Good day Magic players. It’s time again for another Top 10! Those of you who have been following me from when I was on the free side know that this is one of my favorite articles to write. Many of you can understand the joy of spoiler season and this is the culmination of that exciting time in our lives. Be sure to check out my Top 10 for Theros and Born of the Gods.
I’m looking forward to your participation as well, so clean off your keyboards and type up your top 10 in the comments. Whether you agree or disagree, let’s have some fun with Journey Into Nyx.
Let’s start with a firecracker. Yes this is the best equipment in Standard, but that does not make it the best thing you can be doing. When are you casting this overcosted equipment? You could cast it turn three and equip it turn four or wait until you have six mana and do both. Neither of those options sound appealing to me.
I will be surprised if this sees any play in Standard. +3/+3 and semi-unblockable are great and all, but there are much better ways to give your creatures evasion.
I will admit that I am biased against this card. Strategies that would include a Howling Mine effect are polar opposites from what I am best at playing, so I might be undervaluing this card. From extensively looking over the available card pool, there does not seem to be anywhere near the amount of support necessary to make this card playable though. It is a powerful card but without the proper cards to go with it, this card is bulk box-bound.
Master of the Feasts
A three-mana 5/5 flier is crazy, but so is letting your opponent draw an extra card every turn in a format with efficient creature removal. This Phyrexian Negator lookalike is hard to evaluate, but the drawback is extreme enough to dissuade players from jamming this into every black deck they can think of. Don’t underestimate the drawback of this card. It’s much worse than Goblin Guide.
There is a reason no dealer would buy my stack of Pyrostatic Pillars at this past GP and that’s because even in a format defined by one through three cost spells, the effect is not good enough. This will prove no different in Standard.
Don’t get me wrong, I love drawing extra cards and getting free Lightning Bolts, but for five mana, I think we need a bit more immediate of an impact. I would compare this card to Assemble the Legion or Primeval Bounty in terms of power level and layover. I’m going to love casting Keranos in Commander but I don’t see this guy fitting into a Standard deck anytime soon.
My abnormal love for Verduran Enchantress does surpass that of most other Magic cards, but that does not necessitate immediate playability of this card. I’ve started seeing prison-style enchantment decks based around this card, Nyx-Fleece Ram, and Sphere of Safety.
This Eidolon provides a long-term advantage if you can keep it in play, but that’s the real problem, keeping it in play. A four-mana 2/2 is not my idea of sturdy. Oracle of Mul Daya did see a considerable amount of play with the same cost and stats so Eidolon may as well.
I’m very excited to jam Aegis of the Gods and Eidolon of Rhetoric into my Pod decks in Modern. Even if they impact Modern though, it will be as a one-of Pod target, not maindeck in a major archetype. As for Standard, neither of these effects are necessary at this time, but keep them in mind in case a combo deck emerges over the next year.
I do love an Oblivion Ring or two in so many of my decks, but with the format looking more susceptible to enchantment removal, this may prove to be a liability rather than a catch-all.
G/B Dredge Possibilities
There are a bunch of cards to try out in my current Standard infatuation, Dredge, which I wrote about a few weeks ago. All of them are interesting and offer unique abilities to the deck. If the deck needs another enabler we have Kruphix's Insight, but if we need to focus on payoff Strengh of the Fallen is there to help us out too.
Both Pharika, God of Affliction and Nyx Weaver are extremely hard to evaluate. Sometimes Pharika will be a creature to help you battle, but the rest of the time, removing your graveyard goes against what the deck is trying to accomplish. Initially, I don’t like her in this deck for that reason.
The card I am most likely to try playing is Nyx Weaver. Not only does it help put more cards in your graveyard, it then buys you more time and returns something better to your hand. Spiders having reach is a valuable attribute as well but not one that makes or breaks it.
Just in the Overrated and Honorable Mention sections, we’ve already covered more cards than most sets. Now, onto the ten best cards in the set!
10. Hall of Triumph
As one of the cards spoiled early in spoiler season, this card has not gotten much attention since we knew of its existence. This colorless Glorious Anthem is one of the cards I’ve been thinking about the most. It seems that every article I read is about how aggressive decks are the wave of the future but I’m always surprised when I get to the end of the article and they have not mentioned this card.
Certainly Honor of the Pure or Bad Moon would be much better because of their lower mana cost, but three mana is what we used to pay for this effect and it was still good then. Spear of Heliod sees some play in Standard and now every color has their own Spear. This card is potent and has a lot to offer aggressive decks.
Focus on the color red drawing extra cards for a moment. That color doesn’t get card drawing because it’s too powerful. Tack drawing extra cards on a creature with double strike and trample and you end up with an extremely pushed card.
Even without drawing extra cards, I would consider playing this human shaman. Did everyone suddenly forget we have bloodrush creatures in Standard? Red has pump spells like Titan's Strength at its disposal right now too. If that’s not enough, the burn spells are efficient enough to force through your Thieving Magpie anyway.
It’s possible that the prophecy for this Flamespeaker is that he won’t have a home, but if that’s true, we need to change the future. I could easily see players flamespeaking their games in an aggressive burn deck or even a red-blue tempo deck. This mythic rare is full of possibilities for your future.
8. Bassara Tower Archer
Every Top 10, I like to boldly predict the future. This is my bold prediction for Nyx. Did you even know this card was about to be printed? My guess is that the majority of players skimmed right past this Thornweald Archer upgrade.
Skylasher, Mistcutter Hydra, and Fiendslayer Paladin are all great cards but protection is not the same as hexproof. The protection creatures were just enough for the deck to find a small amount of success. Having access to a third cheap hexproof creature dramatically increases the power level and consistency of this deck.
All three creatures are green as well, so the deck can move in a number of different directions if necessary. This creature is one of the best cards in the set because it brings a fringe strategy to the lime light.
Nearly every other writer I’ve seen rates this card highly but I don’t have as high an opinion of it. If Iroas was in Born of the Gods, my attitude would be completely different. The metagame was in the perfect place for Iroas to be amazing, but with the other cards becoming legal in Nyx, my fear is that he will take a back seat to other cards making a bigger splash.
No matter what the format looks like though, Iroas should be given a chance to shine, even if it’s from the sideboard. So far, this Boros god has only been thought of in a traditional red-white aggressive deck, but it’s possible that his true home is Naya Hexproof. Iroas provides a potent ability for any aggro deck and only Mogis, God of Slaughter matches his whopping seven power.
6. Black Creatures
Brain Maggot and Gnarled Scarhide both provide new tools for black. They are both solid role players and should see a significant amount of play. Gravecrawler and Mesmeric Fiend (or Tidehollow Sculler if you prefer Orzhov) are constructed-proven creatures. These new iterations of those cards will also prove themselves in a short amount of time.
I’m particularly impressed with the newest version of our little 2/1 for one. Having options to make him an early creature or an Unholy Strength makes for one powerful split card. This soon-to-be draft all-star will bring his one arm to battle in Standard right from the start.
5. Heroic Enablers
There are a lot of cards that could make Heroic a playable archetype in Standard. Cards like Satyr Hoplite, Launch the Fleet, Sage of Hours, and Mogis's Warhound, which should see play regardless, all help flesh out the strategy.
If a Heroic deck is playable, some or all of these cards should see play. The problem is that Heroic is an all-in type of strategy. In addition, the cypher cards, which are the best enablers, suck terribly on their own. This leads to some awful draws with your aggressive deck.
4. Ajani, Mentor of Heros
When I first heard there was going to be a new Ajani, I was ecstatic because he is one of my favorite characters in Magic. Then we found out he was going to be our first green-white planeswalker and I got more excited. Finally, I saw his text and I was not disappointed. He is actually good!
I try not to get too excited about new planeswalkers because they don’t impress me as much as they used to. Wizards does a much better job balancing the card type than they used to, which I appreciate, but it does lead to some rather unimpressive text boxes.
Ajani is different though because all of his abilities are strong. Planeswalkers with only plus abilities tend to be harder to remove because they have a higher loyalty than those with minus abilities. Ajani does both things a deck full of creatures is looking to do. Either he makes your creatures better or he finds you more creatures to play.
My initial concern was that he doesn’t protect himself, but now I think that is minimal because of how solid both his plus abilities are. Costing a mana less than Garruk, Caller of Beasts is an important upgrade as well. You must also be using some white mana, but five is a lot less than six.
Although it was tempting to take up two slots with the final addition to our Temple series, I gathered my willpower and made room for other cards. These two lands should have been with us before now, but having access to all ten two-color pairs opens up deck construction all the way instead of pigeonholing players into certain strategies.
Whether you want to play green in your Mono-Black Devotion deck, red in your Blue-White Control deck, or build a new deck with better mana, these lands will definitely impact Standard.
The scry lands are powerful enough that they should be seeing play in more formats. My friends and I drafted my Cube a couple days ago and the whole time I was wishing that I had access to these lands for my Cube deck. I’ll let you in on a little secret too, scry lands are not only playable but also potent in Modern.
As we are nearing the end of the list, I’m sure there are fewer and fewer surprises. If you read any amount of articles discussing our amazing game, you have heard how excited players are about Mana Confluence. It’s no secret that this land will impact every format, but the interesting part will be seeing how much of an impact it will have.
My inclination is that one damage a turn is more than what most decks can handle. If I’m right, Mana Confluence won’t be as big a part of the format as expected. The closest comparison I’ve seen is to Cavern of Souls. The Innistrad block land did see a considerable amount of play but it did not invade every deck in the format like some claim Mana Confluence will. Tapping for any color of mana is as strong as it gets, so it will definitely see play.
Whenever you obtain your playset of this land, hold onto them because no matter what happens with the price, the land has multiple applications. I think it would be better to wait to pick up your copies until it drops in price, but not everyone agrees it will be cheaper.
Just like Brimaz, King of Oreskos in Born of the Gods, I’m sure most consider Athreos to be the best card in Journey Into Nyx. (You can read what some of our other writers think about Athreos here and here.) These two cards are comparable in multiple ways.
Obviously they are both three-cost mythic rares, but more importantly, there is some uncertainty as to how much play they will see. They both are powerful enough that players will build decks around them, but whether they dominate will be another story.
The most important is not if Athreos will see play but which Athreos deck will be the best. Yesterday Patrick Chapin wrote about a black-white aggro deck featuring an insane 24 efficient one-mana cost creatures! Will zerg-rushing your opponent and then following up with the Orzhov god be the best way to go, that I am not confident of, but it’s definitely a start. This three-mana god deserves to see play and I can’t wait to brew with it.
To sum it up, Journey Into Nyx is full of competitive level cards waiting for players to use them. There are so many playable cards in this set that it was harder than usual to narrow them down to just ten. I’m confident with the list I put together though.
The only thing I’m disappointed about is that we did not get an enchantment land. All the artifact lovers get their artifact lands, where’s my enchantment land? Oh, well. Post your thoughts in the comments as to whether I’ve over- or underestimated a cards strengths and weaknesses.
Until Next Time,
Unleash your Journey Into Nyx!
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