Now that Dark Ascension is fully spoiled, it is time to really look at the cards and try to find out where they work the best. If you’re looking for a captivating analysis of the Standard environment, this isn’t place. But if you want to find out how to make use of almost every card in Dark Ascension at the kitchen table or while editing your Commander deck, look no further! Following my own absurd precedence, I will be starting with white.
I don’t know why the first card of every set is often an odd one, but I’ve seen this happen before. There’s no denying that Archangel’s Light is the worst mythic in the set. Yes, this card can simultaneously help you against mill and beat down decks but the casting cost is way too high for it to ever get much use. If this card cost half as much, it might be okay but as it stands… I’m sorry for when you get this in a booster pack.
Bar the Door
At first glance, this looks like an odd little combat trick. But where this card really shines is in Commander when teamed up with Doran, the Siege Tower. The ability to give all of your creatures essentially +4/+4 for 3 mana is a bargain, especially when Titanic Growth costs one less and only gives it to one target. I don’t see this card being crazy, but it certainly has a home.
Break of Day
In multiplayer games, 5 life is a terrifying amount usually. But I find all of the Fateful Hour cards fascinating because of a single red enchantment: Form of the Dragon. Being able to control your life total and protect yourself is a great way to utilize these unique cards. I don’t see Break of Day as a combat trick all the time; I see it as a way to counter a board sweeper.
Burden of Guilt
I usually dislike Auras that don’t do something awesome, like Armadillo Cloak but this card is far more powerful than you would expect. Early game, it’s a decent way to lock down an opposing creature but that isn’t where the fun of this comes from.
Thanks to Shadowmoor and Eventide, there are 16 different cards that make use of the untap symbol. Imagine a game where Order of Whiteclay can activate for 2WW at any time or when Crackleburr can really mess with the battlefield for an extra 1 mana. This card isn’t amazing, but it certainly has potential.
Curse of Exhaustion
Everyone I know hates Arcane Laboratory and Rule of Law because of how grossly unfair they are. Of course the guy hiding behind Ertai, Wizard Adept won’t care about “only” casting one spell a turn. But Curse of Exhaustion is a great way to shut down a single combo-heavy player. This card can be abused and I would advise against casting copies on each of your opponents, but for that one guy at your table who insists on comboing out every game, this may be just what you need.
I really like the cycle of creatures that replace themselves when they die. Elguad Inquisitor is a decent card, but doesn’t excite me as much since you’re paying 4 mana for a 2/2 and then a 1/1. It isn’t an awful deal, but there are a bunch of 4-drops in the game that this needs to compete against. But any creature that can replace itself isn’t a bad thing. I could see this getting dangerous in a deck that sacrifices creatures for great effects.
At first glance, I thought this was like Brave the Elements until I noticed the real difference, this targets a permanent! This card is more like Rebuff the Wicked to me because it can be used to effectively counter many spells or allow you to get through with a necessary combat.
But the Fateful Hour puts this over the top. The ability to give yourself and all your permanents protection from a single color is amazing. I am really liking how the Form of Dragon/Fateless Hour deck is shaping up in my head.
Gather the Townsfolk
Token generation isn’t a bad thing, especially with the new toys that tokens got to play with in Innistrad. Without Fateful Hour, Gather the Townsfolk isn’t a bad card but it isn’t great either. But the ability to get five 1/1 creatures for only two mana late game can really swing the battle. This is certainly a card that needs to be built around, but if you’re looking for a Human-tribe deck, this is a great card to consider.
My biggest problem with this card is that it doesn’t do anything if you aren’t dying, and this is the biggest problem with Fateful Hour – it doesn’t work in Commander really. Getting down from 20 to 5 is easy, but going from 40 to 5 takes a while and means you can easily be taken out by a rogue Earthquake. This is a card that would love to team up with Doran, but going down to 5 life to do it seems dangerous.
This is a decent card with solid utility. A 2/2 flyer with flash at 4 isn’t shabby and can really throw off combat math by herself. But the quasi-Maze of Ith feature is fascinating. This card doesn’t untap the creature; it just removes them from combat. This card can singlehandedly ruin an opponents board and I love that.
Part of me wants to say that if you get to the point where you have 9 mana, you should have already won the game. But this is a token fan’s dream. Five 1/1 for 5 isn’t awful, and then getting ten 1/1s for 9 isn’t too shabby. This is the kind of card that can really excel in Commander and other long-form games.
Are you getting the same Token theme that I’m getting? Lingering Souls is an amazing card that can’t wait to play with Ghost Council of Orzhova. The card advantage here is amazing.
Loyal Cathar & Unhallowed Cathar
I love the story this card tells. Plus, going from vigilance to can’t block is hilarious in its own right. I really like how this card plays with things like Doomed Traveler, though the delay in it returning makes it harder to break. But in a white weenie deck, I could see this guy working well – especially if you need to use your own Wrath of God.
This card is just screaming to be broken with a small addition. A small version of Intruder Alarm, Midnight Guard is ready for either some equipment or aura with a tap effect – like Ocular Halo, Multani’s Harmony or Elemental Mastery.
Niblis of the Mist
In limited, I would love this card but at the kitchen table, I’m not sure it does enough. It isn’t a bad card, but there are better 3 drops.
Niblis of the Urn
I always wanted to love Seasoned Marshal, but the casting cost just made her terrible. Niblis of the Urn fixes that by giving you a night casting cost and evasion. This is one of those cards that can really sing when teamed up with other Spirits.
Ray of Revelation
I want to like this reprint, but I’m just no sure it’s worth running. If your metagame is enchantment heavy and you’re in green/white, then absolutely run this. But I think too often when you have a card like this; you’ll end up wishing it was a Disenchant or Naturalize.
Continuing the trend of token making, Requiem Angel is a pretty powerful to deter board sweepers. A 5/5 flier for six mana isn’t awful, but her ability to replace every creature that dies with a 1/1 flier is mighty handy – especially when things like Doomed Traveler produce double tokens! Sadly, you can play Artificial Evolution to make infinite tokens off of her.
It weirds me out that a house cat has the same combined power and toughness of some Savannah Lions.
This card can probably be broken, but I don’t know how. Sadly, it only makes a token of the exiled creature so you can’t do crazy bounce shenanigans with it. Plus, this doesn’t even give the creature haste. I want to like this card, but I think it’s too limited in its execution.
This is clearly limited fodder, but if you really love your griffin deck, knock yourself out.
Another combat trick that, while powerful in limited, isn’t worth running at the kitchen table.
When combined with Sundial of the Infinite, this card is downright mean. A one-sided Apocalypse can absolutely shut someone down. But even without the horrible trick of never letting cards return, this is a very interesting card. With some ETB triggers, it could drastically swing a game. I could see it being a very powerful one-of in Commander.
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
I remember when this card was called Glowrider and no one played it casually then either. In standard, this has a lot of potential but at the kitchen table this is just going to piss people off.
As a Commander, Thalia could work for a very aggressive white weenie strategy similar to Isamaru, Hound of Konda that keeps the pressure on by constantly attacking.
Any card that can put a 3/3 onto the battlefield for no extra cost besides tapping is worth a second look. As a token generator, he isn’t bad but Thraben Doomsayer’s Fateful Hour is a very interesting one. Provided you have a way to keep yourself alive, a double Glorious Anthem for 3 is a great deal.
As a bear, you could do worse. If reanimating strategies are an issue at your kitchen table (I know they are at mine, but that’s because I’m mean), then this is a decent utility card with beautiful art. In an odd move, this card though is a Human Wizard, not a Human Cleric, which kind of makes sense given the flavor but seems odd.
Overall, there are a handful of cards that are begging to be played in Commander and many more that look like a blast in 60-card casual. Now I just need to find my Form of the Dragons to really make Fateful Hour work.
Top 5 Dark Ascension White Cards for Commander & Casual
5. Hollowhenge Spirit
4. Faith’s Shield
3. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
2. Midnight Guard
1. Sudden Disappearance