Nummy Plays: Innistrad Limited Review (Black)

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Let’s start with the scale again.

5.0: I will always play this card. Period.

4.5: I will almost always play this card, regardless of what else I get.

4.0: I will strongly consider playing this as the only card of its color.

3.5: I feel a strong pull into this card’s color.

3.0: This card makes me want to play this color. (Given that I’m playing that color, I will play this card 100% of the time.)

2.5: Several cards of this power level start to pull me into this color. If playing that color, I essentially always play these. (Given that I’m playing that color, I will play this card 90% of the time.)

2.0: If I’m playing this color, I usually play these. (70%)

1.5: This card will make the cut into the main deck about half the times I play this color. (50%)

1.0: I feel bad when this card is in my main deck. (30%)

0.5: There are situations where I might sideboard this into my deck, but I’ll never start it. (10%)

0.0: I will never put this card into my deck (main deck or after sideboarding). (0%)

Black

Abattoir Ghoul – 3.5

This guy is pretty much a beating at the four-drop slot. Having three-power as well as first strike is going to allow the ghoul to be hard to trade with, whether you are attacking or blocking. Alongside the reasonable stats the Abbatoir Ghoul also has an ability which pairs nicely with its first strike, allowing you to gain some life in the process. I will play as many as I can get in my decks.

Altar’s Reap – 1.5

Having one of these in your deck is probably fine, but running two or more probably won’t be doing as much good as you hope. This combos well with many of the token producing creatures that reside in Innistrad, and allows for some nice blowouts to be had. Sometimes you might be using it to dodge removal, but in any case this is a fine card.

Army of the Damned – 4.0

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t – Army of the Damned is certainly a top-end card which will end the game quickly. While it does cost quite a bit of mana, the fact that you should almost always win the following turn means you won’t be cutting this in any of your dedicated black decks. I would mention the flashback, but it seems largely relevant.

Bitterheart Witch – 1.0

The only scenario where I would be happy running the witch is one where I have Curse of Death’s Hold in my deck. Seeing as the curse is a rare, I would rarely run the witch otherwise. A 1/2 with deathtouch that costs five is never going to make you a happy camper.

Bloodgift Demon – 4.5

The demon is actually the nuts. A 5/4 flier for five is well above the curve for a creature this size, and it has an ability which is hugely beneficial. Whether you are pinging your opponent for those last few points of damage or digging through your own deck, Bloodgift Demon is a legitimate bomb. If you are fortunate to open one, play it every time.

Bloodline Keeper – 4.5

Another creature that is well beyond the normal power-level, Bloodline Keeper will make short work of games where it is untouched. A 3/3 flier for four is pretty good by itself, and the ability to churn out more vampires every turn makes this one of the best creatures you can hope to get.

Brain Weevil – 1.5

You could do worse than a four mana mind rot, though not by much. It might be personal bias, but this card just seems very underwhelming to me. While the intimidate is a ‘nice’ bonus, as is having morbid turned on at a whim, I still can’t get behind supporting this card as anything more than the 23rd card in your deck.

Bump in the Night – 1.5

This card provides decent reach, especially in decks that are capable of paying the flashback cost, but I wouldn’t be too happy to include these in my 40 cards. If your deck is aggressive enough it could be fine, but it seems like you could do quite a bit better.

Corpse Lunge – 2.5

This rating might be a tad too high, seeing as how this card is terrible in multiples and requires an additional creature in the yard, but the first will often be fine. With as many ways as there are to get cards in the yard, you shouldn’t be too hard pressed to fire this off for a decent amount.

Curse of Death’s Hold – 3.5

Not the most exciting of cards, but a permanent -1/-1 for all your opponents creatures is pretty good – especially with how many token and small creatures there are in this format. If you can also get the witch then that is just gravy. Solid card overall.

Curse of Oblivion – 0.5

Four mana is waaaay too much for a card that doesn’t do anything immediately. While it could be moderately useful against decks with many flashback cards, or decks that require creatures in the graveyard, there seem to be better options than a four mana enchantment.

Dead Weight – 3.0

Weakness was always a fine card in limited, and Dead Weight certainly steps it up a notch. -2/-2 is a huge effect for only one black mana, and it certainly deals with many creatures. I would be happy playing as many of these as I could get my hands on.

Diregraf Ghoul – 2.5

While obviously the best when it comes down on Turn 1, the Diregraf Ghoul is fine throughout most of the game. It might be an awkward draw when you need some defense, but a 2/2 for one is always going to be fine, though unexciting.

Disciple of Griselbrand – 1.5

While the disciple becomes much better with any morbid creatures or ways to abuse the graveyard, it isn’t necessarily the worst. While I wouldn’t be excited to run it without any of those, it can serve as a fine way to ‘dodge’ removal.

Endless Ranks of the Dead – 1.0

This really just seems like a ‘win more’ card to me. You need a minimum of two zombies on the field to get any effect, and even with two you are only getting one zombie for the next two turns. I might run this if I had six or more ways of getting zombies on the battlefield but otherwise would leave this in the sideboard.

Falkenrath Noble – 3.0

I have been very impressed with the Falkenrath Noble’s. The stats by itself are more than fine and the additional lifegain/loss is actually quite a huge boon. Whether you have ways to abuse the ability or not, you should be able to create a lifeswing of at least a few points. If you do have ways to abuse the noble’s ability, such as Stitcher’s Apprentice, he is just insane.

Ghoulcaller’s Chant – 2.0

Fine as a disentomb and very good as morbid plunder (for zombies); the Ghoulcaller’s Chant is going to be a useful utility card in most situations.

Ghoulraiser – 2.5

I will just assume that you have other zombies in your deck if you are playing the ghoulraiser, in which case he is going to provide really good value. Worst case you have a gray ogre – which is certainly not something to be upset about.

Gruesome Deformity – 0.5

Fear effects have usually been pretty bad in limited, and this one is no different. You could potentially sideboard it in versus someone not playing black and who has no removal, but then if that’s the case you should probably be winning anyway.

Heartless Summoning

I suppose if you have a plethora of five+ drops you could run this in hopes of turning on all your guys earlier, but I can’t really imagine running this any majority of the time. Probably just best to pass on this.

Liliana of the Veil – 4.0

All planeswalkers are going to be strong in limited, especially if they cost three mana. Liliana isn’t necessarily a bomb, but she does provide very good value and can easily take over the game if left unchecked. Play her when you get the chance, you will not be disappointed.

Manor Skeleton – 2.0

Don’t be rude, ‘manor’ up and play this guy (fans of starcraft will understand the ‘manner up’ joke). He isn’t exciting but he does a damn good job of stopping all the huge werewolves and other creatures without trample.

Markov Patrician – 2.5

Child of Night’s older sibling isn’t nearly as good but is still a huge potential life swing at the common slot. Sure it dies to anything in head-to-head combat, but the three power and lifelink certainly make this a fine inclusion in your decks.

Maw of the Mire – 0.5

If your opponent has an exorbitant amount of the rare non-basic lands that have abilities, sure sideboard this in. Otherwise relegate it to sideboard duties.

Moan of the Unhallowed – 3.0

This is more like it! Your opponents are sure to moan and gripe every time you cast this card, especially if you can use the flashback as well! While 2/2’s are far from exciting, they are of an important creature-type and should provide you with good value.

Morkrut Banshee – 4.0

This card is pretty sick. Sure, another creature might have to die for this to become a Flametongue Kavu, but that requirement does not seem hard to fulfill. Black received quite a few good uncommon/commons, and this one certainly ranks right up there with the best of one. Disregarding the morbid ability, a 4/4 for five is more than acceptable in Black. Obviously it is insane with it, but this is a card you won’t want to pass up for much.

Night Terrors – 2.5

This might be a slightly high rating, but I’ve found Night Terrors to be a very good card, especially in sealed. There are plenty of bombs in Innistrad and this card does a fine job of getting rid of it, with an exile bonus! With all the flashback and graveyard shenanigans running around, Night Terrors is a very playable card. Give it a chance – you’ll learn to love.

Reaper from the Abyss – 4.0

The mana cost is pretty restrictive and you sometimes might end up killing some of your own non-demon guys, but a 6/6 flier for six is well within the ‘good’ range of curves. This is hard to play in anything but dedicated black decks but it is still a huge creature and must be dealt with in a hasty fashion. As a mythic you won’t be seeing the reaper with any regularity, but pick him up when you do see him.

Rotting Fensnake – 2.0

I’ve never been impressed with the skeletal crocodile variants but this guy can sometimes just steal games. He does die to anything, but he also takes out a large portion of the creatures with him. If you’re short on playables, go for it.

Screeching Bat – 3.0

This little vampire has exceeded my expectations and proven to be one of the most solid creatures in black’s arsenal. A black wild griffin would be fine on its own, and the Screeching Bats just does so much more by having the ability to turn into a vanilla 5/5. Like some of the other transform cards, the bats allow you to pick and choose when you want to flip it. A very solid card overall, expect to lose to these quite a bit.

Sever the Bloodline – 3.5

A majority of the time this card will simply be a solid one-for-one removal spell (sometimes two-for-one when flashback is reached). On the rare occasion that you are able to remove multiple creatures – you are getting sick value. Unconditional removal, especially one that exiles, is always going to be good and should be taken/played accordingly. In a pinch you can also splash this card for bombs you would otherwise be dead to. Solid.

Skeletal Grimace – 2.0

I’m usually quite the opponent of creature enchantments, especially ones that don’t necessarily have a huge effect, but Skeletal Grimace seems very decent. The stat boost might not be huge but the ability to regenerate for a single mana seems very strong. In a format where there are often huge werewolves or vampires, regeneration seems like a very good thing to have. I wouldn’t play more than one or two, but give them a shot and see how it does. (Putting one of these on a Markhov Patrician seems downright awesome).

Skirsdag High Priest – 2.5

This guy is just sooo slow and resource intensive. You have to tap him as well as two of your other creatures, only after something dies, to receive the token. In longer/slower games he will shine, but constantly keeping up creatures to use his ability with seems poor. That being said, his ability is still very powerful and even creating just one token will have a large swing on the game. He’s worth a try, but don’t expect things to go your way every time he hits the board.

Stromkirk Patrol – 2.0

I haven’t been very impressed with the Zombie Goliath that gets bigger. The patrol does have a decent body, and as a vampire it is going to have some benefits, but I feel that there are many better options at the five-slot.

Tribute to Hunger – 3.0

Obviously best when your opponent has only one creature (preferably large), the tribute is still going to be played all of the time. Sometimes you might just hit a spirit token, but it’s instant speed and gains you some life. Diabolic Edict + lifegain seems decent enough.

Typhoid Rats – 2.0

I won’t be happy running multiple copies of the rats, but it does an excellent job of holding back creatures that are much larger and much better. Nothing to be excited about, but it creates unfavorable positions for your opponent.

Unbreathing Horde – 2.0

You’re never going to have as many zombies as you want or need for this card, and often it will just be a small ‘phantom’ creature. It does act as a nice stall effect, blocking creatures for as many times as it has counters. And if you can actually have this enter the battlefield as a 4/4 or better, it is going to do a lot of work for you.

Unburial Rites – 3.5

A strong enough card on its own – if you can also conveniently cast the flashback cost then this card becomes downright insane. Recursion effects are admittedly only as strong as the creatures you also have, but the ability to bring them back is very strong indeed. Value these high, even more so if your creatures are of better quality.

Vampire Interloper – 3.0

Just a Stormfront Pegasus that can’t block, nothing more. These will always be solid unless you are in a situation where you need a blocker. I will always play as many of these as I can.

Victim of Night – 3.0

A bit of conditional removal, but Victim of Night still hits over 60% of the creatures in the set. The double black casting cost can be a bit restrictive, but you won’t be too disappointed in running these. Removal is always a well-sought commodity, and this indeed counts as removal.

Village Cannibals – 2.5

The worst you get out of these guys is a gray ogre – a fine investment. The fact that there are a plethora of humans in this set means that the Village Cannibals will often get large quite often. A seemingly innocuous card at first, watch out for this one.

Walking Corpse – 2.0

By no stretch of the imagination is this a spectral bear, brown bear, or even polar bear. Nope, this is simply a black bear. You won’t be too impressed, but it’s a fine creature to run. It even helps turn off enemy werewolves because of its low casting cost.

Black received many of the strongest creatures/removal cards that this set has to offer. I foresee black becoming one of the most sought after colors in draft, and one that will dominate sealed given the right pool. With the amount of strong creatures and support cards, Black will cement itself as a color to be reckoned with.

NumotTheNummy’s Personal Top 5 Favorite Black Commons/Uncommons

1. Morkrut Banshee

2. Dead Weight

3. Abattoir Ghoul

4. Unburial Rites

5. Vampire Interloper

Discussion