What kind of fiend is this launching itself out of the night sky to feast upon mortal blood? Duh. It’s a Fiend of the Shadows. She’ll make her appearance in the latest Magic expansion, Dark Ascension, continuing Innistrad’s tale of gothic horror in gruesome new directions.To my knowledge, this is only the second Vampire Wizard ever printed (the other being M11′s [card]Viscera Seer[/card], a key card in [card]Kalastria Highborn[/card] combo decks). What does [card]Fiend of the Shadows[/card] do when she’s not fiending away in the shadows?
She flies, naturally. She also gets a juiced up (but non-random) [card]Hypnotic Specter[/card] effect that not only causes a discard, it exiles the card in question. On top of that, you can go ahead and pretend those exiled cards are in your hand, because you can cast them as if they were.
For a 5-drop, a 3/3 body seems kind of weak. This Fiend can stick around though, thanks to her ultra-creepy regeneration ability. At first I just loved the flavor of a vampire that regenerates by eating a human. That’s perfect. I figured it would almost never come into play, though. As more Dark Ascension spoilers have been revealed, it looks like there will be tons of ways to create 1/1 human tokens for your Fiends to nibble upon. Check this out — it’s a common, and also shows off a cool new Dark Ascension mechanic, Fateful hour, which gives you a boost when you’re almost dead.Combine that with the incredible new BW version of Sorin and BW decks are looking mighty tasty.
Let’s talk limited: Fiend of the Shadows is a solid rare to draft. A 3/3 flier for five mana is a little overpriced, but a single hit to trigger her first ability will make it worthwhile. If your opponent doesn’t have an answer within a turn or two, you’ll have essentially earned game winning card advantage. Being able to cast the exiled cards…well, don’t count on it. I suspect at best you’ll get to play an extra land and gain a slight tempo advantage, but at a point in the game where such an advantage is negligible.
If you can draft a few humans to support your fiend, you’ve got a serious threat. Now, even if your opponent does draw a kill spell, you can slaughter a 1/1 human in a spray of gore and keep your fiend alive.
In constructed…look, I won’t blow smoke. You’ll never see this card in constructed. Too high of a casting cost for too weak of a body. The regen effect is totally irrelevant, even if you build a deck full of humans around her, because there are far too many ways to kill creatures in every format that sidestep regen. The best case scenario is as a sideboard card against a control mirror, maybe two UB control decks. But that’s ok, not every card has to be a format-shaping superstar. I’ll be plenty happy to open Fiend of Shadows in a sealed pool, then file her safely away in a binder until I decide to build a fun Vampire Commander deck.
The best part of this card is how perfectly it fits the theme of Dark Ascension. The Innistrad story goes like this: Part 1, Things seem bad, our protector angel Avacyn hasn’t been very helpful lately. Lots of werewolves at the gate and vampires killed my aunt last night; Part 2, Yup, Avacyn’s gone, we are totally screwed, there’s a werewolf chewing on my leg and I’m actually already a vampire.
Basically all hope is lost, the world has been plunged into an eternal night, the flickering flames of human civilization seem about to go out as dark and evil creatures take over. So here we’ve got a vampire that removes chunks of your opponent’s mind and reveals them to you, and also literally eats humans. Can’t get much better flavor than that.