Innistrad: Crimson Vow Set Review: Black

Welcome back to our Innistrad: Crimson Vow set review! There are a lot of cards to cover in black, so let’s get started!

Bloodvial Purveyor

Bloodvial Purveryor, where do you get your nails done? They are fabulous albeit a bit scary. Anyway, a four mana 5/6 with Flample is an impressive creature on its own! However, giving your opponent Blood tokens, even if it makes them stronger, could really hurt you in the long run. It would be interesting to play this in a discard-centered deck where if you’re able to keep your opponent’s hand empty, the Blood tokens do start to become worthless to your opponent. Even then, though, if your opponent top decks a land and cycles it away with a Blood token to draw a kill spell, it’s going to feel bad. I will admit that I’m skeptical about this card and suspect it’s a trap. If it isn’t an immediate threat to your opponent, they could keep it around to keep getting Blood tokens from it. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if it kills me at some point.

Demonic Bargain

First off, Sam Guay absolutely killed it with this art. It’s gorgeous and the variety of purples used is stunning. Also, in case anyone else was curious, Sam Guay has no familial relation to the famous Magic artist Rebecca Guay. However, they were a mentee for Rebecca! Anyway, back to the card. Demonic Bargain isn’t worth it for an A+B combo deck. The risk of exiling your combo pieces (especially since you only have one copy) is just too high. In a more synergistic and redundant combo deck, like Eggs or some versions of Storm, with multiple win conditions, though, Demonic Bargain may be worth playing. It may be worth playing in non-combo black decks if you want a tool to find a piece of removal, a bomb, a land, etc. If we’re being honest, though , Demonic Tutor usually suffices.

Dread Fugue

It’s certainly less powerful than its counter part trio (Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek, Duress), however, I do feel like this is one of the better discard spells we have received in awhile. This card would very rarely be cast for three mana, but one mana to get rid of your opponent’s most efficient creature, or interaction is very useful. Plus knowing what is in your opponent’s hand can be very powerful. I expect to see this card in many black decks, especially black-based control decks.

Dying to Serve

The pun and flavor of this card is so on point and one of my favorite cards in the set. How does the card play out mechanically though? I think there’s some interesting build-around potential with this card. It is a three mana “do nothing” enchantment, but once you start getting some of the synergies going, I think it could be really interesting. I see this mostly in a Rakdos Pyromancer shell where you’re playing all of the Thrill of Possibility effects you can find. Since Thrill of Possibility is an instant, you can utilize either on your turn or your opponent’s turn.

Falkenrath Forebear

Falkenrath Forebear has arrived and they are fabulous! They will join the ranks of other 3/1 fliers in Blue-Black Tempo decks. The upside of creating Blood tokens on combat damage to a player will really help you to filter out cards you don’t need to find any crucial pieces of interaction you might need. Her recursion ability is interesting though because it encourages you not to use your Blood tokens, which is at odds with using them to help fill your hand with interaction. Either way, I can definitely see her in black based Tempo or aggressive decks.

Graf Reaver

This Zombie doesn’t just kill planeswalkers, it also kills opponents! A two mana 3/3 is already a powerful rate for a creature and  it can also kill a planeswalker when it enters the battlefield if you Exploit. Most planeswalker removal comes at three mana in Gladiator and if its cheaper it tends to be too niche (see The Elderspell.) The Exploit trigger won’t be as relevant if it comes down on turn two since your opponent most likely hasn’t played a planeswalker by that point. It’s still a nice bonus that this offers the additional flexibility of killing a planeswalker if you top deck it later in the game. The downside of dealing damage to yourself every turn is a real downside. However, if this is in an aggressive deck and all goes according to plan, this downside won’t matter. Plus, since it only requires one black pip, I expect it to see play in nearly all black aggressive decks.

Henrika Domnathi

Henrika is a creature that provides a lot of flexibility. On the front side, a four mana 1 /3 flier isn’t much to write home about. However, her sacrifice ability along with her “draw a card” effect are each powerful. If you’re not interested in either of those abilities though, transforming her to her backside will be something that will most likely interest you. Once transformed, a 3 /4 flying, deathtouch, and lifelink will have a real impact on the board. On top of that, you can use an excess mana to pump her and any other creatures with flying, deathtouch, or lifelink for a large swing. Henrika will mostly be played pre-combat main phase to draw a card, and then transform her next turn to start beating up your opponent. However, if you’re worried about a Lightning Bolt killing her, or need a blocker against aggro decks, you may want to transform her right away. If Henrika is built into the right black Midrange shell, she will quickly close out games.

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Hero’s Downfall

While there aren’t a lot of Murders running around in Gladiator, this is one of the best Murders that has ever been printed. The flexibility of killing a creature or a planeswalker will most likely push this classic card to see play in Gladiator. The most direct comparison for this is Murderous Rider, which is the stronger of the two cards since it’s also a decent creature on its own. However, the flexibility of effects are very useful in Gladiator and since we only get one copy of Murderous Rider, I think this is definitely worth considering for Control decks.

Path of Peril

Our first Cleave card! How well does it stack up with other black board wipes in Gladiator? It’s… alright. Wiping a board of one and two drops on turn three can be a huge tempo swing for black-based Control decks. However, the Cleave cost is simply too high for this effect for a simple board wipe. Additionally, white decks have most of their board wipes at four mana (see Wrath of God, Day of Judgement.) In aggressive metas, I think this would be great for Black Control decks. Otherwise, I would recommend keeping it as a “considering” option.

Sorin the Mirthless

Oh my gosh, Sorin… you’ve changed quite a bit since you were Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord… It must be the new blood you’re drinking. Okay Becca, enough thirsting. This iteration of Sorin is a powerful addition to black planeswalkers. It isn’t a bomb like Liliana, Dreadhorde General, but it does provide you a nice source of card advantage, and the fact that it makes Deathtouch-less Vampire Nighthawks is a great way to gain back some of the life you will lose from its plus one. It’s also worth noting that the plus one is a may, so you don’t have to pay the life to draw the card. For example, if you reveal a split card like Discovery / Dispersal, you won’t have to pay seven life! Definitely not a bad rate for four mana! I can definitely see Sorin on the battlefield in Black Control and Midrange decks. 

Also, I need to mention that the amount of times I’ve tried to wipe away the red mark above the hyphen in the card type box because I think it’s something on my screen is far too many times. I love the aesthetic but I would be lying if I said it hasn’t been bothering me.

Toxrill, the Corrosive

Oh boy, I don’t think I’ve ever loved a Slug as much as I love this big… thing. Toxrill is expensive, there’s no denying that. If anything holds him back it will be that. However, once you start getting slime counters on your opponent’s creatures, Toxrill will make quick work of them, especially since he’s a 7/7! I expect to see Toxrill in Blue Black control decks. Comparing this to some of the other Blue Black finishers, we have creatures like The Scarab God and Torrential Gearhulk. The first thing that jumps out obviously is that this is more expensive and this doesn’t utilize the graveyard as nicely as those two. In my opinion, Toxrill doesn’t beat out either of those. However, it is worth experimenting with.

Voldaren Bloodcaster

Voldaren Bloodcaster is without a doubt the happiest Vampire on Innistrad. Like, she’s happier than Edgar and Olivia and it’s their wedding! On a base level, a two mana 2/1 flier is a pretty solid body for aggressive slanted decks. But then you also get the Blood token on top of that. I think Blood tokens have the potential to be quite powerful, so this is a creature that is worth keeping your eye on. If you’re able to get value from your discarding cards into your graveyard, then Voldaren Bloodcaster is an excellent card. The back side is a pretty powerful effect and if you get to the point of having five Blood tokens, this Wizard and her Bats will make quick work of your opponents.

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Zombie Tribal!

All of the cards below are cards that are more specific to Zombie tribal. Let’s dive into the graveyard and see what’s rising from the dead in Innistrad!

Archghoul of Thraben

Starting off our list is a new exciting addition to Zombie decks! The three mana 3/2 body fits with Zombies’ aggressive gameplan. The addition of drawing more Zombies, or filtering cards you don’t need, is just the icing on the cake. Plus it’s another tool that allows you to throw Decayed tokens out to get additional value from them. It’s also nice that it only has one black pip so that it can be more flexible if you’re playing more colors than just black.

Cemetary Desecrator

This big idiot will start taking over the game if it gets resolved. At six mana, it will come down at a point where it’s reasonable that there will be high CMC spells in either  graveyard. On top of that, since this creature has menace and will kill another one of your opponent’s creatures or planeswalkers if it dies, it will be very annoying for your opponent to use a kill spell on. If it does get killed, black decks, and in particular Zombie decks, will be happy to reanimate this to put it back into play. Most of the Zombie decks I’ve seen tend to be more aggressive, so a six mana creature isn’t necessarily where Zombie pilots want to be. However, this would fit nicely in a Midrange Zombie list, possibly a Dimir one with The Scarab God.

Fell Stinger

A Zombie Scorpion and a pretty large one at that (it’s literally killing a horse in the art!) Deathtouch makes it frustrating for creature decks to deal with and then it also has three powers which can be a fast clock all by itself. Then in desperate times, it could be a three mana draw-two spell if you have it Exploit itself, and sometimes that’s what you need. I can see this being played in both Zombies and Aristocrats.

Headless Rider

Headless Rider is a slum dunk inclusion into Zombie decks! It has a flexible mana cost only requiring one black pip and it will continuously keep up the pressure whenever your opponent tries to remove one of your zombies. Additionally, the 3/1 body is great turning sideways and killing your opponents! Headless Rider will definitely make your control opponents groan since it basically makes their wraths nearly worthless. Headless Rider only has a home in Zombie decks, but it will certainly push Zombies into being a higher tier deck!

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