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Breaking Through – Brewing Journey

Every time a new set comes out, I like to take a look at it through brewer’s glasses. There is the side of me that drops my jaw at the new exciting planeswalker or super efficient burn spell, knowing that it will help shape the future of Standard. But on the other hand, there is the side of me that lurks through alleyways, digs in trashcans, lifts up sewer lids looking for those discarded ideas that no one else wants. It is fun to find a diamond in the rough and often quite powerful too, as you have access to information before anyone else does.

Plus, who doesn’t like falling in love with bad or awkward cards? Whenever that local kid at the card shop walks up to you to flaunt his binder full of some card he has been collecting, how often is that card Thoughtseize or Steam Vents? Not often. Instead, it tends to be some obscure bad rare like Norin the Wary or a lovable piece of artwork like Mountain Goat. You get to have that same joy of discovery and ownership when some card you fancy ends up being actually decent and that is a great feeling.

Of course, it can be bad to take this to an extreme. You do not want to unfairly devote yourself to a card or idea to the point where you are irrational. Do not love your idea unconditionally. Feel free to play favorites outside of your tournament prep, but be willing to make hard decisions in the name of winning.

Daring Thief

This is one of those cards  I will be keeping my eye on for the next two years just because of its potential. I remember playing with Bazaar Trader back in the day to give my opponent a Colfenor’s Plans or an Immortal Coil and have fun from there. Turning drawbacks on to your opponents, often after you have reaped the rewards already, is a really fun way to play, even if it is not the most competitive.

Cards like Master of the Feast probably give your opponent too big of a payoff for the swap to be worthwhile, but awkward enchantments with drawbacks are printed all the time, so I will keep revisiting that idea.

Beyond that, Daring Thief can just be used as a power value card. You can swap your Elvish Mystic with an opponent’s Thassa or Desecration Demon, which is just good value. There are even some tricks you can pull with legendary creatures or planeswalkers to make sure your opponent gets essentially nothing out of the trade because they had to sacrifice a legend. You can also use a planeswalker, then swap it with the same-named opposing planeswalker for a higher loyalty one that you can use once again in the same turn.

It is probably best to take advantage of this guy outside of combat due to his rather weak set of stats.

Interpret the Signs/Riddle of Lightning/Stormchaser Chimera

 

Riddle of Lightning is one of my favorite cards from Time Spiral block. The card is so much fun as it captures the excitement of Erratic Explosion, while giving you more control over the outcome and also diversifying its use. I have cast Riddle of Lightning for 0 damage on more than one occasion just to make a land drop for a more important card.

Obviously when it comes to Constructed, you would prefer to never have to do that and you want to take advantage of the very high range that these casting cost checkers can reach. Enter the Infinite is the most expensive card in Standard at 12 mana. Drawing 12 cards for six mana should lead to a victory more often than not, and dealing 12 damage for five mana should also do the same.

Of course, it is not quite that simple as going in on this plan means that you are playing Enter the Infinite in your deck which is a near uncastable card. Your deck would most likely need to have multiple uses for the card, such as looting it away, before you could justify it.

Stormchaser Chimera can activate multiple times a turn. This means that with 8 mana and anything that costs nine or more on top of your deck, you threaten a lethal attack. I suspect that the Chimera is too fragile for Constructed whereas the instants/sorcerys tend to be harder to play around. I would not dismiss the potential of these cards too quickly.

Master of the Feast

Once upon a time, there was nothing. Then, Abyssal Persecutor came into existence and all was right with the world. Honestly though, since the days of Abyssal Persecutor, it feels like we get the giant undercosted guy with a drawback in black just about every set. Obviously Juzam Djinn started the party all the way back in Alpha, but it felt like the genre of cards came around much less frequently. Currently, Desecration Demon is already ruling the skies, and Herald of Torment probably qualifies as well. This makes Master of the Feats potentially the third card of this style of see Constructed play, which is very different, but very cool.

Master has a few things going for it that might not be apparent right away. For example, it is important to note that your opponent draws the card during your turn. That means that if they answer this with sorcery speed removal like Supreme Verdict or Detention Sphere, they never get the card from Master and only accomplished a 1-for-1 trade. If you are ok with trading 5 damage for a card over and over, Master is probably pretty solid. Consider him in a mono-black aggro deck where your opponent might get to use 1 extra card before they just die.

There is also the angle of just abusing the size of this thing with any types of cards that care about a creature’s power or toughness. Fling is probably not good enough, but there may be something there for more powerful options, should you decide to look into it.

Conveniently, we segue into a card that is pretty good at enabling Skybind:

Riptide Chimera

On the one hand, this is Esperzoa. On the other hand—Ok, well, there is no other hand. Esperzoa might not be the type of card you think of when you think about Constructed Magic, but it is actually very powerful.

One year, I played in the Vintage World Championships precursor using a Mono-Blue Stax list that played Esperzoa. It used the card to generate some big advantages over time while providing a big flying clock, something the format was not used to dealing with. Bouncing your Mox or artifact land was free enough, negating the drawback much of the time, but you could also pull off tricks like resetting your Tanglewire to present a soft-lock, or even changing the amount that your Chalice of the Void was set to. The card actually had a lot of play despite looking like a limited-only card.

Riptide Chimera offers a lot of the same upside. Enchantments are significantly less abusable in older formats when compared to artifacts, but there are  some niche uses for them, including decks that are made up almost exclusively out of enchantments. Where this might be best is simply in Standard though. A 3/4 flying body is relevant, as we have seen in the past in cards like Fettergeist or Restoration Angel. And if you can take the drawback on this and turn it into upside, all the better.

Skybind

I must admit, I am pretty bummed out that I began playing Magic just as Astral Slide was popular and I was far too bad at the game to recognize that or play with it at the time. While it popped up in Extended every once in awhile, the deck has disappeared at this point, which is a shame. While Skybind is certainly different than Astral Slide, it obviously draws comparisons.

Five mana is a big step in the wrong direction, but Astral Slide also never triggered itself when it came into play, so at least we get something back. Triggering off of enchantments feels like it is a lot harder than triggering off of cycling, but that said, there have been a lot more enchantments printed over the years than cards with cycling, so new possibilities exist.

Perhaps this manages to make its way into older formats, but I would generally expect the five mana price tag to be too big a deterrent most of the time. Standard is really the place where this has a chance. The key here is to reach the correct balance of enchantments and nonenchantment permanents though, as the deck needs both to work. Keep in mind that at worst, these can usually blink one of your Temples just to get a little scry action going, although that should obviously not be your end game.

Tethmos High Priest

This is a card with a lot of possibilities and it even comes cheap to the wallet thanks to being uncommon. In a basic sense, you can use this guy as a sort of combo card, setting something bigger than itself up. On the other hand, this can also just be a value guy, looking to gain you card advantage going long through synergy, but without being the focal point of your deck.

This second option is pretty exciting to me. If you take a look at some of the hate bears available in the format, Tethmos High Priest could be a way to make sure you always have them online and are actually locking an opponent out.

 

That might not be enough for a full deck, but it is already very close. If you choose to build Tethmos into an aggressive shell, the deck opens up even further with cards like Soldier of the Pantheon and Precinct Captain quickly making their way into the list. Imagine the likes of bestow creatures that actually work with this, allowing you to both trigger it and abuse it later on. Gnarled Scarhide and Spiteful Returned are some good examples here, but perhaps you really want to get your Hopeful Eidolon on.

If you are seeking a true “combo” deck where this goes infinite or something, it is probably best to focus your time on the older formats, as nothing that degenerate seems to exist in Standard, at least from what I can tell.

Wrap Up

Journey into Nyx is one of the deepest sets I have seen in terms of Constructed quality cards. So many of the commons and uncommons are actually meaningful to Standard and beyond, which is quite a refreshing thing. As a result though, people will be using and tuning the known good cards for quite some time as there are just so many of them. But for some of us, we will be skipping right past the Banishing Lights and Brain Maggots and trying to get someone for 12 with Riddle of Lightning. At least a boy can dream, can’t he? Thanks for reading!

Conley Woods

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