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Rise of the Eldrazi Set Review – Black

 

Black didn’t make out so well this time, with nothing that exciting for Constructed play. It got a bunch of tools for potential new decks, but there are few cards that are going to be awesome in existing archetypes. As usual, it is pretty awesome in Limited, and even with the removal specifically designed to be weak against Eldrazi, it still does a fair job of killing everything.

As always, the grading scale is as follows:

Constructed

5.0: Multi-format All-Star. Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf.

4.0: Format staple. Bloodbraid Elf. Baneslayer Angel.

3.5: Good in multiple archetypes, but not a format staple. Raging Ravine. Oblivion Ring.

3.0: Archetype staple. Sprouting Thrinax. Goblin Guide.

2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. Rampant Growth. Divination.

2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. Celestial Purge. (Bear in mind that many cards fall into this “maybe” category, although explanation of why is obviously important)

1.0 It has seen play once. One with Nothing. (I believe it was “tech” vs Owling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.)

Limited

5.0: I will always play this card. Period.

4.5: I will almost always play this card, regardless of what else I get.

4.0: I will strongly consider playing this as the only card of its color.

3.5: I feel a strong pull into this card’s color.

3.0: This card makes me want to play this color. (Given that I’m playing that color, I will play this card 100% of the time.)

2.5: Several cards of this power level start to pull me into this color. If playing that color, I essentially always play these. (Given that I’m playing that color, I will play this card 90% of the time.)

2.0: If I’m playing this color, I usually play these. (70%)

1.5: This card will make the cut into the main deck about half the times I play this color. (50%)

1.0: I feel bad when this card is in my main deck. (30%)

0.5: There are situations where I might sideboard this into my deck, but I’ll never start it. (10%)

0.0: I will never put this card into my deck (main deck or after sideboarding). (0%)

Arrogant Bloodlord

Constructed: 2.0

If only a three-mana 4/4 was as good as it used to be. Even if Arrogant Bloodlord had no drawback, it wouldn’t really make any waves, since Putrid Leech, Knight of the Reliquary, and many other creatures just outclass it, but it does have a somewhat annoying drawback. The drawback isn’t enough to make it flat unplayable, but there aren’t going to be many decks that can cast this easily and want a vanilla guy.

Limited: 2.5

There are some decks where you can’t attack all that well with Bloodlord, but most of the time he is going to be able to bash reasonably well. Even if they do have Eldrazi Spawn holding you off, you can just treat him as a 4/4 defender, which is still fine. You might side him out more often than most cards, but starting him should work out well.

Bala Ged Scorpion

Constructed: 1.0

Take that, Sprouting Thrinax! Faceless Butcher this is not.

Limited: 3.0

It will be rare to find a deck without at least a couple targets, and even casting the Scorpion for just the body isn’t the end of the world. Obviously, snagging a leveler is the ideal situation, but killing an Eldrazi Spawn is perfectly acceptable as well.

 

Baneful Omen 

Constructed: 1.0

I get that this card can do a lot of damage, but seven mana, really? Maybe this is the real reason that Sensei’s Divining Top got banned in Extended”¦

Limited: 2.0

Initially I thought this was just terrible and over-priced, but it is actually quite dangerous. It might not always hit, but when it does it can hit big, and is the kind of card that can win you games you have no business winning. It also sidesteps many of the cards the opponent will have to stop you, and one of the games I lost to it was when I had four removal spells in hand when I died. There isn’t much that could have beat me there, but Baneful Omen certainly did. There is some tension between the fact that the Omen is better in decks with a lower curve (because they do more damage early and won’t fall behind) but wants high casting costs to be effective.

 

Bloodrite Invoker 

Constructed: 1.0

What I said about Invokers before still stands. There is just no way that this is ever the right card for a Constructed deck.

Limited: 2.5

Bloodrite bashes for a while, maybe trades for a guy, and eventually hangs back and threatens to keep throwing out six-point life swings. Not bad for a three-drop, although not the most exciting of cards.

 

Bloodthrone Vampire 

Constructed: 2.0

A vast improvement over Vampire Aristocrat, since being a size smaller is not too big a deal considering how this Vampire is likely to be used. Cards like this are really only good when in a combo of some sort, so the reduction in base stats is mostly irrelevant. Carrion Feeder remains the best in older formats, but if there either is a deck in need of a sac outlet or a deck looking to loop Bloodghasts with Kalastria Highborne, this Vampire is the answer.

Limited: 1.5

Everything I said about this vs. Vampire Aristocrat is reversed in Limited, which makes this guy pretty lame. Even in the super-token deck, a 1/1 that needs creatures to grow is not a bargain, and his cheap mana cost isn’t much of an advantage when you consider that he probably won’t have food until later.

 

Cadaver Imp 

Constructed: 1.0

Imps get a bad rap in Constructed, but it isn’t exactly undeserved. I guess Putrid Imp and Stinkweed Imp combine to flip your deck in to your graveyard, but past that, Imps never really get to apply beatdowns, or really see any sort of play at all. Cadaver Imp is just another in the long line of Imps waiting for a home, although it is quite aggressively costed for a Gravedigger. If Pilgrim’s Eye can do it”¦

Limited: 3.5

A flying Gravedigger is always welcome, even if he doesn’t trade quite as well as the 2/2. Obviously the Imp is better the more good creatures you have, but even bringing back any old chump is value. Looping two Imps is also a good way to stop any sort of assault, and I suspect it will happen relatively often.

 

Consume the Meek 

Constructed: 2.5

Looks like the meek won’t be inheriting Zendikar. I don’t think this is that great, since a lot of its uses seem borderline at best. Are people really going to activate Raging Ravine when you are sitting there with 3BB untapped, and just because it kills most of Naya’s guys doesn’t mean you won’t just die to a Vengevine or Bloodbraid Elf. I won’t write it off completely, because it is an instant-speed Wrath, after all, but its mana cost and limited range make it a bit too easy to play around for me to really like it.

Limited: 4.0

Even a bad Wrath is still a Wrath, and this particular one lets you play larger defenders to force your opponent to overcommit. Against some decks it won’t be that effective, but I doubt it will ever be really bad, and most of the time it will work very well.

 

Consuming Vapors 

Constructed: 3.0

I really want this to work in Constructed, since it looks like a card that is powerful but demands good tactical play. Knowing when to slowroll this to get another guy and when to run it out when they have one (or in some games, even none!) is going to be interesting, and will reward those who can plan ahead. That being said, this is still a tricky card to use, and might end up being too awkward to make a huge impact. The potential upside seems high enough, and I would definitely look at this in any sort of Black-based control deck (or even aggro/midrange, like Vampires).

Limited: 4.0

This card is pretty crushing in Limited. Playing this on turn four when they had a two and a three drop is unreal, and very hard to beat. Eldrazi Spawn certainly limit its effectiveness, but against decks without Spawn it is a flat-out bomb. Plus, imagine the Spawn deck triumphantly sacking all its Spawn to drop a huge monster and you answering with Vapors. Zzzzzt.

 

Contaminated Ground 

Constructed: 1.0

Spreading Seas is just starting to get the recognition it deserves, but that doesn’t mean people should go nuts about its cousin here. Drawing a card is a little bit different than making them lose 2 life, and by “a little bit different” I mean “makes one of these cards awesome and the other unplayable”.

Limited: 0.0

There is no land good enough to warrant siding this one in, so please just don’t. I know this will get cast plenty of times, but hopefully I will have prevented at least a few of them.

 

Corpsehatch 

Constructed: 1.0

It’s like a Consuming Vapors that doesn’t kill two guys or gain you life, costs more, and puts two 0/1’s into play. I appreciate ramping mana as much as the next guy, but this is not the way to do it.

Limited: 3.5

Now this is how you want to be making Eldrazi Spawn. Killing their best (nonblack) guy and getting two more mana towards an Artisan of Kozilek is a great deal, even in decks that don’t really need the Spawn. If you don’t have enormous spells to cast, making two chump blockers is fine, and sometimes you will use the mana in a pinch.

 

Curse of Wizardry 

Constructed: 1.0

Cool name, terrible effect. I don’t know if this would have been good enough at one mana, which is never a good sign for Constructed playability. Even against a mono-color deck, this will rarely do enough damage to really warrant its casting cost.

Limited: 0.0

If you are super aggressive and they are mono-color with few colorless spells, I still don’t like this. A card that hopes to be Lava Axe that does nothing when topdecked late is not what you should be playing.

 

Death Cultist 

Constructed: 1.0

Finally, Black has its own Mogg Fanatic! Well, except that damage doesn’t stack anymore. And it can’t kill creatures. I guess if you are a combo deck that would previously use Bile Urchin to finish things, this is a strict upgrade, but that isn’t really relevant.

 

Demonic Appetite 

Constructed: 2.0

Card disadvantage Auras are not usually what spring to mind when people talk about Constructed playables, but this does hit pretty hard, and Bloodghast even makes the sacrifice much more bearable. I wouldn’t say there is a huge chance that this is good, but I don’t want to call it just unplayable.

Limited: 1.0

Even if you plan on dropping this on an evasive guy and eating an Eldrazi Spawn each turn, you are really better served by just playing some Umbras. The Appetite is just too situational and risky, and the cheap mana cost is off-set by the fact that it isn’t useful until later anyway.

 

Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief 

Constructed: 2.5

Losing the Protection from White is a pretty big deal, but I would say that Drana’s ability is better than the drain life in many matchups (comparing her to Malakir Bloodwitch, of course). Eating a creature every turn is nothing to scoff at, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she shows up as a 1 or 2-of in some Vampires decks.

Limited: 4.5

HAUMPH! That’s the sound I imagine Drana making as she takes a bite out of your opponents forces. An Air Elemental that kills medium to small guys with ease is ridiculous, and she even bashes for a bunch while doing so. Note that you can drain her for 3 to make her a 7/1, if she is the only creature on the board (not that you really need to most of the time, but just sayin’).

 

Dread Drone 

Constructed: 1.0

This card is dreadfully bad, and nowhere near good enough for Constructed.

Limited: 2.5

I would imagine that this guy makes the cut almost every time, although some decks won’t have that much use for Eldrazi Spawn, in which case he is a decent but not exciting 5-drop. A 4/1 that makes two chump blockers is hard to cut, but if you have enough good action then I wouldn’t feel too bad about leaving him on the sidelines.

 

Escaped Null 

Constructed: 1.0

If I had to describe the chances of this seeing Constructed play in one word, it would have to be “null”.

Limited: 3.0

Pinging them for a two-point life swing every turn isn’t bad, and he is pretty sweet on defense. I find it hard to think that you won’t eventually be able to trade this off every game, and gain six or seven life in the process.

 

Essence Feed 

Constructed: 1.0

This is like a Corpsehatch that doesn’t kill a guy, and instead just gains you three life (since dealing three damage is probably not what an Eldrazi ramp sort of deck really cares about). Consuming Vapors also laughs at Essence Feed, though oddly enough Essence Feed is a good counter to Consuming Vapors (not that it’s relevant in any way).

Limited: 1.0

I touched on it a bit above, but there aren’t many decks where the Spawn creation and the drain life for three are both good, since if you are ramping into boom-booms you don’t want a Soul Feast, and if you are aggressive the Spawn don’t do all that much. If you really need more expensive acceleration, I guess this is ok, but I was not at all happy with it when I tried it.

 

Gloomhunter 

Constructed: 1.0

The hunt continues for Constructed playables

Limited: 3.0

Two power evasion guys for three mana are not the kind of card that you usually have the luxury of cutting from your deck. There is nothing really wrong with Gloomhunter, and even though it might not be the most exciting, it is the kind of card you always play.

 

Guul Draz Assassin 

Constructed: 2.5

I kind of like this guy. He is a bit mana-intensive, but he threatens to off a guy each turn if you can get him active. The Assassin might be more of a sideboard card against decks that can’t kill him very easily, but even so he seems like a potent one.

Limited: 4.0

It isn’t hard to dominate the game with this in play. Even guys he can’t kill are weakened severely, and unless this is literally the only spell you draw, you should win any game where you get him active in the first few turns.

 

Hellcarver Demon 

Constructed: 1.0

Hitting with this guy is quite the gamble, and it seems very difficult to make a deck where that is actually something you want to do. Casting a Mind’s Desire for six is good if your deck is filled with combo cards, but any deck filled with such cards isn’t set up to resolve and protect a six-drop creature. Similarly, the Hellcarver Demon plus Eldrazi strategy has the problem of needing to run enough huge spells to make the Demon worthwhile but not getting clogged up by them. If you really want to attack with Emrakul, you are better off just casting Summoning Trap.

Limited: 3.5

Throwing away your whole board is a pretty big commitment, but I doubt an opponent would let you do that if they had an answer to the Demon, so presumably you get to hit again next turn. A 6/6 that demands removal is good enough most games, and if they are a master and slowroll the removal to try and get you to sacrifice everything, just level them by flipping up some ridiculous Eldrazi.

 

Induce Despair 

Constructed: 1.0

The only thing this is going to induce is mocking from anyone watching you cast it in Constructed.

Limited: 3.5

Removal is removal, and this neatly gets around Umbras. Sometimes it will be a bit awkward, but you probably will have some absurd Eldrazi stuck in your hand anyway. Even if you peel this without a creature in hand, you will likely draw one before too long, unless you are playing like seven in your deck (in which case you shouldn’t be playing Induce Despair).

 

Inquisition of Kozilek 

Constructed: 2.0

I don’t want to call this unplayable, because it clearly has merit, but I am not overly impressed. The drawback seems too large to overcome, since not being able to take their 4+ drops makes this likely to miss or be ineffective way too often. Against decks that it can’t really miss against, this is still not good enough to sideboard in, because decks with all low drops are not typically weak to Duress effects since they empty their hand too quickly. Even in formats that naturally have cheap cards (Vintage, Legacy), missing on key cards like Force of Will, Lodestone Golem, Jace, Smokestack, Natural Order, and many others, makes Inquisition too risky to play.

Limited: 1.0

I wouldn’t start this most of the time, but it is an adequate sideboard card. Hand disruption in general is a bit weak in Limited, since late game it is usually a terrible draw, but if you need to get rid of a removal spell this works fine. It doesn’t get slowrolled bombs, which is a huge drawback, but it will trade for a card enough of the time that it has its uses.

 

Last Kiss 

Constructed: 1.0

Vicious Hunger had its place; last Kiss does not.

Limited: 3.0

A decent way to kill small fry, Last Kiss is solid but not that exciting removal. I wouldn’t go nuts over it, but it is better than most random creatures, even if it is worse than the other removal Black has to offer.

 

Mortician Beetle 

Constructed: 1.0

This seems excessively clunky to get to work, and most of the time is going to be worse than something like Scute Mob. Yes, it does get big if you are looping Bloodghasts, but what else is it doing (besides being a 1/1 that maybe chumps a guy)?

Limited: 1.0-3.0

While the Beetle can piggyback on their sacrifices, how good it is should mostly depend on what is in your deck, since you don’t want to count on them powering it up. If you have a bunch of ways to make Spawn, the Beetle is a good threat, and you can even keep Spawn around as a sort of combat trick. Every now and then you will run into the Spawn mirror, and there it seems truly busted.

 

Nighthaze 

Constructed: 1.0

Tech for the Vampires mirror?

Limited: 1.0

Any card that cycles isn’t unplayable, and this has a few different uses. It pumps up Kiln Fiend, it gets copied by Echo Mage, and it obviously lets you bash in the Swamp mirror. If you are short playables or have some of the above interactions (or more likely, both), feel free to get a little Hazy.

 

Nirkana Cutthroat 

Constructed: 1.0

Deathtouch is not a highly sought-after ability in Constructed, and neither are creatures that die to Bolt even after a six-mana investment.

Limited: 3.0

Warpath Ghoul never looked so good! This is one of the few levelers that you might play for its base stats, and it levels up pretty significantly to boot. Beating anything in a fight is a nice bonus, and this truly demands removal quickly.

 

Nirkana Revenant 

Constructed: 1.0

Mana Flare is more of a combo piece than anything else, so attaching it to a body is a bit counterproductive. One of the strengths of mana ramp/combo decks is that they get to ignore removal, not play into it, so that mostly leaves the Revenant as a beater. I guess it is more of a Mirari’s Wake than a Mana Flare, but the vulnerability to creature removal still makes it hard to rely on. As far as finishers go, it isn’t bad, but there are way better. If Mono-Black Control happens (which people have tried their hardest to make occur for the last 8 years), Revenant might be a piece of the puzzle, but I doubt it.

Limited: 4.0

On the other hand, in 40-card decks the Revenant delivers. It can bash for a ton or help cast enormous Eldrazi, and even in your standard two-color deck it will be a huge threat. Regardless of whether you have 10-drops, adding 3-6 extra mana every turn is very powerful, and lets you pull ahead quickly. Leveling up guys is also a great mana sink, and the Revenant helps even when hit by a Narcolepsy.

 

Null Champion 

Constructed: 1.0

I already made the null joke, didn’t I? Sigh, I guess I will have to limit myself to calling this guy unplayable and leave it at that.

Limited: 3.0

Bashing for four on turn three puts your opponent under a lot of pressure, so even though the Champion trades for almost anything, it still is pretty sweet. It becomes much harder to kill at its highest level, so if they don’t trade with it in the first few turns you can often keep it back until it is unstoppable.

 

Pawn of Ulamog 

Constructed: 2.0

There are a bunch of tier 2 tools ready to assemble the mythical Bloodghast sacrifice deck, and I suppose this would be one of them. He does essentially give +4/+4 to Bloodthrone Vampire for each sacrifice, so maybe a Ghost Husk-style deck could emerge from this pile of draft commons and uncommons.

Limited: 3.0

Getting double duty out of all of your burdles is sweet, even if all you use them for is chump blockers. Clearly this guy is worse in creature-light decks, but even as a 2/2 that spawns when he dies I would play him.

 

Perish the Thought 

Constructed: 1.0

“¦of playing this in Constructed.

Limited: 1.0

The problem with taking their sick bomb with this is that they can still draw it, which drastically weakens this effect in long games. If you are siding this in because you can’t beat some of their cards, it really sucks to throw them back in the pool. It still has its uses in slower matchups, since it will hit something, but I’m never really going to be excited about it.

 

Pestilence Demon 

Constructed: 1.0

Pestilential is a good word for this. So is unplayable.

Limited: 4.0

Huge flying dragons are good in Limited, and so is Pestilence. Adding them together does not somehow negate their properties, although Pestilence is admittedly a bit worse when you have less life to play with. Either way, stop complaining that your insane finisher isn’t as good as it would be if it cost less mana.

 

Repay in Kind 

Constructed: 1.0

This isn’t just kind of bad, it’s really bad. There are better ways to fight against Martyr of Sands decks.

Limited: 0.0

If you are losing, you can pay seven mana to do some amount of damage to them, and hopefully attack them for lethal. Mana burn would make this very interesting, but as is it’s terrible.

 

Shrivel 

Constructed: 1.0

[card infest]Doubling[/card] the effect for an extra Black is more than worth it, making this about as unplayable as Seismic Shudder.

Limited: 1.0

In some formats this would be a pretty solid maindeck card, but this is not one of them. Siding it in is of course good, but there are too many creatures that don’t care about this for me to want to risk running it main.

 

Skeletal Wurm 

Constructed: 1.0

I do recall playing this in a Constructed deck, but it was called Scaled Wurm instead, and the year was 1995.

Limited: 1.0

There are plenty of great expensive creatures, and even though this is not terrible, I would much rather cast Ulamog’s Crusher or the like. Levelers also give you good mana sinks that don’t rot in your hand until lategame, so not many decks really need the Wurm. It is hard to kill and huge, but you can generally do better.

 

Suffer the Past 

Constructed: 1.0

Is this a Fireball or a graveyard hoser? Either way, there are cards that are better at the job, so the only reason to play this is if you want both, and I doubt that is ever going to be the case.

Limited: 1.5

If your deck wants a Lava Axe, this will do. It isn’t great until later, but it isn’t like you need to Lava Axe them on turn three anyway. The life gain is a nice touch, and every now and then exiling cards from their graveyard will actually be useful. Don’t take it high and don’t play it in the wrong deck, but if you want it, it does the job well.

 

Thought Gorger 

Constructed: 1.0

At least it says “leaves play”, since otherwise it would just get destroyed by Oblivion Ring or bounce. Even that doesn’t save this, since pitching your hand for a later payoff is kind of loose, and if I am reading it correctly they can Bolt it in response to the trigger (although you obviously wouldn’t discard your hand in that case).

Limited: 3.0

I was excited about having this guy in my sealed until I drew him a few times. Don’t get me wrong, he is quite playable, and I doubt I would cut him, but he isn’t that great. Pitching good cards always sucks, and this isn’t the format where you want to really slowroll lands either. Plus, if they can avoid killing him or the board stalls, you are just out a bunch of cards. Some games he will just crush, but I have found him to be tricky to use properly.

 

Vendetta 

Constructed: 2.5

One mana removal is always nice, though Vendetta does face some rather stiff competition. Playing too many of these is a lot of life loss, but mixing up these and Doom Blades does make your curve much smoother. It won’t see a lot of play, but it will see some play.

Limited: 3.5

Excellent at killing small guys and still able to kill big guys, Vendetta is an excellent removal spell. I’m not sure if it’s better than Induce Despair, but I suspect I would rather have a mix of the two than all of either. Take it high and always play it.

 

Virulent Swipe 

Constructed: 1.0

One Swipe and Sprouting Thrinax trades for a huge Raging Ravine, with the tokens all set to catch the rebound! Then you think about ever cascading into it, and that pretty much ends that.

Limited: 1.0

If you have enough chumps (read: Spawn) to make this good, it will be a decent trick, but otherwise you are just two for one’ing yourself every time, which is not a good spot to be in. Most decks won’t want this.

 

Zof Shade 

Constructed: 1.0

So far, Nantuko Shade is the only one to break the glass ceiling, and Zof Shade isn’t progress.

Limited: 2.5

I always hate Shades; I know they are good, but I hate having to have mana up to make them so. At least Zof Shade is pretty relaxed about color requirements. Playing one of these is almost mandatory, and even two is usually the right call. Gotta finish them somehow.

 

Zulaport Enforcer 

Constructed: 1.0

“Zulaport Enforcer can’t be played except by terrible decks” is essentially what its third level reads.

Limited: 2.5

The Snidd (5-mana 3/3) is a standby of mediocre decks, but this Snidd can attack on turn four and level up to fast clock, so he is much more than that. Much like most levelers, you want these guys in your deck, since having a bunch of levelers insures that you have something to do at any point in the game.

Top Five Constructed Cards for Black

5. Inquisition of Kozilek
4. Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief
3. Consume the Meek
2. Vendetta
1. Consuming Vapors

These are the Top Five, and I am really stretching just to find them all. Consuming Vapors is the only card I actually look forward to playing, with the rest maybe showing up as bit players here and there. Black got almost nothing this time around, though I suppose it made it out pretty well in the last few sets. A few removal spells, a new flying five-mana Vampire and a weak Duress are really it. There are also a bunch of pieces towards a Bloodghast-based sacrifice deck, but I am skeptical that it will ever come together.

Tomorrow: Red, and better news in terms of Constructed!

LSV

56 thoughts on “<i>Rise of the Eldrazi</i> Set Review – Black”

  1. It’s always a pleasure to read your stuff, LSV. i can’t wait for you to draft some Rise online.

  2. Nirkana Revenant should be a Limited 3.5 rather than a 4.0. Yes, it’s a first pick to force black for, but it’s a poor candidate for a power splash.

    Pestilence Demon- See Nirkana Revenant

    Consume the Meek – I’m tempted to say “See Pestillence Demon” here, except that I could actually see myself splashing this in the right deck.

    Virulent Swipe – The best use I’ve heard for this is with Halimar Wavewatch or a similar 0-power blocker your opponent isn’t afraid of swinging into.

  3. Really? Vendetta #2 for top Constructed Cards for Black?

    I mean, maybe… sideboard over Deathmark.

    Where’s Guul Draz Assassin on the list?

  4. DRANA! I instantly fell in love with her, I always had a soft spot for Goth chicks. Her ability is incredible and I sooo want her to be constructed playable! Her time will come post rotation perhaps? Thanx for the tip about draining herself to a 7/1 I didn’t realize that actually It could be useful at some point. You were spot on with this review. Black has some mega ton bomb rares in limited but most of the commons are crap to balance it out. Nice to see it demoted for a while after its absurd dominance in zzw.

  5. Hellcarver Demon will not be played with Eldrazi. In a Grixis/Jund deck, though, hitting Ultimatums is going to be pretty sick. If you hit them for 6, then get a Cruel or Violent Ultimatum off, it’s just game. Also, Nicol Bolas for free is awesome.

  6. I am surprised that you rate Inquisition of Kozilek that low for Eternal formats.

    Sure, you might not be able to grab Force or a few other bad boys from time to time, but at least 90% of the time it will be as good as Thoughtseize (without a life loss), and that makes it a decent alternative in my opinion and one I plan to test.

    In any case you will in many cases want to pick other cards than Force with your Duress/Thoughtseize.

  7. vendetta has the distinct privilige of being one of the few cards in standard to kill a bloodwitch with efficiently. i think that alone makes it #2.

  8. I agree that Vendetta just won’t see constructed play until Putrid Leech and friend rotate. I really wish they printed a “Vendetta” type card that could kill any creature, since the life loss is a pretty big drawback. Not being able to kill Leech is just depressing.

  9. I think that Inquisition of Kozilek deserves a higher rating for constructed. I’m playing a Grixis control deck (it’s very similar to the build you thought to play in san diego) and IoK can be very useful even maindeck. It can get rid of many cards a control deck have problems with: thinax, blightning, leech, counters. It is also useful as Bolt # 5-8 against aggro decks, can discard knight of the reliquary. It improves the early game of the deck and it is also useful in the late game when it can help resolving the ultimatum and can provide perfect information alongside jace. Not relevant often, but it can also wreck their plans if they kept a questionable hand.

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  11. Suffer the past looks pretty useful to me. 1. its an Instant. 2. its a drain life -1 casting cost and minus the need to use only black mana. 3. its in the right color to minimize it’s only drawback which is that your opponent has to have a significant number of cards already in their graveyard. i dont recall black ever having a problem filling up an opponents graveyard.

    ive always liked blue/black mill and this makes a nice something useful to do at the end of their turn if you didnt counter anything. Pairs up nicely with Psychic Drain 🙂

  12. I think suffer the past will impact some vampire decks since you sometimes just need a few more points of damage to win against the jund player for example. It also gives you more time to stabilize against WW and other aggressive decks.

    It certainly will improve your matchup against jund.

  13. I really feel like Nirkana Cutthroat deserves a higher limited rating than Null Champion, only 0.5 higher, but still higher.

  14. Perish the thought of me not guffawing at these set reviews. I love the silly LSV humor.

  15. Inquisition needs a better rating. It’s not awesome in all decks, but it’ll see play in all formats. It gets kotr, blightning, mind spring, and thrinax: basically some of the best card advantage engines in STD. Not to mention the counters, removal, burn, and fast beaters. And in legacy, tell me bg suicide doesn’t want this. Wasteland you, take your standstill, goyf, dread, lord, intuition, etc. At minimum, it’s better than duress

  16. Two cards that you don’t seem to like that I’m a bit interested in:

    Inquisition of Kozilek can take problematic cards away from jund such as a Thrinax (follow up with a Consuming Vapors?) or a Stag. It can really slow UW down when picking Chalice, Wall of Omens, a Knight, counter or removal. Though probably not as effective as Duress, it can disrupt their end game by getting rid of an X-spell. I think it’ll work best in vamps since you can cast it turn one on the draw without wanting to play tap-lands. The only question is if it’s good enough early to warrant possibly drawing a dead card late game. It seems great on paper against vamps worst match up though.

    I’d use Suffer from the Past as tech against RDW. As RDW unearthes their dragon, cast this to nullify it and get a life swing in the process.

  17. “I really wish they printed a "Vendetta" type card that could kill any creature, since the life loss is a pretty big drawback.”

    They’ve done it, as Devour in Shadow back in 5th Dawn (with a BB cost to make up the difference, and uncommon). I’d much rather have that as well. There was at least one time this weekend when I REALLY needed to kill an Enslaved Null (it was enchanted with Splinter Twin… not fun) and was holding both Vendetta and Corpsehatch. The Hatch was later put to good use against an Ulamog’s Crusher, but the Vendetta was sided out (along with one of my Zulaport Enforcers) for a pair of Nighthazes.

  18. Best RoE review to date! I fully agree with the majority of your ratings, especially on Thought Gorger, which unfortunately is a card that gets severely and utterly roflstomped by Narcolepsy. That is a big, big problem. The guy would be entirely unruly otherwise, because there aren’t any other Pacifisms. He’s still just retarded against non-blue opponents.

  19. This review is in line with most of this set. The set, in general, is filled with limited bomb action and is a blast to sealed/draft. As far as playables in standard/ext/leg/vin, there are almost none. The ones that are will hold a $2 price tag because they are so niche.

    The one deck I think inquisition will see play in is legacy ANT. This is because the -2 life from thoughtseize can really hinder the distance of an ad nauseam. It can also be used better than duress at times because duress doesn’t get the tarmogoyf. What do I want to be stripping from their hand anyway? It usually is a force of will before turn 5. If I can strip the cheap blue cards, I have effectively done that anyway. Previously it was 4 thoughtseize, 2 duress. I’d change it to 2,2,2 for some diversity and since each of them are stronger in specific circumstances. You can always just duress or thoughtseize first and make sure you have a solid target.

  20. Inquisition is awful. It doesn’t hit planeswalkers (sorry Mr. Beleren, but you don’t exist anymore) it misses BBE, Wrath, Gifts, Force of Will…

    The reason not every deck runs pinpoint discard is because it is generally a very bad topdeck. This card has the potential to be a bad turn 1 play; it’s miserable to draw later in the game. LSV, Conley, and everybody else aren’t lying to you guys to keep some huge secret… this card really is just bad.

  21. ObviousISobvious

    I’ll tell you why Inquisition is good in Legacy; even if it doesn’t take force, it can take the blue card they were going to pitch to it (unless.. pitch misdirection!!). I think it will be a great addition to Legacy simply because most decks want to take goyf or counterbalance or many of the other <3 cost cards which are played and do not want the life-loss of Thoughtseize.

    I think it will see some good play in AdN decks.

  22. @ LSV: I think you read Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief wrong: She makes target creature -0/-X and herself +X/+0. She does not give herself +X/-X as suggested, and is not limited to draing 3 toughness (as would be in the +X/-X case, where she turns 7/1).

  23. Force of Will is much worse for combo that Goyf, and combo is the most likely deck type to want Duress effects. That’s is why Inquisition probably won’t see much play.

    Going off at 18 life (chance of failure) is far better to stalling out at 20 life (guaranteed failure).

  24. Charles Darakdjian

    Hello,

    I noticed Death Cultist did not receive a Limited Rating.
    He is definitely solid for a one-drop as his ability is quite relevant for a black/X beatdown deck and does not require any mana investment to pull off…
    I give him a Limited Rating of 2. A one-drop body with a decent ability for black is usually worth playing for a black/X beatdown deck.

    Guul Draz Assassin is a BOMB in Limited. Clearly, a 5+…
    In Rise of Eldrazi Limited, he IS Masticore!
    In Constructed however, I agree with LSV.

    Inquisition of Kozilek is *OUTSTANDING* in Constructed. In Type II, I have already played this card many, many times in my Vampires and black-control variants. Having Inquisition and Duress in your opening hand really reduces the options of your opponent, and is almost always as good as having Thoughtseize and Duress (actually better if you are playing against mono-red burn where you will not lose 2 life). The only time where this is an issue is when your opponent reveals Academy Rector, but this guy is no longer in Type II…
    Inquisition RULES!!!!!

    Vendetta is unfortunately not as good as it used to be in Limited due to the high number of common/uncommon Umbra enchantments which nullify its effects. I still, of course, would always play all copies I pull if playing black regardless; however, it is no longer the catch-all removal spell it used to be in Mercadian Masques Limited. I would lower the rating to 3 only.

    Cheers,
    Charles D.

  25. @ AquaMyst
    Drana can target herself. So you pay 3BB, target Drana. She gets -0/-3 and +3/+0 making her a 7/1.

    My opp did that to me round 1 game 1. :p

  26. @AquaMyst

    Except, in his example, if she’s the only creature on the board, you can make her a 7/1 by targeting herself. That’s what he means…

  27. Inquisition doesn’t fill the same role as Duress or Thoughtseize. It’s more like an early-game Silence that lets you look at their hand and has no inherent card disadvantage. Cool! But you’ll still need an answer for turn four or five-ish, because you didn’t cast Duress. Unlike Duress, you’ll always want to cast it turn one.

  28. @ Thought Gorger; actually, if he is not in play to receive the +1/+1 counters, you do not discard your hand. I think that this makes the guy interesting, as he could be just gorilla-big quite early, and if he gets killed you get Mind Sprung.

    It’s in the RoE FAQ.

  29. @Charles: Really, 2 for Death Cultist? It’s a 1 mana 1/1 with a marginal ability. That’s only good if your opponent has a bunch of X/1’s, which isn’t going to happen very often. 1.0 at best, probably 0.5.

  30. @nastysasquatch

    Vendetta as an answer to bloodwitch? See bit blast, and remember why it is that vampires lose to jund unless they get sludge and ghast away their blightning, while hitting absolutely no removal. They top deck better, always. Witch is only good against mythic and UW control, the other decks it used to be great against don’t really apply anymore. Boss is a relevant matchup, I guess, but witch just isn’t as good anymore.

  31. My problem with Thought Gorger is that you’re making a huge investment in this guy. It’s nice that you get the rebate if they burn him out or Oust him, but one Narcolepsy or even Guard Duty means that suddenly you’re on the wrong end of a blowout. Even outside of worst-case scenarios you’re vulnerable to being raced, either by leveler evasion decks or something like Aura Gnarlids or Vent Sentinel ignoring him while Spawn tokens block him, and a loss of three cards, even temporary, is a high price to pay for what often amounts to a 5/5 wall in this format.

  32. There are some pretty good control decks in the current standard whose biggest problem is Turn 2 Putrid Leach into Turn 3 Blightning, but have no problem with Blood Braid Elf and Broodmate Dragons.

    Inquisition hits both. So I think it will see play in Grixis style control decks along side its buddy, Consume the Meek. The mana base becomes more black, but that just makes gatekeeper more enticing of an option.

  33. Only card I disagree with is virulent swipe in limited

    1.0 = I feel bad when this card is in my main deck?

    I can say I’ve always felt pretty good trading eldrazi spawn for their bombs, or getting through for that crucial 2-4 damage, or even suffering the card disadvantage and trading an actual creature in order to survive their must answer threat.

  34. nice review. while it`s true that finding five playables for black is tough, inquisition probably deserves to be rated higher, i just cant see drana replacing bloodwitch… and vendetta may not be worth it’s drawbacks compared to doomblade. inquisition fills a real hole for vamps giving us the ability to take problematic cards like thrinax, stag, and blightning, also clearing the way for nocturnus. it has obvious drawbacks but it will see play because it does so much to improve the vamps v jund matchup. some combo or control decks may want it because, unlike duress, it is ok against control, while being good against aggro. i’ve found that it fills a hole in my open the vaults list in particular, giving me that much needed push in the early game against aggro and clearing out negates v control.

  35. Gul Draz Assassin is total trash in constructed, incredibly mana intensive, and slow, and even at level 2-3 isn’t that good at all… i’m surprised of that 2.5, as for Consume the Meek, that deserves the 3.0 instead imho: it will be probably MD in grixis decks, and SB of vampires and jund, ’cause it destroys naya, elves, allies, ww by itself… only because you can’t destroy bb elf and vengevine, annihilating bops, hierarchs, KotRs, nacatls, manlands, tokens and all those little annoying elves at instant speed is just very good… i think it’s time for Dauntless Escort to shine again

  36. There was someone at the Sunday prerelease that seriously owned in a RoE draft the previous day because he pulled a bunch of bloodthrone vampires. He sacrificed tokens, creatures, even his own massive eldrazi to kill his opponents. I did not open a single one in my sealed pool, but when I played around with drana’s intro pack it did some amazing things with ulamog’s pawn.

  37. “pestilence demon equipped with basilisk collar?

    Comment by Stefan – April 21, 2010 @ 2:20 pm”
    B: Gain a bunch of life. Goodbye Pestilence Demon and the rest of the board.

  38. you seem to be analysing the cards for limited as if they are part of a generally faster format and so tend to undervalue cards in my opinion. especially the levellers and big creatures.

  39. I have no idea why LSV rates blatant combo parts so low, when he ends up playing them in Extended pro tours every year.

  40. @Matt

    Buy cheap now. Sell expensive later. MTG “stock” market. Also dont forget the word “hype”.

  41. Drana is so ridiculous in limited. I opened her in an otherwise fairly week pool and the vast majority of the games I won was entirely thanks to her. Can’t stress how good this card is. Killing something every turn and hitting for at least 7 in the air is RIDICULOUS in limited. I won every time she hit the board. I might even argue that she is worth a 5.0

  42. Drana’s fairly stringent black mana requirements make her a bit of a hard sell…

    Umezawa’s Jitte can earn a 5 because it was colorless and pretty close to Drana’s powerlevel… the pair of {B}{B}’s on Drana make it pretty easy to downgrade her to a 4.5

  43. Yeah, i can see where you’re coming from there. although if you have a two colored deck, you can find 2 B’s by turn five the vast majority of the time. Maybe a 4.75? 🙂

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