There’s a lot of things to like about Asylum Visitor from the Magic the Gathering set Shadows Over Innistrad. Not only is she a vampire, but she has the Madness ability. This means if you happen to discard her, you can pay 1B to cast her!
Having a 3/1 creature for 2 mana is good enough. But, she also has an ability that may remind you of a poor man’s Dark Confidant and Phyrexian Arena rolled into one. At the beginning of each player’s upkeep, if that player has no cards in hand, you lose 1 life and draw a card. The beauty of this ability is that it’s a pure bonus
While people built plenty of Madness decks and took them to their Local Game Store, the Madness mechanic didn’t break through as a major contender in competitive play during Shadows Over Innistrad. That’s sad to say, considering that in their original heyday, Madness decks ruled the competitive scene.
However, quite a few of these Madness creatures from Shadows Over Innistrad made noise on Magic Online for a bit. It seems now that Asylum Visitor and friends may have been a bit underappreciated, with other more powerful deck archetypes overshadowing them at the time. With Asylum Visitor leaving Standard in October 2017, her time to potentially shine was over before it began, at least in Standard.
Asylum Visitor in Modern Mardu Madcap Experiment!
It turns out that one clever deck builder found a way to work Asylum Visitor into a Modern deck! This Mardu Madcap Experiment list came in 8th place at SCG Modern IQ Ludlow, and it’s a cool one! Like Asylum Visitor, Madcap Experiment is a card that plenty of deck builders have brewed around, but it hasn’t found a consistent build just yet. Fortunately for Madcap Experiment, its drawback of potentially burning you to death is negated by the emblem of Gideon of the Trials, which prevents you from losing the game if you control a Gideon planeswalker.
How do three copies of Asylum Visitor make it into this deck? This deck has two planeswalkers that will require you to discard a card on occasion in Liliana of the Veil and Nahiri, the Harbinger. Ticking these gals up and essentially getting a free creature puts you ahead on tempo. Faithless Looting also requires you to discard a card, so the Visitor can come down in that case, too. Asylum Visitor is also nice as a choice to discard when an opponent activates his or her own Liliana of the Veil’s discard ability. The potential card advantage from her conditional Phyrexian Arena type ability is just gravy.
Beyond simply being a good Vampire for casual players to eat up, as well as Vampire Tribal Commander decks, Asylum Visitor could find a home in this Mardu Madcap archetype going forward. You really can’t lose much either way having a copy or three of this little Vampire around in your Magic card collection.