Journey into Nyx Limited Review – Black and Red

Welcome to the next installment of my Journey into Nyx set reviews! I’ll be going over each card for Limited this week, and follow that up with a Constructed review next week. That lets me get the reviews out before the prerelease, while also giving me more time to think about how Constructed will be affected.

If you missed my first Limited review, check it out:

White and Blue

I’ll be using this ratings system:

Ratings System

5.0: The best of the best. (Pack RatUmezawa’s JitteGideon Jura)

4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (Polukranos, World Eater. Hypersonic Dragon)

4.0: Good rare or top tier uncommon. (Phalanx Leader. Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage. Chaos Imps)

3.5: Top tier common or solid uncommon. (Lightning Strike. Nimbus Naiad. Dreg Mangler)

3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Leafcrown Dryad. Essence Scatter)

2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Borderland Minotaur. Dead Reveler)

2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Savage Surge. Omenspeaker. Armory Guard)

1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Pillarfield Ox. Tenement Crasher)

1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Lost in a Labyrinth. Pay No Heed)

0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Survey the Wreckage. Celestial Purge)

0.0: Completely unplayable. (Search the City. Pyxis of Pandemonium)

Let’s get to it!

Agent of Erebos

Limited: 1.0

If your opponent has some graveyard shenanigans going, this is a reasonable (if not super exciting) sideboard card. There isn’t enough to make me want to maindeck this, and picking it up for the sideboard isn’t of grave importance.

Aspect of Gorgon

Limited: 1.5

We’ve been pretty spoiled lately when it comes to Auras. In this block, just about all of them either turn into creatures or flat-out draw you a card, which makes Aspect of Gorgon appear weak in comparison. What this card gives you is good, it’s just up against all sorts of Auras that don’t open you up to a risk of card disadvantage. That means that the number of slots in your deck for this type of card is smaller due to the fierce competition, which makes this a little worse than it would be in other formats. Making a guy hard to kill and lethal against anything is great, so if you have room for this, it makes sense to play it. This is also exactly the text of a card that will be really bad for you if it disappears mid-combat, which is also more likely to happen in a world where people maindeck enchantment removal.

Bloodcrazed Hoplite

Limited: 3.5

Not only is this a beating by itself, it also disrupts many of your opponents in a relevant way. Every epic tale needs a good anti-hero, and this certainly fits the bill.

Brain Maggot

Limited: 3.0

This is a temporary Thoughtseize, but less temporary than it would be in Constructed. Not every deck just has removal lying around, and there will be plenty of games where this never dies, though I wouldn’t anticipate it doing a ton of attacking or blocking in the meantime. Beware taking an instant with this, because your opponent will definitely be looking to kill the Maggot at the most inopportune time for you.

Cast into Darkness

Limited: 2.0
I feel like I’ve said this a lot, but answers that rely on your opponent’s creatures remaining small are very dicey in this format. This at least stops your opponent from blocking, which gives it a good amount of extra value in an aggressive deck.

Cruel Feeding

Limited: 2.0

Cutthroat Maneuver was never all that awesome, and that at least granted toughness. This is a big swing in a race, and being able to cast it for one mana helps make it a realistic heroic enabler, but I like this less than the blue and white common strive tricks.

Dictate of Erebos

Limited: 4.5

Giving this flash is a huge power level upgrade when compared to Grave Pact, which was already a very strong Limited card. Making it so any of your creatures can trade for your opponent’s creatures is awesome, and the number of 2-for-1s you can get is almost endless. Some circumstances will dictate that you rate this lower, such as not having a good creature base, but given that you get to first pick this, I can’t imagine that being a very common scenario. Once you open this, all you need to do to profit is draft a large quantity of cheap creatures, which really isn’t that hard (or so I’m told).

Doomwake Giant

Limited: 4.5

While this isn’t quite Massacre Wurm (for those asking about 5s in Limited, there’s another one), this is still a giant beating. It has great stats, a very relevant enters-the-battlefield ability, and will continue triggering as the game goes on.

Dreadbringer Lampads

Limited: 2.5

I don’t mind this, despite the dreadful stats-to-cost ratio. It comes in and makes a creature hard to block, then has pseudo-evasion for the rest of the game. If you don’t anticipate it triggering much, you can easily leave it out, but it’s a fine 5-drop if you have a few enchantments.

Extinguish All Hope

Limited: 4.0

While I’m generally not a big fan of expensive wraths in Limited because of how easy they are to predict, this particular wrath gives me hope that it can be asymmetrical. You get to curve out with enchantment creatures, which not only lets you establish a board presence but doesn’t make your opponent suspicious, and ideally you get to wipe their board on turn six. There are certainly going to be matchups where this is abysmal, but I’m going to come out of the gates with an optimistic rating based on power level, with the caveat that it’s probably a bit more situational than I’d like.

Feast of Dreams

Limited: 3.5

You aren’t going to miss all that often with this, even if it’s not always the removal spell you were dreaming of (see: Nessian Asp). There are some situations where I’d sideboard this out, but I assume it’s a great card to maindeck until you have a lot more information about your opponent’s deck.

Felhide Petrifier

Limited: 3.0

Even without granting your other Minotaurs deathtouch, Petrifier’s standard Minotaur stats are very good on a 3-cost creature. As with other deathtouch enablers, beware this disappearing during combat, but if you just treat it as a 2/3 deathtouch you will still be happy.

Font of Return

Limited: 2.5

This feels like the kind of card I want exactly one of in my midrange or slow black decks, as it does draw you three cards. It’s slow, and requires a bit of attrition to get there, but I like having a lategame plan like this.

Gnarled Scarhide

Limited: 3.5

When a bestow creature is good to cast and good to bestow, you’ve got a winner. This guy happens to be pretty gnarly either way, and who needs to be able to block when you are bashing this early? Plus, making their creature unable to block by bestowing this is a nice little upside, and something that will come up every now and then.

Grim Guardian

Limited: 2.5

A Horned Turtle with a win condition attached? I’m in. This isn’t as scholarly as I would have liked, given that it doesn’t gain you a life, but it’s still a decent way to pressure the opponent while gumming up the ground.

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed

Limited: 3.5

Flavor: 1.0

Let’s get the important topic out of the way first: how is this faithful to King Midas at all? The whole point of the story was that King Midas wished for the golden touch but couldn’t turn it off, turning food, family, and friends alike into golden echoes of their former selves. Upon first inspection, King Macar does that as well, up until you realize that there is a “may” attached. Now, I’m not arguing that it’s better gameplay to not be forced to turn your own creatures (Macar included), because that sounds miserable, but from a strictly flavor basis this doesn’t get there for me (unless this was a top-down from the macarena, in which case I’ll allow it).

Gameplay-wise, the card is as good as gold. It will be a bit of a quest to get him to survive an attack, but a 2/3 is good enough for the first few turns, and you have plenty of tools at your disposal later. This is a good enough incentive to justify some enablers, though I wouldn’t go full-on into Springleaf Drum mode for just this. Retraction Helix, on the other hand…

Master of the Feast

Limited: 3.5

As much of a beating as this guy is, I’d caution you against just playing in a random non-aggressive Limited deck and expecting good results. This is powerful, but if you aren’t killing your opponent reasonably quickly, the drawback becomes very risky. Dealing 15 to them and getting this Disenchanted can leave you in a terrible position if your deck isn’t aggressive enough to back it up, and there are some matchups where you’d rather not have this at all. That being said, it’s pretty hard to argue against a 5/5 on turn three, and the worse your deck is, the better having such a high variance card like this gets.

Nightmarish End

Limited: 3.5

This is almost always good for -3/-3, and will kill most of the things you are worried about. It is funny that the time when this is the worst is when you usually have to face the biggest creatures, but if you know you have one or two of these you should put some real thought into holding lands in hand.

Nyx Infusion

Limited: 3.0

While neither half is incredibly efficient, I like options. The biggest drawback here isn’t the efficiency even, it’s that you won’t always be able to kill what you want or pump up what you want, though I doubt you will have a game where you don’t find something good to do with this. If you know you won’t have many good targets on your side, keep an eye out to what your opponent ends up playing, because this is the kind of card you need to consider sideboarding out.

Aside on sideboarding: 

I can’t stress enough how important sideboarding is in Limited. I’ve talked about it before, and I’ll talk about it again. Besides the surface-level stuff like “side in Plummet against Flying creatures”, you should see how your removal lines up against their creatures. Some marginal removal spells, like Nyx Infusion, are very cuttable, and most people would never even consider cutting them. On the flip side, and this happens even less often, is siding out your creatures that are vulnerable to particular removal spells. There’s nothing I like more than siding out all three of my targets for Doom Blade, even if those targets are fairly solid creatures (assuming I have replacements that are at least playable, if worse). You just have so many cards at your disposal, especially in Sealed, and I’ve switched colors solely on the basis of how my two removal spells in black compare to the three in red, depending on what creatures my opponent played game one.

Pharika’s Chosen

Limited: 3.0

Most of the big green black decks need a little help getting off the ground, which this does provide. It’s not much for attacking, or dealing with fliers, but you can’t have it all for just one mana (I may have underrated Sedge Scorpion, or as it’s more accurately called, Swords to Plowshares). Black decks do need this a little less, but it’s always nice to have relevant early plays.

Returned Reveler

Limited: 1.5

If you need a Lumengrid Warden, this does the job. Milling each player for three is not all that often relevant, but with random Raise Dead effects, it is more likely to benefit you than your opponent, though I still wouldn’t play this just for that.

Ritual of the Returned

Limited: 2.0

This is a four-mana 4/4 or bigger in decks with big creatures, but not only do you need to draw a big creature, it has to die. That makes this fairly situational, and you aren’t getting a whole lot of a discount on mana. What this does do is ambush one of your opponent’s attackers, and the prospect of picking up a free card makes me more inclined to try this when I think I have a good shot of getting at least a 3/3 (which is certainly not all decks).

Rotted Hulk

Limited: 1.5

This isn’t rotten, but it’s certainly not the Incredible Hulk either. I’d settle for the Average Hulk.

Silence the Believers

Limited: 4.5

I am a believer in this card. Not only does it shred any creature and all of its bestowed friends, for the low price of three additional mana, you can keep supersizing it until they are out of creatures. I imagine that seven mana is going to be what this ends up getting cast at most often, but whether it’s 4, 7, 10, or some other unrealistic number, you are going to be happy to be on the right side.

Spiteful Blow

Limited: 3.0

I’m inclined to prefer killing a land to dealing the two damage Sip of Hemlock provides, but either way this is a perfectly serviceable removal spell, interesting art choices notwithstanding. This would be too slow for some formats, but given that you need to kill giant monsters all the time while in Theros, this is nothing to shake a stick (or anything else) at.

Squelching Leeches

Limited: 2.5

I don’t think you are going to play this card quite as often as the rating implies, but when you do play the card, it’s going to be awesome. I’d recommend 10+ Swamps before adding this, and the more the better. In some decks this is going to be your best card, and if you pick up a late Leeches, you can go for mono-black and try and go big.

Thoughtrender Lamia

Limited: 1.5

Making your opponent discard a card or two in the lategame isn’t always all that spectacular, and a six-mana 5/3 is not super exciting either. The overall package is fine, but easily cuttable.

Tormented Thoughts

Limited: 1.0

By the time you have a creature powerful enough to Wit’s End the opponent, the effectiveness of the play is starting to become suspect. When things line up perfectly, this can feel broken, but trying to hit the short window where you have a big creature and they still have a lot of cards in hand seems tricky. I do like it as a sideboard card against slow decks, but not really one you should be running main.

Worst Fears

Limited: 1.5

As powerful as this is, the circumstances necessary to make it awesome are not common enough to make me want to just jam an 8-mana card in my deck (my line is 7). You either have to have a board position where you can eat your opponent’s attackers, in which case that board plus a random 6+ cost card was probably good enough already, or your opponent has to have unused removal spells in hand. Neither of those scenarios seems super likely, but who am I kidding? Everyone is going to play this, and remember the times it won them the game, not the times it sat in hand or acted as a Fog. This is another good card in lategame matchups, but you have to plan for the most likely case, and 8-mana cards need to strongly justify themselves, unlike cheaper cards.

Top 3 Black Commons:

3. Pharika’s Chosen

2. Feast of Dreams

1. Bloodcrazed Hoplite

Black has some nice commons, with the closest thing to Doom Blade only losing to a pretty aggressive heroic creature (and Swords to Plowshares bringing up the rear). As each set comes out, the Gray Merchant density goes down, so black invariably gets weaker, but it still looks like a good place to be.

Akroan Line Breaker

Limited: 2.0

I don’t mind aggressive 3-drops, but I prefer they take a little less work. This can do a lot of damage, but without constant targeting it becomes pretty mediocre, which can be a deal-breaker for some decks.

Bearer of the Heavens

Limited: 1.0

Flavor: 4.5

I appreciate the flavor here, but can’t recommend playing this in most decks. The sky isn’t falling if you run a few cards short and have to play this, but don’t go looking to do so.

Bladetusk Boar

Limited: 3.0

It doesn’t get more solid than this. Some might call that boring, but I have considerably more restraint, and will just say that you will always be happy to run a few Boars (though don’t be afraid to side them out; this is the exact kind of card I mentioned earlier).

Blinding Flare

Limited: 2.0

Not every deck wants this, but it will be very good in those that do. If you are truly the beatdowns, this is a great addition, and if you aren’t, you will soon regret running it. Heroic triggers add extra incentive for some decks to run this, so keep that in mind as well.

Cyclops of Eternal Fury

Limited: 3.5

The fact that this announces its presence by smashing for five is pretty nice, and makes up for its relatively low toughness. You will often get one free hit in, and afterwards you are always threatening to drop giant monsters and get in there for untold amounts of damage, which will drastically change how your opponent plays. Red decks don’t want too many expensive cards, but I like this as one of them.

Dictate of the Twin Gods

Limited: 1.0

I’d highly advise against just running the Doubling Cube on damage. It may sound great, but it’s very risky and a lot of mana to pay for something that won’t necessarily even be in your favor.

Eidolon of the Great Revel

Limited: 2.5

Assuming you can afford RR on turn two most of the time, this is a fine card. You want to be able to get the party started early, and if you get shocked a few times for your troubles, it’s not a big deal. If you aren’t attacking, this is horrendous, but if red continues down the same path as before, if you aren’t attacking you are probably losing.

Flamespeaker’s Will

Limited: 1.5

I’m significantly less happier to run this than Mortal Obstinacy, for obvious reasons. It’s still a cheap heroic enabler, just not one that really provides value (except after board).

Flurry of Horns

Limited: 2.5

As five-drops go, you could do worse. The endless parade of 2/3 Minotaurs is getting pretty funny, yet I still don’t think they are a very well-supported tribe, as hard as they try to horn in on Goblin territory.

Font of Ire

Limited: 1.5

Even in the aggressive red decks, paying this much for Lava Axe doesn’t excite me. The minor upside of triggering constellation is not that much of a draw, and having this sit in play further weakens it, since your opponent is going to start playing to preserve their life total (which they may not have done otherwise).

Forgeborn Oreads

Limited: 3.5

Even without a single other enchantment, this offers an attractive deal. It’s basically Flametongue Kavu already, with the possibility of becoming Visara with just a little help. Ok, maybe that’s a bit (or a lot) of exaggeration, but this is still a hot addition to any Limited deck.

Gluttonous Cyclops

Limited: 1.5

There’s nothing really wrong with this card, but 6-drops aren’t really something most decks want a lot of, so this will get cut more often than the stats might indicate.

Harness by Force

Limited: 3.5

Threaten is very good for some decks, and you know what is exactly what you want once you are casting Threaten? If you answered “another Threaten”, you are correct. In fact, two Threatens is more than twice as good as a single one, as you start talking immense swings of damage, as leaving the opponent with no blockers does way more damage than if they can block your biggest creature. This seems like a sick finisher, and the only thing to watch out for is that your deck is aggressive enough to take full advantage.

Knowledge and Power

Limited: 1.5

This is no Lightning Rift, that’s for sure. It’s a little long on the knowledge and light on the power, with five mana up front just being way too pricey.

Lightning Diadem

Limited: 2.0

I’d probably pay six mana for a 2/2 with haste that shoots for 2, and this is a little better than that, given that it triggers heroic and combines well with evasion. You don’t want a lot of these, but it’s a fine way to top off the curve.

Magma Spray

Limited: 3.5

You can’t beat the efficiency here, even if the exile ability isn’t very relevant. Shocks fall off greatly against some opponents, so don’t be too picky when it comes to gunning things down.

Mogis’s Warhound

Limited: 3.0

Casting this is a bit dicey, but bestowing it on a creature will make the drawback nearly irrelevant. I’m not sure why you wouldn’t want to attack with a now-boosted creature, especially given how early this can come out. It is unfortunate that once this falls off it can often get eaten for free, but it’s still a great card.

Pensive Minotaur

Limited: 1.5

I’m not sure what to think about this.

Prophetic Flamespeaker

Limited: 4.0

The main thing to keep in mind with Prophetic Flamespeaker is that I’m giving it a high rating with the assumption that you will draft a deck to support it. It does unbelievable things with even the bare minimum of support, but it does need that support to really shine. All you are really looking for are cards that pump power, though Aqueous Form is a particularly nice one.

Riddle of Lightning

Limited: 3.0

Riddle me this: when is it right to put a 4-drop that will kill your opponent’s 3/3 on the bottom because the 4-drop isn’t sweet  enough? The answer is “almost never”, and certainly not during Pro Tour San Diego 2007, when Paul Cheon and I did just that (at my urging, since it was 2-headed giant). Riddle is a fine card as long as you can restrain yourself, though it costs enough that it is a little clunky.

Rollick of Abandon

Limited: 3.0

It is unfortunate that red decks have a decent amount of small creatures, but this makes Minotaurs into killing machines, and is a Pyroclasm at worst. If you have this card, keep it in mind during the draft, but don’t warp your deck that much around it (since many opposing decks won’t be all that hurt by it).

Rouse the Mob

Limited: 2.5

There are sure a lot of common finishers with strive in this set. It does make them each individually less important to draft, as you are more likely to pick one up, but they do seem quite good for the most part. If the rest of red hadn’t convinced you yet, you really should be the beatdown when you have Mountains in your deck.

Satyr Hoplite

Limited: 3.0

Hop to it. The good red decks will want as many of these as they can get, but not every red deck will be able to run this. The upside is enough that I’ll give it a 3, possibly in an attempt to correct for the fact that I seem to underrate heroic cards in general (or have in the past).

Sigiled Skink

Limited: 2.5

Assuming you want a limitless amount of 2/1’s for two, this one doesn’t skink. Free scrys are a nice bonus on a card you would already have played.

Spawn of Thraxes

Limited: 4.0


Spite of Mogis

Limited: 1.5

While it doesn’t take all that much work to get this to deal 2 damage, I’m wary of drafting around a card with no real payoff. Yes, sometimes it will kill a 3/3 or even a 5/5, but that doesn’t make up for the times when it just sits in your hand. Once you are in a spot where this becomes awesome, you have a very sweet deck, but that’s going to be the exception more than anything else.


Limited: 3.0

I’ll pay five mana to bolt something, and if it sometimes turns into Barbed Lightning that’s a nice bonus. You don’t want to get too clunky (see: Riddle of Lightning), but even aggressive decks are going to want a couple things at the top of the curve.


Limited: 2.0

While you can certainly construct scenarios where this is insane, I’m not really seeing this be absurd in the average red deck. Since you can’t just copy your best creature three times, what are you getting for your mana here? It seems like it’s worth playing most of the time, it’s just not the most reliable finisher, especially when you consider that much of your board’s power is going to come from Auras or +1/+1 counters (which don’t get copied).

Wildfire Cerberus

Limited: 3.0

I like the monstrous ability here, but think it’s slightly worse than Stoneshock Giant’s and with a slightly smaller body attached. You can’t always get a Stoneshock Giant, so that doesn’t invalidate this, but I wouldn’t say this is the next coming of Flame Wave or anything.

Top 3 Red Commons

3. Starfall

2. Satyr Hoplite

1. Magma Spray

I think these cards are all very close. Satyr Hoplite has the highest upside, but early in the draft I think you want to just take Magma Spray. Starfall is the worst to have in multiples, and the card most likely to end up in an overfilled spot on the curve. Assuming red wants to be aggressive, there are a lot of tools here, and hopefully that makes up for the overall shallowness the color has displayed so far.

Next up is green and the rest of the set, after which I’ll start to delve into Constructed ratings!


2 thoughts on “<i>Journey into Nyx</i> Limited Review – Black and Red”

  1. Pingback: 翻譯文章:尼茲之旅限制賽回顧 – 黑色與紅色 | CardWalker

  2. Pingback: » Journey into Nyx Constructed Review – Green, Gold, Artifacts, and Lands

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