This is my customary article analyzing the colors for the prerelease—the promos, good cards in each rarity, and so on.
First, we need to see what we get from the prerelease. According to dailymtg.com, you get this:
- 2 Journey into Nyx booster packs
- 1 Born of the Gods booster packs
- 2 Theros booster packs
- 1 seeded booster pack
- 1 promo card
Having three packs of Journey into Nyx, one of them seeded, means it’s going to be the most important set for you to take into account when valuing the colors. Born of the Gods is only going to be one pack, so it’s okay to take a color that is weaker in that set (e.g. black).
It’s also worth noting that you will necessarily get a rare in your color, but the only mythic rare you can open is a God. This really limits the amount of rares you can actually open in that pack, and it’s possible for a color to only have good options which would make it much more attractive.
It is of course not necessary that you play your chosen color, and in some cases it can be correct not to, but I’d estimate that in over 80% of the pools you should just play the color you chose, because that guarantees a good rare (and at least another rare) and it guarantees that you will have enough cards in a color to play it. Besides, if you chose the color it’s probably because you like it and want to play it, so you should just go ahead and do that.
That said, lets move to the colors:
White is an aggressive color in both Theros and Born of the Gods. It excels in draft when you can craft the perfect amount of creatures and pump spells and a good curve, but in Sealed there are many things that can go wrong with white decks. If I have three Traveling Philosophers in my white draft deck, I’m generally happy; if I have three Traveling Philosophers in my sealed deck, I’m sad because I know I will not be able to kill fast enough and they will just be outclassed by the more powerful cards everyone is bound to have.
In Journey into Nyx, white retains its aggressive approach, with a 3/1 for 1W and yet another 2/2 with an ability for 1W. It also has two common fliers, Eagle of the Watch and Supply-Line Cranes, both of which are quite playable with Supply-Line Cranes being one of the two best white commons, along with Ajani’s Presence, which is comparable to Dauntless Onslaught in power level. White also gets Akroan Mastiff, which is not a powerful card per se but really helps in this format, giving white a much needed answer to a bestowed or monstrous creature. Oppressive Rays is also not a powerful card but can be quite good if you need to get rid of a blocker for one or two turns.
As far as uncommons go, white gets two removal spells: Banishing Light and Reprisal, both of which are very good at answering the things that beat you, much like the Mastiff. It also gets yet another flier, this time a double striker, which is good for breaking stalemates.
I will analyze each non-mythic rare individually because, again, you are guaranteed one, and having good rares is a really big plus.
Dictate of Heliod: This card is clearly great. It’s a combat trick and a game-winning enchantment, and it will go well in any white deck.
Launch the Fleet: If you are winning, you will be winning by a lot. If you are losing, it is not going to do anything. It can be very effective in some stalemates by adding a surprise five attackers, and it does trigger multiple heroic creatures for a very little mana cost, so it certainly has applications, but I wouldn’t be overly excited to open this.
Aegis of the Gods: Eh.
Skybind: I can’t imagine a deck that would want to play this. It works well with constellation, but the effects aren’t powerful enough, as a whole, to justify a 3WW enchantment that does nothing. I would consider siding it in against a deck full of enchantments and +1/+1 counters, but I would not start it unless I had a very specific deck.
The promo, Dawnbringer Charioteers, is insanely good. Those stats are already very good by themselves, but now it has heroic and it is in a set that heavily rewards both flying and lifelink. The combination is especially powerful because the answer to fliers is often racing, and you can’t race lifelink. If they bounce it, you don’t care much because you’ve likely bought enough time to just replay it and start attacking again. This is by far the best promo and a big draw to white.
The white rares are very hit or miss. You can get Dictate of Heliod or a second Dawnbringer Charioteers and they are going to be the best cards in your deck by a considerable margin, or you can get a situational, win more game-ender, a 2/1 for 2, a bad sideboard card and a card that no one quite understands what it does.
I feel that white in this set improved a lot on what its previous weaknesses were—big creatures and closing out games. You get some early drops and some ways to trigger heroic, but you also get one common and two uncommon ways to deal with a Hopeful Eidolon or a Nessian Asp (I realize I say Nessian Asp a lot, but that’s because it’s the most iconic of the big defenders. When I say Nessian Asp please take it to mean any guy that stops your attacks dead), and that is huge and complements what you were doing very well because you are no longer forced to all-in with bears and pumps and hope that’s enough.
In Theros/Born, blue was mostly a support color; it usually had the best cards, but not the biggest amount of good cards. It provided bounce and some evasion to colors that had no way to deal with opposing monstrous and bestow cards, such as white and green. You would never go wrong with blue in your deck (except, perhaps, if you paired it with red. Those combinations seem like they should work but in practice they never do), but you’re probably not going to have over ten blue cards in your normal Sealed decks.
In Journey into Nyx, blue again has one of the best commons, this time the bounce spell Hubris, which is sometimes better, sometimes worse than Voyage’s End. If they have something enchanted with an Ordeal and a Chosen by Heliod, then bouncing them can be disastrous—but sometimes they are counting on that bestow creature to block something and then Hubris stops that dead. My inclination is that it’s clearly worse than Voyage’s End most of the time, but it’s still a pretty good card with some potential upside.
Blue also gets two solid common fliers: Cloaked Siren and War-Wing Siren. Aerial Formation is also a card I really like. It’s cheap, good at triggering heroic, and it is great at finishing the game, especially in a green deck. For 4 mana you can suddenly hit for 8 damage out of nowhere and if you have seven they’re usually just dead if you’re in any kind of board stall.
For uncommons, you have Hour of Need, which seems incredibly good to me. It just does so much! For five mana, you turn your two worst creatures into 4/4 Dragons forever. It is an instant, so you can use it in response to removal or to ambush attackers, which makes it into some kind of permanent Savage Surge. Sometimes you’re just going to play a turn two Omenspeaker, attack with it, and then use this to kill their attacker—in this scenario, it’s a +3/+1 flying enchantment that also killed their guy. And that’s the worst scenario! In the best scenario it just wins you the game.
Bounce is very good and prevalent in this set, so there is some danger in doing this, but you can still just cast it at the end of the turn at seven mana and just win the game before they have the chance to cast Sea God’s Revenge. You can also hit their guys, or a mix, if you so choose. Not many creatures are better than a 4/4 flier but they do exist, especially in this set, and the fact that you can get rid of them if you really need to makes me think you’re going to be very happy to play this card in your deck
Another uncommon of note is Interpret the Signs. It’s unplayable in any sort of aggressive deck, but if you have a control deck then casting this card should win you the game. It is I much better than Thassa’s Bounty. Whitewater Naiads is also quite powerful, having a decent body and a potentially game-winning ability. Dakra Mystic is yet another good blue uncommon that is quite powerful in late-games—the blue uncommons are really good this time around.
For rares, you have:
Battlefield Thaumaturge: A pretty good card. You don’t need much to make this work. 2/1 for 2 is not a horrible body, and making all your bounce and all your pump cost one less is already pretty decent. If you can go nuts with cards that have strive or cards like Sudden Storm or Sea God’s Revenge then it’s worth a lot.
Daring Thief: This card is incredibly powerful. The fact that this set has enchantments that are both creatures and enchantments makes this card much better than it would otherwise be, because enchantments usually do not care who owns them, so I can trade, hypothetically speaking, my Fate Foretold for your Chromanticore. Big creatures are also important here, and the threat of ever exchanging your 2/2 for their 8/8 lifelinker has to change the way they play the game. If you ever attack with it, then you already stop your opponent from playing a bomb that turn, which is good—otherwise you can just give them the Thief, worst comes to worst. If you have ways of tapping it that do not require attacking (Springleaf Drum, Leonin Snarecaster, Glimpse the Sun God, even Sudden Storm or Wavecrash Triton) then it just dominates the game.
Polymorphous Rush: The name of this card is very weird. I keep reading “Polyamorous Rush,” but even when I do read it correctly it doesn’t make much sense because then I expect it to be a version of Mass Polymorph when it’s actually a Mirrorweave.
This card is good, but I think not as good as it originally seems. Guys in this format are often big because of monstrous and enchantments, neither of which gets copied by this. I’ll still play it, but it’s not a bomb.
Dictate of Kruphix: I would never maindeck this card in any deck.
Hypnotic Siren: A+. It would take a specific hand for me to cast this on turn one (I’d basically need an Ordeal or a sick curve with few lands), but the fact that you can do it makes this card very interesting. A seven-mana Control Magic is expensive, but good in a format with big guys, and this even gives their creature +1/+1 and flying, on top of leaving you with a flier yourself if it dies. In a format where everyone is guaranteed to have a powerful creature that costs a lot of mana, since everyone gets one from the color they chose, this card is fantastic.
The promo, Scourge of Fleets, is situational but potentially very powerful. I’d expect you to have at least three Islands in play by the time you cast it, but it’s unclear whether you care much about bouncing their x/3s by the time you get to seven mana. If you have 5 Islands then it’s just going to be a one-sided Upheaval most of the time, but the fact that creatures get huge in this format and that, if there is something really destroying you this will not get rid of it, makes me think it’s not that powerful of a card, though one I’ll usually play in my blue decks.
Overall blue did decently for rares. It doesn’t have something as strong as the white rares, but it only has one unplayable one. As a color, I think blue remains relatively unchanged—it’s a support color, with some bounce and some ways to make your green guys fly. I think the creatures it got in this set are better than it used to have, particularly War-Wing Siren. Even though there is nothing super exciting in blue, it’s very strong in the first set, so you can’t go wrong with it.
I generally see black in Theros as a control color; it has 3/3 defenders for 2, some 1/3s, removal both cheap and expensive. You can pair black with white, blue or green and have a control deck, or you can pair it with red and have an aggro deck. Good black decks were often heavy black because there were many color-intensive cards and Grey Merchant of Asphodel was one of your better cards.
In Journey into Nyx, black has control cards and aggro cards. Removal spells like Nyx Infusion and Feast of Dreams (always maindeckable in Sealed to me) are going to be good in any deck, and then you have commons like Pharika’s Chosen and Grim Guardian for control decks and commons like Dreadbringer Lampads and Cast into Darkness for aggro decks. For uncommons, there’s Nightmarish End, which is obviously good anywhere, Spiteful Blow which is a better version of Sip of Hemlock in a format with bestow and monstrous, and Felhide Petrifier which seems great in any sort of control deck or any sort of BR Minotaurs. In the end, I’d say it retains its control approach because most creatures have power/toughness that leads more toward blocking, but having a black aggro deck is still possible.
It’s also interesting to note that there are less black mana symbols in the black cards, which means you don’t need that much of an investment anymore.
For rares, we have:
Dictate of Erebos: This card is very good; you play it mid-combat when they don’t expect it and your trades become insane, and even as just an enchantment it’s still quite powerful. It doesn’t do much against fliers, but it beats anything else.
Master of the Feast: There aren’t many things that can kill or race a 5/5 flier, so you usually don’t care that they are drawing more cards a turn, though it’s much better if you’re playing an aggressive deck. If they cast Pin to the Earth then things get slightly awkward (i.e. you lose) and I might consider siding it out if I see some of those, but the card should be pretty good in most other scenarios.
King Macar, the Gold-Cursed: It’s very hard to untap with King Macar and lose—you simply kill their blocker and attack again. The only way to get out of the lock without killing it is playing two guys that can both block and kill King Macar, and if you have a single removal or pump spell then they have to do it all over again.
Silence the Believers: Clearly a top-notch card, easily the best removal spell in the entire block for Limited play—killing any guy, instant speed, and all of its bestow cards would already be insane, but the fact that you can cast this twice for 7 mana is just too much.
Extinguish all Hope: If you have a lot of enchantment creatures and they have few, it’s going to be good, but there’s no way of knowing what they have, so just pretend they are going to have an average number and then decide based on what you have. I’d play it in any control deck, and maybe side it out. I’d not play it in an aggro deck.
The promo card, Doomwake Giant, is very good. 4/6 for 5 is very respectable and it kills some creatures when it comes into play. You can play it pre-combat, to make blocks harder, or post-combat to finish something off; the mere fact that it is the black promo should make everyone play differently if they are playing against black. After it comes down, the ability is still very good, and if you can cast multiple enchantments in a turn it might swing the game completely. The only downside is that it’s an enchantment, and having your best card be killed by a Disenchant effect is a bummer, but at least you get the initial effect in.
Black did very well for rares; you have an excellent promo, three very good cards, and then a creature that is usually going to be good and a wrath variant. I think black is overall good in Journey into Nyx—it has removal, cheap cards and finishers, so it’s not really lacking anything.
In Theros, red is very weak. You only see red decks in Sealed if someone opens multiple rares, if they are splashing for removal, or if they are playing red/white aggro.
In Journey to Nyx, you have Magma Spray as a common, which is a card you would not splash for but will usually happily play if you’re red. Then you have Starfall, which is a waste of a great name into a very mediocre card, and then a couple of solid, if not spectacular creatures. Satyr Hoplite is potentially good in the right deck, but you’ll probably not have that deck in Sealed. Bladetusk Boar is of course a nice addition. Rouse the Mob is also an okay card, capable of dealing huge amounts of damage out of nowhere. In Theros, red had Lightning Strike; in Born of the Gods, it had Fall of the Hammer. In Journey to Nyx, there’s no common that comes close.
As for rares:
Harness by Force: I think this card is good in any red deck. It’s ok to play Threaten in most aggro decks, and this card is considerably better because while some people will play around Threaten, it’s very difficult to play around two Threatens.
Bearer of the Heavens: I can’t see myself ever playing this card. If I want a creature that costs 8, then I’m a late-game deck, and if I’m a late-game deck, I don’t want to blow up the world in a game that’s already in the late-game because theoretically I’m winning.
Dictate of the Twin Gods: I can see this being good in very specific circumstances, but I would not like to pay 5 for it unless it’s going to win me the game in this very same attack phase. Seeing as this is at best a Lava Axe and at worst a death wish, I would not play it.
Twinflame: Interesting card, but, again, most creatures in this set are naturally small and get bigger through enchantments or activated abilities, and you don’t get those. I would likely not play it.
Eidolon of the Great Revel: I’d play him in most red decks, and I’d expect him to be good; red decks will have more cards that damage them, but they also, ideally, care less about life total. He will not win you a game in which your opponent simply outclasses you, because the cards that outclass you can still be played, but he can stop comebacks if they depend on multiple small cards. Be aware that bestow cards still keep their converted mana costs, so bestowing something like Nimbus Naiad will trigger the Eidolon.
The red promo, Spawn of Thraxes, is a reasonable card; it kills a small creature when it comes into play and it’s a 5/5 flier, or it just hits them for 5 and kills them. There are some decks that would not even want to play this, though, because it costs seven.
Red did horribly regarding its rares. Two are okay, the promo is okay, and the other three I would very likely not play in my deck. In the previous set, red was bad but it had a good promo to balance it out. In this set, red is very bad and the promo is mediocre. Add that to the fact that red is awful in Theros as well and I think red is the worst color for the prerelease by several orders of magnitude.
In Theros, Green had two decks: green/white pump spells, and green/black or green/blue midrange-ish. I was not a fan of the GW deck in Sealed for the same reasons I disliked the RW deck, but card quality in green was overall very high and you were guaranteed to have a bunch of good cards, many of which would win you the late game.
For its Journey into Nyx commons, green has a great heroic enabler in Nature’s Panoply, solid creatures in Oakheart Dryads, Ravenous Leucrocota,and Satyr Grovedancer, and its best common Golden Hind, which is a better version of a creature that was already very good. Font of Fertility is also playable as an accelerator in some decks, and a much better Talisman if you have to splash something.
For uncommons, Nessian Game Warden is probably the best, sporting a solid body and a good ability. If you hit it for 3 it’s likely you’ll find a creature, and in the late game you’re almost guaranteed one. Colossal Heroics is better than Savage Surge, but nothing spectacular.
In rares, we have:
Hydra Broodmaster: Quite good and dominates any late game. If you play it on six, then next turn you play your seventh land and make three 3/3s on top of getting a 10/10, which means you win any ground combat. Being a 7/7 means it can block anything the turn it comes into play, even through a pump spell, so it buys you the time to use its ability. If the game is stalled, then you just wait a little bit with your 7/7 and eventually you just monstrous it with 9 or 11 mana and win immediately.
Pheres-Band Warchief: I’d always play this card, and it’s better if you have more Centaurs, but nothing fantastic.
Dictate of Karametra: Not playable.
Setessan Tactics: this card is very good. Pit Fight is already nice, and the +1/+1 almost makes up for the fact that you have to tap it (ok, it doesn’t, but it’s still good), but the fact that this is so cheap to strive means sometimes it’s just a Plague Wind.
Eidolon of Blossoms: I’d usually be happy with this card; 2/2 for 4 that replaces itself is not bad, and if you have 5+ other enchantments it’s likely to draw at least an extra card over the course of the game. It ranges from very good to very bad, but will usually be somewhere in the middle.
The promo, Heroes’ Bane, is very good. There are only two packs of Lash of the Whip and Rage of Purphoros now, and there aren’t many cards that kill Heroes’ Bane. You have to be careful with bounce, which is plentiful, but the Hydra is cheap enough and powerful enough that you should be able to just attack with it without needing to pump it if they have open mana. If they don’t have an answer, they need to start chump blocking on turn six, and then you’re free to spend your mana doing other things.
Green did okay for rares. Two are very good, one is okay, one is a brick, and one is a half-brick. The color overall is similar to what it was before—a lot of solid cards and creatures with very decent stats, but nothing insanely good. If you choose green, you’re never going to lack playables.
You can also open a God in your mythic slot, but the Gods aren’t that good and none of them is worth trying to get in my opinion.
Iroas: Very good and fits its archetype perfectly. Iroas is the best God and the only one I’d truly be very happy to open if I was in this color combination.
Keranos: In a bad color combination, but powerful; dominates most late games.
Pharika: Also OK. 1/1 deathtouch is surprisingly annoying.
Athreos: Mediocre because the black/white deck is usually control and they will be able to afford the 3 life.
Kruphix: Very bad—doesn’t do anything.
I think Journey into Nyx is a very interesting set. There is less bestow, but there are more ways to trigger heroic—especially multiple instances of it. Every color has a cheap combat trick now that’s actually good, and it seems to me like it’s easier to lose a game that you thought you had won if you are not careful. There’s still not much removal in the set and, though it’s harder to build up a bigger guy, it’s still going to be relatively easy and the main strategy of the format.
Overall, I would rank the colors as follows:
#1 – Black. Black has the best concentration of rares and the promo is good. It has solid commons and uncommons, some removal, and it’s very good in Theros. I usually like the style of black decks in Sealed more than, for example, white decks—I want to have removal and bombs, not bears and combat tricks.
#2 – White. White is powerful, but has some shortcomings in Sealed. However, I think the white cards in this set do wonders to fix those shortcomings and really complement the cards from the previous two sets. White also has the best promo by far. White’s only downside is that every rare that is not great is very bad.
#3 – Green. Again, nothing spectacular, but just very solid and you can’t really go wrong with it because it’s the same in the other two sets. Besides, the promo is very good.
#4 – Blue. I don’t think blue is bad—it’s very close to green. It has some good commons, some very good uncommons, powerful rares and it’s very good in the other sets. The only shortcoming is the promo card, which is really not in the same league as the other three.
#5. – Skip the pre-release
#6 – Red. Seriously, I can’t really stress how bad of a choice I think red is if you want to win. It’s bad in the previous two sets, it’s committed to one strategy, it has no good cards in this set, the rares are all unplayable and the promo is not good—it simply has nothing going for it.
That’s what I’ve got for today. I hope you’ve enjoyed it, see you next week!