This review takes the darkest color and pairs it up with its two natural allies in a delicious Grixis blend. Black is always fun in multiplayer, but when combined with red or blue, it is a combination of colors that can do pretty much anything. So whether you like the secrecy of Dimir, the recklessness of Rakdos or the selfishness of black, this Dragon’s Maze review is for you.
Bane Alley Blackguard
This is an odd vanilla creature. But Wizards is shifting black into the higher toughness than power bracket with this set. But for me to care about a vanilla creature, it has to do something special.
The power of this card is absurd. Being a 2/1 zombie for 1B is already solid, but that ability is exceptional. As someone who’s playstyle regularly goes all-in, having a quick way to refill your hand is nice. It pairs wonderfully with Hellbent in a twisted way, but what I really love is that it triggers whenever you would draw a card – not just during your draw step.
The graveyard is an interesting resource, and one that for the longest time when untouched in my playgroup. Now, cards like Bojuka Bog and Relic of Progenitus regularly make appearances. But what I like about Crypt Incursion is the versatility of it. It can be used to shut down a reanimation strategy, as a massive life gain spell or you can use it on yourself in a pinch to get a last gasp out of your own graveyard. It isn’t a fancy spell, but it is certainly a spell I see myself keeping in my pocket for years to come.
When it comes to removal, I prefer actual removal. And if I’m paying 4 mana to kill something, I want it to be better at killing.
Easily the most flavorful card in the set, I love how this feels. But that doesn’t stop it from being a terrible card.
The Maze creature cycle is something I’ve grown very fond of for multiplayer. These semi-lords are unique takes on classic abilities, but what I love here is the ability to grant deathtouch. At six mana, Maze Abomination will at least trade with most creatures and more importantly, makes your multicolored army much more terrifying.
Pontiff of Blight
For years, the Zombie Tribe was focused around suicide black as a deck theme. With cards like this though, it can reevaluate itself into a mid-game deck with an alternate win condition. Being able to extort for each creature you control is quite impressive, and in multiplayer, extort is absurdly powerful. But what I really love about this “lord” is that it fits seamlessly into a non-extort deck and gives little zombies the ability to drain life again and again as they keep coming back from the grave.
I really like this in limited. I don’t like it nearly as much in any other format.
A weird taxing card, Sinister Possession feels like an aura that isn’t worth the time. It doesn’t slow down activated abilities, so it feels too easy to avoid – or too easy to self sacrifice.
Ubul Sar Gatekeepers
Of the gatekeepers, this isn’t terribly exciting since there are already many creatures that do similar things like Farbog Boneflinger or Skinrender.
House of Dimir
Haunter of the Nightveil
Cumber Stone on legs (not wings as I keep thinking), this is a great little piece of tech to use against overly aggressive decks. The only downside is that it will quickly draw the attention of everyone else at the table.
Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker
Milling usually doesn’t work in multiplayer, but lately it seems like Wizards has been trying to fix that. Mirko Vosk will only need to hit a handful of times to mill out an opponent, while his vampire creature type will give him some extra bonuses in the right deck. For Commander, he makes me interested in trying out a milling deck but he seems to be more of a support card.
Plagiarize is a fun card to toss out there every now and then. With spells like Sphinx’s Revelation gaining too much traction, Notion Thief is an interesting metagame choice. But in multiplayer, he has great potential since it is when an opponent would draw, not target Cast a Minds Aglow and see how much everyone puts in – then steal it all. Or mess with a Forced Fruition for fun.
I seem this being used more as a Careful Study kind of play more than anything. Milling yourself for two and then drawing is a nice play in graveyard focused decks. It isn’t a great card, but it is a solid one in the right deck.
Mass Lobotomy is a fun play, but this falls into the realm of useless for Commanders which is always interesting. For casual 60, Reap Intellect is the kind of card that can utterly devastate a single player and that almost feels wrong to me. Stripping someone of all their win conditions or combo pieces almost seems like a fate worse than death.
I like cards that double as removal. Warped Physique is interesting. The +X/-X makes it harder to balance, but knowing you can kill a creature with toughness the same or less as your hand for two mana is nice.
This is a little mean creature, but the abilities seem almost counter-intuitive. If you’ve got forestwalk, why do you need protection from green? Either way, this feels like the UB version of River Boa.
Far & Away
Far is a decent Unsummon, nothing special but worth the extra 1 since it is also Away. Away is decent removal. Making Diabolic Edict cost 1 more seems fair again. But combining them into a targeted version of Barrin’s Spite that can hit different players? Yes, that is absolutely worth one extra mana.
Blue and Black seem to like acceleration and card drawing.
Gates are good, but not great.
Cult of Rakdos
It bothers me that Skeleton and Zombie are two different creature types still. Wizards really needed to make like “Undead” an option or something. Either way, Carnage Gladiator is a beautiful Rakdos card that does exactly what I want cards to do: end the game. Punishing blockers feels so right, and giving him regeneration allows this undead gladiator to smash into your foes over and over again.
Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch
Without unleash, she’s good. As a commander, she will assault your enemies under more blades than needed. First strike, haste and unleash though makes for a deadly combination. Add in her lord ability of giving haste (which Simic would love in a twisted way) and you’ve got an army ready to kill someone now.
Master of Cruelties
This is just weird. As a demon, Kaalia is going to love him – especially since he can enter the battlefield attacking with others. Deathtouch and First Strike is a combination I’ve loved since Voracious Cobra, while his Phage-light ability is delightfully cruel. So make him unblockable and go to town.
While not the most exciting card, this feels right. Late game, the combination of direct damage (to a creature or player by the way) plus recursion makes this stronger than you’d first expect.
Good lord, this the kind of card I love. My immediate thought is using it with Deadapult for extra meanness, but the fact that it only hits creatures makes me a touch more disappointed in it. Still, it prevents a complete rout from happening to your team.
Sire of Insanity
I’m thinking a red-black Madness build is in order. Toss in a Liliana’s Caress for good measure and people will start dropping like flies.
With my handle being jestergoblin for the last 15 years, I like this card way more than I should.
Toil & Trouble
An easier to cast Sign in Blood is something I enjoy, especially when I use it to kill someone. But getting it attached to a Sudden Impact that costs 1 less? Oh, and being able to combine them for the meanest finisher imaginable – that sounds like my kind of card.
If your opponent is still alive when you cast this, you’re playing Rakdos wrong.
Gates are still good, but the allied ones a little less so.
Breaking & Entering
Breaking is a poor man’s Glimpse the Unthinkable, but 8 cards milled for two is a solid play still. Entering is a fine reanimation spell, if a bit pricey. But together, you’ve got a spell that can steal your opponent’s best creature, give it haste and punch them for some mill. I like it. Shame it costs 8 mana though.