April 25, 2014

Image Credit:

JOU Prerelease: Choose your Path!

As with a number of recent sets, the Journey into Nyx prerelease requires players to choose a faction to support: a “path” represented by one of the five colours. Your chosen path will determine which promotional card you get, as well as which type of seeded booster pack you receive. While some people will choose based on their favourite colour, or with the hopes of getting a certain card in their seeded booster, many of us will evaluate the promotional cards on a powerlevel basis. They’re all good, but in comparison to each other, I would rank them as follows:

5. Doomwake Giant

[content]eNiAczBTqg_EN
This looks to be the weakest of the promo cards. A five mana 4/6 is serviceable, but it all comes down to that constellation trigger. Free repeatable removal sounds good, but let’s consider when giving -1-1 until end of turn at sorcery speed is actually valuable: either when you kill something with it outright, or when it makes for more profitable attacks. My guess is that for every time of these two situations happens, there’ll be at least two others where the trigger is completely irrelevant: either we’re not in a position to attack, or because they have nothing small enough to kill. There is the chance you stack multiple triggers to increase the effect, but this is going to require multiple cards as a late-game, low-impact, unreliable play.[/content]

4. Hero’s Bane

[content]CcX1R3tK1f_EN
Hero’s Bane is the kind of high impact card you want in sealed. An unanswered Hero’s Bane will win the game for you fairly quickly and it’s reasonably well-costed. The drawback on the card is that it starts off with an unimpressive 4/4 body for five. It will, therefore, require at least one more significant mana investment to get the ball rolling. There is some serious tempo to be lost if they bounce or kill him in response to the first activation, and without resolving an activation, he’s a poor man’s Snake of the Golden Grove . While this promo can take over games and break stalemates, his lack of evasion means that he can be chump blocked indefinitely, or be stonewalled by deathtouch or regenerate.[/content]

3. Spawn of Thraxes

[content]50eGZ5IeOZ_EN
Now this is the kind of card I’m psyched to play in sealed! A big evasive body with an enters-the-battlefield trigger which affects the board state. A card which can both stabilize me when I’m behind and break open stalemates is what I’m looking for. Spawn of Thraxes is usually either a 2-for-1 or a game-winning play. The scenarios where the dragon is weak are pretty far and few between. The main drawback is the mana requirement: sometimes you don’t hit seven mana and in sealed you may be playing a three colour deck where his trigger only does two or three damage. The heavier you go into red though, the more likely this will be the best card in your deck.[/content]

2. Scourge of Fleets

[content]Nln9AslfEg_EN
This is the blue equivalent of Spawn of Thraxes . We have here the same cost and a very similar effect. Giving up flying for +1+1 is a drawback, but the upside of getting a Sea God’s Revenge instead of a Spitting Earth is pretty massive. The Scourge has the same minor weaknesses as the dragon: weaker in three colour decks, not very good against a voltron’d enemy. Like the dragon, however, his upsides easily outweigh these drawbacks. The immediate bounce will sometimes just win the game on the spot as all of their blockers disappear and you swing for lethal, but even if you can’t finish on the spot, getting a 6/6 and setting them back a couple turns of development is a very favourable situation to be in.[/content]

1. Dawnbringer Charioteers

[content]V7N8Be5RhA_EN
While this may seem like a lower impact play than the blue or red promos, it provides the reliability which none of the other options can give you. At just four mana, you’ll almost always get to play it if you draw it, and anyone who played Avacyn Restored limited can attest that a 2/4 lifelink/flyer is a very strong turn four play while remaining relevant later in the game. We’re in an environment loaded with buffs and having a heroic trigger built in ups the potential of this evasive lifelinker. It’s very hard to race this card, and its relatively resilient to removal with at four toughness. We’re also in the colour with God’s Willing and Ajani’s Presence, two common and efficient ways to protect your hero.[/content]

Charioteers are my top pick because they stand on their own. They don’t need you to play enchantments, invest extra mana, or go heavy into certain basic lands to be effective. They’re excellent on their own and can get downright amazing with just a single heroic trigger.