Cheap and Deadly

Posted in Limited Information on January 17, 2012

By Steve Sadin

Silent Departure and Prey Upon are two of the best commons in Innistrad. Why are these spells so good? Well, there are a lot of little reasons that contribute to the value of these cards. But at the end of the day, they're so impressive because they allow you to generate a real advantage on the board without hindering your development.

If Prey Upon cost two or three mana to cast its value would diminish significantly, and the same goes for Silent Departure. Would Prey Upon still be a playable card if it cost an additional mana, or two, to cast?

Sure! In fact, this happens time and time again when people splash Prey Upon off of little more than two Shimmering Grottos for green sources. But that doesn't mean you'd go out of your way to draft them, or add them to your deck, in the way that you should for the version of Prey Upon that requires only a single Forest to be cast.

My preview card for today is a new cheap spell that promises to have a big impact on Dark Ascension–Innistrad limited.

Ready to see what's so alluring?

    Using Deadly Allure Effectively

Unlike some of the flashiest Dark Ascension cards, like Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, that have been previewed so far (and are now viewable in the Dark Ascension Card Image Gallery), Deadly Allure isn't the kind of card you should be looking to build decks around—Constructed or Limited. Even though Deadly Allure isn't going to influence peoples' deck building decisions that radically, it's sure to have a big impact on Dark Ascension Limited matches for months to come.

Deadly Allure | Art by Steve Argyle

But in order to make the most out of Deadly Allure (and to mitigate its effectiveness when it's played against you) you're going to need to figure out the best ways to use it and when you need to leave it in your sideboard.

So when is Deadly Allure at its best?

Deadly Allure is obviously very good when you are already ahead, and your opponent is trying to catch up.

If you are ahead on the board with a bunch of ground creatures, then Deadly Allure gives you a great way to press your advantage. So if you can get off to an aggressive start with a bunch of Zombies, then back it up with a Deadly Allure (and maybe a Ghoulcaller's Chant or a Ghoulraiser to get your creature back) you should be able to pick up quite a few wins before your opponents are even able to get their own games started.

If you have a big creature, you can use Deadly Allure to eat one of your opponent's little creatures. Alternatively, if you have a little and largely irrelevant creature, you can use Deadly Allure to "trade up" for whatever creature your opponent has on defense.

But even if you don't get off to a big lead early, it shouldn't be too difficult for you to engineer situations where you can maximize the effectiveness of Deadly Allure. You can get a lot of extra mileage out of it with specific cards:

Silent Departure, Feeling of Dread, and Avacynian Priest control which creatures your opponent has untapped and give you a lot of control over what creatures you will be able to kill with Deadly Allure. But they can be difficult to cast in decks that are already set up to cast and flashback Deadly Allure.

You can use Deadly Allure on a creature that can deal (targeted) non-combat damage, like Skirsdag Cultist, to kill anything on your opponent's side of the board.

If you target your Pitchburn Devils with Deadly Allure, you will be able to blow up a large portion of your opponent's side of the board.

But even if you don't have any cards that specifically work well with Deadly Allure, you can ensure your Deadly Allure will do something very relevant if you go out of your way to make trades whenever possible and keep the board as creature light as possible. (And if all goes according to plans, this will ultimately put your opponent into positions where he or she will have a valuable creature untapped without any other blockers to save it.)

    What it doesn't do

Unlike removal spells such as Doom Blade or Go for the Throat, Deadly Allure won't always allow you to kill the creature that's bothering you. In fact, if the board gets particularly bogged down and both players have a lot of creatures on defense, Deadly Allure can become basically useless as your opponent can put any redundant creature in front of your deathtouched attacker.

Doom Blade | Art by Chippy

For that reason, you probably won't want to play Deadly Allure in decks that are full of defensive creatures that make attacking an unprofitable proposition for opponents (like Grave Bramble).

Similarly, if your opponent has a lot of ways to generate tokens—like Midnight Haunting and the recently previewed Gather the Townsfolk—then you're probably going to want to move your Deadly Allures into your sideboard after the first game.

Deadly Allure is also a poor main deck choice in decks that are loaded with evasion creatures. If your opponents can't block your creatures to begin with, Deadly Allure is going to be a virtual blank.

But even when you have Deadly Allure in a matchup where it should be good, the facts that your opponent can use a removal spell to break up your Deadly Allure and a top-decked Deadly Allure can do nothing to stop a creature that's been attacking you every turn are both noticeable strikes against the card that must be taken into consideration.

    Playing Around Deadly Allure

So it's Game 2, and your opponent beat you in the first game in large part because of two well-timed Deadly Allures. What should you do to minimize the chances that this will happen again?

Of course, the easiest way to play around Deadly Allure is if you have some instant-speed removal spells you can leave mana up for to punish your opponents when they try to deathtouch away your one untapped creature.

Doomed Traveler | Art by Lars Grant-West

And if you happen to have a number of token generators, then it should be easy for you to out-maneuver your opponent's Deadly Allures by leaving your Mausoleum Guard, your Doomed Traveler, or an extra token on defense when you have a creature you want to protect.

But even if you don't have any cards specifically effective against Deadly Allure you can sideboard into either a more defensive or more aggressive deck. By pushing your deck to either extreme, you should be able to regularly construct situations where you will either: (1) have an abundance of untapped creatures that can block a Deadly Allured attacker or (2) no untapped creatures (since you were too busy attacking with them).

If you don't have the right pieces to make structural changes to your deck, you can still get a lot of value out of adjusting your play with respect to Deadly Allure. If you're about to play a game-breaking creature you really want to keep alive, and you can afford to leave two or three additional creatures back on defense, then you shouldn't hesitate to do so. Sure, you might miss out on a good attack now, but even one turn from that point, you'll be far better off having kept your Ravenous Demon alive.

    Is Deadly Allure good enough to play if you can't flash it back?

If I can't flashback Deadly Allure under any circumstances, I'm going to be very hesitant to play it in my deck. But even a single Altar of the Lost or Shimmering Grotto will dramatically improve my valuation of Deadly Allure.

You won't always need to be able to get a second use out of your Deadly Allure to make it worthwhile. In fact, the ability to surprise your opponent with a second use out of it when you finally draw your Shimmering Grotto to flash it back can be far better than simply being able to flash it back at will (and allowing your opponent to play around that option accordingly).

The only situation where I can imagine playing Deadly Allure without any green to flash it back is if I had a bunch of good morbid cards that I wanted to take advantage of. After all, a little bit of card disadvantage now won't be much of an issue if you're able to enable a Morkrut Banshee.

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