Magic The Gathering: Dark Ascension

I actually can’t express how excited I am about Dark Ascension. Especially since the preview of a few of the cards from the set that we were treated to on the official website the other day. Here I’m going to take you through the new mechanics and some of my favourite cards from the preview of the set.

The set has turned the story much darker than before with ghosts, ghouls and huge spells reigning. The story is as follows:

The plane of Innistrad has fallen into a deep night. The horrible beings that fill the world have risen to power as the careful balance and tenuous power of Humans has failed in the absence of Avacyn. As the monsters overrun humanity’s defenses, despair reigns and all hope seems lost.

It’s not only the story that’s been given a shaking up and been brought further towards the dark side, the game mechanics introduced in DA are, well, potentially game-changing. The two main new mechanics are Undying and Fateful Hour. Undying is basically what it says on the tin. Sort of…

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 means that if your Strangleroot Geist dies without a counter on it, it comes back as a 3/2 Creature with Haste. Which could be pretty commanding. You can use cards like Hex Parasite to remove the counters if you wish it not to die again and again. Now, granted there are some drawbacks to this mechanic – being that it doesn’t matter where the +1/+1 counter comes from. In other words, if you have cards like Gallows Warden and Battleground Geist down, they count towards the +1/+1 counter. And now your opponents can use cards like Travel Preparations and the new Hunger of the Howlpack to buff up your creatures with Undying in order for them die, instead of using them to buff their own.

The Fateful Hour abilities kick as soon as you have 5 or less life. For example with Thraben Doomsayer and and Gather the Townsfolk:

This mechanic is huge and has great potential to turn your game around completely if used at the right time. To help you get this ability to kick in, you can use cards like Marrow Shards and Apostle’s Blessing, which would be pretty handy if you were blocking  with 7 life and had your Thraben Doomsayer down to give all your blocking creatures +2/+2. You could wholly wipe your opponent’s creatures out and go on to wipe their life out come your own turn. Provided you’re willing to take the risk – especially if your opponent has the ability to cast a Brimstone Volley this turn or can survive until the next and cast a Lava Axe or similar. This new mechanic has provided me with endless fun just thinking about the possibilities it opens up. It will breathe a a bit of fresh fun into the game and bring about a level of risk we haven’t seen before.

As introduce in Innistrad, the Double-Faced cards are back but this time it’s not only creatures that are transformable. From the preview, we’ve got an double-faced Artifact. And this one is seriously exciting. It’s called Chalice of Life/Death and it looks a little something like this:

Yep. And it’s Uncommon with a 3 Mana casting cost? Wowzers. Couple that with Angel’s Mercy, Paraselene, Angel’s Feather etc and you’re off. In 4 turns, you could destroy your opponent simply by tapping the card. Lethal. Of course there are cards that can destroy it like Ancient Grudge or Naturalize.

A bit of a surprise is the fact that there’s now a White Zombie. It’s a double-faced card called Loyal/Unhallowed Cathar. It’s got Vigilance as a human and when it dies, it transforms and gets returned to the battlefield under your control.

We can finally life out our dreams of living through a Zombie Apocalypse. This card is seriously destructive for anyone playing a Zombie deck against a Human one.

A big surprise is in the form of a Planeswalker. Sorin Markov is back and this time he’s a Black/White hybrid. Very interesting and very different.

And lastly, there’s Drogskol Reaver. A Mythic Rare Blue/White hybrid Spirit creature with Flying, Lifelink and Double Strike at 3/5 – yes please! And that’s before you take into account that you get to draw a card when you gain life. Piece this with your Chalice of Life/Death and you’re flying. Literally.

The set is arriving at your local gaming shop February 3rd. If you can’t wait until then, there are, of course, pre-release events at the end of January.

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