A realistic Dark Ascension Set Review – Black by Grant Hislop

A realistic Dark Ascension Set Review – White by Grant Hislop


I didn’t really expect anyone would actually keep reading this far. I don’t really have anything exciting to say in this part. Or arguably in the next part either…


Black cards! My thoughts on them! Go!

Black Cat

Cool picture, pretty flavourful. As before, I’m not a flavour guy. Not a very good card. I expect a lot of people to play it, as it looks pretty, and people always evaluate discard spells incorrectly, but I don’t rate this.

I don’t see why they couldn’t have re-printed Entrails Feaster and renamed it, if they wanted a Zombie Cat in the set. Seems more relevant in the format, but c’est la vie.

Chosen of Markov

I’d estimate 6-7 Vampires in your deck, and this guy becomes quite good. Not that Grey Ogres are ever too bad in limited. Note that it starts off as a human, so gets all the benefits of being one, as well as the potential to power into a Vampire. Pretty sweet.

Apparently, on Innistrad, when a Vampire turns you, you get a banging boob job thrown in on the deal as well. HUGE RACK!

Curse of Misfortunes

So, this is a ‘Curses Matter’ card. It’s also a ‘Do Nothing‘ card. If I spend 5 mana on an enchantment, I’d like it to do something please. Anything. Even just cantrip, and then I’ll be slightly happier paying 5 mana, and accomplishing nothing. It doesn’t help that outside of Curse of Death’s Hold, none of the Curses are actually good, and I can’t see this finding a home anywhere.

Curse of Thirst

See Above

Deadly Allure

Yup, this is a good card. Thicket Basilisk + Lure in one card, with Flashback is pretty sweet. I understand the card thematically, and I think what it does is sweet. THIS is how you do top down design.


I can’t read properly. It’s not EVERY creature, it’s just one. Obviously not as good. Comments re: Design still stand, but it’s not really very good. Shame.

Death’s Caress

‘Right guys, we need a generic, over-priced black removal spell, with some tenuous tie in to a block mechanic.’ ‘Check.’

Yeah, I’ll always play it. I loves me a grindy control deck that has 5/6 removal spells, but this isn’t exciting.

This is my formula for a black removal spell in every set ever:-

1/2/3/4/B/BB/BBB (Delete as applicable. Total should be at least 4)

Target creature gets –X/-X, where X is some bullsh*t.
Maybe it just dies. Maybe there’s some damage. Maybe you gain life.

You should probably play this in your sealed deck.

That’s the formula. If Wizards want to use it, they have to pay me eleventy billion pounds because I’m a pure genius.

Falkenrath Torturer

BW Humans. Calling it. Best draft archetype. Nothing to do with this guy, he’s obviously pretty bad, but still. Village Cannibals is still pretty spicy.

Farbog Boneflinger

I don’t understand why this guy is printed when they could just stick Keening Banshee in the set instead. He’s a Zombie, and I guess that’s a better creature type, but still. The effect is obviously really good, and I’ll always play him, but I really like Keening Banshee. It’s better than Morkrut Banshee, but that card really underwhelmed me anyway, so that’s not saying much.

Fiend of the Shadows

So it’s kind of like a Specter, but kind of better because I can cast the card they pitch, and they can’t just pitch a Flashback spell? It’s evasive, and has a marginal amount of protection, assuming you’ve got access to Humans. Black/White Humans, I’m tellin’ ya… This is the sort of rare I like to see for limited; It’s powerful, but not game warping. Good stuff.

Geralf’s Messenger


How fortunate that these two are right next to each other alphabetically, considering they’re going to spend much of the next 2 years in the same decks together.

The Messenger is very good. People are comparing him to Kitchen Finks, and I think the comparison is fine. What people do forget is that Kitchen Finks was the best card in its set, and set the pace of the format that it was in. I can see Geralf’s Messenger doing something similar.

Where the differences are, are in the Undying vs Persist. Obviously Undying is better than Persist. One shrinks, the other grows, that’s not up for discussion. What IS open for discussion is whether or not gaining life is better that making your opponent lose life.

OR, to look at it another, more leading way, what is a better card, Lava Spike or Healing Salve?

Now, I think that most of us that aren’t Mark Pinder would agree that the Lava Spike is the better of the two. We can scoff, and act all hipstery and say, ‘Well I wouldn’t play either of them‘. But to that I say, ‘Shut up hipster, nobody cares what you think, and your jeans are too tight. P.S. Your moustache is silly’.

Now let’s imagine that while we’re casting this Lava Spike, we’re getting a 3/2 body, and if they kill that, then it turns into a 4/3, instead of shrinking.

The BBB cost makes it pretty awkward for decks to cast, but the power level on the Messenger is there to make it worthwhile to just stick to Mono-Black.

The mana in standard is such that we could presumably be base black, and use the 8 dual lands we have available to us, and use these to touch on another colour, either U or R. Blue would give us counters and the Zombie Lord, and Red would give us burn. Both of these are quite appealing to me. How ’bout you?

Gravecrawler is a card that I don’t quite see how he made it into print. He’s always going to be there, keeping on coming back, and coming back, and coming back. He carries equipment really well, so bear that in mind. Generally, with equipment, it’s best to stick it on your worst guy, so that if your opponent wants to use a removal spell, he’ll have to use it on your worst guy. Now imagine that if he wants to avoid a sword hit, he has to kill this guy, who’s just going to come back after combat anyway. Seems pretty demoralising.

This pair are going to see a ton of play, especially in tandem, as the Messenger is quite the resilient little Zombie, and will play quite nicely with the Gravecrawler.


Worst case, it cycles, I guess. Kind of like a Raise Dead, but lets you stack your deck. Playable if you have a big, dumb Angel/Dragon/Demon etc that you want to survive, or acting as a kind of Death Denied in the later parts of the game. I’ll almost always play this in my limited decks.

Gruesome Discovery

I like the existence of this card far more than I thought I would. The Morbid keyword on this is the reason for that. It means that I can make good players consider it if I make speculative attacks. Perhaps I can get in for 2 while the board is stalled, because this is another card my opponent will have to consider.

Basically, anything that lets me get free damage, or a look at my opponents hand, or makes them misread what I have in hand is pretty good to me.

Harrowing Journey

Yeah, I like this card. I like Ambition’s Cost etc, and I probably like it enough that I’ll pay 1 more mana for it. The fact that this can act as a Lava Spike for the opponent as well makes me a lot happier as well. Sadly, the existence of Bump in the Night means a savvy opponent will be considering the possibility of being burned for 3 anyway, but this card is pretty sweet.

Highborn Ghoul

Seems about right. Fine card. BB is pretty awkward, but this isn’t Zendikar block, where we’re fighting to curve out, and dying if we miss a 2 drop. He’s solid.

Increasing Ambition

Wizards: ‘Hey, EDH Guy! This one’s for you, buddy’
EDH Guy: ‘Thanks Wizards, you’re pretty neat’
Wizards: ‘No problem little buddy, you keep jamming those bad cards into your horrible decks’
EDH Guy: ‘Will do Wizards. PS Please print more Slivers’


Mikaeus, the Unhallowed

This guy will see a lot of play in Black control decks once the Titans go away. Until then, Grave Titan is still king. I can only imagine that he’s going to be a house in block, and is a windmill slam first pick in draft. I’m pretty sure the only thing I take over him is Foil Mikaeus.

Ravenous Demon

More stuff for the BW Humans draft deck. He’s obviously not a constructed card, and I don’t think that Green has the Humans necessary to keep this guy happy once he flips. That said, you’ll likely only need to connect once or twice to put the game away.

The fact that unflipped he’s a 4/4 with no evasion makes me sad, as does only flipping him as a sorcery. Fine limited rare, more of these please.

Reap the Seagraf

This is no Moan of the Unhallowed.

Fun Fact, this is one of two (2) cards that are common and produce Zombie tokens. I know this, because I got a bunch of sweet Zombie tokens, and wanted to use them in my cube. I figured that there’d be a couple of cards I could use that would allow me to do this. There weren’t. Before this card, there was only one. I’ll give a fabulous prize* to the first person who can tell me what that card is without using Gatherer or anything similar.


Sightless Ghoul

Playable, obviously aggressive, has a relevant creature type. Yup, this will be in a lot of limited decks. Probably in my cube as well.

Skirsdag Flayer

House. I’m a big fan of Attrition, and this guy is (almost) Attrition on a stick. There’s never a reason to cut this, and his cost makes him easily splashable. Definite p1p1 quality card.

Spiteful Shadows

Bleurghhhhh!! Unless your friend has a Stuffy Doll deck that he’s been ruining your kitchen table fun with, this will never EVER see play.

Tragic Slip

This is awesome. The Wring Flesh vs Virulent Wound argument got solved. This thing deals with anything those the other two could, and gets better if you’re using other pin-point removal, or they’re blocking, or you’re 2 mana off of wrathing away a Hero of Bladehold, but have enough to kill all the babies etc. Format staple.

Undying Evil

This is a pretty sweet trick for black to have access to. Quite a few of the creatures have ETB effects, so rebuying them seems sweet, and obv it acts to make your bombo even more ka-BLAM-tastic when they finally try to deal with it. Love this card. My call for sleeper of the set.

Vengeful Vampire

Seems very expensive for what it does. Which is, I’d expect to trade with one of UW’s fliers and then stall the air. It’s a realistic clock, I guess, but for 6 mana, I’m left wanting more than that.


Grey Ogre Tastic. Plus Morbid value. I’m sold.

Nothing spectacular, but 4 power across 2 bodies for 3 mana is pretty impressive, and I loves me some value.

Zombie Apocalypse

Why couldn’t we just have Living Death? I promise, I’ll play nice if we can just have Living Death.

It’s fine, I guess. Probably be pretty sweet in block, and in Zombie decks in all formats. 6 is a lot…

See you on the next one!



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