Welcome to the start of my Journey into Nyx set reviews! Like last time, I’ll be going over each card for Limited this week, and follow that up with a Constructed review next week. That lets me get the reviews out before the prerelease, while also giving me more time to think about how Constructed will be impacted.

Also like last time, I’ll be using this ratings system:

Ratings System

5.0: The best of the best. (Pack RatUmezawa’s JitteGideon Jura)

4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (Polukranos, World Eater. Hypersonic Dragon)

4.0: Good rare or top tier uncommon. (Phalanx Leader. Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage. Chaos Imps)

3.5: Top tier common or solid uncommon. (Lightning Strike. Nimbus Naiad. Dreg Mangler)

3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Leafcrown Dryad. Essence Scatter)

2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Borderland Minotaur. Dead Reveler)

2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Savage Surge. Omenspeaker. Armory Guard)

1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Pillarfield Ox. Tenement Crasher)

1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Lost in a Labyrinth. Pay No Heed)

0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Survey the Wreckage. Celestial Purge)

0.0: Completely unplayable. (Search the City. Pyxis of Pandemonium)

Let’s get to it!

Aegis of the Gods

Limited: 2.0

The main thing shielding this from getting cut is that it’s a 2/1 for 2 mana, and those tend to do all right for themselves. There aren’t all that many effects that target players, and this doesn’t even stop Gray Merchant, so if you aren’t looking for a Bronze Sable (that happens to be an enchantment), there’s nothing wrong with passing on this.

Ajani’s Presence

Limited: 3.0

Just about all of the strive combat tricks are pretty solid, and this is no exception. The base ability to pay W to save a creature is a good one, and the possibility of a nice 2-for-1 (or better) is exciting. As I’ve said many, many times, cards that are flexible and powerful are exactly what you want, and this scores well in both categories.

Akroan Mastiff

Limited: 2.5

Normally, this would be closer to a 2 than a 2.5, but Theros is a world overrun by giant monsters, thanks to both bestow and monstrous (and the stray God wandering around). You don’t want too many slow tappers, but the first is going to be the top dog.

Armament of Nyx

Limited: 2.5

The split card of Muzzle and Battle Mastery is interesting, though it will miss more often than you’d like, as many of the cards you want to Muzzle will randomly be enchantment creatures. I still like the card, but would recommend against relying on it as your only removal spell.

Banishing Light

Limited: 4.0

Sending anything into oblivion is still very powerful, though it makes me sad that I can no longer break Magic Online. Even though I’d recommend taking this just about anytime you can, it’s like an artifact in Mirrodin block: your opponents will have more ways to destroy it, so keep that in mind when attacking into a bunch of untapped mana.

Dawnbringer Charioteers

Limited: 4.5

This is less far away from Baneslayer Angel than it looks, and as soon as it gets targeted by anything, good luck racing it. Even if by some chance your opponent doesn’t have a way to target it, it’s still a 2/4 flying lifelink, which is nothing to scoff at.

Deicide

Limited: 2.5

Usually high Constructed ratings track to high Limited ratings, but this is a case where that breaks down. Deicide is a fine card, but not really different from any other generic enchantment removal spell, so don’t let its power in Constructed make it look more appealing than it really is.

Dictate of Heliod

Limited: 4.5

A permanent Overrun, at instant speed no less? Either one of those qualities would be great, and the combination is nigh-unbeatable. I think I’m safe to just dictate that you should never pass this under any circumstances.

Eagle of the Watch

Limited: 3.0

Vigilance on a 1-toughness creature may look a little odd, but given how many ways there are to make this into a giant threat, it is a very relevant ability. Even if you don’t end up pumping this, it’s still a 2-power flier for three mana, and it will often get an extra attack in before perishing valiantly in combat.

Eidolon of Rhetoric

Limited: 2.0

If you are in the market for a Horned Turtle (which I often am), here you are, in both the literal and rhetorical sense. The ability is mostly flavor text for Limited, but every now and then will make things awkward for someone, and that someone will occasionally be you.

Font of Vigor

Limited: 0.5

While not technically always unplayable, I’d be very surprised if I ever ended up casting this. I’m vigorously opposed to cards that do nothing but gain you life, and this doesn’t even do that at a great rate.

Godsend

Limited: 4.0

Name: 4.5

With the extra points for the clever wordplay in the name, Godsend ends up being one of the more exciting cards in the set. I do like the card, as it makes any creature into a great attacker or blocker, and the fact that it isn’t an enchantment is a big plus. Your opponent now has to deal with each of your creatures or perish, and you are free to move this to a blocker after bashing for 5+ damage. I will caution against losing too much tempo to cards like Retraction Helix or Voyage’s End, as those tend to be great against mana sinks such as this.

Harvestguard Alseids

Limited: 2.5

Unless you have a bunch of flash enchantments lying around, this is an aggressive card on a somewhat defensive body. It offers value through both, so I’m ok with it, but white decks usually have evasion going when they are beating down (which makes the ability here a little less needed).

Lagonna-Band Trailblazer

Limited: 1.5

I played more Kraken Hatchlings than almost anyone, but this is a very different format. There are less cheap 2-3 power creatures and more battlecruisers, which makes an 0/4 way less valuable. Sometimes this will grow to epic proportions (or at least epic toughness), but that still isn’t going to be what white decks are looking for.

Launch the Fleet

Limited: 3.5

While this is a bit of a rich get richer card, it’s still a powerful enough effect that you can legitimately plan games around it. It targets your whole team while doubling the number of creatures you are attacking with, making it a solid addition to most heroic decks. It is less good when you are just dumping all your cards on one creature, but in a deck that aims to diversify its threats it can be a powerful finisher. I also like the combo with Evangel of Heliod, and would recommend picking up an Evangel or two if you have a fleet ready to be launched.

Leonin Iconoclast

Limited: 2.0

The heroic deck doesn’t really want to spend a ton of time with defensive nonsense like this, but it isn’t a catastrophe if you have to play one. There are matchups where it will be great, though the fact that it can’t hit a bestowed creature until the bearer dies is kind of annoying.

Mortal Obstinacy

Limited: 3.0

I actually like this card quite a bit. It’s a cheap heroic enabler that will often trade for a whole card, and the +1/+1 does just enough to make sure the creature can fight past similar-sized blockers without much trouble. At that point, the opponent has to chump and face the same problem next turn or just bite the bullet and let you Seal of Cleansing their best enchantment.

Nyx-Fleece Ram

Limited: 2.0

As much as I’m looking forward to playing this in Constructed, it’s not absurd in a format where creatures routinely have upwards of 6 power (and often more than that). If you ever pick this higher than fifth or so, you are getting fleeced.

Oppressive Rays

Limited: 1.5

While this will often let you slip by a blocker the turn you cast it, I don’t like effects that drop off so much in the late game, and this gives your opponents way too many outs to just put you down a card. It’s also the world’s worst heroic enabler, as you can target your own guy then pay an exorbitant amount of mana to then attack with it.

Oreskos Swiftclaw

Limited: 3.0

There’s not a whole lot to say here; this card is basically the blade.

Phalanx Formation

Limited: 3.5

This card is an interesting Overrun. On the one hand, it doesn’t actually make your small creatures very good, so you need a decent base to work with. On the other hand, the white deck is capable of making some absurd monsters, and any spell which can double target like this goes a long way. I’m leaning towards this being awesome, but really make sure your deck can support it by routinely churning out creatures with 4+ power or you aren’t going to be happy.

Quarry Colossus

Limited: 2.5

As much as I want to give this a “3” and talk about how it’s basically a giant Nekrataal, I can just imagine Ben Stark yelling at me and pointing to the numbers in the top right corner. While this effect (and body) is quite good, cards that cost 7 should never be deemed uncuttable (with exceptions for the odd mythic here and there).

Reprisal

Limited: 3.5

Now this is an appropriate reprint. Reprisal was great when I played during Alliances, offering me the best way of killing Shivan Dragons in my blue/white Djinn deck, and it will be great in Limited now. It’s extremely rare that this will end up missing, and the cards it kills are the ones you really want to kill, plus it even has the archaic anti-regeneration clause that you really only see on reprints these days.

Sightless Brawler

Limited: 2.5

You are in trouble if you have to cut this. Not only are you cutting a very powerful card, you are doing so because you are way too creature-light to be called a proper white deck. Sometimes this will hit the sideboard, but I’d be surprised if it was very often at all. The drawback is very real, and control decks are (kind of) a thing, but overall this lines up very well with what white decks are looking for. Just make sure you do this when it makes sense, because bestowing this on your best creature is just asking to be blown out by a timely removal spell. Also keep in mind that this can stop your opponent from attacking you, though that’s a temporary solution at best.

Skybind

Limited: 1.0

I really didn’t want to read and understand this whole card, but the sacrifices I make for my craft are endless (much like the text on this card). This basically just stops blocking and triggers enter-the-battlefield effects, a combination that falls well short of being worth five mana. It can also knock bestow creatures off (by targeting the wearer), but I’m still not seeing a strong reason to play this. If you play an enchantment every turn, it does let you pressure the opponent, but that just seems too optimistic.

Skyspear Cavalry

Limited: 3.0

This is essentially wearing a giant sign on its back that says “enchant me!” and it will be a big part of decks that are able to meet that demand. Everyone loves things that scale, and this scales very nicely. Worst comes to worst, it’s like a 4/2 flier, which is not a bad fail case at all.

Stonewise Fortifier

Limited: 3.0

A bear with a bonus always invokes good feelings, and this plays its part both early and late. There are a few turns in the middle where it isn’t exciting, but overall it is wise to include this in your deck.

Supply-Line Cranes

Limited: 3.5

Not since Caw-Blade was popular have I seen so many Birds carrying weapons, and I remain unconvinced that this isn’t a callback to that deck in some fashion. It also happens to be a very solid card, with the base being a 3/5 flying creature for five (which is awesome). Being able to distribute the counter opens up a whole range of cool plays, and even if this were just a 3/5 it would be quite strong, so the strict upgrade is nice.

Aerial Formation

Limited: 3.0

Most white decks are going to have a decent amount of targets and enablers for this, and a 2/3 for three is not the worst thing to fall back on if that doesn’t work out. The most confusing thing about this card is why it’s uncommon and not rare, but that just means we get to draft it more often.

Top 3 White Commons

3. Ajani’s Presence
2. Oreskos Swiftclaw
1. Supply-Line Cranes

Supply-Line Cranes stand out (and not just because they are Birds carrying weapons, as was previously mentioned), with the rest of white’s common filling out the curve as we’ve come to expect. What white didn’t get this time was a marquee heroic common, which I’m actually not sad about. Games involving a quick heroic creature are not the most enthralling, and if they happen a little less, well, nothing wrong with that. Swiftclaw is too efficient to not be a high pick, and even though Ajani’s Presence is the most powerful of the other commons, a curve is generally more important than a combat trick (though I could definitely see that switching as I get some drafts in).

Blue

Aerial Formation

Limited: 3.5

Now this is a way to finish the game in style. Giving a bunch of creatures flying and a power boost is going to end a lot of games, especially when Islands team up with Forests, as they often do in this format. This is a high-variance card, and some decks are just going to be completely uninterested, but the power level here is high enough that it will be an early pick. This costing only one mana makes it a legitimate trick early and a cheap defensive play as well, all of which adds up.

Battlefield Thaumaturge

Limited: 3.0

The only reason I want to draft this is to live the dream off Boulderfall, but picking up a nice discount on bounce spells and cards like Sudden Storm is pretty sweet. This also protects itself very nicely, and does all this while still being a reasonably efficient 2-drop.

Cloaked Siren

Limited: 3.5

Finally, someone dares challenge the mighty Breaching Hippocamp, a card I’ve seen (effectively) have flying many times. Cloaked Siren actually flies, and as such is an excellent addition to any blue deck.

Countermand

Limited: 1.0

The second part of this is just flavor text, and paying four mana to counter a spell is not where I want to be. Well, it is where I want to be, but it isn’t where I should be. There are matchups where it’s legitimate to side this in, but the maindeck is not the place it belongs.

Crystalline Nautilus

Limited: 3.5

This has my vote for “card that leads to the coolest plays”, as there are tons of tricks involving bestowing this on your opponent’s creatures and targeting them, which kills the creature and gives you a 4/4. It’s also a fine card to just run out on turn three, though beware the Leonin Snarecaster.

Dakra Mystic

Limited: 3.0

I may be making a mystic here, but I look at this and see a very powerful card (for Limited and Constructed). You are paying the cost of having a 1/1 in your deck, but in return you get to activate it and see who is getting more value, choosing to cancel things when you lose out on the exchange. Clearly that isn’t as good as “U, tap: Draw a card”, but it’s closer to that than both players drawing a card. I wouldn’t be surprised if my estimation of this card goes up as I play with it more.

Daring Thief

Limited: 3.0

It’s a funny paradox that the better targets the Thief has, the more difficult it is to get him to successfully steal them. In a near-empty board, this ability isn’t too exciting, but on a full board you are going to need a trick of some kind to trigger this. It’s still a powerful card, just one that requires jumping through some hoops. Bear in mind that you can give your opponents your bestow enchantments, which doesn’t matter until the creature they are on leaves play, leading to a nice temporary advantage.

Dictate of Kruphix

Limited: 1.0

Unless you are milling the oppponent or end up with a ton of bounce spells, it doesn’t seem like playing this will give you a big edge. I guess a very low-curve deck could take better advantage of this, but I’m still skeptical.

Font of Fortunes

Limited: 2.5

As much as I love Divination and loved Courier’s Capsule, unless you are getting value off playing enchantments specifically this is a little inefficient. It’s not so inefficient that you can’t play, but it won’t always make the cut.

Godhunter Octopus 

Limited: 2.0

If you need a 5/5 for a lot of mana, this fits the bill well enough. The real crime here is that if you cast Whelming Wave and bounce your opponent’s side, this won’t be able to attack. Talk about a flavor disaster.

Hour of Need

Limited: 3.5

I don’t want to fall into the Dragonshift trap, where it looked good but didn’t actually deliver (and was subsequently first-picked at PT San Diego by an unnamed team member), but this gives you the 4/4’s permanently. That seems like a big enough difference that it’s worth the risk, and that combined with the ambush possibilities makes me inclined to assume that this is good.

Hubris

Limited: 3.5

This is not only an excellent card, but it’s an excellent use of a very evocative name. The simple bounce spell has been the best or second best blue common each set so far, so why change that now? This punishes bestow like few other cards do, and I like that it’s no longer completely safe to just slam a bestow card and attack.

Hypnotic Siren

Limited: 4.0

Control Magic in a land of giants is already good, and getting a 1/1 flier when the creature dies is a very nice bonus. Granted, this does cost a lot of mana, but it’s worth it.

Interpret the Signs

Limited: 4.5

Drawing upwards of six cards for only six mana is a deal way too good to pass up, and I don’t know how else you expected me to interpret this! You could also see Thassa’s Bounty as a sign that this effect isn’t actually insane, but do I look like a guy who would give this the (generous) 3 it actually deserves?

Kiora’s Dismissal

Limited: 3.5

Even if you don’t expect to play against bestow every round, I wouldn’t dismiss this out of hand. There are a ton of random enchantment creatures running around, and you can get value out of bouncing your own bestow creatures once they’ve fallen off their original bearer. The possibility of bouncing multiple expensive cards makes me think this is awesome, and even more so once you have your own targets.

Pin to the Earth

Limited: 2.5

This doesn’t stop everything, but it gets close enough, especially for two mana. The fact that this doesn’t take away flying is what’s really bugging me, particularly when you take even a second to look at the art. How could that thing possibly fly while pinned down?

Polymorphous Rush

Limited: 3.5

The only reason this isn’t as absurd as it would be in other formats is how often the best creature on the board is something that’s enchanted, and therefore won’t be copied fully. This does let you get full value from +1/+1 counters, which fits nicely with the heroic theme it promotes, and on some boards this will just end the game immediately. The variance on a card like this is huge, so don’t just focus on the high end when evaluating it.

Pull from the Deep

Limited: 1.5

Working this hard to get a 2 for 1 isn’t the best plan in draft, so I’d leave the going deep to professionals.

Riptide Chimera

Limited: 3.0

There are some decks where this won’t be playable except as an expensive blocker, but in decks where it’s good, it will be awesome. It lets you move your bestow cards around, goes off with cantrip enchantments, and is a giant flier to boot. Esperzoa was always an awesome card, and even though there aren’t as many cheap enchantments as artifacts, this is of similar power level.

Rise of Eagles

Limited: 3.0

Two 2/2’s isn’t exactly a 4/4, but I’ll still take it. As with any expensive card, this doesn’t stack all that well in multiples, but having one to top off the curve is a good idea.

Sage of Hours

Limited: 2.0

While I don’t expect to take many extra turns with this, it’s still a decent heroic creature for the decks that are looking for such things. Going off with this is definitely something I’ll be trying to do when I can, but I won’t pretend it’s the best way to win the game.

Scourge of Fleets

Limited: 4.0

Now this is something worth paying seven for! Bouncing some or all of your opponent’s team and putting a 6/6 onto your side is a deal for only seven mana, and I can’t imagine many games where it’s easy to come back from getting your team Cyclonic Rift’ed. This will miss from time to time, but if a 6/6 isn’t enough to stop whatever you weren’t able to bounce, you may have been a bit of trouble to begin with.

Sigiled Starfish

Limited: 3.0

Repeated scrying for no mana all while blocking assorted dorks? This is about as close as a card gets to my Invitational card since Civilized Scholar (a portrayal I’m glad to represent faithfully).

Thassa’s Devourer

Limited: 1.5

Milling does absolutely nothing until it does everything, and I suspect the former is going to be the more common case. If you need a six-toughness blocker, this certainly delivers, but don’t expect a whole lot past that.

Thassa’s Ire

Limited: 1.0

Paying four mana for vigilance is absurd, and paying that much to lock a creature down is not much better. Thassa a bad deal, and not one you can agree to if you want to win games.

Triton Cavalry

Limited: 3.0

Part Man-o’-War, part combo enabler, Triton Cavalry attacks from many angles at relatively low cost. I like cards like this, and I expect it to be a good addition to any heroic deck, one way or another.

Triton Shorestalker

Limited: 1.5

I wouldn’t play this without a reason, since one a turn is not enough by itself to make the cut, even if that one is basically unstoppable. Good reasons to play include Auras that pump power, Bestow Auras that pump power, and Auras that pump toughness (and also power).

War-Wing Siren

Limited: 3.0

It doesn’t take much to make a +1/+1 counter heroic creature good, and it’s almost as if you can evaluate all of them as if they’d triggered once. That makes this a fine deal, and one well worth investing in.

Whitewater Naiads

Limited: 3.5

Making something unable to block while dropping a 4/4 is a very aggressive action, and Whitewater Naiads promises more such triggers to come. This is a beatdown of a card, and exactly what an aggressive deck wants to play on turn five.

Top 3 Blue Commons

3. Aerial Formation

2. Cloaked Siren

1. Hubris

It’s a pretty easy call to put Hubris first, such an easy call that I don’t have a shred of doubt. Cloaked Siren is certainly a safer and more open-ended pick than Aerial Formation, though Aerial Formation’s high end is very high (have you ever seen how scary a flying Vulpine Goliath can be?). Either way you are going to be pretty happy while drafting blue, as there are a ton of good early picks and a solid overall gameplan. Blue still wants to play good fliers and heroic cards while bouncing anything that opposes it, and Journey into Nyx lets it do just that.

Tomorrow I’ll be back with Black and Red, which probably means grading six different 2/3 Minotaurs while I’m at it!

LSV