Shadows over Innistrad First Look: Black and Red

In my first article I looked at white and blue cards, so make sure to check that out.

Asylum Visitor

A 3/1 for 1B with madness (and a Vampire) is already good enough. The fact that you can draw a card on their turn probably pushes this into solid playable status.

Diregraf Colossus

This is a great lord. If you play it early, then you’ll play more Zombies afterwards, and get more Zombies. If you play it late, then it’ll be bigger. It doesn’t have the immediate board impact that other lords do, but it’s still very powerful.

Heir of Falkenrath

heir of falkenrath 2

“The new Delver,” as some people call it. You won’t play it for value, but if you have a need for madness outlets, it’s very good.

Relentless Dead

A 2/2 menace for 2 is in that space where it’s not good enough that you must kill it but not bad enough that you can just ignore it. I think the most important part of this card is that it can block, which you almost never see in creatures like this—it’s almost like they forgot to print that line of text. This will be a staple in any Zombies deck but might also see play in non-Zombies decks because it’s just a good card.


I don’t think this is playable, but it’s certainly an extremely cool card. If you look closely at the picture, you’ll notice that there are 13 of everything in it.

Avacyn’s Judgment

I think this card is great—it can be cast early if you don’t have an enabler, and you get a decent effect, or you can cast it later and you get a very powerful effect. It reminds me of Bonfire of the Damned, except that the first side is much better than Bonfire’s was. It also kills Jace, and—surprise—works well with Jace. Between this and Fiery Temper, it’s looking like being on the play in Jace mirrors is going to be very important.

Goldnight Castigator

4 mana for a 4/5 haste flyer is a very good deal. The drawback is real, but only against some decks—against others, it might as well not exist. I suspect that I’ll lose many games to this card since I like playing the type of deck where they don’t care if you deal double damage. I also expect frustration as I stare at this with 2 Grasp of Darkness in my hand.

Sin Prodder

This is a difficult card to evaluate. My first instinct was to add up the converted mana cost of your deck to see how much damage you were dealing, but I don’t think this works very well because expensive cards swing the converted mana cost too much, and they can give you that card if it comes to that.

Imagine a scenario where you hit land, a 1-drop, and a 5-drop. Normally, you’d think “this deals 2 damage a turn,” which would be okay, but here they can bin the land and the 1-drop, taking 1, and then give you the 5-drop if they want. You still get to deal 1 damage and draw a card, which is good, but you have to keep a somewhat overcosted 3-drop alive for 3 turns to get that, and they can just bin the 5-drop if they really want to. Compare this to Chandra, for example—she would often flip if she was alive for 1 turn, and the end result was likely to be better than Sin Prodder, but you often didn’t want to commit 3 mana for a 2-toughness creature that would die before doing anything.

My inclination is that this is not a good enough card since competition at the 3 slot for aggressive decks is always fierce, but I can easily be wrong. Playing this and hitting a powerful 4-drop can easily hit them for 7 the first time it’s in play, and it’s clearly good in board stalls. If it sees play, it will be in midrange decks with some expensive drops, and not decks that are trying to kill the opponent as quickly as possible, as those can’t afford the tempo swing on turn 3 if this dies. So, basically, I suspect this will likely not see play in “mono-red” decks, where I almost always have Chandra, but it might see play in RG-type decks.

Fevered Visions


Another card that I could easily just lose to over and over. This is clearly good in any sort of Owling Mine strategy (since it’s both a Howling Mine and a way to kill them) but I suspect it’s also good in aggro decks in certain matchups. You’re often outclassed in the cards department anyway, so giving them more cards in the late game is not that bad, and you get to draw more burn spells to finish them off. Basically the premise here is that:

  • You draw fewer cards than they do, so an extra draw will be a higher percentage of your cards than theirs.
  • You get to a point where a lot of the cards don’t matter as you want to draw burn spells and they want to draw answers to those burn spells. You often have more burn spells than they have answers, so drawing more cards helps you.

On top of that, you get to draw first, so you aren’t going to see the “kill your Howling Mine, I’m up a card” scenario. If you play it early, it’s almost guaranteed to deal 2 damage against some people, which is often worth another card already, and it can end up dealing 8 or 10 against some decks. It’s also good in multiples, though it doesn’t stack as optimally as it could (if they have 2 cards, they will only take 2 damage, not 4).

Olivia, Mobilized for War

This card seems very good to me. A 3/3 flyer for 3 is not a bad rate, and it lets you hit for an extra 4-5 the turn right after you play it. It reminds me of Drana, Liberator of Malakir, which I guess is a bad thing, since no one plays Drana, but that might change after the rotation. It’s a good madness enabler and a discard outlet for other copies of itself (so it’s not so bad that it’s legendary).

Corrupted Grafstone

I guess this is a “fixed” mana-rock. For this card to be good, you have to be able to go from 2 to 4, which means you need a 1-mana spell in your graveyard. If you can make that work, either via cantrips, removal, or discard spells, then you can play Grafstone. The problem is that cheap spells and ramp cards usually don’t go in the same deck, so I wouldn’t expect this to see much play.

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