Tabletop Preview: Magic: The Gathering – Dark Ascension: White and Artifact Cards

Welcome back to Day Three of our Magic: The Gathering – Dark Ascension coverage. On Moday we looked at some Black and Red cards, and yesterday was a look at some fromBlue and Green. We’ll end our specific spectrum coverage today with a handful of White cards, as well as some of the many Artifacts you’ll come across in this set. Without further ado,

White Cards

Midnight Guard

This is a really nice White creature that can fit into any deck. For only three mana, you get a 2/3 character. Even better, this little guy untaps EVERY TIME a new creature enters the battlefield. It’s like a lite version of Vigilance. Midnight Guard ends up being a low cost creature that works both offensively and defensively and should see a lot of play in White decks. It’s easy to get into play and due to its untap ability is a great card to pair with an enchantment or artifact.


Niblis of the Urn

This is another low cost creature that has a lot of potential. For two Mana you get a 1/1 flier that can tap any target creature when it attacks. This is really nice for a lot of reasons. In the early game it’s hard to block fliers and if your opponent gets a creature out that can do just that…oh, it’s tapped. Sorry. In the mid to late game, the tapped creature can be any, so it can easily target your opponent’s best defender, rendering it un-useable. There are a lot of different strategies that can go into this ability. The downside is that as a 1/1 creature, it’s pretty easy to take out Niblis of the Urn via direct damage or other means.


Gather the Townfolk

This is a nice little sorcery if you’re playing a White Weenie or en masse style deck. For two mana you get two 1/1 tokens. That’s pretty decent and as it’s a sorcery, it can’t be countered by an Unsummon or the like. Even more interesting is that if you have five or less life, you get FIVE 1/1 tokens. This is a great bonus. Five 1/1 creatures for only two mana. Unfortunately when your health is that low, it might be too late to turn the tide. However if you’re playing a deck with a lot of cards than earn you life, this can make for a nice combo. Let your health dip down enough to get all five tokens and then bring it back up with a Stream of Life or something similar. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how people use this. Even if you don’t outwardly plan to take advantage of the Fateful Hour ability, two 1/1 creatures for two mana isn’t a bad deal.


Curse of Exhaustion

This little enchantment is pretty amazing. For four mana, a chosen player is unable to cast more than one spell per turn. It’s a simple but utterly effective card. Can you imagine something like this back in the days when Black Vise decks ran rampart. Ouch. Even in modern play, slowing your opponent down to one spell per turn can be killer. This is especially true with the Dark Ascension set and its menagerie of lycanthropes. Werewolves in DA take their more monstrous form when no spells are cast on the preceding turn. That’s not so bad, right? Just don’t cast any spells on your turn and BAM, you have a powerful werewolf creature. Well, werewolves turn back into their human form whenever there is a turn when two or more spells are cast on a turn. With Curse of Exhaustion, you can drastically improve the length of time your werewolf will actually be in its fury form. This spell along makes White a strong contender a secondary colour in any werewolf themed deck you make.

The bottom line is that Curse of Exhaustion is killer against many deck concepts. I’m sure just in looking at the card and its description, you’ve come up with a few ideas on how to use it yourself.


Séance

Séance is perhaps the most interesting white card in Dark Ascension just because of how unique it is. This enchantment (which costs four mana) is a bit wordy. Once Séance is in play, you can take one creature from your Graveyard on your upkeep and Exile it (What used to be the “removed from game” pile for oldies like me). Once you’ve done that a Token goes into play. This token is a complete copy of the Exiled card except it also has Spirit as part of its creature type. This token then stays in play until the next end step, when it too is exiled. That’s kind of a neat idea, right? The problem is that it is hard to pull off.

See, tokens are subject to Summoning Sickness just like anything else, so while these tokens can come into play, you won’t get a chance to attack with them unless you have some other Enchantment that allows for Haste en masse. This makes actually using the tokens somewhat hard and thus the value of Séance a bit hard to decipher. Basically Séance is best when used with decks that center around ETB/LTB effects (Enter the battlefield/leave the battlefield) or decks that require a lot of sacrifice. You sacrifice a creature, then use Séance to bring it back and get another sacrifice out of it. Dark Ascension is great for Black and White sacrifice deck building to begin with and Séance just makes it all the better. Sundial of the Infinite is another way to use Séance rather effectively as it removes all “this turn” and “end of turn” effects. Another use for Séance is, “Hey, free blocker.”

In a nutshell, Séance is a far better card than it might appear at first glance and although it takes a bit of thought process on how to best use it, there are a lot of great combos it can be part of.


Artifact Cards

Altar of the Lost

I’ve always had a soft spot for the weird artifacts and lands that give you bonus mana. Altar of the Lost is one of those. It comes into play tapped but after that you can use it to add two mana of any colour to your mana pool. Of course, the catch is that said mana can only be used for Flashback spells that are currently sitting in your graveyard. There are several flashback cards in Dark Ascension but not enough to build a deck around or make Altar of the Lost a principal component to a sealed deck situation. You’ll have to go out of your way to build a deck where Altar of the Lost is used regularly and I don’t see too many people doing that. It’s an interesting card, but not one that will see a lot of play.


Excecutioner’s Hood

This is a pretty simple artifact. Whatever creature you equip it to gains Intimidate. This is a great ability if you’re playing an opponent that is using a different color (or colours) than you, but if they are, it’s kind of a waste in your deck. Executioner’s Hood is probably best as a sideboard card that you can shuffle in once you see what your opponent is playing. If you’re all white and he’s all red, then it might be a helpful card to have. Otherwise I can’t recommend it for general use.


Wolfhunter’s Quiver

This is an interesting card. It comes into play for a single mana, but to equip it one has to spend five. That’s a bit pricey don’t you think? Once equipped it basically turns a creature into a Prodigal Sorcerer as you can tap it do to 1 point of damage to any creature or player. However, if you use the ping ability on a werewolf, the damage jumps up to 3. In a sealed environment, the Quiver will probably be exceedingly helpful considering how many werewolves are in the set. In a regular environment, I can’t see the Quiver being that useful. There aren’t a lot of werewolf cards after all, and it’s an expensive artifact if all you’re going to do with it is turn a creature into a “Tim.” Really the usefulness just depends on what environment you play in along with how many Werewolves Wizards puts out in the future. I mean, you don’t see a lot of Thrull decks these days, do you?


Warden of the Wall

This is a really fun artifact. For three mana, you get either a new source of colourless mana for spellcasting, or nice little blocker. A 2/3 Flying creature for three colourless is pretty cheap. It’s just too bad the thing can’t be used offensively as well. Still, Warden of the Wall has a lot of nice uses, from taking down enemies with Intimidate to block the sheer number of fliers there are in this set. Warden of the Wall isn’t the greatest artifact ever, but it’s definitely a card with a lot of uses that can find its way into quite a few decks.


Jar of Eyeballs

Now here’s a gruesome card to end this article with. You don’t see one of these sitting around your home very often, now do you?

Jar of Eyeballs is an exceptionally useful card and at only three mana, it is easy to make the case that the card is much cheaper than it should be. Every time one of your creatures dies, you put two counters on the jar. For three mana, you can tap the Jar at any time and look at a number of cards on the top of your deck equal to the number of counters on the jar. You then get to put one of the cards into your hand and put the rest on the bottom of your deck in any order. If you use the jar frequently, it gives you a lot of control over what you have coming. If you use it in frequently, you’ll know exactly what you’ll have if the game runs long, but more importantly you’ll know what you have coming as well. After all, you know all the cards in your deck by heart right? Jar of Eyeballs lets you have a rough idea of what will be in your hand shortly and exactly what you’ll have around the time your deck is nearly whittled down. No cards are exiled or discarded and for those that like a lot of control over what you pull and when, Jar of Eyeballs can be an exceptionally useful card. Pare this with a sacrifice or weenie deck and you’ll have your horde planned out several moves in advance. Not bad!


There you have it. Another day, another ten cards from the Dark Ascension set. Tomorrow we’ll finish off our Dark Ascension preview cycle with a look at the Dark Sacrifice premade deck that you’ll be able to purchase in stores starting February 3rd. See you then!

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