JXClaytor's picture
By: JXClaytor, Joshua Claytor
Nov 25 2013 12:05pm
Login to post comments

I do not care what anyone from Wizards of the Coast says, blue already had an iconic creature type.  I guess Merfolk just were not big enough or splashy enough (COME ON THEY LIVE IN THE SEA THEY HAVE TO SPLASH!) to be truly iconic.  Used to be Djinns would get the blue love, but they left as well.  White has always had Angels, Black has always had Demons, with the exception of that period of time that a bunch of misguided people proclaimed that Magic: the Gathering was Satanic.  (Hey guys, the game is it not Satanic, you're just small minded and do not understand fantasy from reality.)  Red will always be Dragons, partially because Dragons are awesome, and I think Research and Development knows that if Dragons are taken away from Magic, that they are crunchy, and taste good with ketchup.  Green is Hydra, I think it used to be elementals, but to be honest, green has always had big fat impressive creatures, and Hydras give them a good umbrella.  Blue, along with Green are using new iconic creatures.  The majestic Sphinx for Blue has replaced the Djinn, and while the creature type is still working out its riddles, blue mages have been happy to play with some of these giant flying lions.  From the newest Sphinx on the block, Prognostic Sphinx, to the earlier versions like Consecrated Sphinx they have had some success in tournaments and casual groups. 

Except for Petra Sphinx, that guy is just asking questions that no one will ever care to answer. 

While they are a newer creature type, (Petra Sphinx was the first, in Legends, and then we did not see another one until Ravnica: City of Guilds.) there is a lot of potential design room for the sphinx.  Do they force your opponent to answer questions like Sphinx of Uthuun?  Do they make the opponent play a guessing game like Sphinx Ambassador?  Or do they just reveal that they want you to draw a ton of cards and gain a back breaking amount of life? 

Let's ignore the famous ride of the Sphinx, "Which creature has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?" and just dive in to the list of ten that I enjoy the most.  In fact if I were going to make a From the Vault: Sphinx, these ten cards would be the first ones I included. 

10. Sphinx of Lost Truths 
This guy has seen tons of play in multiple formats.  He's been in Legacy (Denver 2012 Starcity Legacy Open Dredge.)  Of course he was a one of, but when this card was spoiled did anyone think it would see play in Legacy?  Put your hand down over there, you're not telling the truth!  He was featured in Birthing Pod decks that won PTQS, and was in Donnie Noland's 2010 Kentucky Open winning deck.  This card was in a Grand Prix winning deck as played by Brian Kibler.  Maybe instead of the Dragonmaster, he should be the Sphnix Master?  Brad Nelson won a Grand Prix with this card in his deck as well.  This former multi format player was an all star and clearly the better of the asker of riddles.  I mean who does not like to get a 3/5 flyer for seven that draws three cards when it enters the battlefield?  The riddle of this sphinx was do you cast me now and lose three cards (thats a yes in Legacy Dredge or if you need to stop a beatdown.) or do you wait and draw three more? 

9.  Sphinx of Jwar Isle
Sphinx of Jwar Isle was a weird one.  It was a finisher in blue decks, because of course, 5/5 flying shroud guys are.  He gave you information by allowing you to see the top card of your library whenever you wanted to.  The riddle of this Sphinx was what do you do with the added information that you have?  You know you have a Jace Beleren on top of your library.  Do you save the one that's getting attacked now or just let it die and replace it?  Does the top card show a board wipe?  That means you can save your counter magic on the big stupid creature, and just deal with it off the top of your deck.  It allowed for better resource allocation.  In reality your opponent was asking the questions and you were just providing the answers.  Sphinx of Jwar Isle saw tons of success on MTGO, was featured heavily in Worlds 2009, and was played in an Esper Control deck by Randy Buehler at the 2009 Community Cup. 

8.  Enigma Sphinx
This Alara Reborn sphinx may have been a 5/4 for seven, but check out what it did.  It had Cascade attached to it!  When it died it went back to your library, so you could cascade again!  Steve Sadin played this card in a 5 color cascade deck at an old Kentucky Open, but it never really caught on in the tournament scene.  I think the riddle this sphinx asked was, what happens next?  I guess what happens next is you become a Commander staple, and provide obscene value for your casting cost! 

7.  Consecrated Sphinx

This Sphinx was released at the wrong time.  It's an exciting splashy card that gains you cards, but it also happened to be in a Standard format that was dominated by (Squadron Hawks) and Titans.  It was featured in a deck that won a MOCS (Do you remember those?  Those were huge tournaments that WotC held on MTGO...I'm just going to stop now, I want to be invited to the Community Cup again one day!)  It just never had a time to shine because the format was tempo based, and this guy was too slow and did not have a Valakut to combo kill with.  In the right metagame though, this guy would have been an unstoppable powerhouse!  This Sphinx had two riddles, one for when he was Standard legal, and the other for his days in Commander.  The first would be, Why was I legal in a format that had cheap efficient beaters and counter magic?  The second would be, Hey, other Consecrated Sphinx, how many cards are we gonna draw this turn?  Consecrated Sphinx

6.  Chancellor of the Spires
While I was researching this article I came upon this beauty.  This guy was part of a cycle from New Phyrexia.  They were heavily hyped when the set came out, but saw rare tournament play.  Really though, he said if he was in your opening hand you could reveal it, and your opponent would mill seven cards!  That automatically makes it my most favorite Sphinx in all of Magic!  It saw very little tournament play.  It sees some Commander play because it hits each opponent, but I sure did try to make it work in Standard play.  I had a deck with this, Hedron Crab and Archive Trap.  My win percentage was fairly low.  The times that I drew multiple copies of this guy in my opening made winning easy thanks to fetch lands and Trap (and to be honest I did turn one a guy after showing four Chancellors and having three Traps in my opening hand.)  He drew his opener, which put him at 53 cards, I showed all four chancellors which took away another 28, which left him with 25 cards in his library.  He played his first land, a random fetchland, cracked it, got his land, played Gitaxian Probe (this is important because he draws a card.) and in response got up from the table, left my chancellors face up, and had a friend flip over my landless hand, showing the three traps.  He died when Probe resolved due to drawing from an empty library.  To say the least that testing session was over quickly.  The riddle here is:  How many Chancellors did you draw in your opener? 

5.  Sharuum the Hegemon 
Yeah I know I said these would be the first ten inclusions on my list of a From the Vault set, and I know that this one was in From the Vault: Legends, it's a much beloved Commander, and new art and a new foil would possibly make Commander players happy!  If it really bothers you that much we'll thrown in Serra Sphinx.  I just think that out of iconic Commanders, Sharuum would be included as a sample of an iconic Sphinx.  This riddle is:  Is there a better Esper Commander for what you want your deck to do?  
4.  Prognostic Sphinx
The new flying lion on the block is seeing a ton of play in Theros Block Constructed.  In my From the Vaults this would have been the special preview card much like Hellkite Overlord was for From the Vaults Dragons.  He also asks two questions.  Is that Hero's Downfall gonna kill me?  (Only if you do not have a card in hand, thanks Hexproof!) The second being, do I want to draw any of these cards?  Thanks Scry! 

3.  Magister Sphinx

This guy was awesome because he set any players life total to ten.  He was only a combo enabler in old Extended (Rest in Peace awesome format that stopped getting support!)  and was part of the Hypergenesis combo.  You'd resolve the suspend card, put a Bogardan Hellkite or two into play, then put the sphinx into play.  Set the opponent's life at ten, than dome then with Hellkites.  This sphinx only cares about this riddle:  Who plays with Ardent Plea?   Magister Sphinx

2.  Sphinx of the Steel Wind
Here is another Alara Reborn sphinx.  This one had more hype because of it's awesome implications in Reanimator based decks.  It has recently seen play in Legacy this year.  It's been an Unburial Rites target in Modern.  It has been played in Vintage (though I am sure there are better targets than it now.) It was the focus of a Polymorph deck in Standard.  It was not played much in Standard from the deck research I have been able to do.  This riddle is:  Is this the best reanimation target I have? 

1.  Sphinx's Revelation
Just like Form of the Dragon this From the Vaults needs a card that is sphinx related but not really a Sphinx at all.  It's a standard all-star, It sees tons of plays, and the only riddle it cares to ask is how many cards are you gonna draw, and how much life gain do you want with that? 

Those ten would be the backbone of my From the Vaults set.  The next five would be the cards that are thrown in there, they are the ones with new art, and I'm not saying much about this at all. 

Petra Sphinx  You have to have the original sphinx right?
Belltower Sphinx  Here is the slot that people will complain about it because it's an uncommon.
Conundrum Sphinx  I feel like this one actually does the best job in showing the flavor of the riddle of the Sphinx. 
Isperia the Inscrutable:  Needs another Legend, and the one from Return to Ravnica is kinda meh. 
Goliath Sphinx:  Gotta have the biggest sphinx in Magic right? 

We've kicked off Sphinx week in style, we're gonna have some awesome articles from other writers dealing with the Flying Lions (that should be a sportsball team name somewhere.)  I'm going to end this now, as I believe the X key on my keyboard is going to the keyboard union to complain about a lack of overtime in this article! 

I'll be back later on in the week with a special look at my BG Hexproof deck, and I think you all will be excited to see it! 

Thanks for reading and may you always know that the answer is man.