Dark Ascension Set Review

Coda: Innistrad was a resounding success for Wizards of the Coast.  Not only did it absolutely nail the flavor and feeling of classic gothic horror, it’s provided one of the most engaging Limited formats of all time and given greedy little EDHers like us some pretty spectacular cards to work with. Falkenrath Noble, Kessig Cagebreakers, Snapcaster Mage, Unburial Rites, Balefire Dragon…these cards have all made a fairly large impact on decks in our meta.  That said, if there was one aspect of Innistrad that I think it fell short in, it would have to be its support for white.  All the other colors got these crazy awesome creatures and great utility cards, but white really only came out of Innistrad with a decent anthem, [card]Intangible Virtue[/card], and a mediocre draw engine, [card]Mentor of the Meek[/card].  Let’s hope that Dark Ascension throws white a bone or two in addition to keeping the hits coming in the other colors.  Now, on to the cards!

Since most commons and uncommons aren’t really suitable for EDH, we’ve limited our reviews to the set’s rares, mythics, and notable commons and uncommons. Each card is ranked from 1 to 4.

1: Good for laughs, but probably not much else. It’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Probably.
2:
A mediocre choice, or one with really narrow applications. Could be a really solid choice if it supports your deck’s shenanigans.
3:
A solid card for most decks, even if it’s not an auto-include.
4:
If you’re playing the colors, you should probably find room in your deck for this card.

White[card]Archangel’s Light[/card]

Coda: That’s a lot of lifegain, yes, but hating your own graveyard takes a lot of the shine off an otherwise significant swing in your life total.  What’s more, decks that stand to gain the most off this are the ones who get hurt the most by by the shuffle clause.  It just doesn’t make any sense.  The mythic rarity mystifies me, too.  I mean, I know the kiddies like lifegain, but really? 1

[card]Curse of Exhaustion[/card]

Coda: [card]Rule of Law[/card], [card]Arcane Laboratory[/card], and [card]Ethersworn Canonist[/card] do see some play in EDH outside of their combo applications, but it’s usually only one person at the table that you want to stop comboing off.  This is a nice compromise, giving yourself free reign while putting a huge roadblock in front of someone else.  I prefer attacking combo players a bit more directly than this, but I wouldn’t blink if I saw someone else play it. 2

[card]Increasing Devotion[/card]

Coda: Getting five tokens for five mana is decent, but nothing spectacular.  [card]Conqueror’s Pledge[/card] gives you six, after all.  The real meat of this particular sorcery comes on the back end, once it’s already in your graveyard.  Nine mana puts ten tokens on the board.  That’s pretty decent.  It doesn’t quite approach the breathtaking efficiency of [card]Army of the Damned[/card], but white does have the advantage of having access to a plethora of anthem effects, so those ten tokens could mean upwards of thirty power.  Then again, Storm Herd can easily net you over twenty tokens for just one more mana, and those tokens have evasion.  So yes, it’s a good card, but it’s not great.  Monowhite token decks will play it, but it will be more of a pressure card than a flashy finisher. 2

[card]Lingering Souls[/card]

Coda: Given that the granddaddy of all token producers, [card]Spectral Procession[/card], isn’t all that great in EDH, I doubt this will make much of a splash, but holy shitcans the constructed and limited implications are huge. 1

[card]Ray of Revelation[/card]

Coda: I love me some enchantment destruction, and it’s hard to get cheaper than this.  [card]Ancient Grudge[/card] has always been playable in RG, and this should measure up similarly.  It’s actually powerful enough to merit consideration for my Jenara deck, but I think I’ll keep [card]Return to Dust[/card] in for now. 3

[card]Requiem Angel[/card]

Coda: Now this card I like.  It’s fantastic wrath insurance for your entire team, leaving you with an army of evasive spirits should someone pull the trigger on a [card]Damnation[/card] or [card]Blasphemous Act[/card].  It also only cares if the creature is a spirit or not, so your Saproling and Soldier armies will still make 1/1 fliers when they die. It also synergizes with [card]Ghave, Guru of Spores[/card] to a ridiculous degree, letting you create a 1/1 spirit for just two mana by just making a saproling and then sacrificing it. 3

[card]Sanctuary Cat[/card]

Coda: Kitty! 1

[card]Seance[/card]

Coda: At first glance you think, “Oh cool, a monowhite [card]Debtors’ Knell[/card].”  Then you realize: your creatures don’t have haste, and once their turn is up, they’re gone for good.  Sure, you can get some ETB triggers off that, but the value isn’t exactly compelling.  To get some mileage out of this, you’re gonna have to have both a source of repeatable haste and some kind of sacrifice outlet to throw your spirits to at the end of the turn.  You could also run [card]Sundial of the Infinite[/card] but if this card is your only reason, you might just want to leave both of them out. 1

[card]Sudden Disappearance[/card]

Coda: Me being the doyenne of all things ETB, I should love this card, right?  Not so much.  I mean, it’s alright, since you can use it to either trigger all your creatures and reset your mana or make an opponent’s board vanish long enough for you to sneak lethal damage through.  It’s just the sorcery speed that kills it for me.  The real beauty and power of ETB decks is their ability to blink and bounce their creatures at instant speed.  This just seems awkward and ham-handed to me.  It is, however, a reason to run [card]Sundial of the Infinite[/card] – trigger the sundial after resolving this spell and every permanent your opponent owns is gone for good.  It’s a huge dick move, but hey, it’s not like that’s stopped people before. 2

[card]Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/card]

Coda: Don’t let the legendary supertype fool you – this is a silver bullet aimed directly at the heart of constructed combo decks. 1

[card]Thraben Doomsayer[/card]

Coda: Being able to put a 1/1 (a human, no less) on the battlefield just by tapping is pretty neat, but the overall rule for token producers is that they need to be either A: not a creature themselves (see [card]Sacred Mesa[/card]), or B: able to pump out a metric fuckton of creatures at once (see [card]Ant Queen[/card]).  A durdley little dude that poops out a token a turn is just going to get wrathed away with your tokens before your army reaches critical mass.  As for the Fateful Hour bonus, well, it’s a flavorful mechanic, but there’s very little difference between 5 and 0 in EDH. 1

[card]Thraben Heretic[/card]

Coda: It’s not flashy, but it is repeatable targeted graveyard hate in a color which doesn’t have access to a whole lot of it. 2

Blue[card]Beguiler of Wills[/card]

Coda: While I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Limited bomb quite this bomby before, I think that she’ll really only see play in dedicated wizard decks like Azami that both maintain a bunch of dudes on the board and have the counterspell chops to keep them all alive. 2

[card]Call to the Kindred[/card]

Coda: Free creatures every turn in a tribal deck seems good, but this suffers the same drawback as the similar [card]Followed Footsteps[/card] in that auras are very vulnerable to removal.  The best application I can see is in a [card]Sygg, River Guide[/card] deck that can protect it with its general. 2

[card]Counterlash[/card]

Coda: Now this is pretty sweet.  Yes, it costs six mana, but getting to cheat a fatty or gamebreaking spell of your own into play is pretty hilarious.  It may not be the most powerful thing ever, but it should see some play, regardless. 2

[card]Curse of Echoes[/card]

Coda: Hilarious?  Absolutely.  Good?  Well, I don’t think you play this kind of card based on its power level.  It’s notable that the copies are optional, so no [card]Hive Mind[/card]-esque pact shenanigans with this one. 1

[card]Dungeon Geists[/card]

Coda: So it’s kind of a weak blue [card]Shriekmaw[/card]?  Frankly, this card could have been an uncommon. 1

[card]Geralf’s Mindcrusher[/card]

Coda: It’s a decently sized body with the oh-so-relevant undying ability, but nothing special.  What it does do well is give mill decks a fatty to throw in front of enemy attackers while advancing their game plan.  Zombie decks might run it for value, too. 2

[card]Havengul Runebinder[/card]

Coda: Exiling a creature in your graveyard to make a zombie is…pretty bad.  But the second half of that ability?  The anthem effect?  That makes me sit up and take notice.  It’s not particularly fast or flexible, but for a zombie tribal deck that wants to win in the red zone, this guy could get some work done. 2

[card]Increasing Confusion[/card]

Coda: Mill players get their very own [card]Devil’s Play[/card].  I guess you could run it in a graveyard deck, too. 2

[card]Mystic Retrieval[/card]

Coda: Recursion is king in EDH, and having a nice little 2-for-1 rebuy of your best spell is just fantastic. 4

[card]Saving Grasp[/card]

Coda: It’s definitely no [card]Momentary Blink[/card], but it is significantly cheaper.  It’s pretty sweet protection for a key creature, letting you save your general from a [card]Hallowed Burial[/card] or a titan from a [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card].  It may not be flashy, but the value is there. 3

Black[card]Black Cat[/card]

Coda: Kitty…ohdeargod it’s a zombie cat.  A. Zombie. Cat. The world was just not ready for this. 1

[card]Curse of Misfortunes[/card]

Coda: You wanted a Curse themed EDH deck?  Well, you got it.  Pile them on, and buy your friend a drink afterwards to try to mend the fences. 1

[card]Fiend of the Shadows[/card]

Coda: Oh, man, this card is super mean.  Not only does it disrupt your opponent, it gives you stuff in return.  What’s more, the stuff that most people are going to exile first (land) is the stuff you’re most likely to be able to play.  As much as I want to say “No ETB, GTFO,” I think this could be pretty sweet.  Give it double strike for extra lulz. 3

[card]Geralf’s Messenger[/card]

Coda: This card has two important things going for it that will ensure it sees some play in EDH.  One, it’s a zombie.  Two, it causes opponents to lose life when it comes into play.  Put those two attributes together with a [card]Rooftop Storm[/card], [card]Cloudstone Curio[/card], and another random zombie, and you have yourself an instant-win combo that will kill everyone at the table.  Aside from that, it’s really not that spectacular.  Undying is nice, but even as a 4/3 it doesn’t match up too well in a format filled with 5/5s and 6/6s. 2

[card]Gravecrawler[/card]

Coda: Now here’s some tasty little sacrifice fodder.  Sure, it needs other zombies to function, but being able to recur a creature from your graveyard for just one mana is pretty stellar.  [card]Corpse Harvester[/card] seems pretty good here. 3

[card]Harrowing Journey[/card]

Coda: I guess [card]Ambition’s Cost[/card] was a little too good at 4 mana, but hey, a 3-for-1 is a 3-for-1.  Decent card draw for WB and WBR decks. 3

[card]Increasing Ambition[/card]

Coda: Five mana for a tutor?  Poppycock!  Why, in my day we paid only two and still got to complain about it!  Wait, what’s that?  It has flashback?  And gets two cards when you flash it back?  I take back everything I ever said.  This card is wonderful. 3

[card]Mikaeus, the Unhallowed[/card]

Coda: At first glance, this guy looks pretty good.  Giving your entire team undying is pretty awesome, and Mikaeus follows it up with being a decently sized evasive beatsick.  You’re probably not going to be killing to many humans with his [card]No Mercy[/card] effect, but it seems like just being able to get double duty out of all your guys should make Mikaeus a solid general and solid role player in a lot of decks.  But then you look a little deeper and realize that Mikaeus is the most insanely broken combo engine they’ve printed in an extremely long time.  Let’s just take a few examples.  Got Mikaeus on board?  Okay.  Now cast [card]Triskelion[/card].  Everyone’s dead.  Try casting [card]Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter[/card].  Everyone else’s creatures without hexproof are dead.  Team Mikaeus up with [card]Ghave, Guru of Spores[/card] and [card]Ashnod’s Altar[/card].  Infinite mana, infinite saprolings, and infinite ETB/LTB effects for any non-human creature you have on the board.  And that’s just the beginning.  I want to like this guy, I really do, but I have the feeling like I’m going to be swearing at him more than any other creature in recent memory. 4

[card]Ravenous Demon[/card] // [card]Archdemon of Greed[/card]

Coda: This is essentially a slightly bigger, slightly cheaper, and much more restrictive Lord of the Pit.  Play Xathrid Demon instead if you’re looking for something along these lines. 1

[card]Tragic Slip[/card]

Coda: Not only is this card hilarious, it’s also a serious consideration for the honors of Best Black Removal.  Yes, it requires something else to die in order to really do anything, but this is EDH.  Stuff dies all the time.  You have access to a zillion different sacrifice outlets that ensure you can kill stuff on demand.  Really, you just have to respect a spell that can kill (not exile!) Ulamog for just one black mana. 4

[card]Zombie Apocalypse[/card]

Coda: Given that most of the humans running around in EDH are utility creatures, you’re probably not going to get too much mileage off the wrath side of this card.  That said, in a zombie tribal deck this makes a pretty fantastic one-sided Patriarch’s Bidding. 2

Red[card]Afflicted Deserter[/card]

Coda: It’s potentially repeatable artifact destruction, which is awesome, but flipping it is going to generally involve passing your turn, which is not so hot.  I’d probably play [card]Manic Vandal[/card] before I played this, but then again I am a complete ETB whore. 2

[card]Alpha Brawl[/card]

Coda: The flavor of having your opponent’s biggest creature take on all comers is pretty awesome, but dang, eight mana is a ton.  It is going to be a one-sided wrath most of the time, though, so I guess you are getting your money’s worth. 2

[card]Curse of Bloodletting[/card]

Coda: There’s obvious similarities here with [card]Furnace of Rath[/card], [card]Wound Reflection[/card], [card]Gratuitous Violence[/card]…all sorts of stuff.  This card is nice in that it lets you dodge some of the table-wide hate that those cards usually inspire, but it does have the disadvantage of only hosing one person and then heading to the graveyard when they’re dead.  If you can recycle it from your graveyard easily, well, then that’s pretty nice, but otherwise, I’m not sure this makes the cut.  Then again, my approach to politics is not exactly the most subtle out there, so other folks will probably love it. 3

[card]Faithless Looting[/card]

Coda: Grixis and Jund graveyard decks will love it, although just about any red deck will be able to get some nice filtering out of it. 3

[card]Flayer of the Hatebound[/card]

Coda: Basically a [card]Warstorm Surge[/card] effect on stuff coming out of your graveyard.  It plays extremely well with persist, undying, and unearth, but it sadly doesn’t synergize with [card]Tariel, Reckoner of Souls[/card] since the creature has to come out of your own graveyard.  Grixis mass reanimator decks will probably get the most mileage out of it. 2

[card]Hellrider[/card]

Coda: The ability is nice, but the 3/3 body on this creature means it’s going to be a one-shot effect more often than not. 1

[card]Increasing Vengeance[/card]

Coda: [card]Reverberate[/card] is a good, playable spell in EDH.  Reverberate with a flashback that gives you two of the spell you’re copying is just too awesome to pass up.  Why, yes, I would like to copy my [card]Tooth and Nail[/card].  Twice.  Now give me a minute while I find six creatures to cheat into play. 3

[card]Markov Blademaster[/card]

Coda: Love love love love the art on this card.  Jana Schirmer and Johannes Voss are two of my favorite up-and-coming artists.  Too bad the card is pretty mediocre, otherwise. 1

[card]Moonveil Dragon[/card]

Coda: Token decks are going to love this guy.  Pumping your entire squad for just one mana is insanely powerful.  This card is essentially the red [card]Kamahl, Fist of Krosa[/card]. 4

[card]Mondronen Shaman[/card] // [card]Tolovar Magehunter[/card]

Coda:Are all the red werewolves 3/2 4-drops?  Jeez.  Nitpicks aside, this is the first werewolf I’ve seen that actually might see some play in EDH.  It’s stats are none too impressive, but when it’s flipped it punishes your opponents with a shock to the face every time they cast a spell.  That may not sound like much, but in Group Hate decks running things like Manabarbs and Furnace of Rath, it fits right in. 2

[card]Shattered Perceptions[/card]

Coda: This is a nice little inclusion in those annoying [card]Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind[/card] and [card]Nin, the Pain Sculptor[/card] decks that nibble you to death with things like Niv and [card]Psychosis Crawler[/card] 2

Green

[card]Dawntreader Elk[/card]

Coda: It’s a bad version of [card]Sakura-Tribe Elder[/card], but it’s still [card]Rampant Growth[/card] on a creature and all that entails.  Definitely playable. 3

[card]Feed the Pack[/card]

Coda: I love me some tokens, and this card makes a lot of freaking tokens.  The obvious combo is with creatures that have persist or undying, but even just cashing in a utility creature here or there is good value in a deck that wants quantity more than quality. 2

[card]Ghoultree[/card]

Coda: 10/10 is pretty big, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: vanilla fatties have no place in EDH, no matter how little they cost.  It should be pretty sick in constructed, though, so trade away. 1

[card]Grim Flowering[/card]

Coda: In the right deck, you can draw a ton of cards off this.  It costs a bit much, though, so it probably won’t see as much play as weaker but more affordable and easier to enable spells like [card]Harmonize[/card] and [card]Soul’s Majesty[/card]. 2

[card]Increasing Savagery[/card]

Coda: It seems like a decent way to pump [card]Skullbriar, the Walking Grave[/card], but other than that it’s probably not something you want in your 99.  1

[card]Lost in the Woods[/card]

Coda: If you do a little back-of-the-envelope math, it’s pretty clear that this is only going to be any good in a monogreen deck, and that even there it’s going to stop between 1/4 and 1/3 of the attackers directed at you.  That’s pretty terrible, especially when you consider the enchantment costs five mana.  Unless you’re planning on pulling weird shenanigans involving decking yourself save for a lone forest, I’d leave this one alone.  Heck, even if that is your plan, I’d suggest directing your energies elsewhere. 1

[card]Predator Ooze[/card]

Coda: Indestructibility goes a long, long way in EDH, but I doubt this will see all that much play, even in monogreen.  The thing is, in the early game most monogreen decks are much more interested in vomiting lands onto the table than playing a 1/1 that nobody is going to care about for the next five turns.  What’s more, it’s an awful topdeck, and is almost useless on defense.  No thanks. 1

[card]Tracker’s Instincts[/card]

Coda: It’s a cheap way to get a creature in your hand and get a bit of card advantage, but you’re not always going to hit with it unless you’ve got a ton of creatures in your deck.  This should be a fine inclusion in [card]Momir Vig[/card], since with him out the card basically becomes a tutor with flashback. 2

[card]Vorapede[/card]

Coda: It’s pretty nicely sized for a five-drop and undying gives it some staying power.  It’s not the stuff of EDH legend, but I could see it played in an uncomplicated beatdown deck – Candy’s Stonebrow deck, for example. 2

[card]Wolfbitten Captive[/card] // [card]Krallenhorde Killer[/card]

Coda: Pretty awesome for that 1-drop EDH deck you know you’re never going to build. 1

Multi-Color[card]Diregraf Captain[/card]

Coda: It’s a zombie lord, yay.  Throw it on the stack of other zombie lords that have been printed.  That said, it’s second ability is a nice wrath deterrent, so I’ll give this one high marks.  For an otherwise-boring lord, that is. 2

[card]Drogskol Captain[/card]

Coda: Spirits don’t really have a huge quantity of lords to draw on, and spirit tribal decks are usually more focused on grinding out advantage using the graveyard, so I doubt the anthem will be that useful.  The hexproof clause could be very useful in keeping your opponents from messing with your shenanigans, though. 2

[card]Drogskol Reaver[/card]

Coda: This is definitely a suite of abilities that we haven’t seen together on a card before.  While it’s fine on its own as a turbocharged [card]Thieving Magpie[/card], the real power of this card will come in conjunction with a number of incremental lifegain effects.  Things like [card]Pristine Talisman[/card] go from being underwhelming to downright attractive with this in play.  The only real downside is it’s size, although there are worse things than trading with a dragon and drawing two cards.  Finally, I’m probably not the first one to point this out, but [card]Words of Worship[/card] is absolutely filthy with this thing. 3

[card]Falkenrath Aristocrat[/card]

Coda: A 4/1 hasty flier is targeted right at the heart of Standard, make no mistake, although the invulnerability is kind of neat.  It should be fine in vampire tribal, but I doubt it will find a home anywhere else. 2

[card]Havengul Lich[/card]

Coda: An extremely powerful card that’s not quite as nutty as it seems when you look a little closer.  Yes, it lets you repeatedly get creatures out of any graveyard.  But you actually have to cast the damn things, so no stealing folks’ [card]Primeval Titan[/card]s unless you’re in green, too.  There’s still plenty of value to be had with creatures like [card]Mulldrifter[/card] and [card]Shriekmaw[/card], though, and having a sac outlet can let you do some pretty nutty stuff. The rider on its ability also has the benefit of giving whatever you cast a sort of quasi-haste so you can tap the lich to kill a creature right after you reanimate an [card]Avatar of Woe[/card].  As a final note, run [card]Necrotic Ooze[/card] in the same deck as this.  You won’t be disappointed. 4

[card]Huntmaster of the Fells[/card] // [card]Ravager of the Fells[/card]

Coda: Words cannot describe how much I want to resolve this spell in Limited.  Especially in a RUG flashback deck that let me flip him back and forth, back and forth…  He’s kinda crap for EDH, though. 1

[card]Immerwolf[/card]

Coda: If you’re going to build a werewolf EDH deck, this card will have to be in it.  I’m not saying it’s good, or that it’s ever going to stay on the battlefield for very long, but it is a mandatory werewolf card.  Make what you will of that. 1

[card]Sorin, Lord of Innistrad[/card]

Coda: Neat card, but pretty mediocre in EDH.  Next!

Samwise:  This card is totally insane in a [card]Teysa, Orzhov Scion[/card] deck. The ability to give your team a +1/+0 emblem is VERY powerful. I could also see [card]Sorin, Lord of Innistrad[/card] being extremely powerful in a [card]Ghave, Guru of Spores[/card] deck which would obviously be based around getting doubling season out very quickly, and Sorin is intrinsically powerful with the card since he’s a planeswalker, but he makes tokens on top of that. Sorin wont be an auto run in every B/W deck you have, but he’ll be nuts in a few decks.

Coda: I’m not sure I’d call half of an anthem for four mana “powerful.”  He’s similar to [card]Elspeth, Knight Errant[/card] in that he can make a 1/1 while raising his loyalty, but Elspeth’s ultimate is just game-breaking.  Sorin’s is merely good.  White/black token decks will want him, but he’s going to be far, far from the best card in those decks. 2

[card]Stromkirk Captain[/card]

Coda: Sigh, okay, you’ve got a vampire tribal deck.  I guess this guy goes in. 2

Colorless[card]Chalice of Life[/card] // [card]Chalice of Death[/card]

Coda: It’s not particularly difficult to get your life total over 50 in EDH, and once you do this card turns into a real powerhouse.  Taking 5-life chunks out of your opponents puts them under some decent pressure, and if you can combine this with something like Voltaic Key or Unwinding Clock you can really put the heat on. 2

[card]Elbrus, the Binding Blade[/card] // [card]Withengar Unbound[/card]

Coda: It’s cute and explicitly targeted at multiplayer, but it’s not particularly good.  If it wasn’t only playable by black decks I could see white commanders like Isamaru or Kemba running it, but sadly no.  I can also see people bending the rules a little bit and playing this as their “commander,” which actually seems a little broken.  As a commander Withengar would kill the first opponent in two hits, then everybody else in one hit afterward.  And he has three forms of evasion.  I guess there are more oppressive things people can do in EDH, but it just doesn’t seem very fun. 2

[card]Grafdigger’s Cage[/card]

Coda: This is a surprisingly versatile piece of hate.  Not only does it stop just about every graveyard shenanigan you can think of, it also stops a lot of the more powerful tutor-to-play cards, like [card]Tinker[/card], [card]Green Sun’s Zenith[/card], [card]Birthing Pod[/card], and [card]Chord of Calling[/card].  [card]Tooth and Nail[/card] still works like a charm, though.  Mwa ha ha. 4

[card]Grim Backwoods[/card]

Coda: Yeah, I pretty much saw this card coming as soon as they spoiled its white-black companion.  Green and black are the morbid colors, after all, and what enables morbid better than a sac outlet? Sacrifice outlets are always useful, though, and rarely are sac outlets so generous as to actually give you a card back for your creature. If you’re in these colors, it’s almost definitely worth playing. 3

[card]Havengul Fengraf[/card]

Coda: Sacrificing a land to get a creature back is pretty fantastic on its face.  Almost too fantastic, so they toned it down a bit with the random clause. It’s probably at its best in creature-light decks where you’ll be able to exercise the most selection, you can still get good value in stompy green creaturefests.  It’s tempting to combo this with cards that get lands back from the graveyard, but most decks that can do that really don’t have any trouble recurring their creatures, anyway.  Regardless, I’m definitely adding it to Jenara. 4

[card]Helvault[/card]

Coda: This strikes me as somewhat similar to [card]Spine of Ish Sah[/card], save that it’s easier to trigger repeatedly and it can only deal with creatures.  It’s fine enough in decks that don’t really have access to easy creature kill spells, although I’d try to have a way to bounce it or exile it close at hand in case an opponent tries to free their creatures by nuking the vault.  And if you’re thinking about using it as a [card]Safe Haven[/card] effect to dodge removal and wraths, well, I’d like to introduce you to a little card I like to call [card]Safe Haven[/card]. 1

[card]Jar of Eyeballs[/card]

Coda: There’s a lot of potential digging power and card advantage here, but having to have guys die in order to power it up is a little awkward.  It seems like a natural fit for sacrifice-themed decks, although I guess having an army of tokens die basically turns it into a tutor on a stick. 2

[card]Vault of the Archangel[/card]

Coda: Giving your entire team lifelink and deathtouch is pretty sweet, no lie.  It’s not cheap, but having a source of lifegain in your deck essentially for free is a pretty sweet deal when you’re agonizing over what to cut and what to keep in.  Note that it’s kind of sick with a [card]Thrashing Wumpus[/card] in play.  I know a certain someone with a [card]Pestilence[/card]/lifegain deck that’s going to be very, very happy. 4

Conclusions

Coda: So once again it looks like white didn’t do to well, with only two cards of any real note: [card]Ray of Revelation[/card] and [card]Requiem Angel[/card].  Blue got a gamebreaking creature for wizard tribal decks, some solid roleplayers for blue-black zombie lists, and an excellent utility spell in [card]Mystic Retrieval[/card].  Black definitely got the pick of the litter with a powerful tutor, an insane combo/value engine, an extremely powerful spot removal spell, and some powerful spells for zombie tribal.  Red did decently with [card]Moonveil Dragon[/card], which should end plenty of games, and [card]Faithless Looting[/card], which is going to enable a lot of brokenness in the coming months.  Green definitely got the worst of things this time around though.  There’s some neat cards, some stuff that will be good in Standard and limited, but nothing particularly new or groundbreaking for EDH.  Finally, [card]Grafdigger’s Cage[/card] promises to be a fairly strong hoser that should see plenty of play, while the three new lands are all quite good.

Frankly, I’m a little disappointed that we’re only getting 2/5ths of the enemy spell land cycle in DKA.  Overall the set just isn’t that impressive, and a full cycle could have really given it a bit more punch for us EDH players.  Now, don’t get me wrong, the set looks fantastic to draft and I can’t wait to start cracking packs, but I can’t see a whole lot of EV in opening packs for EDH players.  If you’re not going to be playing standard, it might be best to just save your pennies for Avacyn Restored and trade for what cards you do need.

Coda’s Top 10 Dark Ascension Cards:

10. Gravecrawler
9. Requiem Angel
8. Havengul Fengraf
7. Mystic Retrieval
6. Tragic Slip
5. Vault of the Archangel
4. Grafdigger’s Cage
3. Moonveil Dragon
2. Havengul Lich
1. Mikaeus, the Unhallowed

24 comments to Dark Ascension Set Review

  • Mark D

    I’m pretty excited for this set for the two EDH decks I run. My Ghave deck clearly wins big with the two enemy spell lands, plus a creature in each color: Requiem Angel, Vorapede and Geralf’s Messenger. I like that the undying creatures basically combo on for whatever mana I have up. As long as I don’t go making infinite mana, it’s a completely non-broken way to have fun. Jar of Eyeballs makes for a fun way for Ghave to dig for new stuff too.

    My Rosheen deck gets far less, but I’m very excited to add Increasing Vengeance to that deck and triple banefire somebody

    • Coda

      Yeah if there’s any one general that got singled out for the VIP treatment in DKA, it’s Ghave. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot more Ghave decks in the coming months, and to be honest, I’m kind of tempted to turn my Savra token deck into a Ghave deck now. It’s not like I ever cast Savra in that deck, anyway.

      • Coda

        How are you supposed to pronounce Ghave, anyway? I’ve been saying “GAH-vey,” but just this last weekend I heard someone pronounce it like “gave.” I guess “gave” sounds like “grave,” which is kinda flavorful, but I’m kind of attached to my duosyllabic pronunciation. It sounds cooler.

  • Mark D

    I pronounce it so that it rhymes with Dave. And then I throw out 2001: A Space Odyssey quotes when I can make them work.

    I’m afraid I can’t do that Ghave.

    • A) I have it on good authority WotC R&D members are on record as pronouncing it “Gah-Vey”, which is the way I prefer it anyway.

      B) Sudden Disappearance says “nonland permanents” so it’s not quite as douchey when used with Sundial as you stated, but it’s still not a play I’m overly excited to make.

  • Matt

    Funny, I had a similar view on Tragic Slip, and threw it into my Kresh deck. I found myself wanting more card advantage sadly. Kresh probably isn’t the best deck for it though, I thought, so I ran it in Damia and found myself feeling bad for one for one ing. Definately good but I’ll keep my Innocent Bloods thank you.

  • Jake

    Ray of Revelation was simply a reprint. EDH gained nothing from it being reprinted. I never really see it played as many decks I see played already have a way to replay spells that hit the GY which makes flashback bad. Also both white and green have WAY more versitile spells to play with.

    I agree Mikaeus is going to be the card in the set with the largest impact, makes me sad that Triskelion wasnt reprinted in M12.

    Faithless looting would make my top 10 list. Red can now draw spells. This is huge. The fact that it is an enabler for GY shenanigans is just icing on the cake.

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