JOU: Evaluations

This is an initial set of evaluations of the cards in Journey into Nyx. Here’re what my various evaluations mean:

  • Bomb (B): Will usually win the game if not dealt with and also difficult to deal with or play around, e.g., large flyers or mass removal.
  • Exceptional (+): A superior card that will turn the tide in your favor, e.g., most unconditional removal that isn’t overcosted or a 3/3 flyer for 4 mana.
  • Good (/): The bread and butter of most decks, e.g., a 2/2 flyer or a vanilla 3/3 for 3 mana.
  • Situational/Filler (~): Good in the right deck, filler in most others, e.g., a vanilla 2/1 in a deck that is not particularly aggressive.
  • Sideboard (S): Useful to have in your sideboard, but not usually playable maindeck, e.g., artifact/enchantment destruction or color hosers that aren’t good if you’re not playing against those colors.
  • Unplayable (x): Should not be played except in the right deck or under exceptional circumstances, e.g., a vanilla 1/1 for 1 mana. Some unplayable creatures can be sided in against the right deck, e.g., a vanilla 1/3 for 3 mana might still be sided in against an aggressive deck.
  • TBD (?): Requires more analysis or more experience with the format to evaluate, e.g., a card that depends on how many playable enchantments there are in the format.

The spreadsheet also has explanations for many of my evaluations. Here are some evaluations that are worth noting:

  • Akroan Mastiff (+), Pin to the Earth (/): can neutralize bestowed/monstrous creatures
  • Skybind (+): especially good in W/B due to enter-the-battlefield effects
  • Aerial Formation (/): good in W/U heroic
  • Battlefield Thaumaturge (+): W/U uses more bestow than instants & sorceries, but this makes the common strive spells that cost C+N(2C) cost just CC for 2 creatures
  • Crystalline Nautilus (/), Kiora’s Dismissal (/), Riptide Chimera (+), Triton Cavalry (?): potentially powerful in the enchantment reuse deck
  • Daring Thief (+), King Macar the Gold-Cursed (B): U/B has multiple ways to get these through
  • Sage of Hours (x): 1/1 for 2 mana whose “ultimate” won’t usually win you the game; you’re better off using your targeting effects on better creatures
  • Whitewater Naiads (+): defends well while enabling another creature to get through
  • Dreadbringer Lampads (x): B/X already has a glut of good 5cc spells
  • Feast of Dreams (/): can bestow an opponent’s creature if necessary and then use this
  • Nightmarish End (x): too likely to just give -1/-1 or -2/-2 (or have no effect at all)
  • Flurry of Horns (~): Minotaurs is not a viable archetype now that only 1 pack of Kragma Warcallers is available, and that is the last pack to be drafted
  • Lightning Diadem (~): 2 dmg often won’t be relevant that late in the game, so you’re paying 5R instead of RR for Giant Strength
  • Rollick of Abandon (/): potentially good in B/R Minotaurs or U/R spells since most of the creatures in those decks are X/3
  • Renowned Weaver (/): one of the few ways to trigger Constellation at instant speed
  • Satyr Grovedancer (/): especially good in G/U skies since it can pump a flyer and chump later
  • Solidarity of Heroes (~): potentially good in G/W heroic since it triggers heroic before doubling the number of counters
  • Spirespine (/): the disadvantage is irrelevant if bestowed, but the decreased flexibility means this is usually worse than Nyxborn Wolf (which also makes Raised by Wolves better)
  • Athreos God of Passage (x): B/W control doesn’t put much pressure on opponents, so they can usually afford the 3 life; also not a particularly good finisher
  • Pharika God of Affliction (~): the B/G graveyard deck doesn’t want to remove creatures from its graveyard, but this may have a place in B/G control
  • Chariot of Victory (~): first strike is really good with deathtouch, so this may have potential in B/G
  • Gold-Forged Sentinel (/): worse than Horizon Scholar, which already isn’t a particularly high pick in this format
  • Hall of Triumph (/): much worse than Spear of Heliod

And here are the cards that need additional analysis to evaluate:

  • Ritual of the Returned, Kruphix’s Insight, Strength from the Fallen: depends on strength of B/G graveyard, which also received Reviving Melody (~) and Nyx Weaver (/)
  • Thassa’s Devourer: depends on #/quality of mill cards
  • Triton Cavalry: depends on #/quality of enchantments/heroic triggers
  • Triton Shorestalker: depends on how aggressive the format is
  • Master of the Feast: depends on how many ways each color has to deal with a 5/5 flyer
  • Knowledge and Power: depends on #/quality of spells with scry
  • Pheres-Band Warchief: depends on #/quality of Centaurs
Advertisements

JOU: Compact FAQ

This is a compact version of the Journey into Nyx FAQ (9 pages vs. 22 pages for the original).

JOU: List of instant-speed tricks

This is a list of all the instant-speed tricks in Journey into Nyx. The first table has the spell names while the second one has abbreviated spell descriptions in case you don’t remember what the spell does. Note that the latter table may not accurately represent all uses of the spell and often leaves out some details. Also, I sometimes make mistakes while filling out these tables; please let me know if you spot any issues.

Both tables categorize the tricks by converted mana cost, color, and rarity. Unless specified otherwise, each colored spell has one colored mana in its mana cost with the rest being generic mana, so a 3-mana white spell with no explicit cost has a mana cost of 2W. I also specify mana costs if the spell has X in its mana cost, is multicolored, or costs more than the column it is specified in. Spells in bold can leave a creature in play, e.g., flash creatures, spells that create token creatures, or spells that allow you to cast creatures at instant speed.

Here’s how to interpret the second table:

  • Abbreviations used: A (artifact), attkr (attacker), blkr (blocker), bounce (return permanent to owner’s hand), bury (destroy creature and it can’t be regenerated), C (creature), CMC (converted mana cost), counter when used as a verb (counter a spell), dmg (damage), draw X (draw X cards), E (enchantment), flyer (creature with flying), freeze X (tap X and it doesn’t untap next turn), gain X (gain X life), I (instant), L (land), lose X (lose X life), opp (opponent), opp’s X (X controlled by opponent), P (player or power, depending on context), prot (protection), PW (planeswalker), reanimate (return permanent from the graveyard to the battlefield), redirect X dmg from A to B (next X dmg that would be dealt to A is dealt to B instead), regen (regenerate), S (sorcery), sac (sacrifice), T (toughness), your X (X you control).
  • Spells that confer an effect (+X/+Y, -X/-Y, hexproof, first strike, prot from a color, etc.) last until end of turn unless specified otherwise.
  • Spells can target any legal permanent or player unless otherwise specified, e.g., X dmg without any qualifiers means that the spell does X damage to any creature or player.
  • Spell descriptions sometimes mention other spells as a way to describe their effects, e.g., Steam Augury is described as a flipped Fact or Fiction to avoid having to write the full description.
  • C+N(D) refers to spells with strive and means the spell costs C for the first target and D for each additional target. N+1 targets are affected.

JOU: Compact spoiler

This is a 7-page version of the full Journey into Nyx spoiler. The card image gallery at DailyMTG is 29 pages so I’m hoping this saves trees, and it’s certainly easier to carry around in your pocket.

THS/BNG: Enters-the-battlefield effects and reanimation spells

In my most recent post, I discussed how Rescue from the Underworld lets us reuse enters-the-battlefield effects. In the past, I’ve also discussed how Triad of Fates lets you do that. There are also other reanimation spells in Theros and Born of the Gods — Fated Return, Champion of Stray Souls, and the temporary reanimation of Whip of Erebos — as well as March of the Returned and Pharika’s Mender, which require you to recast the creature. However, I haven’t yet done a comprehensive review of all the enters-the-battlefield effects on creatures in the format, which could help us decide which color to pair with black if we find that we have more that a couple of reanimation effects in our deck. Let’s do that now. In the list below, italics denote a relatively weak enters-the-battlefield ability or an unplayable creature, [] denotes rares and mythics, and bold indicates that the trigger happens when other creatures enter the battlefield.

  • White: Evangel of Heliod, Griffin Dreamfinder, Lagonna-Band Elder, Leonin Snarecaster
  • Blue: Breaching Hippocamp, Horizon Scholar, [Master of Waves]*, Mnemonic Wall, Omenspeaker
  • Black: [Abhorrent Overlord], Blood-Toll Harpy, Disciple of Phenax, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Mogis’s Marauder, Odunos River Trawler, Returned Centaur
  • Red: Fanatic of Mogis, Minotaur Skullcleaver, [Purphoros God of the Forge], Wild Celebrants
  • Green: Nylea’s Disciple, [Reverent Hunter], Satyr Wayfinder, Setessan Starbreaker
  • Multicolor: [Ashen Rider], Chronicler of Heroes, [Ephara God of the Polis], Pharika’s Mender

* The Elementals already in play die when Master of Waves is not in play, so this only helps if you’ve lost some of the Elementals in combat or if you now have a higher devotion to blue.

There are also a few creatures that have a trigger when they die: Forsaken Drifters, Loathsome Catoblepas, and [Ashen Rider]. [Reaper of the Wilds] and Fate Foretold also trigger when other creatures or the creature they’re enchanting dies.

Looking at the lists above, we see that black has the most and highest quality enters-the-battlefield effects, but that most of the other colors have 2-3 good enters-the-battlefield effects on creatures that are not rares or mythics.

Of course, Rescue from the Underworld and Fated Return can also be used purely for their reanimation. There are a number of cards in black, green, and blue that allow you to get cards from your library into your graveyard: Returned Centaur, Forsaken Drifters, Satyr Wayfinder, Commune with the Gods, Evanescent Intellect, Thassa’s Bounty, Steam Augury, and even Phenax God of Deception (although you’d usually want to use it to target your opponent). The best of these effects are in green, and they can be used to try to mill an expensive creature like Ashen Riders, or for a creature that is otherwise difficult to cast, such as Chromanticore. And if you end up drawing one of the cards accidentally, there are also a handful of discard outlets in the format (Epiphany Storm, Erebos’s Emissary, Prognostic Sphinx, and potentially also Disciple of Phenax, Ordeal of Erebos, and Thoughtseize). Given these colors of these effects, a reanimation deck would probably be a B/G graveyard deck with some reanimation, or a U/B control deck with perhaps some incidental self-mill.

THS: Rescue from the Underworld and Gift of Immortality in W/B control

A draft last Tuesday started with Fated Intervention, Odunos River Trawler, and Sunbond out of a weak third pack, followed by another Sunbond fourth pick over Asphyxiate because I was hoping I might be able draft around the pair of enchantments. Unfortunately, the Oreskos Sun Guides I saw were in the same packs as the Sunbonds, I took Abhorrent Overlord over an Insatiable Harpy, only saw one Scholar of Athreos, and never saw a Hopeful Eidolon or Ordeal of Heliod. My final pool had 6 potential ways to gain life, but Ephara’s Radiance and Cutthroat Maneuver were terrible in that deck unless Soulbond was already in play, and Last Breath and Setessan Battle Priest were unlikely to ever gain me life, leaving only Scholar of Athreos and Gray Merchant of Asphodel as playable sources of lifegain.

I did nevertheless end up with a strong W/B control deck with a strong defense, some incidental lifegain, a few sources of card advantage, and a couple of finishers. Here’s my decklist:

2 Baleful Eidolon
1 Setessan Battle Priest
1 Guardians of Meletis
1 Felhide Minotaur
1 Odunos River Trawler
1 Scholar of Athreos
1 Observant Alseid
1 Wingsteed Rider
2 Disciple of Phenax
1 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
1 Abhorrent Overlord
1 Traveler’s Amulet
1 Boon of Erebos
1 Eye Gouge
1 Revoke Existence
1 Last Breath
2 Asphyxiate
1 Read the Bones
1 Gift of Immortality
1 Rescue from the Underworld

10 Swamps
7 Plains

Sideboard:
1 Astral Cornucopia
1 Opaline Unicorn
2 Sunbond
1 Ephara’s Radiance
1 Loyal Pegasus
1 Cutthroat Maneuver
2 Asphodel Wanderer
1 Pharika’s Mender
1 Fated Intervention
1 Fade into Antiquity
2 Commune with the Gods
1 Agent of Horizons
1 Kiora’s Follower
1 Sphinx’s Disciple
1 Boulderfall
1 Reckless Reveler

I’ve drafted W/B control decks previously. However, I was surpised by the strength of 2 cards I’d never given much thought to previously: Rescue from the Underworld and Gift of Immortality.

I’d always thought of Rescue from the Underworld as an instant-speed Zombify that that could sometimes let you ambush an attacking creature and occasionally save one of your creatures from removal, but also cost an additional mana and couldn’t be used if you didn’t have a creature in play. However, it also has a couple of advantages over Zombify:

  • It allows you to reuse the enters-the-battlefield ability of the creature in play, possibly in addition to that of the creature being reanimated. My deck had 2 Disciple of Phenax, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Odunos River Trawler, and Abhorrent Overlord, all with potent enters-the-battlefield triggers and, on occasion, I was even able to reuse 2 enters-the-battlefield triggers. (I considered splashing Pharika’s Mender as it also has a strong enters-the-battlefield effect, but that would have required running Opaline Unicorn. The Unicorn is often quite good in B/X control decks, which tend to have a glut at 5cc, but this deck had a sufficiently low mana curve that Opaline Unicorn would have been substantially less impressive.)
  • Similarly, it also allows you to reuse monstrosity triggers and ask an opponent to pay tribute again (if they didn’t pay it the first time; if they did, they’ll just choose to pay it again and you’ll be back where you started).
  • It can let you attack in unfavorable board states without losing your best creature, which is especially useful if you have multiple creatures with inspired or a creature like Cavalry Pegasus, Noble Quarry, Silent Sentinel, or Prognostic Sphinx that has a “Whenever X attacks” abilities.

Gift of Immortality was an even bigger surprise. I consider Indestructibility unplayable, and viewed Gift of Immortality as a slightly cheaper version that provided your opponent a brief window of opportunity to permanently kill the creature. However, Gift of Immortality has a couple of advantages over Indestructibility:

  • When it enchants a creature with a powerful enters-the-battlefield effect, it can be a strong deterrent to your opponent attacking into or blocking the enchanted creature.
  • The creature comes back even if your opponent makes you sacrifice it, say with Agent of Fates.
  • It can get absurd if you can sacrifice the creature yourself, either to get additional uses out of the sacrifice ability (e.g., Burnished Hart), to retrigger an enters-the-battlefield ability (e.g., Abhorrent Overlord), or both (e.g., Odunos River Trawler). In addition to Burnished Hart, the format also provides Priest of Iroas, Reckless Reveler (although you’re unlikely to have the need to use its ability multiple times in a single game with BNG/THS/THS draft decks), and, if you’re willing to run 3+ colors, Crackling Triton and Tymaret the Murder King. Tymaret the Murder King also provides a way to sacrifice other creatures enchanted with Gift of Immortality to retrigger their enters-the-battlefield effects, as do Abhorrent Overlord, Champion of Stray Souls, Eater of Hope, and Scourge of Skola Vale.

THS/BNG: Combos

Here are some of my favorite combos that only utilize Theros cards:

  • Akroan Hoplite + Cavalry Pegasus
  • Shipwreck Singer/Meletis Charlatan + untap effects like Triton Tactics and Savage Surge
  • Triad of Fates + Gray Merchant of Asphodel/Disciple of Phenax
  • Triad of Fates + Portent of Betrayal (you draw the 2 cards if you exile the borrowed creature using the third ability)
  • Deathbellow Minotaur + Dragon Mantle
  • Spellheart Chimera + Steam Augury

And here are some of my favorite combos that utilize cards from Born of the Gods:

  • God-Favored General + Cavalry Pegasus
  • Kragma Butcher + Grisly Transformation
  • Retraction Helix + untap effects like Triton Tactics and Breaching Hippocamp
  • creatures with inspired + Black Oak of Odunos (and, to a lesser extent, Stratus Walk, Grisly Transformation, Aqueous Form, Fleetfeather Sandal, and Prowler’s Helm)
  • Vortex Elemental + Noble Quarry
  • Archetype of Finality + Lightning Volley

While the last 2 combos are pseudo-wrath effects, they require 2 Born of the Gods uncommons and so are more likely to come together in a BNG/BNG/BNG draft than in a BNG/THS/THS draft. They also require that a relatively fragile creature survive until you draw/play the other half of the combo. Finally, the Archetype of Finality + Lightning Volley combo requires playing cards that you might not play otherwise (especially if you’re playing an aggressive B/R Minotaurs deck) and requires having multiple creatures on the table for maximum potency.

What are some of your favorite combos? (You can email me or post them in the comments section.)