A realistic Dark Ascension Set Review – Red by Grant Hislop

A realistic Dark Ascension Set Review – White by Grant Hislop


Hello again.

We’ve previously looked over the White, Blue and Black cards. If you haven’t already done so, those can be found here.

This time, to keep in colour wheel order, we’ll be looking at the Red cards from Dark Ascension. Same format as before. Hopefully the cards are better here, and we’ll have a bit more to talk about.

Afflicted Deserter

So for the same cost as Tormented Pariah, I get a Werewolf that eats artifacts, and incidentally burns my opponent. Again, this trigger is ‘May’, which surprises me. Innistrad was almost entirely mandatory triggers, so the move away from this surprises me. Seems like a Werewolf that couldn’t help himself from blowing up your own artifacts might have been more flavourful, but that’s just me, I guess.

He’s better than Tormented Pariah, obviously, and Pariah sees SOME limited play, so I don’t expect this guy to be any different.

Alpha Brawl

It’s obviously costed ridiculously for constructed play, and it’s a bit on the high side for limited as well. I can’t see any applications for this card outside of multiplayer formats, where there it can serve to ruin someone’s day. This is a bulk rare, if ever I saw one.

Sadly, it targets, so if they have anything that looks remotely like a Sacrifice outlet, of which there are many, this should be nowhere near your deck.

Blood Feud

Obviously it’s too expensive for constructed.

In limited, I’d expect it to be something of a house. 6 mana is quite a lot, but you should be able to get two of their creatures with it, and I suppose, worst case, you could cast it post-combat and finish off one of their guys that blocked. Also, you could use it as a super-expensive Prey Upon.

Burning Oil

Hey, it’s a reasonable limited combat trick. I’d play this even if I wasn’t RW, but in a RW deck, it’s obviously better if you are. Sadly, when you come to flash it back, it’ll be telegraphed, but it’s still very sweet. Yet another card that can force my opponent to play badly is always welcome.

Curse of Bloodletting

Another bad curse, what a surprise. There seems to be a push on curses, but unfortunately, they seem to have zero synergy with each other, which is a shame. This isn’t what aggressive red decks want in limited or constructed, and it does absolutely nothing by itself, and you should know how I feel about Do-Nothing Enchantments by now, cos there’s tonnes of them in this set…

Erdwal Ripper

They’re really going all out on the Slith mechanic in this block for the Vampires. It’s pretty cool, I guess, but they’re all so small to start with. This is basically Bloodcrazed Neonate, but more expensive. I guess the haste makes it slightly better, but even if you sneak in a hit, it’s only for 2, and your guy will only have 2 toughness afterwards, making it pretty difficult for you to keep the pressure coming. I could see this guy and Crossway Vampire becoming BFF’s, however.

Obviously he’s pretty good on an empty board, but that doesn’t happen too often…

Faithless Looting

Careful Study, with Flashback. It’s really strange what they’re doing. It seems like they’re giving us the pieces for a Reanimator deck, but they’re putting the reanimation in Black and White, and the enablers in Blue and Red. It seems as though the Mana MIGHT exist that we can actually just play 4 colour Reanimator, and reprinting Evolving Wilds is certainly a step in that direction, but it’s probably better left for those who’re better at building Mana bases than me to figure out.

Card’s clearly good, and will be one of the defining cards of the new standard format.

Fires of Undeath

Best red common in the set. Not close.

R/B is one of the most popular colour combinations in limited, and there’s no way this card doesn’t belong in there.

As with all flashback cards with off-colour costs, we need to consider what happens if you only get to cast one half. In either case, it’s pretty good. People are already getting pretty ‘ambitious‘ with their mana-bases, and this is yet another card that encourages you to do so.

I can see this trickling into Standard at some point, in a R/B Zombie or Vampire deck, and it’ll almost certainly see widespread Block Constructed play.

Flayer of the Hatebound

This is one of these limited rares that I really like. He represents at least 9 damage on his own, plus whatever he can hit for, and makes all your other Undying cards a little better (like they needed the help). Powerful, expensive, and has no business in a normal 60 card deck, though I suppose he’s a reasonable stop in the Pod Chain leading up to Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite.


Not a new addition to the standard format, but it’s usually playable in the aggressive Red limited decks. Can’t see that being any different here.

I was playing in a Game Day event for M12, and my round 2 opponent cast Immolating Souleater on turn 2, pumped all his life into him on turn 3, attacked, and Flung him at my face for the turn 3 kill. Brilliant.

Forge Devil

I like this guy in limited. Seems to be all fatty-boom-boom’s and 1 toughness guys, and this one can kill a one toughness guy, and chump a fatty. I’ll play it in my hyper aggro red decks, and I guess it’s maybe got a place in current standard. We’re playing Gut Shot already, right?

Heckling Fiends

More pluralised creatures! How strange.

I like this mechanic. A lot of board states devolve into staring matches, and a guy like this can break that open, by forcing your opponent to make poor attacks. Always playable.


Another limited rare, that’s costed fairly, and won’t wreck the game. Bravo.

Red isn’t where the constructed token decks want to be, and Hero of Oxid Ridge is considerably better than this guy in more traditional Red decks. He’ll end up seeing some play in Block, and might trickle into Standard post rotation. A possible sleeper, but it’s not going to be until after Scars Block rotates.

Hinterland Hermit

So he’s rubbish at defence, super fragile, and his transform ability doesn’t seem too great in a world of so many tokens. In constructed, do we really need more help to get our Stormblood Berserkers to connect? Seems unlikely.

Increasing Vengeance

I wish this didn’t have the ‘You control‘ caveat. Then it might actually be good. As is, it’s underpowered something rotten in 1v1 formats, and not as good as the other red options ala Reverberate, Wild Ricochet etc in the multiplayer formats. I’ve been pretty unimpressed by this entire cycle to date, maybe the green one will be better.

Markov Blademaster

Carries equipment like nobodies business.

There’s got to be a Block Constructed deck with all these Slith guys, a bunch of burn and Nightbird’s Clutches and Crossway Vampires to make you able to keep swinging.

Getting him to connect in the first place might prove difficult, but if  you do, things will get out of hand.

Markov Warlord

This guy will be topping the curves of a lot of Red limited decks. 4/4 is no slouch, and the Nightbird’s Clutches he’s got stapled onto him means you’ll be beating face even through board stalls.

I thought this guy was a rare, but I’m happy to see he’s just an uncommon. You don’t want more than one of him, I don’t think, but you’ll probably only see  1 throughout the draft.

Mondronen Shaman

Costs too much for what it does, and isn’t even reliably able to do that. Another solid limited rare, however, which does make me happy. I can’t see the constructed format where you would want access to this guy though. If his ability was at least Manabarbs, we would talk, but this seems a pale shadow of an imitation.

40 cards only please.

Moonveil Dragon

This is the type of card I hate. Unplayable in constructed, and serves only to ruin peoples days in limited. I don’t get why it Firebreathes your whole team, it makes no sense. I wish this card didn’t exist.

Nearheath Stalker

Would it really have been so hard to put Trample on this guy, and at least make him analogous to Scuzzback Marauders? He’s pretty fragile, and costs an awful lot. Probably the worst undying card. That said, he almost always represents a two-for-one, but I want more from my 5 Mana, thankyouverymuch.

Pretty good Fling target, I guess.

Pyreheart Wolf

All my creatures are Stormblood Berserkers!! Here’s a card that breaks apart board stalls. This guy, some Nightbirds Clutches, some Crossway Vampires and Markov Warlord to top the curve seems like it’ll be a pretty powerful deck.

Generally, in a new draft environment, I like to force mono-red as often as possible, and any card that makes that archetype better is pretty good news to me. There’s a lot of Falter effects in this format, so it seems that a super-aggro red deck could do really well, especially with the Slith mechanic on so many of its guys.

Russet Wolves

More pluralised cards!

But… They’re foxes, not wolves. Either way, it’s a Hill Giant. It’s hard to get excited by Hill Giant. It’s pretty hard to not run Hill Giant, but it’s definitely hard to get excited by Hill Giant.

Scorch the Fields

This is one of those cards that will either be insane, or crappy, depending on who you’re playing. I’d expect to have access to up to 2 of these in most Red limited decks, and to side them in at least once in the draft. Seems unlikely that it’s maindeckable, but in the matchups where it’s good, it’ll be REALLY good.

I’m obviously only referring to the 1 to Humans part of the card. The other part is super marginal.

Shattered Perception

I loves me a Wheel of Fortune. Seems right at home in the Burning Vengeance decks, and makes the block version far more reliable. Look at all the dirty combo cards Red is getting in this Block! Unreal!

Talons of Falkenrath

Would be close to playable if it gave First Strike. Probably serves to act as a quasi Fireball in my mono-red draft deck, but I’m not overly excited to open myself up to such an obvious 2-for-1 plus Time Walk combo.

Torch Fiend

Cube staple. Will probably see constructed play as well, as most aggressively costed guys with decent abilities do.

Wrack with Madness

With so many creatures with lower power than toughness, this doesn’t seem as powerful as it would in most other blocks. It deals with the vast majority of the big, dumb limited rares though, so I’ll almost always play it.

See you on the next one,



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