Muse Vessel – Innistrad: A Review of all things Mythical

Up until now, our Innistrad review has seen each Muse give you a sample of cards from Innistrad that they were either excited about, or wanted to warn you about.  Now all three of us dive into the juicy meat that the Innistrad mythics have to offer.  

The font color should give away which opinions are worthless, which have comedic value only, and which are absolute gold.

Liliana of the Veil 

Graveborn Muse:  L.o.V. spells love! As I wrote in The State of Our Dark Union, Maro told me that WotC acknowledged the need for a strong black planeswalker, and I’d say he delivered in spades. Firstly, the +1 is made for multiplayer, which makes a pleasant change, and the -2 gives her a lot more board presence than I had dared to dream. You’ll really have to work to get her ultimate off against three or more players, but it is doable. If you don’t want to play it straight, proliferation makes the trip from three to six loyalty very short indeed. Also, be aware that she is hugely powerful in a balancing situation, so you could just wait for your chance to say “give me a couple of turns and I’ll deal with The Threat!” Once you go ultimate, someone is going to have a very long road to get back in the game, as casual powerhouses Curse of the Cabal and Choice of Damnations have made clear, but remember that down is a very different thing from out in multiplayer.

I think I may have to dust off my plans to turn Thrax into a planeswalker-based deck if I’m lucky enough to get my hands on her! In fact, I only have two concerns about the L.o.V. of my life: I wish Adam Hughes had done the art, and I wish I could afford a set for my Standard deck.

Seedborn Muse:  B/W control is in!  Sun Titan Liliana out, or cast Liliana turn 3 and Divine Reckoning on turn 4, followed by her second ability to rid the opponent of the creature they kept.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this realm was a go-to control deck for Standard, but if nothing else Liliana will be tearing up a playgroup near you.

Windborn Muse:  When I look at planeswalkers, I tend to determine how good I think they’ll be by ignoring the ultimate and looking at the remaining abilities.  Usually planeswalkers won’t  get to use their ultimate in a multiplayer game simply because of the number of opponents.  Given that, Liliana makes you and everyone else discard a card, or you can force someone to sacrifice a creature.  It seems like Liliana exists to hurt control decks with fewer creatures.  She does very little against green or white.  If your metagame is lousy with mass creature decks, you will want to wait to put her into decks until you get a more favorable metagame.  Once you get it, this card will be a must.

Reaper from the Abyss

GBM: Not wild about the name, but that morbid ability is fantastic in multiplayer. Usually you’ll be able to count on other folks getting their creatures killed, but if you need to step in and make it happen yourself then there might possibly be some options for black mage. For Kaalia decks in particular, play your heavy hitters for free and then sit back with all your mana untapped and a hand full of instant speed removal and then make sure that critters are dying at just the right speed. Another example is one of my favorite demons, Defiler of Souls, who will keep most of your opponents sacrificing critters and triggering morbid each turn. That way, you can target their non-black multicolored critters with the Reaper. There are also a host of Abyss-y type things you can use, including Call to the Grave. Sacrificing your own critters on someone else’s turn is fine too, and Eldrazi spawn tokens fit the bill nicely (thanks Nick!), as does Reassembling Skeleton.

On the political tip, people have been making deals with the devil for a long damn time, and the Reaper shows us why. If there’s a critter that someone wants dead, they might offer to attack into another opponent in order to get their creatures killed just so that the Reaper can knock off a bigger threat. And if they don’t offer up a sacrifice on their own initiative, you might want to remind them. The devil advertises!

SBM:  Will there be board states in which the only creature to kill is your own Kaalia?  Mandatory triggers are worrisome, but I doubt that will stop anyone from running this hoss.

WBM:  Just so we’re all clear on this, if a creature dies on anyone’s turn, you get to kill another one.  This is just freaking awesome.  While Seedborn Muse is worried about mandatory triggers, I’m with Blue Oyster Cult:  Don’t fear the Reaper.  If you get to the point where you have to kill your own Kaalia, so be it.  That means you are winning.  Hardcore!    Hopefully Kaalia can sit in the Command Zone and rest up until someone can take out the Reaper.  Then she can come out and you can beat down with her and whatever other piece of nastiness is sitting in your hand.

Garruk Relentless/Garruk, the Veil-Cursed

GBM:  I have no idea how this is going to work out, because it might be the most complex card ever made (although like everything else, Lightning Bolt brings simplicity to a complex situation). I sure do like it though! Compared to the first Garruk, a potentially endless supply of 2/2 wolves is nicer than a limited supply of 3/3 beasts,[1] and even better is a supply of 1/1 deathtouch blockers that would be endless if it mattered; that Lhurgoyfy Overrun is going to end games in a hurry. And if there’s anything that you can’t deal with by using a brutal power boost, then you can usually tutor for a critter that will help to deal with the problem. There isn’t much that chaining Acidic Slime, Indrik Stomphowler and Terastodon can’t deal with!

For Commander, and we have to talk about a singleton format because of how expensive he’s probably going to be, Garruk works great with a bunch of other black/green cards. Ever noticed how good those colors are at blocking? Sapling of Colfenor can hold the fort all day long, Nath of the Gilt-Leaf makes more than enough speed-bumps to keep Garruk alive, and Glissa, the Traitor is a great blocker who loves it when Garruk beats up on creatures your opponents control. Best of all, Vhati, il-Dal makes Garruk’s fighting ability very effective and much easier to manage. On the aggro side of the B/G coin, commanders like Skullbriar, Doran and of course Kresh love it when chumpblockers get removed, and the more damage you’re doing with the rest of your deck, the more synergy you can find with Garruks other abilities, such as wolf tokens and ungodly big tramplers.

I’ll leave Brandon to figure out how to give him deathtouch, while I figure out how to squeeze Garruk Relentless into my four B/G Commander decks.

SBM:  I don’t know about giving deathtouch; just shoot Walls all day and keep him alive.  This might be Hex Parasite’s best friend, as opponents don’t know which side you want on a given turn while knowing you could go to the dark side on your turn before using any of the abilities.

Like the majority of planeswalkers, this seems to file under powerful-but-specialty even with five abilities, but it seems so hard to keep enough counters on him to get somewhere amazing.  Night Garruk seems like it wants to make a ton of Wolves before doing anything else (which seems fine, as we haven’t seen anything make deathtouch tokens before to gauge the ability’s power; I think it’s either the best or second-best ability).  To get tons of power out of Garruk appears to be sloooooow, but if there’s a deck that can support him, it should find plenty of power here. 

WBM:  I agree with Seedborn Muse on this one:  too slow.  Way too slow. His light side[2] gives you 2/2 wolves. That’s nice, but I want way more from a planeswalker than a few 2/2 wolves.  To get more I have to spend a turn fighting another creature, hoping none of my opponents pump up the creature I’m fighting to kill off Garruk.  Assuming Garruk goes to the dark side, I have to get deathtouch wolves to get the loyalty count up a little before I can tutor or Overrun.  It will be a fun card to try out, but I don’t think he’ll stay in decks for long.   

 Balefire Dragon

GBM:  And the competition to create the most over-the-top dragon of all time continues! Balefire Dragon is definitely a contender. One of the great things about red is that it can give its creatures haste, and one of the great things about Balefire’s ability is that it doesn’t require any money down. Take it from the guy who plays RAkroma and Urabrask as commanders: haste and firebreathing are not hugely synergistic. That’s the problem with such mind-blowingly cool cards as Steel Hellkite, Flameblast Dragon, Ancient Hellkite or Hellkite Igniter: they send the rest of the table scrambling for an answer before they get to connect, and if you cast them with haste then you usually can’t get much value from their abilities (which is a reason to play Geosurge, even in Commander, by the way). Balefire is going to have a similar effect on the board as these other scaly all-stars, but it will be just as effective when you cast it and swing on turn seven as when you cast it, wait and swing with untapped mana the next turn. It also won’t leave you vulnerable to blowouts like most dragons, where you tap out to pump it up only for it to eat a removal spell.

Finally, note that Balefire says “deals that much damage,” meaning that he gets pretty brutal with any pump effects you might have lying around. Loxodon Warhammer would get pretty ludicrous with this guy, and lifelink makes me think of deathtouch, which makes me think of Basilisk Collar (which only takes one mana to equip). Watch for the price of the collar to come down when Worldwake rotates out and then snap them up is my advice to you.

SBM:  Don’t swing into False Prophet unless you mean to.

WBM:  What I really like about this card is that it forces opponents to chump with those creatures they just don’t want to use.  Pardon my ancient example, but killing off a Tradewind Rider has always been difficult, since the controller would never block with it, knowing he can likely bounce the problem very soon.  Balefire Dragon says you better chump block me or everything is dying. 

 Olivia Voldaren[3]

GBM:  A strong, affordable Commander, Olivia gives us a lot to think about. As a 3/3, she isn’t overwhelmingly powerful at first glance, which really goes without saying at four mana, but her abilities can be huge. Firstly, she gets to ping other creatures and get bigger in the process, allowing her to punch well above her weight class. By the time your opponents are casting their more expensive commanders, Olivia will be big enough to go head-to-head with them, and has probably already got in for five or ten points of commander damage. Those of you who are gray of tooth and long of hair will rejoice at how far we’ve come from the early days when vampires had to kill their prey to collect +1/+1 counters; these newfangled vamps just have to look at you and they get a counter!

Her second ability is even more powerful; if you get a chance to untap with her in the late game, then she’ll be able to charm more powerful creatures over to your side, and if you can get her to stick for a couple of turns then you’ve probably won.

Building around Olivia requires you to emphasize three things: red mana, protection and sac outlets. There are still only a handful of red vampires, so your first instinct might be to play red as a minor color, but that won’t work if you want to turn her into a machine gun. Her ability costs 1R, which might as well read BR, which strongly suggests an even split between the two colors to get the most out of her.

Secondly, you can only keep those weak-willed mortals under her thrall for as long as she stays on the battlefield, so you need to work extra hard to keep her alive. Darksteel Plate, Lightning Greaves and Whispersilk Cloak are just the beginning; you definitely want to make sure that Olivia is the best-dressed commander at the table. Normally I’d be happy to let a four-drop commander die and just cast it again, but the potential tempo swing of stealing their most expensive creature for a mere 4RBB is so huge that it is worth jumping through a lot of hoops to keep her in play.

Finally, no matter how hard you try, she is going to get staked eventually, so you need to ensure that her mind-controlled minions don’t go back to their owners, and that means lots and lots of sac outlets. Viscera Seer is a must-have, in addition to whatever your favorites might be. Instant speed only, though, and make sure that they aren’t too mana intensive; we plan to be taking a lot of their creatures and we don’t want any of them finding their way back home.

Pro tip: Don’t forget Everlasting Torment! Olivia dishes out the beats like few other commanders, and she should get more than enough +1/+1 counters to make up for any wither damage she might receive.

WBM:  My preference is to ignore her creature type and add her to a R/B burn.  If you can ramp up your mana, I want to try 4x Olivia and 4x Kumano, Master Yamabushi.  Either exile their creatures or take control of them! 

 Army of the Damned

WBM:  OMG!  13 zombies!  This card rocks!  I can’t wait!  I’ll get my 13 zombies and kick everyone’s asses!  I rulz! 

Let’s take a deep breath people.  Check that mana cost in the upper right corner of the card.  Eight mana is a whole lot of mana.  Have you looked at the flashback cost?  Ten mana is outrageous!  What are you really getting for eight mana?  I will grant you that 13 zombies is a lot of zombies.  Just remember, you are entering the late game if you have eight mana.  Are 13 2/2 zombies going to win you the game in the late game?  They don’t have haste, so you aren’t going to surprise someone with overwhelming numbers and win the game.  They even come into play tapped, so you can’t use them as last second blockers.  Will you even have the zombies on your next turn?  By the late game, everyone has mana for all their tricks, so wraths, Pestilence, Elesh Norn, the new Blasphemous Act, and so many other cards are available to simply shut these guys down. 

I want these guys when they can send my other cards over the top.  My five or six other zombies all get huge with Coat of Arms.  I have a Carrion Feeder or Goblin Bombardment.  If your cards in play can use 13 dudes right now to give you a big bonus, that’s when Army of the Damned is a solid card.  Until then, you keep playing Army of the Damned, and I’ll play Massacre Wurm

GBM:  Good news and bad news: the bad news is that this is a “bad” card; the good news is that it’s an incredibly fun card that you should be able to get very cheaply, mythic or not (you can probably pick up a playset on eBay for a buck or so). As I wrote on Monday, I’m very happy to accept the limitations of these George Romero zombies—play them and sit back to see if your opponents draw an answer. They might, but that’s OK; just play another. Flashback means that, like every zombie apocalypse flick ever made, there will be a sequel. The zombies always win in the end.

For those who have an unnatural attachment to their zombies (I mean, more than I do) and can’t bear to see them get swept away, I present Vengeful Dead and
Falkenrath Noble. You’re welcome. Noxious Ghoul also helps to reduce the risk of tapping out to play creatures that can’t block. It’s nice to see the Undead cooperating like that.

 Angelic Overseer

WBM:  There are times when someone is going to kill off your Humans and leave your Angelic Overseer vulnerable to any kind of removal.  I think if anyone is willing to burn two cards to get rid of the Overseer, let them and enjoy the fact that their hand is much smaller. 

This card strikes me as a great rare, but a lousy mythic.  I get what they are trying to do on the card, but an angel that gets a conditional hexproof and indestructibility just doesn’t seem particularly mythic.  This just isn’t that exciting a card.

GBM:  I’d concur that it is underpowered as a mythic, but even I find it exciting. Maybe it’s that gorgeous art by Jason Chan, the man who drew the face on the $100 bill, or maybe it’s the thought of equipping her with a Runed Stalactite, but I would jump at the chance to load a deck with these. If you have a deck that plays Worship, you probably have a deck that wants this.

 Mikaeus, the Lunarch

WBM:  Mikaeus[4] was spoiled in From the Vault: Legends, so we’ve had a little time to actually see him in action. Or at least the people who got a copy of the FtV and cracked it open did.  This guy is going to be a beast for the Spike Feeder decks, and all the token decks will be loving him too. 

His beauty is in his scalability.  He can come out early, mid-game or late and be effective in all those situations.  While I was not particularly excited about Gavony Township, which is essentially doing the same thing on a less vulnerable permanent, I am excited about this card, primarily because he gives the same effect for far less cost.  He is a better proliferate card in the decks he will be going in. 

I do worry about Mikaus sanity.  Flowing robes and that many candles suggests that Mickaeus, the Looney may be a better name.

GBM:  As a commander, Mikeaus puts you in a difficult position: should you swing with an x/x or should you try to pump your team? White is the color of weenie hordes, but it is definitely not the color of counter-based shenaniganry. Elesh Norn probably works better in straight-up aggro, and if counters is your game, then Mikueas will only be marginally interesting for you as a commander.

However, I suspect that while Mikuaes won’t be as popular (and certainly not as effective) as Maga, Traitor to Mortals, the other x-costing legend, he could be a sleeper hit.  Mieukas scales well with a long Commander game, and off-hand I can’t think of a bigger legendary beater in monowhite. Granted, he is fairly vanilla most of the time, but as in Blackjack, all you really need to do in Commander is get to 21; Miskeau is great at that game. Also, it only takes a spot of vigilance to greatly increase his utility, and vigilance is one of white’s specialties (the other of course is saying “No, you can’t interact with me, waaaaaaaa!”).

I expect that Misaeuk will be appearing at a table near you quite soon, maybe in a support role but probably as a commander, and quite possibly kicking your teeth in.[5]

 Mirror-Mad Phantasm

SBM:  Well hmm.  There’s tons of power here, but how to access it?  You could always just play it as a 5/1 flying beatstick, although you’d probably need something else to clear the skies first (Corrosive Gale?). 

More than any creature I can think of in a long time, what you do with this creature depends completely on how many you put into the deck.  Do you stick one in and have an easy way of dumping the majority your library into your graveyard (if Phantasm resolves you have priority, so seven mana ensures that you do this)?  Do you use four and make sure you always have a sizable flyer while having at least something, probably around threshold numbers, in the graveyard?  Do you use Phantasm’s ability to dodge removal no matter what the graveyard cost (I wouldn’t recommend this unless you know why you’re putting things in your graveyard)?  Ultimately, I think Phantasm is a way to dump your library into your graveyard while serving as a backup win condition; at least that’s how you’ll see it played most often.  That doesn’t mean it’s the only way, and I think there’s plenty of creative space here.

Commanderwise, try The Mimeoplasm as one of these.  You’ll shuffle it in, mill tons of stuff, and then get it back in as the cream of what you just milled, or something else.  That could be hot, not that The needed any help.

WBM:  Another option is to use it as a way to shuffle your library.  Did your Sensei’s Divining Top or Brainstorm not see anything good?  Activate the Phantasm and try again.  Running an Eldrazi solves the decking issue.

Going to the bizarre end of the mind where delicate 3-card combos work, try this in your Commander deck or run four of each (but only one Mirror-Mad Phantasm) in your 60 card build:

Play Laboratory Maniac.
Play Mirror-Mad Phantasm.
Play Evil Twin, copying Mirror-Mad Phantasm.
Activate the Phantasm’s ability at the end of your opponent’s turn, using the Evil Twin.  Your reveal your entire library since there are no Mirror-Mad Phantasms in the library.
On your turn, you win when you can’t draw a card.

GBM:  The main thing to remember is that a nice full graveyard is your friend; Gaea’s Blessing or K-Bot can avoid the danger of decking, but a little bit of ingenuity will show you a bunch of ways to turn a full graveyard into an opportunity—flashback, reanimation, regrowths that suddenly become tutors, Pyromancer Ascension getting all kinds of counters in it, even if your deck is full of two-ofs, the list is endless.

I’m not quite Johnny enough to feel that they made this card for me personally, but as someone on the cusp of Johnnyhood I’m enjoying standing on the edge and looking at all the crazy things MMP can do. If you’re like me, you should pick up a set of these on the cheap before the tournament crowd figures out how to use them, and challenge yourself to do something crazy with it. And if your playgroup hasn’t caught on to the whole graveyard hate thing, I might suggest Forbidden Crypt or other serious necromantic mojo. Noxious Revival also comes highly recommended from some of my Johnnier friends, and is perfect for a deck where your graveyard becomes a smorgasbord!

One of the questions that I will leave for those smarter than me to figure out is this: “what is the optimal number of MMPs for your deck?”

 Skaab Ruinator

SBM:  This is the Abyssal Persecutor of the set.  The decks that want this will love that it exists to end games quickly, but its use is more narrow than it looks.  It goes all right with Mirror-Mad Phantasm as it turns out, but I think few decks will want to self-mill to cast from the graveyard.  That’s Plan B.  Plan A is cheating this guy out!  Birthing Pod does it quickly.  Sun Titan does it.  Even Stir the Grave does it.  I suppose if you wanted to go over-the-top nuts, you could cheat out Demon of Death’s Gate and use the just-sacrificed creatures to cheat out Skaab Ruinator.  I’d laugh before I died.

WBM:  I think I’m just going to leave this one for the tournament folks.  I don’t like seeing my creatures filling my graveyard, and I definitely don’t like seeing the creatures in my graveyard get exiled. 

GBM:  So, it’s cheap and powerful and wins games in the blink of an eye, but you can’t cast it until you’ve jumped through hoops…interesting! This could actually be crazy with some of the milling in this set, not least with the aforementioned Phantasm, and it smacks of Johnny/Spike to me. Is it a multiplayer card? Well, perhaps. I wonder about a deck full of creatures that say, “When this dies, profit,” which could be solid, reliably consistent because it’s built around creatures, and not so powerful that it demands answers (like the limited number of graveyard removal effects in your opponents’ decks). Could you load deck with stuff like Abyssal Gatekeeper, Darkslick Drake, Oculus and the like, come up with a cute name like Kenobi.dec, and then burst into the late game with Ruinators to finish? Probably. Is it a lot of trouble to go to? Well, I guess that depends on how hard it is to get your hands on a set of them. It would certainly be a fun and challenging deck to play and an excuse to play some creatures that you wouldn’t normally play.

Taking a step up the power ladder, a lot of creatures just seem to end up in graveyards anyway. I usually just play black and green and get them back, or put some kind of Timetwister effect in every deck so that I can recycle everything, but if you’re playing monoblue, UR or most UW builds, those cards in your graveyard that you can’t readily reuse represent an untapped resource, and Magic is a game of resource management. Perhaps the most efficient use of Skaab Ruinator is as a two- or three-of in a deck that otherwise doesn’t care about the graveyard, but still runs a respectable creature count. Merfolk and Faerie decks come to mind, or any deck that runs four each of Mulldrifter and Æthersnipe.

Finally, if you run this in Grixis colors, I hope I don’t need to point out that the last line of this ~ator basically says, “I’ll be back.” You are required to play four copies of Terminate.

 Essence of the Wild

SBM:  Why do I want an endless stream of vanilla 6/6s?  If I have an endless stream of vanilla 1/1s (say, with tokens), the endless stream will kill in most cases, and if I have creatures with abilities, then I probably want them to keep those.  I suppose if you’re a ramp deck you’d like your mana dorks to turn into this in the late game, and I might explore that a little bit, but this feels too blunt and uncontrollable to be something I’d play too many of.  I feel like I’m missing something with this one, but I can’t find anything I want to do with Essence that’s any better than what I was already doing in those decks.  The classically weird decks along this line (Sprouting Phytohydra.dec) might have fun with it though, but they don’t need my review.

In Commander, its best friends probably are in G/W, with Rhys the Redeemed and Tolsimir Wolfblood probably the first to be interested (Voja is legendary no more!).

WBM:  This is just the card my avatar deck was looking for!  Oh wait, no it wasn’t!  If your token creature deck is so dull that you can get good use out of Essence of the Wild, then work on your deck.

GBM:  But that assumes I have a coherent plan for using my tokens! My approach has always been to make more tokens and hope that a way to win will present itself while I churn out token upon token upon token (which may be why I have far fewer Planeswalker points than either of my illustrious peers). Suddenly, Essence of the Wild makes all of my saprolings incredibly relevant, which seems like a good thing. Granted, if you have a way to chain infinite Sprout Swarms, then Essence is the very definition of “win more,” which is a terrible trap that has been set for Timmy; on the other hand, if you’re reluctant to go all in on the token plan for fear of a sweeper, Essence gives you a way to bide your time, secure in the knowledge that your Bestial Menace or Scatter the Seeds is going to be enough to take someone out.

For Commander, I play almost as much green as I do black, but this isn’t an autoinclude for me because most of my green decks rely heavily (read: too damn much) on ETB abilities. However, it is worth remembering that a commander that comes into play as a copy of Essence retains its commanderiness, so a smaller commander like Saffi Eriksdotter can suddenly threaten to do 21 points of damage very quickly.

Grimgrin, Corpse-Born

SBM:  If Thraximundar is napalm, then Grimgrin is a cannon.  Thraximundar is easier to work with (haste > entering tapped/being difficult to untap) but costs more, involves more colors, and can’t choose what dies.  Grimgrin is slow but is a cheap sacrifice outlet and destroys the best available target while getting bigger about it.  3UB is easier to find than 4UBR, although Commander decks might prefer the extra colors to the cheaper cost.  As for getting some combos on with Grimgrin, Reassembling Skeleton is the obvious choice, though I’m sure you can think of something you’d like to sacrifice for profit.  Skeleton and the cheaper cost imply that Grimgrin is easier to build around in the 60-card realm than Thraximundar, but I think he will be viewed mostly as a poor man’s Thrax.  That’s a shame, as I think if you work Grimgrin hard enough you’d get some serious reward.

WBM:  If ever a dude needed Vigilance, it was this guy.  I would be hesitant to toss him aside too quickly though.  Opposing players will forget that Grimgrin destroys a creature they control before they get to choose blockers.  He also gets a little bigger as well, so your opponents will likely be messing up their combat preparations the first few times they have to deal with this fine fellow. 

GBM:  I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought of Thrax as soon as I saw this card; I was worried that I’m becoming obsessed with my funnest commander. Grimgrin will be many things to many people, including the centerpiece of WhySoSerious.dec from some enterprising young sociopath, but he is not all things to all people; his unique blend of abilities places serious limitations on the deck, and some will probably think he isn’t worth the trouble.

Sheldon and two friends of mine have used Thrax as a basis for zombie tribal decks in Commander, and while the theme (and the color red) aren’t necessary, I think that’s in the neighborhood of where you need to start. A large number of small critters that you don’t mind saccing is the best way to go, and zombies do fit the bill. Rotlung Reanimator, Sengir Autocrat, or even Myr Sire are the kinds of thing you need to keep Grimgrin vigilant without giving up massive card advantage, although blue offers plenty of tools for untapping your creatures, and Puppet Strings does double duty as board control and zombie energizer.

If you’re sacrificing your own creatures, then Grave Pact is an obvious inclusion, as is Martyr’s Bond if you’re playing Esper. However, there’s no law that says you have to sac your own critters; blue, red and black all have their own ways of taking toys from an opponent that you can use to power up Grimgrin, and nobody finishes off an Insurrection quite like him.

Geist of Saint Traft

SBM:  Geist of Saint Traft is my favorite mythic of Innistrad so far, if for no other reason than its perfect slot in my Lady Evangela Commander deck.  For being W/U, this guy/geist’s a serious beating.  It doesn’t take much support or Equipment to get it through combat, and the reward’s pretty high.  Don’t forget you can swing the Angel at a different player or planeswalker.  It’s fairly similar to Hero of Bladehold in power level except that it’s more resilient and evasive, and I can get behind that.  Underestimating this might come back to haunt you.

WBM:  I am going to choose to underestimate him.  This ghost is only any good when attacking.  This means all the hexproof in the world is not going to save a 2/2 when another 2/2 or something better blocks him.  The only way he is effective is if he is unblockable, or effectively unblockable (ie.  Protection from black against an all-black foe).  Even then, he is just a straight up attacker unless you have something else to sac the temporary angel to.  In the end, for his mana cost, I’ll likely run him in that style of deck, but I’m not running too many U/W weenie decks, so we’ll see.

GBM:  Maybe I’m just a bad person, but I’m much more interested in finding about this bad-ass demon, Withengar, that they mentioned in the preview article. Traft is a weak attacker on his own (that sword should do at least four damage on its own, how can he only be a 2/2?), but a Voltron deck built around him could definitely get there, and he does look REALLY good in a Whispersilk Cloak or Steel of the Godhead. As a top-down card, it blends flavor and mechanics seamlessly, but as an attacker, which he ultimately has to be, he doesn’t blow me away. I think if hoops are going to be jumped through for getting a 2/2 safely across the red zone and back, Augury Adept offers a better payoff, at
least in Commander. In 20 life formats, a 4/4 is obviously more substantial, but i remain skeptical.

For Johnnies, Geist of Saint Traft presents the challenge, how do you lock your opponents’ larger creatures out of combat. Some combination of Meekstone, Reverence and Ensnaring Bridge will go a long way towards making him more relevant, and the rest is up to you.

And that wraps up our Mythical Review of Innistrad. All that’s left now is the Preview card!  Check back tomorrow as we wrap up Innistrad week at the Muse Vessel with a bang!


[1] Although not quite as good as a ton of 6/6 wurms.

[2] Any self-respecting Magic player is going to be calling this the light side and dark side.  See how I just Jedi Mind-Tricked you there?

[3] GBM: I’m obviously planning to build a deck around her very soon, and I’m torn over whether to make her my commander. Don’t get me wrong, she is both cool and flavorful enough to demand a seat in the command zone, but with Vish Kal coming out and being a vampire too, and me already having a vampire tribal commander deck, I have to conserve my bloodsucking resources. I’d like to know if you guys think it would be acceptable to run a BRW vampire deck with the angel Tariel as the commander, if the theme was “30 Days of Night.” That movie basically had three colors, snow, blood and night, but there wasn’t an angel in sight. Olivia might also work as Selene in an Underworld theme deck.

[4] This will be the new, impossible to spell creature.

[5] This is why we have Phthisis ; two impossible-to-spell names that go together like cookys and kreme.

This entry was posted in Graveborn Musings, Seedborn Musings, Windborn Musings. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Muse Vessel – Innistrad: A Review of all things Mythical

  1. Vrag says:

    Rules question. If you give Essence of the wild an ability or a gains “” with an enchantment, the copies don’t gain either do they? If they do this has a lot more potential. Otherwise I think I’ll just end up donating this and playing meekstone.

  2. Seedborn Muse says:

    No, they don’t gain any of the abilities; they all come in as copies of just the card.

    And your idea is hilarious.

  3. Zach says:

    Warstorm Surge turns your Army of the Damned into a Fireball that also gives you the gift of zombie minions!

    After spreading out 26 damage as you choose, I don’t think you’ll need to worry about the ETBT clause too much; add Vengeful Dead to really upset those who want to wrath your zombies away.

    Army of the Damned also seems pretty funny with Essence of the Wild, even if the mana is bound to be shaky.

    • Seedborn Muse says:

      Warstorm Surge is awesome with A o’ the D for sure. And Vengeful Dead is not only flavorful but solid with Innistrad Zombies.

      IIRC, even if they’re Essence of the Wild tokens, they’ll ETB tapped because the sorcery puts them in tapped. That said, 6/6 > 2/2.

  4. Pingback: Graveborn Musings—INN to Decks | Muse Vessel

  5. Sylvan says:

    I feel like you guys are discussing really awkward combos that require lucky situations and lots of support to work. Laboratory Maniac seems like a distraction bear more than a win condition. Any removal means that you just built a deck to beat yourself. I want these mythics to be good, but I dunno. I want to make a demon deck with 4X Heartless summoning, quicksilver amulet, every unplayable demon in existence(especially hellcarver, so much fun), Elesh norn and Sheoldred for kicks and giggles.

  6. Graveborn Muse says:

    That’s a fair point, but you have to remember that there’s a huge section of the player base (especially in casual) that lives for the moments when a really awkward combo goes off. To a true Johnny, losing a dozen games because your LabMan gets killed at the last minute is totally worth it if you pull off the combo once. Different strokes…
    A good fast demon deck is more my kind of fun, though. I’ve build something similar with multicolored demons and Urza’s FIlter. Apparently exhuming a Defiler of Souls on the third turn is good game against a lot of folks 🙂

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