All sorts of new challengers are going to be battling for Zendikar, or in this case, new versions of old challengers. Ob Nixilis has fallen, he’s been unshackled, he’s even taken the blackest of oaths, and he’s about to add “reignited” to that list. That sounds like a planeswalker to me, and that’s exactly what he is:
Ob Nixilis was no joke before, but he also didn’t see a ton of Constructed play. This card continues the tradition of being awesome in Limited, but for the first time looks like a good bet to break into Constructed.
There are two main things I look for in planeswalkers:
- Can it protect itself?
- Can it draw you a card (or the equivalent) per turn?
Ob Nixilis checks both those boxes, and actually puts you up a card no matter which of his first two abilities you use. Any turn Ob Nixilis stays in play, you are going to gain a significant resource, and that makes him a huge threat against any deck. Even creatureless decks can’t ignore him, as a card a turn is a big deal, and decks with creatures are certainly going to feel the pressure.
I also like how high his loyalty is. Starting at 5 is big, and going immediately up to 6 means that you can draw a card even in the face of attackers. If your opponent has a 2/2 out you can ignore it for a few turns in search of a better target, and even a 3/3 doesn’t force you to use the minus right away (while still letting you use it the next turn if needed). In fact, Ob Nixilis against something like three 1/1s still lets you draw three cards and saves you a bunch of damage, even counting the life you are paying for those cards.
It’s also worth mentioning that his ultimate is a real threat. The quality of a planeswalker’s ultimate is not as crucial as the first couple abilities, but having an ultimate that can pressure the opponent is always a nice bonus. Given enough time, Ob Nixilis can serve as a win condition, which is just another reason that control decks do have to answer this.
Even though the rotation of Theros block and M15 will drastically change how the Standard landscape looks, I can imagine that midrange decks will survive (the Abzan are survivors, after all). The idea of Ob Nixilis as the high end sounds pretty good, and if your opponents are routinely tapping 3-5 mana for a creature then he sounds even better. If you play Ob Nixilis and kill your opponent’s only creature, you are up a huge amount of tempo and at least one card, and it just gets worse if they can’t kill Ob Nixilis right away. He’s vulnerable to swarms, but cards like Languish should do just fine in protecting him, and there will be plenty of decks trying to do just that.
This is a planeswalker I’m excited to play with, and like any new set, I’m expecting Battle for Zendikar to reignite my interest in Standard.