This week features two posts from a good friend, Ian Campbell (aka Agthilian/Skylord164) who just started a great Magic blog for people learning about the game Magic: The Gathering. He’s broken down the highlights from the next installment to the Theros block, Journey into Nyx. There’ll be another installment to this post tomorrow! Enjoy!
Hey folks! So I will forego my usual extended, self-referential introduction and get straight to the cards (if you want the silly intro, check out my blog). Also, if this post makes little to no sense to you because you have no idea what Magic: The Gathering is or have no idea what it is about, you should check out my blog. That’s what it’s about. Alright, no more shameless plugs. Let’s go!
So, Journey into Nyx, the third set for the Theros block. We’ve had quite the roller coaster ride with the last two sets from the powerhouse staples such as Stormbreath Dragon to the utter disappointments of Karametra (she’s not good. Sorry, Selesnya). It all culminates into the big question: “What about Journey into Nyx?” This set is already set up with some interesting mechanics to build into. Heroic has been shown to run very well in a limited environment and monstrous dominates in Standard. Well, spoiler season is among us, so let’s take a look at what we have!
One of the biggest predictions about this set has been the inclusion of a new Ajani variation. This predominately white planeswalker is known for his life gain and +1/+1 counter interactions and
with the recent release of a new Elspeth (known ally and friend of the leonin), the big cat was likely just around the corner. On top of this was the thought that he would be a GW walker, due to the apparent lack of one, Ajani’s loyalty to Naya, and the past release of his RW variant. All this to say: He’s coming. Here is a link to Ajani, Mentor of Heroes. Alright. Quick Rundown of his abilities. First of all, he has two +1s. This already is exciting as it adds variety without detracting from his ultimate. Elspeth, Knight Errant is a Modern format staple partially for this reason. His first +1 is pretty nasty. You can add three +1/+1 counters to one to three creatures you control. This is already a nice improvement on the other Ajani in standard. However, consider what this ability limits you to as a player. It states that you must add these counters to not up to three creatures, but one to three creatures. This means you need at least one creature on the board in order to get this +1. Furthermore, they must be creatures you control, limiting multiplayer interaction. The other Ajani could still use the ability after a board wipe. Still, Selesnya has little trouble getting creatures on the board so, perhaps a small complaint. The second +1 is perhaps my favorite part of this guy. Card advantage is good. Scry is good. Selesnya loves creatures. This does it all. The worst case scenario is you have to choose from multiple good things. Be careful, though. If you’re needing lands, don’t use this ability. It’s a quick way to a mana screwed grave. It’s a shame the cards don’t go to the graveyard- would be some fun Junk interaction if it did. Alas. Of Ajani’s abilities, his ult is my least favorite. This isn’t as bad as you might think, since most games your opponent won’t let you keep your planeswalker long enough to use it. Still, gaining 100 life is a stalling tactic; it does nothing to help you win the game beyond giving you more turns to try and get ahead. So yeah, there’s Ajani.
Before we go for the post, I will cover a couple other stand-out cards from the set. Now, this, like everything, is my opinion so, you know, feel free to disagree with me. The winner for best land
(limited though that field may be) is Mana Confluence. Being able to get any color of mana for 1 life is huge, especially in the eternal formats. The current mirror of this card is City of Brass and that sucker is seeing Legacy play. Now for Standard, I can’t see it getting much play, given that mono color is really what is being held up with the devotion mechanic and Ravnica is rotating this fall. If you get one, great. Use it if you’re building a deck with three or more colors. Otherwise, it is rather pretty.
Best enchantment/artifact goes to Dictate of Erebos. If you know Grave Pact, this is the new Grave Pact. If you don’t know it, black players rejoice! Everyone else, get the hell out of dodge. Sacrifice is a nasty mechanic at the best of times, but an enchantment with flash and a karma effect? “OH darn. You’re swinging with all those fat creatures that will kill my pack rats? DICTATE OF EREBOS!” And let’s not even talk about multiplayer. Ew.
Best creature? There are several contenders. Black is getting some nasty with Gnarled Scarhide and Master of the Feast, while Hypnotic Siren holds my heart as limited bombshell. I think, though, that in terms of “this sucker’s gonna get played”, I’m gonna have to go with Prophetic Flamespeaker. Yeah sure, 1/3 for three seems low but here’s the thing; this rotations is chock full of pump spells and it comes with trample and double strike. That, on top of scry being added to everything makes for a nasty combo. Oh hey there, Titan’s Strength. My 1/3 now hits for eight and I get a say in what spell is cast for free? Yes please more of that. Red deck wins will love this guy and so do I.
(NerdAtlas – Totally my favorite card in this set!)
Best instant/sorcery goes to Deicide. Hands down. I love white and I think this card is ridiculous. It basically says “exile all Thassas in target blue devotion deck.” And for two mana ON AN INSTANT?! Yeah, this will be standard sideboard for anyone even thinking about splashing white.
Alright. That’s about it for me. Come back next time and we’ll go over the gods of the set. Cheers!