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By: Leviathan, Mike Morales
May 16 2014 12:00pm
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So Journey Into Nyx is here!  It comes with the acronym JOU which for some reason I cannot ever seem to remember (don't be like me and think it's JIN, which would be cooler, but obviously someone at Wizards doesn't like that kind of abbreviation convention).  The set does a good job of working on some of the previous themes.  We get a return of Tribute, Bestow, Heroic and Inspired, none of which I'm in love with (if you are, then good for you, I guess?).  However we get a couple of new mechanics that are enablers for past strategies and may just push some lesser loved strategies to the forefront.

  

First up there's Strive, which is essentially a convoluted Multi-Kicker that helps enable Heroic.  Yes, the Strive cards do get better the more mana you put into them, but you really have to decide with the initial cost for just 1 target (and not the increased cost you have to pay for multiple targets) is really worth it.  The only Heroic deck out there is Anax and Cymede and they haven't been that great.  I don't think that Strive will put it over the top, and generally think these cards aren't worth a deck slot.  I will point out the ones worth looking at though.

  

The other new mechanic we have is Constellation.  The last 2 sets have really pushed the enchantment theme, but this set is going over the top.  Going with a pure enchantment theme, while not the easiest, can certainly be done, as there are plenty of Enchantress decks out there, usually in Bant frameworks.  But even those decks have a fair amount of sorceries and instants to back up or protect their enchantments.  And then plenty of the Constellation effects are pretty minimal and not even really worth it.  So unless you have a way to consistently pump out enchantment tokens (Heliod, I'm looking at you) or can turn everything into an enchantment (I think Enchanted Evening is the only one out there, but I'm sure there's one or two more), I just can't really get behind most of these.  Again, I'll point out the ones I'm slightly interested in.

All right, with that out of the way, let's take a look at all the new stuff.  Remember, this is an overview for COMMANDER ONLY!  No value here placed on Standard or Modern playability.

LEGENDARY CREATURES

Athreos, God of Passage - Ok, so I really want to like this guy.  Being able to get your dead stuff back for "free" should be really cool, especially with all the fun stuff Orzhov creatures have to offer.  Also he has cool art and he's cheap to cast.  Unfortunately, his ability is kind of a non-factor early in the game.  Just like Mogis, most opponents are going to pay to keep you from getting what you want, especially in a multiplayer game.  So fine, maybe he's a late game card?  But by the time the 3 life matters to your opponents, you will likely have sewn up the game already.  Plus Orzhov has plenty of other good and interesting methods of recursion.  I did see where one guy suggested using him as the Commander for an aggressive style deck, running a whole lot of little efficient beaters who you expect would die.  But then why wouldn't you just play Boros?  I dunno, someone talk me into this guy.

As one of your 99, I just don't see him really being worth it.  Would you rather run Phyrexian Reclamation?  Emeria, the Sky Ruin?  Sheoldred?  I guess if you really want redundancy, you can add him.

Iroas, God of Victory - Speaking of aggressive weenie strategies, here is a nice little present for you Boros lovers!  Basically he's a combination of Goblin War Drums and Dolmen Gate.  Both of these cards are semi-playable by themselves, but when you put them together on an indestructible Commander you have a nice package.  Admittedly, he doesn't pump your team like Jor Kadeen, and he isn't nearly as aggressive as Aurelia is.  But if you have the ability to make a bunch of dudes and pump them up, Iroas will be fun.  When I first saw him I thought he also gave haste, but that would have been just a teensie bit overpowered.  Still he could be very interesting.

I think where Iroas really shines though is in any sort of aggressive Boros or Naya build.  There are plenty of decks out there that usually rely solely on their Commanders, and as such only have 1 creature in play.  You can sweep in right past their blockers, and not worry about your guys taking combat damage.  Marton Stromgald loves this guy, as does any other way you have to pump a large amount of dudes.  This is a guy I will be using in the future.

Keranos, God  of Storms - Keranos brings value, but isn't really a "build around me" kind of Commander, since he gives you value just for playing the game.  I guess you can include damage doublers to make sure that the Lightning Bolts he throws hurt more.  But really, I think he's going to usually be a generic "good stuff" type of Commander.  All the other Izzet Commanders (Nin, Tibor and Lumia, Niv-Mizzet) have a strong "build around me" feel to them, and I'm just not getting that from this guy.  That's not to say that he isn't good, because he is.  But he's basically the definition of "good stuff."

Because he is such a generically good dude, he can do well in just about any deck that can support him and his colors.  Seriously, he's just sort of gonna be there.

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed - So King Midas gets a card, and he seems to be extremely popular.  There are plenty of ways to tap him and untap him, with everything from Sword of the Paruns to Paradise Mantle doing heavy work.  You can also add Karn, Silver Golem to turn artifacts into creatures to exile.  With this kind of build you have a really controlling deck.  Therefore, add some big finishers and a couple of board wipes, and you'll be good to go.  In all honesty he seems really gimmicky and I'm guessing that people will get bored with keeping the board clear of creatures.  Just know that he's going to be out there and you're going to need protection from him.

I wouldn't add him to your deck unless you are really pushing the Inspired theme, or even the tapper theme.  I guess he can go into decks that like tappers, similar to (Merieke re Berit).  Still, he's pretty fragile though.

Kruphix, God of Horizons - So let's see, you get a combination of Omnath and Reliquary Tower with this indestructible God.  That seems....  really good for Commander.  I am positive you are going to be seeing a ton of this guy running around.  Sure, he's not going to be an offensive juggernaut, but most Gods aren't.  And the fact that the mana turns colorless isn't much of a harm either, because by the time you have enough mana to cast Kruphix you'll have enough Green mana to cast the huge Genesis Wave you've been saving up for.  Seriously, giving this kind of ability to a Blue commander is a little bit nuts.  Simic has been doing extremely well with the new Commanders, and Kruphix is no exception.

Kruphix is solid enough that she warrants consideration is just about any deck that can play her.  Sure, there will be decks that don't really need more than 4 mana a turn, but in Commander those decks are pretty rare.  Even just the hand size thing is really useful.

Pharika, God of Affliction - So Pharika is like Athreos, in that she's really cheap to cast and can be useful graveyard hate.  However, to really get the best use out of her you're going to want to exile creatures from your own graveyard.  And that's something that I absolutely hate doing.  Seriously, your graveyard is another resource, especially in Commander, and if you remove your creatures from your graveyard you are taking away play options.  Sure, you can try to run snake tribal, but it's going to be tough getting your dudes into the graveyard.  And really not worth it.  She's just very underwhelming.

Her graveyard hate ability is likely not even enough to get her played as part of your 99.  Seriously, why not just use Withered Wretch to accomplish the same goals?  Sure, you can try to use it in a "political" way but the odds of that actually happening are low.  I just don't see people really going nuts with her.

CREATURES AND PLANESWALKERS

 Aegis of the Gods - Although not quite your typical "bear" stats, this guy is still pretty good.  Of course the closest analogue is True Believer, but the Believer isn't an enchantment, has a bigger butt, and only provides Shroud.  So it really depends on if you're going to be targeting yourself.  Of course you can always run both just to be sure.

 Agent of Erebos - One of the few Constellation cards I like, this guy is good even without additional enchantments.  Like Angel of Finality he's a body (although not an impressive one) that provides graveyard hate, something that is really underplayed.  Add a couple more random enchantments for flavor, and take advantage of his zombie-ness as well.  But he's another card in the fight against graveyard shenanigans.

 Ajani, Mentor of Heroes - Although his ultimate isn't really relevant, Ajani's two different +1 abilities are both useful.  The first is great for making your Commanders larger, as well as any other threatening dudes you have in play.  The second ability is good to dig for a threat if you don't have any in play.  This Ajani is going to be good for aggressive, creature heavy decks.  However at 5 mana he won't be everybody's cup of tea.  Still, he's worth owning, and does well with Doubling Season just like every other planeswalker.

 Bearer of the Heavens - So class, today we're going to be discussing a topic a lot of people really enjoy:  How to Troll your Table.  We have a new entrant, here, a large giant who basically dares your opponents to blow him up.  He's large, so they're going to have to do something about him.  But making the entire table restart is something that trolls love to do.  Beware of exile effects, because they will ruin the troll's fun here.

 Cyclops of Eternal Fury - Another haste enabler, but this guy just isn't as good as other options.  Good to know about though.

 Daring Thief - So this is great for Zedruu, but also for anyone that likes chaos/theft and more.  Unlike cards like Puca's Mischief, there's no requirement that the mana costs be different.  You just exchange whatever you want.  Tokens will love this guy.

 Disciple of Deceit - Repeatable tutors are sweet.  If you have a way to draw a card a turn, you can off set the card loss as well.  On top of that, this guy can help with reanimator strategies.  People may not like Holistic Wisdom, but they will certainly like this lady.

 Eidolon of Blossoms - I wasn't a huge fan of the eidolons in the past, but when you have another Verduran Enchantress effect it's worth commenting on.  Especially since she draws a card upon entering the battlefield herself.  Not bad at all.

 Eidolon of Rhetoric - Here's another hate bear, basically with Rule of Law strapped on her.  She's good at shutting down lots of end games for spell heavy decks.  Of course, she'll also slow down the game a ton.  Still, very powerful.

 Hero's Bane - So kind of like a Chameleon Colossus?  Except the pump stays on permanently?  Sounds pretty nutty to me, and I'm sure that you're going to be seeing a lot of this guy.  Luckily he costs 5 instead of 4, but with ramp heavy Green decks that won't be much of a problem.  Of course, without evasion or trample, he's a little bit sad, but there are plenty of ways to fix that.

 Hydra Broodmaster - And here we have Gelatinous Genesis on a creature.  This is strictly for your really big mana decks, specifically Omnath to be exact.  The cool thing about this guy is that there are plenty of ways to get creatures back from your graveyard, especially if you're playing Golgari, so that you can use this guy again and again.  Of course, you should be good after the first use if you do things right.

 Master of the Feast - Fat demon is fat.  Obviously this guy is built for Nekusar.  He's cool in that he is an efficient beater as well.  It's pretty funny to see a fat demon though.

 Prophetic Flamespeaker - So this guy is supposed to be the new hotness.  I'm not that impressed though.  Although he has double strike and trample, he needs to be pumped up a decent amount to make sure that his damage goes through.  That takes effort that you can be using to Commander damage someone out.  The Chandra ability is ok I guess, but obviously works better in a Standard Red deck where you're throwing Lightning Bolts at people rather than Insurrections.  I'm sure I'll be beat by this guy a couple of times, but I'm likely not going to be playing him.

 Quarry Colossus - I'm guessing that this guy will be overlooked for a variety of reasons, but he's actually pretty strong in a mono-White, or even dual colored, deck.  Unexpectedly Absent is a powerful card, and with the Colossus here you get a large body as well.  Unfortunately he costs a ton of mana and he has no relevant combat abilities.  Still, he is interesting.

 Sage of Hours - Ok, so this guy has "extra turn" on him and therefore is worth looking at closely.  While he is technically a Heroic dude, you really don't have to go that route.  Just stick this guy in a Vorel or Experiment Kraj deck, or anything that messes around with counters, and go to town.  He obviously likes Forgotten Ancient, Doubling Season, various Proliferate enablers, Primeval Bounty and more.  He's basically a variation on Lighthouse Chronologist, so have fun with him.

 Scourge of Fleets - Where White had the Colossus, Blue gets the much more powerful Kraken.  This hits all of your opponents, and doesn't hit you, continuing on with Blue stuff like Cyclonic Rift.  Obviously gets better in mono-Blue but it's still a pretty powerful card and a good way to clear out blockers.

 Underworld Coinsmith - This card has the magical "each opponent" language, but really it's not enough.  The Orzhov life gain/life drain decks are really hard to keep competitive, and this one just doesn't do enough quick enough.

ARTIFACTS, ENCHANTMENTS AND LANDS

    

The Dictate Cycle - So here we have a bunch of enchantments that have flash, that are generally a little more expensive than their non-flash counterparts.  The exception is the Red one, which actually has a less onerous casting cost.  Personally I don't really believe that the extra mana necessary to cast these is worth having flash, but I think that's just me.  But it is nice to have another version of each of these effects.

 Banishing Light - So basically a new Oblivion Ring?  That can't hit your own stuff?  I'm not a fan of Oblivion Ring type effects at all, but I can see how people using enchantress and Zur decks would want it.  So here's another one for you I guess.

 Chariot of Victory - Another way to give your Commander haste.  Lord of Tresserhorn would probably love this.

 Godsend - So this is a White piece of equipment, and the exiling ability is pretty sweet.  Remember it doesn't happen upon combat damage being assigned, it happens once blockers are assigned.  So they're going to need at least 2 guys to block to even damage your equipped creature.  Seems pretty fun to me.

 Hall of Triumph - So it's kind of like a colorless Glorious Anthem?  I haven't seen that card played in a while, but I know it still sees some love.  So I'm guessing a token lover may play this.  But there's better stuff out there.

 Polymorphous Rush - A bad Mirrorweave really.  Still, people are going to try and use it I bet.

INSTANTS AND SORCERIES

 Extinguish All Hope - First of all, this art is pretty cool.  It's another Wrath variant, and although slightly more expensive, you can try to work around it in a multi-colored deck.  I don't think it'll see much play but it's worth knowing about.

 Launch the Fleet - A nice cheap token maker.  Cheap for Strive.

 Pull from the Deep - This is a solid utility spell that all Blue players should be aware of.  People like running Call to Mind and similar stuff.  This gives you more bang for the buck.  Definitely a staple.

 Reviving Melody - Utility spells aren't sexy, but they are good.  This is a little expensive for my tastes though considering you can have Regrowth and Eternal Witness to get anything you want. 

 Silence the Believers - Another way to exile creatures is always nice.  It's interesting that this isn't seen as a White ability as much anymore, as Black has gotten the most recent examples.  Late game this obviously gets better.

  Worst Fears - I am going to be so annoyed the first time I get hit by this.  Fortunately it can't be used over and over like Mindslaver.  Still, I'm not going to like it, and I'm guessing you guys aren't either.

CONCLUSION

So there you go, a look at all the stuff in the new set.  It's not the strongest set ever for Commander, but it gives people that love enchantments a lot of new toys.  Plus the Gods are always interesting.  I'm not really sure which of the Gods I'll build around at this point, but I know I will build around one of them.

Anyways, I'm hoping to get back on and brewing again soon.  If you think I missed a card I should have mentioned, or a cool interaction, let me know in the comments.  Until next time!

Leviathan, aka Tarasco on MTGO
mrmorale32 at yahoo dot com
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CONQUEROR & COMMANDER ARCHIVE

6 Comments

I also keep thinking the by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 05/17/2014 - 09:06
Kumagoro42's picture
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I also keep thinking the abbreviation is JIN! JOU sounds wrong.

Tribute, Bestow, Heroic and Inspired has to be one of the worst sets of mechanics in Magic history. They all seem designed for super-casual play. Which is fine, but not 4 out of 4. But most importantly, they're dull. Basically, the basic template for all of them is, "Do this thing, a creature gets +1/+1 or more". Heroic and especially Inspired sometimes do something more interesting (in JOU there's a few examples that you mention), but in general they're pretty meh.

Isn't Strive more like Replicate than Multikicker? In fact, isn't it JUST Replicate? (A strictly worse Replicate, actually, since Replicate would create a series of spells, while with Strive you just have to counter the one). Theros block gave me a bad feeling, particularly considering MaRo was involved. Like if after 20 years (or 10 years for MaRo), they're starting to running out of ideas.

How do you tell that Kruphix is female? It has no face and almost no body, but those arms and hands look pretty male to me (I see it's referenced with a male pronoun by various people online, but in the 30-second check I've just done there weren't official sources).
Then again, you also call Eidolon of Rhetoric with a female pronoun, and that's essentially Cicero in the art. :)

You missed the sheep! Baa!
(And it's getting some love, judging from that price!)

I thought I read somewhere by Leviathan at Sat, 05/17/2014 - 17:31
Leviathan's picture

I thought I read somewhere that Kruphix was female? I could definitely be mistaken though. However it appears that Rosewater is playing coy with this one: http://markrosewater.tumblr.com/post/76014943454/is-kruphix-male-or-female

Good call on the strive = replicate. The game has been around long enough where some of the mechanics definitely overlap. While I understand the flavor behind Tribute (pay tribute to me, or I'll come back larger and more angry), the rest are just blah. Hopefully we get some new and interesting stuff next block.

Wrong account by Tribal Apocalypse at Sat, 05/17/2014 - 18:52
Tribal Apocalypse's picture

Wrong account.

Ah, so there's some sort of by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 05/17/2014 - 18:53
Kumagoro42's picture

Ah, so there's some sort of enigma about Kruphix's gender, and MaRo's answer seems to confirm it's not known. Maybe it's something like with Ashiok (even if in that case, it was more clearly said: nobody knows.)

A search for flavor text returns two results (Agent of Horizons and Sigiled Starfish), but in both cases there aren't pronouns revealing Kruphix's gender.

And MTG Salvation has a back story page for most of the gods, but not Kruphix yet.

I don't know, I suspect it's by longtimegone at Sat, 05/17/2014 - 21:46
longtimegone's picture

I don't know, I suspect it's just Maro being a smarta*censored*.

There seem to be few things he enjoys more than answering a question with a technically valid answer to the question as stated that completely fails to provide any actual information.

I can dig the concept of by Doctor Anime at Tue, 05/20/2014 - 11:58
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I can dig the concept of Tribute. I enjoy "choose your poison" cards like Fact or Fiction. The choices could've been more interesting though. Could be a nice mechanic to revisit except be more imaginative with.

Inspired was also.. fine. Not inspiring, but fine.

Heroic was appropriate for the set but not good as a standalone mechanic. I think that's alright.

Strive is lazy. Like you said, we already have Replicate. What's the point of Strive? Easier to understand than Replicate, maybe?

Bestow was my favorite in terms of mechanics. I REALLY like how it plays out in Limited, specifically how the dual casting option helps with the curve. It felt different enough too.