A select few cards, such as Lightning Bolt, are good in the majority of situations that come up in Limited. If your opponent is at 3 life, you can use Lightning Bolt to just win the game. If there's an evasion creature that you need to deal with, you can burn it right out of the sky. If you want to keep your offense going, you can use Lightning Bolt to take out a key blocker. All for only one mana!
But most cards aren't going to be all-stars in any deck you put them in. Some cards, like Sigarda, Host of Herons, are amazing when you cast them—but have very strict mana requirements. Tandem Lookout is great in a deck full of removal spells—or when paired with a Wingcrafter (or just about any other evasion creature)—but if you don't have any good way to break through your opponent's defenses you might be better off replacing it with a bigger body.
Ghostly Flicker looks like it could be really good in a deck full of soulbond creatures, and other cards with enter-the-battlefield effects, but if you're just using it to protect your creatures from removal spells you might find yourself pretty disappointed by its relatively high price tag.
My preview card this week has a lot of upside when it's working properly—but it can be extremely difficult (and dangerous) to set up. Ready to see it?
Here you go!
Under the right circumstances, Homicidal Seclusion can be the most important card in the game. But if things go wrong, it can be a huge liability.
Homicidal Seclusion | Art by Cliff Childs
If you have a Latch Seeker pumped up by Homicidal Seclusion, it won't take long for you to swing to victory. But even if your creature doesn't have evasion, if you're able to attrition away both players' boards, every creature you play will be a fantastic, must-kill threat.
- Obvious Interactions
Alright, let's get some of the obvious interactions out of the way first.
If there are any Pacifism or Claustrophobia-type cards in Avacyn Restored, it will be possible for your opponents to completely shut down your Homicidal Seclusion, at least until you use a removal spell on your own creature or (preferably) flicker it in and out of play with a card like Cloudshift.
Demonic Taskmaster | Art by Chris Rahn
Homicidal Seclusion does not combine well with soulbond creatures. However, it does work particularly well with Demonic Taskmaster and other cards that force you to sacrifice your own creatures, since they allow you to reduce your board down to a single creature (without your opponent's help).
In fact, if you have a Demonic Taskmaster to go with your Homicidal Seclusion, your opponent will need to find an answer in a matter of turns or else die in the air to your 7/4 lifelink flier.
- Putting All of Your Eggs in One Basket
Removal spells and bounce spells can absolutely ruin your day if you're relying on riding a single creature (aided by Homicidal Seclusion) to victory.
But cards that deal with your creatures aren't the only things that you need to worry about, as Homicidal Seclusion also leaves you vulnerable to cards like Cloudshift and Ghostly Flicker, which can remove your opponent's blocking creature(s) from combat and prevent you from gaining life thanks to lifelink.
If you can thwart your opponents' early offenses, then go over the top with Homicidal Seclusion, you should be able to rack up quite a few victories.
But if you let your opponents get ahead early and push their advantage by using removal spells to get rid of your solitary, huge, lifelinking creature, you're going to find yourself spending a lot of time hanging your head in defeat.
- Wait For It
If you play Homicidal Seclusion into a cluttered board, your opponent will make it very difficult for you to ever turn it on (unless he or she has removal spells on hand, to actively punish you for trying to set up your enchantment).
Tandem Lookout | Art by Kev Walker
For that reason, you're going to want to wait until you only have a single creature left on the board before casting your Homicidal Seclusion.
Yes, it can be frustrating to have to wait to play your five-mana enchantment, but it's much better to wait to cast it then it is to have it sit in play without doing anything relevant for you.
So how do you progress the game to a point where you only have a single creature?
By blocking and forcing trades whenever possible.
For this reason, you're going to want to pair Homicidal Seclusion with many high-power/low-toughness creatures and must-block creatures (like Tandem Lookout) as possible. If you can make your opponent do your dirty work for you, then Homicidal Seclusion can become an absolutely fantastic card for you.
While Homicidal Seclusion does not pair very well with the many soulbond creatures in Avacyn Restored, and it does leave you vulnerable to all-purpose answers like Banishing Stroke, there are still going to be ways to put it to extremely good use.
Howlgeist | Art by David Rapoza
If you have a deck full of removal spells and undying creatures, you shouldn't have much trouble defeating (and demoralizing) your opponents.
Heck, if you pair Homicidal Seclusion with Howlgeist, it won't take long before you've put your opponents completely out of their misery. At first, you'll be attacking with a 7/3 lifelinking creature that can only be blocked by the set's biggest creatures (as of writing this article, the only cards in the Avacyn Restored Card Image Gallery that will be able to block a Homicidal Seclusioned Howlgeist are Avacyn, Angel of Hope and Griselbrand). And if your opponent does find a way to kill it the first time, then you'll have an 8/4 lifelinker that's still almost impossible to block.
So don't assume you can just put Homicidal Seclusion into any deck and have it be amazing for you. You need to be very conscious of the creatures, and the removal spells, you are surrounding it with.
While you will be able to claw your way back into some games thanks to the raw power of Homicidal Seclusion, if your deck is too slow you will just lose any time your opponent has a removal spell or two to supplement an even mildly aggressive start.
The limiting factors for Homicidal Seclusion, in Limited, are its relatively high cost and its strict requirement that only turns on when you have exactly one creature in play. Due to the fact that creatures play such a huge role in Limited, it can be quite difficult to (safely) set up situations where Homicidal Seclusion will work properly for you.
But if we step outside of Limited and give ourselves access to a pool of thousands (and thousands) of cards, we can find many more uses for Homicidal Seclusion.
Homicidal Seclusion can be particularly potent when combined with creature-lands such as Inkmoth Nexus, Mutavault, Treetop Village, and Mishra's Factory, as well as cards that generate one token at a time, like Squirrel Nest, Kher Keep, and Mimic Vat.
Homicidal Seclusion can also work quite well when paired with cards like Damnation that can wipe the board completely clear; Divine Reckoning and Cataclysm, which leave you with exactly one creature; and cards like Nantuko Husk, which allow you to carefully manage how many creatures you control.
In Limited and Constructed formats alike, you're going to need to make sure you can progress the game to a point where you won't just lose if your opponent plays a removal spell to destroy your lone creature. But if you are able to stall the game to that point, you're going to make even mediocre creatures look like the most powerful Dragons and Angels.