Vampire Nocturnus and / or Drowned Catacomb

The rare M10 two-in-one: Here comes a preview / review of M10 Mythic Rare Vampire Nocturnus… as intersects with inevitable chase rare Drowned Catacomb! That is, BBB meets (b/u)!

The reason I decided to go over these two cards together is that when I originally started to review Vampire Nocturnus, I was immediately struck with a dramatically different design angle to this card, versus many recent sets, viz. Eventide and Alara Reborn. Vampire Nocturnus is a Black card with a capital b and greatly — make that gravely — incentivizes us to play heavy Black. Some obvious or not-so-obvious elements:

The mana cost – Vampire Nocturnus has BBB in its cost, heavy Black (and what we, in the old days, would have considered a Ritual’s worth of mana). This is not easy mana to produce. Compare to Boggart Ram-Gang, which also has a triple-colored cost, but is flexible in Red or Green, allowing it to be played in a variety of decks from straight Red Deck Wins to Five-color Blood.

Secondly, how good would Vampire Nocturnus have been as just a 3/3 creature for four mana that just allowed you to play with the top card of your library revealed? I don’t think it would have been very good at all… Kind of like the short bus version of a Wandering Eye.

What about the up-side? I think supeficial analysis will assume that Vampire Nocturnus — in a dedicated Black deck — will be 5/4 flying for four something like sixty percent of the time. Is this accurate? I’d actually rather not speculate as to the accuracy of that estimation, but instead ask if that is the proper up-side.

For example, what about playing multiple Vampires? Before you start to comment that that would be super lame, certainly you can imagine having two Vampire Nocturus in play, right?

This brings me to the second card in tonight’s preview / review: Drowned Catacomb.

Drowned Catacomb, like sister M10 dual land Glacial Fortress seems to be part of a cycle that incentivizes very different multi-land use than some previous cycles. For example Stomping Ground is only superficially a G/R land. Sure it was a G/R land in Standard, but in Extended it played every role from both sides of an Ancient Grudge in B/U decks thanks to four Bloodstained Mires, to a singleton Holy Strength for four Kird Apes via Windswept Heath and Wooded Foothills. The tri-land cycle from Shards of Alara (Arcane Sanctum et al) shattered the notion of mana discipline, and we found ourselves in a Block Pro Tour where every color was roughly as available as three colors, and a G/W attack deck might have been best just because it wasn’t the only deck in the room stumbling on all it’s comes-into-play-tapped lands.

Drowned Catacomb (and presumably its cycle) carry a similar, though not identical, incentive towards mana discipline. Drowned Catacomb is obviously more effective in a deck full of Swamps and Islands (and in most formats that means basic Swamps and Islands; to get significant value (that is, value beyond a Salt Marsh — which is the current level of “not good enough” dual land based on cards like Drowned Catacomb and the aformentioned Arcane Sanctum), you need to play significant Swamps and Islands.

Both M10 rares — both Mythic Rare Vampire Nocturnus and inevitable chase rare Drowned Catacomb — therefore seem to be pointing us in the same direction design-wise. It is just a question of whether or not the eventual metagame / format / players listen.

Where Do I See These Cards Fitting In?
I don’t think Vampire Nocturnus is the kind of card you can really splash or slide in as a catch-all role player. It’s Nocturnus or no, I think. That is, if you play this card, you will probably be playing four, and you will probably be playing four in a deck of one (or functionally one) color (even if that is like Ashenmoor Gougers and so on). That said, Vampire Nocturnus might be considered Flagship if it incentivizes players strongly enough to build in such a myopic way, maybe even to the point of including other non-Nocturnus Vampires. I can see this happening, but maybe not at Tier One.

As for Drowned Catacomb, it will be no less than heavily-adopted Role Player in some format. I don’t see Drowned Catacomb (or its buddies) as Staple to begin with in Standard, but it might gobble up spots currently occupied by Arcane Sanctum in, say, Faeries… but that is not at all clear because those decks often splash cards like Esper Charm. Drowned Catacomb can pair potentially with Watery Grave in Extended; it works with a Watery Grave in play much better than a Watery Grave works with it, of course. Obviously Drowned Catacomb has the potential for Staple (along with the rest of the cycle).

Snap Judgment Rating(s):
Per above.


Currently Reading: Nikolai Dante: The Great Game – Volume 2

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#1 The MISER – It’s Black, it’s White… [M10 Spoilers] « The Mise! on 06.28.09 at 5:32 am

[…] Aqui fica… Vampire Nocturnus, via FiveWithFlores: […]

#2 scoutinthenight on 06.28.09 at 12:10 pm

I have a hard time wanting to play a dual land that I can’t use on turn one. Compared to other rare lands you can tap for more than one color mana, these seem incredibly weak. They feel more like cool uncommons than staple rares.

#3 quetzilla on 06.28.09 at 5:36 pm

How many decks even have turn 1 plays? These are fine duals.

#4 MTGBattlefield on 06.28.09 at 11:15 pm

Five With Flores » Vampire Nocturnus and / or Drowned Catacomb…

Your story has been summoned to the battlefield – Trackback from MTGBattlefield…

#5 PJ on 06.29.09 at 6:52 am

Vampire could make room for 4 blue cards, right? Djinn of Wishes looks like a lot of fun if you know what’s coming…

#6 Five With Flores » Zendikar - Gatekeeper of Malakir on 09.11.09 at 5:39 am

[…] are actually a fair number of places where this card might make sense. You can run it alongside Vampire Nocturnus (and other tiny Vampires) productively. It can also be run in any deck that can make BBB in the […]

#7 Five With Flores » Zendikar – Devout Lightcaster on 09.11.09 at 7:50 pm

[…] Gatekeepers and other little—and clearly Constructed playable—Vampires, that our old buddy Vampire Nocturnus will be superb. Vampire Nocturnus rewards players for running a lot of Black cards, and I think […]

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