A new set means new decks and a brand new format. Dark Ascension promises to shake up the Magic world by adding a little over 150 cards to Standard, Modern and the likes. However, after reviewing the set, I am pretty disappointed to what this is going to mean financially.

As a constructed player, I look towards new sets for new mechanics and new synergies between current cards and what's coming out. Overall, I am pretty disappointed in what I've seen and I think we are about to have another set that value wise is comparable to Saviors of Kamigawa, (or all of Kamigawa for that matter).

As I start most of my set reviews, almost every card in this set is going to drop drastically in value. Many have compared this set to Worldwake, stating that the chase rares will blow up value wise, chasing value similar to Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic. Unfortunately, the power level of this set, and of the chase mythics (Sorin, Huntmaster) are not even close.

To begin this review, let's take a look at the hot cards that people seem to be chasing:

Card Name: [card]Sorin, Lord of Innistrad[/card]
Rarity: Mythic
Casting Cost: 2WB
+1: Put a 1/1 black Vampire creature token with lifelink onto the battlefield.
-2: You get an emblem with "Creatures you control get +1/+0."
-6: Destroy up to three target creatures and/or other planeswalkers. Return each card put into a graveyard this way to the battlefield under your control.
Price: $54.99

This card has caught a lot of hype with the increase in popularity of token decks. People have posited that B/W Tokens is a real possibility now and within a few weeks we will know the answer to this. However, this card is not, nor will it ever be a Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

It has a couple flaws will keep this card a fringe card in any format, other than Standard. First, the casting cost is two colors (Black and White). This combination is not a combination that pairs easily with each other, not since Guildpact has it seen high levels of mana-fixing. This means that to play it in Standard, or other formats, we will probably have to pair this with a third color.

The strategy of token generation right now relies heavily on cards that pair more naturally with blue ([card]Moorland Haunt[/card], [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card]), rather than black. A B/W Token deck also needs utility which, other than spot removal and situational board sweepers ([card]Black Sun's Zenith[/card], [card]Consume the Meek[/card], [card]Damnation[/card]), is fairly poor.

I do see this card being played in Standard. Esper Tokens is a real possibility, but past Standard I just don't see this card seeing heavy play. Other planeswalkers are just better at doing similar things. The one positive is that Sorin's middle ability is permanent, and virtually impossible to interrupt. However, being simply a +1/+0, the same removal that was used on tokens in the first place ([card]Black Sun's Zenith[/card]), still hit tokens for the same amount.

I expect this card to drop pretty quickly as it only really fits in token based decks, which although are popular, will probably not outstrip the current decks within the metagame. Expect this card to settle for around 30 to 35 bucks.

The next big card to look at is our flip card. Introduced in Innistrad, flip cards have been steadily creeping into constructed (Delver and Garruk, are seeing play).

Card Name: [card]Huntmaster of the Fells[/card]/[card]Ravager of the Fells[/card]
Rarity: Mythic
Casting Cost: 2RG

Whenever this creature enters the battlefield or transforms into [card]Huntmaster of the Fells[/card], put a 2/2 green Wolf creature token onto the battlefield and you gain 2 life.
At the beginning of each upkeep, if no spells were cast last turn, transform Huntmaster of the Fells.

Whenever this creature transforms into [card]Ravager of the Fells[/card], it deals 2 damage to target opponent and 2 damage to up to one target creature that player controls.
At the beginning of each upkeep, if a player cast two or more spells last turn, transform Ravager of the Fells.

This card's power level is pretty insane. I can definitely see why it debuted with a high price tag. But if we break this card down, one blaring and utter fact stands out. It dies to everything. With no evasion, and ability that depends on the ability to cast creatures before it meets death, this card is over-hyped.

I think this card will see a similar value to [card]Urabrask the Hidden[/card]. It was high initially, dropped to a mid-level price and now it's $2.99. This card also reminds me of [card]Ant Queen[/card] as sideboard tech when Jund was popular.

Regardless, dump these cards at your local release event, wait a few weeks and pick them up at ½ price or less.

Of the cards in the set, there are 50 Rares and Mythics combined. By my count, 29 of the 50 R/M cards are bulk, which by my definition is any card that is less than $1.00 to acquire. Of the remaining 21 cards, six of them will go up in value, five of them will stay stable and ten are destined to drop. Let's go over them quickly:

Rising Stars:

For Blue Mages:

Card Name: [card]Counterlash[/card]
Rarity: Rare
Casting Cost: 4UU
Counter target spell. You may cast a nonland card in your hand that shares a card type with that spell without paying its mana cost.

This card is better than what's being talked about it, but it's not as good as you want it to be. Surely, we will not see more than 1-2 copies inside any control, and almost guaranteed not to see this card outside of Standard or EDH. However, at $0.79, I expect this card to climb up to $3-4.00 and stabilize there.

Card Name: [card]Dungeon Geists[/card]
Rarity: Rare
Casting Cost: 2UU
When [card]Dungeon Geists[/card] enters the battlefield, tap target creature an opponent controls. That creature doesn't untap during its controller's untap step for as long as you control [card]Dungeon Geists[/card].

Utility cards are always solid. Adding more control to U/W seems solid and at four mana, it doesn't interfere with any major card (Aside from [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]+[card]Mana Leak[/card]) on turn four. Defintely not another four of card, but expect people to use this to strengthen non-delver U/x control based decks. Right now it's $1.99, I expect this to climb up to $5.00 - $7.00 over the next few months.

For Green Mages:

Card Name: [card]Deranged Outcast[/card]
Rarity: Rare
Casting Cost: 1G
1G, Sacrifice a Human: Put two +1/+1 counters on target creature.

This card is a lot better than it appears. It can speed up the clock of G/W Gavony decks and cards like [card]Doomed Traveler[/card] becomes much better. Right now it's a buck. I can definitely see this card climbing up to $5.00.

For Red Mages:

Card Name: [card]Hellrider[/card]
Rarity: Rare
Casting Cost: 2RR
Whenever a creature you control attacks, [card]Hellrider[/card] deals 1 damage to defending player.

A little expensive, and it competes for [card]Koth of the Hammer[/card] and [card]Hero of Oxid Ridge[/card] spot in a deck, this card lends itself to applying constant pressure on your opponent. At $2.00, and with red being a budget color, I see this card being more popular than it deserves.

For White Mages:

Card Name: [card]Thraben Doomsayer[/card]
Rarity: Rare
Casting Cost: 1WW
Tap: Put a 1/1 white Human creature token onto the battlefield.
Fateful hour — As long as you have 5 or less life, other creatures you control get +2/+2.

Token decks are going to be experimented with heavily for the first month or two after Dark Ascension releases. This card is both a reasonable token generator, but also can push you through late game when stakes are high and lives are low.

The Rocks:

Unfortunately, the cards that are staying stable and rising in value are few and far between in this set. Here is my list of what I think is going to happen, broken down by color:

For Black Mages:

Card Name: [card]Geralf's Messenger[/card]
Rarity: Rare
Cost: BBB
[card]Geralf's Messenger[/card] enters the battlefield tapped.
When [card]Geralf's Messenger[/card] enters the battlefield, target opponent loses 2 life.
Undying (When this creature dies, if it had no +1/+1 counters on it, return it to the battlefield under its owner's control with a +1/+1 counter on it.)

This card is currently $4.99. I think this card will not only see play in Standard, in some form of a mono-black deck, but it will be experimented with as another kill condition for Melira combo in Modern. It's also a nice fit for Mono-Black Aggro, placing itself directly before [card]Phyrexian Obliterator[/card] and after any black removal or [card]Vault Skirge[/card]. It doesn't contend with much in the three spot.

Card Name: [card]Gravecrawler[/card]
Rarity: Rare
Cost: B
Gravecrawler can't block.
You may cast Gravecrawler from your graveyard as long as you control a Zombie.

Another interesting deck choice for Mono-Black, Zombie themed casual decks, or anything running cards like [card]Grave Titan[/card]. It's $8.00, but will see play both in Standard, but Modern, Legacy, and EDH as well. Maybe even use it as something to discard to Zombie Infestation?

For White Mages:

Name: [card]Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/card]
Rarity: Rare
Cost: 1W
First Stike
Noncreature spells cost 1 more to cast.

This card can make control decks lives miserable. It also fits into different prison strategies and when I saw this card, I thought immediately about how I would fit it into both my cube and my [card]Grand Arbiter Augustin IV[/card] deck.

For my Realtors:

Name: [card]Grim Backwoods[/card]
Rarity: Rare
Cost: Land
Tap: Add 1 to your mana pool.
2BG, Tap, Sacrifice a creature: Draw a card.

Any land that lets you draw a card is going to be pretty decent. The downfall comes into play when sacrificing a creature. I think we could see some B/G/x decks in our near future, and I expect this card to become an auto-include. Also, being that it is playable real estate, I don't foresee it sitting at less than $1.00 anytime soon.

Card Name: [card]Vault of the Archangel[/card]
Rarity: Rare
Cost: Land
Tap: Add 1 to your mana pool.
2WB, Tap, Creatures you control gain deathtouch and lifelink until end of turn.

It's currently $3.99, and it's not going to go anywhere anytime soon. Clearly build for a token team, activating this ability can simply blow games out and I think that it will be fairly cheap to obtain and to play with.

The Money Pit:

Now with the remaining 10 cards, two were covered in the beginning of the article. Here is my take on these cards:

For Black Mages:

Card Name: [card]Mikaeus, the Unhallowed[/card]
Rarity: Mythic
Cost: 3BBB
Whenever a Human deals damage to you, destroy it.
Other non-Human creatures you control get +1/+1 and have undying. (When a creature with undying dies, if it had no +1/+1 counters on it, return it to the battlefield under its owner's control with a +1/+1 counter on it.)

This card seems reasonable, but triple black limits the possibilities of where it can fit. Also, for Standard, a black six drop better either be [card]Grave Titan[/card] or [card]Massacre Wurm[/card] (for all those token decks). Being a legend also works against this card. It's currently $6.99 and will drop down to 3-4.00 before this card is even worth picking up.

For the Rainbow:

Card Name: [card]Drogskol Reaver[/card]
Rarity: Mythic
Cost: 5WU
Flying, double strike, lifelink
Whenever you gain life, draw a card.

This card is cute, but not awesome in this environment. As a 3/5 it can be [card]Dismember[/card]ed, or killed with spot removal. Also, life gain is not super popular in standard and running a creature that costs 7 is too slow. Also, [card]Consecrated Sphinx[/card] is still a better draw engine for solid colors and 1 converted mana cost less.

Card Name: [card]Falkenrath Aristocrat[/card]
Rarity: Mythic
Cost: 2BR
Flying, haste
Sacrifice a creature: [card]Falkenrath Aristocrat[/card] is indestructible this turn. If the sacrificed creature was a Human, put a +1/+1 counter on Falkenrath Aristocrat

Being a 4/1 makes it so every piece of removal can kill this creature. Cards like [card]Dismember[/card] and [card]Contagion Clasp[/card] are extra good as turning itself indestructible still does not save this card. It's also close to $7.00 and is only inflated due to over-rated hype. Move these at the release event this weekend.

For Green Mages:

Card Name: [card]Predator Ooze[/card]
Rarity: Rare
Cost: GGG
Predator Ooze is indestructible.
Whenever Predator Ooze attacks, put a +1/+1 counter on it.
Whenever a creature dealt damage by Predator Ooze this turn dies, put a +1/+1 counter on Predator Ooze.

Want to see something amusing? Show this card to the casual local crowd and you will have a lot of excited people. However, it's slow, the effect is fairly terrible and it's triple green. The hype has kept it at $2.00, but I expect this to hit the bulk bin within weeks.

Card Name: [card]Vorapede[/card]
Rarity: Mythic
Cost: 2GGG
Vigilance, trample
Undying (When this creature dies, if it had no +1/+1 counters on it, return it to the battlefield under its owner's control with a +1/+1 counter on it.)

So, a theme has arisen with me. I don't like triple colored creatures or spells. They limit what decks can play and this card is a good example. At 5 mana, while playing green, I want to cast [card]Acidic Slime[/card] more than almost every other card. Plus late game, this card may be house, but a 5/4 still dies to a 6/6 or 2/2 deathtouch every single day. The undying effect is cute, but not enough to justify a $15.00 price tag.

Card Name: [card]Wolfbitten Captive[/card]/[card]Krallenhorde Killer[/card]
Rarity: Rare
Cost: 1GG
1G: [card]Wolfbitten Captive[/card] gets +2/+2 until end of turn. Activate this ability only once each turn.
At the beginning of each upkeep, if no spells were cast last turn, transform [card]Wolfbitten Captive[/card].
[card]Krallenhorde Killer[/card] gets +4/+4 until end of turn. Activate this ability only once each turn.
At the beginning of each upkeep, if a player cast two or more spells last turn, transform [card]Krallenhorde Killer[/card].

A rootwalla with a cool effect? Sweet. However, without any evasion, this creature is getting killed left and right in response to pumps. I don't think there is a specific home yet for this card and due to this, it's going to drop from: $1.49 to bulk.

Robots, Weapons and Cages, Oh My!

Card Name: [card]Elbrus, the Binding Blade[/card]/[card]Withengar Unbound[/card]
Rarity: Mythic
Cost: 7
Equipped creature gets +1/+0.
When equipped creature deals combat damage to a player, unattach [card]Elbrus, the Binding Blade[/card], then transform it.
Equip 1
Flying, intimidate, trample
Whenever a player loses the game, put thirteen +1/+1 counters on [card]Withengar Unbound[/card].

This card is cute, but terrible. The cost of the artifact is super expensive, which means that it’s going to be countered, or the creature it gets attached to is killed. At $4.00 sell these, trade these, but do not keep them. It's also a terrible target for [card]Quest for the Holy Relic[/card] as its effect primarily focuses on being able to deal damage.

Card Name: [card]Grafdigger's Cage[/card]
Rarity: Rare
Cost: 1
Creature cards can't enter the battlefield from graveyards or libraries.
Players can't cast cards in graveyards or libraries.

A sideboard card at best, but a fairly good one. I think this card is going to go the way of [card]Ratchet Bomb[/card], and lose value almost immeiately. Move these now, pick them up again when they are ½ the price.

Overall, I am extremely disappointed in the financial value of this set. With over ½ the rares and mythics to be considered bulk makes opening packs a financial loss. Good luck this week at your local events and we'll see you again next week.

Until Next Time,

Brian Grewe Jr.
mtgo: briangrewe
twitter: briangrewejr
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