I like Bant colors, but I also have one special love. It's black discard spells which cost just one mana and allow to choose the target card. Inquisition of Kozilek is one of the choices available now. The main goal of this article is to pay some tribute to this card, and show its power in current Standard metagame.
I can't stand starting from a historical intro. A brief research shows that the idea comes to Urza's Legacy Ostracize, first printed in 1999 and reprinted in 7th Edition two years later. The idea behind the name is great as it refers to social penalty in Ancient Greece when a person was forced to leave a community.
Since then Duress took the lead, and it was printed in the same 7th Edition. However, It was substituted for certain period by a true staple of its kind. It was a one mana spell which allowed you to choose any non-land card to be discarded without any restrictions. Such power could not be made without additional price, and it was two life. Of course, I speak of Thoughtseize which was Standard during Lorwyn.
When Lorwyn moved to Extended, but before ROE, there were two options. First one, indeed, was Duress. It is still very strong, because it can deal with planeswalkers, artifact staples and so on. It cannot force to discard a creature though. Second option was Mire's Toll. It doesn't have serious effect limitations, but only monoblack decks can properly use it, and only starting from the mid-game (good for Vampires' sideboard though).
Generally, Duress still keeps its position, and I see no reason why it shouldn't. However, strength of a card depends not only from its rules, but also from current metagame.
Today we can see a lot of Jund, Bant and Red Deck Wins decks. Jund is based on several low-CMC creatures and removal spells. Bant finds its base in cheap mana-generating creatures. RDW bids for cost-effective direct damage spells and creatures which are also cheap, but are dangerous in a short run. As general CMC here is low, it's a good time to consider how threat can be managed with pretty little card in discussion:
I think that analysis of which cards in metagame may be discarded with this weapon may be helpful for some players. Not to go far, I took decklists from Pro-Tour San Juan Last Chance Qualifier (May 27, 2010) which is quite representative: they include up-to-date Jund, Vengevine Naya and Mythic Conscription. The decklists are not really needed for this article, and you may find them here. Trying to be objective, I also have considered RDW, UW Control, Eldrazi, Allies, Avenger, Time Sieve and Grixis from Standard Daily of May 25, Eldrazi Overrun from another Standard Daily of same day, Goblins from May 24 event, and Vampires from another May 24 event.
Both maindeck and sideboard spells which can be hit by Inquisition of Kozilek are reviewed in the tables below. I have put some numbering so that it would be easier to read, and marked creatures with color for the little bonus I will give in the end of this article.
Table 1. Jund
NOTES: Sprouting Thrinax triggers only when it is put into a graveyard from PLAY.
Also, Goblin Ruinblaster will also be hit by Inquisition of Kozilek.
Table 2. Vengevine Naya
NOTES: Scute Mob, Stoneforge Mystic and Wild Nacatl will also suffer.
Table 3. Mythic Conscription
Table 4. Red Deck Wins
NOTES: This table shows that in some cases spells with kicker or "X" in mana cost may be tricky.
Also, you should be careful with Hellspark Elemental and Hell's Thunder as they have unearth.
Table 5. UW Control
Table 6. Eldrazi
NOTES: Obviously, this deck is quite stable against Inquisition of Kozilek. There are little cheap spells, and there are some fatties which are shuffled in when discarded.
Table 7. Allies
NOTES: This deck is heavy on cheap creatures, so Inquisition of Kozilek goes into spree here.
Table 8. Avenger
Table 9. Time Sieve
Table 10. Grixis
Table 11. Goblins
NOTES: Tuktuk the Explorer similar to Sprouting Thrinax triggers only if it is put into a graveyard from the BATTLEFIELD.
Table 12. Vampires
Now, it is time for some general statistics. I have counted the total amounts of each type from the list above and got this:
Creatures (CMC of a spell is 3 or less): 38
Other spells (CMC of a spell is 3 or less): 46
Total spells: 84
Well, 84 spells which Inquisition of Kozilek may deal with, in particular 38 creature spells which cannot be targeted by Duress, is a fair amount and I think that this is a strong argument for this spell.
Also, Inquisition of Kozilek itself is not present in decklists I selected, which makes it quite unexpected (by the time I write these words, of course). So, I suppose that anyone who has some black splash in the deck may consider this spell at least for sideboard.
You still should be careful with what you force to discard (just as with what you destroy or return to its owner's hand): creatures with low unearth cost may cause high threat.
Now, my little content BONUS:
This card, firstly introduced in Onslaught, currently is a counterpart of Inquisition of Kozilek. If you don't have red in your deck for Terminate, but you still want to destroy black creatures, just Smother them, for there are plenty of those 3 CMC and below.
And I say you what, Knight of the Reliquary, even if she has two copies of Eldrazi Conscription attached, is still "a creature with converted mana cost 3 or less"!