Once more, it’s the best time of the year: spoiler season! Journey Into Nyx is the third and final installment of Theros block. It’s also the first time we’ve seen a small third set since 2011’s New Phyrexia and only the second time that we’ve drafted a full block in the new order (new set first, a change that happened in Scars block). But enough history—we’ve got spoilers to look at!

Ajani's Presence

Ajani’s Presence—Cats! Angry cats!

We’ve got ourselves a new keyword, and it and Heroic are a match made in Nyx. Without strive, it’s a simple and elegant pump spell. It’ll certainly be a welcome addition to any white heroic deck. But it’s not just that! It’s also got multikicker, part of a cycle of spells that are all Dauntless Onslaught (or the far less impressive Warrior’s Lesson) in potentia.

Ajani’s Presence can be an absolute blowout in combat or against removal spells (though if you’ve more than two targets, the game’s gone on longer than many heroic decks would like). I’m excited to see what other spells have Strive, as well as what heroic creatures are in Journey Into Nyx.

Whitewater Naiads

Whitewater NaiadsTheros’ most violent splash fight

We’ve got our second and final new mechanic: enchantmentfall (also known as Constellation, which is lovely when you think about how every enchantment creature invokes the starfield of Nyx). The playful artwork featuring a splash fight belies the beefy stats on this wannabe Air Elemental.

On its own, a 4/4 for five isn’t exciting, though making a creature unblockable (well, “can’t be blockable”) is a nice bit of gravy. Given its high casting cost, it wouldn’t be surprising if you don’t have many enchantments stored away to abuse it. Then again, bestow in Theros tends to be expensive… and if you can play an enchantment or two after deploying Whitewater Naiads, well, you’ve got yourself an even more evasive Air Elemental (and Air Elemental‘s usually a bomb card in Limited).

I don’t expect Whitewater Naiads to be quite as strong as Air Elemental (since it requires a nonzero amount of work to make it evasive and can’t block flying creatures), but it could still be quite good.

Cyclops of Eternal Fury

Cyclops of Eternal Fury—Dies to Eye Gouge

I loved Tenement Crusher. I had a soft spot for the less powerful Maze Rusher (trading a point of toughness for a point of power in a format full of 3/3s made it too fragile). Cyclops of Eternal Fury has worse stats than both of them. Sure, it hastens all of your creatures (without Maze Rusher‘s awkward multicolored clause)… but it’s a six drop, and a fragile one at that.

With three toughness, Cyclops of Eternal Fury might not be able to attack without trading for a cheaper creature. As for its effect, it’s a bit late to the party; by the time you’re at six mana, your creatures have already come down (and are busy becoming monstrous). If you do want to enjoy its Emblem of the Warmind, you’ll likely have to refrain from attacking (and Gods Willing, your opponent won’t have a Bolt of Keranos or Retraction Helix). I wouldn’t put a six mana Fervor in my Limited deck and I wouldn’t be terribly excited about a 5/3 Tenement Crasher.

Dakra Mystic

Dakra Mystic—Knows what you’re scrying. Does not approve.

Neat! It’s got a name straight out of Portal Second Age and abilities from the original Ravnica (Dakra Mystic is a Lore Broker mixed with a Lurking Informant). Dakra Mystic‘s an odd one. It’s no Merfolk Looter, since it requires mana and helps your opponent. It does present some very interesting decisions: “Do I need this card more than my opponent needs hers? Does my opponent need this land? Should I activate this and risk digging my opponent closer to his bomb?”

I don’t expect Dakra Mystic to be a strong card, but with something this wild, I wouldn’t be surprised to be wrong. After all, it’s a Howling Mine mixed with Zur’s Weirding (“Zach, did you say it was a reference to Ravnica?” “HUSH!”).

Eidolon of Blossoms

Eidolon of Blossoms—Made from 65% real Wall of Blossoms (from concentrate)

The enchantment block finally has its Verduran Enchantress! On its own, it’s no more impressive than a Striped Bear, but even in Limited, one can easily go off with this. I love engines like Eidolon of Blossoms; they’re not great on their own, but with even a small amount of work and focused drafting, they become absolute bombs. It’s like a (slower) Triton Fortune Hunter, except it doesn’t care where you put your Karametra’s Favor! How awesome is that?!

Extinguish All Hope

Extinguish All HopeThree wrathful gods. Kill less than one.

It’s definitely a flavor win. It’s definitely not easy to use. There aren’t enough enchantment creatures in Born of the Gods and Theros to draft an all-enchantments deck, so you’ll likely lose some of your own creatures (but that always happens when you wrath). Your opponents are bound to have some of their own enchantment creatures (you rarely want your opponent’s creatures surviving your wrath). Sure, you’ll be able to develop your board accordingly when you’ve got this in hand, but just like clunker Divine Reckoning, it won’t always kill what you need it to. I expect folks to first pick Extinguish All Hope and be disappointed. I also expect to see my Nessian Asps die to this more often than I’d like.

Gnarled Scarhide

Gnarled Scarhide—Badass name. Armless minotaur.

This card’s sweet! Cubes get another 2/1 for B. It’s much more powerful than Nyxborn Eidolon and can even be used as a Stun to force in damage. I’m a big fan of efficient (and subtly nuanced) creatures like Gnarled Scarhide.

Ravenous Leurocota

Ravenous Leucrocota—Often mispronounced. Always misspelled.

Monstrosity returns! Huzzah! A 2/4 vigilance for four is pretty decent, and a 5/7 vigilance can dominate the ground. It’s nothing spicy, but it can likely get the job done by itself. Plus, it means there’ll be even more monstrous creatures!

(Isn’t the larrycrocker, er, lucretia from Indian mythology? I’m drawing a blank from Greek, but I don’t claim complete knowledge in that area.)

Satyr Hoplite

Satyr HopliteAkroan Crusader‘s brother from another mother

It’s time to bravely face the mad god Xenagos… with 1/1s. Born of the Gods took creatures like Wingsteed Rider and Staunch-Hearted Warrior and shrank them. Akroan Skyguard and Setessan Oathsworn remain strong cards. Nyxborn Rollicker asked just how good bestow could be when it had almost no effect. Now, Satyr Hoplite continues the tradition of “how small can you go?”

I expect Satyr Hoplite to go into the same hyperaggressive decks that appreciate Akroan Crusader. It’s hardly impressive on its own, but give it some Titan’s Strength or reunite it with Nyxborn Rollicker and you’ll be smashing face too fast for your opponent to keep up.

Sigiled Starfish

Sigiled Starfish—Doesn’t have defender

What an oddball! Makes one wonder if there’ll be more scry matters à la Flamespeaker Adept. It’s not a particularly effective blocker, particularly against green decks. It’s not as good as Merfolk Looter. However… it’s comparable to Merfolk Looter, and that means it’s probably better than it looks at first glance. If you’ve got bombs, Sigiled Starfish will dig to them. If you don’t, it can control mana screw/flood and find relevant spells. It will, however, cost you a spell slot (noncreature, nonremoval spells need to justify themselves in Limited, and Sigiled Starfish isn’t really a creature).

First Volley

There you have it—the first spoilers from Journey Into Nyx. Hopefully I’ve helped illuminate a detail or shared a bit of inspiration. I’d love to hear your responses, particularly if you don’t agree with my assessments.

By the time this goes live, I’ll be out of the country and away from spoilers until late next week. I can’t wait to see what we’ll be playing with! See you in two weeks, friends.

—Zachary Barash

Zachary Barash has been playing Magic on and off since 1994. He loves Limited and drafts every available format (including several that aren’t entirely meant to be drafted). He’s a proud Cube owner and performer, improvising entire musicals every week with his team, Petting Zoo. Zach has an obsession with Indian food that borders on being unhealthy.

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