Journey into Nyx Pre-Release Weekend Tournament Report by Ru Macdonald

Journey into Nyx Pre-Release Weekend Tournament Report by Ru Macdonald

Last weekend was another one of those glorious occasions –  A Magic the Gathering Pre-Release event at Spellbound Games. This one was in celebration of the new set, Journey into Nyx.

It appears that most blocks these days are drafted/sealed in a unique manner and this one was again in this category. Instead of the standard 2x Theros, 2x Born of the Gods, 2x Journey into Nyx for a full block sealed event that would have been expected, we instead received 2x Theros, 1 Born and 3x Journey into Nyx.

This came as a pleasant surprise for a few reasons. It meant that we would be opening and playing with more new cards than is the norm for the third set in a block. More importantly, it meant we would be opening only one stinky Born of the Gods booster. Unless you were planning on playing Red, this should come as a relief!

Wingsteed Rider has been taking names since 1981

My friend David and I arrived at a timely midnight-ish hour at Spellbound Games. We had already flitted back and forth between Black, Green and White, until we un-characteristically managed to settle on Black. There was no time for casually probing and questioning everyone’s Sealed colour choices. Deck construction commenced immediately!

My Pool…

…was pretty sick. This came as a welcoming option to have seeing as I am a fan of winning, and this would certainly help.

My seeded pack contained a promo Doomwake Giant (who knew!?) but more importantly, a Silence the Believers. I have been trembling with excitment in this cards wake. It will see play in Block no doubt, and most likely Standard also. Furthermore, it is an auto-include for most Commander decks playing black.

It is a fine card for draft, but is most ridiculous in a Sealed event. The format is slower and allows for 2 or more targets to be exiled, making it an instant speed Plague Wind most of the time.

We were used to 2 for 1’ing people who chose to put auras on their creatures, but of late with the addition of ‘Bestow’ we find ourselves reluctant to destroy a multi-bestowed creature. This is why it is odd that the ‘exiling all auras’ clause is so powerful, but in this format, it really is.

Oh, I also got Heroes’ Bane and Mistcutter Hydra, because my late game wasn’t good enough already.

The Deck:

Temple of Mystery (15)

Island (0)

Pharika’s Chosen (0)

Renowned Weaver (0)

Font of Fertility (0)

Golden Hind (0)

Swordwise Centaur (0)

Returned Phalanx (0)

Leafcrown Dryad (0)

Pharika’s Cure (0)

Feast of Dreams (0)

Prowler’s Helm (0)

Grim Guardian (0)

Nyxborn Wolf (0)

Obaline Unicorn (0)

Read the Bones (0)

Burnished Hart (0)

Rotted Hulk (0)

Squelching Leeches (0)

Ravenous Leucrocota (0)

Silence the Believers (0)

Doomwake Giant (0)

Heroes’ Bane (0)

Mistcutter Hydra (0)

Interpret the Signs (0)


[draft]Ray of Dissolution : Feral Invocation[/draft]

I started off with Feral Invocation in the maindeck instead of Interpret the Signs , meaning that the deck was just Black/Green. After experiencing a multitude of Hubris like spells in the first match, I cut the bestow-less aura Feral Invocation for card-drawing powerhouse Interpret the Signs. When there were problem enchantments, I cut the blue card for Ray of Dissolution and swapped the Island for a Plains.

Questionable includes:

Burnished HartRenowned Weaver taps into my love of ‘sacrifice’ effects, and a 1/3 blocks a surprisingly high amount of creatures. For example, a Pensive Minotaur! So thoughtful of you to stop by – now move along! The Weaver also allowed me to gain an ‘instant’ speed trigger with Doomwake Giant.

Having Font of Fertility, Opaline Unicorn, <3 Burnished Hart <3 and Temple of Mystery allowed me to ramp and fix very effectively.

The Temple made the Blue splash that bit easier, appreciated by Returned Phalanx also who would have been purely on defense otherwise. This ramp and fixing also led to me having many ‘keepable’ hands, and I only mulligan’d once all night.

Interpret the Signs almost always hit a 4cmc spell, as well as tucking away up to two un-wanted cards in the process. Solid card for Sealed, would play again.

It was tough to resist the pull to White, as I had the following playables.

Good white cards:

[draft]Ordeal of Heliod : Last Breath : Phalanx Leader : Gods Willing : Akroan Mastiff : Harvestguard Alseid : Oppressive Rays : Skyspear Cavalry : Eagle of the Watch : Stonewise Fortifier[/draft]

What kept me off it was how Black and Green completmented each other better, and by adding white I would have half of a bestowic deck. Green ramp allowed for a strong late game inevitability with mana-dump all-star Silence the Believers.

The Matches

As this was the midnight pre-release, there wern’t that many of us there. This was a 4 round swiss event.

Liam – Red/Blue/Green Control

Scourge of Fleets
Good ol’ finger beard! Responsible for the Bermuda Triangle phenomena and that Atlantis escapade.

He was packing a lot of the sweet blue instant speed pseudo removal, some aggressive-ish creatures and a green splash for Xenagos, the Reveler. In both games I was able to put enough pressure that the Hubris and Griptide only bought him life, instead of turns.

At a recent PTQ I made a Blue-Green stompy deck, but it lacked all the blue instants and suffered severely for it. This deck seemed to be on the opposite spectrum, where it had the tricks, but no early beef getting in for damage.

I found Doomwake Giant to have an impressively large bum as well as taking out a critter both times I cast him. Having high toughness in this event was quite the boon, as it gave you protection from Scourge of Fleets! Kraken art is always so epic and awesome. It is also why humans are so scared of deep waters. Fact.


Graeme – Black/White Bestowic

His pool looked a little on the weak side, though he did hose a few of my creatures down with a Leonin Iconoclast – How nuts is that card in this format? Both games shifted incredibly on a timely Silence the Believers for 2 or 3 creatures.

Sweeping away the bestow creatures (clinging on for dear life!) is such a massive bonus in the bestowic match-ups.


Stevie – Junk/Ajani!

Ajani Goldmane banner
Is bad-ass enough to have an eye-patch, but chooses not to.

This was essentially a mirror match – reliant on who can time their Silence the Believers at the most profitable time. He was splashing white for Ajani, Mentor of Heroes, who did some heavy lifting game one. He ticked the planeswalking menace up multiple times while I repeatedly tried to bash through his ever-growing defences.

Eventually, he gained 100 life and let me finish Ajani. A game swinging Silence the Believers followed up by a giant Mistcutter Hydra put the game away over the next few turns. This game was pretty close, and lasted a while!

Game two saw my back up against the fence early. I had attacked into an ambush of Fated Intervention centaurs and suffered an attack for 8 damage on the back swing.

I had to drop a 5/5 Mistcutter Hydra in the hopes of stone-walling this sudden assault, while preying he did no have removal in hand. The gods were kind, and I was able to slowly build up a team of beefy creatures.

We were in a standstill, hoping to draw into Silence the Believers or more swamps to power it. I shot my one of first and tried to move in for the kill. I made a poor blocking damage choice and suffered some Silencing of my Believers from Stevie next turn! The game quickly spiralled out of control and I was overrun by his forces.

We had no time for a third game (3 minutes) so we called it a draw. Our opening hands plus our first few draws revealed a Silence of the Believers on my side of the table though. Just sayin’.


Paul – Green/White Constellation Beats

The gods (random pairings) favoured me, by pairing me up with Paul who was on a 3-0 record. This meant that this was for the 1st place! Paul is a good player though, and can get wins with garbage. I was hoping that his love of Pensive Minotaur would have led to him playing a deck like this:

Didgeridoo (15)
15 Mountain

Actually, this deck looks sweet. Anyway, he was playing the only thing is pool allowed for him –  a Green White Constellation deck.

Game one kept leaning heavier and heavier in his favour till a Silencer the Believers + squad of beefcakes got involved. A card I had included in my deck turned out to be key in this board-clogged matchup – Prowler’s Helm.

I originally dismissed the card when I saw it, but after being killed by it a couple of times, I have changed my tune somewhat. In a deck with large green creatures, the Helm can steal wins out of nowhere. Sedge Scorpion doing overtime on defence? It ain’t no wall!

The second game was much the same, though this time an 11/11 Mistcutter Hydra saved the day. It was indeed, wearing the helm.


Feast of DreamsNot the best record to win an event on, but heck, I’ll take it!

Font of Fertility: The ramp and mana fixing this produced was excellant. The more enchantments your deck has, the more valid cards like Commune with the Gods and Kruphix’s Insight become.

Ravenous Leucrocota: It’s no Nessian Asp, but it does cost you one mana less. It’s solid, and I would never cut it from a sealed deck.

Feast of Dreams: Ranges from amazing to terrible. There were situations where this was a completely dead card, and others where it did exactly was was needed. It’s definetly a main deck inclusion right now, but there may be the occasional deck with not enough targets (Green Blue stompy).

Now that this card exists, you should play around it by bestowing your weaker creatures instead of going all in on your best one. I had a giant Heroes’ Bane and Mistcutter Hydra but knew if I put an aura on them, I was really turning on Feast of Dreams.

Instead, I bestowed Squelching Leeches which met it’s end to the aforementioned common.

Similarly, if your opponent has Silence the Believers then try to refrain from bestowing as it will give them more value.

Doomwake Giant is actually quite the non-bo with bestow creatures. If you want to live the dream and give your opponents creatures -2/-2 until end of turn, then you will most likely have to just hard cast your Nyxborn Wolf and Leafcrown Dryad. It feels un-natural, but is still the right decision if you are killing relevant threats or alpha striking for the win.


Walk off the Earth performing a cover of Gotye – “Somebody I used to know”

No Magic for me. I went to see Walk off the Earth, who were terrific and did at least do a cover of  the song ‘Magic‘.

I had planned to go to the early morning event on Sunday, but kinda slept in. Drink may have been involved.


After sleeping in and feeling like a burst couch, my friends and I emerged from my flat and went in hunt of food. It has become something of a tradition to go the a greasy spoon near Spellbound Games called “Aubergine“. I may be wrong, but I do not think they sell any Aubergines. They do offer a slap-up full breakfast that comes in three sizes.

  • Big Breakfast
  • Big Breakfast XL

At first we had been going for the XL, but in all honesty, the normal one is ideal. The Terminator is essentially triple quantity’s plus a gammon steak! No-one I know has been man enough to tackle it yet. Where’s Sarah Conner when you need her?


Busy being a massive kill joy.

 My Pool…

…was just okay this time. I did have one of the bomb-tastic dictates though – Dictate of Erebos. Gravepact is an oppressive card in any format. Giving it flash allows for the ‘surprise!’ blow-out mid combat, which is beastly.


Other than that, it was relatively un-bomby. I built a deck with synergy in mind, hoping to squeeze value out of my creatures with a green/black attrition deck.

The Deck:

Sedge Scorpion (0)

Pharika’s Chosen (0)

Leafcrown Dryad (0)

Swordwise Centaur (0)

Returned Phalanx (0)

Golden Hind (0)

Pharika’s Cure (0)

Commune with the Gods (2)
Font of Return

Oakheart Dryads (0)

Asphyxiate (0)

Nightmarish End (0)

Insatiable Harpy (0)

Rotted Hulk (0)

Squelching Leeches (0)

Pheres-Band Tromper (0)

Nylea’s Emissary (0)

Ravenous Leucrocota (0)

Doomwake Giant (0)

Keepsake Gorgon (0)

Dictate of Erebos (0)

Vulpine Goliath (0)

Cards that flitted in and out of the deck:

[draft]Kruphix’s Insight : Brain maggot : Renowned Weaver[/draft]

Check out those 1 drops baby! With trample-less Heroes’ Banes running around, these little guys may as well be Doom Blades. I started the day with Brain Maggot in the maindeck, but found it to be a liability against enchantment removal and Spark Jolt type effects.

Questionable Includes:

2x Font of Return!?

I actually had a third, and was so impressed with the card all weekend that I was tempted to play all three. I had deathtouch creatures that would die and/or trade only to then be return with the Font.

Commune with the Gods and Kruphix’s Insight also helped fill up my graveyard with good creatures to return, while letting me find Dictate of Erebos.

Nightmarish End is the kind of card that I have nightmares of. Top decking it when you have no cards in hand is just miserable. The Font of Return again has synergy here as it can fill your hand up again in a flash.

Red I was keen to splash:

[draft] Polis Crusher : Magma Spray : Fall of the Hammer[/draft]

I was so close to playing these, but without any fixing, knew it was folly to do so. I had a few people talk me out of it, and then I was back on green/black track! Close call though. Fall of the Hammer is simply excellent in this block for Sealed, and Polis Crusher is a bomb-a-tron.

My solid white cards:

[draft]Ornitharch : Wingsteed Rider : Banishing Light : Fated Retribution : Gods Willing : Launch the Fleet : Nyx-Fleece Ram : Lagonna-Band Elder : Harvestguard Alseids : Nyxborn Shieldmate[/draft]

I did not feel I could pair this white with the rest of my cards effectively. Again, it is half of a heroic deck and I just did not have enough support in the other colours.


The Sunday event had around 60 people there, consisting of 6 rounds of swiss for a clear winner.

Greg – Red/White Aggro

Flurry of HornsEver since Ollie Bridges referred to him as this in his article, I cannot help but think of Greg as “evil mastermind/good guy Greg Shanks”. It fits, because he’s a nice guy, but will general smash you at magic.

He had picked Black but opened such stinkers that he had to go Red/White Aggro. My game plan was to try and stay alive till my deck went over the top. After favourable trades and hand-refilling with Font of Return, I won game one.

Game two I was not so fortunate. I was being beaten down by a team of Minotaurs, when I top-decked Dictate of Erebos and started salivating at what I hoped was about to be a turn around.

He had the Ray of Dissolution for it. I was gutted – by the goring of horns. Well played sir!

On the bright side, game three was a repeat of game one!


Chris – Green/White/Blue midrange

Fleetfeather CockatriceThis showdown was against one of my friends who had came through from Edinburgh for the event. He showed no mercy with a turn 4 Fleetfeather Cockatrice. This clock was way too fast for me to draw into any removal, and I died to the feathered fiend.

Creatures with haste or flash end up dodging Asphyxiate as they are always tapped on my turn. I took in Brain Maggot in the hopes of hitting Fleetfeather Cockatrice or forcing him to cast it. I could then follow this up with Asphyxiate! Sick tech huh?

Game two he stumbled on mana slightly and was beaten down by my motley crew of high toughness creatures. Things got tense as we shuffled up for game three…

Game three was a prime show from my deck. I was able to drag the game out and gain value from Font of Return. A Dictate of Erebos later and the game was mine.


Michael – Blue/White Bestowic

Kiora's DismissalHis deck was amazing. He had chosen white, so I already knew I had Dawnbringer Charioteers to contend with. The card of the match was definitely Kiora’s Dismissal. It blew me out in so many different board states!

He won the first game and almost the second one too. He expertly played around my deathtouch attacking creatures with Dictate of Erebos on the table. That is how nuts Kiora’s Dismissal and a Lifelinking flier is! I managed to secure that round in the end, and we hurriedly shuffled up for game 3.

We had mere minutes to finish this, so we played fast. The perfect thing to speed things up happened – he cast Dictate of Heliod, and it was all over.

I had not seen this card in the previous two games oddly enough, but I unfortunately had no enchantment removal anyway.


Iain – Black/Green midrange

His deck was pretty much a mirror of mine, though he was packing a Silence the Believers instead of a Dictate. In game one he stumbled on land and had to make some un-profitable trades with my creatures. I won quickly after.

For game two he mulligan’d to 6 and kept it, only to realise a turn later that it was in fact a ‘one lander’. So silly!! I’ve done the same before though. For having a one land hand though, churning out two Pharika’s Chosen is probably the best you can do early! Despite this, the game was over quickly due to his hand-keeping error.

Plus, my deck was awesome-sauce.


Pheres-Band ThunderhoofGraeme – Red/Green Midrange

I was pretty heavily favoured for matchups like these, as big dumb creatures struggle to get past 1/1 deathtouchers.

As it happens, he had a slew of red removal to take care of my small creatures. He over-committed on a single massive Pheres-Band Thunderhoof with Lightning Diadems which met it’s end to Asphyxiation. I won shortly after.

Game two was simply more of the same, except I drew Dictate of Erebos. It makes things go pretty smoothly!


Mads – Green/White/Red Midrange

Mads is a Magic Judge, so my play had to be on tip top form! Primarily a Green/White deck, his deck was packing some beefcakes like Heroes’ Bane and Quarry Colossus. He was splashing red for removal like Magma Spray and Lightning Strike.

Both games ended up coming to a standstill due to my deathtouching critters and high toughness fattys. Digging for Dictate of Erebos with the sided in Kruphix’s Insight proved worthwhile, though I did completely whiff on a turn two Commune with the Gods. In the end though, both rounds were won in the name of Pharika!


Tournament over! This record got me 6th place and a handful of boosters. This was one of the most enjoyable Sealed decks I’ve ever had the chance to build. Journey into Nyx seems very well setup for Limited, as it has a lot of solid playables in all colours. That’s not to say there aren’t contructed gems in there also though, as I will be going over in my next article.

If anyone needs me I’ll be hanging out with my mate Rotted Hulk. A bit shoe-horned I know, I just felt the card deserved a mention, as it did a fantastic job on defence all weekend!

Till next time nerds!


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