Journey Into Nyx Standard Pauper Review + Italian Game Primer

Below is my rating system for commons for the Standard Pauper format.  Keep in mind I haven’t played with any of the cards yet – my evaluations aren’t perfect and will likely change after the prerelease weekend where I will build 3 sealed pools at ChannelFireball Game Center and do a bunch of drafts with friends and a few pros to get their preparation for the Pro Tour started as soon as possible.

Rating System

BA:  Bad-Ass (5/5) // Build-Around (4-5/5)

P:  Playable (4/5)

BP:  Borderline Playable (3/5)

BUP:  Borderline Unplayable (2/5)

SUP:  Strictly Unplayable (1/5)


Leonin Iconoclast – BUP (2)

Expensive for a white creature and small body, however a relevant ability against decks with bestow creatures.

Oppressive Rays – SUP (1)

This is not oppressive enough in a field where Pacifism exists and creatures don’t have any good activated abilities worth worrying about enough to stall them on mana.

Oreskos Swiftclaw – BP (3)

Daring Skyjek this is not.  The Blade of the Sixth Pride functional reprint has a chance to see play for being a cost-efficient beater.

Stonwise Fortifier – SUP (1)

Not enough upside when better creatures like Oreskos Sun Guide fill the 2-drop slot.

Supply-Line Cranes – BUP (2)

Playable vanilla stats and the ETB effect can throw off creature races and put one out of reach of red removal, but it just doesn’t do enough at 5-mana for me to want to give it a starting position in any deck.

Ajani’s Presence – P (4)

Now this is a blowout of a combat trick.  It’s better than Mortal’s Resolve in the early game being a mana cheaper to cast, and then it gains late-game utility by enabling multiple heroic triggers and potentially devastating creature removal in combat.

Akroan Mastiff – BP (3)

Strong effect, unfortunately overcosted and the bear-body is just irrelevant enough that any removal in the format takes care of it.  Would prefer it was a 1/4.

Armament of Nyx – BP (3)

On your own creatures – Pros:  triggers heroic, gives your enchantment creatures double strike.  Cons:  There are no creatures that have heroic and are also enchantment creatures.

On your opponents’ creatures – Pros:  Stops unblockable or high-powered creatures from beating you to a pulp.  Cons:  Creature can still block for value all day long or get one last chump block in.

The swiss-army knife nature of this card makes me believe it will always be somewhat useful.  The problem is that you really want to be suiting up your enchantures to deliver the goods, which limits your options to very few creatures in deck-building.  Turn 1 Hopeful Eidolon, turn2 Ethereal Armor, t3 Armament of Nyx seems playable but I don’t think you can ever play this card over Pacifism or Ethereal Armor.

Eagle of the Watch – SUP (1)

Crash and burn, the American bird flies no more.

Font of Vigor – SUP (1)

No explanation needed.

Harvestguard Alseids – BUP (2)

Give him flash and it’s nuts.  It allows a creature to attack past another that it would trade with and it has a potentially reoccuring effect.  Not powerful enough of an effect for me – but could be better than I imagine once we get to play with it.

Lagonna-Band Trailblazer – BP (3)

This is a solid sideboard card against aggro decks that have trouble removing 4+ toughness creatures.  Defensive white cards is not where the format is aligned right now, so he very well could be hard to find a home for unless some Azorius control build fits the bill.

Mortal Obstinacy – SUP (1)

Small impact and marginal upside.  Could see play in hyper aggro bestow mirror but feels too underpowered to matter.


Aerial Formation – BUP (2)

Only if enough very good non-flying heroic creatures exist will this card be a necessity.  Not likely to be the case.  Not even a good sideboard card against flyers since they can still kill your creature or bounce it in response.

Cloaked Siren – P (4)

I see this has potential in both Azorius Aggro Flyers and Simic Evolve.  Twisted Image Nephalia Seakite and you have an aggro card to replace the role that the 2/3 played in some bad control decks.

Countermand – BP (3)

While I don’t think this card is good, people will definitely try to play it in Dimir Mill.  It fits the archetype but will rot in hand enough that it might be best suited as a 1-of, 2-of at most.

Font of Fortunes – P (4)

It’s interesting to note that Archaeomancer + Divination costs 7 mana, where popping the Fortunes and retrieving it with Auramancer also costs 7 mana.  Azorious Aura Control brew is in the works…

Godhunter Octopus – SUP (1)

Not what blue needs and any time a card requires your opponents to have something as narrow as an enchantment, albeit in an enchantment-themed block, it will be a miserable 6-mana investment.

Hubris – BP (3)

Against the White aggro Ethereal Armor decks you do not want to let them recast their auras or bestow creatures.  Even when saving your own creature, the ability to leave behind a body often outweighs the benefit of potentially bestowing on another creature.  In limited this card is actually pretty nuts since you can creature a huge tempo swing if the opponent had multiple bestow creatures attacked to a threat you needed to bounce.  Similarly, bouncing your own creature with multiple cantrip-enchantments in response to removal or a would-be chump block could prove to be valuable.  After saving your own guy and the enchantments on it you can even re-trigger heroic on other creatures.

Pin to the Earth – SUP (1)

Heroic creatures can actually attain greater than 6 more frequently.  This does not do anything.

Rise of Eagles – SUP (1)

Creatures are too small and too expensive.  You need a finisher or stabilizer at 6-mana and this is neither.

Sigiled Starfish – P (4)

Stops 2-power attackers and ensures smooth draws throughout the course of the game?  Sign me up.  Great bestow target and allows skilled pilots to gain a substantial edge with a control deck – allowing them to hit land drops or find the right removal spells for the situation.

Thassa’s Devourer – BUP (2)

Too-expensive, but I can see a combo deck with Sage’s Row Denizen, blue creatures, cantrip-enchantments like Fate Foretold, and Hubris going off to attempt to mill someone out.  Not likely good, but as close to a combo as Standard Pauper gets.

Triton Shorestalker – P (4)

Unblockable is good.  Ordeals don’t exist but he hold enchantments almost as well as Invisible StalkerWell, not quite, but coming down on turn 1 with the ability to protect him with counters or boost his stats could be a very scary threat.

War-Wing Siren – BP (3)

Blue joins white and green with heroic creatures that can grow.  The base stats are underpowered but with the combo potential of targeting it multiple times provides for a good defensive air wall that can eventually attack for significant chunks.


Aspect of Gorgon – SUP (1)

If there was a pinger in the set I would be singing a different tune.

Bloodcrazed Hoplite – BP (3)

Sweet interaction for a build your own evil hero dude.  Now all colors but red have a creature with growing heroic abilities.

Cast into Darkness – SUP (1)

Not worth a card.

Cruel Feeding – SUP (1)

At 4 mana, two target creatures get +1/+0 and lifelink this is just not quite powerful enough for me.  Your creatures will still trade or die to removal and if you need to gain life there are other cards better suited for the job.

Dreadbringer Lampads – SUP (1)

Too expensive

Feast of Dreams – P (4)

Existence of this makes you really Think Twice about bestowing onto your heroic creature like Akroan Skyguard. This can even kill the Nimbus Naiad after it falls off.  Fantastic removal for this set that will likely only be needed as a sideboard card since it fails to kill  average Joe – a non-enchantment, unenchanted creature.

Font of Return – BUP (2)

Can’t decide if this is better or worse than Midnight Recovery or March of the Returned.  It is likely interchangeable but getting the 3rd creature is less relevant than costing 2 more to get the effect, which is only relevant in the late-game in grindy match-ups.

Grim Guardian – P (4)

Nice defensive stats that can combo with other enchantments to create a win-con that doesn’t need to attack through combat.  Multiples of these in play are silly and can get nasty with Hubris, other cantrip enchantments, or Auramancer.  It’s biggest drawback is that is it susceptible to enchantment removal, which will prove to be quite good in the upcoming season.

Nyx Infusion – SUP (1)

Two modes that are both not that good.  The flexibility makes up for that but I would doubt it sees play when Stab Wound exists and the +2/+2 side is much worse.

Pharika’s Chosen – BUP (2)

Typhoid Rats are back and they are easy to kill and don’t present a fast clock, but are great against no removal creature decks.  Wait – those don’t really exist.

Returned Reveler – BUP (2)

Not enough support for self-mill exists right now.


Bladetusk Boar – BUP (2)

Nearly unblockable.  Nearly playable.  Easy to kill, slow to get into play.  Yawn… Boaring.

Flamespeaker’s Will – SUP (1)

Nothing to see here.

Flurry of Horns – BUP (2)

Nice top end for red aggro, but who wants 5-drops that are smaller than 2 and 3 drops at the top end?

Gluttonous Cyclops – BUP (2)

You don’t want to get Eye Gouge’d now do you?

Lightning Diedem – SUP (1)

Slow sorcery speed removal that requires you to have a creature in play that stays in play while this spell resolves.  No.

Magma Spray – P (4)

Not likely better than Shock – can only think of Enchantment creatures and Auramancer as relevant targets but black does have recursion, too.   Overall I will still recommend Shock until the next set comes out.

Pensive Minotaur – SUP (1)

Minotaurs are not known for their intellectual prowess.

Rouse the Mob – P (4)

Trample and 2 power is a nasty combat trick since players will often think they are chumping and then get lethal’d.  A very difficult card to play around, indeed.

Sigiled Skink – BP (3)

Too fragile for my taste but scrying is valuable in a low land count aggro deck.

Starfall – SUP (1)

The sky will fall before this is playable when Lightning Strike exists.

Font of Ire – SUP (1)

My advice – don’t even play Lava Axe, let alone one that flips the card face up on the table for a total cost of 1 more than it’s old-fashioned version.

Satyr Hoplite – P (4)

Now every color has heroic creatures that grow!  The Satyr is aggressively costed and really enjoys show good pants and tricks.


Desecreation Plague – SUP (1)

While this is more playable than Demolish, a 4-mana Stone Rain with a chance to kill a creature in the current block is not a good deal.

Font of Fertility – BUP (2)

This is a Rampant Growth if you can cast it on turn 1.  Guildgates can make that difficult, which are going to be present in multicolor decks.  Probably not the type of card a multicolor ramp deck is looking for.

Golden Hind – P (4)

This just replaces Voyaging Satyr as a nice power boost for decks that care about mana-ramp.

Humbler of Mortals – BUP (2)

This Elemental will humbly ride the pine – no one wants to start a creature that makes you work this hard to only give your other creatures trample.

Kruphix’s Insight – BA (4-5)

While this is considered a build-around me card, it still might not be powerful enough to make the self-mill deck work.  I expect being able to draw 1-3 cards while creating potential value in the bin to shine, but not until the next sets are released.  Scavenge isn’t enough, we need Flashback or Unearth or a new interactive graveyard mechanic to make this busted.

Market Festival – SUP (1)

If you have 4-mana then you shouldn’t want a spell to give you 2 more.  It does have combo potential with Voyaging Satyr and go real big but no matter how big your creatures are they are likely to fall prey to mana efficient answers like Essence Scatter, Pacifism, Nullify, Quag Sickness, or Grisly Spectacle.

Nature’s Panopoly – SUP (1)

A strict upgrade to Battlegrowth – still underpowered beyond repair.

Oakheart Dryads – BUP (2)

Vanilla-test not passed and the effect isn’t broken enough to warrant a build-around.

Pheres-Band Thunderhoof – BUP (2)

The hoof is not worth working that hard for.

Ravenous Leucrocota – BUP (2)

Not aggressively costed enough.

Renowned Weaver – BUP (2)

Not powerful.  Not worth populating.  Will not win games.

Satyr Grovedancer – BUP (2)

Timberland Guide is not breaking any records for humanitarianism.

Top 10

Honorable Mentions:  Kruphix’s Insight, Golden Hind


10) Magma Spray

9) Feast of Dreams

8) Rouse the Mob

7) Ajani’s Presence

6) Triton Shorestalker

5) Satyr Hoplite

4) Font of Fortunes

3) Cloaked Sirens

2) Grim Guardian

1) Sigiled Starfish

Italian Game Primer

After a team draft victory, how do you decide who gets all the cards?  Sometimes multiple players 3-0, and sometimes the draft is called off at 5-0, before the other 4 matches have even been completed.  Just because the draft is over doesn’t mean the games need to stop.  Enter, the Italian Game.  I was first exposed to it with a New Jersey draft group led by Jon Sonne back in 2006.

Take all of the rares and foils and money cards that you would have included in a rotisserie pick list, the far inferior way to determine who gets what after the draft.  Put them all face down and shuffle them around like at a casino Texas Hold-Em table.  Each player randomly picks up and reveals one card.  The highest converted mana cost among them all wins the cards.  If there is ever a tie, then you have a classic “war” scenario where all players set those cards aside and flip one more card to try to win both rounds worth of cards.

Some ties and wars will go unresolved because you run out of cards.  At that point, you need to get the dice out and roll it out for those last few precious items.

These videos capture the majesty, grace, and excitement that a typical Italian Game beholds. Enjoy.

Italian Game #1

Italian Game #2

Italian Game #3

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