So, Journey into Nyx is pretty sweet, right? I agree and I am excited to break down each and every card next week in a full, week-long set review. I am even adding a little functionality to the review this time around by including different ratings for sealed and draft, rather than trying to lump them together in one awkward number at times.
That all happens next week though, after we have all gotten a chance to play with some of the cards at the prerelease. This week, I wanted to set all of that up a little bit. Sometimes, it can be difficult to read a set review because each card is focused in on a micro level. "This creature is great because it has bloodthirst 2," does not tell you how good bloodthirst is as a mechanic, so you don't really know that bloodthirst 2 makes a creature great. How easy is bloodthirst to trigger? Etc. Today, I wanted to guide you through the inner workings of Journey into Nyx.
I think that covering the major mechanics of the set is a must here. We will of course talk about the new mechanics that have not been seen in the block thus far, but we also want to talk about the ways in which bestow, monstrosity, and heroic have changed. Beyond that, we want to look for any major synergies not featured on keywords, such as tribal ones. With that said, let us begin!
I wanted to start with this because it is a brand new keyword and it has some nice implications that come with it. Next week, you will hear me reference heroic quite often when talking about this mechanic and that is because of its natural synergy there. This will not trigger heroic of course, but more importantly, this will trigger all of your heroic triggers with a single card. Cards like Dauntless Onslaught have been key at letting you get extra value from heroic triggers and this is like having that on just about every instant and sorcery you want to be playing.
This is not a mechanic that necessarily rewards you for having more of it though, so taking one strive card does not mean you should necessarily take another strive card highly. It does correlate with wanting to do that, as strive cards tend to enjoy Heroic cards, so having more strive could be nice, but is not necessarily synergistic.
It is usually going to be best to maximize strive abilities for multiple targets. While each card has an effect for just the base cost, most of these effects are a little weak with only a single target. There will definitely be plenty of times you need to fire off without Striving, but if you can plan for it, go for more value as it will generate more card advantage in the long run.
It is unfortunate that you have to draft strive in the first pack of cards, as it would be nice to know what heroic creatures you have before committing to these. Because that is not the case, you should take good strive cards highly and then if you go heroic, it is a bonus, but do not take bad strive cards highly anticipating being heroic, as it is too big of a gamble.
Strive segways nicely into heroic, so let's jump over there. Heroic is still the same old input-output formatting without too much special going on. There are some specific cards to call out, such as a red one-drop that actually gets bigger as its trigger, but for the most part, you are getting the same sorts of things we are used to.
Strive does increase the rate at which you can take heroic creatures though. One of the most common problems to have in a heroic deck is to have too many heroic creatures and not enough enablers and strive mends that by enabling multiple heroic guys with just a single enabler. This makes the value of creatures that were weak without triggering, such as Setessan Oathsworn, go up.
This one is a game changer. At least if we are looking at the set through a limited lens. This is a mechanic that directly rewards you for casting enchantments. That means that the value of an enchantment, regardless of which set it comes in, goes way up. Go back to Scars of Mirrodin and imagine that Metalcraft was not a mechanic until New Phyrexia. The value of all those weaker artifacts would have gone up dramatically because having artifacts was good, regardless of what they did. Constellation is basically doing the same thing.
You will probably not go as far as to play completely dead enchantments just to trigger constellation, but things like cantrip enchantments shoot up as they provide free triggers which can be very powerful. Playing something like Nylea's Presence to draw two cards or give something +2/+2 until end of turn makes its value go up, which means you are not going to see them come as late in packs, so plan accordingly.
Constellation also increases the desire for maindeck Disenchant effects. If people are playing more enchantments, then there are more likely to be solid targets for your removal when you do draw it. This doesn't mean you are always going to start maindecking Fade into Antiquity or anything, but you probably will do so more often than you currently do.
The marquee mechanic of the block returns again for much of what you know. For the most part, you are looking at enchantment creatures with bestow costs more than their actual casting cost. Constellation increases the value of enchantments a little more, so bestow is naturally more supported in that way, but for the most part, you won't even notice a change.
There is one key difference with bestow in this set though and that is that you will occasionally be bestowing on to opposing creatures. Thus far, there has really only been reason to bestow upon your own guy, but with cards like Mind Control and Falter being turned into bestow creatures, that restriction has been lifted.
This doesn't mean you will always be targeting opposing creatures, but it is worth keeping in mind. The most important thing to remember with this style of bestow, is to check your enchantment count often and to be sure to count your enchantments on the other side of the board. It might seem like a silly thing to pay attention to, but it's a mistake everyone has made before.
Inspired shows up again in a highly diminished role from what we saw in Born of the Gods. That is in terms of cards with the ability themselves at least. You will also find a slew of new ways to untap guys at instant speed that will make the mechanic a little better. This is especially important because the number of ways to untap things in Theros was not the highest, but with Journey replacing a pack of Theros, you now have more manipulation for your own creatures, making inspire a little better.
In general, it is still going to be risky to build around inspire, as the mechanic does not inherently reward you for drafting a lot of it, but some nice synergies from Journey should help the deck out regardless.
There are only two cards that really impact the minotaur tribal deck. The first is an expensive spell that generates two different Minotaurs. Normally this would not even be worth mentioning, but with Kragma Warcaller as one of the current lords. If you are a fan of Minotaurs, you lose out on one pack of Rageblood Shamans and Kragma Warcallers with only the chance to get the uncommon deathtouch lord. That seems like a downgrade, but at least Minotaurs got something to keep their heads above water.
I mention this one only because someone would have gotten upset in the comments if I didn't. While Centaurs do have a new lord out, unless you take it very early on, there is no other synergy for Centaurs. This means that when you first pick Pheres-Band Warchief, go nuts taking whatever Centaurs you want, but there is no further synergy there. If you do not draw your one-of rare, your deck is just a bunch of unrelated creatures.
This is one I have been keeping my eye on while looking at constructed sweetness in Journey into Nyx, but the limited side of the mechanic has gotten a big help as well. Thus far, if you want to empty things into your graveyard, Satyr Wayfinder and Commune with the Gods are the only positive EV cards you are playing. There are other options like Returned Centaur, but they are not particularly good.
All of that is a shame because there are some very good cards that key off of the yard being full, such as Nemesis of Mortals, Graverobber Spider, and then some rares like Nighthowler if you are lucky enough. Journey into Nyx introduces a lot more graveyard friendly cards, probably to walk down the aisle with Pharika, who is also featured in this set.
Cards like Kruphix's Insight and Nyx Weaver provide an entire new crew to work on your graveyard and both of those cards are very much maindeck material. Even small additions like Returned Reveler, can really help the deck out, considering it would love a defensive two-drop that shared synergy with the shell.
Graveyard synergy decks have basically only been a thing when they randomly come together and even then, most people do not isolate them as graveyard decks, but instead as having some graveyard synergy. Hopefully, with Journey into Nyx, the deck will have enough tools to work with and will finally be a consistent and viable archetype to move into.Wrap Up
Alright, as I mentioned before, next week will be our full set review where we take a look at each and every card in Journey into Nyx. I will be evaluating each card for constructed, draft, and sealed so come by and check that out if you want to know my take on the set, or just some limited pointers for your release events.
This set is one of the most exciting I have seen in quite some time. Constructed looks like it will be shaken up quite a bit with a whole heck of a lot of new additions to it, which is always exciting as a brewer. The limited format basically stays right on track there as well as I am very excited to draft with all of these cards and get a feel for the new environment.
Pro Tour Journey into Nyx is just around the corner which puts a bullseye on this set even further. Block Constructed, which is on display, will likely shape the future of Standard, so it will be interesting to see what people come up with. Speaking of the Pro Tour, I should get back to brewing. Until next week, thanks for reading!