Bloodchief Ascension



  • In case you don't remember it from Zendikar:

    alt text

    This card has been on my "cards to break" list for a while. The effect seems nutty for one mana: there are few decks that can hope to win if this enchantment is active and unanswered, and between fetchlands, Ancient Tomb activations, Missteps and Probes it seems the quest counters shouldn't be too hard to assemble.

    Do you think Bloodchief Ascension is playable in Vintage?

    The most natural shell that comes to mind is something BUG-like, with Bob as the draw engine, Deathrite Shaman for mana acceleration and an addition way of activating the Ascension, and plenty of mana denial, hand disruption, and creature removal.



  • I was thinking about bolts, but you are right that deathrite is the most natural ally.

    Playable? I'm not sure at all. With tendrils, you play 1 and cast it ftw. You have to play more than 1 ascension, and while it can be a decent finisher, with drs you want the control role and most of the time you'd prefer it to be some control card. Since aggro is hard these days, you shouldn't expect to connect frequently with confidants or other bears unless you play a heavy denial deck.

    What about something like this?

    4 ascension
    4 confidant
    3 drs
    3 snapcaster
    4 bolt
    2 kolaghan's command
    2 gush
    1 brainstorm
    1 ancestral
    1 ponder
    1 walk
    4 fow
    4 misstep
    2 duress
    3 dack fayden
    1 demonic
    1 will

    1 lotus
    3 oncolormoxen
    6 fetch
    3 usea
    3 volcanic
    1 library
    2 island

    Quite bad deck, but those red cards are quite nice with ascension (once ascension has 3 counters, fayden on opponent is +4 life for your and -4 for opponent right?)



  • Interesting that it will trigger from Crypt flips, double fetchland turns, and paying for Probes with life. Very interesting.

    This is not the most far-fetched card to try to break in vintage. Something to note is that the newly popular Scab-Clan Berserker fits the bill for getting this online, too. I wonder if the right home for this is in a disruptive and aggressive Grixis build. You keep Deathrite and have some of the right tools to keep the opponent off-balance, with Quest serving as extra damage when facing a clogged board or getting your creatures dealt with.



  • I threw together the following list on MTGO and played a few matches:

    Suicide Black?

    4 Bloodchief Ascension
    4 Phyrexian Revoker
    4 Deathrite Shaman
    3 Liliana of the Veil
    4 Thoughtseize
    1 Demonic Tutor
    3 Sensei's Divining Top
    2 Vampire Hexmage
    4 Dark Confidant
    2 Gatekeeper of Malakir
    2 Dismember
    
    4 Wasteland
    4 Mishra's Factory
    16 Swamp
    1 Strip Mine
    1 Black Lotus
    1 Mox Jet
    
    # Sideboard
    2 Vampire Hexmage
    4 Yixlid Jailer
    4 Leyline of Sanctity
    4 Grafdigger's Cage
    1 Dismember
    

    Surprisingly, it's not completely terrible, especially versus Eldrazi and Dredge (and the salt from some players at losing to "an EDH card" quite entertaining). Against blue decks, though, the deck leans very heavily on Dark Confidant -- without it the deck quickly gets outdrawn and overwhelmed.



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  • My first attempt would be to pair it with 4 black vise and dark ritual.


  • TMD Supporter

    No, I don't.



  • I don't think this card is good enough. To illustrate this, let's compare the card to Smokestack. Smokestack is "bad" because it takes multiple passes of turns before its effect takes place, and it is not always guaranteed to be impactful once it does. But the effect of this card is much worse, as it attacks the opponent's least valuable resource and only does so if a condition is met. Smokestack at the very least just needs upkeeps to happen. Bloodchief Ascension pushes you into using black, but forces you away from being able to use the most powerful graveyard hoser in the game, Leyline of the Void.



  • Ditto Mr. Copes, with one caveat.

    Bloodchief Ascension on turn 1 is amazing, even in Vintage. It gets active fairly quickly, and then it's a brutal card. The problem is: Ascension is terrible any other turn. If you drop it on, say, turn 3, it does nothing. The opponent has already paid for their early fetches, and can comfortably spend two turns stopping it or making it irrelevant.

    Contrast that with Scab-Clan, who comes down and delivers 2 to the face regardless of whatever else he's doing and is then immediately active.

    Worse, Ascension is stopped by Mental Misstep.

    That's not to say this dork can't see play. If we ever have a reliable way to tutor and deploy a 1-cc enchantment on turn 1, that is good on its own for other reasons, then this card gets really sexy.


  • Administrators

    @MaximumCDawg is it even amazing on turn 1? If you play this on turn 1, is your opponent going to pay life for Probe, play a Mana Crypt, or fetch twice in a turn? If you play this on turn 1 and a two-power creature on turn 2, assuming your opponent doesn't voluntarily deal themselves 2 damage, you're flipping this at the end of turn 5 after you've attacked 3 times?

    How many cards are you expecting them to put in their graveyard after turn 5 ... one, maybe two a turn?, dealing somewhere between 0 and 4 damage, starting on turn 5?

    Is a turn 1 Bloodchief Ascension going to deal more damage than a turn 1 suspended Keldon Halberdier?


  • TMD Supporter

    I lost a game to blazing shoal infect today. That's a janky deck based km a janky card, BUT it can kill you in one hit.
    Bloody handkerchief Ascension is a janky card that can kill you very slowly. All the while you just lose, or it gets destroyed, or misstepped.



  • @Brass-Man i think you underestimate the number of spells cast in a typical Vintage game. Consider that a Treasure Cruise represents 14 points of damage (and a 28 point life swing). When Cruise was unrestricted, dredging multiple Cruises was hardly uncommon, well past turn 5.

    Even if we take your numbers -- if a one-mana enchantment were printed with "At the end of opponent's turn, they lose 3 life and you gain 3 life," would you want to play it? Against blue control decks, yes, I think you would. With the self-harm the typical Vintage decks do to themselves, this is a 4-5 turn clock, and the extra life is often relevant. Yes, maybe the eventually find the Wear // Tear etc, but until they do your one-mana spell incrementally strangles them.

    Or if you prefer a creature analogy, the above would be a one-mana 3/3 unblockable lifelink -- better than Delver.

    Of course this effect is much too slow vs Storm, Dredge, or Oath, but against these decks Bloodchief Ascension is a silver bullet.

    So I don't think the size of the effect is the problem with the Ascension; rather, it's the hoops you have to jump through to turn it on.



  • @Brass-Man said:

    @MaximumCDawg is it even amazing on turn 1?
    ....
    Is a turn 1 Bloodchief Ascension going to deal more damage than a turn 1 suspended Keldon Halberdier?

    Well, imagine you stick this on turn 1. Your opponent will trigger this ticking up if whenever they:

    1. Cast Gitaxian Probe for its phyrexian mana cost;
    2. Fetch and do anything else (Force of Will, another fetch, etc)
    3. Tap an Ancient Tomb.
    4. Activate Necro or Bargain.
    5. Cast Vampiric Tutor.

    Meanwhile, you presumably are doing something aggressive on your side of the board. Perhaps you're casting creatures or using burn, something like that. Either way, you've dumped it and forgotten about it and then, around turn 3 or so, it will turn on and from that point on anyone who isn't playing Eldrazi or Shops is going to be in a world of pain.

    Keldon Halberdier won't emerge from Suspend until YOUR fourth turn, and then dies to just about everything in the world. An active Ascension is easier to protect. On top of that, EACH SPELL your opponent casts against an active Acension is like a swing of the Halberdier, since it's still a four-point life swing. Add more spells, and it's gravy. So, no, I think Ascension is much better.

    Even so, I still think the card is bad because drawing it any time after turn 1 is absolutely miserable. It's like a Standstill that only works on turn 1. After that, the opponent has the resources to ignore it, remove it, or play around it. On turn 1, they're stuck with either executing the life loss-fueled cards in their hand or not playing anything. As anyone who plays with Mystic Remora knows, that's a fine choice to present. Hell, if Acension just ticked up for each 2 life lost and didn't have a hard speed limit of 1 counter per turn, even then I think it'd be awesome.



  • if you could get the counters on it, it would stop dredge, and could hurt oath a lot, but its very corner case, maybe in grixis therapy where they already play bolt, and can get in some damage but it may be a win more card.


  • Administrators

    I don't understand why people would be running Gitaxian Probes into this card. It's not a surprise, they see that it's in play. It's incredibly easy to time fetches so that you don't need to do 2 in a turn ... to wait on a fetch until end of turn if you think there's a chance you're Force of Will'ing here. I mentioned Keldon Halberdier because I don't expect a turn 1 Ascension to realistically flip until after your 5th turn. If you were running any way of dealing 2 damage on your opponent's turn (like Lightning Bolt, but that felt far away from the cards people were suggesting), you might expect to get it to flip more consistantly.

    Note that you actually flip the card earlier if you play a 1 drop, 2 power creature on turn 1, and play the Ascension turn 2, and attack.

    Of course, I haven't tested with or against the card, this is all theory and I'm always happy to proven wrong when it comes to unplayed cards.



  • Playable one mana spells have to be good enough to earn an opponent's Misstep.



  • I mean... full disclaimer, I DO think the card is bad, so it's kind of a silly discussion to have right now. Still, onward to further interaction with one of the Heros of the Vintage Super League!

    @Brass-Man said:

    I don't understand why people would be running Gitaxian Probes into this card. It's not a surprise, they see that it's in play.

    Yeah, but then they're leaving a Probe in their hand and not casting it. People can play around Mystic Remora this way, too, but isn't this level of disruption of your opponent's play decisions a fine use for one black mana on turn 1?

    It's incredibly easy to time fetches so that you don't need to do 2 in a turn ... to wait on a fetch until end of turn if you think there's a chance you're Force of Will'ing here.

    Yeah, I agree with that too, and delaying your fetch is a lot less disruptive than leaving your Probe in your hand to stink it up. I think any deck that wanted to abuse this needs to run some kind of ping that pushes people over the edge when they just fetch once. Whether that's the New Phyrexia Unsummon (whatever its called) or Forked Bolt or Fire // Ice or Piranha Marsh, I dunno. Take your pick of crappy cards I guess.

    I mentioned Keldon Halberdier because I don't expect a turn 1 Ascension to realistically flip until after your 5th turn.

    If your deck can't get the Ascension turned on by turn 3 or so, then it's crap, I agree. That's why I don't like the card. If it doesn't land on turn 1 it's never going to matter. But, if you did have a way to consistently run it out there, one presumes your deck would be full of ways to ensure it does get triggered early enough to matter. It doesn't really take that much.

    Note that you actually flip the card earlier if you play a 1 drop, 2 power creature on turn 1, and play the Ascension turn 2, and attack.

    Feels too slow to me, but I agree this would be good:

    T1: Mox Jet, Mountain, Goblin Guide, Ascension, attack (1 counter)
    Op T1: Island, whatever.
    T2: attack (2 counter)
    Op T2: Bolt them during end step

    That seems fine, and I think you win any game where you're getting Ascension online that fast.



  • Yeah... If you want this type of effect, just play Scab-Clan Berserker. This is just too slow and easy to play around.



  • @MaximumCDawg said:

    Feels too slow to me, but I agree this would be good:

    T1: Mox Jet, Mountain, Goblin Guide, Ascension, attack (1 counter)
    Op T1: Island, whatever.
    T2: attack (2 counter)
    Op T2: Bolt them during end step

    That seems fine, and I think you win any game where you're getting Ascension online that fast.

    That involves no countermagic on the side of the opponent, or no blocker for guide, or no bouncer for ascension.

    T1 oath (requiring 3 cards, not 4), T1 tinker (1 more mana, 1 less card), T1 thalia, confidant, magus of the moon... seem better.

    Maybe it really works, who knows? but i cannot think of a common deck that gets really hampered by this. Maybe storm if you can get it online before it goes nuts, or decks with ancient tomb.


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