Dark Ascension: Swift Justice Review (Part 2 of 2)
Our second run-out for Dark Ascension sees us testing the Boros-coloured Swift Justice. With some disruptive ground game and a few aerial threats, will it mete out retribution to Jimi’s Dark Sacrifice? Only one way to find out!
Leading us off, Jimi opens with a Doomed Traveler off of a Plains, while all I have to match is the Plains. Next turn she swings for first blood, then adds an Unruly Mob– nice and early, and the last thing I want to see. For my part, it’s a Mountain this time.
Now turn 3, Jimi plays an Avacyn’s Collar, equipping it to the Traveler which then joins the Mob on the attack, leaving me at 16. Back to me, I play a Forge Devil, sniping her Mob before it has a chance to start earning +1/+1 counters- a play well worth the 1 damage it does to me in return. Jimi follows up with a 2-point attack and an Elder Cathar, while I finally land a creature in the form of the Lightning Elemental. It’s a dreadful shame I’m not in position to make use of its haste, but I need to have something on the board.
Jimi adds to her army with a Gather the Townsfolk on turn 5, though she looks to be on the buildup as she foregoes an attack. I drop a Night Revelers and swing in with it immediately. She just lets it through to go down to 16. Next turn she comes in with the Traveler and Cathar, putting me down to 9. She then plays the last card in hand, a Falkenrath Torturer. Back to me, I attack again with the Revelers, hoping to consolidate her army into fewer pieces. She chumps with a 1/1 Human token, then sacrifices it to the Torturer to give it a +1/+1 counter. I then add an Erdwal Ripper and pass.
Now turn 7, she hits my hand with a Night Terrors, letting her exile her choice of a Burning Oil, Nightbird’s Clutches, and Rally the Peasants. She opts for the Oil, and off it goes. She then attacks for another 4 with the Traveler and Elder Cathar, and I let them through to go down to 5. Back to me, I neutralise her Torturer and Traveler with the Nightbird’s Clutches, and come in for lethal with my Revelers, Ripper, and Lightning Elemental. Jimi trades for the Elemental with a 1/1 Human, taking 6. I then put a +1/+1 counter on the Ripper, add a Midnight Guard, and pass.
Next turn she attacks for 2 with the Traveler, and I’m down to 3 life. Assessing the board, I can flash back the Clutches, though it won’t quite be enough. I draw my card- and it’s a Markov Warlord. Taking two blockers out of contention and attacking himself with the rest, I alpha strike and do exactly enough damage to win.
The game’s first creature is Jimi’s turn-2 Skirsdag Flayer, and at that moment I know I’m in for a tough one. I answer with a Niblis of the Urn, and we’re off. Next turn Jimi simply adds a Plains and passes, while I play my Stromkirk Noble after attacking with the Niblis for 1.
Now turn 4, Jimi summons an Elgaud Inquisitor. With nothing but Humans on the board, my Noble strolls right between them to nick her for 1, gaining a +1/+1 counter as a reward. The Niblis adds a second point, and she ends the turn at 17. I add a Niblis of the Mist and pass. Next turn Jimi attacks for 2 with the Inquisitor, which I block with the Niblis of the Mist. Rather than take the trade Jimi immediately sacrifices the Inquisitor to the Flayer, letting her kill off my Noble. This lets her add a 1/1 Spirit token to the board, and neutralises her biggest threat. Back to me, I swing for 3 (with my Niblis of the Urn tapping her 1/1 Spirit token) to put Jimi to 14, then add an Elite Vanguard before passing.
Jimi attacks for 1 on turn 6 with her Spirit, then gets busy adding to her army. First she plays a Mausoleum Guard, then follows up with a Gather the Townsfolk. Over to me, I cast Nightbird’s Clutches to falter her freshly-summoned 1/1 Humans then tap down her Guard with my Niblis, allowing the team to march in unopposed for 5. Next turn Jimi retaliates with a 4-point attack of her own to leave me at 15, sending in the Mausoleum Guard and pair of townies. She then ends with an Elder Cathar. I then retaliate, seeing Jimi getting harder and harder to kill and knowing I need to bring her down soon. I drop a Lightning Elemental and going for the throat with everything. My Niblis taps down her 1/1 Spirit, and Jimi trades her Elder Cathar for my Elite Vanguard. The Elemental gets picked off by her Flayer, using up one of her Human tokens, and when the dust settles Jimi’s left at 6 life.
Now turn 8, Jimi plays an Unruly Mob right off the bat, then sends in her Guard and the now-3/3 Human. She ends with a Lingering Souls. Down to 10 life, I play a second Lightning Elemental, which as expected is picked off by the Flayer. My Niblises get blocked by her Spirits, with the Niblis of the Urn dying in the process. It’s a futile attack and I know it, but I don’t see myself getting away with this one. Jimi’s Unruly Mob gets a +1/+1 counter from the sacrificed Human token. Wasting little time, Jimi fires back for 7 with her 3/3 Human, the Unruly Mob, and 2 Spirit tokens. Down to 3 life, I think I might just make it a game as I drop a Night Revelers and swing for 4.
Jimi’s turn-10 Gather the Townsfolk seals the deal. At 2 life, fateful hour kicks in and gives her a small army, taking the game.
With it my turn to be on the play, I drop a Mountain and pass, while Jimi lands an Avacyn’s Collar off of a Swamp. Next turn I play an Ashmouth Hound, while Jimi lays land and passes.
Now turn 3, I swing for 2 with the Hound and follow up with a Niblis of the Urn after a second Plains. Jimi drops a Haunted Fengraf, casting Night Terrors to exile my Erdwal Ripper. I draw a second Mountain on turn 4, then add an Assault Griffin after a 3-point attack. Down to 15 life, Jimi adds a Selfless Cathar, then equips it with the Collar.
I’ts now turn 5, and the game is growing increasingly lopsided. I attack for 6, tapping down Jimi’s lone defender with the Niblis. Jimi manages to add a Galvanic Juggernaut, but it’s for naught. I drop a Markov Warlord on turn 6 and put Jimi out of her misery.
Thoughts & Analysis
I wasn’t especially impressed with this deck, though it’s a bit difficult to put my finger on precisely why. Although I won the first match and nearly the second, it just didn’t feel like it had the power I was expecting it to given its colour scheme. Boros decks don’t tend to skimp on strength and removal, and outwith the Wrack with Madnesses I never drew, there just wasn’t much I could do. Part of this is credit to Jimi’s deck- it has tremendous threat diversity, so that even with removal I’m not getting rid of anything critical. That Skirsdag Flayer, however, was paralytic. Unlike most decks with Red, there wasn’t much here in the way of pinpoint problem solving through fire and lightning. Sad to say, Game Three felt like a fluke more than a well-executed plan.
Another problem I had was in the excess of x/1 creatures. My Lightning Elementals, Erdwal Ripper, Bloodcrazed Neonate, Ashmouth Hound, Elite Vanguard, and several others are all feeble on the back-end. While the Hound is trade-proof against 1/1 tokens, it was difficult to get things through without facing the prospect of trading out with a 1/1. This was particularly painful with the Lightning Elemental.
And that right there is probably the crux of it. This sort of deck could do fine if it was fast and aggressive, able to floow the board with x/1 attackers with high power that could get some damage in before falling. Instead, we have a deck where the average creature costs over three mana, which is much too high for the kinds of starts the deck needs. Neither White nor Red have much in the way of mana ramping, so while the Traveler’s Amulets do try and help here, it’s just not enough. There’s too many closers, and not enough of a solid spine running through the middle of the deck.
With overpriced beaters and questionable removal, this deck is likely to be an exercise in frustration for many the pilot.
Hits: Markov Warlord stands out amongst a large number of closers; inclusion of a “money rare” (Stromkirk Noble) sure to please players as its price comes down to a more affordable range for a superb card
Misses: Too much fat for an aggressive deck to effectively deploy a steady stream of threats; removal is conditional and suspect, even for Innistrad/Dark Ascension; deck’s name is cruel, cruel irony
OVERALL SCORE: 3.80/5.00