Greetings, readers! This week, I continue my Journey Into Nyx content by giving my second round of reviews. Now that the set has been fully spoiled, I’ll be covering more power players for both EDH and Limited, as well as covering my thoughts on the five promo cards.
Before that, though, a couple things; firstly, now that school’s done for the most part, if you’re looking for something to do on Wednesdays, look no further than the CG Realm’s weekly EDH nights! For $2, you get to duke it out for packs at 6 PM.
Secondly, the Born of the Gods prerelease is this weekend, and I expect to see a lot of you this season for the events at the CG Realm. I had an absolute blast last season, and I’m hoping to make it a regular thing, so come on out and enjoy some Limited action! The schedule for the events this weekend are as follows:
Friday April 25 – 11:59 pm we start at midnight Sat.-$25
Saturday April 26 – 2:00 am -$25
Saturday April 26 – 5:00 pm -$25
Sunday April 27 – 1:00 pm -$25
Sunday April 27 – 5:00 pm $20
I hope to see many of you there.
Moving onward, having already covered the God cards and the mechanics in last week’s article, I’m going to move on to the other rares and mythics this set has to offer. We begin with:
I admit, I was really tempted to make this a mainstay of my Marath, Will of the Wild EDH deck, but in all honesty, the card doesn’t offer as much as Sword of Fire and Ice does. It’s a cute trick to flash in with Stonehewer Giant, but on offense, it offers little more than pressure, making a +3/+3 equipment your opponent either throws fodder at (this thing’s matchup vs. token decks is hilariously pitiful) or it makes the attacker unblockable. It’s a less politically-frail rattlesnake (looking at you, Umezawa’s Jitte), but at 3 to equip, without Puresteel Paladin, it’s hard to make this work on both offense and defense.
In Limited, however, it’s a different story entirely. Your opponent almost always has to fodder this thing, or else they’ll be buried by it, and rattlesnakes are traditionally much more powerful in Limited. To add to that, as an artifact, while there are answers for it in the format, they’re much less common than their enchantment counterparts. The +3/+3 turns even your tiniest dorks into massive threats, as your opponent can’t just up and block the guy; even if they block with multiple 4/X’s, they’re losing two 4/X’s for your 1/1, which is insane value. On defense, it’s also an all-star, as a flying creature holding this dominates the combat step effortlessly; your opponent has to have an absolutely superior board state to even think about attacking into this. I definitely hope I open this for the prerelease at some point.
As flashy as this card seems, it has one critical drawback that makes it extremely hard to play, even in dedicated token shells: it has zero value if you control no creatures, and its value depends on the amount of creatures you control. If the phrase “win-more” came to your head while reading that, congratulations on figuring out what this card really is. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice that the tokens essentially have haste, but Nomad’s Assembly is a better card than this, and that’s a bad card.
In Limited, it’s a different story; while you do need creatures to make this work, the Strive mechanic is nothing short of a workhorse in Limited, letting you dump excess mana into triggering your Heroic creatures. While Launch the Fleet has the unfortunate drawback of sorcery speed, it’s an incredibly cheap Strive card, essentially being an X spell, and it’s one of the most aggressively-costed spells for triggering your Heroic creatures. It can add insane pressure on its own, and having this alongside Phalanx Leader, Spear of Heliod or worst of all Dictate of Heliod can create some insane pressure and synergy.
On the surface, white’s promo looks terribly underwhelming. Inevitably, the comparisons to Seraph at Dawn will be drawn, but Heroic makes all the difference, turning this from a bomby common of old into a scaling powerhouse that can give you the chunks of life you need to get through to the lategame stages.
What I’ve found from my initial seeds of virtual Sealed pools I’ve opened of this set is how few Heroic creatures the full block gives us. Having a guaranteed Heroic creature in your Sealed pool is really helpful, and it also helps that this one has built-in evasion and is aggressively costed compared to the other promos. Strive being a thing is also really helpful, as you’re nearly guaranteed to open 2-3 enablers, making this card near-impossible to be just a flying 2/4.
Sage of Hours has a lot of hilarious interactions in EDH, the least of which is its Heroic ability. (though Increasing Savagery is admittedly quite hilarious) Between Master Biomancer, Forgotten Ancient, Kalonian Hydra, Vorel of the Hull Clade and other such +1/+1 counter shenanigans, it’s very easy to trigger this multiple times, and with the right setup, even loop this thing infinitely. The “all +1/+1 counters” clause does hurt its ability to loop infinitely, but it’s still stupidly easy to enable, so expect shenanigans from this Sage at a kitchen table near you.
In Limited, it’s admittedly far more difficult to make work, in spite of the amount of enablers this set has, but blue, black and green are a little lacking in common enablers, most of which being not quite beneficial for the Sage. I mean, it’s very possible to open multiple Nature’s Panoply and Solidarity of Heroes, but the chances of that happening alongside a mythic rare are few and far between. If you do snag at least a turn off this, though, I commend your achievement. (It should be worth at least 25G, right…?)
Now this is a card. Daring Thief, while it’s a little frail in combat, can have a number of hilariously frightening situations in both EDH and Limited. Obviously, enabling it in EDH is much easier (Nullmage Shepherd / Prophet of Kruphix, anyone?), but the ability to simply steal the best creature on board and hand your opponent their prize of a 0/1 Plant token is just way too attractive to ignore. Alternatively, you could hand them an Oblivion Ring and take their Mirari’s Wake. The possibilities are truly endless. Use in Zedruu the Greathearted for maximum hilarity!
In Limited, its potential is similar, with its best-case / worst-case being a little more narrow. Often, you’ll swap your 1/1 or 2/2 with their 4/4 (provided you can get the Thief past that), but in a perfect world, you’ve given it Crypsis, Aerial Formation or Aqueous Form, and you’re happily swindling their bombs and board state while you give them the Auras enchanting your creatures (but be careful you don’t give them too good of a Bestow creature!). Regardless, if you know how to min-max this card, it can be a terror, even in Limited. Arguably, it’s harder to make work, but 2/3 is quite good for Limited, as only Nessian Courser and similar undercosted bodies can pace it, and a well-timed Bestow Aura will negate that, regardless. Obviously, I’m excited to toss this in my Maelstrom Wanderer EDH deck, but I’m looking forward to seeing or making great plays with this one in Limited as well.
In all honesty, I’m not even that big a fan of this mechanic that they’ve thrown into this set. The theme of “basic lands matter” only really works when you don’t have multiple cycles of multicolor cards, a cycle of 10 multicolor lands, and multiple fixing options easily accessible through artifacts and lands. Don’t get me wrong, in EDH, this has huge potential to be a great mono-blue or U/x finisher, arguably comparable to Cyclonic Rift if you can min-max it properly, but realistically, this ability will be for 4 or less most of the time. In Limited, that’s fine, as it’s still a huge tempo swing, despite how slow it is. In EDH, that really just isn’t good enough. (That being said, I suppose you’ll hold this thing until you can reliably bounce everything.)
Maybe I’m misjudging this one, and it’s actually the most powerful promo. I want to see the plays this makes, but for now, mark me down as unconvinced. 7 mana in Limited is in and of itself a lot to ask for, as you can just get buried by aggressive strategies before you’re even able to cast this colossus, but if you can tune your deck to survive until you can, you can probably win just off the tempo this thing provides. I suppose it depends on how many Guadians of Meletis you open.
I had to honestly double-take this one, because I wasn’t sure I was seeing Grave Pact with flash when I first looked. Arguably, 3BB is better than 1BBB, as well. There’s a lot of power in this card, and it’s actually fair to say this thing can outdo the original in a lot of situations, which is saying a lot because we’re talking about freaking Grave Pact here. Seriously.
This thing just might as well have been named “Dictate of Disgusting Blowouts”, for all the shenanigans it does to cluttered board states. What environment has that? Oh, right; Limited. Casting this in response to mass chumpblocking can honestly win you the game on its own, so long as you’re acutely aware of the resources you’re trading. Even writing about it and theorycrafting situations with it just reinforces how dumb I think this card is. If I open it and am playing black, I’ll honestly write down any heinous plays I make with it.
In the wake of an astoundingly unexciting mix of rares in black past Dictate of Erebos, we move on to this, which is a Wrath in black. It’s overcosted. It has the chance to miss certain creatures. It can either be fantastic or terrible in Limited; entirely depends on the board.
Sweepers; necessary, but unexciting. They blow things up. They can cause massive blowouts. Creature decks cry about them. Wah. Next!
Mr. Shrivel-Cause-Ya-Nastee, black’s promo is actually quite solid. If I’m playing black, I obviously want to be playing white alongside it, though.
I also want two Scholar of Athreos. Selfish desires for my hilariously bad Limited archetype aside, Doomwake Giant will be the true test of the worth of Constellation in Limited. In all honesty, as much as I don’t want this to be awful in EDH, it really is; triggering this any more than once is just a pain to have happen, and it needs a good 3 triggers to be of any use.
In Limited, like I said, evaluating this card is difficult. I don’t personally want to have it played against me, as it’s tough to punch through on the ground and has a rather nasty effect, especially if you have the ability to trigger it mid-combat. (Thankfully, to my recollection, all the ways to do this are rare; the Dictate cycle and Boon Satyr)
This guy has the potential to do some serious work in the name of card advantage. Making sure he hits is the big ticket, so any deathtouch equipment (Basilisk Collar, Quietus Spike, etc.) work really well with him, as well as any Anthem-type effect to boost his power. After you hit, library manipulation becomes the name of the game. Sensei’s Divining Top works so well with him it should be criminal, as you can even escape a clump of spells you can’t cast by getting what you can cast and then flipping the Top to cast it off the top of your library again, drawing you a card and gaining you pretty great value. If you don’t have a Top, Mirri’s Guile, Sylvan Library or Jace, the Mind Sculptor work just as well. (though obviously, price becomes an issue)
In Limited, the priority of casting what you flip off this thing is much less when there are numerous enablers to give this thing power and just destroy your opponent with it. Trample makes it insanely hard to block, and God forbid you give this thing a Gorgon’s Head and/or Godsend. The potential for this thing to do a ton of damage with just a single counter is not to be ignored, and I hope I get to try him at least once in Limited.
Much like Dictate of Erebos, there’s a good argument to be made that this Dictate also trumps its original incarnation–that obviously being Furnace of Rath. Being able to suddenly double your damage out of nowhere, while risky in that it can backfire if your opponent has the firepower to turn this against you, can take unsuspecting opponents off-guard, and can end the game for them if they’re not careful. I suspect this will be on the radar of many EDH players in its advent.
In Limited, there’s a lot more risk-reward associated with casting this card. There’s a lot of damage spells at each rarity, including the promo Spawn of Thraxes, but the ability to play this as a finisher to kill an unsuspecting opponent is honestly worth the risk involved with your opponent having a clock on you. There’s a lot of power in this cycle, but this is probably one of the better ones of that cycle.
I find Spawn of Thraxes to be awkwardly costed and underwhelming for what it does. There’s the potential for you to just end the game with it when it hits the board, but aside from that, there’s not much it does for the mana you put into it. It stacks up incredibly poorly against Dawnbringer Charioteers, and unless you opened Skybind (and even if), it really just isn’t worth playing, if you ask me. It has the ability to close a game or kill a dork, and that’s really about it. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by 7-mana creatures, but even in Limited, this seems just unimpressive to me. Maybe I’m wrong; I just find the fact that it’s so easily outclassed, with many cards on par with it at lower mana cost or rarity, a bit disconcerting to me.
Here’s something. A 7/7 for 6 is already enough to evoke my inner Timmy, but then you look at that ability, and things get really dumb from there. Gelatinous Genesis, eat your heart out! To give you an idea of how dumb the incrementals for this thing gets, let me give you an idea:
3 mana = +1 counter and 1 1/1 Hydra (2 power)
5 mana = +2 counters and 2 2/2 Hydras (6 power)
7 mana = +3 counters and 3 3/3 Hydras (12 power)
9 mana = +4 counters and 4 4/4 Hydras (20 power)
11 mana = +5 counters and 5 5/5 Hydras (30 power)
13 mana = +6 counters and 6 6/6 Hydras (42 power)
15 mana = +7 counters and 7 7/7 Hydras (56 power)
If you’re not convinced how dumb this card can be in EDH, where such numbers are very possible, let me give you an idea for Limited. If you don’t remove this thing, your opponent can play a land and then have essentially put 19 power on the board, on its own just about enough to kill you, and that’s if they’re feeling particularly impatient (and cast the Broodmaster on turn 6). Lategame, topdecking this monster can work wonders on both offense and defense, as if you can survive and untap with him in play, you’re likely activating this for 9 or 11 mana, which can on its own turn the tides of a board state in your favor. Seriously, how is this even a real card…?
The other Hydra I wanted to talk about from Journey into Nyx is the promo for green, Heroes’ Bane. On its own, it’s quite potent, and can continue to grow until it’s insanely powerful, and it overruns everything. That being said, it’s lacking one necessary puzzle piece that would just make it undeniably the most powerful promo–trample. Obviously, this is a necessary evil, because everyone would just go green or go home, but what worries me about Heroes’ Bane isn’t the fact that it lacks trample, but the fact that trample is relatively difficult to come by. Humbler of Mortals is a wonderful partner for this bloodthirsty beast, but aside from that, there are few enablers.
Still, Heroes’ Bane is an absolute monstrosity, able to swallow just about every creature in Limited, and you have to throw fodder at it or remove it quickly, lest it dismantle you slowly, yet surely. It’s possible to outrace it, granted, but if green gets the right start, it has the potential to steal a game on its own.
I know they say “save the best for last”, but Ajani definitely has some competition as the best card in the set. He’s powerful, mind you, but on the surface, he doesn’t feel particularly threatening. In EDH, he is a welcomed card advantage engine in his colors, as any sort of Impulse variant that’s repeatable is incredibly powerful. He’s great in creatures-matter lists, but his most hilariously wonderful application is behind Uril, the Miststalker, who has gotten a vast number of goodies from this block; you just draw the Aura you need or pump Uril until he’s blue in the face.
Doubling Season is another card that prefaces Ajani extremely well. You can pay 5 mana to gain 100 life, essentially, which, while impossibly cheesy (your opponent counters with Sorin Markov, and you use the stack to cry.), can actually save you if your life total is feeling particularly threatened. (Note to self: Lend out Purphoros, God of the Forge less.) Aside from that, you can double the counters you distribute, making the effect that much more deadly. Really, though, Ajani’s greatest strength lies in his ability to sit there and consistently dig for your power players, either setting up your combo or finding you a utility dork to remove a problem permanent. I’m looking forward to trying him out in Marath, Will of the Wild.
In Limited, Ajani can either sit back and be a mammoth on defense by bolstering your army until your opponent can no longer hope to surpass it, or draw you to your other bombs. Ajani’s ultimate is much less of a joke in Limited, where 100 life is impossibly difficult to break through if you’re not playing green. Overall, I think Ajani is well-designed, aside from his ultimate, which is entirely hit-or-miss. He’s powerful for 5 mana, and does something rarely seen in his colors–provide card advantage–so I’m eager to see what impact he has on both Limited and EDH.
And there you have it, my long-winded review of the remaining power players from Journey into Nyx! Next week, you’ll see my Let’s Build entry for Athreos! I hope to see everyone out at the prerelease this weekend. Until then!
Check out my previous articles here:
Adapting to EDH Metagames:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1177
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1252
Part 3 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1317
Part 4 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1370
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1454
Building on a Budget:
Dragon’s Maze Prerelease Weekend:
Hits & Misses of:
Dragon’s Maze -http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1870
Innistrad - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2586
M14 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2295
Theros - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2508
Born of the Gods - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2800
Legen-Wait for It-Dary:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1606
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1595
Part 3 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2214
Part 4 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2278
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2303
Part 6 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2310
Part 7 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2323
Part 8 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2336
Part 9 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2341
Part 10 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2525
Part 11 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2617
Part 12 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2691
Part 13 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2822
Part 14 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2933
Let’s Talk Journey into Nyx:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3015
Let’s Talk M14:
Painting a Target:
Planeswalking and You:
Stacking Up Commander 2013:
The Slippery Slope:
The Top Soldiers Of:
Azorius - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2640
Bant - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2907
Boros – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2854
Dimir - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2653
Esper - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2957
Golgari - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2760
Grixis – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2984
Gruul - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2669
Orzhov - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2681
Rakdos - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2663
Selesnya - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2677
Simic - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2900
Trial & Error: