The Theros block draws to a close with Journey Into Nyx, and while I’m not able to attend a prerelease due to various time and money issues, that doesn’t mean I’m going to break my stride of babbling on about the commons and uncommons that have gotten my attention, in the same way I did for Theros and Born of the Gods.
Just as a first impression, Journey looks a hell of a lot better than Born, but then again that’s not saying much.
Oh strive, you’re like multikicker’s weird, equally-badly-named cousin. Most of the strive spells are fairly subpar but serve well enough as heroic enablers. Ajani-cats Ho! is probably one of the better strive spells, because I hear being indestuctible is pretty good. Even without striving, it’s a cheaper Mortal’s Resolve, which was a fine combat trick.
Well Oblivion Ring, it was a fun seven years (well, that makes me feel old), but WotC got tired of your shenanigans involving flickering, permanent exile, and endless triple-Ring loops. I for one like the changes, much as I liked Banisher Priest from M14. This is obviously going to stay around and be reprinted a million billion times in Core Sets, Commander pre-cons, Duel Decks, etc. And I’m okay with that. By the way I’m totes proposing B-Light as a nickname.
A lot of people have been talking about “Rule of Law on legs” (or my preferred nickname, “Rhetoric Turtle”) and it’s easy to see why; this guy is awesome! Yes, yes, by being a creature he’s doubly vulnerable. He is, however, doubly useful in that he can block like a champ. Probably not quite as useful for Limited, but he’ll stop a barrage of cheap burn and heroic-enablers.
Ah, there’s our Argonauts reference. Another cheap creature with a big butt that kills aggro dead. 5 toughness is a struggle to break through, and on top of that you’ve got repeatable lifegain. Get two of these down along with Eidolon and the game is going to last a while. And you have my blessing to backhand-slap anyone at your prerelease who says something along the lines of “urrhurr this is going in my tribal sheep deck urrhurr I’m sooo random lol.” BECAUSE THERE WILL ALWAYS BE SOMEONE LIKE THAT.
HADOKEN! This is an excellent reprint, and very welcome in a set with monsters and buffed-up heroes. This is the original and best of white’s anti-fatty kill spells, and its appearance here now means that it’s in Modern! No longer will people have to make do with crap like Smite the Monstrous and Vanquish the Foul and Scold the Mischievous.
I actually quite like this; three mana (plus an extra two for every other dude after the first) to turn one of your little guys into a big blue flying lion man? Yeah I’m down with that, especially at instant speed! It’s nice that this could also double as a weird kind of removal spell; Gods or enormous monsters giving you a problem? Well a 4/4 flyer is probably going to be less of a problem.
Okay, this is more of a personal choice that anything. As a bounce spell, it’s okaaay. It’s an expensive Unsummon when used on an opponent’s creatures, or it’s a “save me and all my cool Auras” spell when used on your own creature. It’s okaaaay. But who cares? It’s a spell called Hubris and oh my god that is the most fucking coolest awesome thing ever.
CONSULT THE HELIX FOSSIL. Yeah, not much else to say other than this is bloody excellent. A shame about the exile clause; I’d love to see someone endlessly chaining two of these, netting an instant each time.
Flood used to be one of my favourite old-school blue enchantments, so I’m all on board for the new version. This seems really good, but I always tend to slightly overestimate tap/untap effects; then again if you’re doing nothing with four mana (omg why are you not doing anything with four mana wtf is wrong with you bro), go ahead. Nice synergy with inspired dudes.
Evasion wins Limited. Evasion wins Limited. EVASION WINS LIMITED. Never ever underestimate how much of a pain an unblockable 1/1 can be, especially in a set full of buff spells. I just wish this guy had been around in Llorwyn days; my Rogue deck would’ve loved him. And that flavour text? Cold.
If this was Urza’s block, this would probably be called Scorpion’s Embrace. I actually quite like this, as janky as it is. It turns one of your guys into a chunky blocker with deathtouch, what’s not to like? I’d try and put one on the Nyx-Fleece Ram a) for hilarity, and b) to prevent anyone from attacking me EVAH, because who on the ground is going to get past a 1/8 toxic sheep?
Very cool design on this guy; buff him up while eating the counters of an opponent’s hero or monster. Really nice for any aggressive build, because let’s face it, at the absolute worst he’s a 2/1 for two, with no drawback, in black. Solid. I like him.
One last bone for Minotaur fans, and it is a juicy bone indeed. I’ve avoided being bitten by the bug, but it’s tough to resist the urge to build a janky casual Minotaur deck when there’s guys like this. To be honest I’d run him on the day even if I had no other Minotaurs, because he’s still a 2/3 deathtouch with no drawbacks for three.
Black continues to make up for earlier crap like Sip of Hemlock and Lash of the Whip. Born gave us Bile Blight and Drown in Sorrow, and now we have this beauty; sure it’s a lot more conditional, but there’s a lot of enchantment creatures, Auras, and bestow shenanigans running around. Maybe not main deck, but a strong sideboard card. Sigh… if only it had been similar to Eye Gouge; -1/-1 to a target creature, and destroy it if it’s enchanted/an enchantment. Ah well.
Also, technically, mono-black enchantment destruction. The end is nigh!
I probably like this more than I should; after all it’s slow, an opponent will see it coming from miles off, you still have to cast the creatures you got back again… but I still like it. It’s still recursion, and lets you play the attrition game. Getting back three dead guys is a massive swing, even if they’re just sacrificial weenies. Don’t make the mistake of holding on for the maximum three creatures; if you absolutely need a dead fatty back, like right now, just bite the bullet and pay for your expensive Disemtomb.
While white and black have come back strong for Journey, red has suffered somewhat. Lacklustre creatures, overcosted burn and combat tricks… meh. I like this little dude at least. 2/1 for two is fine for red anyway, and the repeatable scry is nice. He’s okay, but not wonderful. I’d rely on your Theros and Born packs to get decent red commons and uncommons for your Limited deck. I find it depressing that this is the only red card to make the cut for this list, and even then… sheesh. Red, I am disappoint.
You could do worse for a 1-drop. Chump-blocks like a pro, and then can turn into a spider to do more of the same! Again, it’s a card I like more than I probably should. Decent enough for early defence in Limited (though nothing compared the Sheep), but it’s definitely going to find a home in my Pauper morbid deck.
I really like Remember the Fallen from New Phyrexia, so I’m a bit in love with its green sister here. Depending on how many enchantment creatures you run, this may end up being a cheaper March of the Returned.
It’s so refreshing to see a blue-black card that isn’t about milling for once! A lot of people have been raving about “Disciple of Transmute”, and it’s not hard to see why. To be honest, she lends herself better to Constructed where you can build your deck to take greater advantage of her ability, but I can see that she’d still help you tutor up one or two helpful cards on the day. Wizards, if you’re reading this… more like this please! Enough with the milling! I normally don’t care for blue-black, but Phenax was such a disappointment…
Alara Reborn’s Winged Coatl, all grown up. I love flashy deathtouchers for the ultimate “gotcha!” to mess up combat, so a flying one is even better. He’s a tad on the pricey side, but I just love blue-green creatures so much I’m willing to let that slide. The monstrosity ability turns him into quite an intimidating clock; a 6/6 deathtouch flyer will be a pain to deal with.
Wow. That’s a whole lot of bang for your buck. The original casting cost is a bit clunky, but in no way terrible, but equip 1 for an array of awesome combat abilities? If you open it, play it! First strike and trample are always welcome on dudes heading into the red zone. I’m actually surprised at how good this looks on paper, given how generally overcosted and underpowered non-rare/mythic Equipment is.
So that’s Journey into Nyx. It looks a lot better than Born of the Gods, and it’s a decent enough high for Theros to end on. It’s been a very up-and-down block, and in a way it’s reminded me of Kamigawa; a war between gods and mortals, a lot of overcosted filler, boring mechanics (constellation is the new “spiritcraft”), and weird “why the hell would you introduce that as a type” creatures (I mean, really? Sables?). Ah well. I survived Kamigawa, and the payoff was Ravnica. Maybe the next block will be just as good. And there’s still the very intriguing Conspiracy to look forward to.
Anyway, I have rambled enough. Have fun at the Prerelease!