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Planeshift: Analysis of Black
By Alex Makhovykh
Iím back again, and today I will be looking at black cards in Planeshift and how they affect limited environments and Type 2. I've already finished my exams so I promise this will be proofread much better than the last piece I wrote. Seeing how you donít care, letís move on to the article:

Bog Down
2B
Sorcery
Kicker-Sacrifice two lands.
Target player discards two cards from his or her hand. If you paid the kicker cost, that player discards three cards from his or her hand.
Rarity: Common

This is actually pretty good. Bog Down is an awesome card in limited, netting you card advantage early on, or knocking out an opponentís goodies from his or her hand in the late game. Its kicker isnít too shabby either, especially after you've got enough resources down. In Type 2 - well it may not be a bomb, but it could see some use in those "Machine Head" or "Avatar of Will" decks.

Dark Suspicions
2BB
Enchantment
At the beginning of each opponent's upkeep, that player loses 1 life for each card in his or her hand more than you have in your hand.
Rarity: Rare

I really disliked this at first, since black is the color of discard. But then I saw some of its interesting uses that I didnít before. Fast black decks can empty their hands pretty quickly. This also sneaks through Story Circle. Go ahead, watch them cast that Fact or Fiction. More pain to them. Of course white/blue control can counter or Disenchant it, but against Nether-Go (if it becomes popular again) it can be devastating. In limited, I donít really think that you want to use this, as far too often your opponent will empty their hand at the same rate as you. And anyway, if youíre playing black, you should have enough discard to make this useless.

Death Bomb
3B
Instant
As an additional cost to play Death Bomb, sacrifice a creature.
Destroy target nonblack creature. It can't be regenerated. Its controller loses 2 life.
Rarity: Common

Death Bomb is removal, so it will definitely see play in limited formats. It will most likely be played during combat when you are going to lose one of your creatures anyway. But if that Rith is staring down at you, you might want to use this anyway. Not too bad, and Death Bomb can swing for those last two points if you can afford a creature to sacrifice. I donít think thereís any way that this is going to see use in type 2, where you can have Seal of Doom, Snuff Out or Terminate instead.

Diabolic Intent
1B
Sorcery
As an additional cost to play Diabolic Intent, sacrifice a creature.
Search your library for a card and put that card into your hand. Then shuffle your library.
Rarity: Rare

I wonít play this is limited unless I have something thatís really worth searching for. I mean, itís a fine tutor and all, but sacrificing a creature is not a price that I would be willing to pay in limited. In constructed though, it goes really well in the Nether-Go decks that can utilize it to fetch whatever they need, such as Tsaboís Decree against Rebels or Perish against Fires. Of course thereís the good old Vampiric Tutor, but with Nether Spirit, Diabolic Intent doesnít get you card advantage. It could also be good in combination with Pyre Zombie or anything else that can come back. Heck, the new zombie lord will make it awesome. But thatís in a bit.

Exotic Disease
4B
Sorcery
Target player loses X life and you gain X life, where X is the number of basic land types among lands you control.
Rarity: Uncommon

Well, in limited it is a pretty good and splashable drain spell that should definitely go in the 4 or 5-color green decks, but in type 2 I think itís too slow and not effective enough.

Lord of the Undead
1BB
Creature - Lord
2/2
All Zombies get +1/+1. 1B, T: Return target Zombie card from your graveyard to your hand.
Rarity: Rare

Yay! The new zombie lord is here! Not that I really hated the old one that much, but letís face it, whatís better: Zombie Master or Goblin Lord? Or Lord of Atlantis? Or Elvish Champion? Finally, Zombies have a lord they can be proud of. Not only does Lord of the Undead beef up your zombies, but he can also recur them every turn. Thatís really good in limited if you manage to get enough Lava Zombies, Maggot Carriers and Phyrexian Bloodstocks. In Type 2, well, I donít know how competitive it will be, but I hope to come up with a decent Black/Red Goblin/Zombie deck. Chaos Turtle, expect an e-mail from me. (I'm looking forward to it. -- CT

Maggot Carrier
B
Creature - Zombie
1/1
When Maggot Carrier comes into play, each player loses 1 life.
Rarity: Common

Not exactly a bomb, but if youíre low on 1-drops, these can fill the spot in limited. Doesnít really do much, but doesnít really have a huge drawback either. Probably wonít see play in type 2.

Morgue Toad
2B
Creature - Toad
2/2
Sacrifice Morgue Toad: Add UR to your mana pool.
Rarity: Common

In limited this is pretty good as itís a Gray Ogre that can help you with your mana problems. Morgue Toad will be really useful if you have a Crosis or another biggie that you want to bring out early on. It is probably too slow for type 2.

Nightscape Battlemage
2B
Creature - Wizard
2/2
Kicker 2U and/or 2R.
When Nightscape Battlemage comes into play, if you paid the 2U kicker cost, return up to two target nonblack creatures to their owners' hands.
When Nightscape Battlemage comes into play, if you paid the 2R kicker cost, destroy target land.
Rarity: Uncommon


Now thatís what Iím talkiní about! Nightscape Battlemage is a 2/2 that can either bounce two creatures back to their ownerís hand or attack an opponentís mana base. If you get to 9 mana, he can do both. And if you get to 10 mana, with Nightscape Apprentice in play to put him back on top of your library, he can do both every turn. Then again, with 7 mana and Apprentice in play you can still blast a land each turn...
Nightscape Battlemage can bounce your opponentís critters, or send back your own where they can be cast again, hopefully with a Kicker or some other bonus. He allows you to replay Faerie Squadron or Duskwalker if you cast them early on with no kicker, or other Battlemages, also to be cast with Kicker. Nightscape Battlemage can also be of big help against an opponent whoís playing 3 or more colors, especially if he has a few Fertile Grounds in play. All this, and Nightscape Battlemage is also a 2/2. He will pretty much always net you card advantage, so try to get him early in drafts if you can.

Nightscape Familiar
1B
Creature - Zombie
1/1
Blue spells and red spells you play cost 1 less to play. 1B: Regenerate Nightscape Familiar
Rarity: Common

This is very cool. The Familiar will fit in perfectly in the most popular draft color combination - red/black/blue- and itís a black regenerating blocker, which means he can stand up to Duskwalker, Serpentine Kavu and any other ground nasties that your opponent might have. Nightscape Familiar makes your red and blue colors cost 1 less, which is also a very good bonus. This is one of the best familiars, and it will help many decks in limited play. Canít say much about it in Type 2 though.

Noxious Vapors
1BB
Sorcery
Each player reveals his or her hand and chooses one card of each color from it, then discards all other nonland cards from it.
Rarity: Uncommon

Iím still sort of unsure about this card. So what if it can be Ritualed out on the first turn? Itís only really good if your opponent is playing a mono-colored deck such as Skies, and they can probably Daze it. Plus, it hurts you as well, and the BB in its casting cost usually means that you should lean heavily towards a black-centered deck. I donít like Noxious Vapors in Type 2, and I like it even less in limited, but if you want to, give it a try, as I could be wrong.

Phyrexian Bloodstock
4B
Creature - Zombie
3/3
When Phyrexian Bloodstock leaves play, destroy target white creature. It can't be regenerated.
Rarity: Common

This is a fat body in limited and it can sometimes get you a two-for-one trade, which is good. Make sure though, that you are not playing white creatures yourself, as itís ability is not optional. Against decks with a lot of white creatures it can de devastating, especially in combination with Escape Routes. In Type 2 itís way too slow.

Phyrexian Scuta
3B
Creature - Zombie
3/3
Kicker-Pay 3 life. (You may pay 3 life in addition to any other costs as you play this spell.)
If you paid the kicker cost, Phyrexian Scuta comes into play with two +1/+1 counters on it.
Rarity: Rare

Even though I love this card, I see its drawbacks. Itís an easy first pick in draft, since itís at least a Hill Giant, and most of the time itís an easily splashable Juzam, but in Type 2 it comes to face many problems. It can Ritualed out on turn 2, but it can also be Boomeranged. Or Recoiled. Later in the game Scuta can be Undermined, which is very painful. While life loss usually isnít all that significant, in this case it can be a real pain in the behind. I still think that it will make appearance as it can stand up to Blastoderm or Jade Leech, but I really donít think that Scuta will have all that much impact on the environment. That said, I love this card and will try to get a few.

Planeswalker's Scorn
Black
2B
Enchantment
3B: Target opponent reveals a card at random from his or her hand. Target creature gets -X/-X until end of turn, where X is the revealed card's converted mana cost. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery.
Rarity: Rare

Well, black one is definitely better than the blue one... But still not that amazing. Once again, it costs a lot to activate and can only be done as a sorcery. It is better than its blue counterpart in that it is reusable removal, which is good. The card is still random, but since lands usually get played pretty fast in drafts it really shouldnít matter all that much. Iíd say that about 3 out of 4 times you will hit a non-land card and that will allow you to kill or weaken a creature. In Type 2, it is way to slow.

Shriek of Dread
1B
Instant
Target creature can't be blocked this turn except by artifact creatures and/or black creatures.
Rarity: Common

This is a cruel joke on the part of R&D department. I cannot describe how pissed I am that a spot that couldíve been creature removal or even discard, is taken up by this piece of crap. So what if it can win you a game against a non-black deck? How often will that happen? This card is complete and utter garbage that does pretty much nothing. The worst card in the set.

Sinister Strength
1B
Enchant Creature
Enchanted creature gets +3/+1 and is black.
Rarity: Common

Twisted Experiment is back! While Sinister Strength canít kill creatures, it can boost your critterís toughness, allow him to serve for 3 more each turn, and make him less vulnerable to black removal. I like this card, and it can even show up in some very quick weenie decks in Type 2. Smack it on a Shivan Zombie and start kicking! Or smack it on a Vodalian Zombie; Blastoderm? Jade Leech? This can now block and kill both, and survives to deliver for 5.

Slay
2B
Instant
Destroy target green creature. It can't be regenerated. Draw a card.
Rarity: Uncommon

A decent sideboard card for both limited and constructed, Slay can get you card advantage when it hits a green critter. And when Tidal Visionary is in play, every critter can be a green critter! In Type 2, however, Perish may still be better.

Volcano Imp
3B
Creature - Imp
2/2
Flying.
1R: Volcano Imp gains first strike until end of turn.
Rarity: Common

This is very nice in draft. A first strike flyer is nothing to sneeze at. Easily accessible as itís a common, so you can get a few in the draft. Volcano Imp can kill quite a few creatures, but even if youíre not playing red a 2/2 flyer for 4 mana isnít all that bad.

Warped Devotion
2B
Enchantment
Whenever a permanent is returned to a player's hand, that player discards a card from his or her hand.
Rarity: Uncommon

Unlike most of other cards that black has to offer this is more of a constructed card. That is not to say that Warped Devotion doesnít have its uses in limited formats. Itís awesome with Repulse, Recoil, Rushing River, Urborg Emissary, Nightscape Master, Wash Out and against gating creatures. But in Type 2 it becomes pure evil. It turns Boomerang, Hoodwink, Seal of Removal, Waterfront Bouncer, Waterspout Elemental and all of the above cards into elements of destruction. In English, it makes them awesome. Warped Devotion is definitely one of the best black cards in Planeshift.

Well, thatís my take on black cards in Planeshift. I hope you enjoyed, and keep in mind theyíre just my opinions. If you have any questions, suggestions or comments, you can e-mail them to me or just post them as a reply here. Thanks, and in the next article Iíll be talking about white cards of Planeshift. Until then, Good Luck!

Alex Makhovykh
superguy98@hotmail.com
superguy on message boards

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