by Phoenix Desertsong, Old School Duelist
Worst Fears was playable in Standard. Is it good in other formats like EDH?
Worst Fears is a mythic rare card from Magic the Gathering’s Journey into Nyx set. A quick look at the card from veteran Magic players saw the popular effect of the Mirrodin artifact Mindslaver on a sorcery. That seems pretty good, until you realize you only get one shot at it, as it’s removed from play after you cast it.
Controlling your opponent's turn is always fun. Yes, Worst Fears does cost eight mana - seven colorless and one Black - which is a bit pricey. But, considering that casting Mindslaver costs 6 mana to cast and the activated ability costs 4 mana, this is a relative bargain. Unlike Mindslaver, though, you can't reuse this card, as it's exiled as soon as it's played. As an artifact, there are many ways to get Mindslaver back into play and use it again. That reusability is why the original Mindslaver is so good, after all. Being a one-shot effect, is this really worth playing?
Still, Worst Fears can be a pretty scary card. Especially late in the game, being able to control an opponent's turn can be devastating. Also, having only a single black mana in its mana cost makes it playable in a wide-array of control shells.
Even then, many players consider Worst Fears a waste of a mythic rare slot. Then again, I can understand them not wanting to print an effect like this at rare for Limited purposes - even if it was on Mindslaver back in the original Mirrodin days. In today’s Magic, being able to draft this at rare would have made it too much of a problem. That’s why when Mindslaver was reprinted in Scars of Mirrodin, it was bumped up to mythic rare. Just as it was in its original Standard heyday, it was yet again an important card in that Standard format, as well.
Modern Tron made heavy use of Mindslaver to great effect for many years, so it was thought Worst Fears could be played a bit in Constructed. Of course, eight mana is a lot, regardless of the format it’s being played in. But, the 8-mana sorcery did sneak into a few Standard decks back in 2014. It did see play in a few Mono-Black Devotion decks, a major competitor during Theros block Standard. One 8th place Standard PPTQ UB Control deck ran a copy in the sideboard.
Pro Ali Aintrazi even played a mainboard copy of Worst Fears in his January 2015 Sultai Delve deck at a Standard Open in Washington DC. A "Mono Green" deck even ran one copy in its sideboard, as this Green deck splashed Black mana for Pharika, God of Affliction and Doomwake Giant. Since early 2015, it hasn't seen much in the way of competitive play, in Modern, or otherwise.
Worst Fears does see some play in Commander. The Commander who's made the best use of this sorcery is Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge. Jeleva has an ability to exile cards from the top of your deck, and you can cast any instants or sorceries from those exiled cards without paying their mana cost. This means you can play Worst Fears for free whenever you want. In other Commander decks, it's just not really worth an 8 drop slot.
The later in the game Worst Fears is played the better, so it's a good effect. But, since you only get one shot at it, you had better play it at the perfect time. Really, it's best if you can find a way to cast it for free. Otherwise, it's not worth casting in most decks. While it had its uses back in its Standard legal days, nowadays you'd be better off with Mindslaver.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
When Hydra Broodmaster was first revealed during Journey into Nyx spoiler season, Magic the Gathering Hydra fans were quick to salivate over her. It's hard not to like a 7/7 for 4GG (6 mana), which is already above average. However, the Monstrosity ability in a Mono-Green Devotion deck or Kruphix, God of Horizons ramp deck looked like it could be extremely deadly.
Not only can Hydra Broodmaster create a lot of tokens, but those tokens become larger the more mana you invest into it. It is a double X cost, which means you need to have quite an available investment to pump into her. But pouring even 8G into the ability, a reasonable sum for a Green deck in the late game, gives you 4 4/4 Hydra tokens, plus an 11/11 Broodmaster. That's quite an end-game weapon.
Obviously, some players saw the Broodmaster as a big target for all of the colorless mana that Kruphix, God of Horizons can help to collect for you. At the time, it was still certainly one of the better Hydras that had been printed at rare outside of Mistcutter Hydra - an important sideboard card in Standard and other formats at the time. Unfortunately, Kruphix Ramp decks, even aided by the Prophet of Kruphix, never made much noise in Constructed.
Did You Know: Hydra Broodmaster Once Saw Competitive Standard Play?
Hydra Broodmaster would not find herself limited to being a bomb in draft. The Broodmaster would enjoy some competitive Standard play. Three 2014 State Championship decks ran a copy of Hydra Broodmaster as a finisher in their Mono Green Devotion builds, including this 2nd place finisher in Maryland. She also found herself in several Top 8 Magic Online Standard decks, including this tournament winner that ran one copy of her in the sideboard.
While Hydra Broodmaster only had a short time in the Standard sun, in Commander she has since joined forces with the very same Kruphix, God of Horizons that people thought she would team up with in Standard. Hydra Broodmaster appears in a great many Kruphix decks. Other Commanders that have welcomed her into the fold include Omnath, Locus of Mana (who has plenty of mana to spare), Trostani, Selesyna's Voice, Selvala, Heart of the Wilds, Rosheen Meanderer, and many others.
Hydra Broodmaster may never be an expensive card. But the Clash Pack promotional foil is always trending upwards. Also, sales consistently being made on the regular printing, so there is non-zero demand for this creature. It's a good Hydra to pick out of bulk boxes, for sure.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Heroes' Bane wasn't an exciting pre-release promo card for Magic the Gathering's Journey into Nyx set. As with many pre-release promos at the time, they were chosen with an eye on making them playable in Limited - drafts and sealed deck. For Limited purposes, Heroes' Bane is pretty good. Also, being a Hydra, Heroes' Bane isn't bad for the ever-growing popular Hydra Tribal Deck.
While a 4/4 for 3GG isn't marvelous, being able to double its power for 2GG as many times as you have open mana can make it extremely scary. Granted, it doesn't have trample on its own. Without help, it can be chump-blocked all day. But were it to gain trample and be played alongside say Xenagos, God of Revels or perhaps a Hunter's Prowess, it can kill a player very suddenly. It had some potential, that's for certain. Red-Green Monsters and Mono-Green Devotion were seriously good Standard decks at the time. With the amount of mana available to those decks, it seemed that it just might work at the top end of the mana curve.
Some Standard players indeed tried to make Heroes' Bane work. Cory Weber made the Top 8 of the 2014 Colorado State Championships with a copy of Heroes' Bane in his Devotion to Green deck. Early in 2015, Andreas Pettersson included a copy in his Devotion to Simic deck, which made the Top 8 at the Scandinavian Open in Stockholm. While this is pretty much the extent of any competitive play for Heroes' Bane, this was a card that people did try in their Standard decks.
Even well after its time in Standard, people still find uses for Heroes' Bane. As with many of the Hydras in Magic, Heroes' Bane shows up in plenty of Commander decks. While he sees play alongside a great many different Commanders, it should be little surprise that Xenagos, God of Revels is at the top of the list. While he made few waves in competitive play, Heroes' Bane has proved to be a versatile creature.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
As the final revealed mythic rare from Magic the Gathering's Journey Into Nyx spoiler season, Prophetic Flamespeaker looked like a winner. But was he going to sell the set? First of all, anything that has double strike and trample is already good. Add to that having a great effect that activates upon doing combat damage to player, and you definitely have a winner.
Being able to exile the top two cards of your deck with the chance to play them that turn is perfectly useful. Yes, you'll burn through some cards. We would see this sort of ability useful around this time with Chandra, Pyromaster, and much later with the release of Abbot of Keral Keep - although these cards only exiled one card at a time.
Also, there were a lot of ways to make this guy truly threatening during that time in Standard. In particular, Titan's Strength, which gives a target creature +3/+1 until end of turn, could make this guy a bit ridiculous, especially considering his trample ability. Plus, Titan's Strength lets you Scry, so you can put a card you don't want to be exiled by the Flamespeaker's effect to the bottom of the deck. So, the potential to hit for 8 damage and accelerate your deck was just plain absurd.
While it wasn't quite clear at the time how exactly Prophetic Flamespeaker would play out, he was simply too good not to see play. At the time, I could imagine a red/black deck Bestowing a Herald of Torment onto him and making him a 4/6 flyer! The most likely scenario I envisioned at the time was becoming part of some Red/Green aggro deck that finds ways to consistently pump their Flamespeakers. This was during the Standard heydey of Ghor-Clan Rampager, a creature you could discard from your hand to give an attacking creature +4/+4 and trample until end of turn. Obviously, the Flamespeaker didn't need the trample, but becoming a 5/5 with double strike is extremely powerful.
Such Aggro decks would play a lot of cheap creatures anyway, so the top-deck exiling could be advantageous - especially with all the Scrying you're probably doing anyway. It's also important to note that if his exiling reveals a land card, you'll want to be sure that you can use that land that turn or you will lose it forever.
It seemed with both Chandra's Phoenix and Boros Reckoner leaving Standard that following October, there was going to be a lot of brewing going on around this card. In my opinion at the the time of his release, the guy had a bright future ahead of him. I even considered that he could be the Voice of Resurgence of the set.
None of that happened. What happened? Channel Fireball even had a Devotion to Red deck in which Prophetic Flamespeaker would play a key role. What was the problem?
The problem lies in Prophetic Flamespeaker being so fragile. He has only 1 power, and 3 toughness. Objectively, he was great. But, getting him to actually activate his ability could prove difficult. Channel Fireball also admitted at the time that he wouldn't make it in Modern with Lightning Bolt running amok.
Despite being relatively fragile, Prophetic Flamespeaker did see some Top 8 play during his time in Standard. On Magic Online, he popped up in some Red Deck Wins lists in Theros Block Constructed. He also popped up as a playset in a winning Jund list in a Magic Online Modern Daily event, although this appeared to be a fluke. It would pop up in some top 8 lists at State Championships in Boros decks, but for the most part, it wasn't a card that really did as much many players hoped it would.
Later on, Prophetic Flamespeaker made another appearance in Modern as part of an All-in Red deck that had a strong finish at a Star City Games Modern event in Las Vegas in December of 2015. Then, the Flamespeaker would appear in a couple of Dragon Stompy Legacy decks in April of 2016 as a three-of in the main deck. In fact, in one event, two similar lists placed first and second. Armed with Sword of Fire and Ice and/or Umezawa's Jitte, the Flamespeaker actually was able to get in some attacks. Then, outside of popping up in some Commander lists, the Flamespeaker basically disappeared from view.
Prophetic Flamespeaker is the perfect example of an objectively powerful card that simply never found the legs to be consistently part of a competitive strategy. He would latch on as a part of existing decks, and while the deck would win, it seems that he didn't actually improve the deck enough to become a permanent fixture. With powerful creatures continuing to be printed all the time, there just isn't really a slot for the Flamespeaker to fit into anymore.
Still, Prophetic Flamespeaker is a good creature with the ability to potentially finish off an opponent with the right pump spells. He also can provide some powerful card advantage if the deck is able to support casting spells quickly. Prophetic Flamespeaker was indeed powerful on paper, but in practice, he never really panned out competitively. For a card that's worth roughly a dollar, he's a fun creature to try out and brew with in Kitchen Table Magic decks. Sadly, many people have forgotten about him.
There's a reason that cards such as Leyline of Sanctity, and to a lesser extent, Witchbane Orb are so good. Giving yourself hexproof shuts down a lot of strategies, as you can no longer be targeted by opponents' spells. Burn spells can no longer go to your face. It also stops players from redirecting burn damage to planeswalkers. Effects that force a target player to sacrifice something don't work. Really, having hexproof stops any effect that targets a player, including mill effects, and the dreaded Mindslaver in Modern Tron decks. That's why Leyline of Sanctity is a staple in the Modern format.
Obviously, the Leyline is better than the Witchbane Orb, as it can come into play for free if it's in your opening hand. The Orb is an artifact that costs 4 to cast, although it does have the upside of destroy any Curses in play (and Curse of Death's Hold has seen some Modern play.) But really, you're not going to spend a whole turn casting the Orb, are you?
Journey into Nyx offered an interesting alternative to the Leyline and Orb in the form of a 2/1 Human Soldier called Aegis of the Gods. Essentially, it's Leyline of Sanctity on a stick, and it costs only 2 mana to cast. That seems pretty efficient, doesn't it? The obvious use for this card would seem to be to stop Burn strategies. That is true. Leyline of Sanctity 's price is mostly as expensive as it is because it is side-boarded versus Red Deck Wins in Modern. Having an answer you can pay on turn 2 without having to rely on a copy of it in your opening hand sounds great, doesn't it?
There's also a similar card that used to see play in Legacy. It's a card originally printed in Onslaught called True Believer, but later reprinted in 10th Edition which made it legal in Modern. It's a 2/2 for WW instead of a 2/1 for 1W. But the major difference is that it gives you shroud, which means you can't even target yourself. This can actually prove to be a downside, since there are many cards that can benefit you by targeting yourself. So, in Aegis of the Gods VS True Believer, the Aegis wins overall.
There seemed to be plenty of good reasons to play Aegis of the Gods in Standard. But, besides the typical burn decks, it wasn't clear how good it would be in the Standard format of the day. One major rules question at the time was how Aegis of the Gods interacted with the powerful God, Athreos, God of Passage's ability. Gaining hexproof does in fact stop Athreos players from returning their own creatures to their hands. It would turn out to be a corner case, but still relevant.
Alternatively, giving yourself hexproof didn't stop the Tribute mechanic featured in Born of the Gods, since it didn't target. But that ability turned out to be rarely relevant in competitive play anyway. It also doesn't stop Extort, which was a major mechanic in Gatecrash, since that doesn't target, either. Basically, most the things that people wanted it to stop, having hexproof doesn't solve.
(Side note: There was also a question at the time about if Aegis of the Gods would be an issue for your teammate in the then quite popular Two-Headed Giant format. The good news is that even if you have hexproof, your teammate can still target you, since hexproof only affects opponents. So yes, Aegis of the Gods is good in Two-Headed Giant, for whoever still plays that format. It's fun and more people still should!)
All in all, Aegis of the Gods is a decent card with a very relevant ability. But it turned into more of a sideboard option, and not even in Standard. Competitively, the Aegis of the Gods has found permanent homes in the sideboards of Vintage decks, and not just Death and Taxes, white weenie, or Hatebear decks. So many Vintage decks win with effects that get shut off by you having hexproof.
Why does it work so well in Vintage and not in other 60-card formats? The main issue is how fragile a 2/1 really is. It's far too easy to remove in Modern or Legacy. But in Vintage, having to use a removal spell on him is going to be a lot more important than in any other format. Decks in Vintage are all about executing their game plan. Even if the Aegis just buys you a turn to "go off" it's done its job. Basically, in Vintage, it's at the very least a pest. Sometimes, you only need that one pest to give you the edge. Currently, the best deck that uses Aegis of the Gods is White Eldrazi.
In EDH / Commander, Aegis of the Gods sees a fair amount of play. Unsurprisingly, it's most used in Daxos the Returned decks, which uses every good low-cost Enchantment available. But it also sees play alongside Zur the Enchanter, who can tutor it straight from the deck into play, which is a pretty powerful move. It sees a smattering of play across a great many other decks, as well.
How much is Aegis of the Gods worth? As it's not a staple in any particular deck, Aegis of the Gods' price has been around $2 for quite some time. The Aegis's foil price, however is closer to $4. The foil is definitely a good investment if you plan on playing a copy in Vintage or Commander.
If you're looking for a budget alternative to Leyline of Sanctity, though, Aegis of the Gods is probably a bit too fragile to play in most formats. It's good in Vintage and Commander. But, if you're looking for a good answer to giving yourself hexproof in Modern or Legacy, I'd stick to the Leyline.
When Dictate of Kruphix was first released, it seemed clear that the ever popular Howling Mine effect was back in Standard. This time it took the form of a 3-mana Blue Enchantment with Flash! Dictate of Kruphix having Flash is actually pretty good, as you can draw an extra card before your opponent does. It also has 2 blue mana symbols in its casting cost which worked towards devotion in the ever popular Mono-Blue Devotion decks during its day in Standard.
So, both players get the extra card, right, just like with Howling Mine? Yes, that's true. But some players figured out you could get around that if you had Notion Thief in play! You'd be able to draw the extra card, but your opponent wouldn't, along with any other cards they'd draw outside of their draw step. Also, with Thassa, God of the Sea scrying for you each turn, your draws would likely be better more often. It seemed like Dictate of Kruphix would be a really good card advantage engine.
But as it turned out in Standard, there wasn't really a deck that could use Dictate of Kruphix effectively. Adrian Sullivan of Star City Games tried to build an Enchanted Prison/Turbo-Fog deck. That archetype never really panned out in that format. There was also a Maze's End Turbo-Fog list that tried it out. But that turned out to not go much of anywhere, either.
Some people would later try to build mill decks where forcing your opponents to draw extra cards would speed up your win condition. It would be paired with Jace's Erasure, which would make your opponent mill a card from the top of their deck each time you drew. It seemed like a good idea. But that sort of deck never really went anywhere.
So for the longest time, Dictate of Kruphix didn't really see much in the way of competitive play, not in Standard anyway.
However, Dictate of Kruphix would eventually find itself on the competitive scene, even if mostly on Magic Online. Some Modern lists running Time Warp and Temporal Mastery found a use for 4 copies of Dictate of Kruphix as a way to gain extra card advantage during the additional turns the deck would take. Since each copy of Dictate of Kruphix stacks and grants an extra card, you could draw 3 or 4 or even 5 cards each turn. This Modern Walks deck list and this top Grand Prix Charlotte Turns list proved to be pretty brutal control decks. Finally, Dictate of Kruphix found a home in competitive play. It didn't even need Notion Thief to make it good. It just had to be played alongside a bunch of extra turn spells.
Unsurprisingly, Dictate of Kruphix has found its way into plenty of Commander decks, too. First and foremost, Nekusar the Mindrazer loves to make everyone draw extra cards, especially since that Commander's ability hurts your opponents for each card they draw. But there are plenty of Commander decks that don't mind letting opponents draw extra cards, so the Dictate has plenty of homes in EDH decks, too.
When a full-art promo version was given to Journey Into Nyx Gameday winners, it's not surprising how excited players got about this card. While it didn't work out in competitive play at first, Dictate of Kruphix turned out to be a good, useful card.
Anthem effects in Magic the Gathering are always cool. Who doesn't like making their creatures bigger? When they don't help opponents, they're even better. Theros gave us one of the better anthems out there, Spear of Heliod. It's become a Commander staple. While the Spear is probably a better anthem overall, Hall of Triumph is much more versatile in what decks it can be played. As an artifact, it's colorless, which helps it fit into more decks.
Hall of Triumph costs 3 colorless mana to cast. When it comes into play, you choose a color and creatures of that color you control gain +1/+1. Sadly, you can't choose colorless as an option for Hall of Triumph. Despite, colorless mana getting its own mana symbol in Oath of the Gatewatch, you still can't choose colorless as an option if you need to choose a color. It's pretty straightforward. While it's limited to a single color, there are plenty of mono-colored decks that could use an anthem effect, especially Red decks that wouldn't otherwise have one.
It seemed Hall of Triumph would become a mono-colored Commander staple. After seeing a bit of play in Standard, however, the only deck that widely adopted the Hall was Krenko, Mob Boss. Along with the Tribal anthem, Obelisk of Urd, suddenly Krenko's Goblins became more imposing. As an artifact, Hall of Triumph is still relatively underplayed considering the versatility of its effect. If you're running a one-color Tribal deck in Commander, you should definitely consider running a copy of Hall of Triumph.
Polymorphous Rush is a versatile instant spell from Journey into Nyx. It has been used in brewing up plenty of interesting Magic the Gathering combos. How does it work, and how well does it work? Let's take a look.
First, the card itself. It costs 3 mana to cast (2U), which is a fair cost considering what this card does. Upon casting it, you choose a creature on the battlefield. This ability doesn't even target, so shroud and hexproof can't stop you from choosing a creature. You can then make any number of target creatures you control into a copy of that creature until end of turn. You do have to pay 1U for each target beyond the first. But it can become quite a blowout if you're copying the right creature!
This ability to target multiple creatures was a mechanic called Strive, one that's exclusive to the Journey Into Nyx set. There are other spells with Strive that would go on to see some amount of tournament play. This looked like it would be one of them.
Did Polymorphous Rush Ever Enable Combos in Standard?
People were very excited when this card was spoiled for Journey Into Nyx, especially because of the Strive ability tacked on to it. Polymorphous Rush seemed like a toolbox card that could work well on offense and defense. While it can end up being a lot of mana for this card to work well, Mono-Blue Devotion, one of the premier decks at the time this card was released, made plenty of mana. It looked like a great way to get out an extra Master of Waves in Mono-Blue Devotion! It could copy a Blood Baron of Vizkopa several times and make your opponent's life miserable!
Also, Heroic was a big mechanic in Standard due to the Theros block. Playing a spell that could target multiple creatures such as Polymorphous Rush seemed awesome! It would get the heroic ability first, such as gaining a +1/+1 counter, then become that creature. That works well in theory.
There was also a cute combo with Sage of Hours and Hero of Leina Tower. Essentially, you'd copy a bunch of Heroes and turn them into Sage of Hours. You could then pay X to add extra +1/+1 counters to the Heroes, and then use Sage of Hours ability to take a bunch of extra turns. Once the Heroes turned back into themselves, you could just beat down with them during all those extra turns. Worked well in theory, but it seemed a bit janky even at the time.
But it never really took off in Standard. Not even in the battlecruiser format of Commander where there's plenty of mana. What happened?
The problem is pretty much this: it really just ended up being more mana than it was worth. Another issue is that you don't get the enter the battlefield effects of the creature it copies. The decks that really wanted this were those that wanted to get extra copies of Master of Waves, but ones that came along with tokens, not just a +1/+1 boost for the Elementals. And yes, it could be an awesome card to copy powerful creatures on your opponent's side of the board, such as the aforementioned Blood Baron of Vizkopa, one of the more powerful creatures that has been in any Standard environment.
But even if it never cracked its way into competitive "top 8" Magic, there were other ways that more casual players could use it, right?
Polymorphous Rush, Battlefield Thaumaturge, and an Easy Biovisionary Win?
One deck that screamed Polymorphous Rush to me at the time was Biovisionary Combo. One of the more fun win conditions available in Magic the Gathering, Biovisionary gives you the chance to win the game at the end of any turn if you happen to control four or more creatures named Biovisionary. There are numerous ways to do this, obviously, but Polymorphous Rush became the easiest method available in Standard. With the addition of Battlefield Thaumaturge, also in Journey into Nyx, Strive costs became a lot more palatable. The Thaumaturge would make an instant or sorcery spell cost 1 less colorless mana to cast for each card that it targeted beyond the first. It seemed pretty good.
But wait, you need 4 Biovisionaries at your upkeep to win the game! Not a problem. Because Polymorphous Rush can be played at instant speed, you can do it at an opponent's end step, which is silly. With how quickly Simic (blue/green) decks can ramp, it looked like this could be a decent Tier 2 deck until the October 2014 rotation. I wasn't alone in feeling that Biovisionary, Rush, and Thaumaturge were made for each other. I felt that this combo could even slip into fringe Modern play-ability with the existence of Mirrorweave from Shadowmoor.
While this worked in theory, setting up the combo really just never worked in Standard. It proved to be far too easy to disrupt. However, a Biovisionary deck would in fact work eventually. In 2016, SaffronOlive of MTG Goldfish would make a Biovisionary deck that worked in his Against the Odds series. He went 0-8 in his first attempt using Mirrorweave. But in his second attempt, which utilized Collected Company, it didn't even need Biovisionary to win. Funny, right? And no, there were no copies of Polymorphous Rush in the deck.
Polymorphous Rush & Young Pyromancer?
There was another thought about Polymorphous Rush. What about using it alongside Young Pyromancer? People were already trying out Battlefield Thaumaturge in Pyromancer decks, too. Young Pyromancer is an awesome creature, and he still sees play in Modern, Legacy, and Vintage today. But sadly, while you could turn the Elemental tokens from the Pyromancer into other Young Pyromancers, Polymorphous Rush itself wouldn't make extra copies from the new Pyromancers. This is backed up the official rulings on Polymorphous Rush from Wizards of the Coast.
Even then, it seemed like Rush would still see play to make more Pyromancers, since there were plenty of cheap spells that would immediately help you benefit from the extra Pyromancers. In theory, this was a good idea, but who wanted to spend that much mana to not get tokens off of the new Pyromancers?
So it was a non-bo.
What About Commander, Where Fun Cards Like This Live On?
Polymorphous Rush never caught on in Commander. Usually, that's a format where a lot of cards with splashy effects like this live on. It does see play, but it's very scattered. So due to it not really being played outside of a handful of random Commander decks, its price has remained that of a bulk rare. You can find copies for about $0.50 USD or less, but due to the casual appeal of the card, some retailers may ask as much as $1 a copy.
Even then, you should definitely keep this card in mind if you're already considering using it. You can use the existing combos in a Commander deck that you might have already. It's just more mana-intensive in practice that you might at first realize, for any of these, and even with the help of the Thaumaturge.
So yes, Polymorphous Rush does work with Biovisionary as you might expect. It works with a lot of cards. But in all of these cards, it's been proven to be too slow to be effective on a consistent basis. It's still neat. And its past history doesn't mean that you won't ever see it become part of a broken combo, though. That it hasn't happened yet doesn't mean anything. Wizards just hasn't printed the card that it will break just yet.
Blinking things is pretty good in Magic the Gathering. Back in their heyday, Momentary Blink decks were very powerful. When the planeswalker Venser, the Sojourner was kicking around Standard, Blue/White control was definitely a real deck.
Venser had a blink ability that helped abuse many enter the battlefield effects. After a few turns, he was able to use his ultimate loyalty ability very easily. That ultimate ability gave you an emblem which allowed you to exile a permanent whenever you cast a spell. That's pretty nasty, and so powerful that Venser, the Sojourner still occasionally sees play in Modern!
Skybind is an Enchantment that lets you blink a non-Enchantment card you control every time you play it or another Enchantment while it’s on the battlefield. This allows you to get some extra value out of enter the battlefield effects, and most especially, other cards with the Constellation ability. While it's not going to help you build up to an ability like Venser's, there's still quite a bit of value to be generated here.
However, 5 mana is a high casting cost in Constructed for a card that doesn't have much of an immediate effect on the battlefield - besides blinking one thing when it enters. Still, what’s interesting about this is that it’s a Constellation ability. Consider that those Enchantments can be tokens entering the battlefield that are considered Enchantments (a la Heliod, God of the Sun tokens). There are also tons of very playable Enchantment creatures and Auras. So with the right type of support, Skybind can offer you a lot of value. It can blink a lot of stuff.
Ideally, most of the time, you’d be using this to “blink” your tapped lands. This will make them come back untapped for your opponent’s turn. That’s not a bad idea in a control shell. But is it worth the five mana investment to throw down for an effect that doesn’t necessarily win you any games?
There was a time in Standard where people tried to make Skybind work, especially when Khans of Tarkir was first released. In particular, Ashen Rider, Siege Rhino and Wingmate Roc were perfect targets with powerful enter the battlefield abilities. The Rhino would be able to gain you 3 life while draining your opponent for 3 pretty much on every turn. The Roc would bring along a 3 / 4 flying Bird friend as long as you attacked during that turn. The Rider was a greater finisher, which can exile a permanent every time it enters the battlefield or dies. But that sort of deck was a bit too slow to gain any competitive momentum.
Where this card can shine is in Commander. In the Elder Dragon Highlander (EDH) format, blink effects are much more powerful than in anywhere else in MTG. Being able to reuse powerful enter the battlefield effects is why Conjurer’s Closet is so popular in the format. The Closet only lets you blink creatures, though. Skybind doesn’t let you blink your Enchantment Creatures, but it does let you do other things, such as blink other important creatures and artifacts. Also, blinking lands isn’t a terrible thing to do, either, especially after they’re already tapped.
For Skybind to be worth a slot in the deck, though, you have to have a pretty substantial number of Enchantments for its Constellation effect to trigger. One Commander that it works quite well with would be the aforementioned Heliod, God of the Sun. He can trigger Constellation abilities every time he creates one of his Cleric tokens that’s also an Enchantment. His deck also has a number of creatures that you can take advantage of their enter the battlefield abilities. These include Angel of Serenity, Archon of Justice, Auramancer, Fiend Hunter, Heliod’s Pilgrim, Knight of the White Orchid, Kor Cartographer, and more.
The other Commander who can utilize Skybind, and to even greater effect, is Daxos the Returned. Since he is both White and Black, there are even more powerful Enchantments to go around. Daxos plays many of the same creatures as Heliod, including the God of the Sun himself. But Daxos has a few additional targets, commonly playing such creatures as Ashen Rider, Monk Idealist, Oreskos Explorer, Solemn Simulacrum, and best of all, Sun Titan.
Other Commanders that can make some use out of Skybind include Brago, King Eternal, Bruna, Light of Alabaster, and Roon of the Hidden Realm. Brago and Roon utilize “blink” effects on a regular basis and are among the top Commanders in MTG. It doesn’t have the greatest synergy with Bruna, but some players opt to include it in their builds.
Skybind never turned any heads in Constructed. It's far from being one of the best enchantments in MTG, for sure. But in the few Commander decks that can best utilize it, the Constellation ability can provide a good deal of value for the investment.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
With the introduction of the Heroic mechanic in Theros, many players were hopeful that Wizards had introduced a truly competitive archetype. Although Heroic has never done what Wizards R&D hoped that it would in the competitive game, it's had its moments winning minor tournaments here and there and placing well in Magic Online daily competitions.
Though the Heroic mechanic was printed on plenty of decent cards, Dawnbringer Charioteers from Journey into Nyx was never going to be another stalwart card in the archetype. It’s a 2/4 with Flying and Lifelink for 2WW, which isn't incredibly exciting. Its Heroic ability is that each time that it’s targeted, you put a +1/+1 counter on it. This is an ability that's appeared on a good number of Heroic creatures, and it's not bad for an uncommon.
Unfortunately, this isn't an uncommon. That's a gold symbol there for the rarity - it's a rare. It was even a featured card in a Journey into Nyx Intro Pack. In Limited, this card was always a decent pick, though. A flier with lifelink for 4 mana is a strong play, especially with how easy Heroic was to build around in the Theros block Limited environment. Having this at uncommon would've made it a format All-Star rather than just an okay rare-draft.
However, a 2/4 for 4 mana simply isn't too fantastic in Constructed, as it doesn't do anything outside of get a bit bigger. Competitive Heroic decks need to conserve their mana and a 4 drop Heroic creature just isn't going to cut it with such underwhelming stats.
From a casual perspective, the Charioteers are a Human Soldier, so it’s playable in a Heroic Soldier deck in Commander if you desperately need one more Heroic creature. But besides that, it's just a bulk rare with no long-term value.
by Phoenix A. Desertsong, Staff Writer, Healer & Advocate
The Dictate cycle is definitely quite fascinating. It's a cycle of Enchantments that bring an old, powerful effect from Magic’s history, increase its mana cost a bit, and give it Flash. In this case, this card is much like Heartbeat of Spring from Champions of Kamigawa, except that Enchantment cost only 2G, whereas this costs 3GG.
There have been other enchantments with a similar effect, but with drawbacks. These include Winter’s Night from Alliances and Overabundance from Invasion. Zhur-Taa Ancient, a creature from Dragon’s Maze, also happens to have that effect, and it’s a 7/5 for 3RG.
So does giving this card Flash suddenly make it a bunch better? Interestingly enough, this card works best with Kruphix, God of Horizons, and not Karametra, God of Harvests. Since the effect works for all players, Kruphix’s ability to turn any excess mana into colorless mana is really good. Five mana is a bit much for an enchantment like this, though. It is more stomach-able if you’re playing a Kruphix deck in which you’re using leftover colorless mana and only paying 2 Green for it. That’s something I’m sure R&D took into consideration in costing this card, as Heartbeat of Spring with Flash could've proven to be pretty powerful.
While it's a bit expensive to cast in Standard, it's going to see some Commander play, certainly. It's especially good alongside Kruphix, for a bit of extra redundancy along with the cards mentioned earlier. It's important to note that this effect does stack upon multiple instances. It’s definitely a usable enchantment, and using the Flash to cast it at instant speed can help you take advantage of it first.
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