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The Comboist Manifesto Volume I, Article 20: A Comboist Set Review of Journey Into Nyx
By Stephen Bahl
I still haven't had time to get back to finishing my overly long retro review. I'll get back to it when work stops sending me across the state every week, which should be any week now. Just not this one. Since I'm short on time again, I've decided to hastily write some other article. A review of the most current set, Journey Into Nyx is overdue, so that's what's happening.

Background or something

This set concludes the story developed by the previous sets in the Theros block. Elspeth journeys into Nyx, hence the title. She kills Xenagos, restoring balance, or lack thereof really. Then Heliod murders her. Also stuff happens with Kiora I guess, and other characters like Ajani. Uh, Erebos too. Look, this article is a rush job. We don't have time for lore. Go somewhere else for that.

Mechanics and such

This set has the same mechanics as the previous sets in the block, plus a couple of new ones. But I'm going over the individual cards anyway, so you'll see the mechanics there. You don't also need to see them here. That would be redundant. It might also be proper presentation, but we don't have time for that. Rush. Remember? Let's just get to the cards. And this time, I'll cover all of them. Oh yeah.

Aegis of the Gods: This is basically True Believer and no one uses True Believer. Having hexproof on a player seems good in theory, but other two-drops can actually do things, and this card will be a bit too situational to be relevant, which is the same situation True Believer has been in for years.

Ajani's Presence: So there's the “Strive” mechanic. Using this on a large group of creatures is too expensive. It's not terrible even without the Strive option, but there are better combat tricks out there.

Akroan Mastiff: Remember using Master Decoy and wishing that it costed twice as much? Me neither. Next.

Armament of Nyx: This set finally lives up to the whole “enchantments matter” concept that the previous two sets toyed with. Armament is interesting. In casual play, once this block is no longer fashionable, enchantment creatures won't turn up too often, so this could be used in a Theros-based deck to buff one's own creature or to cripple an opposing attacker, depending on which is better at the time.

Banishing Light: Oblivion Ring is better. This is allegedly a “fixed” version of Oblivion Ring, in that it eliminates some shenanigans that Oblivion Ring made possible by triggering the second ability before the first ability resolved. Also, I can use Oblivion Ring on my own stuff for combos. Banishing Light is just all-around worse. No thanks. I'll stick with the older, better version.

Dawnbringer Charioteers: It packs some punch, which is what is is designed to do. But in the scope of the entire pool of midrange white fliers that have ever been printed, it's nothing special. A decent card, though.

Deicide: Too situational. Gods won't be relevant once this block rotates out of Standard. Yeah, it can hit other enchantments too, but those usually aren't indestructible, so a simple Disenchant would be better.

Dictate of Heliod: Neat idea, but it's five mana.

Eagle of the Watch: Mediocre.

Eidolon of Rhetoric: Another Arcane Laboratory knockoff in white, the color to which this concept was moved at some point. I forget. Anyway, while this can't hold a candle to Ethersworn Canonist, it's still a good card.

Font of Vigor: Nope.

Godsend: You'd think such a weapon would be more impressive. I would, anyway.

Harvestguard Alseids: I really like the “Constellation” mechanic. It reminds me of Enchantress decks. This particular card is not a very strong use of the mechanic, though.

Lagonna-Band Trailblazer: Looks to be more trouble than it's worth.

Launch the Fleet: Almost practical. I hesitate to underestimate this thing, but it really is pretty situational.

Leonin Iconoclast: Way too situational. And it's probably not even that good against decks built from this block.

Mortal Obstinacy: Unreliable removal that doubles as a particularly inferior creature buff. Not interested.

Nyx-Fleece Ram: Due to a CPA NCC and another article on this site, I am unable to review this card.

Oppressive Rays: More like “Oppressively useless card.” Oh!

Oreskos Swiftclaw: This already existed. If you need copies five through eight of Blade of the Sixth Pride in your deck, there is something the matter with you.

Phalanx Formation: Too expensive to strive. No one has seven mana lying around for combat tricks.

Quarry Colossus: No.

Reprisal: Reprint. I remember using this thing! It's a decent card in some environments.

Sightless Brawler: Interesting idea, but not really that strong of a card.

Skybind: Nice combo potential, if it weren't so expensive. Maybe someone can find a cool use for this. I don't have time to try right now. My initial reaction is that the ability has potential, but the mana price tag is too high for that potential.

Skyspear Cavalry: It's a 2/2 for five mana. Flying and double strike aren't enough to make that attractive.

Stonewise Fortifier: Definitely not.

Supply Line Cranes: Hilarious as that image is, this card sucks.

Tethmos High Priest: Could be decent in some casual decks. I'm wondering about combo potential for this one.

Aerial Formation: Another combat trick that isn't worth it.

Battlefield Thaumaturge: Mostly just a 2/1 for two mana, which isn't very bad. That ability has some combo potential, such as with Fireball. It's not going to be strong enough to make a big splash, but it could be something fun to try.

Cloaked Siren: For something so simple, it's actually a good card. I wouldn't be surprised if this thing stands the test of time. It won't be amazing, of course, but it could be worth using.

Countermand: Nice try, Wizards of the Coast. Some of us haven't forgotten that Counterspell still exists.

Crystalline Nautilus: Weird. I guess this is actually decent, though. It has three different uses: played as a 4/4, played as a buff, and played alongside another spell to kill something, which still leaves it as a 4/4. Not really my style, but it seems fine.

Dakra Mystic: This card is fascinating. It's hard to gauge how viable it might be. Time will tell.

Daring Thief: Unreliable.

Dictate of Kruphix: A new take on Howling Mine and not a bad one, really.

Font of Fortunes: No.

Godhunter Octopus: A really bad creature with a really good name. Pity.

Hour of Need: Not sure. Doesn't seem worth it.

Hubris: Interesting new bounce spell. Similar to Word of Undoing, actually. Offensively, this is weaker than most Unsummon variants. Defensively, in a deck using auras, this thing is possibly the best out of all Unsummon variants. So it has its place.

Hypnotic Siren: Sure. I could see myself playing this in a Commander deck or something.

Interpret the Signs: If you make a good card-drawing spell cost enough mana, it becomes bad. That's what happened here.

Kiora's Dismissal: Enchantment-bouncing? Probably not useful enough to make it into decks.

Pin to the Earth: Blue has access to much better defensive cards.

Polymorphous Rush: Could be used for some fun tricks, but it costs so much mana to do that. I'll pass.

Pull from the Deep: Some terrible Regrowth variant for players that can't stand the thought of playing green. Not worth it.

Riptide Chimera: I want one too, Kiora. I want one too. This is similar to Esperzoa, which turned out to be a good card. Riptide Chimera is ripe for combo applications.

Rise of Eagles: Six mana just for that? Let's not.

Sage of Hours: Infinite turns combos or you're doing it wrong.

Scourge of the Fleets: If it shows up, this could be game-breaking against some opponents. Other opponents wouldn't be bothered by that ability.

Sigiled Starfish: This card has been hyped to a strange extent, probably because it's a starfish and that's unusual. Ultimately, the Scry mechanic has only ever been good with certain key cards (Serum Visions, for instance). This card won't be one of them.

Thassa's Devourer: I can't think of any way to break this. And it's expensive. Too bad.

Thassa's Ire: If only that ability were cheaper. But it isn't...

Triton Cavalry: Combo interactions with auras, but not so much that it's likely to be really impressive. A decent card anyway.

Triton Shorestalker: Oh yes. And I don't even mess with creature stuff most of the time. But this one is obviously a winner. One of the best cards in the set.

War-Wing Siren: Mediocre.

Whitewater Naiads: That ability probably isn't worth the five-drop, even if this also comes with a 4/4 body.

Agent of Erebos: There are better ways to accomplish that.

Aspect of Gorgon: Pretty simple buffing aura. Not that good, but acceptable.

Bloodcrazed Hoplite: Too situational.

Brain Maggot: Same problem as Blinding Light. Mesmeric Fiend is a superior card in this case. So why use Brain Maggot?

Cast into Darkness: Inexplicably weak for a card of this sort in such a new set.

Cruel Feeding: Same problem as other Strive combat trick instants. This thing is weak early on, becomes a lot stronger with more mana and more creatures, but could easily be replaced by a card that is actually good.

Dictate of Erebos: Well, it's better than Grave Pact, for the most part. Good for widespread creature-killing, especially in multiplayer.

Doomwake Giant: Bad news for opponents that like playing creatures. Nothing too amazing on its own, but it becomes powerful pretty quickly if its ability is properly synergized.

Dreadbringer Lampads: It costs the same mana as Doomwake Giant, is smaller, and has a worse ability. Count me out.

Extinguish All Hope: In a lot of matchups, with an enchantment-heavy deck, this could be six mana to win the game.

Feast of Dreams: Black has more reliable creature removal. This isn't bad, but it just wouldn't make the cut in most decks.

Fellhide Petrifier: I haven't seen minotaur-tribal in action yet. Are there enough good black minotuars now for this to be significant?

Font of Return: Oh no.

Gnarled Scarhide: This does fit in nicely with the tradition of black getting small, efficiently costed creatures that need to be aggressive to work.

Grim Guardian: There are stronger zombies out there.

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed: If this thing gets going, it could provide an incredible advantage.

Master of the Feast: No, no, no, no, no. Bad idea. Don't give opponents cards. You'll die.

Nightmarish End: Black has better creature removal than this. Come on.

Nyx Infusion: Both uses for this are viable. If black-heavy enchantment-based decks become a thing, this could work well in them.

Pharika's Chosen: Not my kind of one-drop, but it's probably of passable quality.

Returned Reveler: To what end?

Ritual of the Returned: Nah.

Rotted Hulk: Nope.

Silence the Believers: Too situational and too expensive.

Spiteful Blow: Six mana. Not interested.

Squelching Leeches: Nightmare is way better.

Thoughtrender Lamia: While this could work in some games, it's usually so expensive that the ability is liable not to matter at all once this thing shows up.

Tormented Thoughts: Needing a creature, preferably high-powered, to sacrifice to this thing considerably lowers the appeal.

Worst Fears: I was wondering when they'd made Mindslaver into a sorcery. The original is better. I suppose that this is also an option somewhere, somehow.

Akroan Line Breaker: Nope.

Bearer of the Heavens: Really cool card, even if it is impractical.

Bladetusk Boar: Mediocre.

Blinding Flare: Too situational.

Cyclops of Eternal Fury: Expensive, but it does give itself haste too. Still not that good.

Dictate of the Twin Gods: It's a Furnace of Rath remake! I love Furnace of Rath. Oh, and this thing synergizes with Furnace of Rath too. Double everything, then do it again.

Eidolon of the Great Revel: That's huge. Few decks can escape the pain that this thing can dish out. In addition to that ability, it's a 2/'2 body. Oh yeah.

Flamespeaker's Will: None of the cards in this cycle are any good.

Flurry of Horns: Token-generating spells have been scaled back a bit. This really isn't strong enough to warrant attention.

Font of Ire: Nope, this cycle still sucks.

Forgeborn Oreads: Red doesn't seem to have enough for this mechanic to really work. But maybe a two-color deck could still use this thing.

Gluttonous Cyclops: Too expensive.

Harness by Force: Well, it's better than Act of Treason, but still rather situational. It could be good in some environments.

Knowledge and Power: Wow, this card is bad.

Lightning Diadem: No.

Magma Spray: Arguably worse than Shock.

Mogis's Warhound: Nice utility here. This could force a creature to attack into a lethal blocker, at which point the enchantment would fall off and still behave as a 2/2. It could also be used to buff an attacker or, in a pinch, as an attacker on its own. Nice.

Pensive Minotaur: Why?

Prophetic Flamespeaker: One of the best cards in the set. This thing would be downright scary in any red-heavy aggressive deck.

Riddle of Lightning: Bad.

Rollick of Abandon: Too expensive.

Rouse the Mob: Another expensive combat trick.

Satyr Hoplite: Mediocre.

Sigiled Skink: Well, it's no Young Pyromancer. But I guess it's not too bad.

Spawn of Thraxes: A new take on the rather obscure Fire Dragon. But for seven mana, there are better cards out there. In fact, there are better red dragons out there.

Spite of Mogis: Unreliable removal. Red can do better than this.

Starfall: Not going to be relevant outside this block. Probably not even relevant in this block.

Twinflame: Seems good at first, but it's five mana for two targets and eight mana for three targets. Too expensive, even if the effect is quite strong.

Wildfire Cerberus: Haha, no.

Bassara Tower Archer: In a green deck that relies on auras, this seems like a decent two-drop.

Colossal Heroics: Yet another expensive combat trick.

Consign to Dust: By the time it matters that this can hit multiple targets, there are much more powerful options.

Desecration Plague: Mediocre, and not much better even in an enchantment-heavy environment.

Dictate of Karametra: It's a little on the expensive side, but does have some potential in green ramp decks. It could pretty reasonably come down after three turns, and be played at instant speed to make it harder for opponents to take advantage of it. With a land drop in the subsequent main phase, it turns four mana into eight, and keeps on giving.

Eidolon of Blossoms: This card seems great, especially considering the power that Enchantress decks have displayed in the past. But those decks rely on Argothian Enchantress, and this thing costs twice as much. Eidolon of Blossoms would have so much more potential if it were just one mana cheaper.

Font of Fertility: No.

Golden Hind: Well, it's acceptable, although I don't know that there will be a place for it.

Goldenhide Ox: Bizarre, but at six mana, it's probably not worth it.

Heroes' Bane: No tournament powerhouse here, but casual players will probably love this thing.

Humbler of Mortals: Too expensive.

Hydra Broodmaster: Green is loaded with even stronger big creature options, but this one is decent anyway.

Kruphix's Insight: Actually, in an enchantment-heavy deck, this could be pretty good.

Market Festival: A double Fertile Ground. This could actually be OK.

Nature's Panoply: Oh look, another expensive combat trick. They really went overboard on these things. Maybe they were focused on optimizing Limited play.

Nessian Game Warden: Probably not.

Oakheart Dryads: That ability isn't quite strong enough to bother exploiting.

Pheres-Band Thunderhoof: At five mana, this could only function in slow environments.

Pheres-Band Warchief: Green already has so many good trampling creatures, but this does provide something novel and does so efficiently enough to be respectable. That combination of abilities should be sufficient to make this card viable in casual play.

Ravenous Lucrocota: Overcosted.

Renowned Weaver: An interesting concept and I wish there'd been more of these. It's not that great, but I like the concept anyway.

Reviving Melody: On the one hand, this provides recursion and card advantage. On the other hand, cards like this have to be extremely powerful to continue seeing play outside of their home blocks. This thing probably won't be good enough to matter.

Satyr Grovedancer: There's not really much of a point here. It could be abused for lots of counters, but that's way easier to pull off with other, better cards.

Setessan Tactics: In a green deck with big creatures, this is a potential game-winner. Unlike most of the Strive-based cards, I don't think that this one is too expensive. This one makes perfect sense.

Solidarity of Heroes: Might be a decent trick in casual decks that go overboard on the +1/+1 counters.

Spirespine: Could actually be decent, since that drawback won't even mattter in most matchups.

Strength from the Fallen: If this is used to pump up a big trampler, it can get pretty crazy even whithout multiple enchantments.

Swarmborn Giant: Too much risk for too little reward.

Ajani, Mentor of Heroes: For having such an explosive first ability, for having that hilarious ultimate, and for being a white/green planeswalker card, this has become a casual favorite and won't be going away. When it comes to more serious gameplay, well, this sure is a planeswalker that costs five mana.

Athreos, God of Passage: I've seen the new gods getting a lot of hype. Apparently we all really wanted to play with opposing color gods. Inexperienced players seem universally impressed by the big numbers in the bottom right corners of these things. Athreos is better than average for a god, but really, this just isn't reliable enough for my liking.

Desperate Stand: Not worth the mana and pretty situational anyway.

Disciple of Deceit: That ability is extremely powerful, but the problem with this card is that the deck it's in has to be built in some way that makes it work, which may not be particularly good or interesting.

Fleetfeather Cockatrice: Expensive, but good for casual environments that are slow enough for this sort of thing. Those abilities work nicely together.

Iroas, God of Victory: Possibly the strongest of the multicolored gods. Nothing fancy here, just brutal Boros beatings. I haven't seen this card in Legacy yet, but I wouldn't be surprised.

Keranos, God of Storms: If Iroas isn't the strongest multicolored god, then Keranos has to be. Control decks that use both blue and red can make great use of the triggered ability, and in the long game favored by control players, Keranos is likely to become a creature as a bonus. At five mana, it's a bit of a dead draw early on, but this could be worth that risk.

Kruphix, God of Horizons: Those abilities do seem like they'd have a sufficient “cool” factor to be of interest to some casual players. As a competitive card, Kruphix is rather unimpressive and I can't think of an archetype that could really use him.

Nyx Weaver: This card is in the same vein as the Dredge mechanic, providing black/green decks with both graveyard-filling and recursion all in one card. And there are much better cards to do both.

Pharika, God of Affliction: Golgari fans everywhere knew that this set would introduce a black/green god named Pharika. We just didn't know if she'd be any good. Unfortunately, she disappointed everyone. Pharika is probably the worst of the fifteen gods.

Revel of the Fallen God: Seven mana? Not worth it.

Stormchaser Chimera: Even though blue/red decks often play a pretty controlling game and could afford creatures with expensive abilities, setting this up is just too expensive to be viable.

Underworld Coinsmith: The Constellation ability seems rather low-impact. The activated ability isn't cheap enough to really go crazy. But this card does get both of those and is a 2/2 for two. Combining all three makes it decent.

Armory of Iroas: Nothing wrong with this. In the scope of all broken equipment ever printed, the initial mana cost and the equip cost should easily keep this in check. But it's not too far on the wrong side of mediocrity.

Chariot of Victory: A reinterpretation of Helm of Kaldra. Again, sets in the past have introduced equipment that simply outclasses this. But it's not a bad card.

Deserter's Quarters: Nope.

Gold-Forged Sentinel: Underwhelming, but I'd probably put it in my Lifeline-based chimeras deck.

Hall of Triumph: Well, Glorious Anthem turned out to work well enough. So this should be fine.

Mana Confluence: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

Temple of Epiphany: We all knew it was coming. The temples are still mediocre.

Temple of Malady: No more of these.

Read More Articles by Stephen Bahl!

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