by Phoenix Desertsong, Old School Duelist
If any Magic the Gathering deck archetype was boosted more than Humans by the Avacyn Restored set, it would be Angels. Being that the premier card of the set Avacyn, Angel of Hope is an Angel, this should have probably been an obvious consideration of Wizards of the Coast Research & Development. It couldn’t be overlooked that once relatively unplayable Angel cards suddenly have a bit more value because of this set. In particular, Requiem Angel is very glad Avacyn is now free of the Helvault!
(See, something good did come out of that awful mythic rare from Dark Ascension!)
Requiem Angel is a 5/5 flyer with a six mana casting cost (5 colorless, 1 White) with a decent effect. Whenever another non-Spirit creature you control dies, you put a 1/1 white Spirit creature token with flying onto the board. For 6 mana, this is OK. She gets better alongside Herald of War, also from Avacyn Restored, who can reduce the casting costs of your Angels for each +1/+1 counter on the Herald. This means you can cast Requiem Angel for as little as one mana, not that it would happen often. Requiem Angel was a neat card, but she never really saw Standard play, which shouldn’t be too surprising due to her position on the mana curve.
Requiem Angel in Commander / EDH
Interestingly enough, Angel Tribal Commander decks, such as Sephara, Sky’s Blade, aren’t the key home for Requiem Angel. Rather, she’s great in the Commander decks that can best take advantage of the Spirit tokens she creates. Notably, unlike a lot of creatures who generate tokens when other creatures die, Requiem Angel doesn’t care if those creatures are tokens or not, which is a major plus in decks who basically thrive off of their token generation.
No Commander has recruited her as much as Teysa Karlov, whose ability to copy triggered abilities and give creature tokens vigilance and lifelink makes Requiem Angel an obvious include. Her predecessor from Guildpact, Teysa, Orzhov Scion, has also recruited Requiem Angel to create the 3 white creatures she can sacrifice in order to exile a target creature.
For quite some time, Ghave, Guru of Spores was the Commander she was paired with most. This seems a strange pairing until you consider that Ghave decks produce a lot of tokens, especially Saprolings. So, when any of those Saprolings die, especially when sacrificed using Ghave’s ability, you get a Spirit token.
Another Commander who takes advantage of Requiem Angel is Jazal Goldmane. This makes sense since Jazal can boost the flying Spirit tokens the Angel creates. It makes even more sense when you consider Requiem Angel was re-printed in the same Commander 2014 deck as Jazal.
Token-happy commanders such as Thalisse, Reverent Medium, Emmara Tandris, and Darien, King of Kjeldor also co-opt her services on more than a few occasions. While she’s hardly any sort of token deck staple, Requiem Angel is a good one to have around for those Commanders who can maximize her abilities.
by Phoenix Desertsong, Old School Duelist
Ghoultree is one of my favorite rares in Magic the Gathering's Dark Ascension set. I don’t think it’s hard to see why. Yes, it costs 8 mana to cast, but it’s a 10/10 Zombie Treefolk (awesome creature type combination, by the way) that costs 1 less to cast for each creature card in your graveyard.
It’s not impossible to see Ghoultree being cast for as little as 4 or 5 mana as the game progresses. The single Green mana cost means that you don’t have to be playing strictly mono-green to cast him. Many of the more powerful Green cards have multiple Green mana symbols for a reason. Having only one means that you can potentially cast him for just a single mana. That’s a lot of value.
This card is full of flavor, and it’s actually a good card. Kudos to the design team on this one. It never became any sort of competitive staple, and certainly didn’t help top 8 any Star City Opens or Pro Tours. But, it definitely helped win a Friday Night Magic tournament or two. Zombie decks were extremely powerful during the original Innistrad era and this guy saw play when Return to Ravnica came around. Just as an out-of-nowhere big guy it was hard not to find a way to jam him into a fun brew.
Obviously, Ghoultree is a good card in EDH, where the likelihood of him being cast for a single green mana is not only possible, but likely. Sapling of Colfenor smiles upon this guy as a strong Treefolk ally. Doran, the Siege Tower doesn’t mind having him around, either. Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord and Sidisi, Brood Tyrant love having a ton of creature cards in the graveyard, so why not get a 10/10 for one mana? There are definitely applications. Being a Zombie doesn’t hurt his cause, either.
Just having a 10/10 beater without trample isn’t the best thing in Commander. But, if Ghoultree is cast for next to no mana or cheated onto the battlefield some other way, he can become a Zombie Elephant in the room that someone needs to deal with.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Predator Ooze never quite got the love that many Magic the Gathering players expected it to get. He's a three-drop with three green mana symbols, which is quite an investment in a single color. But during his time in Standard, many decks played dual lands and Birds of Paradise. Still, to get him out on a consistent basis, Mono-Green seemed to be the perfect deck for Predator Ooze.
Predator Ooze isn't particularly exciting on the surface. He's only a 1/1. However, he is indestructible. The only way to permanently deal with him is to exile him or force him to be sacrificed. Also, when he declares an attack, he immediately gains a +1/+1 counter. Then, when a creature dealt damage by him dies, the Ooze gets yet ANOTHER +1/+1 counter.
In May 2012, I said that Predator Ooze was a sleeper card. I saw him becoming very relevant when Scars of Mirrodin block rotated out of Standard. I suggested to pick up your copies on the cheap before he became a mono-green menace. This was excellent advice. His price nearly doubled when Return to Ravnica debuted and doubled again shortly before the release of Gatecrash. This was due to Gatecrash's awesome Evolve mechanic that interplayed beautifully with Predator Ooze's counters. Predator Ooze's price topped out around $5 for a bit.
Unfortunately, Predator Ooze never found a permanent home in any dominant deck in Standard. Mono-Green Aggro was a fairly competitive deck and he found his way into some lists. But he mostly acted as a way to counter other aggressive decks out of the sideboard. Unfortunately, the Ooze didn't get to enjoy a Standard environment with Theros devotion in play. Dark Ascension bowed out of Standard on that set's release. Had he been around in a Standard with Devotion, Predator Ooze would've probably become a $10 card much like Nightveil Specter would later.
Predator Ooze in Modern Decks?
The good news for Predator Ooze is that despite not living up to the pre-Gatecrash hype, people continued to brew with him in Modern decks. Some early versions of the Tooth and Nail decks in Modern utilized a copy or two of him. Some Mono-Green Devotion lists would try him here and there too. Really, though, the best home he found was in Commander where +1/+1 counters are extremely abusable.
It seems like in most sets now Wizards is adding +1/+1 counter support. The enchantment Hardened Scales would seem to be his best friend, giving him an additional counter every time his abilities trigger. Unfortunately for him, Managorger Hydra got printed and took that three-drop slot in the deck. Despite being awesome for devotion, the Ooze got outclassed by the Managorger's ability to not only grow faster but also have trample as well. So Commander is the only real home that he's found. All of this has kept his price tag above $2 however. He's no bulk rare.
What's held him back in Modern is not only the prevalence of Path to Exile, but also the presence of Dismember who doesn't care about indestructible as long as the Ooze is 5/5 or less. Liliana of the Veil's sacrifice ability is also relevant but in the type of deck that Ooze is played in, it's doubtful that he's your only creature on the board. Still, when two of the premier removal options in the format can deal with him as easily as almost anything else, you're going to go with the creature that can get a lot bigger, which is the Managorger Hydra.
Going forward, Predator Ooze is probably only a Commander card. It's hard to say if another deck in Modern will actually ever need him. Although, Predator Ooze could figure into a Hardened Scales deck at some point. Down the line, he'll probably get reprinted and his value will shrink substantially. Until then, Predator Ooze is a Magic card that still has some value.
Magic the Gathering (MTG) - A Planeswalker's Reflection on Curse of Misfortunes from Dark Ascension
While some of the Innistrad block Curses turned out to be widely playable cards, even in Standard, it seems that the Wizards design team went sort of overboard with trying to make Curses of a deck of their own. Curse of Misfortunes is meant to be a tutor for your Curses to pile on the pain.
There's nothing wrong with a Curse that essentially allows you to pull a Curse out of your deck at the beginning of each of your turns and play it for free. It's cool that they came out with a card like this, as it would seem to make some of the more expensive Curses much more playable.
What Curse of Misfortunes does is very good in theory, but there are a couple problems with this card. First of all, it costs 5 mana, which while is probably a proper cost for what it does, means that it doesn't hit the board for quite a while. Also, you can't attach more than one of the same Curse to a player using this effect. That's what really kills this card.
While in theory it does quite a bit for you in the long run, it's not really worth the investment when you could just play another Curse instead. The design is cool, but game play wise, Curse of Misfortunes just never really worked out. It's a bulk rare, sadly.
Magic the Gathering (MTG) - A Planeswalker's Reflection on Curse of Bloodletting from Dark Ascension
The Curses were a new kind of card introduced with the Innistrad set. They were built upon in the following set, Dark Ascension, and later on in Commander 2013. Only a couple have really caught on in the long run. One of these is Curse of Bloodletting.
Granted, it is a bit expensive to cast with a converted mana cost of 5. But for what it does, Curse of Bloodletting is well worth it. It's a one-sided Furnace of Rath, and doubling all damage done to a player is pretty amazing. It doesn't include life paid as a cost (such as paying life for Phyrexian mana costs), but it still does quite a lot of work.
This card never figured into competitive Magic, but it sees plenty of play in Commander. It's one of the best Curses around.
Magic the Gathering Bulk Rare Beauties - Fiend of the Shadows from Dark Ascension
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Fiend of the Shadows isn't one of the best Vampire cards out there. But I jam her in my Olivia Voldaren EDH deck all day. Why's that? Check out her ability when she deals combat damage. Whenever she deals combat damage to a player, that player exiles a card from his or her hand. depriving a player of a card is good enough. But you may play that card for as long as it remains exiled.
Back in the day when people were still drafting Innistrad and Dark Ascension crads, this Fiend gal could get quite a few cards piled up if your opponent didn't have a flyer. A 3/3 flyer isn't all that wonderful, but you can even regenerate her by sacrificing a Human! I'm not sure how many Humans I have poking around in my Vampire decks... probably none. But hey, it was neat to have that option in Limited!
This is about as bulk a rare as bulk gets. Even the foils aren't worth a darn, because she was the feature card in one of the Dark Ascension intro packs. But hey, I'll pick these Fiends of the Shadows all day long, because I love getting dimes for them!
Magic the Gathering - A Planeswalker's Reflection on Beguiler of Wills from Dark Ascension
You may wonder why Beguiler of Wills is a mythic rare. Turns out that she's pretty good in Limited. Being able to steal opponent's monsters as long as you control the right number of monsters is often just enough to win you the game. As a card that I've personally drafted in the past, I know what she's capable of doing. Even if she's only a 1/1, that tap ability is enough to pay 5 mana for her. The best part is that you get to keep the creature indefinitely, whether our not the Beguiler untaps, and that's why the Wizards development team made her a mythic rare.
If you can untap her and use her ability multiple times in a turn, she can become really abusive. Obviously, she was way too fragile for Standard play. But from day one, Azami, Lady of Scrolls decks wanted to play this. It's not just because she's a Wizard, either. Azami plays so many Wizards that you're going to pretty much always steal the best opponent's creature every turn until someone finally knocks off the Beguiler of Wills. Lots of Commander decks can use her, although she's not a staple anywhere. She's pretty annoying, and that's just awesome.
Magic the Gathering - A Planeswalker's Reflections on Archangel's Light from Dark Ascension
Archangel's Light is not exactly the best mythic rare out there. In fact, it's easily the worst mythic rare in the Dark Ascension set. However, it is not completely useless, and yes, it has a purpose. Granted 8 mana for any sorcery is pretty pricey. However, just look what it does do: You gain 2 life for each card in your graveyard,then you shuffle your entire graveyard back into your deck.
Back when people were playing Innistrad/Dark Ascension Limited, mill was definitely a workable strategy in draft. The fact that it only requires a single white mana is also very, very important. A predominantly blue mill deck can make this work. This card essentially wins you the game by virtue of the fact that you can simply outlast your opponent by gaining a ton of life and recycling all of your cards. So while this is the worst mythic rare in the set, in the context of a mill deck, it basically says "Win Target Game...very slowly and painfully."
Since then, Archangel's Light has become a part of some EDH decks. Mostly Narset, Enlightened Master (who can cheat it in to play for nothing) and Oloro, Ageless Ascetic who is gaining lots of life already) have gotten the best use out of it. These particular Commanders can take full advantage of both the life-gain and the restocking. But quite a few other decks have played it. It's just that 9 mana sorceries aren't typically what you're going to be running unless they outright win you the game.
Still, if you come across this card in your collection, don't throw it away in disgust. What it does is extremely epic. It's not what you're trying to do in most Constructed formats. But if you ever face a lifegain deck in Commander, you never know if this one is waiting in the wings.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
To be fair, I was never really into the whole Werewolf archetype. Despite being a tribe that I would typically find some interest in, as far as Magic the Gathering was concerned, Werewolves didn't seem like a viable tribe to play just with Innistrad alone. However, the release of the Dark Ascension set seemed to promise Red/Green Werewolves becoming a viable archetype. (It really didn't.)
Vampires were shaping up pretty well in Innistrad, but Zombies became more of a force in Standard with the release of this set. Still, Dark Ascension released some fine Werewolf cards.
Mondronen Shaman is far from being one of the best Werewolf cards in this set, but if you get it to transform, it’s actually quite a decent play. A 3/2 for 4 mana is a little pricey, perhaps, but it’s 3R, so that’s not too bad considering when the flip-side is a 5/5 with a decent secondary ability. It transforms like most other Werewolves, on the condition that no spells are cast on the previous turn.
The flipside, Tovolar’s Magehunter is a fun little card. Whenever an opponent casts any sort of spell, the Magehunter deals 2 damage to that player. Pretty sweet. Trouble is, at the beginning of each upkeep, if a player cast two or more spells the previous turn, it flips back into being a vanilla 3/2. The hope was that you would have Immerwolf on the board.
Immerwolf is a little 3-drop uncommon from Dark Ascension that has Intimidate and gives all Wolves and Werewolves +1/+1. It also has a little ability that says that non-human Werewolves cannot transform. Once the Shaman becomes the Magehunter, as long as you control an Immerwolf, it stays that way. In a dedicated red/green Werewolf deck, the Magehunter could cause a lot of hurt.
In Constructed, though, Mondronen Shaman and even the Magehunter was still susceptible to Dismember still being in play at the time. Still, there was the hope that it would become a must-kill upon flipping, because it had the potential to whittle away your opponent until they potentially couldn’t even cast spells anymore!
I loved this card's potential. But as it was a four-drop that began as a 3/2 vanilla creature, it never worked its way into a competitive Werewolf deck. Another decent card called Huntmaster of the Fells took up that four-drop slot. If not for the Huntmaster, the Shaman may have actually seen some play.
As far as collectability, Mondronen Shaman is never going to be worth much in price. However, the Launch Party Mondronen Shaman foil promo is nice to look at and has some future value just for being a Werewolf.
Oh, to bask in the fragrance of newly opened cardboard as you unwrap a fresh, mint pack of Dark Ascension. As you flip through the cards, however, to your dismay, the card that happens to be your rare is an eight-mana bulk rare called Alpha Brawl. If your pack is also home to a common double-sided card, three lousy uncommons, and a checklist, you're going to be pretty disgusted.
Let's be honest, though: Alpha Brawl actually has a pretty awesome effect. It's essentially a board-wipe, albeit expensive, for Red. Yes, Red has Blasphemous Act already, which is actually far cheaper in the long run than this. Eight mana is just too much, really.
However, there is a way to break this card in EDH and make that creature end up severely hurting your opponent directly, as well. There is an enchantment from Mirage, Binding Agony, that would help accomplish this. You could alternatively play this card on your own board with Stuffy Doll as the target, and redirect all the damage to an opponent, but this obviously leaves you wide open (unless, of course, you have a way to return all creatures destroyed that turn back to the board). The problem is, you just make yourself a target playing this card, since at best you'll take out one player. But there are far more awkward combos.
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