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Raging Levine – Journey into Nyx Commander Set Review

Hey folks! It’s that time of year—flowers are blooming, birds are singing, the pollen count is high. You all know what that means—it’s time for the third set of the block! I’m writing this with the prerelease looming this coming weekend, but once this is published, we’ll be less than a week from the actual set release. You’re probably wondering what to look for in terms of Commander cards out of the new set, and I’m happy to report that Journey into Nyx doesn’t disappoint. So why wait? Let’s just start talking about it!

Ajani’s Presence

This is an okay anti-wrath card, although I’d certainly prefer something like Ghostway for that in terms of mana savings. I think this shines in terms of the scalability that multikicker strive provides. I don’t expect this to be incredibly sought after, but I think that a creature-focused white deck could find a use for it when trying to win in combat.

Banishing Light

While it doesn’t come equipped with the rules-related trickery options that cards like Oblivion Ring and Journey to Nowhere possess, Banshing Light is a card I expect to see in countless decklists going forward. Make no mistake, this is a staple. Anything that can take out a nonland permanent for a great length of time (never say never, though!) is valuable. I don’t actually have anything interesting to say about this card—it’s just kind of obvious that it’s very good.

Dictate of Heliod

Now here’s an anthem I can get behind. I’m often not a fan of anthem effects in Commander, as I find them relatively unimpressive when we’re dealing with long games, large numbers of players, and enormous life totals, but a +2/+2 boost with the option to fire it off during an important combat and have it stick around (unlike the bonuses from most tricks) is something I would play in a white-heavy tokens deck or a mono-white aggro build that focuses on a widespread rush rather than just commander damage. I encourage you to save this for crucial combats rather than just dropping it on turn 5—after all, it could win you the game outright.

Eidolon of Rhetoric

If you really need another Rule of Law/Arcane Laboratory, then fine, but this being a Horned Turtle and not just an enchantment actually makes it worse.

Godsend

The singleton nature of this format hurts this card (although it does occasionally have splash damage if two decks share a few cards) and I think beyond that it’s not very impressive. Nobody ever blocks anymore, and if they did, who would block something equipped with this? Well-built decks pack enough hate to get rid of this. Unless you’re playing an Elspeth theme deck, get a new sword. (I guess the Magic multiverse is like Westeros—they just don’t make swords like they used to.)

Launch the Fleet

I just think this will be awesome in token decks. Nothing complicated here, just a one-turn Militia’s Pride that happens to not care whether the creatures you’re targeting are tokens. This is a nice way to double up that can be further helped by Doubling Season/Parallel Lives/Rhys the Redeemed.

Phalanx Formation

Again, creature-heavy white decks may be interested in this as a way to kill an unsuspecting player. I’d rather have Dictate of Heliod, though.

Quarry Colossus

I actually like this card quite a bit. I think it’s really important to have removal that doesn’t simply drop opponents’ creatures in the graveyard, as the graveyard is often easily accessible. It doesn’t hurt that this comes with a 5/6 attached to the effect. Honestly, this will only ever be good in mono-white, but I won’t be sad about using this to put away a commander or indestructible creature for 7+ turns. (Bonus bucks if you can shuffle their library!)

Skybind

I’m not really seeing the appeal of this one. Maybe if you’re playing some bizarre Astral Slide-type deck it would be great, but I don’t see 5 mana being a good investment for this effect initially.

Dakra Mystic

I like this one because it enables us to make awesome choices with our opponents’ stuff. This is very much a political tool, although as I’ve said so many time, dropping cards into opponents’ graveyards is often a bad idea. At least this goes into our Matrix theme deck—will you take the red pearl or the blue pearl?

Daring Thief

This would be cool if I thought it would ever get through or untap or anything (or if it could swap lands.)

Interpret the Signs

This just costs so dang much. Also, it’s a sorcery. I don’t think this is going to be fantastic for us.

Polymorphous Rush

If you can’t play Mirrorweave because you don’t play white, I suppose this is all right, but I’m not particularly sold on it.

Scourge of Fleets

A great option for mono-blue decks that need to clear the board. It lets you keep your creatures, unlike spells like Evacuation, and if you play cards like Ghostly Flicker, you’ll be able to make this effect happen more than once. I expect this to be pretty good—not Cyclonic Rift good, but good.

Agent of Erebos

The stars have aligned in the form of a fantastic piece of graveyard removal. This gets one opponent and then happens to do more once another enchantment hits. I honestly wish it wasn’t a creature at all, but I’ll take what I can get.

Dictate of Erebos

Excuse me? A Grave Pact with flash and a slightly less color-restrictive mana cost? This seems totally fair and reasonable. Yep, fair and reasonable. I wouldn’t even bother playing it—that’s how fair it is. Just mail yours to ChannelFireball care of me and I’ll dispose of them for you. (Especially your foils.)

Okay, just kidding, this card is insane. Grave Pact did not need flash. I expect to be alternately incredibly ecstatic and incredibly frustrated that this card exists for the rest of my life.

Doomwake Giant

This feels a lot like Noxious Ghoul, except that enchantments are a little harder to come by than zombies. If you’re playing an enchantment-heavy black deck, then a) this card is pretty good and b) I don’t really understand what you’re doing.

Extinguish All Hope

As I said when this card was spoiled, I have literally no hope for this card whatsoever. Thanks a lot for a card worse than Life’s Finale!

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed

Okay, fine. I think I would play Whispersilk Cloak, Rogue’s Passage, and many similar cards in order to just get this creature through. Otherwise how will I ever finish my Trinidad James theme deck? (All gold, everything!) Seriously, though, this is a pretty slow engine for exiling creatures. I’d much rather do almost anything else.

Ritual of the Returned

So the saving grace of this card is that it’s an instant. On the one hand, you don’t get the creature, but on the other hand, you get something big (hopefully) at instant speed that doesn’t suddenly die like something from Makeshift Mannequin. I still think it’s pretty bad, though.

Silence the Believers

Strive is such a weird keyword (thematically) on such an evil-themed card, but ignoring that, I’m excited to cast it. Decks that play Cabal Coffers, Magus of the Coffers, Bubbling Muck, Nirkana Revenant, Crypt Ghast, and similar will be able to work wonders with this card.

Spiteful Blow

Sure, there are other cards with similar effects, but do you not want to Falcon Punch someone’s enormous creature and their Kessig Wolf Run or other crazy land? I know you do.

Worst Fears

Are you better at recurring sorceries than you are at recurring artifacts? Do you want to frustrate your friends endlessly with a new and differently annoying card? Are you the type of person who… okay, you get it, I don’t think there’s anything fun about Mindslaver-type effects, but if you enjoy them and your playgroup doesn’t mind, having another one can’t hurt, right?

Cyclops of Eternal Fury

Looks like this guy gave up mad rushes and the colors green and black. At the same time, he bulked up with enchantoroids and asked for a salary increase. I’m a fan of Madrush Cyclops already, so I’m not sad to see another one make an appearance. Of course, if you’re in the market for effects like this in mono-Red, you’d do better with Urabrask the Hidden.

Dictate of the Twin Gods

Seems fine as long as you’re the one doing the damage, right? Again, flash and a less restrictive mana cost make this better than Furnace of Rath most of the time, but unlike Dictate of Erebos, I don’t see this one being a staple for years to come.

Harness by Force

In Cube I think this card is great, because the scaling from Act of Treason to Insurrection is really important. In Commander I’d rather just have Insurrection all the time.

Prophetic Flamespeaker

If you can give this fiery fellow some help sneaking through the defenses your opponents put up, I think you’ll be very happy with the results. Note that this lets you play land cards (if you haven’t already used your land drop for the turn.) As long as you’re willing to spend mana on what you dig up as opposed to what’s in your hand, you can go through a decent portion of your deck if you hit with this creature a lot (and have a lot of mana on hand.)

Spawn of Thraxes

As with all of the cards in this cycle that I’ve mentioned, this will be good if you have a lot of mountains. It’s not particularly complicated, now is it?

Twinflame

If you have a lot of creatures with ETB effects (see the card we just looked at!) you will enjoy making this work. Obviously attacking someone with a lot of extra dragons or whatever is spicy, but it’s much spicier if you actually get full value out of it with the copies entering the battlefield. Warstorm Surge, anyone?

Consign to Dust

I covered this in my last article, but I will say I still expect this to be quite good.

Eidolon of Blossoms

If you’re in full-on Verduran Enchantress mode, I can see this being strong. I’m not an enormous fan of that archetype—in fact, I often find it to be non-interactive and frustrating—but I do think it could be fun. Pick up the buy-a-box promo—it looks great!

Heroes’ Bane

I’d rather player Chameleon Colossus most of the time, but if you’re running a deck based on cards that care about +1/+1 counters (perhaps a Skullbriar deck) then I can understand playing this. Sure, having the doubling be permanent sounds way better than the aforementioned changeling, but consider the lifespan of the average threat like this in Commander and you’ll see why I might like a discount as well as some protection.

Hydra Broodmaster

This, however, is a hydra I can get behind. Whether you’re doubling tokens with Rhys the Redeemed or making copies with Trostani, Hydra Broodmaster plays the role of Gelatinous Genesis #2 extremely well. (Do remember, however, that it really is Gelatinous Genesis #2 in many ways—don’t expect the 7/7 for 6 with no evasion to be as scary as the army it brings with it!)

Nessian Game Warden

If you’re really toolboxy and looking for ways to dig up creatures without going into full-on tutor mode, this could be reasonable. I don’t really see the in-between aspect, though—either you’re willing to Worldly Tutor or you’re not, right? I’d pick up a Fauna Shaman and be done with it, personally.

Reviving Melody

You can’t ignore the 2-for-1 aspect of cards like this, Grim Discovery, and so on. Enchantments and creatures often die, and it’s often better to play cards like this when you don’t have redundant threats or engine parts available (either due to budget constraints or because the cards you play are one-of-a-kind.)

Setessan Tactics

If you’re in the right position in a long game, this will be a one-sided wrath more often than not. I encourage you to play this in basically every creature-focused, green-heavy deck you play. You are unlikely to be disappointed. (Note that you can also give opponents’ creatures the bonus if you’re interested in that for some reason.)

Solidarity of Heroes

I think this goes in the same deck Heroes’ Bane goes in, which, to be honest, is kind of strange. Imagine the horror as your Skullbriar gets way too big to handle and stays that way forever! I know I’m interested. It’s very much a niche card, but imagine the damage it could do on something like a Fathom Mage

Ajani, Mentor of Heroes

I’m never that excited about planeswalkers in Commander, and this is no exception. Even the ultimate is unimpressive in a format where you can be killed by commander damage. I’d sideline this Ajani for now.

Athreos, God of Passage

What an ability, and moreover, what a mana cost! I like that this lets you target an opponent—this way it doesn’t become a political “Us Vs. Athreos” game where people are deciding who is going to pay the life this time. You can also use the ability politically—if the creature that died is important in taking out a bulked-up opponent, you might be able to get a different player to let you have it back. I expect this card to be a very popular commander.

Fleetfeather Cockatrice

The more I think about this, the more I think I would really rather have Winged Coatl.

Iroas, God of Victory

This is also going to be a popular commander. 7 power is great—it puts this in the 3-hit wonder class—and the built-in Goblin War Drums and Dolmen Gate++ are going to make this a fantastic choice for Boros players who want to be turning cards sideways all game. (It will likely make games a bit shorter. Thanks, Iroas!)

Keranos, God of Storms

This seems awesome. I don’t even care if it ever becomes a creature—the ability (which I affectionately refer to as “Howling Bolt”) is my new favorite thing for U/R. I’m excited to play this alongside library manipulation methods—I cannot stress how fun it will be to scry while playing Keranos. Just don’t spend too much time spinning your Top and everything will be fine.

Kruphix, God of Horizons

Been there, wrote that article.

Nyx Weaver

No one part of this card is particularly impressive, but as a whole package it’s pretty good. I’d play it in a graveyard-focused deck like Karador (I do have all these judge promos…) or The Mimeoplasm just to further accelerate my self-mill. I think it fits better in Karador since blue is just so good at that part of the strategy. Such a pity it has to exile itself, but I understand why.

Pharika, God of Affliction

This is my least favorite of the new Gods. Why should they get the snake? Why shouldn’t I get the snake? Stupid Snake.

Revel of the Fallen God

I really think this is only good if you’re copying it. There are so many ways to copy it, though—Riku of Two Reflections and Wort, the Raidmother come to mind immediately, and Reiterate won’t hurt either. Otherwise, I don’t really see the appeal of paying 7 mana for 8 power.

Chariot of Victory

If you really need this card, I think you’re playing too many bad creatures. I’d rather play something that gives unique abilities, protection, and power and toughness. Weird—it’s like there are already cards that fit this description!

Hall of Triumph

I already said I don’t like anthems, right?

Mana Confluence

A great 5-color land. Again, I don’t have much to say here since it’s so obvious that this is good for heavily multicolor decks.

Temple of Epiphany, Temple of Malady

These are temples. They’re just like the other temples but with different mana. The other temples were good. So are these.

Okay! So there’s definitely a smattering of good cards here—not enough to fill two articles, but then again, I was a bit more selective in what I bothered to mention at all this time. (I didn’t even talk about all the birds! There really are quite a few!) Next time we’ll get started talking about the new Gods and where they lead us in deckbuilding. See you then!

-Eric “Raging” Levine
ericlevine@channelfireball.com
@RagingLevine on Twitter
www.facebook.com/RagingLevineMTG
www.twitch.tv/Psychatrog

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