A realistic Dark Ascension Set Review – Blue by Grant Hislop

A realistic Dark Ascension Set Review – White by Grant Hislop


Sup, fools!

Same format as before. I’m going to run through the cards from the Visual Spoiler, and impart my wisdom/folly to you lucky readers.

Last time I covered White cards, this time I’ll go over the ever so saucy blue cards, ie ‘The best ones‘, and we’ll see where we stand. Sit back, relax, and prepare to have your mind holes blown by the power of my insight.

Artful Dodge

Seems sucky.


Well, we’re again, off to a slow start. I like the idea of the card, I’m just not sure it’s that good. I’d play it if it cantripped, but there’s so little going on here to talk about. I’d rather play an extra land than this. I could see siding it in against the Werewolf decks, but I’d hope to have better ways to deal with them than this toilety nonsense.

If I had to say something nice about it, I like the name of it. I can imagine ‘hilarious‘ people casting this, and breaking into a chorus of ‘You’ve got to pick a pocket or two’, but then I’ll crush them, because they’re playing stuff like Artful Dodge.

Beguiler of Wills

I’m glad this card is a Mythic. It’s insane in limited. Steal your best guy every turn! Nutty. At least it dies to Geistflame, and has no protection whatsoever. But you NEED to kill this straight away. Unlike other cards of this ilk, you’ll lose control of your guy permanently, not just while they’ve got the Beguiler in play.

I wish they’d stop printing un-fun limited cards like this, that have no constructed applications whatsoever, and seem to only exist so as to make people hate their opponent. Like the big red Dragon from this set. And the one from Innistrad. Like, I get the flavour of the Innistrad one, it breathes fire all over your duders, and they all die, but the one in this set, Firebreathe your team? How does that make sense? It’s just a card that makes you win if you untap with it, and that’s no fun. I want to play a draft format where we have to grind our opponent down, make awkward attacks and fight tooth and nail for our victories, not just try and stay alive until you draw your big, dumb guy and hope they can’t kill it, or draw their big, dumb guy before you draw yours.

Bone to Ash

Slightly worse Dismiss. I’m glad to see that they’re making a move away from just jamming Cancel into every Block, but I’m pretty sure this costs too much to see play, outside of siding it in when you see a big, dumb dragon/angel/demon that you can’t beat.

Maybe it’ll see play as a 1-2 of in control decks, but I like utility in my counter magic, and going so narrow is not something that I’m prepared to do. Plus, in this format, the creatures you want to counter cost 1-3 mana, and I don’t want to pay more than that to deal with them, unless I’m casting Cryptic Command.

Call to the Kindred

See Séance. Stupid, do nothing enchantment, that encourages you to open yourself up to a 2 for 1. I’m not interested in being on the wrong end of that equation thank you very much.

Chant of the Skifsang

This card makes me laugh. Sensory Deprivation is actually a playable card, so this is probably one as well. It shuts off every creature in the format, which can’t be bad. There’s not much in the way of Enchantment removal outside of White, so it’s almost always going to stick around as well, which also, can’t be bad. Pretty solid blue ‘removal‘ spell.

Chill of Foreboding

There are better cards that offer this effect in constructed, and I think you’d need to be fairly heavy on the UB/G Self mill plan to make this work in limited. It’s probably better against those decks than in them to be honest, as you can control the timing, and try to get them to accidentally deck themselves.

The flashback cost is a joke.


This card is actually ‘Good in EDH’ It’s obviously terrible in the 60 card formats, and about as obvious as an Overwhelming Intellect in 40 card formats. In EDH though, you’ll probably save Mana on your creature, as well as stopping their big, dumb guy hitting play.

I bet the foils of this look awesome, and fetch a pretty penny.

Curse of Echoes

A ‘FixedHive Mind effect. If by fixed, you mean ‘neutered‘. The whole point of Hive Mind is to make them cast spells that they don’t want to. Adding the word ‘May‘ to this spoils the fun. When so many of the triggers in this set are mandatory, it seems moronic that the one place where it would make the most sense to have it be so doesn’t have it. Strange.


Yep, I’ve played this in Constructed. Nope, I wasn’t excited about it. Think Twice is in the format. It’s instant speed. It’s better. Play that instead.

Dungeon Geists

I know that some of the folk here on mtgUK are pretty excited by this guy, but I don’t see it. It costs 4, has a marginal ability, and isn’t a large enough body to cause that much worry to your opponent. Tapping down a titan is fine, but if they’re throwing haymakers, you need to be doing the same, not jabbing away at the body, which is what this guy does.

I’m interested that they’ve chosen to pluralise this card. It seems that most cards are singular these days, yet for whatever reason, this card isn’t. Outside of Llanowar Elves, I can’t think of any other standard legal card that’s pluralised. Of course, I can’t be bothered to check this, so I have no way to back this up. Perhaps someone could check, and let me know if I’m missing any.

Geralf’s Mindcrusher

Blue’s Big, Dumb guy. No evasion. Is Undying better than Flying, or Trample? Probably. He doesn’t need you to eat another creature, and his ETB trigger fuels the U/x self mill strategies, and the fact that it targets means that you’re not stuck accidentally decking yourself when he dies.

He’s a Limited only rare. There are better ways to fill your yard in constructed.


This is a type of effect that I really like. Plow Under is insane, Temporal Manipulation is pretty good. This isn’t as good as either of these though. At least it’s an instant, which means it’s at least playable, but I don’t think that this is as good as Grasp of Phantoms, which has seen zero constructed play. The problem is, it just costs too much. I’d love to see something like Memory Lapse get reprinted, but I understand why it wouldn’t.

This card makes me sad, in the same way Joaquin Phoenix makes me sad. Griptide is a hair lipped reminder of what could have been.

Havengul Runebinder

I guess that the most analogous thing to this card would be Cemetery Reaper. Except that the Reaper has more use hitting stuff in other peoples Graveyards, rather than just your own. Reaper sees no play currently, and I can’t see Blue decks wanting this type of effect, due to conflict with Stitched Drake and Makeshift Mauler, if that was your thing.

Obv bomb in limited, but not going to see play in Constructed. (At this point, I’ve cut and pasted ‘Not going to see play in Constructed’. I hope this will save some time.)

Headless Skaab

Another card for the U/x Mill decks. I think he’s worse than his Innistrad ‘Brothers‘ of Stitched Drake and Makeshift Mauler, but he’s not awful, I guess. Where the other two are aggressive, this is quite a defensive guy, despite his ETB Tapped drawback. Seems like a very strange card to me.

Increasing Confusion

I’m becoming increasingly confused by all the bad blue cards so far. Perhaps we could get some good ones soon?

Mill Fireball. Nothing to see here.

Mystic Retrieval

This card screams Past in Flames deck to me. It can let you cast the same sorcery 3 times (4 if it’s got Flashback itself), which seems pretty combo-riffic to me. Regrowing a Cruel Ultimatum or something similar seems pretty unfair too, but this is probably a bit too slow to do that, and takes up the same space as Snapcaster Mage.

Nephalia Seakite

I have a commons only cube that I’ve been tinkering with for a while now. This card goes right in. I’ll pretty much always play this in draft, he eats all the Spirit tokens in the world, and screws up my opponents combat maths. Not to mention just end stepping him, and bringing the beats.

Niblis of the Breath

Tappers are almost always good. This is no exception. This one actually has a reasonably sized body, as well as evasion, so switches to attacking really well when there’s nothing to tap down. The untap ability will throw people for a while as the format is new, as it makes combat even more difficult, as you give your dragon pseudo vigilance.

Relentless Skaabs

Solid in Limited. Not Constructed playable, outside of pod decks, which has far better options at 5, most notably Acidic Slime. I’d be surprised if this saw any 60 card play.

Saving Grasp

This is quite interesting. In a format with Snapcaster Mage, they’re going all out to give us ways to wring that extra bit of value from him. Not to mention more traditional ‘Save my guy from your removal spell’ uses.

I had to check to make sure that this card was an instant. It seems like in this block, a lot of cards that ‘feel‘ like instants are sorceries, and vice versa. This one is an instant, and it’s quite good.

Screeching Skaab

Stock Blue Limited card. Good creature type, I guess.

Secrets of the Dead

I can’t see this card being what Burning Vengeance wants. Perhaps Paul McLachlan will correct me, but I don’t think that another do nothing enchantment is what your deck wants. Practically every card in the deck draws a card, or a facsimile thereof, so why would you want a do-nothing. If you look at the way the Vengeance deck actually plays, you don’t need this card. Maybe I’m wrong.


Seems like the reverse of what the other Blue cards do. I can’t see ever wanting to play this, especially when its body is so fragile, and its effect so marginal. Another ‘I’d rather have a land than this’ card.

Soul Seizer

So this creature has to deal damage before it turns into a Mind Control, and its only evasion is flying, and it’s a 1/3. Seems underpowered. Conditional Mind Controls are still Mind Controls, but I don’t see this being a slam first pick. There are so many fliers in this format that I doubt you can reliably hit with this.

Stormbound Geist

Remember that Common cube I was talking about? Yeah, this guy’s going in there too. He’s got the Cloud Elemental drawback, but don’t let that fool you, this is an aggro card. This guy is going to be a house in draft. I actually wouldn’t be surprised to see him trickle into Standard either. People played Stitched Drake for a few weeks at the end of last year, and this guy seems at least on par with him, and probably better due to no tension with Moorland Haunt.

Thought Scour

Strictly better Mental Note. Fills your graveyard, in a format where that’s a good thing. I like this card in U/x Delver decks, especially ones with Runechanter’s Pike and in Burning Vengeance. With cards like this, and Gitaxian Probe, we must be getting close to some sort of filthy combo deck.

Tower Geist

The Sage Owl mechanic is one that frustrates a lot of people. This is, like Augury Owl from core sets, a card that works on that mechanic, and improves it. It’s almost a much more expensive Strategic Planning, and in this set, it pays to dump stuff in the Graveyard.

Basically, this card isn’t exciting, but it’s a reasonable body, and has a useful abilitiy. Say it with me – ‘useful in limited, unplayable in constructed’.

See you on the next one!



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