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Monday, January 9, 2012

Dark Ascension Previews for the Internet Infrequent, Part 1!

Hey guys!
  Those hints I posted last night about Dark Ascension? I want to go ahead and share the cards that fit with the hints. So in the order of those hints, here's the start of our Dark Ascension Previews for the Internet Infrequent! :)

  (Yes, I now put that to let everyone know these are not exclusives. This is mainly done for a couple reasons: 1) I have friends in the League who don't learn about new cards except through here and the links I provide, and 2) I just like ranting and seeing if I can guess the good cards correctly. lol.)

1) "There are only 13 new Double-Faced cards. Yep...13. And not all of them are creature-to-creature or Planeswalker-to-Planeswalker."

So the first preview isn't really a preview of a card. It's the Checklist Card that will be in most Dark Ascension packs. (And I'll assume it's the same ratio as Innistrad: In 75% of the packs, the basic land is replaced with a Checklist Card)

And here it is!

Picture from MTGSalvation.com
Already we can see a few things:

A) There are only 13 new Double-Faced Cards. This may explain why you can see the card names a little easier. :p

B) There is a multi-colored Double-Faced Card. It's a guess this will be a Legendary Creature because the name fits with what you'd expect to be a Legendary.

C) There are 2 Double-Faced Artifacts! And I'll preview one here in the next day or two.

D) There's a 1-mana Double-Faced Card.

These ought to be very interesting cards, especially the artifacts and the 1-drop transformer.

To go along with these previews, I'll be showing the Pre-Release and Release Double-Faced Cards later in this post, so watch out for those in just a bit. :)

2) "Reverse Persist, anyone? Yep, it's here. :)"
So you remember Persist, right? If the creature died and did not have a -1/-1 counter on it, it came back with a -1/-1 counter.

So what's the opposite?

Introducing Undying! Undying is a new Keyword, but the form of it isn't new. Undying effectively works just like Persist, but it mentions +1/+1 counters instead of -1/-1 counters. So while this mechanic wouldn't work in a Gavony Township-based deck, it might be interesting in other areas.

Like, for example, a green beatdown deck maybe? Maybe in Zoo in Modern? How about taking a look at this card before judging?

Introducing Strangleroot Geist!

From MTGSalvation.com
Holy cow! A 2-mana 2-power creature with haste that if blocked comes back as a 3/2 ready to block!? I thought this was part of the reason Wild Nacatl got banned in Modern. Now they're gonna give it back? *facepalm*

And this creature doesn't even need other specific lands. Just cast it, swing for 2, and if they block you get a 3/2. If not, you just got your 2 points of damage in.

On the plus side, there's really no other upside to this. It's not an Elf, it's not a Wizard, and it's not a Faerie or a Goblin, so we're safe from absurd brokenness. lol. But this little fella's powerful, I can guarantee that now. :)

3) "The Pre-Release and Release cards are still Double-Faced Cards...and they are creatures. They come from 2 colors not used in the last go-around in Innistrad's Pre-Release and Release promos."

Here we go! This will either be the reason you play in Pre-Release or Release events or the reason you'll just wait these cards out in the dollar bin. lol.

Like Innistrad, these promos are Double-Faced Cards, and they're both Rares. (Yeah, it's not fun that the Pre-Release isn't a Mythic again, but considering they're going with DFCs as the promos you can't really pull your only Mythic DFC to be the promo, can you?)

So without further ado, here are your reasons to go to Pre-Release and Release!

The first card is the Pre-Release promo. Remember Lord of the Pit? How about Time Spiral's Liege of the Pit? This DFC is sort of similar...but a lot more powerful and a lot cheaper on the mana cost!

I am proud to introduce Ravenous Demon/Archdemon of Greed!!

Image from MTGSalvation.com
WHEW! Okay, let's break it down...

For 5 mana, you get a 4/4 creature. Not good, right? Eh...maybe...

But here's one of the good things about this card...the turn you play him, you can Transform him! That's right! Just sac a human and all of a sudden you just paid 5 mana and a creature (beh! Worthless Humans!) to get a 9/9 flier that tramples!

Here's the big downside, though: You've gotta keep a Human in play in order to not take damage from the Demon. Even worse, if you don't sac a Human, you have to tap your big ol' 9/9 flier. So that definitely can suck. :( However, if he's in an otherwise Human-centered deck, it may not be that hard to keep going. ;)

The other Double-Faced Card is your traditional Werewolf DFC. It has the same Werewolf transform triggers and starts off as an otherwise vanilla human...but when he transforms, it's gonna cost your opponents to transform him back!

Presenting...Mondronen Shaman/Tovolar's Magehunter!

Okay, so a 3/2 for 4 mana isn't too good for staying power, but what if you got a lot more out of that? Say, 2-4 damage?

That's what Magehunter is there for! Let's say they don't draw anything to help them get rid of your Werewolf. You transform into Magehunter, maybe attack, and say "go." Now if they can't deal with it, they're gonna take 2 damage for every spell they cast, and if their intent is to re-Transform it they'll have to take 4 damage to do it.

Is it Constructed playable? I'd say barely. I think enough 1-to-1 removal exists to take care of this before it's a threat. But you may say if it takes a removal spell out of your opponent's hand, it's worth it already. :)

4) "A new mill card comes around...and if you Flashback it, it's twice as potent. :)"

Oh yes! Mill could be a decent archetype in either Standard or Modern now.

In one of last week's flavor columns, WotC hinted that Flashback'd cards may be more powerful than when they're cast normally. And in this preview, we see just how sick they can get.

Ladies and gentlemen, let's introduce a double-miller, Increasing Confusion!

Image from MTGSalvation
Whew! Okay, so let's get this straight...in Modern, I could combo this with Urzatron to help power out a huuuuge mill run...then next turn I could Flashback it for the same cost and get double the cards!?

What about Standard? If you run a Ramp deck, all you need is a single Blue so Hinterland Harbor in 4s would help along with just a few Islands.

I've always loved mill as a theme. Why worry about your or your opponent's life when you can just keep their cards from them? But I'd say to be Standard good decks would have to be able to produce more than 1 mana per land or keep mana birds and Pristine Talismans on the table long enough for it to count. In Modern or even casual, I'd love to mix this with Primeval Titan and the Urzatron. :)

5) "A 1-mana 2/1 that has its own form of Flashback."
Alright, let me set the record straight: Creatures do not have a Flashback-like mechanic. This is an individual card in the set that does this...at least, so far.

Let's give a few more hints. It's a Zombie, and it's the second 1-mana 2-power creature its had this block (the first being Diregraf Ghoul).

How good could it be? Well, let's find out.

Introducing our Goblin Guide-like creature of the block...Gravecrawler!

From MTGSalvation

Not too shabby for a 1-mana creature! Okay, so it can't block. Big whoop! It's a beater anyway!

Some are already talking about using him in MartyrProc decks (decks running the Martyr of Sands/Proclamation of Rebirth combo to gain insane amounts of life each turn) as a recurring beater/blocker. I see this as being the new low-end go-to creature for any Black deck that wants to try and get in for early damage. In a way, it's this block's Goblin Guide. While it won't see huge use in eternal formats (no Haste), I have no doubt he'll be a Standard superstar before the year's out and may eventually be a Modern star if MartyrProc goes aggro more than controlish.

And we're down to our final card of the day. You know how people always kid about the coming zombie apocalypse? Well...

6) "A card that says "destroy all Humans." No, I'm not putting words into this card's metaphorical mouth. It doesn't say "Choose a creature type, then destroy all creatures of that type." It says "destroy all Humans." :)"

Here we are, ladies and gentlemen. If you've made it this far, it's only fair that I give you what I think is the most flavorful and fun card in this set of previews. Will it be good? It depends on if Human decks keep it up as the SCG events or if something in Dark Ascension supplants them. But considering what's in the format now, maybe it's not unreasonable to play...Zombie Apocalypse!

From MTGSalvation

Yes, I can see the tagline now. "Zombie Apocalypse, it's coming! February 3rd, 2012. Are you ready?" lol.

But seriously, I like this card. I don't know if it'll be any good. It's a tribal board wiper, so unless you can guarantee a bunch of Humans gets caught up in this or that you have a lot of Zombies ready to come back from the dead, I don't know how much good this will be.

I could see a self-milling strategy with this and a full playset of Snapcaster Mage. It'll eventually cost you 8, but when you can get stuff like Geth, Lord of the Vault; Skaab Goliath; Skaab Ruinator; or Unbreathing Horde; or perhaps a strong Zombie comes out in Dark Ascension, this may be worth it from a reanimator standpoint.

On the negative sides, it brings the creatures back tapped, only affects one creature type, and is a Sorcery so you can't play end-of-turn shenanigans with it. So for its Constructed playability, I'll say again that it just depends on how big a threat Humans are. If they're a big enough threat, 6 for a board wiper may be worth it. If they're not, this will remain a strictly casual card until self-milling and better Zombies come along.

Still, though, this will be a cool card to have. It's one of those that could even get people who normally aren't into card games to try Magic. And if it can do that, I think it's a good card overall. :)

That's it for this round of previews...and there's still more! Did you know Ray of Revelation is coming back? Yep! So if Modern needed a Flashback-able enchantment kill spell, it has it now! There are also other new cards that'll preview tomorrow on DailyMTG.com and on Twitter and various other social media websites, so stay tuned to those for updates that I can't get out. :)

Also remember, our Innistrad League runs long enough to put a few packs of Dark Ascension into the League pool, so start watching out for cards you may want for your League decks.

We hope to see you all Saturday, but if not I hope you enjoyed the previews here.

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