Every spoiler season, I start out skeptical. “Yeah, sure guys, new cards are being printed. Yep, they’re pretty good.” Slowly, my love of awesomeness wins me over, and I start brewing. By the time prerelease weekend comes around, I’m a ten-year-old at his first tournament, giddily cracking packs.
The upcoming set has me in worse shape than usual. Return to Ravnica features a ton of sweet rares, to the point where picking up a playset of everything is tempting. I don’t think anyone’s surprised or upset to see the shocklands return, and the popularity of the last Ravnica has players and dealers buzzing that this might be the best selling block of all time.
This is a clear winner in all formats. In Vintage, Tarmogoyf and Delver of Secrets are both cards, but Decay’s real strength is in its ability to kill overpowered artifacts and the occasional Oath of Druids.
In Standard, Abrupt Decay’s versatility, as well as the current abundance of fixing, should help it see more play than Smother did the second time around, especially since we have Murder instead of Doom Blade in the core set. Some form of Delver deck will exist, and this card means we’ll no longer have to groan when the opponent flips a piece of countermagic on turn two.
In Legacy, decks that are already playing GB have no reason not to run this card, as the bulk of threats in the format are aggressively costed. Like Krosan Grip, it can one-shot a Counterbalance, and there’s not much the opponent can do about it. Still, it won’t replace other removal options completely. For example, Nic Fit still needs some number of Maelstrom Pulse to deal with Jace, the Mind Sculptor. White decks will still run the cheaper Swords to Plowshares.
If your RUG opponent is counting on riding one threat to victory while protecting it with countermagic, Abrupt Decay will ruin his day.
How good it is against UW depends on the deck you’re piloting. BUG Tempo decks will love a card that can kill Stoneforge Mystic without being countered, or a Batterskull Germ if the game goes late, or a Counterbalance against Miracles. Slower Pernicious Deed decks might end up boarding the card out.
This card is better than it looks. I remember being impressed with Relic Barrier back in the original Mirrodin block. In the early game, it stopped damage from random dudes. Post-Wrath effect, it shut off the next threat. Because of this, having on the board disruption gave me more value than a card like Oxidize might have.
In this case, I think Martial Law’s biggest competition is Oblivion Ring, which, while seeing only fringe play, is powerful enough to be considered Legacy viable. While the less powerful removal spell, Oblivion Ring’s versatility should give it the nod almost every time.
Good or bad, this card is interesting. Note that, after casting a spell, you have to retain priority if you want to reliably exile it, or your opponent can simply pass priority back. Cards that trigger on casting, as with storm, ripple, and cascade, can still be exiled for value. I asked a judge, and he confirmed that you can exile the storm copies as well. To my knowledge, Flusterstorm and Grapeshot are the only two of these that could fit in an aggressive Nivmagus-style deck. Dredging is a reasonable way to get a critical mass of excess flashback spells, but this casting cost and starting body don’t fit into a deck that abuses the dredge mechanic.
Starting as a 1/2, one pump will make it a 3/4, which puts it out of Lightning Bolt range. In Legacy, four toughness is a big deal, and lets it attack through Nimble Mongoose and Wild Nacatl. Plus, it’s a blue card, which means it pitches to Force of Will.
Legacy superstar Mark Sun pointed out on Twitter that exiling a card that’s going to get countered anyway (like Force of Will in a counter battle), is a terrific way to pump this guy. Going even further than that, any spell that could end up dead is a fine card to pitch. There have been plenty of games where I drew a Thoughtseize when I needed a card that could impact the board, and Nivmagus’s ability to turn those would-be dead cards into value is, well, valuable.
This was my first instinct:
I threw this pile against the gauntlet, and it was found wanting. Nivmagus has some of the benefits of Tarmogoyf—it’s huge and ends the game quickly—but comes with new weaknesses. A nice thing about Tarmogoyf is that, while you can manipulate its size, the card is generally easy to play with. Cast a Ponder, add a sorcery to the ‘yard, give my ‘Goyf +1/+1. You’re going to have some hands where Nivmagus is the only real threat, and figuring out how much to commit can be tricky.
I’m glad I tested this brew, as I learned a few things. Free removal, like Submerge and Snuff Out, combine well with Grapeshot to clear the opponent’s board. Flusterstorm and Nivmagus are best friends, as often you’ll have extra storm copies, and you can target your own spells for some dramatic mid-combat pumpage.
Using those lessons, this was my next attempt:
This deck tested much better, as Nivmagus fits the idea of punching through efficient damage before finishing with burn. I had a number of games go something like turn one Goblin Guide, attack. Turn two Nivmagus, attack. Daze the opponent’s play before Flusterstorming the Daze. Exile the three Flusterstorms, letting the Daze resolve but giving Nivmagus +6/+6. The explosiveness feels like the old Invigorate + Berserk Stompy decks, but you get to play awesomeness like Brainstorm and Force of Will instead of Invigorate.
I like how Fireblast + Grapeshot can generate lots of damage while clearing a clogged board. Maybe this deck can afford to run more cantrips, which chain together to build storm count reliably. I tested Rift Bolt with Storm in mind, but in practice I never found a good time to suspend the card, and it was promptly cut for real burn spells.
A downside to this deck is that Nivmagus is terrible if you’re out of gas. Imagine any burn spell off the top wins the game, but instead you draw an almost vanilla 1/2. Snapcaster Mage, which the card is largely replacing, wins those situations. Currently, I think the added explosiveness is worth it, but tournament play might change my mind.
Going forward, I want to test a few more efficient ways of increasing storm, from Gitaxian Probe to Lava Dart. Dropping to 17 lands is a realistic option. If anyone reading this is searching for an explosive aggro deck for the upcoming Invitational, I recommend trying out this variant.
It’s too bad this guy doesn’t have hexproof, or he’d be one of the best creatures to cheat in with a Sneak Attack. The Wurm still has a respectable body, and leaves enough value behind to finish the job next turn, but the vulnerability to Swords to Plowshares is too great. A potential sideboard option, but I doubt it’s worth the slots.
Take that, aggro control! While harder to cast than Wrath of God, and still letting creatures regenerate, some decks will prefer this. For one, it pitches to Force of Will, which makes it slightly more main-deckable. For another, it can’t be Dazed by RUG or Merfolk. UW Stoneblade should play 1-2 of these between the main and sideboard. UW Miracles, on the other hand, is better off relying on Terminus.
As an advocate of blue decks and [card thrun, the last troll]Thrun[/card] to beat said blue decks, I love seeing this card printed.
Can you imagine going turn one Noble Hierarch, turn two Lyev (targeting a Dryad Arbor, mana Elf, or [card goblin lackey]Lackey[/card]), into a turn three [card umezawa's jitte]Jitte[/card] + equip? That line seems almost unbeatable. On the draw, detaining an opposing Knight of the Reliquary seems like a fine way to get closer to parity.
Death and Taxes might splash blue for this card. Lyev and either Stonecloaker or Flickerwisp is nasty, and very much in the range of what that deck is trying to accomplish. I actually wish it was legendary, as that would open it up to Karakas abuse.
Casting it against a [card show and tell]Show and Told[/card] [card emrakul, the aeons torn]Emrakul[/card] isn’t the worst, and gives you another turn to find a real answer (Karakas, [card jace, the mind sculptor]Jace[/card]).
It reads “nonland permanent,” but I don’t see it being applicable against most noncreature permanents in Legacy. Against [card sensei's divining top]Top[/card], [card umezawa's jitte]Jitte[/card], or Aether Vial, they can just use it in response and then again on your next turn. It might be great at pressuring planeswalkers, though, since it stalls them while putting an evasive body onto the table.
A cute trick is targeting the opponent’s Top in order to blow it up with something else, say a Qasali Pridemage.
Thus, the question becomes whether or not this is something a white deck wants. Personally, I think the base stats are too underwhelming, but the Familiar does have some synergy with both [card thalia, guardian of thraben]Thalia[/card] and Wasteland. I wouldn’t be surprised to be proven wrong on this one.
I rode Wild Mongrel to my first Grand Prix Top 8, but haven’t had a chance to use him lately. Mongrel is a synergistic, underpowered card. To run it, what you’re doing has to be good enough to make up for the weak base stats.
Lotleth is a Wild Mongrel that’s been juicing on Tarmogoyf blood. Not only does this Zombie Troll have some killer artwork, but it also has a high, build-around-me power level. Lotleth + Dryad Arbor is amusing, and even more so with a Life from the Loam. Squee, Goblin Nabob used to see a lot of play as a recurring card advantage engine, and could see play again if there was a good enough reason.
Lotleth makes a strong case for green in the Zombies deck, replacing white. Discarding a Gravecrawler and being a Zombie itself to rebuy is awesome, and even binning a Bloodghast puts a lot of power onto the board for little investment.
This deck is good. I don’t mean the archetype, as Sam already proved that in GP Atlanta, but rather this version (which I’m considering for the Invitational). Lotleth adds a few turn-four kills to the deck and more reach in the form of trample. Regenerate: B is important, because opponents can’t Wasteland your Bayou to keep you off it. The more I play with this Troll, the more I realize how powerful it is. Don’t underestimate it!
This card makes me want to brew with Vengevines and Dryad Arbors. A Green Sun’s Zenith shell means we can reliably find Lotleth (as well as best-creature-in-the-game Scavenging Ooze) which in turn means we can dedicate more slots to sweet interactions like Squee.
I would keep writing, but my thoughts are degenerating into long strings of “omgomgomg.”