Magic 2014 M14 Casual and Commander Review: Black

Black is always a fun color at the kitchen table when it comes to making enemies and the short-term-allies. The color of death, destruction and selfishness often provides lovely card advantage and iadds some new toys to the necromancer’s toybox! As with the other M14 reviews, this will only cover new cards in the set, not reprints. Spoiler alert: Doom Blade is still really good.

Magic 2014 (M14) Casual & Commander Review
White Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts & Lands

Accursed Spirit

Mathmatically, this card is fine. It is basically a buff Dross Prowler, which is great in limited but at the kitchen table, it has to compete against every other four drop in the history of Magic… which makes it less impressive.

Artificer’s Hex

It has been ages since the notion of a “Cursed Artifact” has been in Magic and Artificer’s Hex brings back the ability with a bang. Historically, black is very weak at artifact removal but giving them this new skill is appreciated. While Artificer’s Hex doesn’t outright destroy the equipment, it does make wielding it much more dangerous.  It’s a neat little card and makes living weapon weird, but I see it being fringe play at best. In Commander, it could be more valuable depending on your playgroup. Oh, and it allows black to get around protection from black!

Blightcaster

I wish this card was a cleric, but either way, it is an interesting take on ETB triggers. Going off enchantments allows combo decks a new way to remove pesky threats (or allows BW aura decks to get very interesting). It isn’t a bad card, but it will require a lot of support to be playable in any format.

Blood Bairn

Creepiest art award goes here! The newest Phyrexian Ghoul, Blood Bairn shows some new templating in the rules, but for the most part is Phyrexian Ghoul number four in Commander. In multiplayer though, this card just isn’t anything new or exciting (and if you’re going combo, the cheaper alternatives are still better).

Bogbrew Witch

I love cards that reference other cards. I tried building a terrible Chimera deck (a deck of all 4 drops is bad) and still enjoy breaking out my UnspeakableSpirit of the Night deck every now and then. Bogbrew Witch is an odd tutor that probably won’t do much of anything in Commander, but really shines for casual players. This card isn’t good, but it is entertaining.

Corpse Hauler

A much cheaper Gravedigger, Corpse Hauler is decent and the triggered ability is nice, but most of the time, I would probably prefer Gravedigger.

Dark Prophecy

This is an interesting take on Phyrexian Arena, but it is way too vulnerable to mass removal. At least with the arena, you can predict your next few turns. With Dark Prophecy, your next turn could be your undoing – either by not having enough creatures to block or having too many to survive a Rout. In specific combo decks, I can see this working as a way to lose some life and draw a bunch of cards up front but the forced nature of this card concerns me.

Deathgaze Cockatrice

Cockatrice has come full circle! It only took 20 years to do it! A fine card, but not terribly exciting.

Festering Newt

I still play Festering Goblin regularly and Festering Newt does many of the same things. By itself, it’s a nuisance for opponents, but with Bogbrew Witch, it levels up to become a death machine. It’s good, but needs a lot of support to be worthwhile.

Gnawing Zombie

I like the concept and am intrigued at how to abuse it (plus it’s a 1/3 for 1B so it can give Zombie decks some early defense). It’s a good card, but not great. I still appreciate how it is almost always valuable – both early and late game.

Grim Return

2B to steal the best creature that dies? I like that a lot. One of the better instants in the set, especially for Commander, it gives reanimation decks a nice little trick. And it just so happens to combo beautifully with removal, but the timing of it may cause more disappointment. Either way, I strongly recommend trying it out, especially in Commander.

Lifebane Zombie

This feels like a Slithery Stalker that isn’t a disappointment! Evasion is decent and the 3 power is enough for me to take notice. Add in the exiling ability and you’ve got a nice zombie that will probably hit someone every time it is cast.

Liliana’s Reaver

Holy crap, this card is good! It’s a 2/1 zombie carrying a Sword of Mind and Famine! If this thing hits, you’re already winning. Add in the deathtouch and the fact that this only costs 4 mana and you’ve got one of the best zombie 4-drops I’ve seen in a long, long time.

Liturgy of Blood

Maybe in some weird Storm deck this could work, but most of the time you don’t want sorcery speed targeted removal.

Minotaur Abomination

I like that it is two Undead Minotaurs stapled together. I also like, in theory, that it is an inverse Craw Wurm. I don’t like playing it though.

Rise of the Dark Realms

So that’s how much Liliana’s ultimate cost! An insanely powerful mythic, Rise of the Dark Realms does exactly what a 9 mana spell should do: win you the game. In multiplayer, this is terrifying and I can’t wait to build a reanimating mill deck that lures people into the idea I boost Liliana Vess but actually just cast this to kill everyone.

Shadowborn Apostle

This would have been the perfect chance for Wizards to add the supertype “Basic” to a creature! This little creature is weird and I can’t believe I need like 40 of them for a “playset.” Being able to grab any kind of Demon is nice but essentially paying BBBBBBB and discarding six cards doesn’t seem like a bargain.

Shadowborn Demon

I hate you so much Kaalia. Sure, it can’t kill other demons, but who really cares? This is a better Nekrataal and just a decent mythic. Sure, the upkeep cost can be a pain (but resonates so well with its apostles) but this just shows how better creatures have gotten in the last few years. Also, this creature doesn’t look like it could go to battle against a Colossal Whale and win.

Syphon Sliver

The allusion to Syphon Soul is a cute nod, but this is the first time a sliver has actually given lifelink! A 2/2 lifelinker for 2B is okay, but in a sliver deck, this guy is terrifying. The art looks like a zombie mutant though.

Tenacious Dead

So it is regeneration… but worse in the event that it is stolen (or better for you if it is stolen from you). This is just weird. Especially since Regeneration is in M14 anyway. I guess it actually dies so it can trigger death triggers which can be useful in some decks… but it just feels wrong and I’ll stick with Reassembling Skeleton.

Undead Minotaur

Poor Hurloon Minotaur, he hasn’t aged well.

Vampire Warlord

Speaking of regeneration, here is a black uncommon that actually has it! As far as vampires go, I expect more out of my 5 drops. But the flavor on this card is a homerun.

Xathrid Necromancer

Oh no… it’s an updated Rotlung Reanimator. Triggering only for you is nice and going off humans is even nicer. This card is a lighting rod for removal but just feels right. Worst case, this card is a 2/2 that dies and comes back as a 2/2 for 2B. That’s worst case. Have fun stacking death triggers with this guy after a Damnation.

Top 5 Black Cards from M14 for Casual & Commander

5. Artificer’s Hex/Dark Prophecy
4. Syphon Sliver
3. Rise of the Dark Realms
2. Xanthrid Necromancer
1. Liliana’s Reaver

As a whole, I’m really impressed with the new black cards in this set. While I struggled with blue and white to even find cards that somewhat interested me, almost half of the new black cards have peaked my interest. Between odd abilities, great combo potential and downright amazing spells for multiplayer, black came out ahead in this core set.

Magic 2014 (M14) Casual & Commander Review
White Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts & Lands