Tag Archives: JOU

Going Deep with Dictates

Marshall Sutcliffe recently ran an excellent article about “going deep” in Limited. The basic premise of this is intentionally forcing an obscure or alternative draft strategy, mostly just to see how it works. The example Marshall uses in his article is Burning Vengeance from Innistrad. Build-around-me uncommons are an excellent example of this practice, especially in a triple-set draft environment, but it can apply to mechanics as well. For example, you could go deep on inspired in BTT draft, using Springleaf Drum and Triton Tactics to extract maximum value from inspired creatures.

A few drafts ago, I had the opportunity to go deep myself. However, the card I went deep on was no simple uncommon…

Pack 1 Pick 1: Hour of Need. An excellent uncommon and a great start to the draft. You pick up the next pack, and thumb through the available options. You pause when you reach the rare, which is still in the pack. A Dictate of Kruphix.

You consider the merits of taking a the Dictate. It’s on-colour with your first pick, and can certainly be quite powerful if properly built around. You also haven’t yet played a Dictate, through you have passed one in a previous draft. Eventually you decide to give it a try. The best way to judge a card is by playing with it, and who knows when you’ll see another one.

As it happens, the answer to that question is “real soon”. As you pick up the 4th pack and skim through it, you find yourself once again being met by a Dictate of Kruphix. You put your head in your hands and consider just how deep you should go. Somewhere deep inside, however, you already know the answer.

It’s time to go real deep.

Without further ado, I present the deck in all its glory:

Dictate Mill
2 Dictate of Kruphix
1 Bronze Sable
1 Deepwater Hypnotist
1 Sigiled Starfish
2 Nyxborn Triton
1 Chorus of the Tides
2 Bladetusk Boar
1 Mnemonic Wall
1 Prescient Chimera
1 Siren of the Fanged Coast
2 Lightning Strike
1 Magma Jet
1 Bolt of Keranos
1 Nullify
1 Thassa’s Rebuff
2 Countermand
1 Hour of Need
1 Griptide
1 Sudden Storm
9 Island
5 Mountain
2 Temple of Epiphany

This deck would definitely not have existed without my decision to go deep on the Dictates. Building around the flash enchantment substantially changed my pick priorities. I’ll break down some general categories:

Countermand – Once I had the second Dictate, I valued Countermand extremely highly. While the mill text is generally irrelevant to a majority of games, for this deck, it was an active avenue to victory as it would cause my opponents to run out of cards first. I only ended up with two, but I likely would have played a third given the option.

Burn – I was confident that my deck would be able to win the long game, due to Dictates and Countermands. My concern was surviving up until that point. The Theros pack was extremely kind to me in this regard. I think my first 3 picks of Theros were Strike, Strike, Jet, and they were all fantastic. Dealing with the early threats gave the deck room to breathe, and sometimes I could just play a tempo game with fliers, and then point the burn at my opponents faces to finish them.

Early Creatures – These guys were a concession to not being run over by a fast aggro deck. Starfish is clearly the MVP here, purely by doing what Starfish normally does. Nyxborn Triton was an acceptable body due to blocking the 2/X’s of the format, that had extra utility due to bestow.

Late Creatures – However, the 4-drops and above were generally very clunky, due to the need to hold up removal while deploying threats. This made Bladetusk Boar likely the worst creature in the deck – there was just no room to cast him while holding up a counter or burn until beyond turn 6. Chorus of the Tides was similarly weak, though amusingly if it had been Cloaked Siren it would have been one of the best creatures in the deck. Siren was probably the best of the creatures that attack, as between the rest of the removal in the deck, he generally became a 4/4 because my opponents couldn’t give up the only creature they had in play.

Mnemonic Wall – Yeah, this gets its own section. This was possibly the best Mnemonic Wall deck I have built in the format. With the wide variety of spells available to the deck, the Wall was able to provide exactly the effect that was required at any point. Wall returning Strike was a common one, but my absolute favourite of the night was 9 mana, Wall returning Countermand, when my opponent had no creatures in play.

Other Stuff – This deck was 16 lands, which was a conscious decision. I figured between the Dictates and all the scry available in the deck, I would have no concerns not hitting my land drops, and I was basically correct. When the deck made it to full-on turbo Dictate mode, I never had any concerns with land drops.
The Thassa’s Rebuff was possibly the worst mistake in the deck, however. I figured it would be okay with a Dictate and some random blue creatures. However, it frequently did nothing while I had no nonland permanents on the board.
Hour of Need was still good in this deck, despite it not being used that much. The additional angle of attack Hour gives a blue deck is phenomenal, and it was still great here.

My first game was an interesting one, mostly because my deck didn’t function at all like I planned it to. I was paired up against RW aggro and narrowly won a close game after beating down with my fliers and Boars. The second game, however, delivered. It was a glorious display of Burn, Dictate, Counter, more removal, and eventually finding my second Dictate and milling the opponent. I could have won with Hour of Need, but when you build a deck that wins with Dictate, you just want to make it happen.

Ultimately, this deck came second in the draft pod, losing only to the eventual first place player in round 2. Round 3 saw another match vs aggro, which also died to a flurry of lighting, followed by mass card draw (they even had a Fate Unraveler, the nerve!). This goes to show that “going deep” doesn’t necessary mean “losing with style”. If you can figure out your strategy to win, and correctly prioritize the cards that will enable that strategy, then you too could end up with a sweet deck that is doing something unconventional, but also something super fun.

If I hadn’t decided to go deep, I wouldn’t have ended up with one of the most fun decks I’ve played in the format. Hopefully, you too can come up with a sweet brew by deviating from the conventional draft strategies and trying something new.

Until next time,

Random.

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Brewing with Blossoms

Recently I was bitten by the Eidolon of Blossoms bug, and found myself idly thinking about how to build around it in Standard. I then was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to play with it in Draft. Lets just say that didn’t help this condition, even with the amount of support my deck had for it. Today, I’d like to go through the process of building a deck around Eidolon of Blossoms and try to reach its full potential.

4 Eidolon of Blossoms
4 Courser of Kruphix

This seems like the default core of any Eidolon deck. Beyond the obvious synergy of Courser triggering Eidolon, Courser also filters lands off the top of the deck, helping ensure the Eidolon continually draws into impactful cards.

Sticking with just Green for now, let’s examine what the deck wants. Some early game ramp is probably desired (Elvish Mystic, Sylvan Caryatid), along with some more Enchantments to trigger Eidolon (Boon Satyr, Nylea). Finally, the deck would like some decent finishers so you actually have a way to win the game after drawing a million cards (Polukranos, Primeval Bounty). With all this, the first iteration of the deck looks like this:

4 Elvish Mystic
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Voyaging Satyr
4 Scavenging Ooze
4 Boon Satyr
4 Courser of Kruphix
4 Eidolon of Blossoms
4 Polukranos, World Eater
1 Nylea, God of the Hunt
1 Primeval Bounty
3 Setessan Tactics
23 Forest

At this point, it seems obvious that the deck is sharing some similarities with the Mono-Green Devotion variants that exist out there. The deck already contains Voyaging Satyr, Nylea and Polukranos. Perhaps we should encourage the Devotion aspect while using Eidolon as a value card. This will involve a few changes (Kalonian Tusker, Garruk, Nykthos).

4 Elvish Mystic
4 Voyaging Satyr
2 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Kalonian Tusker
3 Boon Satyr
4 Courser of Kruphix
4 Eidolon of Blossoms
4 Polukranos, World Eater
2 Nylea, God of the Hunt
2 Garruk, Caller of Beasts
1 Hydra Broodmaster
3 Setessan Tactics
19 Forest
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

Ultimately though, the problem with a mono-Green build comes down to consistency issues. The green devotion builds are fairly prone to drawing too much mana with nothing to do with it, or opening hands with too many high-end cards that are forced mulligans. On top of this, Lifebane Zombie is a card that poses massive problems for green decks, and it usually comes with it’s friend Thoughtseize.

Splashing a colour to give the deck a bit more game seems like a great idea. Doing so will also allow the deck to play some temples, helping to improve draws, as well as interacting nicely with Courser. Let’s return to the four-of Courser and Eidolon shell.

If you can’t beat them, join them, right? Black offers a very appealing set of cards for this deck. It provides access to a very nice disruption package in Thoughtseize + Hero’s Downfall, and the deck also gets to run Brain Maggot as additional disruption that plays nicely with Eidolon. Herald of Torment is also an excellent enchantment creature that can help push through damage, even if bestowed on something like a Courser of Kruphix. Courser even helps mitigate the life loss!  Black even gives the deck the option of Doomwake Giant, which could be a very effective card against Elspeth, and Pharika, who makes enchantment tokens.

4 Elvish Mystic
4 Sylvan Caryatid
3 Brain Maggot
3 Herald of Torment
4 Courser of Kruphix
4 Eidolon of Blossoms
3 Polukranos, World Eater
1 Pharika, God of Affliction
4 Thoughtseize
3 Abrupt Decay
4 Hero’s Downfall
4 Temple of Malady
4 Overgrown Tomb
7 Forest
5 Swamp
3 Mutavault

Odd numbering is due to testing a new deck. Doomwake Giant was excluded in this build, although it might just be really awesome with Pharika, and it’s possible the deck should lean more in that direction. The sideboard for this deck also seems really good, and would include hits like Golgari Charm, Bow of Nylea, and Mistcutter Hydra. A single Whip also seems like it could be reasonable in this build.

What if we were to go maximum greed, however? White provides a sweet removal spell in Banishing light that also happens to be an enchantment, and allows the deck to use Elspeth as a top end win condition.

4 Sylvan Caryatid
2 Loxodon Smiter
4 Courser of Kruphix
4 Eidolon of Blossoms
3 Polukranos, World Eater
2 Archangel of Thune
2 Ajani, Mentor of Heroes
3 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
4 Thoughtseize
3 Abrupt Decay
4 Hero’s Downfall
2 Banishing Light
4 Temple of Plenty
4 Temple of Malady
2 Temple of Silence
2 Overgrown Tomb
2 Godless Shrine
6 Forest
3 Swamp

This is easily the most midrange (and the most greedy) of the versions we have, and the one most pulling away from the Eidolon plan. It seems very likely to me that this deck wants Underworld Connections as its card advantage source instead, freeing up more slots for game-winning threats. A straight Green/White version of this deck might exist, but I feel like that’s basically worse then just playing Hexproof and killing people (Unflinching Courage is pretty good).

Ultimately, the Green/Black version looks like the most interesting to me. The Eidolon offsets the 1-for-1 nature of cards like Thoughtseize and Hero’s Downfall, allowing you to get ahead and force through damage with cards like Herald and Polukranos. The deck also has enough interaction with spot removal spells, and the sideboard should be capable of handling anything other decks can throw at it. I’m genuinely excited to actually try building that list and see how it plays.

While this was a fun foray into Constructed, I feel like talking some more Limited! Journey into Nyx has had plenty of time to show it’s influence on the format, so in the coming weeks, I’ll be talking about those changes, reviewing my initial impressions from the preview season, and showcasing the most fun decks I’ve played in the format so far.

Until then,

Random

Journey into Nyx Draft Review: Multicolour and Artifacts

Concluding the remainder of the Journey into Nyx cards.

Disciple of Deceit

This guy seems real neat for the blue/black control decks of the format. All those decks ever want on turn two is a 3-toughness guy to block anyway, so we’re already winning here. On top of that, we have the ability to search for almost anything in our deck (discard 1-drop, acquire Mistcutter =D), making it more likely the deck can close out a game once it has stabilized. I like this guy and look forward to seeing what he’ll do for the control archetype.

Fleetfeather Cockatrice

As a proud member of the Simic Combine, this card confuses me greatly. I mean, don’t get me wrong, flash, flying and deathtouch are very nice and very clearly points toward this being used as a trick to kill things. It’s the monstrosity after that that is confusing. Are we supposed to ram this up against giant creatures so the deathtouch goes to work? Or are we supposed to be beating their faces with a 6/6? Either way, both mode are fairly good, so that card still does fine work. Even so, giant question marks.

Nyx Weaver

A lovely little enabler for the Green/Black graveyard theme that has been woven throughout the set (Pharika’s Mender, Saytr Wayfinder, etc). 2/3 reach blocks the majority of the annoying stuff in the air, and putting stuff in your graveyard enables cards like Nemesis of Mortals and the aforementioned Mender (Or even Nighthowler if you’re really like). The exile ability serves two really neat purposes: Stopping you from milling yourself, and ensuring that all the self-mill is not wasteful. Really like it, and I hope to see the full archetype in action during drafts.

Stormchaser Chimera

Solid creature, and solid beater. Seems like a great finisher for these colours, doing both heavy damage and card filtering. Also, the picture is sweet. ELECTRIC MINOTAUR HORNS.

Underworld Coinsmith

I just love this guy for his whole synergy with the grindy Black/White strategy. Goes well with all the Grim Guardians, provides a nice bit of reach alongside Scholar of Athreos, and in general just seems all around awesome. Another archetype I can’t wait to draft and grind to victory.

Armory of Iroas

Unquestionably a powerful effect. I just wonder if it’s too slow for the world of Theros. I tried it at prerelease, and while it was good the times it went off, I just question if that is the norm or the exception. The 2 mana equip is slightly clunky as well.

Chariot of Victory

This will most likely be at it’s best in red or green, where the average creature size is relevant enough to make these abilities matter. As really, first strike on a  2/2 in the late game is just not that impressive. Of course, you could have some giant suited up creature, but then you’re probably already winning? Not to mention the increased hate the Voltron strategy has. I believe the best use for this will be giving haste to freshly-played creatures, enabling you to keep the pressure on in the late game.

Deserter's Quarters

I want this card to be good, but the fact of the matter is we’re living in a world with a significant amount of instant-speed untap effects to support inspired (Savage Surge, Triton Tactics, etc). If you really need this to lock something down, which is the only reason honestly to run something like this, it’s entirely possible that one of these effects will come down to ruin your day at the most inopportune moment. I want to like it, but I don’t think it will deliver.

Gold-Forged Sentinel

I compare this card to Horizon Scholar, a six mana finisher that I was never really excited to run, but would if I had to. Here, we’re removing the enters the battlefield scry 2 in exchange for having a colourless creature. Decks that want a 4/4 flier will know if they want it (how do I beat a Prescient Chimera ever? etc), and everyone else will happily pass it. Solid role-filler.

And that concludes our examination of the Journey into Nyx cards! I can’t wait to get to drafting this set, it looks like a lot has been added to the format to really shake it up. Over the next few weeks, I plan to try something new and go over the rares in the format, before moving on to first impressions and how the landscape of the set has shifted.

See you next time.

Random.

Journey into Nyx Draft Review: Green

We’re almost done with our journey through Journey. Two more to go!

Bassara Tower Archer

A very cheap, hexproof body seems deceptively powerful in the world of aura magic. Even a simple Feral Invocation makes this guy a legitimate threat. The fact he also provides two devotion is also a nice plus. Don’t let this one fool you – he’s probably going to be a very powerful force in drafts.

Colossal Heroics

This card is a good example of just how powerful and flexible strive can be. Expensive Savage Surge, as a base mode, is fine but not exciting. Hitting two creatures, especially in the middle of combat, moves more toward awesome territory. Anything after that, while unlikely, is great for breaking board stalls. I’m a big fan of the strive cards as long as the base mode is okay, and this one delivers.

Consign to Dust

Speaking of awesome strive cards, this one is great. We now have the whole block available for drafting, and enchantments are more important then ever. While it was always fine to have a one of Revoke Existence or similar, this one, of course, allows you to hit multiples without devoting several cards in your deck. Casting this for six mana seems like it will always be great, and I suspect this is going to be a very high pick.

Font of Fertility

I’m a huge fan of this font. Having it in your opening hand is basically fantastic, since there isn’t much else you want to do then aside from Sedge Scorpion. The colour fixing is welcome in any deck, allowing more freedom for three colours, or two with a splash. Finally, even if you draw it late, it’s a cheap trigger for constellation, and can even provide some devotion if you care about that. All around fantastic card, and I’d always be happy to have one in any green deck.

Golden Hind

Voyaging Satyr was widely considered the best common in Theros. This one has the potential to be even better. Not only does he functionally provide the important part of a Voyaging Satyr (jumping you from 2 to 4 mana), he delivers the beats and trades better thanks to his increased power. Super solid card and will be picked highly.

Nessian Game Warden

If you’re a green deck, you probably care about creatures. That makes this guy into a respectable 5-drop with “draw a card”. Except, it’s actually even better then that, because it’s the best creature within the top few cards of your library. Assuming you can cast this with at least 3 or even 4 Forests, I doubt this one will disappoint.

Pheres-Band Thunderhoof

Slightly weaker Centaur Battlemaster is now common? Actually, I’m not really sure this one is weaker, since the extra point of toughness goes a long way toward making him not embarrassing when you haven’t targeted him yet. And when you do, the difference betweena  5/6 and a 6/6 is pretty marginal. And if you could target either a second time, you’re probably winning anyway. Solid card, but competes with the plethora of 5-drop creatures available in Green. Still, he won’t let you down.

Ravenous Leucrocota

Another card I discussed during preview week, this one met all of my expectations at the prerelease (yeah, I’ll be cheating for the reminder of this article and drawing from actual gameplay). Slapping a Baleful Eidolon onto this guy is just plan sweet, simultaneously grinding the opponents’ offense to a halt, while you bring the beats as they search for an answer. An amazing 4-drop that helps fill the slight hole Green had in its curve. Love it.

Renowned Weaver

A sweet thing I discover at prerelease is that this is a way to trigger constellation abilities at instant speed, thanks to the Spider token being an enchantment. This can really help provide an edge in combat, thanks to abilities like the +1/+1 or prevent damage Nymphs. The 1/3 reach is not insignificant either, blocking random annoying things like Vaporkins, Cavalry Pegasus, and Loyal Pegasus. Considering the difficulty Green has with random flying things, having one of these on your side is perfectly fine.

Swarmborn Giant

This card was almost immediately pegged by most drafters as a very difficult card to evaluate. Undercosted fattie, but with a very significant drawback. What I found in actual gameplay was that it makes this a very skill-intensive card. You obviously can’t just jam it and hope for the best, as any random flier will make you sad. Or if they’re a weenie strategy swarming the board, he’s also kinda miserable. However, if you can plan out the course of the game, containing the evasive threats and making sure you have favorable blocks, this guy will dominate and take over the game. I persoanlly found it a very fun card to play with for this reason.

That’s all for Green! Green’s flavor hasn’t really changed from the last two sets: Play giant monsters, beat face with giant monsters. The differences typically lie with what your support colour is. All hail our G/B overlords.

Moving right on to multicolour and artifacts. Let’s go!

Random.

Journey into Nyx Draft Review: Red

Time for some Red cards!

Akroan Line Breaker

This guy seems totally absurd. All the red Heroic decks want are some reach, and 4 powers worth of intimidate is a good way to get there. At first I thought this guy was two mana which seemed utterly insane, though 3 mana is more sensible. Still, extremely good card that will be a strong incentive to head down the red Heroic route.

Bladetusk Boar

Good old Bladetusk Boar. Breaking board stalls since Zendikar (wait, Zendikar had board stalls?).
One again, bodies with evasion are also even better in this block thanks to the bestowy nature of the format, so the Boar is even better! Also, this art is sweet.

Blinding Flare

Another way to push through damage in the long game. Once again, note the ability to target your own guys to trigger Heroic for that sweet extra value. Very good card.

 Cyclops of Eternal Fury

This card seems randomly out of place, for some reason. The mana cost and ability obviously show that he’s not supposed to be in a red aggressive deck. His home is probably in a Red/Green giant monsters deck. Also, he gives himself haste with the ability.

Font of Ire

I know I keep harping on about the “force damage through” stuff, but making it so they are dead at 5 life changes the game dynamic significantly. While you don’t want multiples, and you probably want to be casting a two drop to attack with instead on turn two, I suspect this card will be quietly doing some serious work for the beatdown decks.

Forgeborn Oreads

I’m not sure the 1 damage will matter that much, and I don’t think red has the ability to play multiple enchantments per turn. Not too excited by this card. Fanatic of Mogis is probably just better.

Magma Spray

While it doesn’t go to the face, it does kill the majority of small dude that end up grabbing a bunch of auras and getting huge. All for a cheap price. This will likely end up being a high performer. (It also kills several non-little dudes, like the Oreads above… cough).

Mogis's Warhound

Most of this is going to be a copy of what I said in preview week, but this card is seriously just bananas. Everflame Eidolon was already very good, and this guy is on a very similar power level. Heck, Fearsome Temper was mostly played just as a +2/+2 aura and this guy puts that to shame. This is an extermely good card for the decks that want it and make them a whole lot more terrifying. Seriously, this bestow cycle is really good.

Riddle of Lightning

I have no idea how good this card is going to be, though the art and effect are pretty awesome. If you can reliably kill large things with it, I suspect it will be very good. Time will tell.

Rollick of Abandon

I have no idea if this is supposed to be a board wipe or a pump spell. The mana cost here is not helping my assessment. The fact that this card kills your weenies in an aggro deck also is not helping. I’m going to stamp this with a giant question mark and move on.                 ?

Rouse the Mob

More ways to force through damage! Though seriously, the “gains trample” bit is what pushes this into really good territory. I don’t see it ever targeting more then two creatures either, but I suspect two creatures is all you’ll need.

Satyr Hoplite

Hooray for Satyr Hoplite, making the red 1-drop slot not completely suck. Seriously, trying to curve Favored Hoplite into Red two-drops was often really awkward. This guy should be a very large boost to the Red Heroic builds. Pray you never see him on an Ordeal.

Sigiled Skink

I suspect you will only ever get one scry out of this guy. Still, red is happy to get any card filtering it can, so this guy is probably fine. Is it better then Satyr Rambler is the question here, and I’d say it probably is.

Starfall

Super expensive removal! Yay! Most of the bestow creatures are small enough to die to this when they’re creatures (notably, the uncommon bestow cycle from Theros [the Emissaries] are all 3/3’s), so I expect this card will be reasonable. And obviously, you can just target any old thing if you really need to.

Wildfire Cerberus

My gut instinct is that by the time you reach seven mana, there won’t be that many X/2’s left, and a 5/4 is possibly being outclassed at that point. I wonder why this wasn’t Monstrosity 2. Not only does it seem more elegant with the 2 damage, but a 6/5 hardly seems unreasonable after you’ve spent 12 mana on your creature.

That’s all for Red! While there are some heavy hitters here, it also seemed like there were a lot more duds. The nut Red deck still seems like it will be very explosive though, and keep tabs on any blue or black decks trying to dragthe game out (which makes me sad).

Tommorow, we’ll finish up with all the Green, multicoloured, and artifact cards.

Until then,

Random.

Journey into Nyx Draft Review: Black

Continuing onwards!

Agent of Erebos

The hate level on this card is ridiculous. There’s a mild graveyard theme in Black-Green that has been woven throughout the whole block, so this guy hoses that deck rather nastily. Still, he is only a 4 mana 2/2, so I can’t see him starting in the maindeck very often.

Bloodcrazed Hoplite

Our first example of Black hating on Heroic in this block. This ability is subtly powerful, especially on the play, and basically forces the Heroic player to be using auras rather then pump spells, otherwise they get no benefit. Also worth noting is that the “remove counter” ability happens whenever the Hoplite receives a +1/+1 counter, not just one from it’s Heroic ability. This can include the Armory of Iroas, or Reap what is Sown.

Brain Maggot

One of the cards I’m most looking forward to in the new set (for the effect, not the art). Tidehollow Sculler is one of my all-time favorite cards, and this card will play out very similarly. With the fix to the Oblivion Ring templating, I expect this card will often be a removal magnet. Even so, the ability to see the opponents hand is a powerful one, and gives players the opportunity to craft their game plan around whatever the opponent is holding. I can’t wait to open on of these at the prerelease.

Cast into Darkness

Worth noting here is the “can’t block” clause, which overrides the drawback of otherwise giving them a card with defender, like we mentioned with Pin to the Earth. While I probably wouldn’t start with this main, if you see your opponent drop a 1/1 deathtouch, this is a fine answer.

Dreadbringer Lampads

Another finisher Constellation card. This one looks like it will pair well with Green, as Green has both a higher number of enchantments, and giant fatties to push through. 4/2 stats on a 4/2 are a bit concerning, however.

Feast of Dreams

Voltron up a guy with auras? Black says no. Extremely powerful and cheap removal, which we know is a premium in Theros block. Obviously, the condition is very real (no targeting Green creatures that are naturally huge, for example), however, this will still be a very high pick in the draft format, and seeing it anywhere after five will be an indication no one is Black.

Felhide Petrifier

Random strict upgrade to Fellhide Minotaur. Deathtouch is a good enough ability that you don’t need to be straight Minotaur tribal to run this guy, and he can just be a decent 3-drop in most black decks. If someone does get the nut Minotaur deck with two of this guy though… it seems pretty terrifying. He’ll basically be a remove on sight, which is already a 2-for-1 on the Green player as their removal is fight-based.

Gnarled Scarhide

Speaking of Minotaurs, that deck finally gets an aggressive 1-drop. This guy is even making waves in Constructed, so hopefully he has the chops in Limtied too. One again, the flexibility of bestowing this on either your guy or their guy is not irrelevant, and will likely come up every so often in matches.

Grim Guardian

Another sweet plant for the White/Black life drain deck. Servant of Tymaret, Underworld Coinsmith, Scholar of Atheros…. I can see myself forcing that deck a lot. =)

Nightmarish End

I liken this to the Dimir card Warped Physique from Dragon’s Maze. That card was an okay removal spell in the early game, but a terrible top deck late game. I expect this will function much the same way. Remember that when you cast this card, it won’t be in your hand anymore when it counts the value of X.

Pharika's Chosen

Yet more 1/1 deathtouchers for one mana. All the black decks I typically build in this format are totally okay with this. If your deck wants to survive and get to the lategame, this is one of the best effects for that.

Ritual of the Returned

Instant speed reanimation spells are rare, and while this uses a token to avoid some serious shenanigans, the effect is still very powerful. I expect this will be at its most powerful in the Black/Green graveyard decks I mentioned before, where you put some giant creature like Nemesis of Mortals into your graveyard and then bring it back in the opponents combat step. Nasty.

Spiteful Blow

Sip of Hemlock was awesome simply due to being unconditional removal in this set, so this will be too. The random ability to hit a land is just gravy, and may even sometimes be relevant in terms of keeping the opponent off of specific mana colours.

Squelching Leeches

I want this card to be good, though I’m not certain it will be. Most decks in Theros block are two colours, so after your fifth land drop the guy will be either a 2/2 or a 3/3. I can see him totally shining in the right decks, but I suspect he’ll be vastly overrated in the early days of the format.

Thoughtrender Lamia

At six mana, this guy comes down way to late to make a serious impact. Both players will have already naturally run out of cards by that stage, so you’ll struggle to both trigger this ability and hit something relevant. In addition, the only non-rare flash enchantment is Feral Invocation, so you can’t even really achieve some sort of draw-step lock (Unless you also have a Riptide Chimera, in which case congratulations on your sweet deck [and even still, why are you running this card?]).

Tormented Thoughts

Another card with a high amount of variance. However, stripping the opponents hand away early enough can be totally devasting enough to try and make this work. So far, my best-case scenario seems to involve Returned Phalanx for three cards on turn three. However, it’s questionable if this is just better then Mind Rot. If you opponent is on the play, they also have the chance to drop a three-drop into your then empty board. I expect that if this card is any good, it’ll be against the green decks that have a glut of expensive cards.

That’s it for Black. Black still seems to have several very strong removal spells and a variety of strategies available to it. I look forward to trying out Black in the new draft format.

I’ll be moving straight into Red, so stay tuned!

Random.

Journey into Nyx Spoilers: Week 1 Roundup

Week 1 of Journey into Nyx spoilers are finished. I’m going to discuss some cards that have caught my eye. As per usual, I’ll generally be looking with an eye for limited, though I’ll comment on other formats where I feel it is appropriate.

We’ll start with my favourite group of cards I’ve seen so far: the “drawback” bestow cycle:

Sightless Brawler

This guy has the most obvious utility with his drawback. If your opponent has made a single giant creature, you simply stop it from attacking. That being said, I see this guy has fitting more into a weenie-style build, with either a 1-drop or a hasty 3-drop allowing him to get in for some quick damage. Certainly exciting at both the regular and bestow costs.

Crystalline Nautilus

The Nautilus is probably my favourite of the whole cycle. Undercosted dudes are sweet. Undercosted dudes with utility are sweeter. While this guy looks like he’s all downside, I believe we’ll see a lot of bestowing him onto an opponents creature in order to upgrade a bounce spell like Helix or Voyage’s End into actual removal. If not, I’ll certainly be giving it a try anyway.

Gnarled Scarhide

The Scarhide looks like a card that will be more powerful in Standard then Limited. Nonetheless, he likely still has a spot in 40 card decks. The Minotaurs deck has no yet had a 1-drop, and once again his drawback can prove useful in the late game. I’ll be interested to see what his impact is in Limited.

Mogis's Warhound

The Warrhound, however, seems absolutely absurd. Everflame Eidolon was already one of my favourite bestow creatures, and this guy mirrors his costs in both regards. While I don’t see this card being bestowed on opposing creatures that often, I also don’t think it matters. The red decks are all about damage output, and slapping this on just about any heroic guy (Akroan Skyguard, anyone?) seems really powerful.

Spirespine

And finally we get to the strangest drawback card of them all. The massive power boost is certainly a massive boon, and the creature form will trade with a large amount of the creatures in the format, so he seems okay on the surface. Of course, after creatures have been bestowed to enormous levels, this guy looks less appealing as a blocker. Of course, you can always just try to race with the creature form, as something like Spearpoint Oreads makes him considerably hard to deal with in combat. This is a card to keep an eye on, in my opinion.

It’s also worth taking a look at the prerelease promos, as we’ll all be meeting these cards at some point in our prereleases.

The white promo seems by far and away the best, and it’s not even close. A friend of mine as affectionately *cough* dubbed this “Wingsteed Rider Deluxe”. Pay an extra mana, and you too can have +0/+2 and lifelink! Anyone who ever played with Seraph of Dawn knows that this card is quite excellent, and the Heroic ability just makes it even more likely to spiral out of control. As I’ve mentioned in some of my articles, the 4 toughness is also really crucial in this format, dodging the early game removal (Lightning Strike, Bile Blight) and demanding the late game removal (Lash of the Whip, Rage of Purphoros). As such, this card becomes way better on the play, as you have a window to trigger the Heroic before these spells come online.

While this guy wants to do his best Sea God’s Revenge impersonation, I’m not quite sure he’ll be able to. 7 mana is a lot in this format, and most decks in Theros need to be two colours, so X will only be like 4 or 4, maybe 5 at best. Ultimately, I’m not sure this guy is better then Shipbreaker Kraken, which isn’t really much of an endorsement.

Part of me thinks that this card was developed to be a foil to Elspeth, Sun’s Champion in constructed. Then I look at the 4 power, and just become confused. Either way, this is still a fine guy in limited.  It only affects opponents creatures, so you can attack freely while sweeping up random Sedge Scorpions and Baleful Eidolons. Just don’t expect too much from him, and you’ll be fine.

Everything I said about Scourge of Fleets applies here, except possibly worse. The Mountain clause will likely be irrelevant, and there are no shortage of ways to make your guy bigger then a 5/5 by turn 7. I just really don’t think this guy will be good.

The last prerelease promo is probably the second best behind the white one. Mana sinks are generally good, and this one threatens to go out of control very quickly. It also says “power”, so bestow onto him grants a greater boost from his ability, as well as a means to grant him evasion. Will likely be finishing a lot of games.

I’ll quickly touch on some other sweet looking cards before finishing up for the day.

Kiora's Dismissal

This card seems like an absolute house in limited. It’s worth noting you can bounce your own bestow guys that have fallen of in order to re-bestow them.

Sigiled Starfish

This card is awesome. That is all.

Whitewater Naiads

This guy seems like a surprisingly good finisher for a blue creature. I’d expect it to be most at home in the Green/Blue builds, where you can make a giant green dude unblockable. At worst, he can always just target himself.

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed

This guy just has to be a kill on sight. Seriously. He’s real good.

Silence the Believers

This removal is just all kinds of insane in Theros block. I would windmill slam this first pick all day every day.

Squelching Leeches

An interesting 4 drop for the black devotion decks. Whether they’ll still be powerful with only one Gray Merchant pack is a different question.

Eidolon of the Great Revel

This card seems hilarious for Modern sideboards. “Oh, you’re playing Storm? That’s nice. Got a Bolt?”.

Satyr Hoplite

Red finally gets a decent Heroic 1-drop. Make no mistake, this is huge. Even something as simple as Hoplite into Red Ordeal is great, and that’s just off the top of my head. This is a huge boost to the Red/White Heroic strategy.

Eidolon of Blossoms

Constellation is interesting. Bestow creatures were already high picks, and constellation makes them even more valuable. I’m curious as to how much all-in constellation decks we’ll see in full block drafts.

All of that was just an excuse to talk about how awesome this card is.

Hydra Broodmaster

I’m not sure if there is a deck capable of making it to 9-11 mana in Theros block. If there is, this card seems absurdly hard to beat.

Kruphix's Insight

My gut instinct on this card is that it seems really good. I have no idea what it’ll do, but I can’t wait to find out.

Pheres-Band Warchief

This is an amazing build-around-me card card for pack 1. Pick all the Nessian Coursers/Swordwise Centaurs.

Ravenous Leucrocota

This card seems very solid for it’s cost. 4 mana 2/4 vigilance is a fine baseline, and the Monstrosity is the icing on the cake. This would very likely make the cut in many of my green limited decks.

Kruphix, God of Horizons

Oh, what was it I was just saying about not being sure if decks could make it to 11 mana? =)

 

That’s all for now! Next week, the full set will be spoiled, and I can jump right into the analysis of the whole set. If they’re a card you think I should have mentioned today, let me know.

Until then,

Random