Nissa, Steward of Elements and Bounty of the Luxa

Well, Amonkhet has been fully revealed. Today I’m going to take a look at the final revealed planeswalker, Nissa, Steward of Elements, along with another rare from the set that happens to fall within the same colors.

Nissa, Steward of Elements marks the third planeswalker for Amonkhet and confirms what everyone kind of knew from the lack of his face on the booster packaging: Nicol Bolas will be making his appearance in Hour of Devastation.

Nevertheless, Nissa is pretty revolutionary for a planeswalker for one very specific reason, which I’m sure everyone has figured out. She’s the first planeswalker with an X in her casting cost, which is just absurd. Well, I suppose it’s just as absurd as her abilities allow it to be. If she had an X in her casting cost and one her abilities said, “look at X cards in target player’s hand,” well, that would be a little underwhelming.

Thankfully, with a reusable “ultimate,” Nissa’s scalability is relevant.

+2: Scry 2.

Well, that’s just fine. It’s not exciting and doesn’t provide card advantage, but if you start Nissa at, say, 5 loyalty, this puts her up to 7 immediately, which is great for ultimating her or keeping her alive. Any planeswalker with a +2 ability has a kind of pseudo-protection.

0: Look at the top card of your library. If it’s a land card or a creature card with converted mana cost less than or equal to the number of loyalty counters on Nissa, Steward of Elements, you may put that card onto the battlefield.

Of course, this gets better the more loyalty Nissa has. It’s safe to say that if you spend 6 mana on Nissa, putting her loyalty at 4 counters, most cards you hit will be castable in most decks. Although, if you’re playing a U/G deck, you might have a few more expensive cards for obvious reasons.

Often this is going to at least give you a free Rampant Growth, considering nearly half your deck should be lands, which is still a free card and what I want from most planeswalker abilities. Consider that you can play Nissa as early as turn 3 to start taking advantage of this interaction, and it seems a lot stronger.

-6: Untap up to two target lands you control. They become 5/5 Elemental creatures with flying and haste until end of turn. They’re still lands.

Here’s the sweet spot. While most ultimates give you an emblem or a game-winning effect, Nissa’s is actually kind of unassuming. If they have flying blockers—perhaps a stream of them made by Drake Haven—it becomes a little hard to break through, and you likely don’t want to invest 6 loyalty into this ability.

But when that isn’t the case, this is basically 10 damage in the air. If you’re able to activate it a second time—not impossible in the late game when she has an X in her converted mana cost—it should be game over.

I don’t know. Nissa is like no planeswalker we’ve ever seen. Her abilities are unique, and they all seem good on their merits. I’m looking forward to trying her out for sure, and finding out if she can hold her own in a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar world.

But Nissa isn’t the only U/G card I want to talk about today!

Ah, blue-green Phyrexian Arena.

Well… kind of.

Cards that say “remove [all of a specific thing]” when there should only ever be one of that thing are always funny to me. Like sure, I get that we could proliferate and add a second flood counter, but saying “all” here just makes it feel like multiple counters are some common thing. They’re not! Come on Magic, you know you mean “one”!

This card is just wonderful. The only downside is that it costs 4 mana, instead of, like, 3, or 2. I don’t know. I guess it could be free. That would be better too. But instead it costs the same as Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

Basically this card breaks down as alternatively giving you 3 mana or drawing an extra card every turn, both of which are pretty sweet rewards for no additional cost. If you manage to play this on turn 4 (or 3 with any sort of ramp), you’re looking at drawing an extra card on turn 5, then adding 3 mana on turn 6, leaving you with 9 total mana. That’s a good amount to have and only 1 shy of Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger.

Recently, blue’s card draw has come in the form of planeswalkers that can be killed or attacked directly. As an enchantment, this card is a little tougher to deal with. Even the new green cards, like Manglehorn and Dissenter’s Deliverance only hit artifacts, leaving the Bounty unscathed. Keep in mind these also stack, and there’s no issue with having multiples in play, unlike planeswalkers. There also isn’t really a drawback, like if you were to have multiple Phyrexian Arenas in play. I keep trying to find a downside to this card, and all I’m coming up with is the fact that it costs 4 mana and 2 colors.

The more I look at Amonkhet, the more I think blue-green is going to be the home of a control deck, with green being the better supplemental color over a more traditional white or black. Only time will tell of course, but I have a few more spicy opinions coming up in my Top 8 cards for Amonkhet. So keep your eyes peeled for that later in the week, and thanks for reading!

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