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Black's new bad boy and his li'l buddy

Seek Ye the Darkness

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Spirit of the Night and the Nightstalkers
Spirit of the Night, from the Mirage set, can be put into play directly from your library by sacrificing Breathstealer, Urborg Panther, and Feral Shadow.

The letter I! was one of the many Magic players who, during the Mirage days, desperately tried to make a deck in which Urborg Panther, Breathstealer, and Feral Shadow united in sacrificial glory to bring Spirit of the Night directly into play.

Most of the graveyard recursion during those times was of the "Enchant Dead Creature" variety, like Animate Dead and Dance of the Dead—enchantments that would "conveniently" fall off of a reanimated protection from black Spirit of the Night. Getting the Spirit into play was not easy; the thrill back then was partly in finding the correct pieces of the puzzle and partly in the thematic idea of Nightstalkers heralding a nigh-unstoppable avatar of death onto the table. The Nightstalkers and Spirit of the Night have a huge coolness factor.

Coolness is back. And this time it’s a heck of a lot easier to bring your omnipotent-manifestation-of-all-that-is-evil into play.

We begin with Dark Supplicant. A 1/1 for Black Mana is nothing to crow about—in fact, it’s worthy of disdain and pity. But the Supplicant can sacrifice itself and any two other Clerics (or three Clerics other than itself... sneaky little creep) to go find its dark master.

Even without knowing what this big nasty Scion fellow does, we have an intriguing proposition...

Turn 1, play swamp, play Dark Supplicant #1.
Turn 2, play swamp, play Dark Supplicant #2, play Dark Supplicant #3, use Dark Supplicant #1’s ability...

The Heir of Freakin’ Evil has arrived. Turn 2.

Improbable? Surely. But also not so far-fetched.

Luckily for everyone who adores black, Scion of Darkness lives up to its ominous name. In fact it happens to be one of the coolest fatties to come along since, well, Spirit of the Night.

It is pretty clear to me that you will rarely, if ever, cast Scion of Darkness. 5 ManaBlack ManaBlack ManaBlack Mana is a lot to ask of any deck. I suppose on rare occasions you will find yourself on Turn 30, more than halfway into your deck, with access to eight mana and Scion of Darkness in your hand. It’s nice to know it can be cast in a pinch. But unlike a Crush of Wurms or Time Stretch, it is unnecessary to pack your deck full of mana acceleration just to cast Scion of Darkness the good old fashioned way.

Instead, Scion of Darkness will enter play for one of two reasons: 1) You have activated a Dark Supplicant, or 2) You have somehow found another means of graveyard reanimation.

Which you use depends on a number of different factors. If your deck is built around graveyard manipulation—full of Entomb, Cephalid Vandal, and Wild Mongrel along with Zombify, Exhume, and Reya Dawnbringer—then all you care about is that Scion of Darkness is huge, it has trample, and it steals opposing creatures from their graveyards to join your own army. Scion of Darkness is bad-ass enough to warrant serious consideration for any deck that cheats its creatures into play.

Knowing nothing else about Legions, a Standard fattie-reanimator deck might look something like this:

Pitch Black

If you choose the Dark Supplicant route, your deck is based around Clerics. You are probably using Rotlung Reanimator, Cabal Archon, and Doomed Necromancer. Your deck is also probably either monoblack, black/white (taking advantage of white’s excellent Clerics) or black/blue (taking advantage of blue’s card-drawing and Artificial Evolution-type abilities). Scion of Darkness, in this deck, is likely the only non-Cleric creature, unless of course you also choose to include Gangrenous Goliath or some other silliness.

Dark Supplicant and Rotlung Reanimator
Sacrificing a Dark Supplicant and two Rotlung Reanimators will get you six 2/2 Zombie tokens and a Scion of Darkness.

Just as I was enamored with Nightstalker-Spirit of the Night, so too do I favor the Cleric-Scion of Darkness plan over basic graveyard manipulation. I am particularly giddy about the fact that monoblack Cleric beatdown is possible with something along these lines:

Simple Scion

Main Deck

60 cards

23  Swamp

23 lands

Cabal Archon
Dark Supplicant
Disciple of Malice
Doomed Necromancer
Rotlung Reanimator
Scion of Darkness
Withered Wretch

26 creatures

Blackmail
Patriarch's Bidding
Smother

11 other spells


What makes Scion of Darkness truly superior is that it also has cycling. This means that if you draw it, you can toss it into your graveyard for another (hopefully Cleric or reanimation) card. Decks like the two above have always needed a plan for what to do if they—oops!—drew their big beasts that were never meant to be cast. Scion has a built-in answer to this problem. After playing with Scion of Darkness for awhile, I imagine I will become spoiled and expect all of my uncastable fatties to come with cycling.

I’ll push this idea of cycling a bit further just because it’s funny...

Chain Lightning

Main Deck

60 cards

Barren Moor
Forgotten Cave
Mountain
Swamp

24 lands

Disciple of Malice
Scion of Darkness
Undead Gladiator

12 creatures

Dirge of Dread
Lay Waste
Lightning Rift
Slice and Dice
Starstorm
Swat

24 other spells


But wait, the story gets even better. Unlike Spirit of the Night, Scion of Darkness isn’t a Legend. Combined with cycling, this means that there is absolutely no reason to avoid packing your deck with four copies.

No kidding, Scion of Darkness has everything in a scary fattie I could ever want. When you add Dark Supplicant to the mix, you have a combination that makes me giddy with possibilities. I wish there was more to say, but, well, there it is. Major coolness. Have fun.

This weekend, I hope you enjoy playing with Legions for the first time. If you pull off the Supplicant-Scion trick during the pre-release, definitely write and let me know.

-j


“A Card For doctorjay”: The Semi-Finalists

As I have continued to explain over the last two weeks, my “A Card For doctorjay” experiment is delayed until next week. In the meantime, I have been slowly counting down the results of the almost 21,000 votes for which card to make the focus of my next Magic Online deck.

Today’s update includes the cards that received a ton of individual votes but that didn’t make it into the Top 3. For me, it’s interesting to note how many Legends and black cards (appropriate for today, eh?) made it high on the list.

I imagine many of you were pulling for at least one of these cards, and I truly would have enjoyed any of them as my deck centerpiece. Then again, I guess that I supplied the original list so I was bound to be pleased regardless.

Check in next week to find out which card received the most votes and help me decide what deck will begin my playtesting journey!

The Semi-Finalists:
4.Ixidor, Reality Sculptor501
5.Worldgorger Dragon455
6.Chainer, Dementia Master445
7.Jareth, Leonine Titan431
8.Book Burning428
9.Crush of Wurms405
10.Balthor the Defiled389
11.Wheel and Deal376
12.Hypnox369
13.Zombie Infestation354

Jay may be reached at houseofcards@wizards.com.
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