Tag Archives: theros

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.

Advertisements

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 Draft Review: Blue

Carrying right along, here are the Blue cards:

Aerial Formation

Another strive finisher, which most of the cards seem to be as the design space seems pretty narrow. Blue Heroic was previously a deck, and if it still is, I can see this earning a 1-of spot.

Cloaked Siren

Faerie Impostors was good in M13 Limited, and this is a mana cheaper for much the same effect. The most important thing about its mana cost, however, is the fact it gets disguised in a Griptide. Now if your opponent plays around your removal spell, you can drop this card down with no loss of tempo, like a Horizon Chimera or a Breaching Hippocamp. Very solid card.

Crystalline Nautilus

One of my favourite cards from the new set, as I discussed in preview week. Whether oddball removal spell or undercosted beater, the flexibility and versatility here is awesome.

Daring Thief

I don’t usually discuss rares in this article series, but there’s something awesome about this ability worth noting. An aura will continue to enchant what it is already attached to, even if it changes controllers. This means that after you use an aura like Chosen by Heliod, you can use this ability to swap the Chosen with an Enchantment creature, even one that is bestowed. You’ll continue to get the benefits of the Chosen, and you’ll get the bestow creature when it dies, or immediately if it isn’t bestowed. =D

Hour of Need

Interestingly enough, I see people using this to target their own creatures more often then not, upgrading random Omenspeakers and whatever for a finishing attack in the air. Watch out for the Sea God’s Revenge blowout, however.

Hubris

At first I looked at this and thought “Better Voyage’s End”. Then the more I thought about it, I realized that just simply wasn’t true. For any non-bestow auras, End is going to trump this every time, as the aura will go to the graveyard instead. This card seems more like a giant tempo sink, where you aim to hit a creature with one or two bestow creatures. Ideally, it’ll require two or more turns for the, to rebuild the creature they had.

Kiora's Dismissal

This is probably a huge bomb in this format. Removing auras and stuff is the obvious blowout, though I like that you can target bestow creatures in order to return them and re-bestow them. Nice little card.

Pin to the Earth

This card is likely a whole lot better then it looks. Limited players have been trained to ignore the -3/-0 instant effect generally in sets (hello, Lost in a Labyrinth!), but the story changes when it’s an aura. Sensory Deprivation was fine in M14, and I expect this will do a fair Pacifism impersonation (or at least, the “can’t attack” version, anyway).

Riptide Chimera

Another card where the drawback is secretly an upside. Any of the cantrip auras from the earlier sets are awesome with this (Chosen by Heliod, Karametra’s Favor, etc), and once again, you can return bestow creatures to recast them. On top of all this, Constellation exists in this set, so rebuying those effects every turn is awesome. This card is going to be sweet, and I look forward to playing with it.

Rise of Eagles

Poor Talrand’s Invocation. Still, this one is common, and 2 toughness is the magic number for flying in this limited format, so those bird will probably trade with a few things in the sky. The question is whether or not it is fast enough. Unexciting, but worth trying.

Sigiled Starfish

Another Omenspeaker, filling the same role, but doing it differently. The loss of power is probably more important then you think as now decks can make random attacks with 2/1’s without fear of losing a creature. Still, the scry effect over the long term should help you draw more impactful cards, assuming you can get there.

Thassa's Ire

Something to help inspired decks? Neat way to lock down an opposing creature? I have no idea what this card will do, but I’m looking forward to it.

Triton Cavalry

The base 2/4 body is nice, but I’ve just spent a few paragraphs above talking about how returning enchantments to hand might be a benefit in this format, so I’m unsure how to rate his other ability. You could just target him with an aura and immediately bounce it to loop constellation triggers? I don’t know.

Triton Shorestalker

Common, unblockable body to shove auras on? Seems sweet for the blue Heroic decks.

War-Wing Siren

Speaking of blue Heroic decks, they now have a flier that isn’t named Wingsteed Rider? Is this has good as the legend? Time will tell, though I suspect this is very good.

Whitewater Naiads

Lastly, we have the Naiads. Like I said in preview week, this is a nice finisher for slower blue decks, and combos nicely with something like Riptide Chimera above. Return a Fate Foretold, play it, get a card, make this guy unblockable, and then swing for seven. Seems sweet.

That’s it for blue! While the doesn’t seem to be the raw amount of awesome that we saw in white, blue is definitely equipped with a nice amount of cool synergies and neat tricks, which should lead to some interesting decks. Next up is black, which seems to have developed a hat for the heroic…. more then!

Until next time,

Random.

Journey into Nyx Draft Review: White

The full spoiler is here, so it’s time to dive into the goodness that is Journey into Nyx!

Once again, for the draft reviews, I usually stick to just the commons and uncommon, as those make up the majority of any Limited deck. It’s also generally much easier to tell if a rare is a bomb or not, whereas pick order/priority on other cards can be much trickier.

Let’s get started:

Akroan Mastiff

White finally has an unconditional tapper! While this one requires mana to use, the removal of the “power 3 or less” restriction seen on Ephara’s Warden is a significant upgrade. Heroic in general seems to have taken a giant hit with this block, but this effect should still be useful. Four mana makes this somewhat slow, so it’ll likely be seen in the more controlling white decks rather then all-out aggro.

Armament of Nyx

This card interests me a lot. It reminds me a bit of Bonds of Faith from Innistrad. Double Strike is a very powerful ability, so the effectiveness of this card will likely depend on your enchantment creatures. That being said, the base mode of neutering a creature isn’t awful, though it’s worth noting that they can still block and potentially Fog one of your creatures. That being said, Bestow makes this effect more powerful then usual, as it is removal that doesn’t make the dudes fall off. I expect this card will end up going highly.

Banishing Light

Oblivion Ring makes a glorious return, and it’s still as good as ever. Despite the increased amounts of enchantment removal in this format, this is still unconditional removal for basically anything (Gods, Weapons, etc). Even if you know your opponent can deal with it, “resetting” a Heroic guy by causing him to lose his Auras and counters is still very strong. I look forward to first-picking this many times.

Eagle of the Watch

An unassuming card, but definitely looks like a solid role player. In the world of bestow, anything with keywords that can be used as a base is better then it looks.

Harvestguard Alseids

When your creatures are about the same size as the opponents, this ability reads “can’t be blocked”. When their creatures are bigger, it doesn’t have any text. Still, a solid filler card that will probably make the cut for curve reasons 99% of the time.

Lagonna-Band Trailblazer

I’ve always been a fan of the Yoked Ox Ordeal deck. Now you get rewarded for doing so! While the Ordeals themselves now only have one pack to show up in, there should be plenty of other ways to make this guy big enough. I think if he makes it to a 3/6, that’s plenty fine.

Leonin Iconoclast

A definite eye-catcher. Depending on how prominent enchantment creatures are, this guy could range from really awesome to mediocre. Remember that when a bestow creature is an aura, it isn’t a creature, and so it won’t be able to be targeted by the Iconoclast. Given that you need tricks in order to use his ability, I suspect he’s less good then he looks on paper. However, he’ll still likely be very good, in my opinion.

Oreskos Swiftclaw

Omenspeaker and Returned Phalanx are sad.

Phalanx Formation

An insane finisher for the white aggressive decks. This will probably target two creatures most of the time, maybe three if the game has dragged on some. Still, the raw power here is good, and instant speed means you’ll have to respect this on every attack. There’s lots of potential here.

Reprisal

It’s funny how much this card simply embarrasses Vanquish the Foul. You probably don’t need me to explain this one. Cheap removal, insanely good, battlecruiser format, yada yada. First pick all the time every time.

Sightless Brawler

I discussed this card in the first preview week. To recap, both modes seem really solid in my eyes. He can simply be an aggressive two-drop in a weenies deck, and his bestow is not unreasonable. It can even go on the opponents creature if they only have one giant guy. tough after seeing the full set, this mode seems less likely to be used given how good white removal got.

Skyspear Cavalry

Everything I said about the Eagle above applies here. This card looks poised to be totally nuts, given that it is on curve with the bestow cost of Nylea’s Emissary, for example. This guy is probably just a kill on sight, because he will end the game very quickly.

And the White cards are done! White was already very strong in the BTT environment, and it has some shiny new tools to play with. Journey into Nyx looks really solid overall, and I’m very keen to try out the new format. It should be a blast.

Until next time,

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

Archetype Breakdown: Green-Blue

Today we’ll look at the popular Green/Blue archetype in Theros draft. The basic principle behind this deck is fairly straightforward: Combine the big beaters of Green with the disruption of Blue to come out ahead. Nonetheless, the are a few things to be aware of during deck construction that will give you an edge. First off, Green/Blue is a deck that wants to win by attacking with four, five, even six drops. As such, you’ll need to have a plan for dealing with more aggressive starts from faster decks. Related to the above is the crucial need for mana acceleration, as casting your creatures ahead of the curve is what gives this deck an edge. Second, Green/Blue is somewhat lacking in the removal department. The bounce from Blue is not a permanent solution (part of this archetype being dubbed “tempo”), and Green’s premier removal is Time to Feed, which is obviously conditional. As such, cards which fill this role need to be prioritized highly, as their effect is unique, whereas any random beater can deal damage. Once again, we’ll look at the broad categories that need to be filled for this deck to function. Mana Acceleration

  • Kiora’s Follower
  • Voyaging Satyr
  • Omenspeaker
  • Satyr Wayfinder
  • Opaline Unicorn
  • Karametra’s Favor

Kiora’s Follower and Voyaging Satyr are the premiums here, as they allow you to jump from 2 to 4 mana and start casting large monsters quickly. Omenspeaker and Wayfinder, while not putting lands directly into play, help you at least find those lands to ensure you won’t miss a land drop. Opaline Unicorn is merely okay, but could support some kind of splash or off-colour activation if needed. Karametra’s Favor can be used to turn a random early guy into a mana source later. Burnished Hart is kind of not what this deck wants to be doing, using two full turns while not really accomplishing much else. Karametra’s Acolyte is a good source of mana, though it doesn’t put you ahead early, it can be used to activate monstrosity abilities later on in the game, and is a good blocker on top of that. Peregrination, at four mana, is slightly too slow for what this deck wants to be doing. Early Game Creatures

  • Nimbus Naiad
  • Leafcrown Dryad
  • Nyxborn Triton
  • Sedge Scorpion
  • Agent of Horizons
  • Swordwise Centaur
  • Nessian Courser
  • Bronze Sable

In general, the rule of thumb here is that you want some early plays here in order to not die to 2-drop creature decks, while still having some utility if drawn later. The bestow creatures thus headline this section, with the other creatures bringing their own benefits to the table. Sedge Scorpion’s deathtouch is basically always relevant, and the Agent can get through on stalled boards with his unblockable activated ability. Nessian Courser is notable for his third point of toughness. The Beaters

  • Horizon Chimera
  • Nylea’s Emissary
  • Pheres-Band Trompers
  • Nylea’s Disciple
  • Chorus of the Tides
  • Siren of the Fanged Coast
  • Prescient Chimera
  • Horizon Scholar

As said above, this section is the most interchangeable of the entire list. The main notables are Nessian Asp, for basically being Nessian Asp. Horizon Chimera is an evasive threat with an incidental source of lifegain, and the flash plays well with disruption like Griptide. Pheres-Band Trompers is an excellent creature that will grow out of control if not dealt with. Nylea’s Disciple is another excellent source of life that can help you stablize against faster decks. Other then that, fill out your “green ground beaters” and your “blue aerial beaters” however you see fit, keeping things such as curve requirements and colour into consideration, of course. Evasion/Finishers

  • Sea God’s Revenge
  • Noble Quarry
  • Aqueous Form
  • Prowler’s Helm

This section is about having some giant way to break open a game and bring it to a swift conclusion. Sea God’s Revenge headlines here, as a curve of 4-drop, 5-drop, Sea God’s is a powerful play that will be difficult to recover from. Archetype of Imagination is also at it’s best here, as giant green monsters appreciate the gift of flying more then most of the actual blue creature. Noble Quarry is also an excellent way to force through damage, and combines nicely with either a giant creature or deathtouch. Aqueous Form and Helm are less powerful options, but will get through a stalled board eventually. Preference is given to Aqueous due to the scry and cheaper setup cost. You probably won’t want more then one of either. Disruption/Tricks

  • Voyage’s End
  • Griptide
  • Time to Feed
  • Retraction Helix
  • Sudden Storm
  • Savage Surge
  • Feral Invocation
  • Mortal’s Resolve

Voyage’s End and Griptide once again rear their ugly heads as the best way to interact with enchanted creatures in Blue. Time to Feed is the best permanent removal available in the colour, and has some nice lifegain tacked on to help get to the lategame. Retraction Helix is again the “weaker” Voyage’s End, though this deck is going to get more use out of it then a more focused aggro deck, as Green/Blue is more likely to have random dudes lying around that aren’t attacking to use it with. If you’re lucky, you can even get the combo with Kiora’s Follower to bounce multiple creatures! Sudden storm is another decent way to push through damage. Lastly, the tricks ensure you aren’t blindly running headfirst into 4 power creatures hoping they don’t call your bluff. This deck isn’t focused on triggering heroic though, and as such, you don’t want to overload on these. Otherwise, you’re probably looking to build a different deck with the Green Heroes.

A sample decklist for this archetype would look like this:

1 Sedge Scorpion
1 Omenspeaker
1 Kiora’s Follower
2 Voyaging Satyr
1 Nessian Courser
1 Agent of Horizons
2 Pheres-Band Tromper
1 Horizon Chimera
1 Nylea’s Emissary
2 Nessian Asp
1 Prescient Chimera
1 Vulpine Goliath
1 Retraction Helix
1 Aqueous Form
1 Voyage’s End
1 Savage Surge
1 Feral Invocation
2 Griptide
1 Sea God’s Revenge
9 Forest
8 Island

And that’s it for this breakdown. The Green-Blue deck can definitely be powerful, though will sometimes struggle with drawing the “wrong half” of the deck. However, if it gets to the 5 mana mark, the number of powerful creatures, combine with trumps such as Sea God’s, can allow it to deplete your life total very quickly.

Until next time,

Random

Archetype Breakdown: Blue-Black Control

Today I’ll be looking at my favourite archetype from triple Theros: Blue-Black Control. While this archetype became slightly more difficult to draft with the inclusion of the Born of the Gods pack, the deck still has legs and can be very powerful when built correctly.

I tend to group decks in this archetype into two subcategories: decks that play cheap fliers and attempt to race your while answering your important things, and decks that play for the late game and try to win with some powerful threat (typically Gray Merchant). The former is generally based blue and the latter base black, although the other versions certainly exist. My preference is usually the former, though I have been known to build the latter on occasion.

I’ll start with the fliers deck. I’ll be identifying broad categories of card that you want filling specific roles in your deck. Then I’ll do the same for the lategame version.

Fliers

The Beatdown
You can’t be an fliers deck without random guys in the air. Cards you want in this category include:

  • Vaporkin
  • Shipwreck Singer
  • Nimbus Naiad
  • Blood-Toll Harpy
  • Siren of the Silent Song
  • Chrous of the Tides
  • Insatiable Harpy
  • Prescient Chimera

Basically, the rule is the cheaper the better. Vaporkin is the MVP for this reason, as once you have two fliers in play that’s generally good enough to start leaving up mana to use on whatever it is they’re doing. Ideally, you want all the creatures in your deck to fly, but having random ground blockers like Omenspeaker isn’t the end of the world.

The Disruption
To the surprise of no-one, this is basically a list of the best removal available in blue and black:

  • Voyage’s End
  • Griptide
  • Asyphixate
  • Bile Blight
  • Nullify
  • Sudden Storm

Unlike the lategame counterpart, this deck is looking to close the game earlier, so expensive removal like Sip of Hemlock and Sea God’s Revenge are a slightly lower priority. It’s still totally acceptable, and probably even correct, to have one in the maindeck, but you don’t want to go overboard on it like the other version. This deck is more interested in the cheaper disruption so it can play another flier alongside a spell, for example.

Random Other Stuff
While the first two categories will generally make up most of your deck, other spells that are totally acceptable to play include:

  • Ordeal of Thassa
  • Triton Tactics
  • Fate Foretold
  • Stratus Walk
  • Vortex Elemental
  • Baleful Eidolon
  • Thassa’s Emissary

The “Draw a card” auras are fine if you need a random card to fill out a deck. Triton Tactics is a card that can buy a whole bunch of time, thanks to the “doesn’t untap” clause. Ordeal of Thassa can be a nice way to recoup cards and get some bonus damage in, just be wary of removal. Elemental and Eidolon are notable for being ground guys that actually get stuff off of the board instead of sitting around looking bored. Emissary is a nice lategame card that can draw you a few extra cards and help put the game away.

Putting it all together, we end up with a deck that looks something like this:

2 Vaporkin
2 Returned Phalanx
1 Omenspeaker
2 Blood-Toll Harpy
1 Servent of Tymaret
1 Nimbus Naiad
1 Siren of the Silent Song
1 Chorus of the Tides
1 Thassa’s Emissary
2 Prescient Chimera
1 Triton Tactics
1 Ordeal of Thassa
1 Voyage’s End
1 Divination
2 Griptide
2 Sudden Storm
1 Sea God’s Revenge
10 Island
7 Swamp

Lategame
The object of the lategame deck is trade of resources with the opponent, via means like removal and Disciple of Phenax. Once you’ve reduced their hand, you pull ahead with some source of card advantage, such as Thassa’s Emissary or Divination, and win with a threat while disrupting whatever they try and achieve.

The Roadblocks
In order to survive until the long game, you need to get guys into play that either trade with or hold off any attackers in the early turns. Examples include:

  • Omenspeaker
  • Returned Phalanx
  • Servant of Tyramet
  • Wavecrash Triton
  • Vortex Elemental
  • Baleful Eidolon
  • Coastline Chimera
  • Disciple of Phenax

Omenspeaker is a nice early play that sets up future draws. Returned Phalanx is an all-star in this kind of build, and can even get his beats on later to double as a finisher. Servant of Tyramet is a stubborn obstacle that can gain a little bit of life along the way. Wavecrash Triton has a high toughness and a relevant heroic ability for this deck, although it may be difficult to trigger. Vortex Elemental and Eidolon were discussed in the previous section, and continue to be fantastic here. Coastline Chimera is notable for his high toughness and ability to block fliers reliable that other creatures can’t. Disciple of Phenax is one of your attrition tools, serves as a reasonable blocker, and provides a cool two black devotion for a certain Merchant.

The Removal

  • Voyage’s End
  • Griptide
  • Pharika’s Cure
  • Asyphixate
  • Bile Blight
  • Nullify
  • Lash of the Whip
  • Sip of Hemlock

Most of the above list still applies here, but now you’re more willing to take the high end removal spells as well. I’ve has decks with something like 3 Lash and 2 Sip. Balance is key here, as you want a decent mix of things to do early along with stuff that kills things dead.

The Finishers
Once you’ve answered what your opponent is doing, you need some threat to take over the game. Popular options include:

  • Aerie Worshippers
  • Benthic Giant
  • Cavern Lampad
  • Nimbus Naiad
  • Erebos’s Emissary
  • Forlorn Pseudamma
  • Gray Merchant of Asphodel
  • Keepsake Gorgon
  • Kraken of the Straits
  • Sealock Monster

The Inspired token makers will easily run away with games after a few attacks. The bestow guys turn any random dude you have on the board into a threat, and then stick around for another round. Emissary is a reasonable body, the bestow is realistic, and the opponent always has to respect the pump. Benthic Giant can sometimes put that hexproof to good use with auras. Gray Merchant and Keepsake Gorgon are classic black devotion finishers that pull the focus of the game towards them or their effects. Kraken of the Straits is not something I have personally tried, but it seems to full the desired role fairly effectively.

Card Advantage
As mentioned in the intro, a few ways to get ahead on cards is generally beneficial. The options mostly consist of:

  • Thassa’s Emissary
  • Divination
  • Read the Bones
  • Oracle’s Insight
  • Sphinx’s Disciple
  • Triton Fortune Hunter

At higher rarities, there’s also stuff like Bident of Thassa. Fortune Hunter is okay, but finding the heroic triggers can be difficult, as you’ll need stuff like Retraction Helix. Continual scry effects, such as Aqueous Form and Prescient Chimera, are an acceptable substitute, but the raw draw is preferable.

Other Stuff
Things that don’t fall neatly into the above categories:

  • Ashiok’s Adept
  • Insatiable Harpy
  • Mnemonic Wall
  • Siren Song Lyre
  • Shipwreck Singer
  • Triton Tactics
  • Viper’s Kiss

Adept is another guy in the “roadblock” camp, but takes a bit more effort to be good. Harpy is a very underrated card that can keep you ahead on life, especially with bestow, and helps up the black devotion count. If you have a large number of good instants/sorceries, the Wall can be good. Siren Song Lyre is really slow, even for this build, but you feel you can do it, go for it (bonus points if used with Sphinx’s Disciple). Shipwreck Singer is an awesome control card, killing one toughness creatures and forcing guys to run headfirst into bigger ones. Triton Tactics can buy time, like in the fliers build, but can also kill some guys if timed properly. Viper’s Kiss is a nice sideboard card that can be brought in to stop Monstrosity, or pick off random X/1’s.

Once again, an example decklist:

2 Returned Phalanx
1 Omenspeaker
1 Baleful Eidolon
1 Shipwreck Singer
1 Servant of Tyramet
1 Blood-Toll Harpy
1 Nimbus Naiad
1 Siren of the Silent Song
1 Insatiable Harpy
2 Disciple of Phenax
1 Thassa’s Emissary
1 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
1 Keepsake Gorgon
1 Pharika’s Cure
1 Voyage’s End
1 Read the Bones
2 Griptide
2 Lash of the Whip
1 Sip of Hemlock
10 Swamp
7 Island

So that’s the two varieties of Blue-Black! I hope the style of breakdown used in this article was useful, as it was something I hadn’t tried before. I liked how it came out, so hopefully everyone else does too.

Until next time,

Random.