Let’s cut to the chase.
Journey into Nyx has a ton of awesome cards that promise meaningful directions to explore with deckbuilding. Many of them will not pan out. Most of them,
in fact. I mean, they can still be sweet to surprise people with, and they might still be able to take down a tournament or two, but most of the new
archetypes will prove fringe, Tier 2 at best.
You can never tell which ones are going to be the “crazy” decks that end up changing the format. Six months ago, Theros brought us a Mono-Blue strategy
with Thassa, God of the Sea; Master of Waves; and Bident of Thassa. Who could have guessed that it would prove to be the powerhouse it went on to become?
At the time, it just seemed like another crazy deck idea alongside Minotaur tribal and Immortal Servitude + Dragons combo.
And that is hardly the exception, either.
I remember when a Mono-Blue Delver of Secrets + Runechanter’s Pike deck using Ponder, Snapcaster Mage, and Vapor Snag was just one of many crazy brews. You
It’s always been this way. I remember fifteen years ago, when High Tide was just one of many crazy concoctions that was theoretically possible with this
ridiculous new card Time Spiral.
Never know? You ever notice how it always seems to be the Mono-Blue decks?
I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that.
Look, the point is, brewing without the safety on is where it’s at. You get scared, scared of failing, scared the deck will suck, scared it won’t win a
certain match-up, you’re going to miss all sorts of possibilities that were right under your nose. Not that many masterpieces are coloring books where
people stayed in the lines. Finding out you were wrong about something you thought was impossible, that’s a helluva experience.
For instance, what about Dictate of the Twin Gods combo?
What might have been just a curiosity before has gained two big, big new weapons that turn a cool combo into a full-on deck. Riddle of Lightning provides
some much needed redundancy so that we can actually sculpt a game plan around using a super-expensive card to burn our opponents. Even more importantly,
Dictate of the Twin Gods gives us clear paths to dealing twenty or more in one shot.
For instance, turn 5, flash down the Dictate on the opponent’s end step. Untap and cast Blast of Genius, discarding Enter the Infinite. That’s 24, right
there. Discarding Catch//Release only deals eighteen, but it’s not that hard to find two points of damage somewhere, and Catch//Release has a much, much
better backup plan Enter the Infinite. I like the idea of playing two Enter the Infinites so that we have reasonable chances of finding one to set up a
Blast, but using more Catch//Releases to help increase the chances of our Riddle of Lightning actually hitting something.
Boros Reckoner is a mondo combo with Dictate of the Twin Gods as well. While you could combine it with Boros Charm and any burn spell to deal an arbitrary
amount of damage, why do you need to do that? A Lightning Strike and a Boros Charm combine with Boros Reckoner and Dictate of the Twin Gods to deal 20
without even using the indestructible combo. What if we just used a burn spell that deals five or more? If we deal five to the Boros Reckoner, it will be
doubled to ten. That ten damage is then pointed at our opponent (and promptly doubled).
While Fated Conflagration would deal a for-sure five, we already have Riddle of Lightning and Blast of Genius, which are very often going to deal five or
more. Spite of Mogis is another nice spell to point at our Boros Reckoner. In fact, sometimes, we won’t even need Dictate of the Twin Gods, we can just
Spite of Mogis our Boros Reckoner for ten to finish our opponent off.
It’s possible that Spite of Mogis is just so good late game that we want more, but I am cautious. It is sort of a Skred-like card, but you can’t really use
it turn 1 or 2 like you could with Skred. Still, if we went more heavily towards it, we could actually set up some kind of a Boros Charm combo deck that
aims to point multiple copies of Spite of Mogis at it. Such a deck could also potentially look at Azorius Charm and maybe even Ready//Willing as infinite
life options. Ready//Willing is hard to pull off but is a two card infinite life combo with the Reckoner if you get him into combat.
It’s pretty crazy, but here is a very different strategy that also happens to use the Spite of Mogis + Boros Reckoner combo:
Oh, what I would give for a Condescend!
Boros Reckoner + Spite of Mogis is actually only the plan B here, as we are mostly trying to Knowledge and Power people into next Tuesday. Maybe this is
too much scrying, but I’d rather try too much than too little.
Keranos is particularly cute here, since Boros Reckoner + Jace, Architect of Thought wakes him up. Even while helping from afar, however, he’s an excellent
source of card advantage and board control.
While we do want to keep an open mind, it can be valuable to identify when a combo or deck is more of a 1 in 50 vs. 1 in 5,000 type of brew. We have no
reason to believe the Dictate of the Twin Gods deck wouldn’t work, it’s just that historically the odds are against it. This next deck, on the other hand,
is pretty unlikely to be anything other than a curiosity.
- 1 Shivan Dragon
- 4 Dragon Hatchling
- 2 Utvara Hellkite
- 4 Scourge of Valkas
- 4 Dragon Egg
- 4 Stormbreath Dragon
- 3 Spawn of Thraxes
That’s right! Scourge of Valkas and Utvara Hellkite are our Dragon “Lords.” There aren’t exactly a great assortment of cheap Dragons in Standard, but at
least we have Mutavault!
Spawn of Thraxes is a Dragon, true, but does it really offer some new dimension that is going to make up for the fact that this list features fourteen
creatures that cost five or more with zero acceleration and zero card draw?
I still think if you’re going to abuse Scourge of Valkas, the most likely scenario is that you get three into the graveyard and then reanimate them all at
the same time. Immortal Servitude + three copies of Scourge of Valkas and that’s 27 damage! Even if you have to replace one of those with a Stormbreath
Dragon, that’s still 22.
Sometimes we can make a list we know is going to be terrible, but some of the interactions contained within are interesting to us, there is some lesson we
want to learn. For instance:
The Hour of Need kill might not be the best way to close out the game, but it is a way to surprise-gain twenty power worth of fliers.
What about Triton Cavalry?
Well, it is fun to think about casting auras on it that draw you a card, then using the trigger to bounce another aura that draws you a card, repeating ad
nauseam. Unfortunately, a 2/4 for 4 that lets you put two more cards together to form a machine that draws cards for two mana isn’t exactly blowing my
mind. Of course, this list looks slower than slow anyway, so whatever…
So, what is it we’re trying to learn? Agoraphobia is a totally respectable Magic card in its own right. Turning it into a card draw engine is potentially
super sweet, and maybe some element of this bad combo deck will look much better than the rest. Perhaps we can then port that element into some other, more
One shell I’ve been coming back to a lot is Sphere of Safety + Eidolon of Blossoms. I have a real soft spot for goofy card-draw combo decks anyway, and
Sphere of Safety is a card I’ve built around a lot since it was printed. Now, there appears to be a critical mass of enchantments that might let us
actually put the whole thing together.
Here is another take on Enchantress, this time built around Pharika, God of Affliction + Eidolon of Blossoms:
- 4 Courser of Kruphix
- 4 Eidolon of Blossoms
- 2 Doomwake Giant
- 2 Pharika, God of Affliction
- 4 Nyx-Fleece Ram
- 4 Nyx Weaver
This list features a lot of respectable blockers to help buy us time to find and deploy a Sphere of Safety. Remember, Pharika’s tokens are enchantments
also, so we’re quickly going to be able to prevent anyone from attacking at all, and even if they can get one guy in, throw a snake in the way each turn
and they often can no longer make forward progress.
Pharika + Eidolon of Blossoms is a very exciting card draw engine that, if left unchecked, will often take over a game within a turn. Mana Bloom provides a
backup Constellation enabler to ensure that we always have fuel for the Eidolon. As a bonus, it provides some important acceleration that we can use to
play Sphere of Safety earlier.
This list is experimenting with zero Verdant Haven, zero Font of Fertility, and zero Market Festival, instead using more creatures to ensure fuel for
Pharika. It’s not at all clear that is the right path, particularly with Verdant Haven, but we do already have a lot of three-drops.
Doomwake Giant doesn’t look that good to me, but he is fairly meaty and he does mesh with the theme, so I’m down to try him. Chromanticore is actually the
enchantment creature fatty I’m more excited about, particularly in a deck like this, which has legit targets like Courser of Kruphix, Nyx Weaver, and
Eidolon of Blossoms. Even Nyx-Fleece Ram is a legal target and can attack!
I don’t have a list for it yet, but I keep thinking about Chromanticore in some kind of a five-color ramp deck. Sylvan Caryatid + Nylea’s Presence + Mana
Confluence, maybe with Verdant Haven could be a thing. Then you can play whatever cards you want, like Blood Baron of Vizkopa; Jace, Architect of Thought;
Supreme Verdict; Rakdos’s Return; whatever. It’s a little disappointing that you can’t put a Chromanticore on a Blood Baron, so maybe that’s supposed to be
a Polukranos instead. Courser of Kruphix is another nice option, though what I really want is to deal double damage.
OK, here’s a card for you:
Is Godsend the next big thing?
Is it a terrible trap with text that tries to trick people into thinking it’s good?
Eh, I just don’t think Godsend is a very big deal. Sure the text reads pretty serious, but it’s actually just a respectable ability with some relevant
applications at a cost that is good enough to be playable, but not insane.
I generally think white aggressive decks have too many good options at three to be that interested in Godsend maindeck, but it wouldn’t be
terrible. The card’s rate is totally passable. It is a little slow to get going, but it does make your creature mostly unblockable, plus it can
single-handedly hold down the fort on D (at the same time if you just spend a little mana).
Where it shines is as an answer to Blood Baron of Vizkopa (since it doesn’t target). It has long been a serious thorn in the side of white aggro decks that
opponents can drop a Blood Baron and completely brickwall them. Drop a Godsend and you can attack with impunity!
Making the deal even better, many B/W decks cannot deal with a Godsend all that easily. They are likely to trade their Revoke Existences for Deicides, so
their only realistic anti-Godsend option is Banishing Light, and it’s not yet clear if people are even going to want to do that.
Beyond this application, the card is just a totally reasonable way to spend extra mana in a white aggressive deck. As long as you don’t draw two, it isn’t that slow. I gotta feeling a lot of people without it won’t miss it, but it will show up and be fine.
Speaking of white aggressive decks, here is a very different breed of one that takes advantage of one my favorite new cards, Dictate of Heliod:
There are many ways to use Dictate of Heliod, but the long and the short of it is that an instant-speed Tempered Steel has an incredible impact on the
game. I wouldn’t mind a five-cost double anthem on its own in a lot of decks. Give it flash? Now we’re talking about something we need to play with,
something we need to understand.
Bet you weren’t expecting to see a Seller of Songbirds list, today, eh?
Dakra Mystic is obviously a totally reasonable option to consider for Mono-Blue Devotion, if only because the bar isn’t actually that high. That said, I’m
also interested in trying it in tempo-based strategies. It is sort of a sideways Dark Confidant that could produce some pretty sick advantages against
opponents that can’t kill it.
Every time the card is better for them, deny it. Every time you get a spell and they get a land, keep it (if you want). It may not be true card advantage,
but it is very real virtual card advantage. Besides, what if you put it in a deck that makes use of its graveyard? The card is great with Whip of Erebos
and other reanimator cards.
- 1 Scroll Thief
- 1 Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius
- 4 Izzet Staticaster
- 4 Dakra Mystic
- 2 Keranos, God of Storms
- 4 Prophetic Flamespeaker
Too fancy? Maybe, but it would be instructional.
As a note, generally speaking, Prophetic Flamespeaker and Chandra, Pyromaster want you to not play countermagic or other purely reactive cards. Magma
Spray, for instance, can’t go upstairs the way Shock and Turn//Burn can. Dissolve doesn’t have guaranteed utility the way Izzet Charm does.
You want too fancy?
I’ll give you too fancy!
- 4 Centaur Healer
- 4 Scab-Clan Charger
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 4 Courser of Kruphix
- 4 Swordwise Centaur
- 4 Pheres-Band Warchief
Now that is too fancy. Maybe we’re supposed to be using the Centaurs with Heroic and some enablers, so we can draw a card from Chronicler of
Heroes. Who knows?
You better tighten up. How about a couple of nice ones, ok?
Sure, sure. OK, here is a boring B/w aggro deck:
- 4 Desecration Demon
- 4 Rakdos Cackler
- 4 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
- 4 Tormented Hero
- 4 Pain Seer
- 4 Herald of Torment
- 4 Gnarled Scarhide
- 4 Athreos, God of Passage
- 4 Brain Maggot
Curve out with your basically Mono-Black beatdown, punish people who try to stop you with Athreos, and end the game with Gray Merchant.
Good job, bro.
Hey, that one actually looks pretty good.
Yeah, obv. Protip: If you’re one of the smart ones that actually reads articles and doesn’t just scan for decklists, you might consider adding some
Thoughtseizes and Hero’s Downfalls. You don’t need to play 36 creatures in your black deck. Just saying.
- 3 Scavenging Ooze
- 2 Dreg Mangler
- 4 Corpsejack Menace
- 3 Lotleth Troll
- 4 Experiment One
- 4 Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch
- 4 Renegade Krasis
- 2 Savageborn Hydra
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 4 Kalonian Hydra
- 2 Mistcutter Hydra
Yes! Now we’re talking! Mana Confluence is exactly what this deck was looking for. Now we actually have hopes of not getting mana screwed a quarter of the
I just wish we got a new +1/+1 counter creature that we actually wanted. Oh well, can’t have everything, I guess. Protip: do NOT add Thoughtseize and
Hero’s Downfall to this one. These +1/+1 counter decks can’t actually afford to play very many spells at all, since they need to push the linear as far as
they can to get enough value to make it worth it.
I’ve been making a lot of Prophetic Flamespeaker decks and a lot of black aggro decks. What about combining them?
I don’t know what the right home is for Prophetic Flamespeaker, but I’m damn sure gonna find out!
OK, I’m just about out for today…
Really? You’re gonna just not make any Ajani, Mentor to Heroes decks?
- 4 Loxodon Smiter
- 4 Voice of Resurgence
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 4 Polukranos, World Eater
- 4 Sylvan Caryatid
- 4 Courser of Kruphix
- 2 Golden Hind
- 3 Nessian Game Warden
We might need a little more defense in here and not just all proactive threats, but I kind of like the fact that we never draw dead cards. We kind
of just play a bunch of powerful cards and smash them into our opponents.
Nessian Game Warden is obviously extremely speculative, but it is a kind of big body for a card that draws you a card. I would love to live in the world
where it’s good, and I don’t know that we don’t.
As for Ajani, I think the key is getting value out of the +1/+1s. Yes, it draws cards, and that’s great, but the novel element, the exciting part is that
it lets you quickly take over a game. The 100 life thing is actually kind of sweet, because even though it doesn’t win the game for you, it can give you
time to really take advantage of the overwhelming board you are setting up. Mostly, though, he’s just Impulsing and creating a bunch of fatties.
I can’t end on such a vanilla note. Not this time!
Get four Biovisionaries and you win!
Cast Polymorphous Rush on your Biovisionary and go nuts!
Artisan of Forms + Biovisionary + Twinflame = GG!
What’s the deck missing? Ways to ensure you actually find a Biovisionary to get the party started. I guess we could Commune with the Gods or some such, but
I wish we could do better. We probably actually also need a backup plan.
Besides Progenitor Mimic for value.