Magic Origins Limited Set Review: Black

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Posted July 9, 2015 by Jean-Luc Botbyl in Nerdy Bits

Before this review begins, I thought I would break down my scoring system:

10: An absolute bomb, you will always pick this card, even if it’s pack three and you aren’t in its colors. In Sealed, you will splash this card no matter what.

9.0-9.9: While still a bomb, you may not necessarily splash this card if you can’t support it.

8.0-8.9: While maybe not a bomb, these cards are still first pickable, either for being an exceptional creature or for being prime removal.

7.0-7.9: Early pick creatures and playable removal, as well as other highly playable non creature spells.

6.0-6.9: Playable cards that you won’t be excited about playing.

5.0-5.9: These are the cards that you’ll be forced to play, but may be actively unhappy about playing them.

4.0-4.9: Generally cards designed specifically for Constructed that simply don’t gel in Limited, ie specific hate cards. Good only in the sideboard.

3.0-3.9: If you’re playing this, something went wrong along the way.

2.0-2.9: These are the dregs of the pack, that go as late at as the basic lands – sometimes later.

1.0-1.9: Set these cards on fire. They’re worthless to you, and yes, this is true even in EDH.

 

Mythic Rares

Demonic Pact

No matter what, you will lose to this card in Limited. I don’t care that it acts as draw, removal, and discard, it also puts you on a three turn clock. If you can’t kill your opponent in those three turns, you’re dead, and if you can, then this is mostly just going to be a win-more card. I can see it occasionally doing work, but most of the time it is simply not worth casting until you’re winning anyways, in which case it just doesn’t matter.

Score: 3.0

Erebos’s Titan

The Indestructible clause on Erebos’s Titan reeks of win more, but that’s irrelevant because this dude is still a 5/5 for four that you can get back from your graveyard. I’m not quite sure how often the second ability will be relevant, because there aren’t many ways to remove cards from opponents’ graveyards. They exist, but you’ll really be playing this guy as a very aggressively costed 5/5.

Score: 8.8

Liliana, Heretical Healer//Liliana, Defiant Necromancer

A 2/3 Lifelinker for three is always going to be pretty Ok. However, this particular 2/3 Lifelinker for three can transform into a powerful Planeswalker and leave behind a 2/2 token as soon as another creature you control dies. In Limited, where winning is mostly dependent on combat, this won’t be too difficult. You can chump block as soon as you get Liliana on the board, or throw smaller creatures into your opponent’s defenses. Combat becomes hard for them, because they definitely don’t want to face the Defiant Necromancer. You can instantly (well, not exactly) revive the creature that died to flip her, or attack their hand before bringing back a creature you discarded. Planeswalker ultimates tend to not be too relevant in Limited, but Liliana’s emblem is definitely something that will be nice to have. She’s a bomb in every sense of the term, if you can get her flipped.

Score: 9.2

Rares

Dark Petition

Paying five mana to get a card out of your library is not great in Limited, since you likely won’t have access to that card until the next turn, and you’ve likely begun to fall behind on the board. What makes Dark Petition a bit different is the possibility of casting that card in the same turn with the triple black that it could produce. In that situation, Dark Petition gets a lot better. It’s still probably not worth playing, but its incredibly high upside will occasionally justify giving it one of the last slots in your Limited or Sealed deck.

Score: 6.5

 

Despoiler of Souls

The reason that Despoiler of Souls is good is that it can be revived from your graveyard at Instant speed. A 3/1 for double black isn’t really that good, but the Despoiler had an ability that pushes it into the realm of being playable. Eventually, you’ll be unable to continue this trend, so it does require some strategy to determine when to bring it back. It can offer a solid surprise offense or defense if you really need it, but it’s far from the best rare in the set.

Score: 8.0

Gilt-Leaf Winnower

A 4/3 for five with Menace may not be the biggest threat around, but this one does come with an interesting upside. Getting to destroy a creature as it ETBs is excellent, especially since it does make blocking it harder. The strange part about it is the condition upon which that removal hinges. It probably won’t hit most things, but it can hit some high impact targets. The problem is, if you don’t have a target for it, this thing probably isn’t very good at all.

Score: 6.9

Graveblade Marauder

One power Deathtouchers usually come with the downside of low toughness, but you won’t find that on Deathblade Predator. There’s very little downside to attacking with this guy, especially since his triggered ability will inevitably begin to take chunks out of their life total. Chump blocking it doesn’t exactly solve the problem, so this guy will often take a fairly sizeable creature with him. Of course, he’s great on defense as well, with his Deathtouch dissuading possible attacks from large threats.

Score: 8.0

Infinite Obliteration

Ah, another bargain basement Slaughter Games. This card, like Slaughter Games and Stain the Mind, is built entirely for Constructed. Still, you’ll occasionally be glad to have it as a sideboard card in Limited to take out a creature you can’t deal with. The upside can be really high, but pre-board this card does next to nothing, and even post-board it could end up being a dead draw, especially since it will never have any impact on the board.

Score: 4.8

Kothophed, Soul Hoarder

6/6 flier for six with an inevitable upside? Take it. Don’t think about it (unless you’re in colors that aren’t black) just take it. This is exactly the type of card that constitutes a Limited bomb. It blocks well, attacks well, and has upside that is both inevitable and useful.

Score: 8.5

Languish

It’s Flatten, but as a boardwipe. That more than makes up for the fact that it’s a Sorcery. This is the type of Removal you want to have, and it gets around both Indestructible and Hexproof. Take it, get value, and be happy with yourself.

Score: 8.3

Priest of the Blood Rite

I have mixed feelings about Priest of the Blood Rite. On the one hand, five mana for seven power and two creatures (one of which has flying) is really, really good. On the other, two life a turn can really start to add up. Of course, this card does put a faster clock on your opponent, but if the demon token falls and you don’t have much else to go on the offense, then you’re in for a bad time. But, Worst Case Scenario Mentality is almost as bad as Best Case Scenario Mentality, and this card is good enough to justify the downside that will likely be marginal in most scenarios.

Score: 7.5

Tainted Remedy

Because Lifegain is often not going to be relevant in Limited, shutting it off is going to be equally irrelevant. If, like in M14 (?) there’s a really powerful lifegain deck, then this will become relevant as a sideboard card, but that does not seem to be the case, and so, it is not a card that should be played.

Score: 3.0

Uncommons

Blightcaster

My problem with Blightcaster is the same problem I have with all of the cards that care about Enchantments: there don’t seem to be many that are truly worth playing. Now, the triggered ability on Blightcaster is great, and it will kill most creatures, especially post-combat. Unfortunately, having to run a high number of mediocre enchantments isn’t really justified by this (or other cards’) impact on the game.

Score: 6.0

Consecrated by Blood

This card is just Ok. It’s fine if you put it on a bomb that’s worth saving, but most of the time you won’t really want to sac two creatures to save one. Since this clause will be mostly useless, +2/+2 is far from enough to justify the four mana cost, especially considering the double black.

Score: 6.0

Cruel Revival

Five mana for a removal spell is pretty much standard fare for Limited. Most won’t be excited about it – and you probably shouldn’t be excited about it. Fortunately, Cruel Revival comes with a pretty solid upside. You’re not going to get it consistently, but when you do, it could potentially be pretty powerful. It essentially turns this card into a 2-for-1, or perhaps a 1.5-for-1. Either way, you’ll end up playing Cruel Revival at some point.

Score: 7.0

Eyeblight Massacre

There will be scenarios in which this card just gives -2/-2 to all of your opponent’s creatures. Since it’s a Sorcery, it’s really only good on the offense, or if you’re killing off most of your opponent’s creatures. Post-Combat, this has the potential to just wreck your opponent’s board, especially if you’re running mostly elves, which is plausible if your second color is green.

Score: 6.8

Fleshbag Marauder

This is a card that’s been around for a while. A 3/1 for three stapled onto an Edict is pretty good, though the fact that it gives your opponent a choice means that you won’t be hitting their best creature, unless they only have one. You’re also losing a creature, though you can just sacrifice this guy if everything else you control is better. It’s solid, but not spectacular.

Score: 7.0

Gnarlroot Trapper

The strength of Gnarlroot Trapper depends entirely on the strength of Elves as an archetype in this draft format. And, based on the other cards in the set, it seems pretty strong. This guy can ramp you into them and turn your Elves into removal spells. Both scenarios sound pretty good to me, even though he is just a 1/1. But this is the type of 1/1 for one that is worth playing.

Score: 6.7

Malakir Cullblade

The worst case scenario with Malakir Cullblade is that you play two mana for a 1/1, and that’s it. However, the Cullblade’s potential, when backed up by a few removal spells or even large creatures, will often make it worth playing in black decks. It generates incidental value from combat steps and for removal spells, allowing you to generate a little bit of extra value. That isn’t necessarily something to be argued with.

Score: 6.5

Necromantic Summons

Necromantic Summons is the type of card that will always have a target. By the time you hit five mana, you’ll likely have a few creatures floating around the graveyard. The question then becomes: are any of those creatures worth five mana? If Spell Mastery is active, the answer will likely be a “yes,” if the base creature is a 2/2 or better. Ideally, you’ll be hitting your opponents’ bomb (or yours, if things have gone wrong). Necromantic Summons is likely going to be a card worth playing, if only for a bit of insurance, but it can help at most stages of the game.

Score: 7.5

Revenant

Revenant, in its best case scenario, could be a 6/6 flier for five. Fortunately, this is actually a pretty feasible best case scenario. Make some trades, chump block a little here and there, lose some creatures to removal, and boom, you’ve got a large, evasive creature. This is pretty much the best black uncommon, and probably one of the best uncommons in the set.

Score: 8.0

Shadows of the Past

If you’re running a super grindy deck, Shadows of the Past is a solid way to close out the game. However, a true control deck doesn’t seem viable in this set, so the upside could be fairly marginal. At two mana, you’ll probably never feel like you wasted mana, if only for the Scry. Of course, you won’t want to cast in on turn two, but later in the game the tempo disadvantage won’t be all that terrible.

Score: 7.6

Tormented Thoughts

This card is hot trash. It’s straight up not good in Limited, and you should do your best not to play it.

Score: 2.0

Commons

Catacomb Slug

Unless you want to play really defensively when it comes to ground creatures, a 2/6 for five is just not good. Occasionally you’ll be happy to have it, but most of the time it’ll stick around in your sideboard.

Score: 5.0

Dark Dabbling

Dark Dabbling is pretty much just a Constructed card so that Midrange decks can answer board wipes. In Limited, it will occasionally be nice to have to save an important creature while replacing yourself. It’s definitely a playable, especially if there are things you care about being able to keep around.

Score: 5.0

Deadbridge Shaman

Deadbridge Shaman is most likely going to read “3: target opponent discards a card.” A 3/1 does not do combat particularly well, though you may get in with it due to opponents being unwilling to trade aggressively. Even in those situations, Deadbridge Shaman is not a card you’ll want too often.

Score: 5.2

Eyeblight Assassin

If you hit Eyeblight Assassin on turn three, or even turn four, its ETB ability will likely be enough to take out one of your opponent’s creatures. There also seem to be a few aggressively costed creatures with just one toughness in this set. Plus, playing it post combat means larger creatures may have damage on them, leading to a much more impactful kill. Plus, it leaves behind a 2/2 which is always nice.

Score: 6.2

Fetid Imp

Fetid Imp is kind of a removal spell, but not really. You can give it Deathtouch, and threat of activation can make attacking and blocking hard for your opponent. Plus, the flying on this guy makes that threat even larger. This is actually a surprisingly good card, despite being completely defensive and requiring you to leave a source of black up on your opponent’s turn.

Score: 6.9

Infernal Scarring

The nice thing about Infernal Scarring is that it takes away a bit of the sting of getting two-for-oned if your opponent kills the creature that it has enchanted. +2/+0 is also respectable for two mana, especially if you’re aiming to be aggressive. That said, the two-for-one potential still exists, and this is just a sad draw when you’re falling behind or in a board stall.

Score: 6.0

Macabre Waltz

Macabre Waltz is cycling, but is also card choice. Since you get to choose the discarded card, you theoretically will just get the two best creatures back from your graveyard and discard a useless land or something. It’s not the best way of getting creatures back, since they still need to be cast, but Macabre Waltz is good insurance for vulnerable power cards.

Score: 7.5

Nantuko Husk

There’s not much benefit to sacrificing creatures in Origins. There are some random synergies here and there, but not too many. Of course, you can threaten to make this guy gigantic, and give new use to early game creatures that have become irrelevant. Unfortunately, you are opening yourself up to removal, and hence massive X-for-1’s.

Score: 6.1

Nightsnare

While Nightsnare is interesting, these types of effects are good early game, not on turn four at Sorcery speed. Play this only if you have no other playables, and try to avoid picking it if at all possible.

Score: 3.0

Rabid Bloodsucker

I guess by black’s standards Rabid Bloodsucker isn’t that bad, as a 3/2 flier for five with marginal downside. That being said, avoiding playing this card will likely leave you happier than having to play it. In a pinch, it’ll do, but otherwise, it’s just not pulling its weight.

Score: 5.8

Read the Bones

Read the Bones is one of the best mono black draw spells. You not only get two cards, but also some degree of selection for those two cards, making the two life very much worth it. You won’t want a ton of these, but it’s a great way to reload your hand seven or eight turns into the game.

Score: 8.0

Reave Soul

Removal for two mana? There must be some downside, at least at common. But the downside on this card isn’t even that bad. Sure, draw it in the late game and you may be out of targets, but peel this within the first 10-12 cards and you’re likely to quell any early offense or defense your opponent’s putting up.

Score: 7.5

Returned Centaur

Milling your opponent isn’t that great in this format, and milling yourself is not as great as it has been in the past. If you’ve built a deck that relies on the graveyard, Returned Centaur can be an important card. Otherwise, it’s not really worth playing.

Score: 5.3

Shambling Ghoul

The only issue with Shambling Ghoul is that it sucks on defense if you need it to block the turn it drops. Fortunately, on turn two this won’t really be a problem. If you’re behind, it obviously is, but if you’re behind, a 2/3 for two probably isn’t going to dig you out on its own anyways. But if you can hit it early, Shambling Ghoul offers solid offense and defense, and will be slightly better than your average bear.

Score: 5.9

Thornbow Archer

Thornbow Archer is kind of a 2/2 for one with no downside. The fact that it deals the damage, rather than having the additional power, is both good and bad. Regardless, this is a fine one drop, and probably something worth having around in an aggressive black deck.

Score: 6.2

Touch of Moonglove

I don’t think there will be much debate surrounding Touch of Moonglove, as it is one of the best commons in the set. While it’s not quite as good as Butcher’s Glee, it’s still really good, and acts as a pseudo removal spell, turning a 1/1 into a deadly, bomb destroying, threat. Plus it has the upside of burning your opponent for two, which is always nice.

Score: 7.7

Undead Servant

Since it’s a common, it may not be unlikely that the Servant will get some value, and an additional 2/2 is definitely some nice value. Unfortunately, the first one will always be a vanilla 3/2 for two, unless you’re aggressively milling yourself. Undead Servant is definitely below the curve, and despite the potentially high upside (which gets higher in Limited since you can run as many as you want) it won’t always be worth playing.

Score: 6.0

Unholy Hunger

This card is pretty much the five mana, double black, removal spell with slight upside you would expect at Common in Limited. Most black decks will play it, none of them will be excited about it, but they’ll all be happy to have in most scenarios when they have access to five mana. Plus it’s an Instant, which is always nice.

Score: 7.0

Weight of the Underworld


Weight of the Underworld is not the best, as removal spells go. It can’t kill anything with three toughness or greater, though it does get around Indestructible. Regardless, that doesn’t justify its four mana casting cost. I’m not saying it’s unplayable, it’s just that there’s no reason to be happy about having to play.

Score: 5.8


About the Author

Jean-Luc Botbyl

Jean-Luc is a grizzled veteran of We the Nerdy. Most days, he just wonders why he hasn't been formally fired. Follow him on Twitter at @J_LFett to make him feel validated.