Innistrad Commander & Multiplayer Review: Blue

With Innistrad finally released, I’ve gotten a chance to play around with the oddities after multiple drafts, some sealed games and a terrifying round of Winston-Pack Wars multiplayer. The big thing about this set that I’ve noticed is how weird it is. Half the cards feel like limited fodder, a quarter of the cards are going to quickly disappear and the last handful around going to stick around a long, long time at kitchen tables.

Like the White review, we’re going alphabetically down the list of blue cards.

White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Multicolor, Artifact & Lands

Armored Skaab

The self milling subtheme in Innistrad is interesting, but in multiplayer I’m not sure how sustainable it is. It seems like far too many people in my playgroup take milling as a terrible offence and get very upset, so they probably won’t ever experience the joy of this card. As an enabler, any Johnny is going to be excited about the potential of this zombie. Some Commander reanimators may want to consider this in twisted decks, but he doesn’t do a whole lot on his own.

Back from the Brink

Holy crap this card is good! An enchantment that lets you cast any creature from your graveyard is bound to be scary. The limitations like exiling the card and only getting a token prevent this from being really broken, but maybe Pull from Eternity has a purpose.

In any Commander deck with blue and creatures, this can work wonders at giving your creatures a second life. I’m not ready to deem this an auto-include in blue Commander decks just yet, but it is up there.

Battleground Geist

If you’re playing some weird Spirit tribal deck, this isn’t too bad as a quasi-lord. But at 5 mana, I feel like a card should do more than this. And does anyone else think it is weird that blue is getting aggressive creature pumping?

Cackling Counterpart

I want to love this card, I really do but the two words “you control” make me so disappointed in Cackling Counterpart. Still, the ability to Clone for only 3 mana early game (and again for 7 mana late game) make this card very interesting. With some creature stealing abilities though, this could quickly result in a lot a Wurmcoil Engines getting made.

Civilized Scholar & Homicidal Brute

I love Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. The flavor of this card alone is stunning, and the simple fact that Wizards brought back the Planar Chaos alternate frames for the night side is genius. But more importantly, this card is good. For the Izzet Mages, this looter is a unique twist on the ability that helps filter through your 99 singleton decks in Commander. The ability to transform Civilized Scholar after declaring him as a blocker is vicious.

Claustrophobia

Blue removal in the vein of Dehydration and Ice Cage, Claustrophobia isn’t a bad card but for 3 mana, I want more than the ability to tap a guy for a little while – especially when the Vows now exist! It’s fine in limited, but otherwise this card isn’t too exciting. Great artwork though.

Curiosity

A reprint from long ago, Curiosity is a decent enough way to draw some cards. Remember, the creature only needs to deal damage, it doesn’t have to be combat damage.

Curse of the Blood Tome

Curses are an interesting idea in multiplayer. Unlike old cards like the Rack and Black Vise, when the player cursed is defeated, the curse goes away – just like any other aura that no longer has a target. Milling for 2 for three mana just feels excessively expensive, especially when compared to the likes of Hedron Crab. I’m not sure when I would play this, if ever.

Delver of Secrets & Insectile Aberration

I probably won’t play this card because the art on the night side is terrifying. On paper, this looks amazing as it has the ability to be a 3/2 flying creature on turn 2. Sadly, it never seems to work that way. If I’m manipulating my library to trigger something, it’s probably going to be the Quest for Ula’s Temple.

If you can make this work with Halimar Depths and other cards, it can end games quickly in multiplayer – until turn 4 when everyone else starts playing dragons and angels and beats you down.

Deranged Assistant

It’s Millikin! Blue mana acceleration is rare, and this set is absolutely pushing for graveyard-filling theme. The blue zombies are really interesting to me, but I’m just not sure they will work in multiplayer. I’m hoping to be proven wrong but in a format where only one person needs to pack a Bojuka Bog to end you, I’m wary.

Dissipate

A great reprint that still shows Wizards doesn’t quite know what to do with Counterspell. It’s obvious they want to cost it a .5UU but can’t so they keep looking for a new way to do it. Strictly better than Cancel, Dissipate is a fine counterspell but in multiplayer that isn’t a viable situation. As a one-of in a blue Commander deck, this works well to make sure a threat never returns.

Dream Twist

Wait a second… Tome Scour was U for 5 mill and Dream Twist is 1UU for 6 mill. Something doesn’t add up right here.

Forbidden Alchemy

This card excites me – and not just because I play a black-blue Reanimtor deck. The ability to Impulse again at instant speed and fill your graveyard is pretty neat, but the black flashback has me more excited as a late game way to get the card you absolutely need. If you’re playing black-blue, consider this for your card searching needs.

Fortress Crab

Good lord that’s a big crab.

Frightful Delusion

It looks like some of the changes in Planar Chaos are sticking – like blue getting weird discard. In multiplayer, this probably won’t work ever. The one time it actually works, you’re going to make one big enemy and that sounds like a bad strategy.

Grasp of Phantoms

Commander crowd, this one is for you! The ability to put a Commander somewhere where it can’t escape is always fun and getting two spells for the price of one is an amazing deal. If you’re playing blue, you’ll probably want this.

Hysterical Blindness

This is a weird card, but has some very interesting ramifications in multiplayer because it hits all creatures your opponents control. This can’t be redirected or anything, so it always gives everyone but you a major hurdle to overcome. In weirder formats like Archemeny, Emperor or 2HG, this card can absolutely wreck the opposing team.

Invisible Stalker

A 1/1 that can’t be blocked or killed in almost any traditional means? Slap a Sword of Anything and Everything onto it and watch the game end quickly. This invisible man is amazing, easily one of the best blue two-drops.

Laboratory Maniac

The one time this card actually works, it’s going to be awesome. Every other time, your Leveler deck is going to fail spectacularly.

Lantern Spirit

Fleeting Image used to be a decent card, but with damage rules changed the bouncing isn’t quite what it used to be. Possibly in some Spirit themed deck this could work, or a weird Pandemonium centered piece, but most of the time I feel like this card just doesn’t do enough.

Lost in the Mist

Now this is a Commander counterspell! The ability to bounce a creature and counter a spell makes this one worth considering. This is pretty much what I expect from a 5-mana counter and I really like how much damage this spell does upon resolution.

Ludvic’s Test Subject & Ludevic’s Abomination

I love the art on Godzilla. As a card, there has to be a way to cheat this on the cheap (besides Doubling Season which will probably never be reprinted because it breaks Planeswalkers in half). Level up at instant speed is interesting and I love Figure of Destiny. Sadly, this card lacks the subtlety of the Figure since it is either  a 0/3 or a 13/13 – nothing in between! A great blue beater, I’m sure with a dash of proliferate this can work well.

Makeshift Mauler

Of all the built-from-the-dead zombies, this one is the least exciting. Hell, in green a 4/5 for 3 is barely worth talking about it seems.

Memory’s Journey

Sorry Simic mages, this card isn’t exciting. At all.

Mindshrieker

Good lord this is powerful! In Commander, high casting costs is the name of the game. For the low investment of only 2 mana, this could easily become a 5/5 or higher. Plus when you’ve got open mana, this bird quickly can become a real beast.

Mirror-Mad Phantasm

If you Clone this, then use the Cloned versions ability to mill yourself you win with Laboratory Maniac on your next draw. Just saying.

Moon Heron

This card is decent but not great in multiplayer. Just like most commons.

Murder of Crows

Thankfully this is a may ability – otherwise you would deck yourself way too fast! Being a 4/4 for 5 with flying is decent, but the ability to constantly filter means your hand will always have the best cards in it. This is a dangerous enabler and worth considering. Don’t underestimate the strength of this card.

Rooftop Storm

I’m sure this is some way to break this, but if you’re at 6 mana you should probably do something cooler. Unless it’s to play Phage the Untouchable for 0 mana, slap on some Lightning Greaves and kill someone. If that’s your plan, go for it.

Runic Repetition

Three mana feels like an awful lot to just get a single card back that you’ve already cast at least once. Was Pull from Eternity broken?

Selhoff Occultist

As a self-milling machine, this could actually work in your favor. If you’re looking to mill someone else, this card works well for that too. In larger games, creatures are always dying and this at least gives you something.

Sensory Deprivation

You probably need to be deaf, blind and mute to play this.

Silent Departure

I want to like this, but this card just feels like a weaker version of Undo. The ability to bounce two creatures is handy, but for 6 mana and only at sorcery speed just doesn’t do enough.

Skaab Goliath

Holy crap this is a giant zombie. There isn’t much on the ground that can trade with a 6/9 and at only six mana this is easily to cast. The hoops might be a touch harder to jump through, but this is a solid creature card to cast.

Skaab Runiator

This on the other hand is downright absurd. Short of exiling him, the Ruinator refuses to stay dead. He’s big, mean, ungodly cheap and keeps returning to the battlefield. Sure, you’ll need to build around this guy a bit but a 5/6 for 3 is terrifying.

Snapcaster Mage

I know people are in love with this card, but it’s really close to Recoup and you get a body. Okay, so he’s a lot better than Recoup. But the point remains that you need something worth casting with Flashback to really make use of Snapcaster Mage. In Commander, I see this guy easily being included in most blue decks for his utility but with casual 60, I’m not sure this guy is going to be worth the cost.

Spectral Flight

I tend to only like Auras that start with Vow or Armadillo.

Stitched Drake

Like the other blue zombies, I definitely think there is potential with these cards. My big worry in Commander though is simply not having enough creatures to make these worthwhile. In casual 60, you can build around them with relative ease at least.

Stitcher’s Apprentice

There must be a way to break this guy, but I can’t think of it at the moment. At his worst, he enables morbid every turn for only 2 mana and I could see an interesting Izzet morbid deck stemming up with Pandemoniums and cards triggered by entering the battlefield.

Sturmgeist

Ophidian Maro! This a great blue rare that can easily get absurd with a Spellbook or Reliquary Tower on the battlefield. Any card that lets you draw more cards is worth looking at and this is pretty much exactly what I’m looking for in a blue rare.

Think Twice

I love this take on Inspiration. The ability to draw two cards over time for the cost of one is interesting still.

Undead Alchemist

Now this is a weird zombie lord. The ability to make more zombies is great but having to mill someone to death might not be as easy as you think. The worst thing about this zombie lord though is that it has to be combat damage, otherwise they just take damage. I still dislike milling in multiplayer though since no one else can really help you win and half the time you run out of steam after eliminating a single opponent.

White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Multicolor, Artifact & Lands

Top 5 Blue Innistrad Cards for Commander & Multiplayer

5. Strumgeist
4. Back from the Brink
3. Murder of Crows
2. Grasp of Phantoms
1. Skaab Ruinator