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By: Lord Erman, Nafiz Erman
May 01 2014 11:00am
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Hello dear readers and welcome to Rogue Play. Another set has been released and it's once again time for another set review. Journey into Nyx wraps up the Theros block as well as our journey into the Greek mythology. Did I like it? A bit, yes.

There are most certainly some really good cards in the whole block and some of them really played an influential part in my deck building processes. And even though I can't say this one was one of the best blocks up to date, at least I can clearly say that it wasn't also one of the worst either; that "honor" still belongs to Kamigawa block in my personal opinion.

And if I have to sum up what I liked in this block, I can say that I liked:

1- Gods. The idea and the way Wizards applied them to the game was very nicely done.
2- All that "hey, let's play some enchantments" idea was nice.
3- All five planeswalkers that came with the block were nice. All were useful and I loved all of them.
4- The number of powerful but casual cards was very high. Normally after the Spike crowd picks up their "toys", what we have left is not much. This time we had some really good and cheap and fun and generally powerful cards in our "budget & casual card pool".
5- There were some very good "build around me" cards in the block.

And the things I didn't like that much were:

1- Forcing mono colored decks with the devotion mechanic. That's of course personal taste. I always liked multicolored cards and decks. And I fear that once Ravnica rotates out and the new block comes in, we will be playing even less multicolored decks. 
2- Power creep. Wizards is really pushing creatures hard and with every new set the creatures in the game get even crazier. I am really scared to be honest and I really don't know where this will lead this game. 
3- I always rate a block with the amount of cards it has that can affect multiple formats. Theros block was a bit "dry" in that sense. 

So yes, in summary I can say that Theros was okay. Not excellent, not bad, just okay.

But anyway, the point of this week's article is not to rate the block as a whole actually. We have a new set, and my job this week is to rate it from the Casual Room's perspective. Everyone knows how awesome Athreos, God of Passage can be in cutthroat tournament level Standard. But what about the casual cards? Casual decks? Cards that we will be seeing a lot in the coming days in the Casual Room?

Those questions dear readers, will be the ones I will try to answer in this article. I will do a countdown from twenty and will talk about individual cards and their applications for possible casual decks.




Number #20
Eidolon of Rhetoric

One of my very first decks when I started playing Magic, probably even the first one, had Ertai, Wizard Adept in it. I always loved the idea to constantly annoy my opponent counter what my opponent was casting. But Ertai, Wizard Adept wasn't my "super secret weapon" for a long time; it was just another annoyance counterspell. But one day I opened a booster and I saw Arcane Laboratory and my jaw dropped to the floor! After that, Ertai, Wizard Adept became literally the center of my deck.

Years later I was playing a similar deck. This time I had Rule of Law in it, and my lock was Ertai again; but his Esper version called Ertai, the Corrupted. Sacrificial fodder was coming with Nuisance Engine by the way. 

Last year I wasn't playing Magic but I knew people were having some fun with their Curse of Exhaustion / Possibility Storm decks. 

And now the annoyance fun is back! And guess what; Possibility Storm is still Standard legal! I'm very well aware that it's much easier to kill Eidolon of Rhetoric than its "ancestors", but that doesn't mean I won't try. Because you can be sure that I will!


Number #19
Polymorphous Rush & Twinflame

Alright, where were you guys a couple of weeks back when I was working on my Biovisionary deck?

Polymorphous Rush is very interesting because it is an Instant. Which gives it more uses that just being a combo piece in Biovisionary decks; especially because it allows some nasty combat tricks. Attack with all your tiny 1/1s and then turn them ALL into the biggest creature on the table just in the middle of the combat! Sounds nice to me!  

So yes, as soon as I get my copies of those two, I'll be back to the deck builder screen to work on the new version of that Biovisionary deck of mine which was a Bant colored deck, and which will be a RUG colored one very soon. Combat tricks are nice surely, but I'll stick to the Biovisionary idea.


Number #18
Spite of Mogis

Skred? Is that you? No? Ah well, you looked very similar at first new friend.

At least this one is a removal that can hit for more than four in the right deck, and luckily I happen to have that right deck (Grixis Control if you were wondering). I don't think I will replace all my Mizzium Mortars' with this one, but I will start testing one copy of it first and see how it's working and then will test two. Maybe something like three copies of Mizzium Mortars and two copies of Spite of Mogis. We'll see.

Oh and it says Scry 1 which is a sweet bonus!


Number #17
Pheres-Band Warchief

Oh look, a Centaur lord!

Definitely not tournament Magic material, which means that you should be ready to face him A LOT in your future casual games. And are there any good Centaurs in Standard by the way to make this one worth trying? Hmm, let me see. So we got Courser of Kruphix, Swordwise Centaur, Nylea's Disciple, Fanatic of Xenagos if you want to add Red, Lagonna-Band Elder and Centaur Healer if you want to add White, Chronicler of Heroes if you want to go the +1/+1 counters route, and a couple of more others.

So yes, I'd say Centaur tribal it's worth a shot.


Number #16
Hall of Triumph

Oh very nice. A colorless Glorious Anthem which can be played in any creature heavy deck. And if you can also add Spear of Heliod to the mix, your army will look very scary all of a sudden. This one will see lots of play in the Casual Room, you can trust me on that.


Number 15
Hypnotic Siren

Which one is better; Hypnotic Siren or Yavimaya's Embrace? This one costs one less, gives +1/+1 and flying. Yavimaya's Embrace on the other hand, gives +2/+2 and trample but costs one more. So which one is better? I'm not sure and to be honest I don't care too much. All I know is that building slow decks that can cast huge threats is my specialty(!), and this one will have a home in one of them.

So I'll basically let my opponent play his creature and even allow him to pay its Monstrosity cost (if there is one). And then I'll just "grab" it with this one!

The only problem is that the Spike crowd IS aware of this card's existence. They already started talking about replacing Judge's Familiar in their mono Blue decks with this one. A 1/1 flyer for is already good enough but this one's even better because drawing it late game is never a dead draw!

Uhm so yeah, hey guys, this is definitely not the droid 1/1 flyer you are looking for, please move along, there's nothing for you here!

And in worst case scenario, my opponent will Doom Blade his own creature but unlike other Control Magic variants, I'll still get to keep something; even it's a tiny 1/1. Hey; don't you think it's better than nothing?


Number #14

All of these are old cards actually with only one single new word written on them; Flash.

And that word is what makes them so special. I don't think the tournament players will use these as they are a bit overcosted for their taste; at least I hope they won't find them playable. A double Glorious Anthem with flash is awesome in theory, but it loses all its awesomeness all of a sudden due to its high casting cost. Which, hopefully, leave them to the Casual Room "residents". 

Black one most certainly is the one that peeked my interest the most. If you're following my articles, then you might know that I'm a big fan of Trading Post. And when I saw the Black Dictate, the first card I thought of was Trading Post. It makes its own tokens and it's its own sacrifice outlet. How awesome is that?! Now pair it with the Black Dictate and nothing will survive your wrath!! I just can't wait to pair those two, really.

Red is also interesting and it actually started some discussions on various forums and the early ideas seem very promising. The main idea is to have the Red Dictate on table and then to play Blast of Genius and discard either Worldspine Wurm or Enter the Infinite. And that of course simply means one-shotting the opponent.

I also think that Dictate of Karametra is very nice. It's Green and that means that you can drop it as early as turn four; opponent's turn four even. Then you untap on your turn with this on table and... some gigantic Hydras then maybe? Like Savageborn Hydra or Mistcutter Hydra perhaps? I'm not sure how I will use it but I'll come up with something.


Number #13
Silence the Believers

You are aware that this is an Instant, right? And that it exiles and not destroys. You know these, right? Okay cool, just checking.


Number #12
Sage of Hours

Lord Erman waves his hand.
You didn't know that Sage of Hours AND the new Ajani AND Vorel of the Hull Clade mean infinite turns.
This is the first time you read this.
You are truly amazed.
You now want to try it.

Joking aside, I don't think a three cards combo can work in tournament level Magic; definitely not when two parts of it are so fragile. Which means one thing of course; prepare yourself to fight this combo in the Casual Room as long as Vorel of the Hull Clade remains in Standard. Speaking of which...


Number #11
Ajani, Mentor of Heroes

I have to say that this one is an... well, interesting planeswalker. The second ability of him is what interests me the most, and alone for that reason I will get me a few copies of this card. But if I have to evaluate it as a whole, I must say that I'm a bit underwhelmed. And the reason is that he is a planeswalker with just two abilities in my opinion.

Normally, as we all know, planeswalkers have three abilities; the third one being their ultimate ability. And ultimates are powerful ones. If your opponent drops a planeswalker, your main focus becomes not allowing him to ultimate with his planeswalker. But this one? Gain 100 life? Really?

What good will that do? It will only delay the inevitable, nothing more. And if I see my opponent dropping this, I will not be that concerned. If I can kill his creatures this way or another, then this new Ajani will be just a kitty cat! And my opponent can ultimate with him if he wants to, I don't care. It will only be a longer game than usual.

Of course I have to say one thing right here: If you are reading this article from the future, and in that future there is a card that says "if you have 100 or more life, you win the game", then please do not mock me for my comments above. Because by the time I was writing this, there was no such card in Standard.

So why then is Ajani, Mentor of Heroes so high in my list if I'm not that impressed with it? As I said, I will be using him. But only for his second ability. Did you read my article from last week (link is here) where I presented you a nice five colored planeswalker midrange-ish deck? Well, this new Ajani fits perfectly into that deck. It's like this new version of him is custom tailored for it. 

Oh and I'm not worried about its casting cost. He's Green which means he will most of the time come down on turn four. If you're lucky, turn three even.

And a final note about Ajani: Considering he's from Naya on Alara, I'm now waiting for his ultimate version; you know, the one that will cost . Now THAT will be awesome!


Number #10
Disciple of Deceit

Oh nice, an inspired transmute card!

A 1/3 for two is perfectly playable as we know from past examples such as Sea Gate Oracle or Augur of Bolas or Omenspeaker. And the color combination is also correct considering transmute is a Dimir ability. The fact that it only works when you untap it may be a bit problematic but that's not a big issue; there are cards like Springleaf Drum around to make it tap outside combat. 

Also he works well with his Gods providing devotion to all three of them in a very useful way. But I think he would be especially useful with Phenax, God of Deception considering you will be tapping this one to mill the opponent for three, and then when you untap him you'll get to tutor for whatever you might be needing. 

But of course, the best use of Disciple of Deceit would be to discard something you can reanimate later. At seven mana especially, there are some really good targets such as Abhorrent Overlord, Sylvan Primordial or Angel of Serenity. Discard one, get the other and reanimate! 

One final word about this one: Please note that it says "you may discard a nonland card". For those who had wild dreams about discarding a land to get a pact in Modern, that must be sad news I guess.


Number #9
Temple of Epiphany & Temple of Malady

The final two pieces of our scrylands. Plain and simple. And useful. I for one, was especially looking forward to the Golgari scryland, so I'm a happy mage now.


Number #8
Kruphix, God of Horizons

I looked at every known Pro player's comment about this card. They all say the same; this is horrible and this is unplayable and this is just junk. YESSSS!!!! That's what I like to hear from them!

Alright, now that I know that Spikes won't be anywhere close to this one, I can start working on making something out of it. Because for me, this card's name reads as "Kruphix, God of Timmies"'!!

The first card that goes hand in hand with this one is Prophet of Kruphix of course. You cast stuff on your turn, then untap all your lands on your opponent's turn and then sink all that mana into this God. 

But the real fun starts after you have some huge mana floating around in your mana pool. Worldspine Wurm you said? Archetype of Endurance maybe? How about one-shot'ing people with Mistcutter Hydra? Or maybe you'd like turning those tiny 1/1 tokens into an army of Giants with Biomass Mutation?

Or maybe I will pair this one with Hydra Broodmaster. What do you think about it?

But no matter which monsters I will have in the deck, I'm sure it won't be a Green/Blue deck alone. It will most definitely have a third color, because Green/Blue lacks removal. The first color I think of is Red of course because of burn spells such as Clan Defiance. But if I'm in RUG, who knows, maybe I'll try something even crazier like casting a huge Epic Experiment?

Another color for protection would be White of course and people are already talking about that version with Sphinx's Revelation in it. I'm not entirely sold to that idea to be honest, but not having a maximum hand size must feel really good when you draw like fifteen cards with it. 

So anyway, I think I found my God to worship dear readers. And you my God, Kruphix, God of Timmies, you just won another believer! I'm pledging all my loyalty and my devotion to you (hope it helps turning you into a creature)!


Number #7
Ritual of the Returned

Very, very nice reanimation card. Now I have a reason to add otherwise unplayable Colossus of Akros into my reanimation deck. A 10/10 for four mana is just sick! 

Also note that it's an Instant. Meaning you can discard Worldspine Wurm and in response to its "shuffle back to library" trigger you can play this and end up with a 15/15 on table! Extra "elegance points" if you can do this at the end of your opponent's turn and attack with your 15/15 token on your own turn.


Number #6
Banishing Light

So we now have an Oblivion Ring that can only work on permanents on the other side of the table. Okay fine, no problem. I take it. Four copies please. Oh and make them foils as well please. Thank you.


Number #5
Eidolon of Blossoms

I won't write too many things about this one here simply because:

1- I don't have much to tell you which you don't already know. After all, obvious card is obvious.
2- This will be the center of a deck I will talk about in one of the future Rogue Plays.

All I can say now is that I'm extremely pleased to see it and I hope that it will turn out to be too fragile for tournament play so that its price won't skyrocket and so that we can use it in the Casual Room.


Number #4
Sigiled Starfish

Oh my God, it's a Starfish! A Starfish!!

Just a few paragraphs back I talked about useful two drops with efficient size to block things. This may not be the best of the best, but it's clearly very close. Others do something when they come into play which is good of course; who can say Sea Gate Oracle was/is a useless card?! But this one does something this turn, then does it again the next turn, then the next turn... 

So unlike other similar two drops, the longer you manage to keep this one alive the better. And pair this with Thassa, God of the Sea, and it will feel like you're cheating! Scry 2 every turn does sound powerful to me! 

But even without considering how awesome and useful this one will be, I could still have put him very high in my list simple because... it's a STARFISH!! 

Okay now someone please explain me how this one will be carrying an Accorder's Shield together with Civic Saber, while wearing a Haunted Plate Mail... I have a big imagination but this is even beyond me!


Number #3
Keranos, God of Storms

Unlike almost all the other Gods, Keranos is probably the only one which you don't mind leaving as an enchantment. If you can turn him into a creature, then well done and bravo and congratz! But that's not necessary at all. Because Keranos is pretty much works like Honden of Infinite Rage of old times; it sits there and slowly but steadily kills the opponent.

And with the amount of high quality Scry cards in the format, such as Thassa, God of the Sea, Omenspeaker, Temples (scrylands) or Sigiled Starfish, it's almost child's play to know what's on top of your library. And this means that you can control Keranos' power. You will decide what he will do. 

Do you want an extra card? Or would you like to bolt something? You will be the one who will decide that. Also note that now you can kill a five toughness creature with just one Mizzium Mortars thanks to Keranos!

So which decks should be expecting to see in the Casual Room playing this God? Izzet is a good choice for starters but considering his mana cost and what he does, I'm leaning towards to more Control-ish options. And Grixis Control seems to be a perfect choice; pairing Keranos, God of Storms with Mogis, God of Slaughter seems like a very good recipe for victory to me. Then some planeswalkers, removal, card drawing and you'll be golden. Two damage from Mogis and three damage from Keranos will end games pretty quickly. So I don't know about you but it just screams "value!" to me. 

I'm not sure if he can be tournament level good, and I seriously hope that he won't be. Because in the Casual Room, Keranos will be a true God.


Number #2 
King Macar, The Gold-Cursed

Ooookay... So we have a machine gun here, killing erasing everything on table right and left without any questions asked!

You probably don't remember, but sometime ago I wrote an article about Agent of the Fates where I used him together with Hidden Strings (link to that article is here by the way). And that deck, but particularly Hidden Strings was the first card that came to my mind when I saw this one. 

I don't think a such Agent of the Fates / King Macar, the Gold Cursed deck would ever be a serious deck. King Midas Macar dies to all sorts of removal and so does the Agent. Which means it's now time to assemble that deck again for some Casual entertaintment and put Macar in it. After all, all we touch will turn into gold, right?


Number #1
Nyx-Fleece Ram

And we have a winner!!! It's not a God, not a demi-god, not a hero, not a planeswalker nor a villain. It's not a Soldier, Merfolk, Elf, Cat or Dog. It's a...

It's a SHEEP!!!

How can you not love this card? It's a sheep! No no no, not a Goat. We have Goats already. But a Sheep? Oh my God. But you know what's even better? It's a Sheep with Terese Nielsen art! Now that is what makes it even more awesome!

And all these "Vorthosian" aspects aside, it's an awesome card. I mean, take one single step more and you'll have Wall of Omens. So this is that good. It's a card that is only one inch behind Wall of Omens in terms of awesomeness and playability (maybe even less than an inch). 

So just remember all the reasons that made you play Wall of Omens in your decks back when it was in Standard. You will now play Nyx-Fleece Ram because of the same exact reasons. You will do that and I will do the same but also because... well, because it's a Sheep and has an awesome Terese Nielsen art!!

In Modern -which is not a format I'm covering in Rogue Play but anyway- you can even play this one in your Doran decks simply because it doesn't have defender. So you gain one life every turn which can save your neck in Aggro match-ups, and then attack for five and kill people. All those with a... SHEEP!!!

And finally, as you might remember, I wrote about a mill deck a few weeks ago which was Esper colored and which was built around Phenax, God of Deception (link to article is here). In that deck I was using Murmuring Phantasm for the two drop slots. Now I know with what I will replace them!

All in all, an awesome card. 

And did I mention it's a... SHEEP?!!



The tournament crowd picked their toys already. Athreos, God of Passage, Pharika, God of Affliction, Iroas, God of Victory, the new City of Brass, the new 5/5 flying Demon for three, Prophetic Flamespeaker and Godsend will be theirs. All of them are extremely powerful cards most definitely but I'm a bit sad for Athreos; I would have loved to build some decks around it. But who knows; maybe its price won't be too high (I doubt that though), so that I can wrote about it in one Rogue Play.

But what we have left after Spikes pick up the best, isn't too bad and there's a lot of goodies for the Casual Room players. Even now I can think of like ten different decks to write about built around those new cards. So that's good, right?

The general consensus about Born of the Gods was that it was a bad set. I can't say I agree with it but that's what the majority were saying. I'm not sure what they think of Journey into Nyx, but I can say that it looks better than the other two sets in the block. It's better than Theros and it's better than Born of the Gods. In my personal opinion of course.

And now it's time for Podiums. Do you remember them? 



You missed the podiums, didn't you? That's of course considering you know what they are. 

Anyway, let's start with the first one and see how things look like for Spikes.


The new City of Brass means less getting color screwed for Aggro decks and less being dependent on "comes into play tapped" scrylands (or even gatelands), and that makes it the most important card of the set.

I mean, what good is a deck and all those bomb creatures and spells you have in it, if you can't consistently cast them, right? Mana is the foundation of this game; everything in this game is based upon the assumption that you have enough mana -in the correct colors- to cast them. We sometimes forget how important lands are, but thankfully Wizards make us remember this fact by printing such lands.

And I chose Keranos, God of Storms for the best art spot here, simply because he is the only God that really looks like a God. I mean, all the other fourteen Gods look like some oversized Giants. Look at Iroas, God of Victory for example. I can't be the only one who thinks he looks like a Centaur who drinks too much energy drinks and takes too many pills to get a body that size!!

None of the other Gods look "godly" to me. They all look like Progenitus sized monsters to me. Except Keranos. He does look like a God.

Okay let's move on and see what we have for Johnnies in the set.


Hmmm.... Why would I want to destroy all permanents? How would I benefit from it? Those two questions and probably more, will be the ones the Johnnies will be trying to answer in the coming days. 

But my personal favorite is, as you can see, Skybind. I told you before in many cases that I'm a big fan of Flicker and similar cards. This one does the same but only when you play enchantments. But which ones? And which permanents will I want to Flicker? Hmm, I guess I "smell" a new Rogue Play in the air in which I "break" Skybind!

Next I have the podium for Timmies.


Normally those Blue sea monsters come with a huge mana cost and a huge body, but they have a very useless and unimpressive game text. Which makes them almost completely unplayable. But not this one. Scourge of Fleets does something very powerful when it comes into play. And even if it ends up "eating" a Doom Blade at the end of your turn, you will still have an empty board and it will take some time for your opponent to stabilize his board position again.

Of course he shines even more in Commander. There, this one really is a monster!

And finally let's take a look at the Vorthos podium. And hey; there are those who read those italic text under the game text of a card, those who evaluate cards differently and not by just looking at their mana cost and their power/toughness, and those who care about lore and such stuff. Shocking I know, but they do exist!



Magic players; please meet the very first Lamia of MtG. Thoughtrender Lamia; please meet the Magic players. You may eat as many as you like. Don't worry, we have plenty!

And please check the flavor text of Desperate Stand. Do you see the reference to Gideon Jura? Awesome isn't it?



The story of Theros block and our journey in the Greek mythology has ended. But that is only the beginning of our journey as a player. We have so many nice new cards to explore, so many new options and card interactions to discover and as always, so many opponents to kill. Journey into Nyx looks very promising in every aspect, and I'm very eager to set my hands on these new toys and play with them in the next months and possibly even years.

And as always, thanks for reading.

See you online,
Nafiz Erman, aka Lord Erman


"Okay now someone please by AJ_Impy at Fri, 05/02/2014 - 06:10
AJ_Impy's picture

"Okay now someone please explain me how this one will be carrying an Accorder's Shield together with Civic Saber, while wearing a Haunted Plate Mail... I have a big imagination but this is even beyond me!"

It has five limbs, curling one around the shield handle and one around the saber is no problem. As for the haunted armour, it's haunted. It just poltergiests the starfish safely inside.

Also, I didn't see the Gideon easter egg until you pointed it out. This means all three monowhite planeswalkers are referenced in the same set for the first time.

Lol AJ, that was easy because by Lord Erman at Fri, 05/02/2014 - 07:31
Lord Erman's picture

Lol AJ, that was easy because it's Standard! In Modern for example you have to imagine it wearing an Executioner's Hood and Trailblazer's Boots, while killing its enemies with an Ogre's Cleaver (that thing looks quite heavy for a starfish, no?). All those while it rides a Warmonger's Chariot of course.

Extra "imagination points" to you, if you can also imagine it riding that Warmonger's Chariot and taking arrows from its Wolfhunter's Quiver and shooting people with its Viridian Longbow.

Oh and people, we're talking about Sigiled Starfish here :p.

Easy. Put starfish in hood. by AJ_Impy at Fri, 05/02/2014 - 07:59
AJ_Impy's picture

Easy. Put starfish in hood. put hood in boot. Put boot in chariot. Attach cleaver to chariot axle. Mount longbow on a pintel at the front of the chariot, gravity-feed arrows from the quiver as needed.

You sir, just put a Starfish by Lord Erman at Fri, 05/02/2014 - 10:39
Lord Erman's picture

You sir, just put a Starfish in a chariot and gave it a bow to shoot people. I will remember this every time I equip a non-humanoid creature with some sword or a piece of armor. I have been enlightened :p.