Quickly Journeying through Nyx

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In the past I’ve brewed decks, modified existing decks, and written articles evaluating individual cards from a new set. Frankly the results were not what I wanted, and every person with half a brain can try to convince you they know best. In order to change things up I figured I would combine them all into one article in order to avoid wasting everyone’s time. Also it saves me from droning on about stuff I don’t truly have an interest in.

The EDH Generals
Athreos, God of Passage – The easiest comparison is to Xathrid Necromancer, and the Necromancer is better. Both can be played in BW Humans, and while Athreos doesn’t die to Last Breath, being able to make Zombie tokens that can kill your opponent following a Wrath is far superior. Fine as a one-of if you are already playing four Necromancer.

Iroas, God of Victory – While I can enjoy functional reprints of a card as much as the next person, Gruul War Chant is still Standard legal. Frontline Medic is also still around and affects the board on the same turn as Iroas. Frankly there are better cards to lead you to victory.

Keranos, God of Storms – This actually seems like a pretty sweet sideboard card in UWr Control. Wait those decks aren’t around anymore? Oh, well. At least he’s got a big Lightning Bolt!

Kruphix, God of EDH Generals – Imagine all the cool stuff you can do with this guy and Prophet of Kruphix. While you’re imagining, I’ll have fun playing realistic Magic.

Pharika, God of Affliction – While I may seem pessimistic about all the gods up to this point, Pharika changes things. Reanimator benefits greatly from her, as do other BG strategies, in the same way that UW benefited from Moorland Haunt. Yes, flying might be better than deathtouch in some instances, but how often will your opponents want to block 1/1 tokens?

UW Control
While I’ve tried playing black-based decks in Standard recently, I keep coming back to UW. There is nothing better in Standard than being able to cast Supreme Verdict, Sphinx’s Revelation, and Elspeth, Sun’s Champion.

With that in mind, I figured UW was the best place to start examining which cards from Journey into Nyx make the cut. For reference this is the current list I am running:

I realize that not everyone is running the exact list I am, but I’m using this as a basis to help people out. There are five cards in Journey into Nyx that stand out as having potential: Banishing Light, Deicide, Nyx-Fleece Ram, Reprisal and Hypnotic Siren.

Let’s start with the obvious one, Deicide. This is a straight swap with Revoke Existence. There are no artifacts running around that have me worried, and I have yet to exile an artifact in this Standard format, so upgrading to instant speed is a huge benefit, as a control deck prefers playing its spells on its opponent’s endstep if possible. The fact that it permanently gets rid of Thassa or Erebos is just gravy.

Now for the rest. Banishing Light is inferior to Detention Sphere in every way, except that it doesn’t die to Renounce the Guilds, and having four copies of Sphere is more than enough. Reprisal has been floating around a bit as a card due to it’s multifunctionality against most decks; however, at that point in the game Supreme Verdict can accomplish the same goal, and I generally try and stay away from narrow answer cards when playing control. On a side note, when comparing this to Vanquish the Foul, apparently scrying is worth four extra mana and sorcery speed.

Nyx-Fleece Ram is obviously a very situational card depending on your metagame, but I can see a sideboard sporting up to three copies of this card as, combined with Archangel of Thune, you are essentially shutting down aggro.

The last card I want to talk about for UW is Hypnotic Siren. The casting cost is certainly very high to bestow, but having a silver bullet than can occasionally steal your opponent’s best creature is quite good. Now, while being blue doesn’t allow it to touch Mistcutter Hydra, you can take a Blood Baron of Viskopa, and I believe it merits strong testing.

The Other Mythics
While the gods are the key mythics in the set, there are in fact five others that are currently running around.

Godsend – I still have no idea what to make of this card. I want to say it is not playable without Stoneforge Mystic, but I cannot see R&D in good conscience making a marquee equipment bad. Because of Mystic, I believe it will see play in Eternal formats, but the only white decks running around are aggro decks that far prefer Spear of Heliod to a much slower card. I’m willing to be wrong on this but I don’t believe it is currently playable in Standard.

Sage of Hours – Infinite Turns. Any card that is printed nowadays and is capable of providing infinite turns is a bad card. Before anyone protests, I understand that with a few combo pieces it can provide infinite turns, and I understand that based on all the games of Magic that will be played, this sequence of infinite turns with happen, that’s just basic statistics. This is still not a playable card.

Worst Fears – I love a good Mindslaver lock as much as the next person. Unfortunately this gets exiled, so abusing it is not feasible. The effect on the other player’s hand is incredibly powerful and game breaking, and Mono-Black can always use some news tools against control. I would expect this to occasionally see play out of the sideboard.

Prophetic Flamespeaker – The only downside to this guy is that Chandra, Pyromaster currently exists. Sure, exiling two cards is better than just one card, and it does cost one fewer to cast, but the downside is that it is a creature, making it vulnerable to removal. If given the choice, Chandra is most likely better, though against creature decks, the Flamespeaker may have a slight edge.

Ajani, Mentor of Heroes – The best part about this guy is that he can find Planeswalkers. This guy fits in nicely into Bant Control decks with the likes of Elspeth, Jace, and Kiora, as he will most likely always find you another planeswalker. The downside is that his first ability is surpassed by Ajani, Caller of the Pride in creature strategies, and his last ability is nonsensical at best.

Mono-Black
The title in this case is a bit deceptive, as I will go over Mono-Black first but also look at any tools the other variants may have gotten. For reference, here is the GP Phoenix winning decklist pre-Journey:

Unlike with Born of the Gods, there isn’t a deck-changing card of the likes of Bile Blight, though there are a few interesting support cards in the form of Brain Maggot, Master of the Feast, Silence the Believers, and Worst Fears.

The original incarnation of Mono-Black control that everyone has such fond memories of was way back when Odyssey Block was legal, and one of the key cards was Mesmeric Fiend. This time around, players have access to Thoughtseize, which can lead into a turn-two Pack Rat. Interestingly, I think with BB as a casting cost, Brain Maggot would get more attention thanks to devotion being relevant, but for now it is easily outclassed by Thoughtseize.

Master of the Feast provides one fewer devotion than Nightveil Specter but represents a significant increase in utility. Yes, the downside is undesirable, but it only occurs on your turn, meaning if your opponents have any sorcery-speed removal, they will not benefit from the card drawing. At 5/5 with evasion, the Master represents a significant clock against your opponents, and in practice, three more damage is far more relevant than a random card. If I were playing Mono-Black I would be playing Master over Nightveil every time.

Silence the Believers is a game-changing removal spell—it just depends on the games. In the mirror, games end up going longer, which means mana being available isn’t a problem, and even getting two creatures can be back-breaking against your opponents. Silence has an added bonus of being useful against the heroics decks, but for practical purposes, I’d be cutting one Dark Betrayal for one copy of Silence.

I already discussed Worst Fears in the mythic section, but just to follow up, this is more backbreaking against control than a single Duress can be. Heading into the late game, you can rip their hand apart with discard spells to clear the way for this, at which point you’ll win.

As for the splash versions the only cards of note are Deicide to replace Revoke Existence in white and that Temple of Malady may now give rise to a green-splash version with Abrupt Decay.

Paraphernalia
For the people who are unsatisfied with the fact that Yoked Ox wasn’t powerful enough as a creature, R&D brought us a Heroic Ox in Lagonna-Band Trailblazer.

While looking over the new set of bestow creatures, I can’t help but thank the Gods that R&D didn’t create a creature that gives hexproof. I also have to thank them for not reprinting Serum Visions, thereby allowing me to collect on a bet.

While I understand that constellation is thematically relevant because enchantments come from the sky gods, I’m confused as to why it had to be keyworded. Though Wizards did break convention by saving the worse card for last with Skybind.

Battlefield Thaumaturge may come out as the underrated card for Limited and Constructed from this set. I blame Wizards’ deceptive tactics of putting hexproof on the card to make us think it’s terrible, though in all seriousness, how is hexproof relevant to this card?

Mana Deprived once again got another spoiler in the form of Kiora’s Dismissal, which will see limited play and was spoiled by none other than Chris Lansdell, who after talking with KYT, led KYT to the conclusion that Chris is the most important writer for Mana Deprived.
Instead of reprinting Damnation, R&D thought it better to print Extinguish All Hope for no other reason than to feature anorexic gods on cards. Personally I think they are trying to make Heliod self-conscious.

Thematically, King Macar, the Gold-Cursed, is a nice tribute to King Midas. It might lead to some games of Limited snowballing out of control, but that will teach your opponents for playing creatures.

I’m a little disappointed that at the end of the block there weren’t more nods to titans printed. I’m also a little confused how one can bear the heavens. Isn’t it just empty space? Seems like someone got tricked.

For those wishing Archetype of Aggression gave haste instead of trample, we get Cyclops of Eternal Fury. Because haste on turn six is game changing!

My favorite card from this set, Fleetfeather Cockatrice. It’s random, completely out of the blue, and frankly doesn’t seem to make much sense. I love it!

Mono-Black Aggro
Just as with Born of the Gods, Journey into Nyx has nothing to offer Mono-Blue Devotion, but the same cannot be said about Mono-Black Aggro. This is the list I would be looking to run when the new Standard season comes around:

The deck is all-in aggro with an early game to run your opponent low on life and a late game that goes bigger over the top. In most instances the drawback on Master of the Feast will be irrelevant as you will be killing your opponent on the next swing.

The two notable changes I have compared to other decks I’ve seen, aside for the lower land count, is Master of the Feast in the main. He hits harder than Lifebane Zombie, and nothing is coming down in time to block this efficiently, whereas the Zombie can lose some value. The second key difference is Bile Blight over Hero’s Downfall. This deck is all about mana efficiency, and I would rather be spending two mana to remove my opponent’s threats than an additional mana that could instead be another threat.

Best of the Rest
Don’t buy into Aegis of the Gods. Foils might be worth something down the road but there is no high demand for this card.

All of the dictates are playable in one form or another, so getting a playset isn’t the worst idea.

While R&D tried hard to make Minotaurs a thing, they eventually fell a little short as they lack reach. Tribal aside, Gnarled Scarhide will be the in-demand uncommon of the set, adding another one-drop to black aggro.

Eidolon of the Great Revel was the card needed as a Storm hoser in Modern. Of course, with the deck continuing to dwindle, it might just be too late. In Legacy on the other hand, I believe this is maindeckable. This is the rare I’m looking to pick up on prerelease weekend.

Everyone is very high on Eidolon of Blossoms right now, but that high will be short lived. Honestly, Legacy enchantress doesn’t really need this card, and while it does have Blossoms in the name, Wall of Blossoms will always hold the top spot. At four mana the Eidolon just prices itself out of play.

When someone read to me the description of Kruphix’s Insight, I thought for sure it was uncommon and potentially a borderline rare if the set was bad. At uncommon the card is ridiculous and will be showing a whole lot through Theros Block drafts.

And, last but not least: Mana Confluence. If you want to play Standard for the next two years, you will need a playset of these at some point. The price may be high right now, but the card will be a staple for years.

Thanks for reading,
William

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