Alchemy: Innistrad Black and Red Card Review and Decklists
As always, here’s the scale I’ll be using to label the new cards that potentially have constructed applications.
- 0/5 – Unplayable in every sense.
- 1/5 – Extremely niche play or very unlikely to see play.
- 2/5 – Niche to no play, maybe playable in certain conditions.
- 3/5 – Reasonable playable. Not format breaking, but has the power level to see play in some strategy (or strategies).
- 4/5 – Very strong card, but not the best the format has to offer. Has the power level to see a lot of play.
- 5/5 – The very top of the format. This card will create a huge impact going forward on the format.
Check out reviews and more decklists for White and Blue cards, here:
ASSEMBLE FROM PARTS
This is an interesting take on a reanimation spell as it rebuys the creature itself in a sense, but also turns it into a 4/4. This could be interesting if there were something like Champion of Wits in Standard, but a lot of what you would look to reanimate is going to be larger than a 4/4. Considering this isn’t really a discount on a traditional reanimation spell, I don’t really see its function.
This one is easy. Why on earth would you play a discard spell that gives the opponent a card back? It isn’t even a particularly good one even without the draft clause. Just play Check for Traps if you really want this effect.
A Hill Giant with Deathtouch and will always discard a card and make a Blood token? Neat! None of these effects are super exciting, but altogether they do make a pretty reasonable card. Smaller discard creatures like Elderfang Disciple always struggled as their body was not great, but a 3/3 Deathtouch is definitely solid. This is far from amazing, but seems good enough to see some sort of play.
Cursebound Witch’s Spellbook
- Witch's Cauldron
- Witch's Vengeance
- Witch's Oven
- Witch's Cottage
- Witch's Familiar
- Curse of Leeches
- Cauldron Familiar
- Black Cat
- Sorcerer's Broom
- Bloodhunter Bat
- Unwilling Ingredient
- Expanded Anatomy
- Cruel Reality
- Torment of Scarabs
- Trespasser's Curse
Although the spellbook isn’t the most exciting, this is very similar to Eyetwitch (albeit a worse version), but getting to play more of these cheap value creatures can only make the Sacrifice/Value strategies better in the long run.
GUTMORN, PACTBOUND SERVANT
I built a Discard deck back in Standard 2022 and the only payoff I had then was Tergrid, God of Fright. However, with Gutmorn now around, the deck has multiple engines to work with. Getting each card your opponent discards on your turn is a pretty powerful effect, but does limit you to what decks you can play this in plus Gutmorn will give your opponent a card too when the discard is unilateral. My first though is (as I said) a Discard deck to play this in to get the most out of its ability, but even a deck with targeted discard like Duress or specific discard like Citystalker Connoisseur could be possible as well.
It may be too gimmicky, but I love me some Discard decks.
For just two mana and a Rare wild card, you can turn the game into Hearthstone! Realistically, Patient Zero is kind of like a worse Wither which can be a powerful ability, but not so much when it doesn’t shrink the creature’s power. Overall, this card is cool (it is great against Smoldering Egg), just a bit unexciting.
This is a weird card that really reminds me of Chevill, Bane of Monsters. Like Chevill, this can be a decent value card if your a deck that likes killing things and this can be a nightmare for aggressive strategies as you can choose a target, trade with it using Sludge, then get another one to do it again. This will be best friends with cheap spells and although those decks aren’t being represented right now, this seems like a good inclusion if they come back.
This is a super cool card as it reminds me of a weird Birthing Pod with how you would have to build your deck, but it has two major limitations. First the creature card needs to be in your graveyard already which forces you to build your deck around putting creatures in your yard as well as having a proper “pod curve”.
The second is that seeking creatures, while good, is not strong enough ability to build a constructed deck around. You could argue that if you’re just trading creatures off naturally this can be a free card advantage engine and while that’s definitely true, it doesn’t even seem better than other value permanents in Black.
Cool card, I could be underrating it’s strength, but it seems just medium compared to Sorin, the Mirthless or Lolth, Spider Queen if you want value oriented permanents. If Black based midrangey creature decks make a come back then this card will slot perfectly into them, but it’s a bit of an ask.
Blood Artist is a busted card. 3 mana Blood Artist would still be playable, but getting a Blood and making Blood activations drain too? This is definitely a winner in my book. There aren’t many decks that can use this, but the decks that can will be happy to have it.
For example, you can use it to make the Blood payoffs better in your Vampire deck!
Although a little rough on the casting cost, this is a super cool kill spell that can seriously grow one of your threats. Since it’s perpetual, being able to curve this into something like a Falkenrath Forebear or an Ebondeath, Dracolich could be a really nasty sequence of events. Realistically any Flier can make excellent use of this as long as you can pay the cost. Eyetwitch? Nighthawk Scavenger? Cauldron Familiar in Historic? The possibilities are endless!
To that end, let’s take a look at a really nice shell for Sap Vitality.
On the surface, this card looks pretty great. A 2 mana 2/1 menace that can net you extra cards is a pretty powerful ability. The issue is there aren’t good Raise Dead effects in Standard so it’s going to be pretty hard to get this to work. This card does have potential, but currently no foundation to work off of.
Arms Scavenger’s Spellbook
- Boots of Speed
- Cliffhaven Kitesail
- Colossus Hammer
- Dueling Rapier
- Spare Dagger
- Tormentor's Helm
- Goldvein Pick
- Jousting Lance
- Mask of Immolation
- Mirror Shield
- Relic Axe
- Rogue's Gloves
- Scavenged Blade
- Shield of the Realm
- Ceremonial Knife
Red card advantage that you can play in aggro? Yes please! The ability isn’t amazing as you’re not so much drawing a card as you are half a card most of the time (assuming you have the time to cast it), but doing that every upkeep can definitely accrue advantages quickly. It’s not super exciting and a bit narrow, but definitely has potential.
The angriest dog in existence is a very interesting lord for the Werewolf deck, but instead of buffing them it’s all about forcing them to fight. I can see this being a good card in the creature matchups, but considering it’s just a 4/3 itself and it needs to be a creature matchup to shine makes it hard to justify main deck play. That being said, this can absolutely massacre small creature decks so it definitely has its place.
This card seems like it can do a lot, but I’m not really seeing the applications. If this created an emblem that made it so all creatures and planeswalkers hitting the opponent’s yard were exiled that would be a different story, but a big Magma Spray seems a little narrow otherwise. Maybe there’s matchups I’m not considering that can make this card shine as it is a unique answer.
Now this is a wacky card. I could see potentially a lot of uses for this if it wasn’t so restrictive on the mana cost, but it is still a pretty strong card. You have to be very close to Monored to play it, but we haven’t had a Deafening Clarion in Standard for awhile so it’ll likely see some play somewhere. Furthermore, buffing up another spell can be very powerful depending on what you hit which makes this design even more interesting.
The best place I could think of is a Monored deck that can circumvent the 3 damage amount. With that, I think we look towards a good old midrange deck.
Now this is a good source of Red card advantage! The deal 2 part of this card is fine, but unexciting, but turning your next instant or sorcery into a functional Anticipate is definitely quite powerful. This will go right into any lean Red decks and wouldn’t be surprised if you played it in bigger Red archetypes as well. Considering its flexibility, this has fair format staple written all over it.
If you’re looking for a lean Red deck, it’s hard to do better than a good old Delver shell.
To start with, every time I look at this card, this is all I can think of.
Now you’ll be there with me. You’re welcome.
Like Electrostatic Blast, this will definitely be at its best in a spell heavy deck and the ability to pitch a dead card for a guaranteed spell is definitely pretty powerful. You do need a lot of instants and sorceries to play this which will limit the decks it can go in, but it’ll be quite strong in those decks.
It just barely makes the cut (20 instants and sorceries exactly), but a Prowess creature that finds instants sounds perfect in a Burn deck.
This is a super interesting ramper that instead of producing mana like you’d typically expect, it ETBs cost reduces the Dragons you already have in hand. That seems very powerful, but you will need a Dragon in hand to obviously get any use out of it, the body is pretty bad by itself, there aren’t many Dragons that are good, and there are no cheap dragons so it’s hard to load your deck up with them. If there were like one more 2 drop Dragon and two 3 drop Dragons, I would say this card would be excellent, but it’s just not good enough yet.
RAHILDA, WANTED CUTTHROAT
Now this is a 2 drop! 2 power First Strike on a 2 drop is always the gold standard and this one gives you some card advantage on top of it! The downside to this card is that you could hit something you can’t cast, but that’s hardly the fault of Rahilda. If you’re playing a red aggressive deck, you’re playing Rahilda more often than not.
TIBALT, WICKED TORMENTER
Tibalt, Wicked Tormentor’s Spellbook
- Chained Brute
- Charmbreaker Devils
- Festival Crasher
- Forge Devil
- Frenzied Devils
- Havoc Jester
- Pitchburn Devils
- Sin Prodder
- Spiteful Prankster
- Tibalt's Rager
- Torch Fiend
- Brimstone Vandal
- Devil's Play
Card advantage? Can defend itself in multiple ways? Can kill creatures? Wizards decided to take pity on old Tibalt and give him a proper Planeswalker treatment (Valki doesn’t count, it’s the God of Lies after all!) Despite it having all good abilities, its starting loyalty is pretty low and the bar for good 5 drops nowadays is extremely high. I can see this being an interesting midrange option, but it’s going to be hard contending with something like a Goldspan Dragon or Wrenn and Seven.
From playing Goblins, I recently learned that Hulking Bugbear may seem innocuous, but can actually be a surprisingly good card. Toralf's Disciple has the same stat line, but every time it attacks you get 4 Lightning Bolt in your deck. Considering Red decks will never mind drawing a Lightning Bolt in most situations, we could view this ability as nearly a strict upside to the card and makes it very appealing in a variety of decks. You’ll be limited to solely red aggressive decks for this one, but it will fit into pretty much all of them.
As I said, this can pretty much go anywhere, so why not start with trusty ol’ Gruul.
We have no shortage of good 4 drop Dragons, but this one is likely the most punishing on curve. Forcing the opponent to choose between taking 2 a turn or keeping their land is going to be a difficult decisions to make especially if you get this down early or you have a lot of pressure. Furthermore, this can double as a way to take out creature lands so it’s not even a “dead” card in the late game where opponents could easily sacrifice the land. This card is just pretty nuts overall and I’d say it’s currently in contention with Inquisitor Captain for best card in the set.
While Black seems a little underpowered so far, Red is coming out swinging with plenty of good cards and Town-razer Tyrant is an unbelievably strong card.
Do you think I misevaluated any card? Let me know in the comments!
Thank you for reading!