Journey into Nyx, baby!
Man, do I love spoiler season.
I've never been much of a brewer, but I'm the type of person who loves surprises and hype. Anticipation gives me such a thrill. I'm the person who stays up until midnight spamming F5 on their computer just to see the new cards even though they have to get up early in the morning and do stuff.
I absolutely love the process Wizards uses for spoiling new sets.
By now everyone is writing their little hearts out about the new cards in Journey into Nyx and where they think they will fit in, and so far only Ari Lax has touched on something that has me incredibly excited in his article this week: Naya Hexproof with Mana Confluence.
It's a no-brainer that Mana Confluence is going to be an important card in Standard, and much like the impact of the Temples, I don't think everyone is going to understand it right out of the gates. Give it a few months, though, and everyone will be on the same page.
I think that Naya Hexproof is one of the strategies that is going to benefit the most from the existence of Mana Confluence. Not only is Mana Confluence going to help Naya Hexproof's mana tremendously, but it's also going to be doing damage to the opponent while they are playing the card and isn't going to open up any new strategy that will be good against Naya Hexproof.
When building Naya Hexproof prior to Born of the Gods, we were at an awkward place—we had all these awesome spells and creatures that we wanted to cast, but the majority of them were G/W, which was awkward since we lacked the G/W Temple. Having to play Guildgates in a world where people were jamming off-color Temples in their decks because they're just that good was a pretty underwhelming feeling.
When Born of the Gods came out and we gained access to Temple of Plenty, it opened up some more possibilities in terms of consistency, but the lands coming into play tapped didn't get along with the game plan and strengths of Naya Hexproof. We have absurd redundancy with our threats all being efficient and resilient and our enchantments all making them giant monsters. With having to be a turn behind most of the time, we weren't able to take full advantage of the impact that our spells had because they weren't always on curve.
With Mana Confluence we gain quite a bit of velocity without giving up too much consistency and filtering. We can still play some Temples, but now we can shave some for Mana Confluence and just go HAM with our hexproof guys.
Here is where I am starting my Journey into Nyx Standard testing with Naya Hexproof.
- 1 Fiendslayer Paladin
- 4 Fleecemane Lion
- 4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
- 4 Gladecover Scout
- 4 Voice of Resurgence
- 4 Witchstalker
Mana Confluence puts in some work here. Casting Voice of Resurgence or Fleecemane Lion into Witchstalker or Ajani, Caller of the Pride on turn 3 is going to happen much more frequently now that we have the new City of Brass. I still feel like something is missing from the deck though. Maybe Boon Satyr should be in here somewhere? I don't have too much experience with Naya Hexproof, so anyone who does please feel free to post your thoughts and ideas.
One thing that I really like about Naya is having access to Advent of the Wurm. I think that card is extremely underplayed and very powerful. It's good against most of the decks in the format and is a card that G/R/x Monsters really struggles to beat, especially in multiples.
Mana Confluence also rekindles my excitement for another card: Spike Jester. Spike Jester is very aggressive but hasn't really had a deck to shine in because the mana was just too inconsistent. Leading up to Pro Tour Theros, I was helping Brian Braun-Duin test and prepare for the new Standard format. I had a B/R Aggro deck that was doing very well against most of the decks we had been working on. Its only problem was that sometimes mana could be an issue, plus BBD isn't much of a Rakdos Cackler kind of guy.
With Mana Confluence and a few other cards we have access to now, I think it might be worth revisiting. There's already a Mono-Black Aggro deck, but I think that Spike Jester is the best two-drop that's not being played. Now that we can feasibly cast it on time, I think it's worth checking out.
This list is trying to maximize the effectiveness of an aggressive start. While we were testing for Dublin, I had Satyr Firedrinker in place of Gnarled Scarhide since we found that a two-power one-drop into a hasty two-drop, especially on the play, put so much pressure on our opponents that it always put us in a good position to win. The problem was that with Satyr Firedrinker we had to play a lot more than just one Mountain, meaning we couldn't afford to play any copies of Mutavault.
To be fair, Mutavault might be a little too ambitious in this list anyway, but I still want to start with two and go up or down from there. We didn't have Herald of Torment either so we were on Lifebane Zombie, and I had two copies of Chandra, Pyromaster in the deck. I don't think that we need Lifebane in the main, and while Chandra might be worth it, I'm going to start with zero in the main and see how it plays out.
Another card that might be worth looking at here is Master of the Feast.
I know a lot of people are going to dismiss this cheap 5/5 flyer because of its drawback since giving the opponent a personal Howling Mine is never good, but the fact that they don't get access to the extra card until our turn is pretty huge. This cuts off half of the answers for it since now they can only use an instant to answer it before we get in an attack with it, and if they answer it on their turn, then it's just a one-for-one trade that we're happy to make.
I'm unsure of whether or not it will end up as a role player in the new Standard. I do know that Thoughtseize and Duress are both in the format, so giving them extra cards that we get to just strip out of their hand can't be that bad.
We finally know what the last two Gods are, and boy was I surprised. When I saw that Athreos, God of Passage was only three mana, I got very excited. I love when cards with potentially powerful effects are efficiently costed, much like Jace Beleren and Ajani, Caller of the Pride.
I was a little less excited when I saw the ability though—that is until I actually thought about it.
I'm not sure if there's a Junk deck we can build that can take advantage of all these interactions, but W/B Humans is already a deck that Athreos can fit right into. I could also see a B/W Midrange strategy with Desecration Demon; Obzedat, Ghost Council; and Xathrid Necromancer, but who knows if it would be better than the current B/W deck.
I believe that Mana Confluence is going to be of the biggest help to aggressive decks, but there is a deck I feel is going to gain from it that isn't quite labeled as aggressive. In fact, it's not really midrange or control either.
I'm talking about R/W Burn.
Previously, this deck had to play Boros Guildgate, as having access to Boros Charm, Warleader's Helix, and Chained to the Rocks was very important. Now we get to just play Mana Confluence and not be behind a turn.
Mana Confluence also gives us access to another color of mana if we want to splash. With Temple of Silence and Temple of Malice, we could even bring in Thoughtseize or Duress out of the sideboard if we want.
I'm also pretty excited about the possibility of playing Prophetic Flamespeaker in the sideboard. This little guy is being compared to Shadowmage Infiltrator, which I don't think is correct. They may have the same converted mana cost and power/toughness, but having double strike is absolutely huge. I don't think it's better than fear as far as keyword abilities go, but the damage you can get in with it is pretty huge, not to mention the double Chandra, Pyromaster 0 loyalty trigger you'll get from an unimpeded combat.
Mana Confluence is probably going to be worth playing, but I feel like overall it's just going to end up doing more damage to us than the set of shock lands. It's been a little while since I've been able to play Standard, but I get to change that this weekend! It may be Easter, but I've got a handful of tournament options in front of me and couldn't be more excited. Here's the Jund Monsters list that I will more than likely end up playing.
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 3 Ghor-Clan Rampager
- 3 Scavenging Ooze
- 1 Sire of Insanity
- 4 Stormbreath Dragon
- 4 Sylvan Caryatid
- 3 Courser of Kruphix
- 4 Polukranos, World Eater
I've opted to swap a Ghor-Clan Rampager for the third Courser of Kruphix in the main as a concession to how popular R/W Burn is right now. I don't really like Courser against much else (with Soldier of the Pantheon or Rakdos Cackler decks being the exceptions), but with R/W Burn being so popular I'm going to try out three.
The biggest change (and something that I should have figured out before) was swapping the Ultimate Price in the sideboard for Putrefy. Putrefy kills everything that Ultimate Price did but also takes care of Boros Reckoner, Nightveil Specter, and Reaper of the Wilds. It's a turn slower than Ultimate Price, which is only relevant on the draw against Mono-Black Devotion if they have Pack Rat, but even then we still have quite a bit of two-mana removal for that already. Putrefy can even hit Whip of Erebos and Bident of Thassa, which could turn out to be pretty relevant.
All in all, I'm pretty excited not only to battle this weekend but also for Journey into Nyx. It's shaping up to be a very powerful set, and I can't wait to start trying out some of its cards this week.
If you have any Journey into Nyx brews, please feel free to share them here. I'm always looking for something new to test or jam in Versus videos!