You aint nothing but a hound dog
How powerful is this card?
Unconditional double strike is certainly something you’d have to respect, even if it isjuston a 2/2 body. With the aid of any power boost, the Hound will certainly pack a punch and make short work of your opponent.
The last rare card that has double strike is still terrorizing Standard, but it has protection from two colors. Griselbrand’s pet
dog hound has undying :D
While undying lets the hound come back from a lot of things that would be aimed at it, (and comes back even scarier) Avacn Restored has also provided us with an answer to undying which may be the hound’s undoing;
The Hound’s only saving grace is that the Pillar of Flame is a sorcery. That aside, I see the Pillar being a great enabler for red-based control strategies, as it provides a cheap answer to otherwise annoying undying creatures.
“It dies to removal” aside, how do we best use the Hound? When I think of double strike, my thoughts immediately go to equipment, and there is already a Hellrider deck that plays a ton of accelerators and Swords to strap on and make Griselbrand’s Hound a scary, scary threat.
However, that deck already has a glut in its four-drops, and the Hound has to compete with both the deck’s namesake and Huntmaster of the Fells.
There is another deck (that coincidentally utilizes the Huntmaster also) that is built to give its creatures a massive power boost;
A turn 4 Hound of Griselbrand, trading with something that has 4 toughness and coming back as a 3/3, would result in a potential 6/3 double striking trampler on turn 5, which can easily eat a Titan unscathed and smash your opponent’s face for 6 in the process *_* Truly terrifying.
Which reminds me of a little bone I have to pick with people playing Wolf-Run Ramp nowadays. I don’t agree with the way the decks are built and the way their pilots play it these days - they think of it too much like the Valakut decks of old.
What I mean is that the Wolf-Run decks these days are basically just ramp decks that are leaning wayy too heavily on their Primeval Titans. Their plan is to single-mindedly ramp into a Titan, then get an Inkmoth Nexus + Kessig Wolf Run for backup after you’ve dealt with their Titan.
The problem with this is that if you counter the Titan, their entire gameplan crumbles. Valakut decks could afford to do this, becauseifthe Titan resolves, they practically win the game. Evenif you could deal with the Titan. Not so much for the Wolf-Run Ramp decks.
I’ve often had very little problem letting Primeval Titans resolving, let them get two lands, as long as I had removal. I could then kill the Titan, and the Inkmoth Nexus are not huge threats, especially if I had a Curse or Elesh Norn to follow up.
Even if I didn’t have any way to deal with the Nexus, they would have to start attacking on a completely different angle than they were going for because they now have to work on getting me poisoned.
Now, I don’t play the deck at all, so maybe I’m completely misunderstanding how good the deck can really be, but as a control player that has thrashed tons of Wolf-Run Ramp decks, I can tell that their strategy is flawed in the sense that they put too many eggs in one Titan-shaped basket.
It is no wonder that many Wolf-Run players completely lost their shit when Cavern of Souls was spoiled *O*
I don’t think Wolf-Run Ramp is bad, though. In fact, I remember in the early days of this season’s Standard format, I thought Wolf-Run was the strongest deck in Standard.
What was scary about the deck (to me) was that it had a very diverse suit of threats that could end the game immediately if any of them resolved, mainly because all of them were big threats thanks to Kessig Wolf Run.
If I remember correctly, the deck had a full playset of Garruk, Primal Hunter (or was it the other Garruk?), which gave it an angle of attack that couldn’t be touched by (or rather, could outlast) creature removal.
That iteration of the deck, I thought, was pretty hard to beat, as it had more threats than I had counters, and a simple Day of Judgement wouldn’t buy me a lot of time because they’d still have a planeswalker. Even if I Oblivion Ringed the planeswalker, their lands could attack me! @_@
What does all this have to do with Hound of Griselbrand, though? Nothing much really :P Sorry I went on a rant (that might not even be very relevant because I don’t know much about the deck, for all I know the old version folds easily to Delver)
I guess where I was trying to go with this was to suggest that the Hound might let Wolf-Run Ramp be less of a Ramp deck and more of a Wolf-Run deck, allowing it to focus more on being the aggressor instead of having to lean too much on the late game Titans :D
Butter in blood
This is not a new card.
But Sorin is (was) practically a God on Innistrad, creating its most powerful protector and all, so yeah. Its his Wrath >:O
Barter in Blood is typically best in a control strategy that doesn’t really rely on having many creatures in play, so the symmetrical effect of sacrificing two creatures doesn’t really apply to you.
Justtwo creatures, though? Well, if you’re playing black, and especially black control, you’ll be more than likely to have low costed removal, which would help to sculpt your opponent’s board to the last (and most difficult to deal) two creatures, guaranteeing their death.
Not to mention how well this works as a one-two punch (three-four, actually) with Liliana of the Veil.
But the Barter doesn’t just work well in a control strategy. The black sorcery also works well in the sideboard of Zombies against other creature strategies, as you don’t really mind sacrificing Gravecrawlers and Geralf’s Messengers (which pushes you even further in front of the damage race)
I’m glad Barter in Blood is back. It sure helps black control decks by letting them off from having to dip into other colors for more powerful and cheap sweepers like Day of Judgement ^^
Why you might be reading Avacyn’s Scroll wrongly
At the surface, this Scroll seems like a plain cycler (2 mana for a card) that has a situational upside of gaining you 5 life.
Two mana is more than a reasonable price for a card, especially if you can split the cost up as it will help you spend all your mana. Five life is no small matter either, as it buys you a ton of time to make use of the card you’ve just drawn.
In fact, in the right deck, this card could even be Constructed playable @_@! *coughcough*angel beatdown*coughcouh* (Near-unconditional lifegain and the fact that it replaces itself is cool~)
But what I’ve seen most people missing about Scroll of Avacyn is that… it works great with miracle spells!!
That’s right, for the low cost of just 1 mana, you get a chance to draw a card (on your opponent’s turn) which might very well be a miracle! *o* wow whee~!
Ok, my work is done here ^_^
Four power is a lot. Four flying power is a lot more.
There are not many (non-rare) flying creatures in Avacyn Restored that have more than four toughness (without help from another card)
Which means that when your Bat Skeleton (isn’t that just the coolest creature type ever?) gets in combat with a flier, more often than not, as long as you’re willing to pay 4 life, Marrow Bats will be eating something (except Archangel - Queen of the Skies, but that girl’s 7 mana so yeah)
This makes the Bats a very powerful offensive creature, threatening to eat a creature or a fifth of your opponent. The Bat Skeleton can even block a non-trampling threat and live to tell about it. All for the low-low cost of 4 life.
Of course, 4 life is also a quarter of your life total.. so how do we mitigate it? If you’re aggressive, your own life total will rarely be relevant, especially if you’re ahead in the race. But what if you are behind?
While I don’t particularly see Black/White to be a strong nor synergistic color combination in Avacyn Restored Limited, giving your Bats lifelink would make the 4 life to regenerate the bats practically free, which almost makes it the perfect Limited flyer *_*
Homicidal Seclusion is of course insane with any creature, provided that the creature is your only creature, which already leads to many potential blowouts +_+
There aren’t any flyers with first strike either, so the Bat Skeleton’s one toughness will rarely be an issue and it will most certainly deal 4 damage whenever it gets into combat.
Or will it?
Both these enchantments effectively kill off the Marrow Bats easily for a very cheap cost. Regeneration means nothing against -1/-1. There are also two more -/- effects in Black, though one is the set’s premium removal while the other is.. meh against the Bats.
Ghoulflesh is an interesting mini-Dead Weight that can have an quirky interaction, though it is still a good form of removal because of the many 1 toughness utility creatures and the fact that the -1 power can mean the difference between being able to block a threat or not.
Guise of Fire, on the other hand, practically makes the creature it enchants lose the ability to block, provided that you are able to block it, or can outrace it. I like it a lot more than Ghoulflesh not only because it retains the same removal quality and has a lot more utility to it, but also because every time I read the name I chuckle to myself and say “hayyy guise~~~” in a really goofy voice XD
This Limited format seems interesting. At first, going through the spoiler, I thought that the format would be rather slow, like Rise of the Eldrazi. But now, when I’m looking through for cards to review, I keep seeing more and more offensive strategies that might make the format a lot faster and tempo-oriented than it initially seemed @_@
Perhaps it is the lack of solid removal and the fact that the Limited format is more tailored towards showing off the interactions with Soulbond. There is also a huge lack of aggro-oriented bears compared to Innistrad Limited @_@ The game seems to start on turn 3 in Avacyn Restored..
I think I’ll hold off on any predictions on the Limited format for now. I’ll definitely get a much better and clearer idea after I’ve had some games in the prerelease this weekend, which I’m really looking forward to ^O^
Its an owl with four legs!
There has been a lot of noise over Misthollow Griffin, Magic’s first Griffin that has the face of an Owl! *3*
It is also incidentally the first creature that can be cast from
the removed from the game zone exile.
I’m excited for this card, if only for the possibility that it brings. Cards that can be cast from exile.. *dreamy eyes*
Of course, there has been tons of ‘amazing’ combos that abuse the Griffin’s ability to be cast from exile;
In older (and casual) formats, there is the interesting interaction with Food Chain which generates infinite mana of any color;
What you do is cast the disgusting looking enchantment (I hate worms, so so much) (yes I know those are saprolings but still) when you have 3 mana, then you cast the Griffin on the next turn.
You then exile the Griffin immediately and add five blue mana to your mana pool. You then use that mana to cast the Griffin again, effectively netting you one blue mana.
Do this an infinite number of times to generate infinite blue mana, which will in turn let you generate infinite mana of any color. Of course, you can spend this mana only to cast creature spells, but there are many ways around this in the formats where this is applicable ;D or you could just cast the game winning creature :P
There are also some quirky interactions with Misthollow Griffin in Standard;
The most Standard-worthy, I think, (so far, at least) is to exile the Griffin with Moorland Haunt. You then get to cast it again and if it dies, you get to make another 1/1 flying Spirit! Card advantage at its finest :D
Another funny interaction with the Griffin is to Surgical Extraction it, effectively ‘drawing’ you 3 more Griffins, making the two-card interaction somewhat of a more expensive (in both senses of the word, mana cost and rarity wise) pseudo Squadron Hawk.
Lastly, we have Back from the Brink, which practically allows you to cast the Griffin from your hand, your graveyard, and from exile, giving you an endless stream of flying owl-faced threats.
This similar interaction also applies to all the Skaab creatures from Innistrad that require you to exile creatures to cast. The Griffin acts as a fuel for the Skaabs (as well as an additional creature to play later)
Of course, all these interactions sound nice and card-advantage-y until you realize that you’re actually casting a flying Hill Giant. Not the most impressive thing you can do for four mana.
Having flying is nice, though, especially since a recursive threat such as this can definitely exhaust the Delver deck’s resources (the 3/3 flying body blocks everything the deck plays quite effectively minus the Invisible Stalkers) but four mana might still be too much and too late.
The best-case scenario I can see abusing this would be to cheapen its cost; a.k.a. using Heartless Summoning. The Griffin then becomes a 2/2 flyer for UU, which is a lot more reasonable, especially when it can be recast, making it a more blue-intensive Squadron Hawk
However, Moorland Haunt doesn’t play nicely with the Summoning, and Surgical Extraction just to get 3 more 2/2s isn’t exactly powerful.. What do you do after you’ve cast all of them and they’ve died? Remove them with Skaab Ruinator and effectively get 3 more?
Sounds good, but I’m not sure if it will be good enough to be a competitive Standard deck without getting run over by Titans. Its surely a fun idea to try out at FNM, though :D
Misthollow Griffin is sure and interesting card, but there aren’t enough (powerful) things to abuse it with in Standard (yet). Definitely keeping an eye on this owl with four legs. And definitely hoping more cards with its ability get printed sometime soon *_*b
Why I hate Elgaud Shieldmate
I spammed “NOOOOOOOOOOO SHIIIIIIIIIIITTTT FUUUUUUUUUUU” when I saw this card in the spoiler.
This card is so annoying to deal with in Avacyn Restored Limited. It’s bad enough that the set doesn’t have enough cheap, instant speed removal (because you can kill either the Shieldmate or the creature you’re trying to bind it to in response to the Soulbond ability)
You practically have to kill the Shieldmate as soon as possible, especially if you think (or know) your opponent has a bomb in their deck. Hexproofed bomb = unbeatable. Especially when all the sweepers in this set are rare.
But what the Shieldmate is protecting a cheaper threat?
Turn 3 Seeker into turn 4 Shieldmate is quite a difficult clock to race, especially if you don’t have Barter in Blood (or just black in general, as black is the one with the most common/uncommon, cheap, instant speed spot removal)
Sure, both of the cards are uncommon. But so was groan-tastic Invisible Stalker + Butcher’s Cleaver.
I just hate these kinds of sick, non-interactive strategies in Limited because they tend to take a lot of skill out of the game T_T
I know such ‘combos’ are important in a Limited format to allow ‘weaker’ players to win even against ‘better’ players so that they’ll come back for more games, but.. *sigh*
Oh well, good to know, I guess :\ pick these high if you’re in blue, and watch out if you’re playing against blue. I might even go so far as to hate draft the Shieldmate, especially if I’ve passed a Latch Seeker and am not in the removal colors (red/black)
Or maybe I’m just overreacting :3 lets hope so T_T
Somebody bring me a broom
So Avacyn Restored has given us a pair of wonderful sweepers for control decks.
And they’re both miracles! *o*
The best part about both of these sweepers is they they don’t kill (see: destroy) anything ^o^ This is especially relevant in today’s Standard because of the plethora of undying creatures and graveyard shenanigans.
Of course, Terminus and Devastation Tide are not exactly the same cards.
The white miracle puts only creatures on the bottom of the library, which is arguably the hardest place to retrieve anything in Magic these days. This allows Terminus to be one of the most effective sweepers in Standard (and it combos really well with Cellar Door too! ok don’t seriously consider that interaction please)
The blue miracle, on the other hand, returns all nonland permanents back to their owner’s hands. Sure, returning stuff to the hand is among the most non-permanent removal of its kind, but what it does is buy youtime, which is what sweepers are for in control decks, anyway.
Devastation Tide’s added versatility is both a strength and weakness, as you can sweep everything, but your stuff (like planeswalkers) will be returned as well. But even then, you can set it up to gain an advantage such utilizing enters the battlefield abilities or even to reset your planeswalkers :D
The fact that these two sweepers are also miracles make them very good considerations as four-ofs in control decks (after sideboard). You can still use them in the early game if you draw them.
Miracles often have the downside of costing a lot to hardcast, but these sweepers are actually fairly reasonable at their costs.
Terminus costs 4WW, and six mana is not unheard of for a near-unconditional sweeper. The wide gap between the six mana and its one mana miracle cost also makes it fairly simple to evaluate.
Devastation Tide, on the other hand, costs one mana cheaper to hardcast but also one mana more to cast as a miracle. This means that there might be times where it would be correct to wait on casting the blue miracle for 3UU instead of snap casting it for 1U once you draw it, letting your opponent commit more to the board so you snag more of their tempo (while leaving mana up for your instants, like counterspells, on turn 3)
The number of decisions that increase after just a small differences in their mana costs are enough to show that there isn’t barely enough understanding on how to properly evaluate how and when to cast miracle spells.
Deckbuilding would also be a challenge when taking miracles into consideration. I initially thought to think of the miracles in terms of their hardcast costs and to just consider the miracle costs as nice, situational bonuses, but the opportunity to cast the spells for cheap isn’t something that I think should be just left up to luck.
Building the deck around trying to cast the miracles just for their miracle costs, however, seems to be a risky and inconsistent at best, especially since we don’t have anything like Brainstorm in Standard to fix our draws.
I guess I’ll just have to wait until I actually have the cards in my hands and get to shuffle and play a few games with them to actually figure out how they perform in real life.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in deckbuilding for so many years its that theorycrafting can only get you so far, and sometimes, something that looks horribly clunky on paper works like a well-oiled machine *_*;
Looking at Terminus and Devastation Tide, though, I realize that they share miracle costs with other miracle cards in their color;
Are these just coincidences? Just my brain playing tricks on me while it tries to find and/or complete patterns? Regardless, I think that having a the same miracle cost is not irrelevant to deckbuilding with miracles in mind.
Take the blue miracles for example, if I have both Devastation Tide and Temporal Mastery in the same deck, I would make sure to tune my manabase to be able to consistently produce 1U on turn 3.
Aside from deckbuilding, card drawing considerations also come into play, as any instant speed card drawing becomes immediately tacked with the possibility of having “Kicker: 1U - Temporal Mastery or Devastation Tide”.
This fact alone might influence when I actually plan to cast my card drawing spells, which consequently helps me decide how many of said card drawing spells would I want in my deck.
For now, I foresee playing spells like Think Twice to refill my hand only in the later stages of the game, when I have more mana up to get incidental value off my miracle cards (as opposed to something to do on turns 2 and 3 when my opponent doesn’t play anything worth bothering about - which I think is highly unlikely, especially in the early stages of post-Avacyn Restored Standard)
..rereading the above paragraphs, it does make the Miracle mechanic seem more linear, like Cascade.. but instead of the spells themselves, all your instant speed card drawing are the ones that ‘have’ “cascade”.. A deck full of miracles would be a nice place to have Desolated Lighthouse.. *_*
However, even with the whole set spoiled, I don’t see how a deck full of miracles would be a good, or even consistent deck.. @_@
So anyways, which do I think is the most powerful miracle sweeper from Avacyn Restored? My answer might surprise you :D
This has a lot to do with the control deck I have in mind.. which I might post a decklist of after writing a few more review articles ^^
Bonfire is a windmill slam pick in Limited though, no matter what color you’re in! Just slam it. SLAM IT! then put a mountain in your deck and prepare to get some sick wins ^__^
I’m disappointed at people that are calling this a reverse-Polymorph or a Telemin Performance. There is actually a very, very good reason why this card is in Avacyn Restored;
The Miracle mechanic might be one of the most luck dependent mechanics since Cascade. People have already started dreading losing games to lucky opponents topdecking timely miracles..
But never fear! Stolen Goods lets yoube the one to have that lucky topdeck! ^o^ and the best part is - you don’t even have to have a miracle card in your deck :D You get toreverse lucksack your opponent *_*
Speaking of lucksacking, you can even potentially manascrew them if you manage to hit a land clump, exiling a ton of lands from their (limited) deck! *__* are you feeling lucky?
Seriously though, I don’t think Stolen Goods will ever be a consideration in any sort of competitive deck :P Even in limited. Unfortunately.
Best case scenario would be to cast this after your opponent has Pondered, gleefully adjusted his top 3 cards and started grinning at you with that ‘somebody’s gonna get a hurt real bad’ look on their face..
..or, if you could somehow put something that you’d want on top of their library.. say, like a planeswalker.. hmm.. if only there was a way to put a nonland permanent on top of your opponent’s library.. it’d be better if it were an instant.. or has a possibility to be cast for almost no cost.. *looks up for no apparent reason*
*ahem* anyways, moral of the story; Stealing is bad, kids >:O Don’t do it!
The name’s bond, Soulbond
I foresee myself repeatedly saying the name of this mechanic wrongly. The creatures are bound together, so it should be Soulbound.
Last week, I kept referring to it, even in typing, as Soulbound +_+ Finally got around to getting used to typing ‘Soulbond’.. but still.
..actually, I’m just finding a good excuse to justify using such a cheesy title for this post :P
Like any other mechanic that requires creature(s) to be on the battlefield, Soulbond dies to removal. In fact, requiring two creatures for the ability to even do anything, Soulbond sets you up to get blown out very easily by any kind of removal, on either of the paired creatures.
On the flipside, Soulbond also allows for gigantic blowouts if your opponent doesn’t have removal. There has already been talk about how Silverblade Paladin can easily lead to turn-4 kills. In Standard.
Any 2 powered creature on turn 2, followed by the Paladin on 3, (4 damage courtesy of double strike), followed by a Joint Assault on both creatures (yielding 16 damage; 4 + 4, double striked). Wow whee! Time to ask for your opponent’s autograph~ (on your match slip)
If your opponent doesn’t have removal.
I, for one, don’t particularly like Soulbond. But I tend to dislike any sort of strategy that relies on if your opponent “has it” or not, no matter how explosive and consistent it may be. Consequently, you will never find me playing the Tempered Steel deck :(
From what has been spoiled so far, Soulbond seems to be this set’s equivalent to Rise of the Eldrazi’s Leveler mechanic. That is, a good creature based mechanic that leads to blowouts on either side on the table, is mainly a Limited only mechanic (though a very good one in that format) and only making a minor splash in Standard.
However, unlike the Leveler mechanic, a constructed Standard deck is also way more consistent and able to set itself up to take the most advantage out of the Soulbond mechanic. This means that Soulbond decks will be a lot more like linear decks like Tempered Steel, Allies or Affinity, where they are explosive and consistent, but are easily hated out due to their one dimensionality.
That said, what other creatures with Soulbond have potential to make it in Standard?
Wolfir Silverheart is a card that offers a huge boost in power, adding at least 12 power on the board (provided you already have a creature to pair it with) the turn you play it. That’s a lot of power, even if it is “just” generic, evasion-less power.
Unless you pair the Silverheart with creatures with evasion;
On your left, if you’re playing Standard, and on your right, if you’re playing Limited ;D
Speaking of Limited, in addition to Latch Seeker, I’ve discovered yet another card that is in the set primarily to abuse with Soulbond;
As if Soulbond needed any more comparison with Tempered Steel, its this set’s very own Glint Hawk Idol! :D Only, it is in a lot of ways, worse. Primarily because it has no activation cost, making it rely on your having creatures enter the battlefield.
I hated Angel’s Tomb, at first. Why reprint an inferior card, especially so soon? Then when I was researching on Soulbond, I realized that this is a Soulbond plant for Limited.
When a Soulbond creature enters the battlefield, you can stack the triggers in the way that will allow the Tomb to become a 3/3 white Angel artifact creature with flying and then pair it to your Souldbond creature - giving you a body to utilize that double strike or +4/+4 this turn.
That’s right, when the Tomb turns back into an inanimate artifact that the end of your turn, the creatures become unpaired (since both permanents have to be creatures in order to become paired - this interaction is particularly useful to know, especially with creature lands like Inkmoth Nexus)
Wouldn’t it be counter-intuitive, pairing your creatures for only a turn? Especially in the case of Angel’s Tomb, where you would require to cast another creature if you want to attack the next turn?
Not if you want to pair the Soulbond creature with a different creature on the next turn (you can’t un-pair creatures unless either one of them leaves the battlefield or stops being a creature). You could also blink the Soulbond creature to re-trigger the Angel’s Tomb.
The various blink effects in Avacyn Restored also serve the purpose of saving your
Soulbound paired creatures from removal and to reset the pairs on board, making blink effects very high picks in Avacryn Restored Draft, in my opinion *_*
Here’s an example of a Soulbond creature that doesn’t want to be paired with the same creature for more than one turn;
Lightning Mauler is a great creature to cast in accompaniment with another creature in the same turn, as you can give both of them haste. Haste is an ability that’s only useful on a creature the turn it enters the battlefield, and doesn’t do anything special in the turns thereafter.
The berserker is a great candidate in any aggressive red deck, as it already is potentially a 2/1 with haste, provided you already have a creature on the battlefield.
However, this might not be what you want to do, as you might want to give whatever you’re playing on turn 3 haste, which means that you wouldn’t want to pair the Mauler with anything if you played it on turn 2, an interesting, if awkward, situation.
The Mauler is great in that it turns whatever you cast into Ball Lightning,though I don’t see any creature that you want in the current Standard to give haste and is fragile enough that it might die immediately after attacking. Ok, maybe Crumbling Colossus, but c’mon -_-
Another Soulbond creature that I think *might* make it in Standard is Nightshade Peddler;
Deathtouch is a very powerful ability to give around, as evidenced by the playability of Basilisk Collar, which turned any pinger you had into creature-killing machine guns.
There isn’t a pinger in Standard on the level of Cunning Sparkmage, (yet) nor is there any enchantment that grants that ability (yet), but there is an equipment that, with Nightshade Peddler, lets you kill a creature immediately;
Probably my favorite equipment in Standard, Mortarpod lets you pair its germ token with Nightshade Peddler, immediately letting you shoot a creature to kill it *o*
Subsequently, every other creature that enters your side on the battlefield becomes potential Mortarpod fodder to kill even more creatures, which frees up the Peddler to be paired up with another creature to kill another creature.
And if you have a token maker? Wow whee! Time to ask your opponents with creature-based decks for their autographs~ ^o^ (hmm.. why does this sound familiar..)
In conclusion; Soulbond, an interesting ability that’ll definitely lead to blowouts, on both sides of the table *_* and while seemingly simple, has a lot more utility than meets the eye..
Avacyn Restored is shaping up to be a very, very interesting set with a creature mechanic that will make for very interesting board states and decisions in Limited.. can’t wait! ^o^
How to train your demon
Treacherous Pit-Dweller is a naughty naughty demon.
An undercosted 4/3, the demon is a formidable threat in the early game and can very well single-handedly kill your opponent.
It is so formidable, in fact, that if it dies, it comes back from the dead..
..on your opponent’s side. Uh oh.
I would’ve found the Pit-Dweller’s story more compelling if it had Persist; you summon a strong, eager demon, more than willing to tear your opponent limb from limb. Your opponent somehow manages to best the demon, defeating it. The demon’s lust for battle brings it back from the dead, but it cowers in fear at your opponent that bested it (-1/-1 counter), and goes for you instead >o<
Ok, maybe it could still be an overeager demon that once defeated, gets angry at you for not taking better care of it / letting it die and comes back from the dead to angrily (+1/+1 counter) let you feel the pain that it had to go through under your command.
So it works both ways, but how do we take the Treacherous out of Treacherous Pit-Dweller?
1) You could stop it from coming back;
With the large amount of good cards that work well with (or in) the graveyard in Innistrad block, almost every deck in Standard has some sort of interaction with the graveyard these days.
Grafdigger’s Cage has always been a playable sideboard option, especially since it can singlehandedly shut down Birthing Pod decks. If there was a way to get advantage of the artifact other than it a reactive card against certain strategies, it could very well be a viable mainboard card.
You could also remove the Pit-Dweller from your graveyard with its undying trigger on the stack to stop it from coming back;
I have always kept an eye on Nihil Spellbomb as a mainboard card in black-based decks, mainly because it cycles for a card; giving mono-black decks the painless card-velocity that it wouldn’t have otherwise. The fact that the Spellbomb hoses multiple graveyard strategies is just a nice plus.
Moonland Haunt, on the other hand.. not so much. 1WB in a deck that seeks to cast a BB creature on turn 2.. Yeah, not very viable, I know. What I meant is something like the Haunt, a card that lets you exile a creature in your graveyard for value ^^; Though if there were some sort of heavy-black Esper build…..
2) You can get rid of it before it defects to your opponent’s side;
Being the ruthless black mage that you are, you should very well know that any and all creatures that disobey your commands must pay the price!
And what better price than to serve you as two extra cards, or to be flung right at the opponent’s face? “You want to go to the other side so badly? Here, go!! *straps a bomb and throws at opponent*”
3) You can stop its treachery from even triggering.
Ah, they say the third time’s the charm. And boy, is Torpor Orb a charm.
Just like Grafdigger’s Cage before it, there are a lot of creature enters the battlefield triggers in today’s Standard. The whole cycle of Titans, Snapcaster Mage, Geralf’s Messenger, just to name a few.
There are also a lot of incoming creatures with such triggers in Avacyn Restored, as suggested by the multiple blink effects present. Also, one of the set’s mechanics, Soulbond, also gets completely shut off with the Orb in play.
Unlike Grafdigger’s Cage, though, Torpor Orb doesn’t halve the potential of Trecherous Pit-Dweller; it still comes back from the dead, but the trigger to go to your opponent’s side never triggers! :D
The only disadvantage the Orb has over the cage is that you can’t go turn 1 Orb, turn 2 Pit-Dweller. But then again, you might not even have to, especially against removal-light opponents.
Actually, there are two other creatures that work better with Torpor Orb in Avacyn Restored as well;
Once you have the Torpor Orb on the battlefield, Ugly demon, Demonlord of Ashmouth and Vexing Devil become efficient, undercosted beaters as they both lose their ‘drawbacks’ that might otherwise cause them to die before they become of any use to you.
This makes a deck built around Torpor Orb sound very appealing, especially since the Orb can incidentally shut off other strategies or make certain creatures worse.
However, the deck would be a lot worse if the Orb is not on the battlefield. This means that you would have to have a full playset of the Orb in your deck, which, while necessary for consistency’s sake, gives you more dead draws, as redundant copies of the Orb on the battlefield have zero use.
Fling-type spells would also be useful in this kind of deck, since without the Orb, Flinging the Demonlord when it comes back but you don’t have any other creature to sacrifice is a good way to get an easy six damage.
Altar’s Reap is also a good way to help you draw more cards to ensure you don’t run out of gas. You could also run cards like Faithless Looting and Risky Bet (1R Instant, Discard your hand, draw 2 cards).
The last card that I’d love to try in this deck with cheap, powerful creatures is Postmortem Lunge;
This Phyrexian-mana sorcery doesn’t only let you re-cast any of your cheap but powerful threats from your graveyard (for one extra mana or two life), but also plays very well with sacrifice effects like Fling - since the creature doesn’t need to be exiled anymore, and can even come back for more if it had undying!
I’ll have to wait until the complete set has Avacyn Restored to be spoiled to be able to produce a full decklist, but this deck does seem very powerful. I’m sure I have one or two friends who love this kind of deck and will be more than willing to give it a go come May :D
Hopefully I’ll get to see the deck in action and post how it fares here ^^ Look forward to it~