Innistrad Commander & Multiplayer Review: Black

With Blue and White reviewed in Innistrad, the real gem of the flavorful horror-themed set has to be black. Easily one of the more powerful colors in multiplayer, Black necromancers are always excited to get some new toys and Innistrad delivers!

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

Abattoir Ghoul

This reminds of Engulfing Slagwurm in a weird way. But the combination of first strike and a twisted take on lifelink make me really like how this undead butcher shapes up. At 4 mana, this is a zombie who can hold down the ground and gain you some life. He’s a great addition for zombie lords.

Altar’s Reap

The most important aspect of this card is that it’s an instant. Paying 2 mana to draw two cards essentially of your opponents kill spell is a great deal. Or if you’re playing some twisted take on Bazaar Trader, you could steal your opponents’ creatures and sacrifice them to keep your hand full. A fine black utility spell.

Army of the Damned

Yes, it’s 8 mana to cast. Yes, it’s 10 mana to Flashback. But if you pull this off (especially with an Amulet of Vigor), it will be hilariously awesome. But what I really love about this card is how well it works in the newest casual variant sweeping the Magic’verse: Horde Magic.

Bitterheart Witch

As of right now, I don’t think there are enough curses to really make this tutor worthwhile. For 5 mana, I expect more than a 1 /2 deathtouch. Maybe by the end of this block she’ll be better but for now, she’s just too expensive – especially since curses can only affect one of your opponents.

Bloodgift Demon

Holy crap, it’s a Phyrexian Arena attached to a 5/4 flying demon! While this will never compete with Bob in Legacy, Bloodgift Demon is absurdly powerful in Commander and casual. The large body and exceptionally powerful second ability, and evasion all together make this a great card. If you’re playing a black Commander deck, this is probably an auto-include.

What I really love about Bloodgift Demon though is that his drawing ability can target any player which allows for some great politics.

Bloodline Keeper & Lord of Lineage

Clearly Wizards thought Vampires needed a bit more support after already having three different lords to begin with! Even without the transforming ability, this guy is good and worth running – provided you’re playing with a vampire-themed deck. Easily an auto-include in Olivia decks in Commander. In 60-casual, I see this guy being a lot of fun with Intruder Alarm.

Brain Weevil

You can dress a thrull up however you want, but it’s still a thrull. If you’re paying 4 mana for a 1/1, I question your choices. Unless that 1/1 happens to be really awesome, like Archivist.

Bump in the Night

Part of me loves this because it’s a black Lightning Bolt… kind of.  Sadly, in Commander this is next to worthless because 3 life is fairly meaningless. In kitchen table 60, it isn’t much better. Burn can kill one player outright, but the remaining ones are the real issue.

Corpse Lunge

This just feels way too expensive for what it does. I guess bodies that fall over hurt a lot? Either way, I wouldn’t bother running this ever in casual.

Curse of Death’s Hold

Night of Souls’ Betrayal is a vicious card that shuts token strategies down immediately and pisses off a lot of people. This curse though is possibly even meaner. Yes, it only targets a single player but that could also allow for great options when it comes to making new friends at the table. It’s a bit expensive, but in Commander this is a perfect way to deal with those pesky tokens.

Curse of Oblivion

I would just run Planar Void. This is not worth 5 mana, there is better fodder for Kaboom!

Dead Weight

While impressive in limited, Dead Weight is just that in Commander games. There is much better black removal available.

Diregraf Ghoul

I love black weenie as a strategy, but it doesn’t hold up the best against multiple opponents. Still, a non-legendary Isamaru, Hound of Konda is amazing. This probably has no place in Commander, but in casual 60 this is exactly the kind of one drop you want to draw out removal spells.

Disciple of Grieslbrand

I really want to like this card, especially since it works so well with stealing effects but the fact that it costs mana to activate makes me like this guy much, much less. Sadly, I just don’t think this blind old man can carry his weight in casual.

Endless Ranks of the Dead

I absolutely adore this card. Yes, you need two zombies to make this work up front but with some interesting finagling like a Paradox Haze, you can quickly have a whole army at your command. I’m sorry Breeding Pit, you’ve been outclassed permanently.

Falkenrath Noble

Do not underestimate this guy. Soul Warden is feared in many groups and this guy is even worse. Creatures die all the time and even constantly pinging someone for one is impressive. But once you add in that you gain the life too, this is easily one of the best multiplayer cards in all of Innistrad.

Ghoulcaller’s Chant

If you’re running a lot of zombies, this might be worth it. But probably not.

Ghoulraiser

In longer form games, recursion is an amazing tool. But Ghoulraiser introduces randomness to black and that makes me dislike this quasi-Gravedigger a lot more. Without the control of knowing what you’re going to get, this is going to be a hard sell. The only exception I see to this is in some dedicated Zombie deck that needs the 3 drop over a 4 drop.

Gruesome Deformity

This will make people mock you.

Heartless Summoning

Now this is a spell that gets me excited. Reducing all your spells by 2 is a huge amount and the -1/-1 is begging for some abuse – especially with some of the two mana 1/1 Myrs from the last block. Tossing down a Titan two turns earlier or just getting creatures for much cheaper makes me very excited about this enchantment. It’s going to take a lot of work to unlock this, but the potential is stunning.

Liliana of the Veil

This is an interesting card. She’s cheap, she’s powerful and in a twisted way, she’s fair. Her plus ability isn’t going to make you any friends but the ability to Diabolic Edict on a whim is handy and her ultimate just makes me giddy in excitement. I love Fact or Fiction, and making the player choose which permanents to lose is so twisted. It’s a shame she’s currently selling for absurd amounts of money, meaning you probably won’t see much of her for awhile.

Manor Skeleton

Note: not a zombie. That kind of bothers me.

Markov Patrician

For roughly the same price, you get a Vampire Nighthawk.

Maw of the Mire

In Commander, if you are running into issues against non-basic lands, this could work in a pinch but Black has much better options.

Moan of the Unhallowed

In a zombie-themed deck, this could work but the Flashback feels high. I like the card, but I don’t think there is enough bang for your buck.

Morkrut Banshee

I want to compare this card to Nekrataal and she doesn’t hold up as well as I’d like. On paper, the idea of a 4/4 for 5 that gives -4/-4 sounds incredible but morbid triggers never seem to go off when you want them to. I much prefer the static morbid triggers.

Night Terrors

This can be very powerful against the right deck, but I don’t think there’s enough here.

Reaper from the Abyss

Okay Wizards, we get it – Lord of the Pit wasn’t actually good! This is exactly the kind of creature I love for Commander. He’s big, splashy and keeps on killing. The ability to kill one creature EACH turn makes him like the Verdant Force from hell. Combine with Kaalia of the Vast to really destroy someone.

Rotting Fensnake

You wouldn’t play Dross Crocodile, would you?

Screeching Bat & Stalking Vampire

This is an interesting take on Primal Clay and its kin. A 2/2 flyer for 3 isn’t awful, but the ability to switch between a 2/2 in the air and a 5/5 on the ground at your choice makes me really like this vampire.

Sever the Bloodline

In Commander, this only works against tokens. Otherwise, this isn’t too great. It could work well in casual 60 though.

Skeletal Grimace

Easily some of the best art in the entire set, the ability to toss a Drudge Skeleton onto one of your creatures makes for an interesting aura, but at the end of the day I’m not sure it does enough.

Skirsdag High Priest

Provided you have a way to keep this guy triggering constantly, he can be terrifying. The super low mana cost intrigues me and I could see him taking off in some black-green deck alongside Glissa, the Traitor. Another card with some interesting potential.

Stromkirk Patrol

Not the most exciting vampire, the Patrol does a decent job of controlling the ground and growing when the opportunity is right. For a common, he’s pretty decent but black has better 5 drops.

Tribute to Hunger

About as close to an auto-include as you can get for a black removal spell. The life gain is just gravy for a fantastic update on Diabolic Edict.

Typhoid Rats

I really like this one drop. It probably has no place in Commander, but in a rat-tribe for the kitchen table this could be a lot of fun.

Unbreathing Horde

I miss the Phantoms from Judgment and Unbreathing Horde is a great way to bring it back. In a zombie-heavy deck, this massive creature can control the whole battlefield. Toss in some proliferating tricks and you’ve got a near unkillable beast. Even more fun is that his ability doesn’t need a +1/+1 counter to trigger, so if you can pump his toughness permanently he can’t be killed with damage.

Unburial Rites

So it does bother a tiny bit that this card can only get creatures back from your graveyard, but the simple fact that it can do it twice is amazing. Any white-black Commander is going to want to toss one of these in for some sick card advantage.

Vampire Interloper

This is an impressive two-drop. The inability to block isn’t too bothersome but a two drop with evasion that is a ten turn clock in casual is very impressive. When combined with Diregraf Ghoul, I really want to rebuild a Suicide Black deck.

Victim of the Night

For a long time, one of my favorite black creature removal spells has been Chill to the Bone. It’s expensive, but hits almost everything. I see Victim of the Night falling into a similar category. It can’t hit Changelings or any of the big Innistrad tribes, but in a few years I see this being a classic piece of spot removal in the black player’s toolbox to deal with almost anything.

Village Cannibals

Get your smart phone ready because you’re going to be checking Oracle rulings constantly with these guys on the battlefield. There are far more humans in Magic than you’d expect, especially with all the erratas. This guy will get big and is a deceptive three drop.

Unless of course everyone else is playing with a tribe that isn’t humans.

Walking Corpse

Easily the best two-drop vanilla zombie in the set.

Overall, black has gotten some amazing new demons to play with and some removal that is stunningly good in more open casual games. Toss in one of the best vampire lords possible, and black comes out looking pretty good in Innistrad.

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

Top 5 Innistrad Cards for Commander and Multiplayer

5. Bloodline Keeper & Lord of Lineage

4. Victim of Night

3. Bloodgift Demon

2. Tribute to Hunger

1. Reaper from the Abyss