Dark Ascension – so what do I want to play?

So I’ve been reading (and re-reading) the Dark Ascension cards.

I have a couple things in mind when I’m doing this. I want to know:

  1. If any of them are going to impact Modern
  2. If any of them are going to impact Standard
  3. If I actually want to play any of them

There are some obvious “yes” answers to point two. There will be a very robust tokens deck. In fact, there’s an embarrassment of riches for those of you who are into that kind of thing. You actually have to decide which token options you want to use at each point in your mana curve.

For point three, I’ve found myself less enthusiastic about this set than I was about Innistrad. I wanted to immediately jump on Forbidden Alchemy, for example…and ended up playing a fair amount of Solar Flare in the subsequent Standard environment.

…but there are still some cards that draw my interest. Let’s take them in order by color:

I’m not sure if we’ll have a need for Ray of Revelation in Standard or, really, even in Modern. But I do find something incredibly satisfying about the “destroy something, destroy something again” aspect of Ray of Revelation. Like Luis said in his set review, Ray of Revelation is exactly as good as Ancient Grudge, just with a less frequent target pool.

Of course, I already have my play set of Rays, that look like this:

That’s the original Ray from Judgment, a card that already frequently appears in Dredge sideboards in Legacy.

If there’s reanimation in Standard, maybe this will be a worthy card. I’m excited by it as a more versatile Mental Note, but my enthusiasm is bounded by the fact that we don’t have a card like Psychatog that thrives on Mental Note’s immediate impact of “cards in the graveyard plus a cantrip.” For Psychatog, that’s pure fuel. For archetypes in Standard and Modern…not so much.

Tragic Slip is another card that’s been extensively discussed in other reviews. It’s good, and honestly, kind of funny when it comes to flavor considerations. It’s an “Oops, I slipped and died” moment…which is sort of plausible for that dude in the picture, but becomes kind of hilarious when you consider Kozilek misplacing a tentacle (on the world’s biggest roller skate left out by an Eldrazi Spawn, perhaps) and then…”Oops, IT slipped and died.”


I’m a big fan of card selection (cf running Ponder in Solar Flare), and Faithless Looting is, well, more of that. Also might go into some kind of reanimator build I suppose…but my main interest here is in seeing more of my cards.

The Lich is an interesting card, in that it’s one I suspect I will end up playing, but it’s not necessarily a card I’m looking forward to playing. A 4/4 for five mana that reanimates on the cheap seems ridiculous…although the more I look at it, the more I wonder if I really want my reanimation to be killable itself. Maybe it’s just better to use Rites if you’re looking for stock reanimation and not, say, powering some kind of super combo.

Just on its own, Huntmaster is a fun little card. Four mana for two 2/2s and 2 life seems decent, right? The fact that you can rack up that life gain and damage if your dude keeps flipping back and forth…

…adds to the potential fun. Of course, every time I’ve tested Werewolves, the lack of control over the flipping process makes them untenable…but Huntmaster may actually be fine as long as you’re not relying on it being a 4/4, but instead are okay with that pair of 2/2s that come with occasional value.

I was missing fetches. It’s not as sexy as the Zendikar fetches, perhaps, but Evolving Wilds will facilitate less junky mana bases on Standard while not making it too easy to power out every spell under the sun (Vivid Lands, I’m casting my suspicious gaze your way).

Although I’ve already written about how Grafdigger’s Cage isn’t just “doom, doom, doom” for graveyard strategies, it is nice to have another Trinket-able “solution card” available in a Standard that will include Trinket Mage for another few sets. In fact, it makes me want to run Trinket-powered Solar Flare again so that I can drop a Cage against Wolf Run decks, then focus the rest of my effort on killing token swarms.

Overall, Dark Ascension has some cards I’m interested in, but no cards that have me really feeling compelled to give them a try. I think if I liked tokens-style decks, the story would be different there. As is, though, I’m happy to see the return of Evolving Wilds, and the other cards I’m interested in playing are just that…interesting, but not engaging.