Journey into Nyx: Playing to your Weaknesses – White
(NOTE: “Playing to your Weaknesses” is a series of articles I have been doing on my own blog since Avacyn Restored that cover all of the uncommons and commons in a new expansion and which ones I would choose to use as one of the 23 cards in a 40 card limited deck. For those of you uninitiated to limited, it simply means sealed and booster draft, where you open packs and then proceed to make a deck out of them. I’ve purposely left out the rare cards because it is much more likely that you’ll see multiples of uncommon and commons in your packs/pools.)
After a 3 month break, Playing to your Weaknesses is back! I’m sure you all missed it (^_^). The full set has been spoiled early again, just as Born of the Gods was, and I think we’re all in for a treat. Just as with the Avacyn Restored in the Innistrad block, the final set really ties everything together and pushes the limits. In Journey into Nyx, we are introduced to the last two mechanics: Constellation and Strive (FYI, my Japanese vocabulary page has been updated with their translations). My first impressions of the set are positive. Born of the Gods made many more strategies in sealed and limited viable, and Journey into Nix (JOU) further strengthens them. The decks I see gaining the most from this set are heroic strategies, as well as green midrange decks since they have access to the best color fixing and mana ramping.
As always I’ll be starting with white and recommending what I think will work well in various strategies, and then I’ll say how high I’d value it in both sealed and draft. If you disagree or think I missed something in my evaluations, please feel free to comment about it after the article and I’ll see about adding it. Since we only have a week before the pre-release, lets get started!
I’ll say this about the Theros block, it has taken 2/3 creatures and given them a place in limited. Two and Three drop creatures have become incredibly important in limited, and by adding abilities to them like Agent of Horizons or Crackling Triton, they have made them a lot more viable than just a 2/3 chump blocker. Their added abilities have made them relevant, even later on in the game. The first card I’m evaluating today is Tethmos High Priest. At its base, it’s a 2/3 creature for 3 mana which is definitely playable (though not a first pick). What I like about this card is its ability to return a creature to the battlefield at instant speed. Yes it has to have a cost of 2 or less, but if you’re playing a RW or UW heroic deck, then I think this would definitely come in handy. Being able to bring back a Soldier of the Pantheon, Spirit of the Labyrinth, or even a Sedge Scorpion makes this totally playable. If you’re focusing on a making an aggressive W/x heroic deck, I would take this as your 7th or 8th pick. As for sealed, if you have a lot of 1 and 2 drops I think its value goes up, but it would still be worth having in your deck if it had only 3-4 targets in your deck. Great for heroic, but not had for other white decks either.
Everybody hates that 3/5 giant for 5 mana, so what makes this better than him? Flying. It’s a flying Pillarfield Ox that gives a +1/+1 counter, or becomes a 3/5 flyer for 5 mana. I would value this pretty highly in draft. I’d probably take it as a 3rd pick, just because of it can fly, block, and pump up a creature. Not bad value for 5 mana. Definitely play this in your W/x midrange deck as well. Great in UW flyers, GW, and BW decks.
Yeah, 5 mana for a 2/2 seems a bit high, but that double strike is just NASTY. There are very few creatures outside of blue that can handle this kind of power, and if you can boost its power it becomes a deadly clock for your opponent. I wouldn’t mind playing this as a finisher in a heroic deck, but it would also work well in UW flyers. Not a first pick in draft, but I wouldn’t expect him to survive a trip around the table. Take it if you can get it if there isn’t anything else that would work better with your strategy. Great card in sealed for sure, especially if you can power it up.
This guy is just plain awesome in heroic decks. You’ll never be attacking alone in heroic decks, and if you do you’ll definitely have a combat trick up your sleeve to ensure your cards survive. Worst cast scenario, you’ll have a 3/2 blocker that can trade with the large amount of 2/3 creatures in this block. It’s probably okay to pick him up later in draft, maybe as a 4th-5th card. I could see him surviving a trip around the table if nobody else is in white, but since 2 drops are so important, I’d pick him up if he was in my colors. He’ll work well in sealed too, especially if you team him up with cards like Loyal Pegasus.
It’s very rare for white to get removal on a creature, but when it does it’s just plain awesome. I think Quarry Colossus is a great finisher in white midrange decks. You probably won’t be playing him in a mono white deck, but when his ability activates you will probably be putting that creature at least 3-4 cards down. Being able to shove their Polukranos, Nessian Asp, or other massive creature back in their deck is great. His 6 toughness also makes him like a rock against most of your opponent’s creatures. I would take him high in draft, maybe as a 5th or 6th choice so I could build around him. UW flyers seems like a good spot for him, but GW gives you some ramp to get him out around turn 5 or 6. I’d definitely have him in my sealed deck as one of my finishers. I don’t think you’ll find a better finisher in white aside from Hundred-Handed One.
This is just raw power. 3/1 in a removal light format is going to hurt a lot of people. Of course he’ll be great in heroic decks, but if you’re playing white at all you’ll want him in your ever important two drop spot. He’ll trade with a lot of creatures in this format, and his low casting cost means you’ll be able to load him up with enchantments rather quickly. Definitely want it in your sealed deck, and as for draft, I’d probably take it as a 6th-7th pick once I’ve started building a White/x deck.
Early on in the game, this is a pretty effective Pacifism. It also is really good when your opponent taps out to bring down a big blocker to stop your onslaught of smaller creatures, only to have it made redundant by this enchantment. Adding +3 mana to any monstrous ability is also pretty useful. In a heroic strategy, I think you’d want to draft this rather early. I’d take it 5th-6th pick before getting more creatures due to its usefulness. As for draft, I think it’s worth having in your top 20 cards. White rarely has must play removal, but this is worth playing I think.
This is pretty sweet. I might not have played this card when it was only Theros, but now that we’ve been inundated with enchantment creatures, you won’t be able to drop this card on a table without hitting a target. Its low casting cost means you’ll want to play it in a heroic deck, but I could also seeing it being decent removal in a UW flyer deck where you have the evasion needed to deal combat damage to a player. I’d take it a little later in draft, maybe my 9th-10th card, and it might be the 22nd or 23rd card in my sealed deck. Even though I don’t put a lot of importance on it, I still think you’ll want to play this in your deck since it both strengthens your creatures and destroys one when attacking.
Iconoclast is another very solid creature. Its 3/2 body makes it playable in almost any deck with white, and its heroic ability is also very useful. I might take this first in draft for the ability alone. You can estimate that most decks will have 3-4 bestow creatures in them, which means that this Leonin will be able to take out a decent chunk of their team while also hitting for 3 damage. Heroic decks give you the most ways to use his ability, but I think he’ll also be good in a W/x midrange deck of sorts with a few bestow creatures of your own. Definitely try him out.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say what you’re thinking “really? A 0/4 for 1 mana?” What makes this so much better than a Yoked Ox is the heroic ability. His VERY large butt will block anything coming your way, but at the same time he can be pretty aggressive in a heroic deck with lots of ways to activate him. After a few turns, he’ll also give you enough defense to handle green’s big creatures. This card is also going to be great in heroic mirrors as your opponent will have to waste multiple cards just to kill him. RW, GW, and UW heroic are great fits for him, but just make sure you have enough spells/bestow creatures to activate him and get your money’s worth. I don’t think he’ll go high in draft, so you’re fine taking him after your 10th pick. As for sealed, I think it all depends on what your other cards are. Lots of heroic, yes, few heroic cards, maybe that final 23rd spot.
Like I said, 2/3s are just plain awesome. This is a common, but when it comes into play it basically makes your creature indestructible in combat. This is good if you’re trying to be aggressive but don’t want to lose your creature. Could you imagine bestowing a creature, then swinging in with a nigh-indestructible attacker (of course it can still be killed with Hero’s Downfall)? The more bestow creatures you have, the higher its value becomes. A card like Ephara’s Enlightenment is just bonkers with this creature because you continue to get a bigger, flying creature that also can’t be damaged by other creatures. Even if you don’t have tons of bestow to make it work effectively, I think it would still be a good card with it’s 2/3 body that sometimes gives you a nice bonus. It should work well with Inspire creatures as well. Not a high draft card, but worth a slot in your limited deck.
Another solid card. Rather cheap to cost, evasion, vigilance so you can block . . . it fills out your curve nicely. Good in UW flyers, white heroic decks . . . it’s an all around role player I think. 10th+ in draft, but probably something you want in your deck in both formats.
Best white removal in the format. You’ll have to watch out for all the enchantment removal in Theros block, but otherwise draft this very high. I’d take it 1 or 2 since it’s easily splashed in any deck. It’s a must play card if you get it.
It’s not really a Pacifism, but if you don’t want to feel the bottom of that Arbor Colossus’ feet, just slap this on him and he’ll be harmless. On the other hand, you can put this on your Archetype of Courage or other enchantment creature and give it double strike. It probably won’t be drafted high, so you can expect it to come around the table a second time. Probably the 23rd card in a deck you’re building if you’re trying to to make a White heroic or UW flyer deck.
I see this card more as “pay 4 mana and give 2 creatures +1/+1 and indestructible”. For that cost, as well as activating 2 heroic triggers, I think it’s worth it. It’s a good combat trick and if drawn later on in the game it can be useful as well (even if I think 7 mana for 3 targets is a bit much). It’s great in a heroic deck, otherwise it’s a sideboard card. Late choice in draft, 23rd card for sealed.
Other Cards that Might See Play
- Stonewise Fortifier – he’s a 2/2 bear, but later on in a game he can be a good blocker.
Coming up Next
That does it for my first installment of Playing to your Weaknesses. Thoughts? Did I overvalue a lot of these cards? Do you think the set is a lot stronger than Born of the Gods? I think there are a lot more solid cards than before which is why my list was so long, but if you disagree I’d like to hear why so please leave a comment down below. Otherwise, I’ll start work on blue and get it out Monday night or Tuesday morning. I really enjoy writing these articles because it helps me to absorb the new cards fast, and getting a good grasp on the combinations and synergies is going to be very important before the Pro Tour in May! I can’t wait to start drafting Theros block!