Dark Ascension Casual & Commander Review: Black

With a name like Dark Ascension, is it really a surprise to anyone that Black seems to get some of the best toys in this set?

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

Black Cat

This card is adorable! Sure, I would have loved if it was more involved with luck (though the random discard is a nice touch). Most easily compared to Ravenous Rats, Black Cat isn’t a bad card but in multiplayer this kitten just doesn’t do enough. Unless you happen to have some great recursion engine…

Chosen of Markov & Markov’s Servant

For years, my favorite female artwork in Magic has been Plague Witch but Chosen of Markov is quite close. Flavor-wise, this card is a complete homerun but as an actual card, this is the weirdest version of Suspend I’ve seen in a while. A vanilla 4/4 for three mana, essentially suspended for two turns and requiring the tapping of another creature? It’s co convoluted that I almost think this card should be from Fallen Empires.

Curse of Misfortunes

I love this card. Sure, it’s an absolute “Build around me” but that is what makes it fun. The number of curses in the game allow for an interesting toolbox approach, but my biggest issue with Curses is the fact that they only target a single player. I could see this card being fun, but I’m not sure how viable it will be. Though in Commander, it could certainly be interesting to use this and all the other curses as singletons…

Curse of Thirst

Now these are the kind of Curses that need to get made. By itself, this is a terrible version of Curse of the Pierced Heart but when combined with a few others, Curse of Thirst can quickly take down an opponent. But then you have to find a new way to take down all your other opponents.

Deadly Allure

Sadly, this card doesn’t use Lure to really be fun and the sorcery speed kills the fun of it – since you can’t use it to really mess up other players in combat. In limited, I would love this. But at the kitchen table, Golgari can do better.

Death’s Caress

Ignore the second line of text, because this card simply says “Destroy target creature.” I know a few Black cards have said it in the past, but having another spell that does it for Commander is excellent. Personally, I’ve always been partial to Chill to the Bone but I’m always excited for new removal. Now add in the fact that there are over 1300 Humans in Magic and you’ve got a spell that will often gain you life too. This card isn’t groundbreaking or super exciting, but it is a card to consider in black.

Falkenrath Torturer

I want to compare this to the likes of Nantuko Husk, and it just doesn’t hold up for me. This creature is just too basic.

Farbog Boneflinger

In a world where Nekrataal and Skinrender exist, I’m not sure why you would play this over those. But if you’re looking for more ETB triggers that can kill, he’s worth considering.

Fiend of the Shadows

Now this is a rare! A twisted take on the Specters, Fiend of the Shadow is exactly what you want for a mid-game drop in Commander. The ability to devour cards and then cast them later is amazing (though more challenging in Commander). I love the underused Praetor’s Grasp, and attaching it to a creature is even more fun. Just be sure to pack a Fellwar Stone or two. Also, you get to play the card as long as it is exiled – even if Fiend of the Shadows leaves the battlefield!

But that’s not all, this vampire can still evade and regenerate by eating a human? Sign me up.

Geralf’s Messenger

The inverted Kitchen Finks looks to be a lot of fun. Any creature that can be ritualed out on turn 1 is worth looking at. Yes, the triple casting cost means this is going in mono-black decks (usually), but this guy doesn’t die and takes a bite out of your opponent each time he comes back. I think Grimgrin found a new best friend.


Speaking of friends for Grimgrin, they don’t get much better than this! The ability to untap him for a mere B is a great deal. For aggressive decks, a one drop that won’t stay dead is great too. He’s a fantastic little guy both for aggressive and combo strategies.


A reprint of a card we’ve seen multiple times in the form of Bone Harvest and Footbottom Feast. It isn’t a bad card, and if you need another copy, then enjoy.

Gruesome Discovery

I’m not a big fan of discard in multiplayer, unless it is in the form of Unnerve (or you’re doing it to yourself for madness). Gruesome Discovery isn’t awful, but doesn’t wow me either. A slightly more expensive Mind Rot that sometimes is a lot better but not always? There are better things to put into your deck.

Harrowing Journey

I love cards like Ambition’s Cost and Ancient Craving, but Harrowing Journey is unique because it can be used to draw a bunch of cards or kill someone off. Much like Caress of Phyrexia, this card can do a lot. If you’re looking for card draw in mono-black Commander decks, you could do a lot worse and it will be budget friendly.

Highborn Ghoul

I really like this cheaper take on Dross Prowler. This card isn’t great, but a two-drop with evasion is always worth considering, especially if you deck needs a reason to hit your opponent.

Increasing Ambition

Good lord this makes up for the last two increasing cards being less than stellar. The ability to Diabolic Tutor and then do it twice for only 8 mana makes this card an auto-include in any Commander deck with black in it. This card will allow players to end games and is a must have for anyone running black.

Mikaeus, the Unhallowed

Speaking of Black Commander, I am loving this new version of Mikaeus. First, you get a 5/5 creature with evasion for six making him a decent drop. Second, he’s a great build around me general since he pumps all your other non-Human creatures and then gives them undying! Those two make him a fantastic monoblack Commander.

But then there is that middle ability that allows Mikaeus to kill any human that touches you. Yes, half the time that ability won’t matter but the occasional No Mercy isn’t too shabby either.

Ravenous Demon & Archdemon of Greed

I like the idea of a 9/9, flying trampler for only 5 mana but at the end of the day, this just the Lord of the Pit all over again. And it’s a Lord of the Pit that is pickier about its snacks. I just don’t like the idea of a demon that can hit you for 9 and tap itself because of a single well-placed removal spell.

Reap the Seagraf

For black and blue Commanders, this is a decent way to get two-for-one on a single card. It is on the pricey side, but if you need bodies for some nefarious purpose, this could work.

Sightless Ghoul

I can think of better things to spend 4 mana on than a Spineless Thug with undying.

Skirsdag Flayer

Worst case, this guy can sacrifice himself to kill any creature. A decent tool for a black mage, Skirsdag Flayer can be powerful but might require a lot of work when it comes to making sure you have enough humans. Sadly, Sengir Autocrat doesn’t make humans, he just makes Serfs.

Spiteful Shadows

These abilities seem to be split evenly between red and black now, but at the end this isn’t an Aura you want to run. Great artwork though.

Tragic Slip

Now this is removal! Creatures die all the time in multiplayer and this actually is my favorite kind of Morbid card. It’s cheap and actually does something awesome. Sure, two creatures manage to escape its grasp but this is some great removal for casual players.

Undying Evil

I want to like this card as a weird combat trick, but much like Withstand Death, I’m not sure how well this will work. But the one time it does work, it will be awesome.

Vengeful Vampire

For six mana, I expect a lot more than a 3/2 flier that needs to be killed twice. One more mana gets you a Darksteel Gargoyle!


If you need more creatures to sacrifice for some dark machine you’re assembling, this card works but even then, I don’t really like this.

Zombie Apocalypse

I don’t care if you want to look at this as a half-hearted Twilight’s Call or a weak Damnation, but in the right deck this will end games. With over 250 zombies to pick from, this card can be very good at bringing back the dead and will often clear a good portion of the table out. Yes, it is expensive but it is worth it.

Top 5 Black Dark Ascension Cards for Casual & Commander

5. Geralf’s Messenger
4. Increasing Ambition
3. Tragic Slip
2. Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
1. Fiend of the Shadows

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