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By: hipuncle, Matthew Pearce
Apr 29 2008 11:20pm
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So welcome to the set that Vorthos built, Shadowmoor. Lorwyn’s beauty and mystique has left for terror and desolation. Therefore, black, the color that thrives on evil, is the most flavor enriched color of the set and the color I have the honor to review. Feel free as you read this article to finish each card review with, “… but wow, the art looks amazing.”
If you have read my previous articles, you know that I am favored towards the Limited side of Magic.  In reviewing each of the cards I will give definite direction when it comes to the sealed and draft formats. When it comes to our favorite constructed formats, they made it simple for me. They gave me a color that truly lacks constructed cards. So in the context of a limited review article, rather than listing these cards in alphabetical order, I will list in draft pick order; starting with the last!
Ah Rats, Last Again
Plague of Vermin                               
Starting with you, each player may pay any amount of life. Repeat this process until no one pays life. Each player puts a 1/1 black Rat creature token into play for each 1 life he or she paid this way.
Well at least it is not an automatic I lose card, but it is very close. You are basically giving your opponent a good amount of control over your life totals. Don’t forget he gets to attack first and he does not have to tap out to play the spell. In fact the only way I can see this card allowing you to win a game is if your opponent can’t stop laughing at you before time runs out. 
Size Does Matter
Loch Korrigan                                  
Creature - Spirit
 {ub}: Loch Korrigan gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
Now I am long standing disbeliever of shade effects in limited. In a set filled with simple       -1/-1 affects they are absolutely horrid. You can pump this guy all you want but it will still trade with any creature with Wither, such as my next creature.
The only reason why it is this high is because it could block the above creature and survive. In fact there are a lot of creatures it can block and survive. On the other hand it costs five mana to do so. That and once again in the world of -1/-1 counters regeneratable 1/1 creatures are not playable.
Creature - Merfolk Wizard 
Whenever Hollowsage becomes untapped, you may have target player discard a card. 2/2
What’s strange about this ranking is that I absolutely loved Fallowsage, but don’t let that fool you. This guy is highly unplayable. He is harder to trigger than fallowsage. and you give your opponent a full turn to inform your opponent that he is going to have to discard if he does somehow survive.
Wound Reflection                             
At the end of each turn, each opponent loses life equal to the life he or she lost this turn.
Why did they make a cycle of cards like these? This card is absolute rubbish. On the other hand it is a rare so it above the other unplayables. That and if you have 3 of them into play a lightning bolt will win the game.  4 of them and then all you need is a shock…
Polluted Bond                                     
Whenever a land comes into play under an opponent's control, that player loses 2 life and you gain 2 life.
I have already had a couple of healthy debates on the playability of this card when it comes to limited. It is not playable. The most you can expect to get out of it is an opponent controlled soul feast. Once again opponent controlled spells are not good.
High Maintenence
Smolder Initiate                                 
Creature - Elemental Shaman 
Whenever a player plays a black spell, you may pay 1. If you do, target player loses 1 life. 
I am not much of a fan of this cycle of cards. This guy and the U one are the only ones with even a little playability. I would not play this guy as he is much like a suntail hawk. Yes if you get him out turn 1, he might do five damage. Late game he is absolutely useless as anything except a chump blocker. Feel free to try him in a Black on Black match up… you will be disappointed.
Enchantment - Aura 
Enchant creature.
1B: Put a -1/-1 counter on enchanted creature.
Yes this card is creature control, but this is too slow to be considered playable. The only way that I would play this card is if I was severely lacking creature control, or I had multiple Grim Poppets. In the former situation I would probably not be winning, in the latter, the torture just would be a win more card.
Rite of Consumption                         
As additional cost to play Rite of Consumption, sacrifice a creature.
Rite of Consumption deals damage equal to the sacrificed creature's power to target player. You gain life equal to the damage dealt this way.
This is the first card that I could see playing. Of course it would be highly dependant on the other cards of your deck. If you have enough persist creatures, or a creature like Mossbridge troll then this card could win a game. In the sideboard it could come into play if your opponent is playing a good amount of creature control in the form of enchantments (Prison Term, Runed Halo, chains).
The Ugly Step Child
Ashenmoor Cohort                           
Creature - Elemental Warrior 
Ashenmoor Cohort gets +1/+1 as long as you control another black creature. 
Ok, this guy was supposed to be printed with a keyword ability of some sort – Fear? Swampwalk? Wither? Persist? Horsemanship?  As it is, it is an embarrassment to a family of highly playable cohorts. But don’t let this embarrassment fool you, it is somewhat playable. This guy in a Black red or a Black blue deck is an OK high end creature. Unfortunately in black decks creature count is very hard to come by.
Cinderhaze Wretch

This is basically Mournwhelk’s replacement. In a set where discard is more important and creatures are harder to come by, being a Mournwhelk replacement is a good place to be. Let me take a second to explain why discard is so much more important. This a very lopsided set. Where Lorwyn had a huge amount of strong cards that could win the game while they stay in play, it did not have a lot of instant effect game altering spells like, Firespout, Furystoke Giant, Incremental Blight, and Plague of Vermin…
Splitting Headache                        
Choose one - Target player discards two cards; or target player reveals his or her hand. You choose a card from it. That player discards that card.
I debated for a good time between the wretch and this guy as to which was a better draft pick. The former will more often make your main deck as a 23rd card, but this card is a more crucial sideboard card. This card is 2 turns quicker so it can help save you from some of the limited combos that will be going around – and there are a lot.
More Cycles then the Tour de France
Disturbing Plot                                   
Return target creature card in a graveyard to its owner's hand.
This is a very interesting cycle. Each one only nets card advantage if you conspire. Else it is a one for one trade. So the real question is - What is the value of tapping two of your on color creatures. Seeing as black has a limited number of playable utility creatures, (Witches, Manaforge Cinder, etc…), this card has limited playability.
Aphotic Wisps                                    
Target creature becomes black and gains fear until end of turn.
Draw a card.

In every deck, especially black decks, I will want to play at least 1 wisp card. Fear as an ability is the worst it has been since Mirrodin. That fact is actually a benefit for the wisp cycles. This card is not a card that works best when played on one of your creatures. It works best as a combat trick against an opponent creature. This card negates cohorts, duel colored auras, lieges, scarecrows, mentors, and so one. Considering you only need to play one, maybe 2 of these, this card you should be able to pick up late in the pack
Corrosive Mentor                              
Creature - Elemental Rogue 
Black creatures you control have wither. 
This guy in the right deck can be very powerful. Even by himself he is quite solid. Most creatures have an average power of 2 that this guy can block all day. He is quite playable but not game winning. This is more like the cheap changeling creatures of the previous set and should go late because of it.
Beseech the Queen                        
Search your library for a card with converted mana cost less than or equal to the number of lands you control, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library.
This, the second worst of its cycle, has highly variable strength. I’ve mentioned before that it is quite possible to build a combo deck in draft. This guy can get the flask for the corrupt, or the rites of consumption for a game winner, or a power of fire for a Q creature. Also, if your deck is bombish this card can help search out a key card. On the other hand, if your deck is the standard cast and smash deck, it should not be emptying spots for this card.
A Break for Solid
Sickle Ripper
This might be the best “French-Vanilla” two-drop ever. (Note: I do not consider Wren’s Run Vanquisher, “French Vanilla”).  Considering, this guy trades with Wild Mongrel, Psychatog, and Nantuko Shade, that might not be too much of a stretch. In limited it bashes in the early game then in the late game it is takes out the legs of their biggest creature. Not to mention it is never a bad creature to enchant with power of fire.
Faerie Macabre                                
Creature - Faerie Rogue 
Discard Faerie Macabre: Remove up to two target cards in graveyards from the game.
This is the first card that could see some constructed play. It is a faerie. It is a rogue. It has very potent uncounterable ability against the top extended deck, dredge, and one of the top tier standard decks, Revelark. In limited 3 mana costing 2/2 flyers are always very good.
When it Runs it Pours
Hollow Barghest                                 
Creature - Demon Hound 
At the beginning of your upkeep, if you have no cards in hand, each opponent loses 2 life.
At the beginning of each opponent's upkeep, if that player has no cards in hand, he or she loses 2 life. 
I know this guy is a bit expensive. However his ability is guaranteed to hit a couple of times. He is of equivalent cost and size as the Loamdragger Giant, and more then likely will change the focus of a game the turn he comes into play.
Crowd of Cinders                              
Creature - Elemental 
Crowd of Cinders' power and toughness are each equal to the number of black permanents you control.
I made a point earlier that fear is not a strong ability. I do not much care for this card in that regard. On the other hand in draft you have the power to draft cards to make this guy excel. If you get this guy 3rd or 4th pick then it is a clear signal that black is yours for the taking, a lot like Lys-Alana Huntmaster did for the elves. Multiples of these can become ridiculous.
Gloom Lance                                       
Destroy target creature. If that creature was green or white, its controller discards a card.

This card has the words Destroy Target Creature on it. Do I really have to go any further? Note the lack of a color requirement.

Corrupt deals damage equal to the number of Swamps you control to target creature or player. You gain life equal to the damage dealt this way.

This card is only this high because of the existence of Elsewhere Flasks, Prismatic Omens, and the possibility of mono colored decks. While Gloom Lance is guaranteed to kill more creatures, this guy can win games and create huge swings. Depending on your MBCness or number of flasks this guy could raise in stock above nearly any other card.
It’s a Black Fly in your Chardonnay
Blowfly Infestation                            
Whenever a creature is put into a graveyard from play, if it had a -1/-1 counter on it, put a -1/-1 counter on target creature.
If you have not seen this card in action then it would be difficult to register just how much it takes over a field. It not only makes your card like Scarsale Ritual better, it makes your opponents rituals work for you. An example of how powerful this card can be: Your opponent attacks with a Boggart Ram-Gang and you block with a grizzly bear. Now not only do you get to kill the Boggart ram-gang you kill ever other 1 power creature he had then leave the counter disabling his last creature. This card is also insane with Flourishing Defenses
A Pick 3 of Rares
Puppeteer Clique                              
Creature - Faerie Wizard
When Puppeteer Clique comes into play, put target creature card in an opponent's graveyard into play under your control. That creature gains haste. At end of turn, remove that creature from the game.
Not the strongest of the black rares, it still insanely powerful. Once again it a card that gets better with the creatures your opponent plays. My favorite creatures to return into play with the Clique are opposing medicine runners after my Clique came back with persist. If only I could find a way to sacrifice the Medicine Runner….
Midnight Banshee                             
Creature - Spirit 
At the beginning of your upkeep, put a -1/-1 counter on each nonblack creature. 
Here’s a hint: Be Careful when playing this guy with Blowfly Infestation. Sure you will kill your opponent creatures faster, but ultimately those counters will find their way on your creatures. Here’s another hint: I does not matter if your opponent over commits or plays it safe, all of his non-black creatures are going to die.
Dusk Urchin                                          
Creature - Ouphe 
Whenever Dusk Urchins attacks or blocks, put a -1/-1 counter on it.
When Dusk Urchins is put into a graveyard from play, draw a card for each -1/-1 counter on it. 
Where people might think that I might be overrating this card, more then likely I am underrating this card. This guy reeks of card advantage. Once again it will turn a horde of opposing wither creatures against their owner. There are 3 creatures with 3 power and wither. If this guy blocks any of them they die and you draw 4 cards. Oh and this guy has no positive interactions with Scarsale Ritual or Fate Transfer.
Cone of Flame with Wither


This card is an easy first pick. It does not care about what you have in play. It does not count black spells or swamps. It just messes your opponent over. The best thing about it is that it does not have to kill a single creature in order to change the complexion of not just the game, the match. Let says your opponent has 3 4/4s in play. Sure the Blight won’t kill them, but it will leave them as a 3/3, 2/2, and 1/1.


by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Tue, 05/20/2008 - 00:36
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wound reflection says loss of life not damage so only life loss cards affect it like drain life.

beseech the queen is an awesome card it has yet to be anything but great.

Midnight Banshee+Blowfly+Mirrorweave = SICK by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Sun, 05/04/2008 - 15:07
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in most B/U or B/W decks that's just wrong. but if you play it just like so.. all your guys can be whatever color you want them to be, (black preferably of course) But If you did it in such a way that they're not playing black, once that counter hits at the begining of your upkeep you clear the path by dropping a Weave on a Tatterkite.. Insta-Kill to his entire board. and blowfly fails to work And Swing with a crapload of Flying Kites ftw (works really well with Bitterblossom)

Wound Reflection by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Wed, 04/30/2008 - 08:14
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I liked your review, and the fact that you sorted the list based on your rankings.  I also like the focus on limited, as a lot of MTGO play with any new set is in the limited space.

I disagree with your assessment for Wound Reflection.  I agree that it's not an all-purpose card by any means.  However, a lot of people drafting black are going to be in BR.  This card can mean "game over" when your BR fear or trampler took your opponent from 8 life to 4, and you drop Wound Reflection post-combat.  GG.  Or if you have Fear going againt a non B deck.  Definite sideboard material at least; I could see bumping it up a few spots (above Rite of Consumption?).

by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Wed, 04/30/2008 - 22:29
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"Oh and this guy has no positive interactions with Scarsale Ritual or Fate Transfer."


 That is either a typo or a wondrous rules blind spot :) 

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