Home Gaming MtG Dark Ascension review – Picking at Skaabs

MtG Dark Ascension review – Picking at Skaabs

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Today Dark Ascension releases , the second set in the classic horror themed Innistrad block. The humans are on the edge of extinction as the undead slowly start to break down the defences of Gavony. Sorin has returned to his home plane, pissed off as all hell that the angel he created, Avacyn, has disappeared and abandoned the humans to a cruel, tortured fate. Rallying his vampiric brethren, Sorin rushes to save the humans, the lifeblood and sustenance of his people.

After all, who else will they feed on if the human cattle are gone?

As with Innistrad, tribal theme continues in Dark Ascension. Zombies, spirits, vampires and werewolves all gain ‘captains’ who make the rest of the pack stronger.

This intro pack is called Relentless Undead, and makes use of Blue and Black mana and hordes of zombies. In Innistrad black zombies are the typical shambling variety, fresh from the grave. Blue zombies, or skaab, are Frankenstein monsters, an amalgam of various organs and parts.

The foil rare ‘flagship’ of this deck is the Havenguul Runebinder:

This deranged scientist removes the rotting meat from the graveyard and brings forth new unlife, strengthening your zombie army at the same time. Now, to take advantage of this guy, we need our own creatures to die, but have to keep enough in play to make the activation of his ability worth it.

Black Cat is the kind of creature that loves dying. Your opponent might even hate it dying to the point that you can get several hits through for free. (Random card discard is a scary prospect!)

Screeching Skaab is a great friend for the Runebinder. A cheap, flimsy creature that mills (cards from library to graveyard) you for two, plumping the graveyard with creatures and spells with flashback.

The Diregraf Captain makes your other zombies stronger, and punishes your opponent every time one of them dies.

Forbidden Alchemy is great for fattening your corpse pile, and can help to find the right card for the situation.

Reap the Seagraf offers a cheaper counterpart to Moan of the Unhallowed.

Endless ranks of the Dead, the other rare in this intro pack, will cause your shambling army to steadily grow, eventually overpowering any defences.

For a cheap intro pack, several cool options are available to you for upgrading this deck into something more robust.

Cards like Grimgrin, Corpse-Born will absolutely love the extra +1/+1 counters being added to his fetid body, and can cull his pack to launch his assault. This bloated carrion can easily swing for 9 damage on the next turn, so opponents beware!

If you have access to M12 cards, the Cemetery Reaper is a great option for furthering your horde, and makes the enemy graveyard easy pickings.

This deck can do huge amounts of damage, before the inclusion of Grave Titan or Zombie Apocalypse.

Two new mechanics surface in Dark Ascension: Fateful Hour and Undying. Fateful Hour activates when a player is at 5 or less life, and can have game changing consequences. Undying creatures come back from the graveyard with a +1/+1 counter on them if they entered the graveyard with no counters. Why are there no Undying in this Intro Pack you ask? Well, the Havenguul Runebinder should result in most creatures having counters on them, negating the usefulness of the tactic. Fear not, for there are many zombies who just can’t stay still, and will return to plague you like those shamblers in Resident Evil.

Here is the full decklist:

Creatures (24)
2 Diregraf Ghoul
3 Screeching Skaab
2 Black Cat
2 Walking Corpse
1 Headless Skaab
1 Stitched Drake
1 Ghoulraiser
2 Diregraf Captain
1 Makeshift Mauler
2 Abattoir Ghoul
1 Rotting Fensnake
1 Havengul Runebinder
2 Farbog Boneflinger
2 Zombie Goliath
1 Skaab GOliath
Other Spells (12)
2 Dead Weight
1 Cellar Door
1 Negate
1 Zombie Infestation
2 Forbidden Alchemy
1 Corpse Lunge
2 Reap the Seagraf
1 Endless Ranks of the Dead
1 Moan of the Unhallowed
Lands (24)
2 Evolving Wilds
10 Island
10 Swamp

Dark Ascension releases today.

Last Updated: February 3, 2012

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