Welcome back! This is the second part of my review of Innistrad. If this is the first time reading one of my articles here is what you can expect to be reading in the next couple of pages. I am a Commander finance focused player, but I love playing Standard. Usually at FNM, but I try to hit up PTQs, States/Provincials (I’m from Toronto so Ontario Provincials is what I play in), and Regionals as well, work permitting. I also dabble in Legacy but I recently had my dual land set stolen so I’ve pretty much stopped caring about Legacy until I figure out what to do going forward.
This was a full set of playset of Revised dual lands, fetch lands and shock lands that was stolen from me. Suffice to say I was a little heart broken. Even if I knew who did it, without proof there is no way I could accuse anyone of such a heinous act. It almost made me quit the game we all love, but in the end there really wasn’t anything I could do. I just had to move on. So I am somewhat knowledgeable on anything from Legacy to Commander and follow the financial markets of all formats except for Vintage pretty closely. I have a few calls that I don’t hear chatter about so hopefully I can get you a little bit of an edge in the trading market with my suggestions.
This really has to be WotC trolling all the Mono Black Control lovers out there. Getting this card right after Bloodghast rotates out is like a punch in the face. The deck still probably would have not been tier 1, but it would have made UB control with Bloodghast much stronger. It works nicely with Solemn Simulacrum but you already have so much value out of him it probably isn’t worth it to warp your deck around this interaction alone. It does seem like a very good Commander card as sac outlets are always appreciated as well as card draw. It is also an Instant, which is a plus. Pick up foils for your Commander fans.
Army of the Damned
My buddy @tlyerthefro (see below for twitter contest) is dying to combo this card with Warstorm Surge. Although it may not be the most competitive combo, it sure sounds like a blast. It will be really exciting to see that combo in action around the Commander tables at our local game store. If the Titans did not exist, I could actually see this card being a cool finisher for certain decks but at almost any time Grave Titan is just better and comes down 2 turns quicker. Casual appeal will keep this above bulk Mythic, probably around the $3 range. As time goes on this will continue to creep up in value like other high casting cost, unique and splashy spells you see all over Commander tables. Foils could get pretty pricey for this so get one early if you want one for your collection and don't be shy to pick them up as an investment either. As long as the Commander market keeps on going the way it is going right now, this could follow a similar pricing as Tooth and Nail down the line.
This card could have been good if it was a little cheaper as a few of the curses are actually decent. If they make a few more good curses it could be worth the mana, but either way I think the deck will be a second tier strategy at best (and that's stretching it). I am not so sure if curses are good enough for Commander as they bring on the heat way too much. I love the concept of curses though. Not sure if they got it from Dominion or just the general flavor of curses, but I am a real fan.
This is a great finisher card for Black decks, but it would have been even better if Go for the Throat or Dismember did not exist. Many players underestimate the beauty of drawing extra cards so you may be able to get these for a decent price. With the Titans running around, any creature around four or more casting cost has to really do something special for it to be worthy of a spot in someone’s 75. Is Bloodgift Demon that dominating that it deserves a spot? Possibly not, but the meta will show how good or bad this creature really is. Compared to Consecrated Sphinx it pretty much sucks with only a few situations where I would want this above the sphinx. In an interesting twist, pair this with Consecrated Sphinx and you end up with a very good combination. Is it win more? Consecrated Sphinx is great by itself so I am not sure you really need him to be anymore dominating. I really would have liked it to be a smaller creature that cost three or four. Any lower and I would just rather have a [card Dark Confidant]Bob[/card].
Bloodline Keeper // Lord of Lineage
To me this card seems like it could have been a perfect Mythic. Its similarities to Master of the Wild Hunt and Vampire Nocturnus are what really make me think this. This could have easily been a $20 Mythic like Nocturnus was even though is saw really only second tier play at best. Either way, a transforming vampire is a recipe for a great casual priced card and this card even has the potential to be playable in Standard. There is no way this is dipping below $5, but Standard players may value him lower if he doesn't make it into a net deck. Use this to your advantage as the perception of its value will be low.
Curse of Death's Hold
This is one of the earlier mentioned playable Curses. I use playable loosely as they really won't be playable unless they get a few more good curses that cost 3 or 4 mana at the most so they can at least be castable without the Bitterheart Witch. If you can get multiples of this it can be game winning, as most decks will not have an answer to it. One might even be enough to beat certain decks. At that point the Witchbane Orb could then become a sideboard card for some decks, but in the end this is really only a deck that could be good on a certain weekend in a very specific meta. If you can get foils of all the curse pieces I think you may find a casual player out there that would worship you and give their firstborn for all of them in one shot.
Oh Carnophage how far we have come. This is actually an interesting card. As we saw with the Zendikar block Vampires, if you have enough 1-2 casting cost aggressive beaters the deck can be very effective. I would see this priced similar to Vampire Nighthawk at first and if it actually sees play it could be a chase uncommon. Keep this in mind before you leave this in a draft Common/Uncommon box.
Disciple of Griselbrand
Sac outlets for Commander can be a very important way to fuel combos as other than drawing and tutoring cards, your next most important way to get the cards you need is through your graveyard. The life gain is actually very relevant in Commander as well. Getting near infinite life is not uncommon through this type of effect in Commander. On the flip side, getting attacked for near infinite is just as common. But for the most part if you are over 100 life you should be safe from most board states. This will be an easy foil to pick up for cheap if you need it for your Commander deck.
Endless Ranks of the Dead
This is crying to be abused in Commander. It counts all Zombies, not just non token Zombies, which is very fortunate. Too bad they got rid of the Tribal mechanic because this would have been a perfect card to use it on and could have actually made it playable in Standard. At this point it is just too slow for any competitive format but that doesn't mean it won't be worth anything. From the chatter within the Magic twitter community, this is being touted as having the best art in the set so this will make foils even more noticeable and sought after. This set seems like it is more and more a casual player's paradise, which is a nice departure from Zendikar Block.
I played BR and Mono Black Vampires for a while in Standard and to me it was one of my favourite decks in a while. Kalastria Highborn was undeniably the card that transformed the deck from a fun tribal deck into a certifiable contender. Is this the new Kalastria Highborn? I am sad to say most likely not. If it was drain two life I would be much more confidant in the card, but alas it is not. The cost of four is also a deterrent, but the lack of activation cost is somewhat of a consolation prize in that aspect. This card is not entirely unplayable, but even though it has similarities to Kalastria Highborn they are very different cards.
Even though I am hearing a lot of chatter about this card, some people are still not on board with it. I don't think these people realize how good this card can get. I find the -1/-1 negligible if you build your deck with this card in mind. At worst it is a signet that gives you two mana instead of on mana which is not something anyone should dismiss. If you ever get to cast two creatures off of this card in a turn it is generating four mana for you. That’s pretty insane.
My favorite play that came out of a discussion with a few of the players from my local game store is as follows:
Turn 2, play Heartless Summoning.
Turn 3, play Urabrask, the Hidden, possibly attack with your 3/3.
Turn 4, play [card Sun Titan]any[/card] [card Frost Titan]Titan[/card], [card Grave Titan]attack[/card] [card Inferno Titan]getting[/card] [card Primeval Titan]two[/card] triggers.
Sure it's a Magical Christmasland scenario, but it really isn't a far-fetched line of play. Take out Urabrask from the equation and a turn 4 Titan is still a very powerful play, even if you don’t get to attack with it immediately. A 5/5 Titan is still a game altering play that has to be dealt with immediately. Sadly, I do have to point out that a 5/5 Titan now [card Dismember]loses its members[/card] as easy as any other creature.
Aside from dropping higher casting cost drops, this could be tailor made to abuse artifact creatures. A lot of Scars block artifact creatures have enter the battlefield triggers as well as leave the battlefield triggers which work wonders with Heartless Summoning.
I actually think it may be good in a Birthing Pod deck's sideboard, replacing Birthing Pod when they bring in hate for it. But that depends on the type of hate that decks end up using to fight Birthing Pod. I am absolutely planning on picking up some of these after the preorder dusts settles. Hopefully its price will be low as any regular rares will be in huge abundance from all the people trying to crack open “$30” Snapcaster Mages.
I am also very excited to see this being played at the Commander tables. Can the drawback be turned into a positive? Skullclamp will sure have fun with it but is there any other type of combo or synergy we can get from making our creatures just a little weaker? I'm depending on my readers to speak up in the comments section for this one.
Liliana of the Veil
Plansewalker 1 of 2 of the set. Liliana seems like Black's answer to [card Jace Beleren]little Jace[/card]. I know that she is powerful but I think some people are really just jumping on the bandwagon saying "OMGWTFBBQ Liliana is insane!!!" She isn't insane. I would be more inclined to say that all she looks like to me is what a Black deck with a control element would want in a Planeswalker. Just like how little Jace fills the role of what one would think of when it comes to a regular blue Planeswalker. I don't see her being worth over $30 unless she somehow shows up in the most dominant deck of the format, or in multiple second tier or higher decks. Sell these if you open any at the and thank me in a month when this card drops by almost half.
The morbid mechanic is actually pretty strong in my opinion. This is because for the most part, abilities are fairly costed. -4/-4 allows you to kill almost anything especially after bashing in for what seemed to be a last ditch effort to race your opponent. Players will really have to hone their skills at reading other players with Morbid around. I am pretty sure Morkrut Banshee has a place in Pod decks from now on.
On the surface this card seems like it would be decent in Commander but I am not so sure. I used to run Flametonge Kavu in any deck I could run it in but I have found it doesn't do enough. Being born in a world where creatures are in general much bigger than an average creature, four toughness is really not the easiest thing to find. Morkrut banshee is pretty much in the same boat and at times an even worse card because of the conditional nature of its ability.
Reaper from the Abyss
Now this is a little different than the last morbid creature, Morkrut Banshee. In my opinion a 6/6 flyer is the baseline for a respectable threat in Commander. Anything less is pretty run of the mill in a format where the game really starts at the 4 spot on the mana curve. Being able to destroy 2 creatures every end step will paint a big target on your head, but you can easily turn it into a political advantage. When the Reaper drops the game will warp around it and around you. Attacking may stop all together depending on the board state and the type of players you are playing with. Demons are also a collectible creature type so this has everything going for it when it comes to the Commander market.
What it doesn't have going for it is Standard playability. I don't see it taking over Massacre Wurm's place in the meta, let alone Grave Titan. In most cases, it is just too “win more” for a competitive environment. Mythic casual cards usually settle around $5 so don't dismiss this as being worthless because you don't see it being played at FNM.
Sever the Bloodline
The obvious use for this card is a token killer. I don't really see any other practical uses for it, as there are many better options out there. The only other reason to run this card is if you are facing someone who has a clone deck. *Runs off to hide his all-clone deck from this vile card*
Skirsdag High Priest
I could see this being part of some combo with Necrotic Ooze. It's probably convoluted enough to be very popular in Commander. I highly doubt this will show up in Constructed so hold till this turns into a bulk rare if you want to try it out.
This card has potential, but is never really going to be a top card in any format. It does, however fulfill all the potential it needs in the Commander landscape. People love their variable P/T creatures and this is actually useful with only a few counters on it because of its second ability. I would really only rate it a few cents above bulk unless Zombies really become the new Vampires, and everyone and their brother wants to make a Zombie deck.
This card is making everyone think reanimator strategies for Standard, but at its casting cost I am not a fan. The flashback and lower cost are very appealing but even then I think it’s one mana too high from really becoming a dominating strategy in Standard. I think ramping out to play big creatures would actually be a better concept for a deck. Save a playset just in case I am way off on this one and it does define the format. I don't want you to have to pay more than base rates for a subpar reanimation spell because of my bad advice.
In Commander this has real world applications because in the grand scheme of the Commander world the above average casting cost is more than worth it when you consider you get two uses out of it due to the flashback.
Victim of Night
This is an interesting card because it is, in some cases better than Doom Blade and Go for the Throat. For Modern and possibly Legacy this could actually become the removal of choice. It takes down Dark Confidant, Tombstalker, Tarmogoyf, Metalworker and Arcbound Ravager. Off the top of my head there really isn't any Legacy or Modern creature this card can't take down. The double black casting cost is less relevant the further back you go in formats so don't let foils of this card slip away. It may seem like it is just a weird block specific piece of removal but it really could be a Legacy staple. I am pretty sure most people will not even know that foils of this card could be worth a few bucks. Get these while you can before word gets out.
One of my favourite plays in recent Pod decks versus Tempered Steel was playing a Tuktuk Scrapper, then cloning it with a Phantasmal Image. This line of play was pretty much game over for any Tempered steel deck. Ancient Grudge is not this exact play but it is close, and at instant speed at that. I love this reprint, and this should hopefully be enough to keep Tempered Steel in check. Time Spiral foils are $9.99 on SCG and Innistrad foils are $4.99 on SCG. Keep this in mind when you are looking through trade binders.
This is a big, nasty, and oh so beautiful Dragon custom built for Commander. The first thing I said when I saw this creature is that it would be amazing with haste. Enter Anger, Lightning Greaves, or the commander of the Dragon world, Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund. There is a plethora of haste effects in Commander but these are the most likely ones you will see around the tables. I have to admit I am salivating at the possibility of owning this in foil, so rest assured there will be others like me out there too. This is an easy card to get from competitive players that have no idea about the power of the casual market.
I will have to see the meta before I judge this card, but I can see this card doing next to nothing. I don't think I've ever really liked a card that had to attack each turn except in limited but I just see this creature attacking and either getting chumped or dying to a 2/1 or something along those lines. This is not making me confident in my once loved Vampire archetype.
Is our new direct damage suite going to be Shock, Incinerate[/] and Brimstone Volley? If so the face of RDW will definitely have to change but I think the loss of Goblin guide has more to do with that than anything else. Brimstone Volley is actually pretty powerful, as five damage to a creature is pretty much a kill shot for anything other than a Titan. As [card]Goblin Grenade has taught us, five damage to the face is very useful at killing opponents.
This card reminds me of Astral Slide and Lightning Rift. If there are a lot of decent flashback cards with decent costs that have broad uses, and are instants this card could actually play like Astral Slide. Alas, there probably are not enough instant flashback cards to make this dream a reality. If this dream does actually start to pan out, Ancient Grudge would definitely have to be a part of the deck and in turn Pod, Equipster and Tempered Steel would need to be the top decks of the format.
This is what happens when you feed your Kiln Fiends after midnight. Surprisingly, this could actually show up as a finisher in a UR control deck. Getting multiple uses out of your burn, counters, and Ponders is what I see this card doing, and doing it well at times. Is it better than a Frost Titan? I'm not sure but I think it is. On the other hand, it is probably not as good as Consecrated Sphinx. I am excited to see this card in action as I haven’t heard of anyone really getting excited about I yet. Its splashability is also a huge asset as well.
I do not see how this cannot end up being played in a Commander game. It is perfect for Commander, and hopefully I can fit it in my Wort, the Raidmother deck.
Curse of Stalked Prey
This is the other "playable" curse. It is surprisingly very aggressively costed, at least in my opinion. Giving all of your creatures the [card Whirling Dervish]dervish[/card] ability is huge and after the first hit it is better than a regular +1/+1. I think this will be a role-player in the upcoming Standard showing up in various aggro builds when required, most notably in post rotation Tempered Steel.
In Commander, the damage is not the most important aspect of this card, it's actually the +1/+1 counters. If you can find a way to abuse them this is the card for you. Doubling Season found yet another card it makes even better.
This is a possible sleeper card of the set. If red decks become more midrange, and they most likely will have to without Goblin Guide leading their curve, this would be the perfect top to the curve. I really like the fact that it has Haste. I don't think this is going to be a big money rare by any means because it has a very specific use and has to fight for space with the Titans, but don't be scared of testing it out. Pair him with a few of the other dervish cards and you have yourself a mean finisher.
This could get really fun in Commander. It's almost like playing Russian roulette. I'd get one just for the kicks but I doubt this will ever go above bulk.
This is an interesting card and because it's a ritual I would hedge my bets and get any foil I could find just in case. Who knows, there may be a Priest of Urabrask deck somewhere in the wilderness dying to come out.
Instigator Gang // Wildblood Pack
The flipped pump is pretty savage in the right deck, but I will have to see how well the Werewolves do before saying any of them are worth it in Standard. If there were a few more cards like Moonmist I would be more inclined to believe in them as a tribe. Hopefully as the block moves on they will become a playable archetype as they seem really fun.
Past in Flames
I am really not sure why this card is preordering for so much. I understand the reasoning but I really don't think it should be worth more than $5. It is close to Yawgmoth's Will but without being able to replay artifacts and costing one more mana could turn this card into just a role player instead of the second coming. If it does end up just as good as Yawgmoth's Will, it will get banned or restricted in the appropriate formats as well which makes it a risky call for higher priced speculating. At the moment I don't see it doing anything in Standard that Snapcaster Mage would not just be better at. So even if it is good in either Vintage, Legacy or Modern this does not translate to a $10 card at the moment.
Is it good in Commander? Yes, but $10 good? Still not sold on that price point. I just don't think there will be enough demand for this card, but I could totally be off the mark on this one. I don't know enough about what decks it will be played in to make a 100% confident guess at it's worth. In the end I think it should follow the price of something like Ad Nauseam, if it were Mythic that is. Ad Nauseam is currently $1, so $5 seems almost too high but I'll give it that because of Commander playability, which Ad Nauseam pretty much lacks. That all said, foils should be priced pretty well as any format it ends up playable in has a huge foil following.
A vampire lord, dervish style. If Vampires becomes an archetype again, this guy will be central to it. Grab some foils for cheap if you see them. If it was not vampire specific I think we could have had a decent deck that could have threatened to take Tempered Steel's crown as the number one aggro deck in the format.
Reckless Waif // Merciless Predator
This creature is actually pretty aggressive if you can transform it quick. Wild Nactl aggressive. But as I said with a previous werewolf, I need to see how well they do together. This guy could also possibly work in a RDW style deck but I think it is outclassed by Stormblood Berserker. The main problem I have with the Transforming Werewolves is that your opponent can transform them to their Human form every turn if they wanted to. I don't see that being an issue for control decks with tons of great card draw floating around. It will make them tap out more so you can get your bombs past counters more often but that naturally makes you walk into wrath effects. As I said before, I think Moonmist style cards are the only thing that will make the Werewolf tribe playable. You need to be in full control of your pack otherwise they may end up a bunch of puppies.
This is basically our new Goblin Guide. A little different but possibly just as good. I have no doubt in my mind that this card will see play.
If the vampire tribe makes a comeback, this guy is their go-to one drop. With the dervish abilities stacking this creature could get pretty big.
Obviously this is not going to happen every game but even having two dervish abilities triggering at the same time gets out of hand pretty quickly.
Oooh this could have been a very scary card if it existed in Zendikar Standard. I could even see Vampires making a splash in Modern now due to this card alone.
Black and Red provide us with pretty much the usual fair, decent creatures, and good removal. I may be either underestimating the new look Vampire tribe or I may be overestimating them. Only time will tell. Werewolves on the other hand, I am pretty sure I have a good grasp on them. I doubt anyone will be requiring a ton of checklist cards or 100% opaque sleeves when it comes to Standard.
And Now, a Contest!
I hope you all like free cards! My friend, @tylerthefro, and I (@RyeABC) wanted to jump on the twitter contest bandwagon so we are going to have a little competition. In the past we both have really only used Twitter to lurk and sometimes shout our 140 character two cents to the world of Magic. That is about to change as I am stepping up my writing game for Quiet Speculation starting by the end of October. I am getting hitched to my long time girlfriend on Oct 7th and once all our wedding preparations are out of the way I will have much more time to devote to writing as well as selling cards.
Tyler is now starting to write regularly on his personal blog updating his Junk Rare Challenge weekly. I have seen some of Tyler’s mad brews take down FNMs and he almost won a Mox with his signature Eldrazi Elf concoction. He is a brewer’s brewer, and a great guy to follow.
We were going to add in our buddy @derfington to the contest but he’s too busy at the moment to give his all to it so he’s sitting it out at the moment. He smokes both Tyler and I in followers and community recognition so even with a handicap, I am pretty sure he would have won. His comic strip on manadeprived.com is almost like using a nuke in a twitter war.
Here are the details to our twitter battle:
-First to 100 followers wins
Winner gives out his prizes to a random lucky follower.
-If I win I personally will be giving out a foil Rhys the Redeemed, ready to lead a token Commander deck to victory. Depending how well this goes I also have a few other foil commanders available for the taking. Foil Akroma, Angel of Wrath from Time Spiral, foil Scion of the Ur-Dragon, or foil Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur. Rhys is the most expensive but if the winner would rather another one I would be fine with switching up the prize to keep my followers happy.
-If Tyler wins check out his blog and his twitter feed for any updates to his prizes.
-If I lose, and I'm not because Tyler is going down, I will be giving away something fun, possibly some signed cards or random oddities I have in my collection. I'll update you along the way.
I will be tweeting almost exclusively about Magic through my Twitter account. I say almost because I am sure I may pipe in about a new show I am watching. More people need to watch stuff like Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead (read the comic too!) and Spartacus. All great shows that in my opinion most Magic players would love. As for Magic I will mainly be sharing financial advice as new hot trends start to manifest themselves. So if you want to get a leg up on the financial competition follow me and you wont be sorry.
Thanks everyone for your time today and hope to see you clicking that follow button.
Join me tomorrow for the Green and artifact cards of Innistrad. I hope you like Werewolves!