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I write set reviews from a tournament player's perspective, not a financial perspective.
As such, I try to approach new set releases with a "wide net" of all the cards which might be relevant to tournament Magic, regardless of rarity, even if it's just a sideboard 1-of that will never be worth much. This will necessarily include fringe cards. Furthermore, I will discuss every Rare and Mythic, to pick out which of the unplayed ones will quickly be bulk cards.
Note: card tags will be broken on new cards until they're in our WordPress plugin. However, they're included for the people who refer back to this article.
For those of you reading before card tags are working, follow along with a spoiler (like this one) and let's explore the new possibilities Innistrad brings.
Angel of Flight Alabaster (R): Probably not playable. The ability doesn't trigger until your next upkeep, and the creature itself is fairly unimpressive when one more mana gets Sun Titan.
Angelic Overseer (M): Possibly a fringe playable as a top-end card in a Human-driven white weenie deck, but such a thing seems unlikely to exist until later in the block, or possibly not at all until Tempered Steel is gone.
Champion of the Parish (R): This, on the other hand, is the linchpin of a Human-based white weenie deck, if one exists. Getting a set of these seems necessary for anyone who wants the ability to play every deck in the format.
Cloistered Youth (U): Effectively a 3/3 for 1W with a marginal drawback in an aggro deck, Cloistered Youth would have been an excellent creature at one time. The only reason she would see play is if a Human deck wants a 3/3 for 2 and doesn't care about the fact that she doesn't remain Human. She triggers Champion of the Parish, which would be the reason for including her at all.
Dearly Departed (R): I don't see any feasible way to set this up early enough to matter in a tribal aggro deck.
Divine Reckoning (R): This seems quite awkward in a format that's got Titans everywhere, but in block (or possibly next year's standard) it's likely to be a solid sweeper. Ideally, you want to be keeping a bigger creature than they do. If Reaper from the Abyss is the one you keep, they likely won't have anything left after your turn ends. If swarms of crappy creatures or tokens are commonplace, Divine Reckoning may be a slightly better choice than Day of Judgment.
Doomed Traveler (C): This isn't really all that great of a creature, but it does provide marginal advantage upon death. If Birthing Pod decks switch from a mana ramp setup to a pure card advantage setup, this might be a reasonable 1-drop to start the chain with.
Elite Inquisitor (R): Almost certainly playable. White Knight has been a maindeckable creature from time to time, and a 2/2 with Vigilance and First Strike isn't exactly terrible even if he's not facing down the monsters he's immune to.
Fiend Hunter (U): A very important card in the new format, Fiend Hunter is an excellent 3-mana creature for Birthing Pod decks, and is likely to see widespread play beyond that. Get your 4 immediately, and it's worth considering whether he's got the potential to become this set's money uncommon.
Geist-Honored Monk (R): Alone, this is a 5/5 for 5, of which 2 power of it fly. That's straight-up worse than Cloudgoat Ranger, but since this will be bigger with more creatures, it may be powerful enough to see play. The question for the next year is if this card can ever compete with Hero of Bladehold.
Intangible Virtue (U): This is a great deal weaker than Honor of the Pure or Tempered Steel, but it's possible that this is good enough to see play in block.
Mentor of the Meek (R): A card advantage engine for an aggro deck, it's possible that this is the best way for white weenie decks to recover from sweepers. However, it's got stiff competition from Shrine of Loyal Legions in that role, and is fairly marginal in combat on his own.
Midnight Haunting (U): Spectral Procession this isn't, but this card could see fringe play due to being an Instant as well.
Mikaeus, the Lunarch (M): The preview card from FTV: Legends, Mikaeus has an undeniable amount of raw power, and could serve as a slightly-worse Steel Overseer replacement. Its versatility means it can see play in any number of aggressive swarm decks.
Nevermore (R): At 3 mana I'm not sure that this is ever going to see play in Eternal sideboards; but the fact that it isn't a creature is a point in its favor over Meddling Mage. Not much of one, since most of the Eternal decks used Chain of Vapor and Echoing Truth to deal with Pikula, but perhaps this is more relevant in a world filled with Dismember.
Silverchase Fox (C): Certainly a great deal worse than Kami of Ancient Law/Ronom Unicorn, but if the effect is desired, then the mana cost probably isn't a real issue.
Spectral Rider (U): A 2/2 Intimidate for 2 in White is unusual, to say the least. This guy carries a Sword quite well, and should be able to punch through most defenses.
Stony Silence (R): Some have proclaimed this to be the death of Birthing Pod and Tempered Steel, but those are likely over-optimistic predictions. Steel doesn't actually have all that many artifacts with activated abilities, and Pod can simply ramp out a Titan or use Acidic Slime to free up the Pod anyway. Stony Silence doesn't seem like a great replacement over Null Rod in Legacy, unless there's serious reason to prefer an enchantment to an artifact.
Unruly Mob (C): Not a great creature, but for Block players it's probably worth mentioning that this pairs really well with Divine Reckoning if you're looking to play sweepers in White Weenie.
Urgent Exorcism (C): A possible fringe sideboard card, since it's more flexible than Demystify. The catch? There are no Spirits in Scars block, and the only one in Magic 2012 is Tormented Soul.
Village Bell-Ringer (C): Yet another infinite combo with Splinter Twin, but luckily we're spared another year of that deck being legal since Twin itself rotates out of Standard. This has potential relevance as a 1-of in Modern, since it lets you cast Gifts Ungiven to get 3 untappers and a counterspell- you no longer have to be concerned with spending additional mana to recur one of the creatures (though this is still an issue on the Splinter Twin half of the combo); the question is whether it's worth it to add white so that Gifts can be used in this manner.
Back from the Brink (R): Trashy casual garbage.
Cackling Counterpart (R): The restriction on this to creatures you control probably renders it unplayable, especially since it can't be fetched out via Birthing Pod. There is a truly ridiculous number of Clone effects right now.
Curiosity (U): Curiosity saw some fringe play in 2005-2006, mostly in Vintage and Legacy "fish" decks before Lorwyn block turned Fish back into a deck full of actual Merfolk. Curiosity also saw sideboard play in Mike Turian's 64th-place U/G Madness deck from Worlds 2003 in Berlin. Is it likely to see a lot of play today? Probably not - but it's worth keeping tabs on for that surprise one-hit-wonder deck.
Delver of Secrets (C): This is extremely marginal but if it's possible to set this up as an early 3/2 flier consistently, it may see some play. Expect this one at the FNM level if nothing else.
Deranged Assistant (C): Ordinarily, this would be completely dismissed, but since it can help set up Skaab Ruinator without being completely terrible the rest of the time, this may be playable.
Dissipate (U): Another reprint; this is likely to see play since it's superior to Cancel. Of course, so is Stoic Rebuttal, so it's going to be a question of what else is in the blue decks.
Forbidden Alchemy (U): A strange combination of Careful Study, Impulse, and Think Twice, the steep mana cost is the primary obstacle to this card seeing play... especially since Think Twice got reprinted.
Frightful Delusion (C): It's important to realize that even if the opponent pays 1, the discard will still happen. This is probably more playable than it looks at first glance.
Invisible Stalker (U): There's been a lot of talk of using this as a sword-carrier in a new Caw-Blade deck, but that ignores all the other advantages Squadron Hawk had, particularly against aggro decks. Even if its case has been overstated thus far, Stalker is likely to see play.
Laboratory Maniac (R): So you set up this wacky combo with Leveler or whatever, and before you draw your card on your next turn or cast Brainstorm they cast Swords to Plowshares and you die. This is just terrible.
Lantern Spirit (U): This is a frustrating creature to play against, and could actually make it in Standard.
Ludevic's Test Subject (R): You can play Consecrated Sphinx and Frost Titan. Why bother with this?
Memory's Journey (U): At first glance, this seems like some terrible graveyard hoser that's just awful compared to Tormod's Crypt or Nihil Spellbomb, but if you're able to set that up on your own empty library to do something... could this be part of a new Doomsday stack or something similar? I'd keep an eye on this one.
Mindshrieker (R): The first thing to note is that this is a win condition for infinite mana decks that is non-terrible when you don't have infinite mana (compare to Blue Sun's Zenith, which is fairly awful if you don't at least have a lot), and can serve as an "alternate" win condition through combat. If a deck like this doesn't exist, is Mindshrieker still playable? There's been a lot of talk about this card both ways, and I just don't think it's all that impressive unless you can reasonably control your mills to make it hit harder, or otherwise gain serious value off the milling.
Mirror-Mad Phantasm (M): You know all those people who were speculating wildly on Jace, Memory Adept because the ability to mill 10 of your own cards on command might be important when Innistrad comes out? This guy does something similar. If you play exactly one, you dump half your deck on average. If you play two, you dump a third of your deck on average. This doesn't really seem good enough- but if you treat it as a 5/1 flier for 5 where the self-mill is a bonus, maybe then it's worth playing. I'm inclined to think it's not good enough to see play, but a lot of people are going to experiment with it since nothing like this has really seen print before.
Rooftop Storm (R): By the time you cast a 6 mana enchantment that lets you dump zombies from your hand for free, you could have just cast them all already. Pass.
Runic Repetition (U): Cute. Unless there's something amazing with Flashback that isn't hideously expensive or wins the game on the spot, this is useless.
Silent Departure (C): Sorcery-speed Unsummon with Flashback - this might see fringe play.
Skaab Ruinator (M): A powerhouse 3-drop for Birthing Pod decks, and it could see some play otherwise if there's a deck which can reasonably use the recursion ability and make UU at the same time.
Snapcaster Mage (R): Probably the best rare in the set, Snapcaster Mage is essentially a Regrowth on legs. The bigger the format, the better Snapcaster Mage gets. Being able to Snapcast something like Ancestral Recall or Tinker can win a game on the spot. Just remember that he doesn't work all that well with Gush or Force of Will.
Sturmgeist (R): This seems terrible. Best-case scenario is what, an 8/8 for 5? That's not even that far over the line, and it's an incredible amount of effort to maintain that number of cards in hand.
Think Twice (C): Almost certainly the default blue card draw spell for the new Standard format, especially since Preordain is gone and Ponder has lost its fetchlands.
Undead Alchemist (R): Another crappy casual rare.
Altar's Reap (C): In response to Dismember, I'll draw 2 cards? Seems decent. Not sure if this is good enough to play over Sign in Blood, but if you've got sacrifice triggers and Morbid effects, it could be a solid role-player.
Army of the Damned (M): For 6 mana you can cast Grave Titan, which can actually save you from dying. This thing costs 10 to flash back? Why are you ever having to flash it back after making 13 2/2s?
Bloodgift Demon (R): Black's answer to Consecrated Sphinx is comparatively underwhelming. This probably doesn't cut it while Grave Titan is around, but might earn a niche slot from time to time.
Bloodline Keeper (R): This card is actually good enough to play the top-end of a Vampires deck well; the question is whether Vampires is a good enough deck to bother with when Pulse Tracker, Bloodghast, Kalastria Highborn, and Gatekeeper of Malakir are all gone. I'd suspect the answer to that is no, but as more sets come out, Vampires may make a resurgence.
Bump in the Night (C): Red decks once ran Lava Spike. Bump is better since it's got flashback, but worse since it's black. If we get lots of effects like this, don't be surprised to see a "stupid red burn" style deck appear.
Curse of Death's Hold (R): This is a stackable Night of Soul's Betrayal, but at the cost of 5 mana it's not likely to see much play unless X/1s are everywhere.
Dead Weight (C): This is comparable to Disfigure, but is better against large creatures. I'm not sure how this is going to make it into a deck when we've got Doom Blade, Go for the Throat, Victim of Night, and Dismember around.
Diregraf Ghoul (U): A 2/2 for 1 is a respectable creature that's seen play in many forms. The drawback here is more or less negligible, and the Zombie creature type might be relevant.
Endless Ranks of the Dead (R): The fact that this rounds down makes it a problematic top-end card, since it doesn't work well following a sweeper.
Falkenrath Noble (U): Generally not a playable card, but serves as a potential kill condition if you've got a way to loop creatures indefinitely. Note that this doesn't work in the Leonin Relic-Warder combo, since that doesn't have creatures dying. The 2nd toughness point might be critical, if there's a Heartless Summoning deck using this.
Ghoulcaller's Chant (C): B for double Disentomb with a tribal restriction is reasonable. If there's a Zombie deck this will probably make an appearance in at least some quantity to push the edge in the mirror.
Heartless Summoning (R): This is either completely terrible or a serious combo enabler. It's hard to tell which at this point, but if some sort of recursion creature were to make an appearance, this could chain with Falkenrath Noble. As an example, a pair of Myr Retrievers would go infinite with this and the Noble. Since that seems like one of the best-case scenarios and it's a 4-card combo, I'm expecting this card to be on par with Training Grounds (read: bad).
Liliana of the Veil (M): The only way this card is playable is if the +1 ability is desirable. That means your deck has to be built to abuse her, otherwise she's just a bad Cruel Edict effect that forces you to discard a card and wait an extra turn before you can Edict a second time. My vote is for overrated.
Morkrut Banshee (U): An excellent 5 for black Birthing Pod decks, the Banshee will always trigger off the Pod. Outside of that, she's more expensive than Skinrender and it's not yet clear how important that 4th point of toughness will be in this format.
Reaper from the Abyss (M): A playable 6 in black Birthing Pod decks, if Reaper lives, you get to kill a creature. If a game goes long, he takes it over handily- though with a 6/6 flier in the mix, it's hard to see how the game can go very long.
Sever the Bloodline (R): This seems like a reasonable answer to token swarms as well as Clone effects - just remember to target the actual creature and not the Phantasmal Image!
Tribute to Hunger (U): This appears to be a fringe-playable Edict effect.
Unbreathing Horde (R): This is a strong pull towards Zombies being a real deck. The power level here is fairly high, and the Horde is an excellent card to use for post-sweeper recovery- a problem many aggro decks never really find an answer to. It's excellent against red decks as well.
Unburial Rites (U): It's just Zombify with a more-expensive Flashback. It might be a fringe playable the way Polymorph was, but I don't expect it to be even that good unless there are cheaper reanimation spells as well.
Vampire Interloper (C): Essentially a black Stormfront Pegasus. Leonin Skyhunter was once a playable card, and if Vampire tribal is a real deck, it's probably playing this guy as an evasive 2-drop. Unfortunately, the fact that Vampire tribal would play this guy as an evasive 2-drop is a point against it being a good deck in the modern era of a high creature power level.
Victim of Night (C): Welcome to the Terror club. Since this costs BB, the multi-colored decks are going to stick to Go for the Throat and Doom Blade, but monocolored decks may adopt this instead.
Ancient Grudge (C): We've already seen this one, and it's obviously one of the best cards at doing what it does.
Balefire Dragon (M): A mythic that's sure to piss us all off during the sealed PTQ season, this is utterly unplayable in Constructed.
Blasphemous Act (R): A bizarre red Wrath variant, this is excellent at handling swarms of tokens and the like, but terrible at being used as "point removal" for individual hard-to-kill creatures. With 5 creatures on the table, this costs 4 mana just like Day of Judgment, so that's the baseline that you've got to meet. On the other hand, Whipflare and Slagstorm are options in Standard, so the utility here isn't so much on fighting token swarms as it is on fighting token swarms paired with global pumps. This probably won't see that much play.
Brimstone Volley (C): A solid 3-for-3 burn spell, with a reasonably achievable upgrade. Burn spells like this have seen play from time to time.
Curse of Stalked Prey (R): Leave it for the FNM crowd.
Devil's Play (R): An incredible Blaze variant. You don't have to hold this one for full value the first time around like you did on Banefire or Demonfire - it's usable as removal and as a finisher in the same game!
Falkenrath Marauders (R): Clearly unplayable.
Geistflame (C): A Lava Dart clone, Geistflame can serve as a solid utility card if the metagame revolves heavily around X/1s. Arc Trail is some stiff competition, though.
Harvest Pyre (C): This is comparable to Spitting Earth, or a pricier Skred. Not many 2-mana red burn spells can kill a Titan, but this one can. The only catch? It seems incredibly awkward to play this and Grim Lavamancer in the same deck. I'm guessing this one rides the sidelines until Lavamancer's gone.
Heretic's Punishment (R): Draco and Erratic Explosion was a deck once. This just doesn't stack up.
Infernal Plunge (C): They couldn't have lined it up with Culling the Weak by making it add 4 red mana? It's very annoying that this mechanic got realigned with red instead of black after they realized all the black Rituals were overpowered. Needless to say, this probably isn't powerful enough to do anything, especially in Standard, but there's a fringe possibility that it could be used for something in Legacy where Culling the Weak was the wrong color for whatever reason.
Instigator Gang (R): This is no Hero of Oxid Ridge.
Into the Maw of Hell (U): As dumb as this card is, getting rid of one of the utility lands and basically any creature in the format for 6 mana is not a terrible 2-for-1. It's one of red's few answers to Tree of Redemption, to boot, though at 6 mana it'd be fairly tempting to just give up and play Blasphemous Act instead.
Kruin Outlaw (R): I can't really picture this guy transforming right away in any format, but if blue control decks start to get inbred this can be a rather brutal beating for them since it forces them to play in unnatural ways to prevent her from transforming. Or, you know, they could just aim a Doom Blade at it.
Past in Flames (M): This is a new Yawgmoth's Will, and could well replace Ill-Gotten Gains in Legacy storm decks. That's a huge improvement - trading away the ability to recur Lion's Eye Diamond for the opponent's inability to recur Counterspells seems like a net win, especially when Past in Flames lets you recur more than 3 cards - which probably gets back the mana you lost by not being able to recur LED. The downside is this forces you to move into red, but that's not such a terribly bad downside - Burning Wish is also available.
Rage Thrower (U): Like Falkenrath Noble, this is another kill condition if you've got a loop of creatures going- this one in red (and pricier) rather than black.
Reckless Waif (U): No, it's not as good as Goblin Guide... but really, did you expect them to print something that good? The Waif attacks as a 3/2 the turn after it's cast if the opponent doesn't cast anything, which is going to be fairly often when cast on turn 1.
Rolling Temblor (U): In exchange for costing 1 more than Pyroclasm, you gain the ability to flash it back after they've tried to rebuild. That seems like a great deal if you're in the market for Pyroclasm effects.
Stromkirk Noble (R): This is roughly equivalent to a Slith Firewalker without a Chrome Mox, and is an excellent 1-drop in a red deck with burn to clear the way. Whether red can accomplish anything in a world with Timely Reinforcements is going to be the key question for the next year.
Traitorous Blood (C): Giving the creature trample is worth going to 1RR over 2R- and if you're in monored you don't even care. The question is whether it's worth it over Act of Aggression's instant speed.
Ambush Viper (C): A rather nasty trick in green, as throwing a deathtouch guy in front of a big creature is comparable to Doom Blade. The downside is that if green wants Doom Blade, it currently has access to Dismember. Still, worth keeping in mind.
Avacyn's Pilgrim (C): This is going to be a big deal. Effectively an irrelevant Boreal Druid if you're not in white (since Birds of Paradise and Llanowar Elves are options), but better than the Elf in a deck with white. It's a Human, too, which might actually be relevant.
Boneyard Wurm (U): Creatures like this tend to not be played when their toughness can naturally be zero, but this has potential to be very large very fast. Probably won't make it big, but could pop up from time to time. It could be an interesting Green Sun's Zenith target in Legacy, if your deck expects it to be bigger than Tarmogoyf a sizable percentage of the time. That probably won't happen because of Splinterfright, though.
Bramblecrush (U): Yeah, this seems important. We've got Beast Within fighting for space, but the fact that this doesn't give the other guy a token is a pretty huge point in its favor.
Creeping Renaissance (R): This is probably too expensive to be used outside of a combo deck. Past in Flames would be better in most decks, but this could have a niche role in something like Legacy Elves or something along those lines.
Daybreak Ranger (R): It would be a very strange format indeed in which this were playable.
Elder of Laurels (R): This is a potential replacement for Mirror Entity in Legacy Elves (the fact that it's not an Elf is irrelevant) for those who want to cut white from the deck. Outside of that context, it's probably not good enough to see play.
Essence of the Wild (M): Another set, another silly Timmy green creature that isn't good enough to see play in 60-card land.
Full Moon's Rise (U): It seems safe to say that if Werewolf tribal is a deck, this card is a strong candidate for inclusion.
Garruk Relentless (M): Garruk is a far better general-purpose planeswalker than Liliana of the Veil, but Garruk, Primal Hunter is far more powerful.
Gutter Grime (R): If this cost less mana than Day of Judgment, it could create some interesting game states. Instead, it's simply unplayable. I suppose if you have a loop of creatures dying forever this is a green kill condition to go with the red and black ones, but both of those are better since they don't require passing the turn.
Hamlet Captain (U): Pumping the rest of the team by 1 when attacking or blocking is roughly the same as pumping them by 1 all the time, save where burn spells are concerned. This is probably a component of any green Human tribal deck, if one exists.
Kessig Cagebreakers (R): How many wolf tokens do you have to get to want to play green for this instead of white for Hero of Bladehold, or spend one more mana in black for Grave Titan? This is actually a decent card in terms of power level, but I'm skeptical that it'll ever find a home.
Lumberknot (U): A cheaper green card for an infinite death loop kill than Gutter Grime, and this one at least has the courtesy to kill on the same turn if you played it out in advance, but I'm skeptical that there's any sort of loop like this worth playing, regardless of what your color setup looks like.
Mayor of Avabruck (R): This is actually worse for the Human deck than Hamlet Captain, but obviously a much stronger card overall. This card is playable if it's reasonable to keep the Werewolves controlled the way you want them, but if you're unable to do that then it'll be very difficult to get the value you want out of Howlpack Alpha.
Moldgraf Montrosity (R): It's nice that when you invest 7 mana on a big dumb creature to know that you won't be totally screwed when they cast Doom Blade. In this case, you'll get back a couple of crappy mana dorks and die after chumpblocking for two turns.
Moonmist (C): The ability to make it turn to night as a combat trick is obviously ridiculous when Werewolves are facing down other kinds of creatures, but against more conventional control decks it's effectively a one-shot pump effect. The upshot is that Howlpack Alpha will give you a token on your end step, which gives you back a lot of the value you spent on casting Moonmist.
Mulch (C): This could help power the Splinterfright deck, if one exists.
Naturalize (C): This is the 3rd block out of the last 4 (skipping Scars of Mirrodin) we've seen Naturalize show up... and we've also seen it in the last 6 core sets. Meanwhile, we can't get a straight-up Disenchant reprint for some reason. Just saying.
Parallel Lives (R): I'm sure looking forward to this being a high-dollar bad-player casual card in 6 years like Doubling Season, because it sure as hell isn't seeing play at anything above the X-2 tables in real events!
Prey Upon (C): To be honest, I have no idea if this will actually see play or not. It's one of the cleanest, most elegant green removal spells of all time, and major points to R&D for figuring out how to get this card printed. I'd love to see this card go into the core set and stay there for years.
Splinterfright (R): I can't figure out if this makes Boneyard Wurm more playable or less. At some point you reach a critical mass where they're all ridiculously huge for ridiculously cheap because there's lots of creatures in the graveyard, but if you don't have that critical mass, you probably don't want to play Boneyard Wurm because it sucks without ways to stuff the graveyard, whereas Splinterfright is way better on its own.
Travel Preparations (C): This is a pretty reasonable sorcery-speed pump spell if you're looking for ways to gain a power advantage over another creature-based deck. It currently looks like the tribal decks have better options.
Tree of Redemption (M): Green gains a card that red players are going to seethe about for some time, but this really just doesn't seem all that impressive in general. Can be plunged Into the Maw of Hell, but that's only going to be relevant if the format is extremely inbred around this thing.
Evil Twin (R): With Phantasmal Image and Phyrexian Metamorph around, this is in a distant third place for Clone effects. A year from now, of course, both of those will be gone, but the Titans that are so much fun to clone will probably be gone as well- too far ahead to reasonably speculate.
Geist of Saint Traft (M): This is a 2/2 with no evasion that makes a temporary 4/4 flier. They'll block the 2/2, kill it, and the 4/4 flier goes away at the end of the turn, and you're wondering why you paid so much money for this stupid Mythic. Or they'll just kill it with the flashback Pyroclasm since you had to tap out to play it on turn 3 and you promptly ragequit in the general direction of the nearest bar. To put it bluntly - I don't buy the hype on this card.
Grimgrin, Corpse-Born (M): Nope. Save it for the casuals.
Olivia Voldaren (M): If this is playable, it'll be because it can machine-gun down opposing creatures and get massive in the process. The theft ability is just a bonus. This is pretty damn high on the power curve, and is well worth considering if you're in these colors.
Creepy Doll (R): Too expensive to be usable, which is fine, because this would be an incredibly frustrating card to have in a tournament environment.
Ghoulcaller's Bell (C): If (and only if) there's a way to untap this repeatedly for cheap (or free), it becomes a serious threat. At common, it's not a big deal - just make sure you don't find yourself having to buy them 5 years down the line when they print something that turns this into the next Painter-Stone.
Grimoire of the Dead (M): At the cost of 7 mana and 4 cards over 3 turns, on the 4th turn you get to reanimate everything. This is worse than just getting there with Liliana Vess, since that actually makes the other person discard!
Manor Gargoyle (R): If there's a deck focused on a single huge creature lacking evasion, this could be a reasonable fringe sideboard card. Such a deck is unlikely to exist.
Runechanter's Pike (R): If I'm paying 2 mana to play and 2 mana to equip a creature, it better be somewhere close to the power level of Umezawa's Jitte. This isn't. For just one more mana you get a Sword. Pass.
Traveler's Amulet (C): This isn't an amazing card, but it's reasonable. It's hard to see what kind of deck would need this when there are a pretty wide variety of dual lands floating around, but it's worth keeping in mind.
Witchbane Orb (R): Unless they print some really powerful Curses in the next few sets and you're somehow unable to play Urgent Exorcism, Naturalize, or counterspells, this just doesn't seem very good. The actual important thing is that this is a colorless Ivory Mask, but ever since Leyline of Sanctity got printed, I suspect that players will expect more out of this kind of card.
Rare enemy dual land cycle: Clifftop Retreat (White-Red), Hinterland Harbor (Blue-Green), Isolated Chapel (White-Black), Sulfur Falls (Blue-Red), Woodland Cemetery (Black-Green)
The cycle of dual lands from Magic 2010 is finally finished, and these will obviously see widespread play.
Ghost Quarter (U): This is not a Wasteland to shut people off colors of mana with. It's a Wasteland to hit utility lands, and a fine one at that. This will be much needed with Tectonic Edge gone but Inkmoth Nexus remaining in the format and the new utility lands seeing print.
Shimmering Grotto (C): This is fairly miserable as a color-fixer, since it eats up one mana, but if you've got to run it for whatever reason, you could do a whole lot worse.
Gavony Township (R): The green/white utility land, Township puts +1/+1 counters on your creatures. Those of us who played Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree alongside Selesnya Guildmage should feel right at home with this card.
Kessig Wolf Run (R): The red/green utility land, Wolf Run gives a creature a temporary boost. This is a much more potent card than Guildpact's Skarrg, the Rage Pits.
Moorland Haunt (R): The blue/white utility land, Haunt makes a token in exchange for a creature card from your graveyard. It's going to take a bit of work to figure out how to set this up reasonably in a blue/white deck, but in a long game it could be serve a role similar to that which Squadron Hawk did in the long game.
Nephalia Drownyard (R): The blue/black utility land, Drownyard is the worst of the lot. Paying "four" mana (since you have to tap Drownyard as well) to mill 3 cards is a pretty crappy deal, and mill is terrible as a general rule. It takes 11-12 turns to mill someone out with this, assuming there's no other milling going on (read: using this as an "alternate" win condition). Inkmoth Nexus seems like a much better option. As for milling in conjunction with other things, milling just isn't a viable primary win condition unless you can mill everything at once. I regularly get free wins at tournaments by playing against people who bring terrible mill decks, and I thank them for it.
Stensia Bloodhall (R): The red/black utility land, Bloodhall isn't extremely impressive, but it is actual, real inevitability. Unlike Grim Lavamancer, Bloodhall is immune to countermagic, so it's possible to get 2 damage in no matter what. Hitting someone with this twice is 20% of their life total, which is certainly a respectable amount to get from a land, and a control player is forced to find a way to win the game before Bloodhall alone kills them. There aren't many lands that can win the game without having to be activated, but Stensia Bloodhall is one of them.
Innistrad lacks the raw power that we've seen in the past, but it's not a set full of utter junk. A lot of these cards have great potential, but will need work to make them good. The tribal stuff in particular is going to be fairly weak until more of the block is released, so keep that in mind when trading for cards that you need for tournament play.
5 thoughts on “Innistrad Set Review”
What a joke column. You write as if each card is in a vacuum, effective or not based on the history of magic cards. Do you realize that Standard is a significant format? Modern? Please stick to writing about Vintage and/or Legacy, which would be a broken record that might appeal to you. Leave the Standard and Modern format thinkers to themselves. You have no place in that discussion.
Wow. You are a pretty hateful reviewer, you know that? First, you bag on Army of the Damned for having a pointless flashback cost, then immediately afterwards bag on Endless Ranks of the Dead for not working well after a board wipe. Ummmm… Duh?! The flashback cost is obviously there to counter the board-wipe and milling that will occur during matches. Gotta admit, 13 2/2s are hard to block after everything else is DEAD. No pun intended.
Wow i agree with lunias you are really hateful .. its like you where compare these cards to ever other magic card in history .. i know yo are just reviewing these before they come out but you should at less give them a chance
The above commenters should chill out. I find josh’s harsh insights funny, and would rather them to simply skipping over the cards since he’s right- they’re probably not doing anything anywhere. And if you love the card he’s picking on then you should just marry the card and be done with it.
For what its worth, I liked the review, and agreed with much of what you had to say.
First three posters seriously need to back off. If you don't like it, move on to something else.