black tagged posts

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!

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Magic: the Gathering Dragon’s Maze Casual & Commander Review: Black, Dimir & Rakdos

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.

Dragon’s Maze Casual & Commander Reviews
White, Orzhov & Selesnya | Blue, Simic & Azorius
Black, Dimir & Rakdos |

Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review
Orzhov Syndicate | House of Dimir | Simic Combine | Gruul Clans | Boros Legion
White | Black | Blue | Green | Red | Other

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
Azorious Senate  | Izzet League | Cult of Rakdos | Golgari Swarm | Selesnya Conclave
White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Gold, Artifact & Lands

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.

Blood Scrivener

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.

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Magic: the Gathering Duel Decks Review: Sorin vs. Tibalt

The newest Magic: the Gathering Duel Decks got released over the weekend, and like always, the price kept climbing so I waited until I spotted them for MSRP and picked up a pair. Once a year, Wizards release a set of Duel Decks focused on a pair of Planeswalkers battling it out and this year, we’re going back to Innistrad as Sorin and Tibalt go head to head.

Suggested Ages: 13+
Suggested Players: 2 players
Contents:

  • Two ready-to-play 60-card decks
  • Two deck boxes
  • Two creature tokens
  • A strategy insert
  • A Magic “Learn to Play” guide

Retail price: $19.99 available at Amazon.com

Like the other Duel Decks, Sorin vs. Tibalt is two 60-card decks specially made to battle one another. For the spring releases now, it seems like Wizards is sticking to two planeswalkers from the previous block which I love for two big reasons: it makes planeswalkers super accessible to casual and new players and it ties back in with sets you can currently buy. These Duel Decks also include two spirit tokens with Magic card backs (with the Avacyn Restored art),  two deck boxes (which can’t fit sleeved decks), a how-to-play insert and a strategy insert outlining how the decks work.

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Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review: Black

These guildless reviews are out of order! Normally Blue follows White in the color wheel – but not in Gatecrash! There’s a new color wheel: WBUGR! Now let’s look at some removal and kill things.

Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review
Orzhov Syndicate | House of Dimir | Simic Combine | Gruul Clans | Boros Legion
White | Black | Blue | Green | Red | Other

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
Azorious Senate  | Izzet League | Cult of Rakdos | Golgari Swarm | Selesnya Conclave
White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Gold, Artifact & Lands

Balustrade Spy

Milling is getting far more interesting with Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash. The grind mechanic is fascinating and holds the perfect balance of suspense and utter uselessness. Plus this spy is a vampire with flying, so abuse the entering the battlefield trigger!

Contaminated Ground

I want to make a Contaminated Ground, Psychic Venom, Mana Short, Copy Enchantment Deck.

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Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review: House of Dimir

Dimir isn’t real, right? Or is it? Either way, it introduces something new.

The House of Dimir in Gatecrash introduces two main concepts to Magic: Grinding and Cipher. Grinding is the new milling X lands ability that seems to be specially made for casual mill decks and gives multiplayer millers some impressive spells.

But more exciting is the ability Cipher. Turning sorceries into Auras in a way, Cipher allows you to cast the same spell again and again off combat triggers. And yes, it casts the spell which allows for some great abuse.

Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review
Orzhov Syndicate | House of Dimir | Simic Combine | Gruul Clans | Boros Legion
White | Black | Blue | Green | Red | Other

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
Azorious Senate  | Izzet League | Cult of Rakdos | Golgari Swarm | Selesnya Conclave
White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Gold, Artifact & Lands

Hands of Binding

Cipher Detain? Oh I hope that becomes a thing when Dragon’s Maze happens! Hands of Binding is a neat little trick, but the value really comes from Cipher. Encouraging attacking is nice, but getting essentially auras that can’t be two-for-one’d is much better. As far as an ability, this isn’t great but could be awesome for limited.

Last Thoughts

How much would you pay to turn a creature into an Ophidian? For older players, I see the allure of this card being much greater. But the casting cost is just painful. 3U for a Curiosity that can’t be Disenchanted? That feels expensive.

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Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review: Orzhov Syndicate

A new Magic set is about to be released. Normally, I look at all the cards in the set (and I’m still going to do that), but to start things off – I’ve got to say wow. Wizards really knocked it out of the park with Gatecrash and there really is something for every kind of player. Like with Return to Ravnica, I will be going through each of the guilds first (WBUGR), then each unaffiliated set of cards so the final review will probably be 11 parts in total!

First up is the crime syndicate masquerading as a religion: Orhovz! This white-black guild introduces a new mechanic that is beyond multiplayer friendly. Extort allows you to pay a W or B whenever you cast a spell, to drain all your opponents for 1 life and you gain one. And to make it even better, the hybrid in it doesn’t apply to color identity rules in Commander! And it doesn’t hurt that this color combination is the best when it comes to removal either.

Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review
Orzhov Syndicate | House of Dimir | Simic Combine | Gruul Clans | Boros Legion
White | Black | Blue | Green | Red | Other

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
Azorious Senate  | Izzet League | Cult of Rakdos | Golgari Swarm | Selesnya Conclave
White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Gold, Artifact & Lands

Basilica Guards

While not the most exciting card, getting additional sources of extortion is a good thing. For multiplayer, the defender aspect is a plus. It holds down the ground early game and is deceptive about just how much damage it is dealing.

Blind Obedience

Kismet is a great card… to draw a lot of attention to yourself. Blind Obedience gives you a cheap way to slow the game while you whittle away at life totals, but after a turn or two stalling the board… this card becomes the clear problem.

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Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Review: Black

Monocolored reviews in a set like Return to Ravnica is boring. All the fun cards are gold or hybrid, which leaves just a handful of monocolored cards to sift through. And it takes a lot of sifting to find the gold – and I don’t mean gold cards. I found those just fine.

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
Azorious Senate  | Izzet League | Cult of Rakdos | Golgari Swarm | Selesnya Conclave
White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Gold, Artifact & Lands

 Assassin’s Strike

For a while, there was a time when the idea of black getting unrestricted creature removal was awesome. Now, black is able to kill pretty much any creature. At six mana, killing one creature at sorcery speed just isn’t enough.

Catacomb Slug

Main deck this in your slug deck.

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Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Review: Golgari Swarm

I’m a late convert to the Golgari guild. While I’ve been a Naya player at my core since it was called Thornscape, the Izzet vs. Golgari Duel Deck was something I found beyond fascinating. I love reanimating and find the graveyard an underutilized resource in casual Magic, so Scavenge got me excited.

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
Azorious Senate  | Izzet League | Cult of Rakdos | Golgari Swarm | Selesnya Conclave
White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Gold, Artifact & Lands

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord

A lot of Jarad’s thunder is already echoing in the distant thanks to the fact that people have had a few weeks to play with him. In multiplayer, this guy is excellent. He’s big and just keeps getting bigger as the game progresses. His activated ability can rapidly end games as everyone else’s life totals get ground lower and lower. And he’s recursive! Sure, the mana cost is clunky as can be but it is worth it.

Deadbridge Goliath

Remember when Blastoderm was an awesome creature? Well, now you get a 5/5 with a bonus when it dies! How is that possible? While a 5/5 isn’t the most exciting creature, he’s big, he’s cheap and you can easily cast him turn 3 without fail. When he dies, you can scavenge him to make any creature on the battlefield into a giant.

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Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Review: Cult of Rakdos

Return to Ravnica is an interesting set. While most expansions only offer one or two archetypes when it comes to mechanics, Return to Ravnica allows for five right off the bat. But there is one small issue with this for kitchen table players: Rakdos doesn’t really work.

The core of Rakdos is the unleashed mechanic which is great for sligh decks, but those never work against more than one player. Dealing 20 damage to someone quicker than they deal 20 to you is easy, but when you’re facing off against 60 or 100 life, you can’t win.

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
Azorious Senate  | Izzet League | Cult of Rakdos | Golgari Swarm | Selesnya Conclave
White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Gold, Artifact & Lands

Rakdos, Lord of Riots

Rakdos has been in desperate need of a do over since he originally debuted. But holy crap is this a commander! Costing only 4 mana, he’s pretty easy to cast. As long as any opponent lost life, he’s in play and changing the game. He’s a 6/6 flying, trampler for only four mana! That’s beyond amazing.

The second ability is fantastic. Dubbed “paincast,” it allows you to rapidly escalate your army. Grab some eldrazi and get to work.

Rakdos’s Return

What do you get when you combine Mind Shatter and Blaze? Really good discard and really good damage! Taking out someone’s hand is mean, but burning them is delightful. This is exactly the kind of card that won’t make you any friends but will feel so satisfying when it connects. Good thing this card says opponent, so you don’t have to worry about it coming back to you.

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Magic 2013 Casual & Commander Review: Black

The color wheel of Magic is constantly rotating and as it does, colors trade abilities (though blue seems to be sticky and keeping a lot of stuff…), but it always excites me when Black gets to return to its past and offer new spells and creatures.

Magic 2013 Casual & Commander Review
White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Other

Blood Reckoning

Hissing Miasma is oddly outdated now thanks to Planeswalkers existing, so Blood Reckoning updates the wording and tweaks the mana cost. Putting up a barrier to surround yourself is rarely a black ability, but new disincentives are always a plus. Though at four mana, this is going to be expensive and will probably result in people just crushing you with giant creatures instead of a lot of smaller ones.

Bloodhunter Bat

A 2/2 flier combined with a miniature Drain Life? That could be a lot worse for 4 mana. While not the most exciting card, the evasion and ETB trigger allow this to be abused in creative ways.

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