice mirror to White's Suture Priest. I might actually replace Falkenrath Noble in my Vish Kal deck with this, even though the Noble is actually the better card. It's worth noting that this guy + Suture Priest are both good tech against Ghave decks (but they're also fairly playable IN Ghave decks!).
Not at all sure this is playable in any deck, really, but repeatable sac outlets for value tend to find niches where they excel, and so this one likely will see very limited play in specific decks. I don't really think Ghave decks need this particular effect - there are better thinks they can do with their tokens. But somewhere, this will do something cool, I just feel it.
 Ugh, awfulness. Sweet art, though! It's been a long time since I loved a Kev Walker illustration, but this is the best thing he's done in years. Go, Kev!
Holy cow. I'd be madly in love if this activation cost were a bit more manageable. That said, decks that are already exploiting Coffers for uber mana production will have no trouble at all. Mono-Black decks get very few ways to Exile creatures, so this is a boon for them. I'll definitely be trying to make this work in a few decks, but time will tell if it can pull it's weight or just be dead weight.
 More beautiful artwork. This has got to be one sexy foil. Kinda playable, but Black has access to so many removal options, this just can't compete. Anytime you find yourself considering this, just remember - Profane Command is a card.
 Awful. Yeah, someone will find a way to make it work. Doesn't mean it's not still awful. Hate the art, too. What the hell is that angle?
 Meh. Could be a useful Suicide Black card, but is that even a real archetype in EDH? There are already creatures approaching this power without the heinous downside.
A fair improvement over the above card, still not highly appealing. I can get a creature this size for one or two mana more and have zero downside to that creature. In some formats, that extra cost will be worth the reduction in mana cost. I don't believe EDH is one of those formats.
Worst Mythic in the set. Yeah, the Blue griffin thing is the most boring Mythic in the set, but this is the worst. Not that the effect isn't powerful - it is quite powerful indeed, and unlike the Griffin it actually feels like a Mythic to me. But, honestly, effects like this tend to make games less fun, not more.

(I'm not unaware of the slightly ironic fact that this card and the Blue Griffin have mildly interesting synergy with each other. I just don't care.)
Janky as hell, but if you can find a way to make it work, it's obviously gonna be a bomb. Repeatedly killing and stealing opponents' creatures is always an attractive and powerful effect, it's just usually ruined by ginormous mana costs, or other conditional effects, and they rarely pan out to be as good as one hoped. Here's hoping someone can figure out how to make this guy playable, as he's pretty neat.
Seems like a lock for decks with Lord of Extinction, Kresh, the Bloodbraided, or Serra Avatar. Especially cool since you don't have to sac the creature, which you usually do.
Oh. Shade with Undying. Who'd have guessed? Move along, nothing to see here.
Sanguine Bond, meet your new BFF. I need to point out that sticking this and Sanguine Bond means the second any one of your opponent loses any life whatsoever (even if they pay 1 for an Arid Mesa or what have you) you win the game instantly. That's kinda lame, but it does require you to stick two five mana enchantments and have them survive long enough for someone to take a point of damage or life loss.

Personally, I'll be playing one or the other, never both, because I don't like insta-win stuff like that. The hard part is figuring out which decks want Bond, and which decks want Blood.
LOL, okay. Yeah. I'll have a Yawgmoth's Bargain on a giant, Flying stick, that also regains the life I just spent drawing 7, while beating face with his retarded-looking hook hands. Broken and abusable, yet with plenty of potential for legitamate use. For starters, he's a godsend for Kaalia decks, which usually have lack of long-game reach and running out of gas too early as their biggest and most fatal weaknesses.

With Griselbrand, you should never, ever run out of gas again.
 And for the budget-friendly variation, let me present Harvester of Souls. Also a card-drawing engine of Demonic origin, this little guy lacks the obvious "oomph" that Grizzlebees has, but don't let that fool you. This guy is well-equipped to provide plenty of card-drawing for Kaalia or Savra, or whatever. For an Intro Deck rare, this guy is pretty friggin' sweet.
 Nope. Well, okay it does kill quite a few relevant Generals, but for one more mana, Go for the Throat is VASTLY superior.
On the fence about this one. Alot of people like it, but modal spells that give the opponent the ability to choose the lesser of two evils are almost always terrible. That said, if you control It That Betrays or Prince of Thralls when you cast this, it might mean the lesser or two evils is to just die on the spot...
 Pfft. I might play this for 5. Maybe. Probably not even then.
 More Limited fodder at Uncommon. What the hell?!
Another one of those "Suicide Black" cards that'll do stuff in other formats, but probably not EDH. Then again, it does become somewhat more appealing if you have Homeward Path in play...
 Not nearly reliable enough. You're better off just playing Bottomless Pit or something similar.
False Demise in Black. Okay, it's not exactly Recurring Nightmare or anything, but it's not out of the question. Could be a Zur target, or something. Put it on a Sun Titan, and watch your opponent make faces as they wait to topdeck and Exile effect.

So other than two really cool card-drawing demons (one of which is the most broken thing printed since Consecrated Sphinx), one fantastic uncommon reprint, and a couple of janky but cool rares, Black didn't give us much love. But Black isn't about love, in this set! It's about EVIL! E-V-I-L! So really, that's acceptable. So far, the set is still really strong, and looks to be a load of fun.

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