Avacyn Restored Set Review Black
Yes! It’s that time and the full set spoiler is up online. That can mean only one thing, it’s pre-release weekend and next weekend is the release. Translation, all the local shops are gearing up for two weekends filled with events, and it’s time for me to share my advice on the new cards with all my readers. After all we’re going to be playing with these new toys for the next twenty-two months. Also at the end I’ll be giving advice on key cards to look for if you are playing in the sealed box tournament at the local shop, Mages and Sages, next weekend.
As always I’ll be breaking the cards down into six different articles and focusing on the formats that these cards will be seeing play. Let’s face it, not every card is good in all formats and I don’t have the time to keep saying that. I’ll be calling each card as I see them, and if I don’t talk about a format then the card is trash in it. If you think I’m not giving do respect to a card please use the comments below to share your opinions. Only by sharing our ideas can we reach understanding and improvement.
That all said it is now time to get on with the reviews.
Appetite of Brains – B – Sorcery – U – Target opponent reveals his or her hand. You choose a card from it with converted mana cost 4 or greater and exile that card. Well that is some trash right there. See the key to hand disruption is to get their early game threats so you can crush them before they get to the late game. Yes, getting a peak at their hand and keeping them off late threats is good in limited, but this sucks in every other format.
Barter in Blood – 2BB – Sorcery – U – Each player sacrifices two creatures. And the trash keeps rolling in. Wait, alright I do think this might be good in a deck that makes use of Undying and is heavy on the black mana. So this might see some play in Block.
Blood Artist – 1B – Creature – Vampire – U – Whenever Blood Artist or another creature dies, target player loses 1 life and you gain 1 life. 0/1. Are you kidding me. Black looks so hosed this set. I mean we are three cards deep and nothing is good for any format yet.
Bloodflow Connoisseur – 2B – Creature – Vampire – C – Sacrifice a creature: Put a +1/+1 counter on Bloodflow Connoisseur. 1/1. Well, at least we found something for Limited to make chump blockers some what useful.
Bone Splinters – B – Sorcery – C – As an additional cost to cast Bone Splinters, sacrifice a creature. Destroy target creature. Well, it turns on Morbid for Block decks, but it still puts you down a creature which is never good unless that creature has Undying.
Butcher Ghoul – 1B – Creature – Zombie – C – Undying (When this creature dies, if it had no +1/+1 counters on it, return it to the battlefield under its owner’s control with a +1/+1 counter on it.) 1/1. Okay so maybe draft wont suck that much after all. Granted this is the first of only five Undying creatures in the set and only two of the others are black. I just hope we don’t see to many sacrifice effects on the rest of the black cards.
Corspe Traders – 3B – Creature – Human Rogue – U – 2B, sacrifice a creature: Target opponent reveals his or her hand. You choose a card from it. That player discards that card. Activate this ability only any time you could cast a sorcery. 3/3. Damn it! I think this is going to be the theme of black in this set; kill you own dudes to gain a small increase that will only work in Limited if you can stay ahead on creatures.
Crypt Creeper – 1B – Creature – Zombie – C – Sacrifice Crypt Creeper: Exile target card from a graveyard. 2/1. Really, really Wizards, you printed the graveyard hoser in a non-graveyard set that isn’t going to be drafted with the rest of the graveyard sets. In draft this is a do nothing 2/1 for two, in block it’s graveyard hate that puts you behind on creatures, and in the other formats it’s something to use to start a fire. By fire I mean a real fire, as in a camp fire.
Dark Imposter – 2B – Creature – Vampire Assassin – R – 4BB: Exile target creature and put a +1/+1 counter on Dark Imposter. Dark Imposter has all activated abilities of all creatures exiled with it. 2/2. Wow, that mana cost on the ability just ruined what could have been a great rare and would have saved this set review for being so negative. Have fun trying to keep this alive to turn six in Limited, because if you do I want to know how you lost the game.
Death Wind – XB – Instant – C – Target creature get -X/-X until end of turn. “I fart in you general direction! No go away or I shall taunt you a second time.” Nice Limited removal spell that is out classed by other removal spells in every other format. Still, sometimes you just need to fireball a creature in Draft and Sealed.
Demonic Rising – 3BB – Enchantment – R – At the beginning of your end step, if you control exactly one creature, put a 5/5 black Demon creature token with flying onto the battlefield. Okay, now I get why all the black spells were killing off your own dudes. Sure, if you get this in Limited you will want to play black, but you will need to pray that you opponent hasn’t gone nuts with removal so that they can killing your only dude and blank this ability.
Demonic Taskmaster – 2B – Creature – Demon – U – Flying. At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice a creature other than Demonic Taskmaster. 4/3. A flying 4/3 for three…. hmm, this just might get into a constructed deck. Even if you are just using it for a Pod deck to bash face them cheat in a four drop next turn its a good creature. This may just be the first black card of the review that I generally like.
Demonlord of Ashmouth – 2BB – Creature – Demon – R – Flying. When Demonlord of Ashmouth enters the battlefield, exile it unless you sacrifice another creature. Undying. 5/4. This is no Taskmaster and if you are playing the lone wolf creatures deck this will never get to use that undying ability as it will just return and get exiled by itself. I know it’s a 5/4 flier for four mana, but it’s just too tricky to make it work all the time and there by be useful to you.
Descent into Madness – 3BB – Enchantment – M – At the beginning of your upkeep, put a despair counter on Descent into Madness, then each player exiles X permanents he or she controls and/or card from his or her hand, where X is the number of despair counters on Descent into Madness. Large flavorful mythic that makes you play full tilt Magic. That is to say, when this card is good it’s super awesome and when it’s bad it totally blows. Granted the up side of this is that by making it such a waffle card it’s not a chase mythic that everyone wants and will cost twenty to thirty dollars. Still if anyone has an idea of how to make this work in any format please post below in the comments. I think it just sucks.
Dread Slaver – 3BB – Creature – Zombie Horror – R – Whenever a creature dealt damage by Dread Slaver this turn dies, return it to the battlefield under your control. That creature is a black Zombie in addition to its other types. 3/5. Once Grave Titan and Phyrexian Obliterator rotate out of Standard I think this is going to see a lot of play in place of them. Until then this is going to stay a Limited bomb and a great card for black/X control decks in Block. I mean being able to mind control creatures is awesome sauce, and with the green fight cards this gets even better.
Driver of the Dead – 3B – Creature – Vampire – C – When Driver of the Dead dies, return target creature card with converted mana cost 2 or less from your graveyard to the battlefield. 3/2. That’s not a bad dude in any format out side of Legacy and Modern. I mean he’s a 3/2 beater that can bring back another beater when he is killed, and he helps to feed the dude hungry demons in this set. I like it.
Essence Harvest – 2B – Sorcery – C – Target player loses X life and you gain X life,, where X is the greatest power among creatures you control. I like it. It’s like hitting them with you best dude if you best dude had life link. In limited games this could be the last bit of damage you need to deal but can’t force past their blockers. Also it helps you to stall if you are starting to lose the damage race.
Evernight Shade – 3B – Creature – Shade – U – B: Evernight Shade gets +1/+1 until end of turn. Undying. 1/1. I like shades in Limited because they are so useful in combat with their built in trick. The fact is that they cause the opponent to have to respect such a small creature because it could be the one that kills them. Having undying means that even if this eats removal like normal shades it’s going to need two removal spells to really kill it.
Exquisite Blood – 4B – Enchantment – R – Whenever an opponent lose life, you gain that much life. Limited bomb. Let’s face it Limited is all about the race to deal twenty points before the other guy. It’s pure simple Magic, and this enchantment turns the tables on the opponent because with each life lost they lose the game more and more. Totally a cool card to have in Limited matches.
Ghoulflesh – B – Enchantment – Aura – C – Enchant creature. Enchanted creature gets -1/-1 and is a black Zombie in addition to its other colors and types. Let’s be honest here, this is nothing more than a removal spell in Limited or a way to give a creature -1/-1 to make it weaker. If you are playing this to make your own creature into a Zombie you are doing something very wrong.
Gloom Surgeon – 1B – Creature – Spirit – R – If combat damage would be dealt to Gloom Surgeon, prevent that Damage and exile that many cards from the top of your library. 2/1. Jank! I’m not going to even talk about why this guy sucks, and I’m sure you can figure out why.
Grave Exchange – 4BB – Sorcery – C – Return target creature card from you graveyard to hand. Target player sacrifices a creature. Limited and Commander will like this card, but the rest of the formats are going to hate it. Still it’s removal that gets around hexproof and it gets you a dude back into your hand, but at that casting cost it should put your dude onto the battlefield. That’s the true reason it isn’t going to be played in competitive decks.
Griselbrand – 4BBBB – Legendary Creature – Demon – M – Flying, lifelink. Pay 7 life: Draw seven cards. 7/7. This is going right into my Legacy Dredge deck once I get one. Soon as I get him reanimated all I have to do is use that draw ability once or twice and I got my full deck in the graveyard and I’m coming with a Zombie army led by him and Flame-Kin Zealot. Trust me if you have any kind of reanimation deck in any format you are going to want to play him.
Harvester of Souls – 4BB – Creature – Demon – R – Deathtouch. Whenever another non-token creature dies, you may draw a card. 5/5. Great late game bomb in limited and a solid beater for a Commander deck. Whenever he blocks or is blocked you are going to draw a card. If he isn’t blocked then your opponent will lose a quarter of their life points. I could see this jumping into Standard once we lose the Titans in October.
Homicidal Seclusion – 4B – Enchantment – U – As long as you control exactly one creature, that creature gets +3/+1 and has lifelink. Well this does help to get around the down side of only having one creature on the table by helping you stay ahead on life. Still, I don’t think the lone wolf cards are going to be good out side of limited.
Human Frailty – B – Instant – U – Destroy target Human creature. This is going to be nuts in Limited, Block, and Standard for the next twenty-two months. One mana to kill humans, totally awesome sauce in formats with Human tribal overload.
Hunted Ghoul – B – Creature – Zombie – Hunted Ghoul can’t block Humasn. ½. Great in Limited, but I don’t think it is going to see much play out side of that unless it’s in Commander as a one drop for a Zombie tribal deck.
Killing Wave – XB – Sorcery – R – For each creature, its controller sacrifices it unless he or she pays X life. This is a great card in any format. That said it’s not going to be a wrath effect, but rather that card that puts you opponent in a very dangerous place. When you are ahead on life but behind on creatures is the best time to play this because you get the most us out of it. A well timed and priced Killing Wave should win you every game.
Maalfeld Twins – 5B – Creature – Zombie – U – When Maalfeld Twins dies, put two 2/2 Zombie creature tokens onto the battlefield. 4/4. Loving this in Limited and Zombie tribal Commander decks. Even if it dies you still get to have four points of creatures on the battlefield.
Marrow Bats – 4B – Creature – Bat Skeleton – U – Flying. Pay 4 life: Regenerate Marrow Bats. 4/1. Sure it flies and deals four points, but that isn’t enough to move this out of Limited decks.
Mental Agony – 3B – Sorcery – C – Target player discards two cards and loses 2 life. Nice limited tempo card. Puts them down on cards well still dealing damage is worth the four mana in that format only.
Necrobite – 2B – Instant – C – Target creature gains deathtouch until end of turn. Regenerate it. Solid Limited combat trick. The trouble with deathtouch tricks is that for the most part the creature with deathtouch isn’t going to be able to survive combat, but with this regenerating it that isn’t a problem. Nice trick.
Polluted Dead – 4B – Creature – Zombie – C – When Polluted Dead dies, destroy target land. 3/3. Another great dork for Limited and Commander as it ask the question of killing it and lose a land, or taking three damage. That’s a question I really want to ask my opponent to make.
Predator’s Gambit – B – Enchantment – Aura – C – Enchant creature. Enchanted creature gets +2/+1/ Enchanted creature has intimidate as long as its control controls no other creatures. If only auras were good outside of Limited this card would rock. Still using it to pump you one drop creature into a beater is very nice in the forty card formats.
Renegade Demon – 3BB – Creature – Demon – C – 5/3. Limited beater and a minion for some kind of Demon based Commander deck.
Searchlight Geist – 2B – Creature – Spirit – C – Flaying. 3B: Searchlight Geist gains deathtouch until end of turn. 2/1. Nice flier for Limited. The fact that you can give it deathtouch means that it could even work in a black/X control deck in the format. I like this.
Soulcage Fiend – 1BB – Creature – Demon – C – When Soulcage Fiend dies, each player loses 3 life. 3/2. Nice limited beater, but I feel that it is going to get played around by you opponent and they are going to keep it alive until you start to fall behind on life or kill it before you start to gain an edge.
Treacherous Pit-Dweller – BB – Creature – Demon – R – When Treacherous Pit-Dweller enters the battlefield from a graveyard, target opponent gains control of it. Undying. 4/3. Warning, playing this out side of limited without some kind of graveyard removal or way to regain control of it is just stupid. Still this makes me want to get some copies of Homeward Path and build some kind of Mono-black beat down deck just for fun.
Triumph of Cruelty – 2B – Enchantment – U – At the beginning of your upkeep, target opponent discards a card if you control the creature with the greatest power or tied for the greatest power. I like this in Limited as it’s one of those cards that allows you to keep pressing you advantage by keeping them down on cards as you get to beat on them with the largest creature. Still it takes a bunch of work to get this to work out side of Limited.
Undead Executioner – 3B – Creature Zombie – C – When Undead Executioner deis, you may have target creature get -2/-2 until end of turn. 2/2. Love this in limited as it can block a 4/4 and trade with it without using any tricks or pumps. Or it could trade with a ground creature and kill a small flier at the same time.
Unhallow Pact – 2B – Enchantment – Aura – C – Enchant creature. When enchanted creature dies, return that card to the battlefield under your control. I like this both in and out of Limited. I mean you enchant your opponents best dude then hit is with a removal spell to take it under your control and just start beating them with it. Can you tell I love paying “stop hitting yourself!” cards?
So I almost wanted to fail Black going into this but I have to give it some impressive grades. Flavor is an A+ because it has really captured the idea that all these devils have started to fight with each other and the vampires and zombies have been banished back to the shadows. Commander gets a B+ as the set does have a good number of expensive cards that are fun to play in that format, and with all the Demons tribal fans can start working on Demon Commander decks. As for Draft, black gets a C- it’s going to be hard to draft black as the main color and even as a support color it will force you to draft around the black themes. The impact this part of the set is going to have on Standard is very small, if at all, and that is why it gets an F.
That low grade will carry over to my advice to those looking to play in the sealed box tournament. Guys, if any of you are going to use black, just use the removal spells. You might be able to get away with using the Demonic Taskmaster, Driver of the Dead, Dread Slaver, Polluted Dead, and Unhallowed Pact as these are clearly the best non-removal black cards.
Well that’s it for black which means I’m at the half way point. Join me next time for the Red cards. This has been…
Jeffrey Carmichael II
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