Magic Mike + The Mechanics – Journey Into Nyx

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So it’s been a wee while since Journey into Nyx was released, so we’ve had time to get to grips with this set’s new mechanics, Strive and Constellation. Here are our thoughts.

First off we have Strive, which are low-cost cards targeting single permanents that can be buffed up with additional mana to target several sources instead. Take Nature’s Panoply, for example. Rather than simply paying G to put a +1/+1 counter on a target creature, you can instead pay 2C2G to put counters on two creatures,  4C3G to put counters on three, etc.

Leafy Goodness.

Most of these cards do more or less what you’d expect them to based on their colour, but there are a few that can make things interesting if you have enough mana to pull them off, such as Launch the Fleet and Polymorphous Rush.

LtFPR

Strive cards are fantastic Heroic enablers, their low initial casting cost meaning they can act as effective single enablers, with the option of being pumped up allowing several cards to be affected. Imagine you’re playing a White weenie deck, for example, with two Phalanx Leaders on the field. Play Launch the Fleet, attack with the two and then play Phalanx Formation on them once the 1/1 soldier tokens have entered the battlefield. In one turn, you’ve gone from having two attacking 1/1s to two 5/5s with double strike and two 3/3s backing them. Not a bad wee move, I’d say.

Phalanx Leader Attack

The only downside to Strive is undoubtedly the high mana requirement to use it most effectively. Silence the Believers is a potential board wiper, especially against enchantment-heavy Theros block cards, but when it bumps up in increments of 3, it can make it difficult to get rid of two or more creatures.

Strive

Harness by Force also suffers from the same problem: taking control of one creature costs 1C2R, two 3C3R, three 5C4R, etc. If you can solve the problem of low mana by having some fixers on the field – Burnished Hart and Market Festival, for example – and combine them with the plenitude of Heroic cards the block has to offer, you could possibly have an effective deck on your hands.

Finally we have Constellation, the wondrously flavour-filled second mechanic of the set. As the twinkling stars that populate the cosmic realm of Nyx, creatures with this ability trigger effects either when they enter the battlefield or when another enchantment does so. With the vast amount of enchantments in Theros, this can soon lead to insane amounts of combinations going off when a single spell is played and by gods, is it satisfying when it happens.

Constellation

After swapping for a Chromanticore and giving myself the challenge of building a standard-legal five colour deck, Constellation couldn’t have come at the right time. Building my deck around Chromanticore as the well, core, of the deck, I tinkered with and tailored my deck over a few days, with the current makeup of Stars in their Eyes looking something like this:

Dreadbringer Lampads x1

Doomwake Giant x1

Grim Guardian x2

Spiteful Returned x1

Thoughtrender Lamia x1

Whip of Erebos x1

Worst Fears x1

Riptide Chimera x1

Whitewater Niads x1

Archetype of Endurance x1

Eidolon of Blossoms x2

Humbler of Mortals x2

Mana Bloom x1

Oakheart Dryads x1

Ordeal of Nylea x2

Verdant Haven x2

Forgeborn Oreads x1

Armament of Nyx x1

Gift of Immortality x1

Harvestguard Alseids x1

Hopeful Eidolon x2

Nyx-Fleece Ram x1

Nyxborn Shieldmate x1

Spear of Heliod x1

Athreos, God of Passage x1

Chromanticore x1

Underworld Coinsmith x2

Burnished Hart x2

Swamp x4

Island x2

Forest x5

Mountain x1

Snow-Covered Mountain x1 (Because why not?)

Plains x5

Temple of Enlightenment x1

Temple of Plenty x1

Boros Guildgate x1

Dimir Guildgate x1

Golgari Guildgate x1

Rakdos Guildgate x1

(The only reason I am using Guildgates and not Temples is because I don’t currently have any in my collection. Once I do, they’re being swapped out posthaste.)

Naturally virtually every card is an enchantment so as to trigger Constellation effects in the first place, but not every card is a Constellation. It’s all well and good getting them out on the battlefield, but when you’re only triggering a single effect each turn, it can be hard to do enough damage to defeat your opponent. To combat this, I included a number of Bestow cards, allowing me to either bump up bigger creatures or get a number of small Enchantments onto the battlefield, causing several effects to trigger multiple times which is usually enough to get rid of bothersome creatures or allow me to attack.

Bestow

A couple of spells are key to helping the deck work: Riptide Chimera returning Enchantments to your hand allows you to keep playing low cost enchantments to keep triggers popping and Atheros, God of Passage gives you the chance to keep returning creatures to the battlefield for further Constellation fun. The majority of permanents being Black and White also increase the chance of Athreos becoming a creature as well.

Athreos RC

With a five colour deck, naturally mana flow is a worry, but the Temples, Guildgates and cards such as Ordeal of Nylea and Verdant Haven help to ensure that you’ll always have the mana you need. Mana Bloom is particularly cheeky:  not only does it allow you one mana of any colour per turn, the fact that it returns to your hand when it has no charge counters on it and that it can be played for one mana makes it an extremely cheap Constellation trigger.

Mana

Burnished Hart is also an extremely effective mana-farming card. By playing your cards right and with a bit of luck, you’ll have 7 mana to play with on turn 5. One cheeky wee combo I’ve discovered is casting Gift of Immortality on it: by doing so, you can sacrifice it over and over again to get however much mana you need, all the while triggering effects when Gift of Immortality comes back into play. As a result, you don’t need to worry about the high mana costs of several cards in the decks, since you’ll always have a decent amount early on the game.

Burnished Hart

The best thing about this deck is the versatility of win conditions it offers. You can clear battlefields of irritating creatures using Forgeborn Oreads, bumping up Humbler of Mortals with Oakheart Dryads and then attacking for high trample damage;

Gruul Combo

Have a Whitewater Naiads on the battlefield, bring in an Archetype of Endurance and enchant it with Armament of Nyx and you’ve got an unblockable, double-striking beast, making all your creatures untargetable at the same time;

UGW Use Grim Guardians and cheap Bestow creature spells to gradually whittle down your opponent’s life total, put in an Underworld Coinsmith and use its ability to use the life you’ve gained against your opponent.  Bestow Chromanticore as an aura and the game is as good as over.

Chromanticore Combo

The deck fulfils three challenges I set myself: make a five-colour deck, include a card that I would normally never use and utilise a mechanic that normally doesn’t see much use. The fact that it does all three and is ridiculously fun to play makes it the deck I am most proud of building thus far in my Magic career.

(For those of you wondering, I stuck Worst Fears in as a cheeky wee curveball: if I have the mana to play it, then why not?

Worst Fears

So there you have it: two new mechanics, both worthwhile to the set, block and Magic as a whole. Here’s looking to get under Magic 2015’s hood and see how its Convoke mechanic works.

Chief Engineer

‘Til next time, Mechanics.

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