Dark Ascension Casual & Commander Review: Blue

I hate blue mages when they’re being predictable. Draw-Go may be one of my least favorite deck types ever, but even I can’t help but be excited when blue is given a bunch of odd toys to make wonky combo decks. Thankfully, Dark Ascension provides just that.

Dark Ascension Commander & Casual Review
White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Multicolor, Artifact & Land

Artful Dodge

This is a card I see having use two different ways. First, is any deck involving Kiln Fiend. He loves getting spells cast on him and loves being unblockable even more. This is a fine addition alongside Distortion Strike. The other way this can be used was brought to my attention by Mark Rosewater as an anti-werewolf measure. It’s not easy casting two spells in a single turn to transform a werewolf back to a human, but being able to pay UU to do it can be great. Personally, I would prefer Defy Gravity as it is an instant, but it is nice knowing the tools exist.

Beguiler of Wills

I’ll agree that 5 mana for a 1/1 doesn’t sound like the best deal, but boy is she powerful. There are plenty of ways to give this girl haste too allowing her to be used right off the bat. But the biggest appeal for me is that you keep whatever card is beguiled! Suddenly pesky walls are yours for the taking – or if you want to get really mean, you can use Diminish or Turn to Frog to steal pretty much any creature! In casual and Commander, Beguiler of Wills will be a force.

Bone to Ash

Not every card can be a winner – especially when Exclude exists for a blue mana less.

Call to the Kindred

I want to love this card because it is amazing. In any tribe deck you want with blue in it, Call of the Kindred will probably be an auto-include. Or just toss it on a Changeling to get any creature you want each turn.

But here is my issue – the Eldrazi exist. Slapping this on an Eldrazi Spawn and then getting Emrakul out on turn 4 or 5 is just dumb. Personally, I hate the Eldrazi and what they’ve done to casual Magic. So expect to see that combo show up time and time again.

Chant of the Skifsang

This will reduce ever creature* in Magic to having power of 0 – except B.F.M. This card should basically say “Enchanted creature deals no combat damage.” This card isn’t great, but it can be a decent piece of removal for a mono-Blue deck.

* Except Emrakul, but you can’t cast this on him anyway. Or the occasional card that gets absolutely massive like Keldon Warlord.

Chill of Foreboding

The biggest issue with mill decks in multiplayer is that it’s always a losing proposition. When you’re sitting at a table with three other people and one guy is milling, another is trying out infect, one is playing control and the last is doing some weird combo, it’s really hard to kill anyone. But I really like Chill of Foreboding because it hits everyone and with Innistrad around, that can mean a lot of different things. I wouldn’t call this a great card, but there is something about it I really like.

Counterlash

Now this is a Commander counterspell! I’ve loved Desertion since it debuted in Visions, and this is a fantastic twist on it. With such a high casting cost, you’re bound to play this late game when it can be truly devastating. If you are playing Blue in Commander, you will want to run this.

Curse of Echoes

I am loving the new Curse cards in this set. I love it when spells get Forked or Radiated, so being able to do that to all spells one person plays is amazing. Tossing this on one player can drastically change the game dynamic, especially depending on how fun the spells are. Spot removal is a lot more dangerous but if you’re the kind of person who really loves Group Hug decks, toss it on yourself.

Divination

While a reprint, Divination still isn’t terribly exciting. Especially since Mulldrifter exists.

Dungeon Geists

This is an interesting piece of Blue removal. Sadly, you can’t do any super crazy tricks like bouncing the Dungeon Geists and leaving the creature tapped forever. But a 3/3 flier for 4 that permanently removes a single creature from all combats (barring Masako the Humorless) is an interesting proposition.

Geralf’s Mindcrusher

The self-milling, group milling deck is getting very interesting with all these big bodies. The Mindcrusher is a great way to add some ammo to your graveyard, while milling down another player and giving you a massive body to slam into another opponent. Even without the milling, this is a 5/5 that turns into a 6/6 instead of dying! I love this guy and am seeing a whole new future for mill decks.

Griptide

Commander players, hide your Commander. This is a great spell to get rid of a pesky general. Combine it with a shuffling effect to really piss them off.

Havengul Runebinder

This is an interesting twist on the Zombie lord. For the up and coming blue-black zombie decks, this can be very powerful – especially with Grimgrin as a Commander. Being able to turn any dead creature in your graveyard into a 2/2 zombie and putting a +1/+1 counter on each zombie you control? Good lord that’s powerful. This guy is going to be a lightning rod for removal, so be sure to protect him.

Headless Skaab

I like the Skaab creatures and Headless Skaab may not be the most exciting but a 3/6 is going to lock the battlefield down. You’ll need to right deck to be able to use him properly, but Headless Skaab isn’t to be overlooked.

Increasing Confusion

I want to like this card, I really do but it just seems so mana intensive. In a world where milling 5 cards only costs U, paying 5U to do it feels too pricey. Even with the doubling Flashback, Increasing Confusion just doesn’t do enough.

Mystic Retrieval

Izzet mages, this is for you! Being able to get two instants or sorceries back – without any randomness, is a great bargain on a single card. As a blue card, it feels overpriced but the red half makes it work. In the right deck, this has a lot of potential.

Nephalia Seakite

Nobody expects the Seakite Inquisition!

Niblis of the Breath

Another card that is terrifying in limited, but in casual I don’t think it does enough. The tapping/untapping ability has potential, but cards like Aphetto Alchemist do it better.

Relentless Skaabs

A vanilla creature that hates dying, I like Relentless Skaabs because it’s a decent sized body. It’s better than Water Elemental at least. This card isn’t great, but if the mono-blue Zombie deck keeps growing, these will be a fine addition.

Saving Grasp

I don’t like this. Yes, it can save your creature – twice. But it feels so limited to me that I can’t get behind this spell.

Screeching Skaab

Most terrifying art ever. Another fine spell in the self-milling deck idea, Screeching Skaab is a fine two-drop. He isn’t exciting, but the enabling it provides is worth it in the right deck.

Secrets of the Dead

If you’re going Flashback heavy, this is a great way to get even more value out of your already played cards. Another great piece for a deck idea, especially when paired up with self-milling.

Shriekgeist

I never understood creatures that milled by dealing damage. But if the multipurpose milling/damage deck actually comes together, then this could work. It’s cheap, it evades and it’s going to piss people off.

Soul Seizer

Looking for a really good use of Artful Dodge? Here it is! As a transform card, I really like this new take on Dominating Licid. The ability to permanently take a creature is great, especially in Commander when you’re much more limited to how many Control Magic spells you can run. While not as good as Control Magic, this is a solid way to round out your arsenal.

Stormbound Geist

A decent evasion creature, Stormbound Geist will work well in aggressive strategies just like Cloud Spirit. This isn’t anything to write home about, but still a solid blue common.

Thought Scour

A targeted version of Mental Note, this is a very interesting concept. The ability to mill someone and then draw can work wonders, either on yourself or others when combined with Scry. By no means is this a card to go in every deck, but I see it finding a home with both mill and Skaabs.

Tower Geist

A decent flier that can certainly be useful, especially since Tower Geist replaces itself. I know a lot of casual players dislike self-milling, but being able to filter your deck while drawing a card – and getting a 2/2 flier makes this surprisingly decent.

Top 5 Blue Dark Ascension Cards for Commander & Casual

5. Curse of Echoes
4. Geralf’s Mindcrusher
3. Soul Seizer
2. Counterlash
1. Beguiler of Wills

Dark Ascension Commander & Casual Review
White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Multicolor, Artifact & Land