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Avacyn Restored First Thoughts – May 11, 2012 Spoiler Catch-Up (black)

May 12, 2012
Back to black! The number of remaining cards I’ve yet to review is dwindling, so let’s get it started quick!

Just like before, I’m using the visual spoiler to review the cards I’ve missed:

Blood Artist has been showing up in constructed lists already, and is strong in Avacyn Restored limited. Outside of chaining Recurring Nightmare sacrifices (which is already winning), it’s probably going to be hard to activate Blood Artist’s ability on command in cube. However, it does have potential to be used in token-heavy decks as a way to get more value out of them.

Bloodflow Connoisseur is the sort of sacrifice outlet you want to have if you want to be sacrificing creatures, but it’s cost is much higher than that of Carrion Feeder, which I would prefer playing if I wanted this kind of effect in my cube.

Bone Splinters is a reprint from Shards of Alara, and I haven’t seen it used in cube before. It could theoretically be good in the same sorts of token decks that Blood Artist would want. There’s clearly a theme in Avacyn Restored that encourages this sort of deck construction. Cube removal spells are typically better than a two-for-one on yourself In fact, many are two-for-ones against your opponent. And removal spells are not exactly uncommon in black.

Corpse Traders doesn’t look that great on the surface, but it’s still a Hill Giant with upside. Which… is still not that great. And it’s an uncommon, so not even pauper cubes could consider it. I have a friend that’s considering using it as another Mind Slash effect in his Endrek Shar, Master Breeder Commander deck, but I don’t see many other homes for this card.

Dark Imposter is a pretty nice bomb in limited, but its activation cost is fairly high for cube standards.

Dread Slaver has one of the cheaper casting costs for creatures of this type, but like similar cards, requires a pretty large hoop to be jumped through before you get the payoff. And a 3/5 doesn’t kill much in cube by the time you have five mana.

Driver of the Dead is like a small Reveillark. It’s quite a bit less impressive on the battlefield, however, and has less potential for abuse with creatures that have unique attributes and abilities, like Clone, Phantom Centaur, or Blade Splicer. Driver of the Dead can still play with Dark Confidant and Keldon Marauders, but those interactions are a bit less enticing for the four mana initial cost, without an evoke ability or life-threatening size.

Essence Harvest is fairly cheap for the kinds of life swings it can produce, but its reliance on large creatures and inconsistency will keep it out of most cubes.

Evernight Shade comes from a long line of four mana shades that are unplayable in cubes. I’m totally putting it into my Spirit of the Night theme commander deck.

Ghoulflesh has tribal interactions that aren’t very prominant in cube, and isn’t as impressive as Dead Weight, which doesn’t make the cut in most cubes.

Gloom Surgeon is a two-drop that at first glance, seems like a way to keep your aggro deck attacking without regard for what you are attacking into, since your creature will not die. But, looking further, I think it seems more like a control card, one that sits on the battlefield and chump blocks a few times. This is pretty dangerous in cube though, since your library is fairly small. I would pass on including this in your cube, since it does not actively contribute to winning games on its own and has a dangerous drawback.

Hunted Ghoul is… horrible.

Maalfeld Twins is a cute, but ultimately underpowered card. It’s a bit of card advantage, but even Mitotic Slime doesn’t make it in most cubes. When you start to compare it to other six mana creatures, the comparison gets worse. Using this card in your cube is a grave error of titanic proportions.

Marrow Bats has an aggressive set of stats for limited games, but runs into steep competition in cube. The life loss is more significant in cube, as is the casting cost.

Mental Agony is card advantage, but causing your opponent to lose life is not really worth the additional mana over Mind Rot, already outclassed by Stupor. For pauper cubes willing to delve into the four mana range for discard spells, I would first look to Fill with Fright.

Renegade Demon is too vanilla for any traditional cube, but its size may be large enough for pauper. It’s already available in zombie form as Mass of Dead. Additionally, Rotting Legion looks to be quite beefy and has a small enough drawback that it may push out either of the 5/3’s.

Searchlight Geist begins as a 3-mana 2/1 flier, which is fine for a common. However, its deathtouch-granting ability is not nearly powerful enough to warrant using in my cube over staple card advantage-creating specters.

Soulcage Fiend is aggressive. Particularly aggressive. If you’re not shy about suicide black in your cube, I would certainly take a look at this card, since it’s *almost* like a 3/2 haste for 3 mana in black. I would put it roughly on the power level of Arrogant Bloodlord and Daggerclaw Imp.

Undead Executioner looks like an efficient card in limited, able to trade up with much larger creatures, but ultimately has too high of a cost to use in cube. I would certainly consider it for pauper.

Unhallowed Pact moves the False Demise effect into black’s part of the color pie, rightly where it belongs. I don’t consider this effect better than traditional reanimation spells, however, and paying three mana is usually reserved for killing a creature.
And now I am done reviewing black Avacyn Restored cards. Come back when I review red!
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