Journey into Nyx Standard Spoiler Season: Iroas, God of Victory

A few days ago, I was speculating what kind of abilities the new gods from Journey into Nyx would have. I initially imagined that Iroas, the red white god would have an ability which would grant creatures you control first strike or maybe even haste.

Suffice to say, my guess was very far off from what Wizards had in mind:

1.	Journey into Nyx Standard Spoiler Season: Iroas, God of Victory

Like with planeswalkers, evaluating gods can be a real challenge. A god may primarily appear overpowered on paper but may prove to be less as time passes by. On the other hand, I actually like Iroas for the reason that he only costs 4 and has immediate board impact, provided that you have creatures on the battlefield. In addition, Iroas, God of Victory also benefits from his own static ability and has enough power to beat the lights out of your opponents.

Just imagine this sequence:

T1: Soldier of the Pantheon

T2: Precinct Captain/Ash Zealot/Burning-Tree Emissary

T3: Hammer of Purphoros/Chandra’s Phoenix

T4: Iroas, God of Victory

Obviously, this is a magical Christmas land scenario but then again, draws like this happen on occasion if not often. And even if the God of Victory doesn’t awaken the turn it comes into play, having him on the battlefield ensures that your creatures will get through the red zone unopposed.

I honestly think that the centaur god will be generally good against decks that are brimming with creatures, particularly against Selesnya or Red/Blue Devotion decks but I am imagining that this is a dead card most of the time against decks packed with removals like Monoblack Devotion and most control decks.

The thing is that the ability that it grants your creatures against an online Elspeth, Sun’s Champion might be neat but you’re probably already losing at such a time. In addition, Iroas’ abilities clearly require the deck to be creature dense if a player expects to effectively utilize him. Not to mention, creatures that lives to tell the tale before Mogis’ twin enters the fray.

Journey into Nyx Standard Spoiler Season: Iroas, God of Victory

With the current metagame leaning towards control-based strategies like Monoblack Devotion as well as Esper, I don’t expect Iroas to make much of an impact. Besides, if I am playing a boros color-based deck, I’d rather leave mana up for a Boros Charm to keep my creatures from being decimated mercilessly by a Supreme Verdict. Tapping out to play Iroas only for the opponent to completely sweep your board is a total blowout.

Overall, I like Iroas, God of Victory in a vacuum but as long as the metagame is filled with control decks, I highly doubt that Mogis’ twin would be seeing play anytime soon. How about you? What are your thoughts about Iroas?

Thanks for reading,

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

Journey into Nyx Standard Spoiler Season: Iroas, God of Victory

Standard Journey to Nyx Spoiler Season: Hall of Triumph

It’s the first week of Journey to Nyx’s spoiler season and boy did we get a treat from the first batch of cards that were spoiled.

Standard Journey to Nyx Spoiler Season: Hall of Triumph

“That’s Elspeth wielding Godsend illustrated in the mural”

A lot of people were excited to see this the first time it was spoiled, me included, and one of the first things that people realized is that this artifact can complement Master of Waves.

One of the common problems that the merfolk wizard have is that if the opponent has spot removal for him end of  your turn, then it can be a total blowout since the tokens he produces dies along with him while you’re tapped out and defensless. However, having a Hall of Triumph on the battlefield will keep the Master of Waves tokens from dying in the worst case that their master dies.

Standard Journey to Nyx Spoiler Season: Hall of Triumph

Here’s a list that I made yesterday because yeah, I am damn excited to try this:

Monoblue-Devotion

Main Deck: 60

Lands: 24

21 Island

3 Mutavault

Creatures: 30

4 Cloudfin Raptor

4 Frostburn Weird

4 Judge’s Familiar

4 Master of Waves

4 Nightveil Specter

2 Sigiled Starfish

4 Thassa, God of the Sea

4 Tidebinder Mage

Spells: 6

2 Bident of Thassa

2 Hall of Triumph

2 Rapid Hybridization

Hall of Triumph seems good in this kind of list and if only it wasn’t legendary like Heliod’s spear, it would’ve been better. Another inclusion I made was this:

Standard Journey to Nyx Spoiler Season: Hall of Triumph

I personally find starfish in general cute even though I haven’t seen or touched one in real life. Then again, this would be the first starfish that I’d be touching, even if it’s only on cardboard. I only included two copies of the echinoderm because drawing more than one copy in the mid to late game is not really something I’d want.

In addition, the starfish generally serves only as a blocker and doesn’t contribute in killing your opponent. However, being able to filter your draws more in addition to what Thassa provides during your upkeep is something I find very exciting. On the other hand, I am imagining most control decks would want 3-4 copies of these cute sea creatures in their lists in addition to the 12 temples that they utilize.

On the other hand, there’s also this list:

UW Devotion

Main Deck: 60

Lands: 24

1 Azorius Guildgate

1 Godless Shrine

4 Hallowed Fountain

11 Island

3 Mutavault

4 Temple of Enlightenment

Creatures: 30

4 Cloudfin Raptor

2 Ephara, God of the Polis

4 Frostburn Weird

4 Judge’s Familiar

4 Master of Waves

4 Nightveil Specter

4 Thassa, God of the Sea

4 Tidebinder Mage

Spells: 6

4 Detention Sphere

1 Hall of Triumph

1 Spear of Heliod

Wouldn’t it be great if you have two Glorious Anthems on the battlefield? Not to mention that the spear adds towards Ephara’s devotion. As much as I want to add Sigiled Starfish here, there’s not much space to fit it in.

Standard Journey to Nyx Spoiler Season: Hall of Triumph

How about a white-based aggressive deck utilizing Hall of Triumph?

Mono-White Aggro

Main Deck: 60

Lands: 22

4 Mutavault

18 Plains

Creatures: 28

2 Banisher Priest

4 Brimaz, King of Oreskos

4 Boros Elite

4 Daring Skyjek

4 Dryad Militant

2 Imposing Sovereign

4 Precinct Captain

4 Soldier of the Pantheon

Spells: 10

2 Ajani, Caller of the Pride

4 Brave the Elements

2 Spear of Heliod

2 Hall of Triumph

This is basically your standard mono-white aggressive shell which includes the King of Oreskos plus the possibility of having two anthem effects to pump your swarm.

Here’s another list but with a lower curve:

Mono-White Blitz

Main Deck: 60

Lands: 22

4 Mutavault

18 Plains

Creatures: 30

4 Boros Elite

4 Cavalry Pegasus

4 Daring Skyjek

4 Dryad Militant

2 Imposing Sovereign

4 Loyal Pegasus

4 Precinct Captain

4 Soldier of the Pantheon

Spells: 8

4 Brave the Elements

2 Spear of Heliod

2 Hall of Triumph

This take on the white weenie archetype doesn’t rely on Brimaz’s board presence but attempts to take down the opponent as fast as it can before the opponent has a chance to build a strong board presence. Cavalry Pegasus ensures that all your creatures, which are mostly humans gets through for a beating. Having 16 one drops makes sure that your turn two is filled with cheaply costed creatures that can be powered up by either the spear or the hall.

Standard Journey to Nyx Spoiler Season: Hall of Triumph

Mono-Red Aggro

Main Deck: 60

Lands :22

18 Mountains

4 Mutavault

Creatures: 32

4 Burning-Tree Emissary

4 Chandra’s Phoenix

4 Firedrinker Satyr

4 Firefist Striker

4 Foundry Street Denizen

4 Gore-House Chainwalker

4 Rakdos Cackler

3 Rubblebelt Maaka

Spells: 7

3 Hall of Triumph

2 Mizzium Mortars

2 Searing Blood

This is basically Patrick Sullivan’s mono-red aggro list with the minor adjustment of replacing mainboard shocks with Hall of Triumph and I am not sure if putting three copies in the main is the right thing to do. I am sure Patrick Sullivan has the best answer to that.

Mono-Green Aggro

Main Deck: 60

Lands: 23

18 Forest

2 Mutavault

3 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

Creatures: 30

3 Boon Satyr

4 Burning-Tree Emissary

3 Courser of Kruphix

4 Elvish Mystic

4 Experiment One

4 Kalonian Tusker

2 Nyea, God of the Hunt

2 Polukranos, World Eater

4 Sword-wise Centaur

Spells: 7

2 Garruk, Caller of Beast

2 Hall of Triumph

3 Pit Fight

Green isn’t really my specialty but here’s what I was able to cook up but I am sure seasoned green mages out there would be able to cook up something better than what I have.

Overall, I am interested in how mono-colored based aggressive strategies will adapt with Hall of Triumph now available for them to utilize. Though there are people who are skeptical of this not with Spear of Heliod marginally seeing play, the possibility of having two anthem effects is not far off.

Right now, I am happy that Monoblue Devotion has a tool that it can potentially use. Also take note that it’s just the first week of Journey to Nyx spoiler season so I am hoping that it doesn’t stop here. So far, what cards are you finding interesting?

Thanks for reading,

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

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Standard Journey to Nyx Spoiler Season: Hall of Triumph

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Reveling with a God

The prerelease is already this coming weekend and a lot of people are already getting excited to open their first Born of the Gods packs to see what goodies they’ll get. I, on the other hand, would not be able to participate in the upcoming events due to things that I need to take care of first. For the meantime, let me share my thoughts about one of the hyped cards in the set:

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Reveling with a God

Before the spoiler season, there were artworks from Born of the Gods that has been circulating online and people were talking about Xenagos, rising to godhood. I initially didn’t believe the idea because for one, Xenagos already has a card of his own.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Reveling with a God

Okay fine, there’s nothing in the rules of Magic: The Gathering or articles written by pro-Magic players or people working in the R&D that says this is not possible but. Ain’t it unfair?! While Jace Beleren doesn’t have a version of himself with a printed power and toughness! Wouldn’t it be great if all the planeswalkers would have a creature version of themselves like Xenagos?!

Ahem.

Moving away from my senseless rant which isn’t really a rant but just me overreacting, Xenagos, God of Revels’ ability is reminiscent to what Fires of Yavimaya offers.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Reveling with a God

It was back in the year 2000 where four decks having four copies of this card (with the exception of one deck only having three copies) burned the tournament down that was Pro – Tour Chicago. Though the deck didn’t take the top spot, four players took four of the top 8 spots using these decks namely, Jon Finkel, Michael Pustilnik, Zvi Mowshowitz, and Robert Dougherty. For reference, here’s a list of the deck:

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Reveling with a God

The main idea here is to ramp into fatties like Blastoderm and spells like Saproling Burst to create a strong board presence with the help of elves and birds. Normally, these spells wouldn’t be that much effective because they have a limited number of uses because of the fading mechanic. Having Fires online however negates this drawback and lets you take full advantage of these spells. This means that if the opposing deck is slow, then Blastoderms and an army of saprolings will devour the opponent relentlessly and mercilessly.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Reveling with a God

Having Xenagos, God of Revels online offers the same incentive and in fact does it better in a sense that the creature being blessed by the god grows twice as large. Though Xenagos may cost a bit higher as compared to most gods, he is in a color where playing a five CC creature on the fourth turn is common thanks to mana creatures like Elvish Mystic or Sylvan Caryatid.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Reveling with a God

Furthermore, with the number of gruul-colored permanents lying around, awakening Xenagos is not that difficult.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Reveling with a God

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Reveling with a God

So why is Nylea, God of the Hunt there? Because why not? If there’s another thing that you’d want your creatures to have, particularly those that are guided by the god of revels, it’s the ability to trample your opponents’ creatures. So what about Xenagos’s stats? Well, it’s a typical stat for a god though the only difference is that if you have enough permanents counting towards Xenagos’ devotion, then you can have the satyr god rampage right away and grow him into a 12/10 creature.

If your opponent doesn’t have the means to stop the ravaging god then it’s likely that it’d be a two turn clock or so for him. Having a Nylea on the battlefield will also ensure that the damage goes through in case Xenagos gets chump blocked by an elemental token or a Boros Reckoner for that matter.  Also, having a Ghor-Clan Rampager in hand and using it for its blood rush ability to strengthen Xenagos will likely end games on the spot. I tried brewing an G/R aggro and this is what I came up with.

G/R Aggro

Lands: 23

10 Forest

5 Mountain

4 Stomping Ground

4 Temple of Abandon

Creatures: 30

3 Boon Satyr

4 Elvish Mystic

3 Fanatic of Xenagos

4 Ghor-Clan Rampager

2 Nylea, God of the Hunt

3 Scavenging Ooze

3 Sylvan Caryatid

3 Xenagos, God of Revels

4 Witchstalker

Spells: 7

4 Domri Rade

3 Xenagos, the Reveler

As you’ve noticed, this isn’t your typical GR devotion or GR monsters build. The main idea here is to try to get through as much damage as possible with the help of cards like Nylea, God of the Hunt or Ghor-Clan Rampager. Furthermore, awakening Nylea is not something the deck wants to actively do since she doesn’t benefit from the trample she grants your creatures. On the other hand, having an awakened Xenagos, God of Revels is serious trouble for your opponent, not to mention that like all the other gods in the set, he’s indestructible.

Overall, Xenagos, God of Revels will likely impact the up-coming Standard format and people are already excited to play him. I am not much into playing big green monsters but then again, I wouldn’t mind having the god of revels on my side.

Thanks for reading!

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Reveling with a God

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Ephara, God of the Polis

Ephara, God of the Polis was one of the first cards spoiled during the first week of the Born of the Gods spoiler season that I got my eyes on. At that time, I thought that it’d be better to wait for all the gods to be spoiled before I decide to write an article about them. However, I eventually decided to just write about the gods that I personally like as oppose to what I did in this article as change of pace.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Ephara, God of the Polis

“POLIS. Not the POLICE!”

The primary reason why I liked Ephara is because I enjoy drawing cards and her global ability allows you to do that, provided that you are able to fulfill her conditions.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Ephara, God of the Polis

What’s neat about this ability is that regardless of whose upkeep it is, as long as a creature entered the battlefield under your control during the previous turn, you get to draw a card. This means that if you have creatures with flash and you play them at the end of your opponent’s turn, you get to trigger her ability and draw an additional card during your upkeep.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Ephara, God of the Polis

Furthermore, having a Thassa, God of the Sea at such a time not only allows you to filter what you will be drawing thanks to the scry ability Thassa offers, but you also get to draw a card right away which is in addition to what you will be drawing during your draw step. On the other hand, adding a creature to the battlefield on your turn allows you to get more gas during your opponent’s upkeep phase in case he starts flinging spot removals on your creatures.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Ephara, God of the Polis

“You don’t want to mess with these ladies alright”

Suddenly, your creature spells become cantrips and in fact, Ephara’s ability isn’t limited to you casting creature spells. If for example you have a Heliod, God of the Sun in the battlefield and you used its ability to generate tokens, you still get to draw a card on the next turn’s upkeep. And this can actually make it difficult for your opponent to control the board through the use of spot removals and or sweepers since you are able to replenish your hand efficiently through the god of the polis’ help.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Ephara, God of the Polis

Let’s also not forget that she is a creature herself that you can potentially awaken provided that you are able to have enough permanents that add up to Ephara’s devotion requirements. Of course it’s easier to awaken Thassa or any other mono-colored gods but then again, there are a lot of permanents that can reliably add to Ephara’s devotion count such as the following:

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Ephara, God of the Polis

Take note that these permanents aren’t easy to deal with unlike with most permanents that have a printed power and toughness, not to mention that Ephara already counts two towards your devotion. In addition, Ephara, just like with any other gods, is indestructible and has respectable stats that can potentially decimate your opponent in a few turns if not dealt with. Her converted manacost is also reasonable though the four manacost slot in a blue white-based deck is really getting pretty tight.

To be honest, I’ve been having a bit of difficulty brewing a deck which sports the God of the Polis. My original idea was about a W/U deck with the King of Oreskos included in it and Precinct Captain. After that, I felt that Thassa was too good not to be included in such a deck so I tried to brew a Mono-Blue Devotion deck splashing white for Ephara and Detention Sphere.

UW Devotion

Lands: 25

2 Azorius Guildgate

2 Godless Shrine

4 Hallowed Fountain

9 Island

3 Mutavault

1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

4 Temple of Enlightenment

Creatures: 31

4 Cloudfin Raptor

3 Ephara, God of the Polis

4 Frostburn Weird

4 Judge’s Familiar

4 Master of Waves

4 Nightveil Specter

4 Thassa, God of the Sea

4 Tidebinder Mage

Spells: 4

1 Cyclonic Rift

3 Detention Sphere

The list may seem off in a sense that we don’t have Jace, Architect of Thought in the main as well as the Bidents but then again, this is still untested. The Godless Shrines’ inclusion is a means to increase the chances of playing a third turn Nightveil Specter similar to what Tomoharu Saito did with the manabase of his Gruul Aggro. By including two Temple Gardens, he is able to increase the chances of being able to play a Boros Reckoner on the third turn.

The truth is that I want to thank Patrick Chapin for discussing Ephara and including a mono-blue deck list with Ephara in it because it gave me the courage to post my own version of the deck here. I was initially unsure if it’s a good idea to include Ephara in such a list since the manabase seems to lose consistency as compared to how the original Mono-Blue Devotion deck was doing. I guess the idea doesn’t seem ridiculous after all but then again, a lot of brews tend to look ridiculous at first until they start taking down tournaments.

For reference, here is the deck list that Patrick Chapin brewed:

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Ephara, God of the Polis

What I am interested in brewing as well is a UW deck utilizing the heroic mechanic. So far, here’s what I’ve come up with:

UW Heroes

Lands: 22

4 Azorius Guildgate

4 Hallowed Fountain

2 Island

4 Mutavault

4 Plains

4 Temple of Enlightenment

Creatures: 22

4 Battlewise Hoplite

2 Eidolon of Countless Battles

2 Ephara, God of the Polis

4 Fabled Hero

2 Heliod, God of the Sun

4 Hero of Iroas

4 Nyxborn Shieldmate

Spells: 16

2 Bident of Thassa

3 Detention Sphere

4 Ethereal Armor

3 Ephara’s Enlightenment

4 Stratus Walk

Okay, again, this list is untested and I am still deliberating the cards in the list and if you’ve noticed, the inclusion of the Bident of Thassa here is because of my penchant for drawing cards. Then again, it’s an enchantment which counts towards the Ethereal Armor’s bonuses. Furthermore, there are seven aura spells here that can make your creatures evasive which helps increase the chance of you being able to take advantage of the Bident’s initial ability. Also, getting a Fabled Hero through uncontested, using the Bident’s second ability is something worth considering.

Some of the cards that I considered but still unsure about are Artisan of Forms, Hopeful Eidolon, Gift of Orzhova, Brave the Elements, Retracting Helix, Gods Willing, Spear of Heliod, Chosen by Heliod, Fate Foretold and some more. For the meantime, here’s what I have but I still intend to polish this list and hopefully, I can come up with a decent one soon.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Ephara, God of the Polis

Overall, I am really hoping that Ephara would at least make an impact in the current Standard but only time will tell if she would. Regardless, she’s still one of my favorite picks for this season. How about you?

Thanks for reading!

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

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Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Ephara, God of the Polis

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Vortex Elemental

I was suppose to write about my favorite BoTG god which is Ephara, God of the Polis but seeing that one of my favorite professional players, Patrick Chapin already discussing it’s advantages along with the deck lists that Ephara can fit into made me decide to put the idea aside. Not that I don’t plan to talk about her one of this days but for the meantime, let me talk about another card that I find interesting.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Vortex Elemental

At first glance, this elemental creature doesn’t seem impressive since it’s primarily a defensive and reactive card, not to mention that it doesn’t have any good stats. So why did it get my attention? For one blue mana to cast and to activate, the elemental can deal with a lot of creatures regardless of their size. Is a Boros Reckoner heading your way? Put the elemental in front of it and then shuffle away! Hmm, how about an awakened, and angry Mogis, God of Slaughter about to pummel you? Yes, you can banish him back into Nyx or in this case, in your opponent’s deck.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Vortex Elemental

Also take note that doing so also gets you to shuffle your elemental in your library for the potential of drawing it again at a later time and then being able to cast it again to keep away unpleasant threats from beating you down. The secondary ability of the elemental may seem too difficult to trigger but then again, it has its uses. If for example a Blood Baron of Vizkopa is threatening to chump block your only means of closing the game then what you could do is attack with the small elemental along with your other attacker and then activate the secondary ability of the elemental.

 Not only will this ensure that your other creature gets to bash the opponent in the face for the final points of damage but it also gets rid of your opponent’s sole defender in such a scenario. Also take note that your opponent wouldn’t be gaining any amount of life here since both the elemental and the vampire gets bounced back into their respective libraries before the damage resolution step.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Vortex Elemental

“Baron won’t even have the chance to bear its fangs”

Of course this kind of scenario may be rare but it can happen. Other than that, the Vortex Elemental also has the “elemental” creature sub type which means….

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Vortex Elemental

“The truth is that the Master ate some Mizu Mizu Fruit and is a Logia user”

It grows into a 1/2 creature the moment you put a Master of Waves into the battlefield. It may not be impacting but it’s good to know that the Master is able to strengthen your 0/1 elemental. Take note that the elemental also adds to Thassa’s devotion requirement. Another neat application of Vortex Elemental’s ability is that it can deal with creatures with hexproof since the wording of its first ability doesn’t state any target.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Vortex Elemental

“Hexproof? What hexproof?”

Is that Reaper of the Wilds giving you a serious problem? Then block with your elemental and activate its first ability. Even the big bad wolf who stalks witches is not spared from the vortex that awaits it. The vortex will swallow creatures whole like a whirlpool hungry for ships and sailors. In fact, if you have a means to force multiple creatures to block the Vortex Elemental, you can drown all of them at once! It’s ambitious but not impossible.

Overall, I have a feeling that this card will see play as a sideboard in most blue-based strategies. The idea that it can deal with any creature just by simply blocking and paying one blue mana is very appealing to me and I won’t be surprised if you see 3-4 copies of this in various blue-based decks, especially those who play control. If there are players out there who dare play a Yoked Ox, then why not play a creature which does something nifty interesting to creatures it blocks?

Thanks for reading!

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

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Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Vortex Elemental

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: The King of Oreskos

It’s already the second week of the Born of the Gods spoiler season and so far, a total of 64 cards have already been spoiled out of 165 cards from the whole set as of this writing. And there are already a bunch of cards that I am already swooning over, hoping that I’d get to play with them soon. One of them would be the King of Oreskos, Brimaz.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: The King of Oreskos

It seems that Wizards of the Coast noticed that white seems to be having a difficult time in catching up with the other colors in the current format. If you haven’t noticed (though I am sure that you, faithful reader already did), white is the only color that has a devotion deck in Standard that didn’t have much impact in the metagame. Of course, this is not to say that playing white doesn’t have its merits. In fact, there are a lot of white-based aggro decks out there that can bring down a tournament. Orzhov aggro decks that rely on Thoughtseize and Sin Collectors to take away Espers means of destroying the white players’ armies (I am looking at you Supreme Verdict), and or Boros aggro decks that come out of the gates real fast supported by Boros Charm and Brave the Elements are common in every tournament.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: The King of Oreskos

“Answers”

With Born of the Gods around the corner, white is getting a lot of upgrades and one of those is the Brimaz, the King of Oreskos. When I saw Brimaz the first time, he reminded me of this card:

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: The King of Oreskos

“Are you ready boys?”

I personally like this card back then because it can single-handedly end a game if left unanswered. I used to board in this lady against midrange decks and or creature-dense decks back when I was still using UW Delver. Imagine, that’s already 7 power on the board if it goes through the player which means that it is a three-turn clock. This is not counting any other creatures you have in the battlefield that are inspired by the hero.

Brimaz on the other hand may not offer the same board presence as the heroine did when she was still legal in Standard but no creature will ever get past the king of Oreskos that’s for sure thanks to him being ever-vigilant. In addition, whenever he is assigned as a blocker, a soldier of his comes to his support to help take down any foe who dares try to trespass their territory. And take note that his loyal soldier is as keen as their king when it comes to those who’re trying to sneak past them.

In addition, Brimaz always go forth into battle supported by one of his loyal subjects. While the feline king doesn’t share the ability to inspire allies with a heartfelt battle cry like what the previous heroine was able to bestow on her comrades, he is blessed with the same body as the heroine in Mirrodin. However, what I liked about Brimaz in particular is his mana cost. For only 1WW, you will be able to call forth Oreskos’ King and this means that if you are playing first, you will be able to strengthen your board presence considerably and can swing for a good amount of damage before the opponent even plays a sweeper.

If there’s one drawback that Brimaz poses, it is the fact that he is a legendary creature. This means that you can only have one Brimaz on the battlefield at one time unlike with Hero of Bladehold. But I guess it won’t stop players in putting at least 3-4 copies of Brimaz in their white-based decks since it is likely that Brimaz would be hitting the bin more often than not because if he doesn’t, it means that your opponent is in deep trouble. Plus, you would want to draw him as often as you could because of the power that he offers when you play him. If your opponent is unprepared, he will be quickly end up in the backseat. Also, Brimaz can easily trigger battalion thanks to his ability to summon soldiers to his side.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: The King of Oreskos

Having this on the battlefield means that the King of Oreskos and his loyal soldiers can potentially trump the opponent’s creatures. So far, the decks that would love to have him would be the white-based aggro decks that I’ve mentioned above. In fact, Patrick Chapin already had brewed a couple of decks sporting Brimaz.

Orzhov Aggro

Main Deck: 60

Lands: 22

4 Godless Shrine

4 Mutavault

7 Plains

2 Orzhov Guildgate

1 Swamp

4 Temple of Silence

Creatures: 29

3 Banisher Priest

4 Boros Elite

4 Brimaz, King of Oreskos

4 Daring Skyjek

3 Dryad Militant

3 Imposing Sovereign

4 Precinct Captain

4 Soldier of the Pantheon

Spells: 9

4 Brave the Elements

3 Orzhov Charm

2 Spear of Heliod

Truth be told that this list is basically the same list that Nakada, Ryo used when he won in the Grand Prix Shizuoka event. So there’s really nothing new about the list though this list is still likely to evolve as the metagame develops.

Boros Aggro

Main Deck: 60

Lands: 22

2 Boros Guildgate

1 Mountain

4 Mutavault

6 Plains

4 Sacred Foundry

4 Temple of Triumph

Creatures: 30

4 Banisher Priest

4 Brimaz, King of Oreskos

4 Boros Elite

4 Burning-Tree Emissary

3 Dryad Militant

4 Firefist Striker

3 Imposing Sovereign

4 Precinct Captain

Spells: 8

4 Brave the Elements

4 Boros Charm

This list is pretty straight-forward and can easily overrun the opponent in a few turns. What I am interested in is a UW tempo deck that has a set of the Feline king in the mainboard, similar to the previous UW Delver deck which sides in Hero of Bladehold against slower opponents and to overwhelm aggro strategies. For the meantime, I’ll probably leave that to another article.

Overall, I would want to have my own play set of Brimaz though I am guessing that it’d be a challenge to do so come prerelease since supply will be scarce. Not to mention that people would probably hold on to him more than sell into the hype. And even if people would sell him, it would be at the current price of $25 or less and if you’re lucky, you can get a play set for around $70 or $80. Then again, getting a king to side with you comes with an exorbitant price.

Thanks for reading

@ravenknives at Twitter

imagecredit: mtgsalvation, gatherer.wizards.com

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

Frankly, I am not much of a fan of the phoenix creature sub-type in Magic: The Gathering and in fact, I am more inclined into hating the creature sub-type. It’s a long story but I am not here to talk about why I dislike the creature type but rather to let you know why this particular phoenix card got me to reconsider my distaste for it.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

To be fair, Wizards of the Coast has been doing well in improving various creature types for the past few years. Just take a look at the dragons (well, maybe not the recently spoiled one in Born of the Gods) in the past couple of sets.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

As I’ve said in a previous article, dragons have been part of M:tG’s legacy ever since the game was conceived. In fact, the Commander format which was originally referred to as EDH or Elder Dragon Highlander had the five elder dragon legends as the initial generals or commanders. I am really happy to see that the creatures being introduced in the game are improving in each set and the Phoenix sub-type isn’t an exception. So what do we have going for Flame-Wreathed Phoenix?

I had to admit that I wasn’t impressed with the firebird when I first saw it. Probably because of my personal biases but mostly because I imagined that like with most punisher cards, you tend to get the weaker effect since your opponent will be choosing what you will be getting when the firebird enters the battlefield. In addition, paying it tribute would only get you a 5/5 firebird for four mana which I immediately dismissed and compared with green’s four drop 5/5 creatures which doesn’t even have trample.

Then again it dawned on me; Flame-wreathed Phoenix has flying! The thing with most big green fatties is that even though they are aggressively costed, they lack a form of evasion. Even though they have the potential to deal massive damage to the opponent, they’re often sidetracked by the opponent’s critters. However, having a 5/5 creature for only four mana with flying is similar to having a green fatty having trample! In fact, flying is better in most cases than having trample!

 Also:

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

This was one of those creatures who made an impact back in old standard and it even has a drawback. The firebird we’re talking about however does not. Sure, Flame-wreathed phoenix may not have a board impact if your opponent sacrifices some lambs or goats to pay it tribute but rest assured, this creature won’t dare cross its path.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

So what if the tribute wasn’t paid? Well, your opponent is sure to expect a hasty flyer that cannot be permanently dealt with by these spot removals:

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

And even if it was successfully dealt with by black’s ever reliable removal Doom Blade or something similar or perhaps a Lighting Strike from Keranos, the destruction is not permanent and just like in the legends, the firebird will rise again to burn your opponent. In addition, this hasty flyer trumps its smaller cousin conjured by the planeswalker Chandra Nalaar as well as malicious specters. If there’s something that I am concerned about is that the four drop slot is becoming more and more tight. We have Fanatic of Mogis, Purphoros, God of the Forge, Mogis, God of Slaughter and then Flame-Wreathed Phoenix. I am imagining that people would probably cut on the two drop slot or leave out Purphoros and just leave the Minotaur and the phoenix.

Another thing that should be considered is that the larger version of the creature also doesn’t die from Mizzium Mortars and would require a combination of two burn spells to kill it. The only colors that can probably conveniently deal with this fiery menace is perhaps blue, through the use of Detention Spheres or Bounce effects and of course black. Overall, Flame-Wreathed Phoenix has the potential to make an impact on the current Standard. Am I excited to open this in one of my packs? Not really and not because I dislike phoenixes but because I am still a blue player at the end of the day after all.

And for those who’re interested in seeing a deck list to fit the firebird, we have this:

Red Devotion Wins

Lands: 24

11 Mountains

3 Mutavault

2 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

4 Sacred Foundry

4 Temple of Triumph

Creatures: 28

4 Ash Zealot

4 Boros Reckoner

4 Burning Tree-Emissary

4 Chandra’s Phoenix

4 Fanatic of Mogis

4 Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

4 Stormbreath Dragon

Spells: 8

4 Boros Charm

4 Lightning Strike

This list is obviously untested but this could be a good start if you’re interested in playing Flame Wreathed Phoenix. Well, that’s it for today!

Thanks for reading!

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods Spoiler Season: Pain Seer

It’s that time of the year again when people are looking forward each day to see what the new up-coming set has to offer them. I can say that I am one of those people who’re excited to see what toys the latest set have for us kids. And as to what I usually do, I’ll be taking a look at the cards spoiled thus far and be talking about those that caught my interest. Let’s start with this one:

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods Spoiler Season: Pain Seer

“Hurt. Me. More.”

If there’s one thing that I would like to say before anything else is that this card will never rival Dark Confidant nor will it become the current standard’s Dark Confidant. If there’s something I’ve learned in the past few years that I’ve been playing M:tG is that it doesn’t mean that if a card appears to be another version of an already existing card that already rotated out of the current standard, is that it will function the same way as its predecessor did.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Pain Seer

“Because I am a blue player that’s why.”

And Pain Seer is no exception. While it’s a pain that he will never be like Bob, I still found myself pondering how this card can be abused. If the untap mechanic introduced back in Shadowmoor was still present in the current format then I am pretty sure a lot of people would be able to find a way to abuse Pain Seer’s ability. However, it’s not but then again…

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Pain Seer

It is still present in the current Standard format in the form of Kiora’s Follower. Furthermore, it’s not just Kiora’s Follower who can inspire Pain Seer but also this guy.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Pain Seer

“Ready for more pain?”

Never imagined this guy could be anything but inspiring. Oh well. On a serious note, utilizing Ral’s ability suggests a Grixis-based deck of some sort. I don’t have any deck list to show right now since I am still in the process of examining the cards but if you guys are looking for synergies or interesting combinations then you got this.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Pain Seer

“Subtlety or Noisily?”

Two more cards that can also inspire Pain Seer into giving you more pain err, I mean cards are Hidden Strings and Springleaf Drum. Does it seem like it’s too much trouble using these two other cards? Who knows? But just like what Ben Bleiweiss said:

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Pain Seer

The most that can be done is attack with the seer on the third turn and hope that it can survive the whole turn until it gets inspired. Otherwise, it’s a 2/2 vanilla however, if it survives until your next untap phase then you get hurt and value out of it. I think what makes it a bit good in comparison to Dark Confidant is that you have better control of it, particularly on when you want to inflict pain on yourself and draw cards. Again, Pain Seer can never be Dark Confidant but in such a context, it can be nice to consider such a strategic angle. You don’t want to have a Dark Confidant by your side when you’re totally behind in terms of life you know.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Pain Seer

“The truth is that Pain Seers sell blood to Blood Scriveners for profit.”

Overall, it’s still too early to conclude on how Pain Seer would impact the current Standard format but in my honest opinion, Pain Seer is way better than Blood Scrivener since I think it’s far easier to inspire a seer into hurting you. With Supreme Verdict, Anger of the Gods and other mass removals out there, committing your whole hand is something you wouldn’t want to do. But I am sure that a lot of people would try him out as soon as he is available for Standard play.

That’s it for today!

Thanks for reading!

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

 

imagecredit:

mtgsalvation

gatherer.wizards.com

Year-End Mtg Spoilers Review Re-Assessment

It’s just a few more hours before New Year’s Eve and I decided to look back at how my assessment or speculations were with regard to the cards that I talked about in the recent Theros Spoiler season two months ago. Let’s start with:

Year-End Mtg Spoilers Review Re-Assessment

Elspeth, Sun’s Champion: I wouldn’t say that my speculation or prediction of Elspeth, Sun’s Champion is off since I was still right with regard to the number of Elspeths that people put in their decks. Not to mention that I did mention that Elspeth would be most fitting in a control shell or a Mono-White shell deck though the latter was a bit off since we didn’t see her much in action in such a deck. Overall, the restrictive mana-cost was remained the biggest factor that kept her in the bench most of the time if not as a one-of or two-of in a control shell.

Year-End Mtg Spoilers Review Re-Assessment

Scry Spells: The spells that I discussed last time namely; Voyages’ End, Read the Bones, Omenspeaker, Magma Jet and God’s Willing each had their own moment under the sun though none of them really made a big impact towards the current Standard format. The one losing the most here would probably be Voyages’ End with no deck in Standard sporting the bounce spell with the scry function. Of all these spells, the most that’s seeing play would be Magma Jet, and followed by a tie between Omenspeaker and Read the Bones.

Year-End Mtg Spoilers Review Re-Assessment

Stormbreath Dragon: My speculation on this one was perhaps the most accurate of all my previous assessments then again, it’s nothing really spectacular since a lot of people had already seen this good ol’ dragon coming. Stormbreath Dragon has seen play in various red-based decks such as Gruul Monsters, Boros Midrange, Dega Naya Control, and many more and it does what it’s expected to do: Kill players outright.

Year-End Mtg Spoilers Review Re-Assessment

“Again, they’re not the power rangers”

The Pantheon of Theros: Though I was able to highlight Thassa as my favorite God of the set, I never imagined that it would be part of the Mono-Blue Devotion shell that’s been putting positive results in tournaments ever since Pro Tour Theros. My evaluation of Heliod on the other hand would be a miss in a sense that though I ranked him highly in my previous article, he was the only God that didn’t get much attention in the current Standard format. Purphoros saw heavy play at the beginning of the new Standard season but eventually waned thanks as the metagame evolved. As of present, the hype on Purphoros has already died down with only a few Boros decks utilizing him. Was I right regarding my evaluation? Partially because though people initially put him in mono-red decks, the card that really did the heavy lifting in these decks would be Fanatics of Mogis. Though I did encounter a deck which used Purphoros and was soundly defeated by it and yes, I can attest that the two damage it deals whenever a creature enters the battlefield does stack eventually. Nylea lived up to the expectations of people seeing fringe play and nothing more nothing less and I can also say that my speculation regarding Erebos is a miss in a sense that though I wasn’t that impressed with what he can do overall, he sees more play as compared to Nylea and or Heliod which I may have regarded highly in my previous article.

Year-End Mtg Spoilers Review Re-Assessment

Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver: Though he may be one of those planeswalkers that got my attention, the truth is that he didn’t live up to what people expected of him or imagined he could become in the current Standard format. His first ability may show promise followed by his second ability but then again, people just ignore him and go head directly to the opponent’s direction to beat him senseless. However, it is still too early to completely dismiss Ashiok, not with Born of the Gods just around the corner.

Overall, I am happy with my Theros Spoiler Assessment. It’s only a few weeks from now before the Born of the Gods spoiler season begins and I am already excited to see what’s in store for every M:tG player out there!

Year-End Mtg Spoilers Review Re-Assessment

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Ashiok “Salonga”, Nightmare Weaver

It’s just a few days before the prerelease and I am still undecided if I would be partaking on this upcoming event primarily due to financial constraints. Not to mention that I am more inclined to just save up for deck pieces that I can use in the new standard metagame. As of the present, all the cards in Theros has already been spoiled and the truth is that contrary to my initial impression of Theros, there are a number of cards that I really found interesting. Sadly, I’ve been preoccupied with a lot of things these last few days which kept me from writing about the newly spoiled cards but no matter, let me take this opportunity to write about one of the planeswalkers which a number of people seem to not find impressive as compared to the first two planeswalkers that were spoiled.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Ashiok “Salonga”, Nightmare Weaver

Like most of the previous blocks’ first set, they often have three planeswalkers and Theros is no exception. Ashiok, Nightmare Reaver is the third planeswalker to be spoiled after Elspeth, Sun’s Champion and Xenagos, the Reveler. Furthermore, if you’re going to notice, the three planeswalkers generally represents the five colors of magic with Elspeth being the only mono-colored planeswalker representing white, Xenagos representing red and green and Ashiok, representing blue and black.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Ashiok “Salonga”, Nightmare Weaver

Like with all planeswalkers, Ashiok is difficult to evaluate especially that we’re not sure how the new metagame will look like, setting aside the most likely probability of red-based aggressive strategies swarming the metagame.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Ashiok “Salonga”, Nightmare Weaver

What initially caught my attention regarding this planeswalker is its low mana cost. Ashiok only cost three mana and if we’re going to look back at previous planeswalkers  which costs three mana, we can confidently say that all of them saw play in the metagame of their times, with the exception of Ajani’s latest iteration which I feel may still impact new standard in some way.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Ashiok “Salonga”, Nightmare Weaver

Jace Beleren initially didn’t see play right away as compared to Garruk Wildspeaker and Ajani Goldmane. People didn’t appreciate Jace’s +1 ability since it let’s their opponents draw a card and it’s perfectly reasonable. Who would want their opponents to be benefiting from the card that you paid the mana cost for? Not to mention that it’s likely that you wouldn’t be able to play the card you drew in cases where you had just plopped Jace on the battlefield. On the other hand, choosing to draw only for yourself through his second ability reduces his loyalty counter which makes him vulnerable to the opponent’s creatures. His ultimate was rarely used at that time since the metagame was a bit aggressive, with faerie rogues flying around and kithkins drawing their swords, supported by their wizened cenns so there was just not much time to go up to 10 loyalty counters, not to mention that in order for you to do that, you have to use his first ability which allows your opponent to draw a card which is not a good idea. However, the tournament adjusted and people eventually learned to utilize Jace Beleren effectively and eventually became a staple in Faerie decks like Garruk being a staple in green ramp aggro decks at that time.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Ashiok “Salonga”, Nightmare Weaver

Liliana of the Veil on the other hand was the most expensive planeswalker of her time. When she first came around the standard metagame, people were excited to put her in their Solar Flare decks since it helps enable their plan of discarding a big creature, in this case, a Sun Titan whom they will eventually reanimate through the use of Unburial Rites. This then will bring back copies of Phantasmal Images which will then become copies of Sun Titan themselves, re-triggering the ETB ability of a Sun Titan to get more copies of Phantasmal Images from the graveyard to become another copy of Sun Titan and you get the idea. It should be obvious by now that having no immediate answer to such threats will likely close the game on the spot.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Ashiok “Salonga”, Nightmare Weaver

Her second ability is also no joke since it definitely gets rid of a creature. However, when UW Delver decks started dominating the metagame, people started to use Liliana less since they tend to get out tempo-ed. Just imagine, a UW Delver deck will simply play the turn one namesake card and then increase the chances of it becoming a reasonable threat through the help of Gitaxian Probe, and Ponder and once it becomes an insectile aberration, they’ll just sit on their counterspells, which was Mana Leak at that time. However, if the necromancer of the veil goes through unopposed then it will spell trouble for any deck since her ultimate is very very relevant and wins games.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Ashiok “Salonga”, Nightmare Weaver

In fact, even now, Liliana continues to be a staple in some decks, particularly the current Jund Midrange decks. Though Liliana is no longer seen that much these days thanks to the changes in the metagame, she has proven herself to be one of the most powerful planeswalkers to have been designed by Wizards of the Coast. And we’re not even mentioning the havoc that she’s causing in the Modern format as a four-of in a Jund deck and was usually cascaded to by the once-modern format legal card Bloodbraid Elf. And this won’t be possible if not for Liliana’s low-mana cost. And thanks to her low mana cost, playing her on the 2nd turn with the help of a Deathrite Shaman is possible with the Jund deck in Modern.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Ashiok “Salonga”, Nightmare Weaver

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Ashiok “Salonga”, Nightmare Weaver

“Bloodbraid + Liliana = Devastated Opponent”

Domri Rade is another card that has impacted the current Standard metagame. Though his inclusion is mostly limited to creature-densed decks, his abilities are all worth it. One common interaction would be Domri’s fight ability, the second ability to be exact, being used to target your own Boros Reckoner to fight another creature of an opponent which will then deal damage to the minotaur wizard which in turn, will trigger its ability to redirect damage dealt to it to a creature or player. Even his first ability is relevant since it helps you draw half a card, provided that your deck’s creature density is really high. And truth is that based on my experience, a turn two Domri is hard to deal with especially if you’re a control deck and once you are able to use his ultimate, it’s usually game over for your opponent.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Ashiok “Salonga”, Nightmare Weaver

And perhaps, the biggest factor which made these aforementioned planeswalkers standard playable is their low mana cost and I believe the same can be said of Ashiok.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Ashiok “Salonga”, Nightmare Weaver

At first glance, his (or her, though Vorthos Doug Beyer nor anyone didn’t confirm Ashiok’s gender but for the purposes of this article, we’ll refer to Ashiok as a male character) first ability doesn’t seem to impact much of the board. It simply exiles the top three cards of the opponent’s library and nothing more. It doesn’t let you draw cards, nor does it let you deny opponents any resources or even deal with creatures or even create tokens to defend itself. It’s like playing an over-costed Millstone with a free activation that mills the opponent for three cards. Now, would you play a three mana cost millstone when you can simply play a more proactive three mana cost card like Nightveil Specter perhaps? Assuming that Ashiok is in some kind of control shell, would you bother tapping out on the third turn just to mill your opponent three cards which does not affect his board position at all? Considering these factors, it is perfectly understandable why people would easily dismiss Ashiok. However, if we’re going to look closely, Ashiok’s starting loyalty is three and using his first ability brings his starting loyalty to five. Suddenly, the three-drop planeswalker became difficult to get rid off by mere aggression. In order for an opponent to force the Nightmare Weaver to retreat, he has to at least have a total of 5 power on board. And even if he is able to off Ashiok, the turn will likely end with you unharmed.

And take note, this is not putting factors like you having a removal for your opponent’s creatures into account. Looking at the color combination of Ashiok’s mana cost, we have a number of creature removals at our disposal such as Doom Blade, Warp Physique, Devour Flesh, Ultimate Price and many more. We even have a possible turn two Omenspeaker to serve as a chump blocker against your opponent’s creatures who’re planning to deal with a third turn Ashiok. What makes Ashiok’s first ability good is that it has synergy with his second ability.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Ashiok “Salonga”, Nightmare Weaver

Had to admit that I wasn’t able to understand what Ashiok’s second ability does at first glance but after reviewing it a number of times, I was able to eventually comprehend it. Yay for me. Basically, Ashiok’s second ability is dependent on the creatures exiled using Ashiok’s first ability and ultimate. So after using his first ability the first time to exile three cards, the Nightmare Weaver has the option to put any creature from the exiled cards into play at the cost of his loyalty counter which is equal to the converted mana cost of the creature that you want to put into the battlefield. For example, two of the exiled cards are creatures namely Boros Reckoner and Precinct Captain.

You have the option to get one of those creatures into the battlefield with the added creature type of “Nightmare” under your control, provided that Ashiok’s loyalty counter is equal to the creature’s converted mana cost or less. So if for example Ashiok has five loyalty counters, you can either put the Boros Reckoner into play under your control or the Precinct Captain under your control at the expense of Ashiok’s loyalty counter. If you decide to choose Boros Reckoner then the loyalty counter cost to get him under your control would be three which will reduce Ashiok’s loyalty counter down to two. On the other hand, if you choose to get Precinct Captain instead then the value of X will then be two which will reduce Ashiok’s loyalty counter down to three.

If you’re going to think about it, this is Ashiok’s means of protecting himself; by taking control of a creature that was exiled by either his first ability or ultimate. Just being able to take control of a Boros Reckoner from an RDW opponent can definitely make a big difference when it comes to board state and will surely make your opponent think twice before attacking you or Ashiok for that matter. Even better if you can gain control of a Kalonian Hydra right off the exiled cards and is possible since using the blue black planeswalker’s first ability will increase his loyalty counter to five which is enough for him to make a nightmare out of the hydra. Just imagine doing such a thing on the fourth turn. It can be devastating to the opponent.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Ashiok “Salonga”, Nightmare Weaver

Even if you’re unable to get a good creature like a Hydra or a Reckoner, being able to generate a chump blocker is still a good thing since you’re not losing leverage. At the worst, the pile of cards exiled don’t have any creatures but at least, you still have Ashiok with a high loyalty counter which can make killing him challenging. Not to mention that you may have spot removals to keep creatures down. Having an Ashiok online against a control player is also advantageous since using his first ability potentially threatens an ultimate in four turns and if not dealt with, can be crippling to the control player.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Ashiok “Salonga”, Nightmare Weaver

Speaking of his ultimate, it may not appear impressive against an aggressive player since more or less, the aggro player already has dumped most of his hand before you can even activate his ultimate. This is provided that you are also not using his second ability to stem the aggression which will likely keep Ashiok from having enough loyalty to pull off his ultimate. And even if you are able to reach eleven loyalty counters, you’d probably prefer to keep it that way and use his second ability to stall the opponent’s attacks instead of his ultimate. In addition to this, even if you do actually utilize his ultimate, it will still keep Ashiok alive with one loyalty counter for you to be able to continuously abuse his abilities, totally wrecking your opponents’ hand. And yes, that’s opponent with an “s” meaning that if you are able to miraculously pull an ultimate in a game of Commander, then chances are, you’ll be enjoying the look on your opponents’ faces.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Ashiok “Salonga”, Nightmare Weaver

On the other hand, Ashiok’s ultimate can totally win you control match ups if he is not dealt with right away. Even if he was dealt with using cards like Hero’s Fall, Dreadbore and or Detention Sphere, the damage that he has done on the opponent’s library is irreparable since his first ability exiles cards rather than putting them on the opponent’s graveyard. Though frankly speaking, the chances of you triggering his ultimate may not be that high thanks to cards that specifically deal with planeswalkers, and him being able to come online as soon as the third turn is already a big deal. Remember the Nephalia Drownyard days? Yeah, only this time, you don’t need to leave mana up every end of turn of the opponent to mill their libraries. You only need to play an Ashiok and use his first ability to do that.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Ashiok “Salonga”, Nightmare Weaver

Of course, it’s still faster to mill the opponent’s library utilizing multiple Drownyards unlike Ashiok due to him being legendary but then again, I guess we can’t have it all huh? Overall, I honestly believe that Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver will make an impact in the upcoming metagame somewhere along the way. That’s it for today! Next time, let’s see what kind of brews we can come up with now that all the cards in Theros have been spoiled!

Thanks for reading!

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives