Do you sense the unnatural chill in the air? Can you feel the weight of the hunter’s gaze on your neck? Is the number for your local exorcist now on your speed dial? Congratulations, planeswalker: You’re ready for Innistrad, the latest expansion to the world’s favorite CCG, Magic: the Gathering. Innistrad invites players to ‘ascend into darkness’ and command bloodthirsty vampires, brutal werewolves, unstoppable zombies, and other horrors in a battle for the fate of a haunted world. The new set introduces an entirely new type of card–double-faced–that can transform from one of its two faces to the other under certain conditions. Thus, the researcher staring you down from across the table may transform into a flying insectoid horror and swarm over your ground defenses, or the human lord you summoned might turn out to be the leader of the local werewolf pack.
Along with these treacherous transformers, Innistrad brings a bunch of new keywords and features, including Morbid cards that have an additional effect when cast after something dies and Curses that can enchant players with harmful effects. Flashback returns from the grave for some new shenanigans, and a new keyword, fight, allows your creatures to engage the enemy army without attacking players directly. There’s a lot to experience in the world of Innistrad, and it’s now yours for the taking: The set releases today, so you can play with Innistrad cards at your local Friday Night Magic event. Before you head off to conquer your enemies, check out my own personal list of ten Innistrad cards you’re sure to love. These ten cards may not be the most viable cards for tournament play–I’m not a super competitive M:tG player; most of my favorite cards are more notable for their flavor or art than for their actual effect. Still, I guarantee that these ten cards will steal your heart–by force, if necessary. That’s life in Innistrad.
Curse of Death’s Hold
This is probably my favorite of the new Curses. Every Innistrad curse has a ton of flavor behind it, but Death’s Hold seems like the most useful (for you) and the most annoying (for your opponent). Sure, by the time you can actually play it, you probably won’t be locking down your opponent’s early-game creatures–but this does negate some of the nastier 1-toughness creatures, and it’ll blunt the assault from more dangerous beasties. To me, Curse of Death’s Hold feels like a great force multiplier, and you can’t help but smile when you get the chance to say to your Magic opponent: “Hey, everything you’re trying to do? Yeah, it’s gonna be harder now.” It’ll be especially hilarious if you can get more than one on the field. Commence evil laughter!
You gotta love a Magic card with such a basic, clear-cut name. It’s a doll; it’s creepy; don’t mess with it. Five mana is probably a little expensive, given that you have to throw Creepy Doll at something in order to kill it, and even then you only have a 50% chance that the deathtouch effect will proc. Still, with the ability to make creatures fight, Creepy Doll might be slightly better than it looks. And come on, people–it’s a creepy. doll.
Combine it with some hand viewing (Gitaxian Probe, anyone?) for some serious trollin’. The name is great, the art is lovely, the effect is beautifully simple. You can probably shut down a couple of combo decks right here, right now with Nevermore. Go ahead and make your best Edgar Trollan Poe face.
Again with the clever names! Think Twice offers you card advantage if you manage to play it twice, and you can even get something out of it should it end up in your graveyard without seeing play. You gotta love those blue card-drawing instants.
Great flavor text, super versatile. Take that, Gideon Jura! Artifacts, enchantments… Bramblecrush takes care of everything. You gotta respect a card like that.
Past In Flames
OK, I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for Mythic Rares. My Timmy is showing, I know, but you can’t argue with Past in Flames. How cool is this: You can cast anything you’ve already cast, again. Then, later, you can do the whole thing over, thanks to flashback. Plus the art is somebody toasting a burning building. Badass.
Mentor of the Meek
Basically, I’m building my deck around this guy. Card advantage potential is pretty much insane, plus the art is astoundingly cool and the flavor is perfect. This is exactly the kind of M:tG card I love to have in my decks. #MeekShallInherit
Could I get through a list of awesome Innistrad cards without mentioning Snapcaster Mage? This card promises to help out existing archetypes while introducing a slew of new possibilities. The buzz is, it appears, entirely legit. Chase one down and get ready for some truly silly plays.
I know it’s sort of silly, but I can’t help but dig this card. Put it in your Magic 2012 Core Set illusion deck for extra flavory goodness!
Liliana of the Veil
She’s baaaaack! Liliana is the twisted, shriveled heart of the set–the lore of Innistrad revolves around her dread schemes, and her image dominates the promo material. Now in human form once more, Liliana is ready to achieve her dark ambitions by any means necessary. A perfect fit for the set’s grim tone and a nice throwback to Magic ages past, Liliana is sure to enthrall players by the thousands with Innistrad‘s ascent.
Let me know what your favorite/top/best cards from Innistrad are in the comments and report your FNM experiences with the set once you get back from your local gaming store! And don’t forget–there’s extra loot in it for you (in the form of an alternate-art Devil’s Play) if you’re among the first to buy a box of Innistrad!
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Follow Josh Harrison on Twitter: @geekologized.