EDITORIAL: The Best Cards from Journey Into Nyx

As far as magic sets are concerned, I have to admit I was a little upset that the third installment of the Theros block would be another smaller set (165 cards instead of 249). I feel like having more cards in a set makes for a more varied and interesting experience. Looking at some of the condensed formats like limited, block constructed, and especially standard, a bit of a shake-up was needed. Mono-black has been the dominant deck since Theros’ release in Standard. It makes up about 20% of all decks in tournaments, and has been this way for many months; the release of the Born of the Gods set barely did anything to change that (again, a smaller set with less variation in cards). Looking at the amount of interesting cards coming out of the spoiler, however, I may have changed my mind. Completing the Gods and the Temple cycles and adding new keyword abilities and some damn fine art… I dunno, maybe a small set can be impressive after all. I’ve decided to pick out my favourite cards out of Journey into Nyx to showcase the new set.

Athreos, God of Passage

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Because Mono-black, WhiteWeenies, and Orzhov midrange have obviously not been strong enough this past season of Standard, we bring you what is likely the strongest card in this set. If you play a deck with at least 12 creatures in one of these colours, it’s likely that you’ll want at least 1 copy of this in your deck. This monster of a God makes every creature get a second chance at life unless your opponent is willing to take the 3 life every time. Wipe my board? Take 6-12 life or they come back at the end of my turn. Ouch.

Playability

Limited: 9.5/10 

It’s a good thing they printed Deicide and a bunch more exiling spells, but this is still pretty much a card advantage machine or a drain powerhouse, either of which can easily mean a quick victory.

Constructed: 9/10

This will see play at some point; whether it eventually becomes hated into sideboards or not, only time will tell. Card advantage vs. loss of tempo will be a key point of concern for Standard and possibly some modern decks.

Banishing Light
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Oblivion Ring, without the infinite exile trick: a card that has been missed in Standard a lot lately with all these god and enchantment shenanigans. Being able to remove any non-land permanent is a big deal, even if it’s only for a few turns before being shut down. At least now it can be splashed and played in many different decks, as opposed to its multicoloured sibling,Detention Sphere.

Limited: 9/10

Want to get rid of anything your opponent has currently ruining your game? Done. Splashable and more than playable, it’s a strong addition.

Constructed: 8/10

Some decks can’t find room for a card like this, and that’s quite alright. I think if they had a version of this card at the same mana cost but available in each colour, you’d probably see most decks run it. It’s just that efficient.

Setessan Tactics
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This is one of the few times green might actually get away with a board wipe or multi-creature removal. It does require you to have creatures, and that they be at least marginally beastly to deal with your opponents’ baddies, but being able to pay 4 or 5 mana to kill 2 or 3 creatures and pump your own is nothing to scoff at. Sure, it’s likely to be a sideboard card in most cases because control’s a b*tch, but with creature decks doing well in some metas, you might sneak in a few wins with this mean, green, killing machine.

Limited: 8.5/10

Much Heroic trigger, such combat trick, wow advantage.

Constructed: 4/10

A niche mainboard card and a sideboard card at best, unless of course… you play Commander. :| :) :D

Kruphix, God of Horizons
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How do I hold all these cards? How do I hold all this mana?

Bam. Answered. If you like being able to cast Prime Speaker Zegana AND all the cards she makes you draw, well have we got the card for you! These Kruphix cards are asking to be comboed in any deck that can fit them all. But right there’s the problem: no deck can really fit or play them all without being dead before they hit the board. I think they are going to see the most play in Commander and some kitchen table decks, and that’s quite alright, though I’d love to see these kinds of decks win some high-level events one day.

Limited: 6/10

Unless you are a card advantage machine and have mana to spare all the time, it isn’t really going to be that much of a dominant card in this format. It is very much a “build around me” card, which is great for Commander decks since that is a legitimate strategy, which is why constructed is getting the better score here.

Constructed: 7/10

Tier 2+ decks and Commander only, others need not apply. Cool as all heck regardless.

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed
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Would you like to exile creatures and receive Gold? Just untap!

Unfortuanately, its small body doesn’t allow it to use its ability too well, but cards like Springleaf Drum come to mind as a good way of getting some great value. This is another card begging to be built around, and I don’t wanna be the first to face it, because I ain’t the guy running all the removal.

Limited: 6.5/10

It will be hard to get online, but if your opponent stalls or can’t respond in time, bad things.

Constructed: 6/10

Not a particularly easy card to play anywhere, but that doesn’t stop it from being, and looking, bad-ass.

Dictate of Kruphix
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You have a card! And you have a card! Everyone gets cards! … But me first, please.

If you are playing control and are unimpressed with your opponents spell on turn 3, don’t Dissolve, Kruphix. Drawing cards is always fun, and now since you get to draw more outs, odds are you’ll be ok if your opponent draws as well. The Dictate cards are all immensely flavourful and cool, this one being my favourite. Shout out to the others that will surely belong in the glories of Tier 2 combo decks and Commander.

Limited: 6/10

In the right deck it can be fun, but you can also get blown out if your opponent draws better than you. This is still true for constructed, but is all the more obvious in Limited.

Constructed: 6.5/10

I could see this card being played, especially in decks that care about devotion. This and Thassa go great together, and if Divination isn’t doing it, maybe Dictate of Kruphix will.

Twinflame
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I’m a fan of this “red does more than just attack quickly and burn” stuff, even if it does help the former get accomplished. In fact, it’s probably because it adds a bit of variation to the usually very direct red decks that I like this so much. Either way, getting a second hasty attacker is awesome at the cost of 2. It’s also splashable and can be reoccured with the awesome new Strive mechanic. It just makes this flexible card that can win you games. Copy that Stormbreath Dragon for 2 hasty fliers; Act of Treason your opponents Desecration Demon and copy it to swing for 12 PLUS taking away their blocker (for 5 mind you). It all goes to show that when there’s a will, all colours can find a way to do familiar things other colours can, but with their own twist.

Limited: 7/10

Triggers Heroic, makes an extra attacker, and is in those aggressive colours. It’s a solid pick if you play those colours, but maybe not worth it if you can’t find enough chemistry with the rest of your deck. Remember, it’s a 1 turn deal, so be careful if you aren’t closing out the game the turn it gets played.

Constructed: 7/10

Maybe I’m being optimistic about this card – I just want this to be a thing so badly. Turn 2 Young Pyromancer, Turn 3 Twinflame and Shock, deal 6 to your opponent and get 3 permanent 1/1 tokens. Maybe that’s not that good, but it’s those types of interactions that I look forward to exploring with this card.

Launch the Fleet
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If Strive isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread, then I don’t know what is. To continue our ridiculous combo with Twinflame: Turn 2 Pyromancer, Turn 3 Twinflame and Shock(we now have a 2/1 Pyromance and 3 1/1 tokens), Turn 4 Twinflame and Launch the Fleet (used with Strive activated once). Which gives us 2 Pyromancers (1 permanent) and 8 total tokens if we attack with our Launch the Fleet targets. Man I’m just begging for that Turn 4 Verdict. In any case, making some attacking 1/1’s for the cost of 1 white mana and subsequently 1 colourless mana per token is sweet. I know this might come with a cost of having my opponent try very hard to remove those targeted creatures, but dammit, I wanna try it so hard.

Limited: 8/10

It can and will close games if your opponent isn’t holding a big spell. I was able to get it to go off for 4 in a Prerelease and it was GG next turn with all that spread out pressure.
Constructed: 6.5/10

If White Weenie is to come back, this will likely have a hand in it. So far, B/W decks have been looking really good in Standard, and maybe it sees play in some Tier 1-2 B/W aggro-midrangey type deals. It could also find a place in some other formats, though I’m less convinced until I see it a bit more.

Brain Maggot
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I do believe that this is essentially Tidehollow Sculler on a smaller body in Standard. Why do I like this so much? Because it’s a heck of a lot more interactive than getting my hand discarded through ThoughtseizeDuressMind Rot, and Rakdos’s Return. No one wants to kill a 1/1 with a spell, but it forces that play if the card is really worth it. It makes you think, it makes you react; you don’t just throw things away to deal with it. It’s a beautifully balanced card that can find a home in many little nooks and crannies inside a Magic deck. 

Limited: 6/10

Depends almost entirely on your matchup. Could be a huge waste against anyone playing with a bit of burn, but can also take away a threat and help put in a few points of damage if your opponent wants his card back.

Constructed: 7/10

I think it will be a decent sideboard card for a lot of decks that play black. Maybe the meta lets it get in the game, maybe not. Time will tell.

Praise Lord Helix. (I couldn’t help it with this art)

Keranos, God of Storms
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Pretty much Zeus. Yeah. As a lover of things red and despiser of most things blue, this is just pure gold. It helps you hit spells with a free land draw, or it Lightning Bolts them for free. So basically, card advantage or burn. Mmmmmm. Izzet has long awaited a really cool card, and it’s an extra long wait considering the cooky-ness that usually comes from those colours, ie: Coin flips, random targets, card draw, scry, card stealing, card copying, etc.

Limited: 9/10

If you’re playing against a deck that has creatures with 3 toughness or less, you pretty much win unless they can deal it or kill you within 2-3 turns. Unless of course you do like me and draw 13 lands and 3 spells when you’re playing 17 total lands in your pre-release deck. #Stillbitter

Constructed: Not much of a chance here except for Standard burn decks and Commander. If it had cost 3 or 4 though…


Honourable mentions are: Mana ConfluenceEidolon of BlossomsSigiled ”Scryfish” Starfish.

Fail cards of the set are: Eidolon of the Great Revel, and Spite of Mogis.
If Eidolon of the Great Revel would target opponents only and Spite of Mogis would target creatures AND players, we would be witnessing some pretty game changing cards for a lot of formats, especially Spite.

Overall I think it’s a good set. Not great. It’s going to be a relatively fun draft setup with all the enchantment love, though a little narrow, which is probably going to be similar in the current Standard format. I don’t see the world changing because Mana Confluence or any other card is around, but once rotation comes there will be big changes made, and I think it will be welcome news. I just wish there were three large sets with the type of fun and original cards found in this list.