The colors keep coming and so do the reviews, luckily Black seems to actually be fun for the casual player when it comes to reprinting classics and providing new spells to get black mages ready for battle.
Bloodlord of Vaasgoth
Vampires are getting a lot of love as the new Black tribe (sorry Zombies!), and the Bloodlord is exactly what Commander vampires are looking for. I mean, there are now four Vampire lords! What most people seem to be missing is that on his own, this is a 6/6 flier for only five mana! But the ability to essentially give all your new vampires +3/+3 can quickly turn the tide in your favor.
Also keep in mind that multiple instances of Bloodthirst are cumulative so Bloodrage Vampire gets Blooodthirst 1 and Bloodthirst 3 for effectively Bloodthirst 4!
For the vampire tribe in Commander, the three drop helps level out the curve and there are enough vampire lords to make this guy a lot bigger. Sadly, this vampire doesn’t have a profession.
Wait a second… isn’t this just Sinister Strength only instead of making the creature black, it pings you for one? I just don’t see the point in multiplayer.
Nantuko Husk, Phyrexian Ghoul, Vampire Aristocrat and Bloodthrone Vampire have all had their place in decks that can make use of a sacrifice, and Devouring Swarm is no different. The ability to either steal with Act of Treason or enable some amazing Deathrender combo, Devouring Swarm is a solid utility card for enabling combos. Is this bug groundbreaking? Nope, but it does what it needs to do really well.
Dungeon Shade is cool enough to get a completely functional in every way reprint? I guess the name Dungeon Shade didn’t make sense for a flier and Drifting Shade is slightly better. So now that awesome Shade theme deck you’re working on can have another 4-drop.
Suck it, Bog Imp! A 2/2 flier for 2 in black is great, but the biggest qualm I have with this guy is he isn’t a vampire. It’s just a bat and that’s boring.
The whole intimidate versus fear thing doesn’t really bother me anymore, but this just feels like a slightly worse version of Dirge of Dread. It could be useful, but isn’t the kind of card I see people running ever.
Discard is usually hated almost as much as land destruction, and Monomania is bound to really piss off one person. The same price as Fugue, this is probably going to get three or four cards in multiplayer, but in Commander it really shines. The ability to eliminate someone’s entire hand can be devastating (especially if they’re hiding behind Reliquary Tower).
This reminds me a lot of Painsmith, a card that never works the way you want it to in multiplayer. But the ability to grant any creature you control deathtouch for only two-mana is terrifying! A great way to curve out any black deck, I expect Onyx Mage to ruin some games. It’s just a shame you can’t give deathtouch to creatures you don’t control.
In multiplayer, this guy is amazing in any deck that can cheat him into play. Whether it’s reanimating or Sneak Attacking, being able to tutor for any card is an ability we’re used to paying 4 mana for now, but getting a 6/6 flier for only an extra three mana!? Wow.
In Commander, this guy is going to be close to an auto-include in any deck running black. He grabs your best card, he trades with most creatures and he beats relentlessly. A great card for black mages everywhere.
This is awesome. Between the beautiful synergy with Sorin Markov (turn six, put them at 10. Turn seven, impale them), this is a big drain life for five mana less! In Commander, knocking someone down 10 life can end them and you’ll easily be able to cast this by then. Part of me wishes this could target creatures, but that’s just me being greedy.
Taste of Blood
I don’t care if you’re trying to enable bloodthirst, there are better ways than this.
I like this guy! Tormented Soul is a fascinating little guy, especially in herds. Being able to ping over and over again makes him great, and giving him some equipment makes him better. He’s small enough so most people will ignore him but being able to constantly whittle down a point at a time is very powerful. Plus he won’t draw as much attention as Inkfathom Infiltrator.
For vampires, this is a fine card as a 4/4 lifelinker for 4 isn’t a bad deal. But if you can’t breakthrough to get bloodthirst, these outcasts are suddenly a lot worse. Still, part of me really likes the idea of bloodthirsty vampires and some proliferation.
I want four of these for my reanimator deck, I love this guy. He’s an uncounterable spell kind of like No Mercy but when you need him, he’s also a 5/4 deathtouch beast that keeps the ground around your safe. Plus I love that he hits planeswalkers too, about time Wizards started mentioning them with frequency.
From a flavor standpoint, I really hope Wizards goes full Egyptian inspired mythology for a block, because I would love Anubis running around.
I guess Disfigure was too good? -3/-1 just seems like such an odd combat trick, especially for black. Not the best removal out there and probably not worth running.
Another area where black excels are the reprints. Bloodseeker is back as the anti-Soul Warden. Call to the Grave is a fantastic The Abyss variant that allows zombies to reclaim some of their former glory. Royal Assassin and Sengir Vampire are classics that barely get seen at kitchen tables anymore. Smallpox may be some of the best multiplayer removal in black. Sorin Markov continues his tour of halving life totals and Mindslaving.