First Pick At Journey Into Nyx

Get ready for the Prerelease of Journey into Nyx this weekend by reading Ari’s first thoughts about the Limited format from looking at the recently released complete spoiler!

Three-set Draft always shakes things up. The dominance of the first set’s cards disappears as they are relegated to one pack with a larger pool of cards to open. Tracking patterns between sets is also bigger since different packs offer different rewards for being in the open color.

This review is going to point out the big picture. How does Journey into Nyx line up with the format as is and how do the new cards replace old ones and fill in gaps?

First, a big point:

There are no common bestow creatures in Journey into Nyx. There are no Ordeals in Journey into Nyx. There are relatively few Auras that boost power and toughness.

This means heroic gets way worse. The big draw to heroic was that it added a little extra push to all of your boosting effects. Now you’re leaning on combat tricks to grow your creatures, and spending more than one of those pushes a lot of eggs into one basket without much reward. It might be time to start looking at heroic creatures in a more average case light, with "how undercosted are they with one trigger?" being the measure of how good they are. Obviously Wingsteed Rider and Fabled Hero are insane, but are we really that excited about using Battlewise Valor on our Akroan Skyguard to make a 1W 2/2 flier?

Monstrous also gets better. With less bestow creatures, Voltroning up a small creature into a large one becomes more difficult. In turn, the cards that singlehandedly win the big creature mirrors become more important.

On to the colors!




0/4 Hero (Lagonna-Band Trailblazer)



3/1 (Oreskos Swiftclaw)

2/2 (Stonewise Fortifier)


2/1 Flying (Eagle of the Watch)

2/3 (Harvestguard Alseids)


2/2 (Akroan Mastiff)



3/5 Flying* (Supply-Line Cranes)




Ajani’s Presence





Armament of Nyx

Mortal Obstinacy

Oppressive Rays

Akroan Mastiff


Font of Vigor





White in this set feels like the exact opposite of the other two sets. Your creatures are solid up the curve. You have removal to spare. Importantly, the common power level is relatively flat as opposed to the previous two sets’ setup of three good cards and a bunch of conditional ones.

I’m pretty sure that attempting to suit up Lagonna-Band Trailblazer is a trap. The real creature you want to put all the pants on is Stonewise Fortifier since it has a built-in combat trick to punish double blocks.

Something to keep in mind for all of the constellation cards that particularly applies to Harvestguard Alseids is that there is one flash enchantment in the format that isn’t rare. Most constellation activations will occur at sorcery speed, meaning Harvestguard Alseids is more of an Artful Dodge (harder to block the targeted creature effectively) than anything else.

Akroan Mastiff is very good. We haven’t had a true Master Decoy style tapper in quite a while, so we might need a reminder of how these things work. Tappers take down whatever the biggest creature is at the time and upgrades as it changes. They can also take down two guys to set up a lethal attack. This is now in a format where locking down a guy with bestow creatures on it is devastating. This is now on a 2/2 body that can get in actual damage on its own. In Zendikar the four mana might be pushing it for Mastiff, but in this format it’s going to be one of the best commons.

I’ve listed Supply-Line Cranes as a 3/5 just to remind everyone that it can target itself and Castle Raptors was very good. In both Theros and Born of the Gods white lacked a higher-cost common, and now it has one of the larger common fliers.

Ajani’s Presence is similar to Gods Willing. You lose the ability to counter a Griptide or push through a set of monocolored blockers, but in return you have the Dauntless Onslaught mode of breaking up two creature combats and can use it to actually push through a slightly larger creature thanks to the +1/+1.

When on a nonenchantment creature, Armament of Nyx is an effect that has been printed many times before (see Sandskin, Heart of Light, Ghostly Possession, and Defang). If you’re attacking, the fact that they still get to block is a big deal. If you’re planning on winning with evasive damage sources (Scholar of Athreos) or alternate win conditions (no idea in this format), the card is great. The only thing that might push this card ahead of a previous version is again the interaction between removal that locks down the target and Bestow.

Assuming the higher-quality curve pushes white more toward the R/W "wide" aggro decks, I expect Oppressive Rays will end up being a very high-quality spell. In the early to midgame it will almost always remove a blocker for a turn, and then it will keep it removed unless your opponent opts to stifle their development.






0/5 (Nyx-Fleece Ram)

3/2 (Sightless Brawler)


1.4 (Eidolon of Rhetoric)

2/3 (Tethmos High Priest)


3/2 (Leonin Iconoclast)



2/2 Flying Double Strike (Skyspear Cavalry)






5/6 (Quarry Colossus)




Phalanx Formation






Banishing Light

Leonin Iconoclast

Quarry Colossus


Sightless Brawler


The white uncommons don’t push the same aggressive game plan as the commons, and there aren’t really any bombs. But the uptick in removal is still there.

Sightless Brawler is a three-power two-drop. You aren’t going to cast it on turn 2, but it plays very well into the plan of playing two more two-drops on turn 4. The drawback is also fairly small, and I would not be surprised to see this on your own guys most of the time. Also keep in mind that it only prevents attacking, so it isn’t actually the removal spell aggressive decks are looking for.

Leonin Iconoclast doesn’t kill bestow creatures in Aura form and therefore can’t break up a stacked Wingsteed Rider.

If past performances are any indication, Phalanx Formation will not be exciting. See Double Cleave.

If I’m going to cast a seven-drop, Quarry Colossus is a fine one. A huge body plus a Shriekmaw effect is certainly worth the cost. The issue is that I don’t ever know if I want a seven-drop, especially in white. Fated Return was on a similar power level in a much more controlling color and received mixed reviews.




1/1 Unblockable (Triton Shorestalker)



0/3 (Sigiled Starfish)



1/3 Flying Hero (War-Wing Siren)



3/2 Flying (Cloaked Siren)



2/6 (Thassa’s Devourer)



5/5 (Godhunter Octopus)

2x 2/2 Flier (Rise of Eagles)



Aerial Formation




Pin to the Earth


Font of Fortunes



Blue’s overall quality is relatively low. You have some solid fliers, but there is nothing game breaking like Sudden Storm or Nimbus Naiad.

Sigiled Starfish is very close to Merfolk Looter. Again, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen that one with the recent push away from on-board activated abilities, so let’s refresh our memory.

Merfolk Looter Player: Keep doing things.

Non-Looter Player: Why do I keep drawing lands?

Looter Player: Shrug, keep doing things.

Scry is definitely worse than draw plus discard but not by a ton. In a format where you have both high-end mana sinks and powerful cards to hit, the ability to filter your draws is very important. Also, don’t forget this card does not have defender! Add an Ordeal and you have one angry echinoderm.

War-Wing Siren passes the "is this good with one trigger?" test. See Azure Drake. It’s not quite Wingsteed Rider and is in a slightly worse color for heroic, but the card is definitely a high pick.

All of the five-plus-drops are really mediocre in this set. 2/6? That’s not going anywhere. What about 5/5 . . . with a drawback? Or two 2/2s? Admittedly those last two fly, but up to this point the format has not been about the marginally sized value that Rise of Eagles supplies. It does trigger constellation twice, but I’m not sold there will be enough of that ability in a single pack to make a linear Draft deck reliably available.

I really like Aerial Formation. The +1/+1 means this will always be a usable trick, and the strive makes it a very powerful finisher.

Hubris is a significant upgrade from the tempo-inefficient Retraction Helix and actually might have an edge on Voyage’s End in a few scenarios. Neatly wrapping up their bestow creatures is certainly a plus, though some of the time it you may have been better off leaving them with an in-play 2/2 instead of an in-hand bestow.

Pin to the Earth is very similar to Armament of Nyx but in a color much better positioned to take advantage of it. Again you want evasive creatures with that effect, and blue is all about those. Just be aware that this doesn’t kill Nessian Asp and can lead to mid-combat Artisan’s Sorrow blowouts.

I usually love a draw two, but Font of Fortunes is not a source of inspiration this time around. Divination was okay, but the format was too board oriented and attrition light to make a draw two really important.



1/1 (Dakra Mystic)






4/4 (Crystalline Nautilus)

3/4 (Riptide Chimera)


2/4 (Triton Cavalry)



4/4 (Whitewater Naiads)




Hour of Need

Kiora’s Dismissal


Crystalline Nautilus

Thassa’s Ire


Interpret the Signs

Pull from the Deep


While the commons weren’t exciting, blue’s uncommons are almost all topnotch.

I expect Dakra Mystic will be very good. I think the ability is on par with a Merfolk Looter style effect, and I would gladly pay these rates for that.

Crystalline Nautilus is going to see a lot more bestow on your own creatures than the drawback immediately implies. +4/+4 turns even a lowly Omenspeaker into a monster, and if your opponent trades two combat tricks for your random creature and your Nautilus, that seems perfectly acceptable. The fact that it is an emergency out to a Nessian Asp is just gravy, especially when that interaction is really just a two-for-two that leaves you with a 4/4.

I saw a lot of people try Floodtide Serpent to minimal effect. I expect Riptide Chimera will be similarly disappointing. Esperzoa was awesome both times around, but it had an extra power and was supported by cards that had more powerful bonuses than draw a card (Sanctum Gargoyle) and by one-drops that made the upkeep easy.

Whitewater Naiads is the far more exciting enchantment creature. And by enchantment creature, I mean more or less Air Elemental. I may be overestimating how easy it is to trigger constellation, but it’s still a 4/4 with multiple instances of granting evasion in low-end scenarios.

It also appears Wizards decided that Day of the Dragons needed an uncommon reprint, only with a more flavorful creature type. I’ll be first picking Hour of Need and presumably killing a lot of people with it. Again, what’s the worst case scenario? It’s a better Savage Surge?

Thassa’s Ire is a card I’m hoping is too slow.

I’m not sure how good Kiora’s Dismissal actually is, but I expect it to lead to some crazy blowouts. That doesn’t mean it’s good, just that the one time you rebuy your bestow creature, bounce their attacker, and remove their bestow creature from their other creature mid-combat is going to be insane.

Interpret the Signs is very reminiscent of Rush of Knowledge back in Onslaught block. That card was first pickable and extremely splashable. Keep in mind that even a draw three with this card is closer to four or five cards thanks to the bonus value provided by scry. So given that a more recent comparison might just be Opportunity. I do realize this isn’t an attrition format and we have had Thassa’s Bounty available, but the difference between three cards and four or more is quite a big jump.

Considering the enchantment focus of the block, I’m not interested in Pull from the Deep. I’m looking forward to the inevitable core set reprint of this card, where the two-for-one in a removal-centric format is game breaking.




1/1 Deathtouch (Pharika’s Chosen)



2/1 Hero (Bloodcrazed Hoplite)

1/3 (Returned Reveler)


1/4 (Grim Guardian)



2/5 (Rotted Hulk)



4/2 (Dreadbringer Lampads)




Cruel Feeding




Cast Into Darkness

Feast of Dreams

Nyx Infusion


Aspect of Gorgon

Font of Return



Black continues the Born of the Gods trend of shocking mediocrity in the third set, losing even the semi-unconditional removal aspect of Asphyxiate.

Pharika’s Chosen is black’s second or third best common in this set, which is saying something considering it comes with bestow in Theros (Baleful Eidolon) and the color-shifted version (Sedge Scorpion) wasn’t even in green’s Top 5 commons in that set.

Bloodcrazed Hoplite is not bad, but it doesn’t pass the plus one counter test very well (3/2 for two is good but not significantly above curve) and has minimal backing in the other sets. It will probably find work as a 2/1 for two with an upside, but for a creature with the standard heroic trigger, that is disappointing.

Grim Guardian is no Servant of Tymaret.

The one redeeming creature might be the five-mana 4/2, Dreadbringer Lampads. Black was really missing a finisher in the last two sets, and as mediocre as Giant Cockroach looks on paper this one can sneak through a blocker or two.

The removal in this set is a significant downgrade from the last two sets. As per the normal criteria, zero of them kill a Nessian Asp. That isn’t to say the format hasn’t shifted to make that less relevant, but black appears to be set up for a long game and isn’t well positioned to capitalize on the downward shift. Cast into Dread can do it if you are being aggressive, but that hinders the more prevalent U/B decks. Feast of Dread is very unique, both in how it kills Auras and how it is an instant and cheap removal spell in this block, but it’s very conditional. Finally, we have Nyx Infusion, which straight-up fails the test no matter how you look at it.

Cruel Feeding is basically Cutthroat Maneuvers, a card that has seen minimal play. Unlike the blue and white strive spells, it doesn’t add toughness which makes it harder to actually win a combat with it.

I do like how Aspect of Gorgon adds a bunch of toughness and makes it hard to take down the enchanted deathtouch creature without double blocking, but the mere plus one power doesn’t make the target that threatening. If it was big enough without that boost to not ignore, did it really need the deathtouch?

Font of Return strikes me as a card in the wrong format. A three-for0one is good, but in this format I suspect the creatures you are returning will either be outclassed by the time this actives or only the best one will matter.



2/1 (Gnarled Scarhide)



1/1 (Brain Maggot)



2/3 Deathtouch (Felhide Petrifier)



2/2 (Agent of Erebos)

*/* (Squelching Leeches)





5/3 (Thoughtrender Lamia)




Gnarled Scarhide

Nightmarish End

Spiteful Blow


Ritual of the Returned

Tormented Thoughts



Black has some good uncommons, but none of them really solve the issues the color has.

Gnarled Scarhide is awesome, as I talked about last week in Constructed. Between the early body, the bestow to grow an attacker, and the bestow to remove a blocker, this thing is the full package. Hyperaggressive R/B was one of my favorite archetypes in triple Theros, so hopefully the higher concentration of one-drop 2/1s makes this viable again.

Felhide Petrifier is way better than Sedge Scorpion and Pharika’s Chosen and not just because of the tribal bonus. Just being a two-power creature means this guy can bring the beats when the deathtouch blocker on the ground is not needed.

Given how shallow black has become, Squelching Leeches is not reliably larger than a 3/3.

Thoughtrender Lamia would be insane with more flash enchantments, but as is it’s just an expensive 5/3 that can’t really lock people out of draw steps.

Spiteful Blow is Sip of Hemlock, which given the smaller set size might help make up for the lack of common removal on that level.

Ritual of the Returned only targets your graveyard in a color of exceedingly undersized creatures.

Tormented Thoughts is one of the cards I’m more excited about. Hitting an early discard three really stifles your opponent’s ability to land 5/5s and bestow creatures. The constraining factors are going to be how easy it is to make a three-power creature that early since only two cards is not exciting and whether sacrificing that creature is better than trying to win the game with that creature.




1/1 Hero (Satyr Hoplite)


2/1 (Sigiled Skink)


2/3 (Pensive Minotaur)


3/2 Intimidate (Bladetusk Boar)


2x 2/3 Haste (Flurry of Horns)


5/4 –> 8/7 (Gluttonous Cyclops)



Rouse the Mob




Lightning Diadem

Magma Spray



Font of Ire

Flamespeaker’s Will



Red is back down from the high point of Born of the Gods, but the shifts to all the other colors have helped position it better compared to triple Theros Draft.

Satyr Hoplite doesn’t really pass the single pump test, but the typical red aggressive deck is always looking for more early attackers. This card really increases the value of all the one-drop tricks since using one to keep this guy in play is basically like playing a one-mana 2/2 after trading off your other one-drop.

Sigiled Skink is a card I want to love but expect will regularly disappoint me. One toughness isn’t enough to churn a long-term advantage out of this card similar to Sigiled Starfish.

I’m fully expecting a blue 2/3 Minotaur with no abilities to round things out in Magic 2015. Pensive Minotaur finishes the new Minotaur colors, so why not throwback to Homelands?

Bladetusk Boar is always a solid card, but it’s especially great in a format where evasion carries through Auras for quick finishes.

Flurry of Horns is going to be very dependent on your color pairing. Green is saturated with five-drops, whereas blue or white might want the slightly more powerful effect to fill a slot.

As a six-drop, Gluttonous Cyclops is stretching a little. It’s not quite on par with some of the best big creatures, but with the ability to monstrous it has an edge in matchups where being supersized is important.

The red removal in Journey into Nyx doesn’t match Fall of the Hammer. But the format has shifted, and red is very well positioned to take advantage of that. Cards like Magma Spray will have a chance to shine in a world less based around building a monster. That said, Starfall and Lightning Diadem are a little on the expensive side to really excite me. Neither trades for a generic creature of the same cost, and Diadem is especially offensive. Why am I picking off a small creature if I’m making a big guy to go over the top of them?

Rouse the Mob is a little better than Bull Rush was back in Zendikar, but given that card’s pedigree of sitting in sideboards, I’m wary to try this one out.

As always, I really want to Lava Axe people. Hopefully Font of Ire makes this a reasonable option, though I’m unsure if it is better or worse if they see it coming.





2/2 (Mogis’s Warhound)


2/1 –> 4/1 Intimidate (Akroan Line Breaker)


4/2 (Forgeborn Oreads)


4/3 –> 5/4 (Wildfire Cerberus)


5/3 Haste (Cyclops of Eternal Fury)



Blinding Flare






Forgeborn Oreads

Knowledge and Power

Riddle of Lightning

Rollick of Abandon

Spite of Mogis


Red’s uncommon creatures are great, but the spells are lacking.

Mogis’s Warhound is very aggressively costed as a bestow Aura. +2/+2 for three mana is almost retail cost, and you still get the 2/2 after. It’s a little slow at handling an opposing creature, but I’m okay with never having to do that.

Akroan Linebreaker is clearly great. Bestow a creature, get in plus some. Play another trick, oops they’re probably dead.

My big concern with Forgeborn Oreads is that it trades down, but at the same time it clears away a lot of the things it would trade down into. I don’t think the one damage will matter nearly as much in this format as in others, but it’s still a strong bonus. Also keep in mind that this is a prime target for Aspect of the Gorgon to bring back the old deathtouch-pinger combo.

Wildfire Cerberus might not monstrous to get very large, but the on-board trick deserves attention. Your smaller creatures attack into larger things, go unblocked, and then let you use your mana however you want.

Cyclops of Eternal Fury is exactly what I want out of a six-drop. Tenement Crasher and then some, it provides an immediate board presence with long-term benefits.

Riddle of Lighting is a solid burn spell, but the other removal is questionable at best. We’re in an enchantment block, so I rarely expect Spite of Mogis to go big enough to matter. Rollick of Abandon is a small creature sweeper in the small creature color. Knowledge and Power is very expensive for the effect it provides. Maybe at one mana to trigger or three mana to cast I would be excited, but for five and two it’s a stretch.




1/1 (Renowned Weaver)



2/1 (Golden Hind)

2/2* (Satyr Grovedancer)


2/3 (Oakheart Dryads)



2/4 –> 5/7 (Ravenous Leucrocota)



3/4 Hero (Pheres-Band Thunderhoof)



5/5 (Humbler of Mortals)




Nature’s Panoply




Desecration Plague




Font of Fertility

Kruphix’s Insight

Market Festival


Green loses a pack of Nessian Asps, but in exchange it gets to fill in a huge hole in the curve.

All of the colors have relatively flat curves in Journey into Nyx. Green is similar, with a little extra two-drop heft. For green this is a huge reason to pump the fist. In Theros and Born of the Gods your two-drop options were scarce, and it didn’t help that everyone was first picking Voyaging Satyr and Leafcrown Dryad. The situation was to the point that our team had Swordwise Centaur as one of the Top 3 commons in Born of the Gods because it was so important to have a functional green curve.

Green loses a pack of Voyaging Satyrs but gets a pack of Golden Hinds. Not only are there more Golden Hinds per pack than Satyrs due to set size, but the card is arguably better since it is stronger in combat. Satyr Grovedancer is another fine bear that has a bonus late game mode when needed. You can expect the high-end green cards to go up in value in the later packs, while Voyaging Satyr is less relevant as a result of this swap. You also have Font of Fertility on turn 1 as a Rampant Growth on turn 2 as another way to get to green’s meatier creatures early enough to matter.

Green also gets three reasonable high-end cards to go with these. Ravenous Leucrocota has an awkward window as a 2/4 in the five- to six-mana turns but as a 5/7 late game is capable of holding its own. Pheres-Band Thunderhoof provides a heroic creature that isn’t embarrassing pre-trigger and passes the single trigger test as 5/6. Humbler of Mortals is a generic 5/5, but not every six-drop can be Vulpine Goliath. At least it attacks when you want it to, unlike some other color’s monsters.

This all said, the spells kind of suck. Kruphix’s Insight requires over half your nonlands to be enchantments to be a Divination. Market Festival is your typical infinite mana unplayable ramp. Desecration Plague is a worse Fade into Antiquity, a card that rarely made the maindeck. Nature’s Panoply is fine, but there’s no Time to Feed hiding among these cards.





2/1 Reach (Bassara Tower Archer)


4/1 (Spirespine)


6/6 –> 8/8 (Swarmborn Giant)


4/5 (Nessian Game Warden)


5/4 (Goldenhide Ox)



Colossal Heroics

Solidarity of Heroes


Consign to Dust



Reviving Melody

Strength from the Fallen


Green’s uncommons are definitely better than the last two sets, where almost none of the cards were better than the best commons.

Spirespine is probably the worst of the new bestow cycle, but that doesn’t say much since it is basically Nyxborn Wolf. I was pretty pumped about it at first as a removal spell, but I quickly realized it doesn’t kill tapped or large creatures.

I have a feeling Swarmborn Giant is going to be really awkward. The drawback prevents you from taking advantage of two of the best benefits of a 6/6 for four—forcing a race and holding off multiple early attackers.

Goldenhide Ox is five mana of value as a 5/4 plus the trigger. I’m not sure the trigger is worth a mana, but for a mana and no cards I’ll take it and count any extra triggers as gravy.

Solidarity of Heroes is not a card I expect to cast often and not a card I expect to be strived approximately ever. Doubling counters on cards that already have counters does not seem like something that comes up enough.

Consign to Dust is pretty exciting just as an instant enchantment removal spell. The additional blowout potential is always nice, but don’t feel required to save it for the best case scenario.

Reviving Melody rebuys two cards of the most important types for relatively little mana. The last part is what pushes this into playable range while Font of Return seems mediocre, especially when the common and uncommon green high drops from this set are enchantments.

Multicolored & Artifacts

Similar to Born of the Gods, all of the multicolored uncommons are great. Disciple of Deceit finds your rares or bestow creatures, and Fleetfeather Cockatrice is a well-costed flash flier that randomly has more abilities. Nyx Weaver enables a lot of other black and green cards while being a well-costed body and finding your best card. The only ones I wouldn’t consider first picks are Underworld Coinsmith, which is "just" a high-quality two-drop, and Desperate Stand, which is basically a Dauntless Onslaught that commits you to the two colors that want it the most.

Gold-Forged Sentinel is an awesome G/B card, but aside from those decks I would look at Horizon Scholar and see how often it is cut.

Armory of Iroas seems very good, but I think it might turn out to be a little too expensive at four mana for the first counter.

Deserter’s Quarters is removal in the green and black decks that can stretch to six mana, but I would not be inclined to play it elsewhere.

Chariot of Victory granting first strike seems important, but at zero additional power I’ll have to pass.


Journey into Nyx is a very well rounded set that plays more to traditional Limited points than Theros and Born of the Gods. Even the rares are well rounded, with no color being saturated with or lacking bombs. Cards that were weakened slightly by the build a monster focus of the first two sets will be improved significantly.

The removal is still weak in this set.

The lack of bestow and the above two points are going to make the standouts of Theros Draft even more devastating when they show up.

Creature sizing is very flat up until six mana in this set, as opposed to the jump at five mana in Theros and Born of the Gods.

With only one pack of Ordeals, you can be much less worried about being effectively dead on turn 2. This most likely just means the people it happens to will tilt even more than they did before.