Journey Into Nyx confuses me. The decision to take two prior mechanics, Multi-Kicker and Imprint, and then reskin one of them and un-keyword the second, has made figuring out the rules of this set for EDH purposes to be a little more confusing than it needed to be. As I understand it, you can Strive a spell you cascade into, and Godsend isn’t a Meddling Mage, it’s a Duplicant, which means you can’t really shut off an opposing general with it.


I really don’t get why a planeswalker who abandoned Bant really needed to kill a god of revelry on a completely foreign plane.

See? Unnecessary confusion. But one of the things this set has given us is a triad of throwbacks, each one of which seems geared towards the casual player. Of course, I am talking about Dictate of Erebos, Dictate of the Twin Gods, and Bearer of the Heavens. That’s right! If there’s anything Magic needed more of, it’s another Grave Pact, another Furnace of Rath, and another Decree of Annihilation. These cards must be aimed at the casual player, since in general they don’t have a history of being strong enough for the 75-card sets. But casual players tend to focus on fun more, in my experience, and how much fun can you really have with these effects?


Let’s start with Grave Pact. Now, I’ve played Grave Pact decks before in the past, and I probably will again in the future. I am not a perfect person, and there is admittedly some allure to having the type of board control that you can get when you’re doing things like doubling up your Grave Pact effects and using repeatable sacrifice effects to keep everyone else from developing or maintaining any reasonable board state. But it’s the persistence of these effects that bother me. It is annoying to be wrathed in an EDH game, but you can just keep building up your board state. With Grave Pact out, though, the only hope you have of maintaining any sort of pressure when you untap is by playing out several creatures at once, and hoping that your opponent doesn’t have the fodder to remove every one of your cards. Of course, if they do have the fodder, you’re completely boned now, since you used up all your gas to try to untap with a board presence.


Remember this fun one? Shockingly, it came in Zedruu, not Ghave. Because… politics?

So Dictate of Erebos is going to be an irritating edition to that deck. Ghave, Guru of Spores has access to five of these effects now (Dictate of Erebos, Savra, Queen of the Golgari, Butcher of Malakir, Martyr’s Bond, and Grave Pact itself), and when Ghave’s on the board you get infinite triggers at two mana a pop. My problem is not with the decision to reprint one of these effects so that new players have access to it, of course. While I don’t like the card myself, I recognize that everyone should be able to taste what that power is like. I just wish that, instead of adding two new over-powered versions of this effect, they had instead just reprinted Grave Pact. And if it’s not thematically appropriate enough for your Greek-themed enchantment set (which… eh?), they could always just wait until M15 and reprint it in that.


But instead we’ve got one at instant speed, which means it’s almost definitely going to wrath the board when it hits the table. At the very least, it now demands instant speed response, which is frustrating for those who build their enchantment removal into their creature base.


I do like the art though. I couldn’t find this art at the right size, so you’re going to just have to deal with a featured image of these dudes being a little more friendly.


At least Dictate of the Twin Gods has a drawback. Now, my problem with Furance of Rath effects is that I really only ever see them seeing play in one of two different style decks: either hyper-aggro/commander damage decks that use them as overruns, or in damage combo decks that use these doublers with cards like Stuffy Doll, Mogg Maniac, or Repercussion to quadruple spells like Blasphemous Act for a fairly instant combo kill.


I’ve never been the biggest proponent of commander-aggro in EDH. It’s like always having access to a Tarmogoyf in Modern: sure, it’s going to win you games, but how much skill is that going to require? What cool things are you going to do when you just have to touch them two or three times before they die? Of course, plenty of people play Magic that way (I’m looking at you, TarmoTwin), but it’s just not what I am looking for in my Commander games. If you do, this card is probably great for you, but I don’t feel like that really counts as “casual appeal.”

An enchantment combo you can play in a mono-red deck. Because that’s what you think when you think about red.


The Reprecussion-style combos, on the other hand… those have casual Timmy appeal written all over them. And, I suppose, an instant speed Furnace means you can drop it right before going off, minimizing the chance your opponents have to disrupt you by just killing you with their turbo-charged fighters. But it’s a combo that punishes people for maintaining a board full of creatures, and not playing instant speed exiling removal for the Stuffy Doll. It’s hard to disrupt, and like most combo kills the goal seems to be to drive to the combo and just kill everyone. And, again, while I get that doing that once or twice might be fun, focusing your deck on specific combos seems Spike to me. And I don’t think there are really such things as casual Spikes.


Finally, there’s the Bearer of the Heavens. I hate these cards. Worldslayer, Decree of Annihilation, Worldfire, Jokulhops, etc… they’re all just land-destruction cards gussied up to set people even further back. And again, I just don’t see how these cards are fun! Am I alone in this? My partner, Dana, always drafts the Upheaval deck in cube when she gets the chance, and I don’t like that either. Magic should be about moving the game forward, not just about trolling the world by sending everyone back to square one.


The stick that’ll prove you’re a dick!

At the end of the day, I enjoy casual Magic because I like doing fun things. These three cards shut off your opponents’ ability to do fun things while not being all that fun on their lonesome. Which makes me wonder who designs these cards. Who likes these things? And how can we disrupt their control over design? Because at the end of the day, the last thing we needed in Journey Into Nyx were functional reprints of these fun-vampire effects.


That’s my major complaint about the bounty that is Journey of Nyx. Turn in next week, by which point my pre-orders should have come in, and I’ll be going over what cards I like for the format and what decks have seen updates with this new, sparkly set.


Jess Stirba thinks the Jayne hat is played out.

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