The Gods Must be Crazy: First Impressions on Journey into Nyx in limited
While we can’t really call the Journey into Nyx pre-release a true sealed tournament for the new format (because of the seeded packs), it is a great barometer of things to come. Many of us had the chance to experience the new synergies, combos, and strategies first hand last weekend. Today I’m going to recount my experience from 4 (yes 4) pre-release tournaments. I really like the new limited format overall. There was already a lot of strategy and technical play involved in the BNG and THS limited format, but JOU takes it to a whole new level of complexity with Constellation and Strive.
My first pre-release for Journey into Nyx was a 32 person midnight event at Prinny Club Kanayama. I went with the blue as I had planned all week long, but upon opening my seeded pack and boosters, I found that most of my blue cards were either too heavy to cast effectively or tempo spells. I knew that 2 and 3 drops were important, so after sorting out my cards I ended up with this aggressive BW aggro/heroic deck of sorts. It had a very aggressive curve, a decent amount of removal (including death touch), and even a few flyers. Due to time constraints I can’t write out the entire list of cards (you should be able to see them fairly well in the picture above anyways), but I would like to comment on how the deck played and how it matched up against other archetypes.
- Round 1: (GWU – won 2-0) I faced a bant deck in my first match and went 2-0 very easily. His deck was much slower than mine and playing 3 colors led him to troublesome mana situations. I managed to play both my Herald of Torment and Dawnbringer Charioteers on turn 3 and 4 in both games and there was little he could do about it.
- Round 2: (GR – won 2-0) In the next match, I faced a GR midrange deck and again my deck was just too fast for my opponent. I put a lot of pressure on him quickly while slowing him down with Oppressive Rays and attacking with flyers in the air.
- Round 3: (UG – lost 0-2) My smaller creatures were easily outmatched by his big blue flyers and his tempo cards really screwed me up. A good tempo deck is the worst match up for heroic. You use up your spells to beef up your creatures, then they use Voyage’s End or Hubris to return them and take away all that hard work.
- Round 4: (UR – won 2-1) I mana flooded pretty badly in my first game, but in the following two games I curved out very well and put pressure on my opponent very early. I also managed to draw my removal exactly when I needed it.
Thoughts on the BW archetype
I feel pretty good about black and white in limited. Before it seemed to be one of the slowest rolling decks out there with a lot of high toughness creatures and life drain, but now that all the cards have been released, black can almost match white for aggressive creatures. The colors support each other well in a BW heroic or aggro deck, have tons of great removal between them such as Banishing Light and Hero’s Downfall, and with cards like the god Artheos and Master of Feasts, I think this strategy will be a good one in Journey into Nyx limited.
The pool at my second pre-release the following afternoon was absolutely sick. It was a 22 person event at Card Brunch in Kanayama, and I chose green for my box color. I managed to get some very good white cards to compliment my green well, so I played GW. I had quite a few enchantments (including Banishing Light) which worked extremely well with Eidolon of Blossoms. I managed to get a lot of card advantage from it, and also had some great finishers in this deck as well. When I pulled a Nylea, God of the Hunt and a GW scry land, I knew the gods had smiled on me.
- Round 1: (BR/g – won 2-1) I mulliganed to 5 cards my first game and lost, but in the following two games I played my Eidolon of Blossoms early, hit my land drops, and played my finishers quickly. I won by attacking with a 256 power Hero’s Bane hydra.
- Round 2: (RW/g – won 2-0) Again, Eidolon of Blossoms was amazing in this match up. I played it on turn 3 thanks to Voyaging Satyr, and then proceeded to drop the rest of my enchantment creatures in the following 2 turns. I had drawn 5 cards off it alone on turns 4 and 5 and my card advantage simply overwhelmed my opponent. There was no way he could beat a turn 5 Nemesis of Mortals and 7 other creatures with first strike (thanks to Archetype of Courage).
- Round 3: (GR – won 2-0) Pretty much the same thing happened in round 3 that happened in the last two. My opponent had some fast, early creatures, but they were easily outclassed by mine after turn 4 and he had no way to get rid of them. I also curved out well again.
- Round 4 (UG – lost 0-2) I just can’t seem to beat this archetype. It was piloted by the same player who beat me at the midnight Friday pre-release as well (he’s one of the best in the city, Goto Yuusei). It was closer than the previous nights match, but his tempo slowed my deck down just enough for him to win the race.
Thoughts on the GW archetype
I finished 3-1 in 3rd place, which is nothing to be ashamed about. The colors came to power in the BNG limited format, and they show now signs of giving that up. White provide you with speed, flyers, first strike, and good heroic ability, while green gives you raw power and the brute force needed to push through an enemies lines. It’s still susceptible to tempo cards, but regardless of how many times they return something to your hand, if your opponent can’t stop a 5/5 or 6/6 creature on the ground, you’re going to win. The color combination should retain its high ranking in Journey into Nyx limited.
Another midnight release the following day, and another BW deck. I picked white this time, and was blessed with a second Charioteer, Master of the Feast, and a number of other great flyers in my colors. I didn’t have as good of removal as my first BW deck from a day earlier, but it was still a powerful deck nonetheless. This second midnight pre-release was smaller than the previous night, and only 12 people showed up.
- Round 1: (UG Midrange – won 2-1) I kept a slow hand my opponent ended up slow rolling me with all of his finishers after 6 or 7 turns in game 1, but afterwards I played much faster and took him out before he could mount any defense. He didn’t really have any flyers to block things like Master of the Feasts.
- Round 2: (BW – lost 2-0) My opponent had an amazing deck. Artheos, Whip of Erebos, and Gray Merchant were just a few cards he beat me with. I had my opponent down to 5 life or so in game 2, but he was able to stabilize thanks to the whip. He also was able to turn on his god’s power in each game rather early.
- Round 3: (GW – won 2-0) Just as with the UG deck, I kept an aggressive hand with a lot of flyers and my opponent couldn’t do anything about it. Master of the Feasts and the Charioteers got out early and did a lot of work. I ended up finishing him in game 2 by flashing in Dictate of Heliod after he decided not to block.
Just as I said above, I think BW is a very good archetype to play.
I went with blue at my final pre-release at a 23 person tournament at Amenity Dream in Nagoya, and initially I tried out a UG deck. I lost my first game and took another look at my pool and decided that UW would have made a better deck. There wasn’t a lot of powerful green bombs, nor were my tempo cards really that strong in a UG deck. With white the curve was very aggressive and it gave me access to some great white cards like Deicide. It was a pretty sweet deck to tell the truth, but I was so exhausted from my previous two midnight releases that ended around 4 am that I was having trouble concentrating by the start of #4. I still wanted the practice regardless of how I was feeling, so I pressed onward.
- Round 1: (GR lost 1-2) I started off with a UG deck and one my first game, but I couldn’t deal with my opponent’s flyers in the second game and mana flooded in the third.
- Round 2: (GW lost 0-2) I made quite a few mistakes in this match due to exhaustion and didn’t really have decent finishers that could end the game quickly against my opponent.
- Round 3: (UR lost 0-2) Pretty much the same thing as before. I had bad draws, mana flooded, and kept bad hands.
- Round 4: (GB won 2-0) It took 4 games, but I finally got a win in my last one. I curved out well and never let up attacking my opponent with my flyers in this game.
Thoughts on the UW archetype
UW heroic continues to be a strong contender for one of the best aggressive decks in the format, and blue gives it access to a lot of tempo cards in the format. Blue also has access to Battlefield Thaumaturge which is great with the new ‘strive’ ability (a heroic player’s dream). I don’t think it will be as strong as BW or GW aggro this limited season, but it should still put up good numbers.
I finished 9-6, which could have been better if I had taken better care of myself that weekend. It’s still a winning percentage so I’ll take as a overall victory on my part. I got a couple chances to taste the changes to the sealed format, and I think this in turn will help me prepare for the Pro Tour draft section in two weeks. I feel good about deck building and drafting these sets, and I don’t think I’ll have a problem in Atlanta. I’d like to know how everybody else did as well, so if you want to share your pre-release experiences, please feel free to leave a comment below.
I want to thank you for reading and also would like to invite you back here later this week for the start of my MTG investment articles, Bang for your Buck. I’ll be covering White in my first article before Friday, and then continuing on throughout all the other colors to discuss how I think prices will change after the addition of Journey into Nyx into both the standard and modern formats. I hope to see you back then!
Goto-san is an excellent player. I used to play with him when he was living in Handa, outside Nagoya, back at the turn of the century. I’m glad he’s still keeping his game up.