There have been grumblings in the player base about how Theros block has failed to fulfill its promise of being an "enchantment matters" block. Journey into Nyx fulfills that promise. The set is rife with actual enchantments—not just enchantment creatures or Auras—and many of its cards specifically care about all enchantments.
Now let's look at the set's mechanics and cards!
Almost every mechanic from earlier in Theros block appears in Journey Into Nyx. The only one missing is Tribute, from Born of the Gods. As that was my least favorite mechanic in the block—letting your opponent choose the effect is a downer—I'm not disappointed to see it go.
The Bestow mechanic stretches its design space a bit with a cycle that comes with drawbacks, giving you the option of enchanting an opposing creature to give it that drawback. The affected creature will still gain power and toughness, though, so see these Bestow cards are most likely to be used this way as a panic button in Limited.
Constellation: Creatures with Constellation—representing the starry appearance of spirits from the divine realm of Nyx—are at the core of the set's "enchantment matters" theme. This ability word provides a benefit whenever an enchantment enters the battlefield under your control. It's a cinch that some of these cards will see casual play in Bestow and Enchantress decks.
Strive: A stripped-down Multikicker/Overload variant, Strive allows you to extend a single-target spell to one or more additional targets for an increased mana cost. This is likely to be a Limited-only mechanic, but I expect it'll come in handy in Limited as a Heroic enabler.
Personally, though, I'm more interested in mechanics! Here are a few neat cards from my perspective as a casual player:
Aegis of the Gods: This cut-rate Spirit of the Hearth looks too fragile to slow down a burn deck, but its ability to disrupt your opponent's tactics should prove valuable in a lot of matchups.
Banishing Light: Hello, Oblivion Ring, I almost didn't recognize you there! As with Banisher Priest, this revises the wording of a modern staple, making it easier to understand and harder to abuse. The art's not bad, either.
Rule of Law on legs. Toughness of 4 makes it hard to burn, so it should put the squeeze on red decks more effectively than the flashier Aegis of the Gods. And it's an uncommon, too, so it should crop up regularly in Limited.
Lagonna-Band Trailblazer: This should give white Heroic decks some much-needed resilience in the early game.
Oppressive Rays: Reminiscent of the Alpha spell Paralyze, this has a lower cost than any modern-day Pacifism variant that I can think of.
Quarry Colossus: Too expensive for Constructed play, but likely a Limited bomb. Should also go over well in EDH, where the ability to tuck an opponent's general into his or her library is prized.
Tethmos High Priest: Recursion is always worth a second look. This should be a must-have in white Heroic decks, which lean heavily on creatures with converted mana costs of 2 or less.
Dakra Mystic: The ability to sift through both your library and your opponent's is really interesting! It's not clear how useful it will be in actual play, insofar as you'll often see two strong or two weak cards and be stumped as to what's the best play. On the other hand, there are ways to take advantage of the situation, whether by manipulating the top of your library with Scry effects or by reanimating milled creatures.
Daring Thief: Once again, it's blue that gets some of the coolest Inspired abilities—especially for a color that has all sorts of ways to tap or untap creatures. In theory, you can amass significant board advantage with its ability. In practice, it'll eat a Lightning Bolt or a Doom Blade long before then… but hey, a player can dream!
Pull from the Deep: While I'm iffy about the specificity of this spell, recurring an instant and a sorcery for four mana is potentially a great play for a blue control deck.
Sage of Hours: At first glance, he's impressive—who doesn't love extra turns? On second glance, not so much; five +1/+1 counters aren't easy to accumulate. But on third glance (is that a thing?), if you can figure out a way to pile lots of +1/+1 counters on the Sage, you've locked down the game. Sunbond seems to be the preferred tool for this in early discussion.
Dictate of Erebos: A slightly more expensive Grave Pact with flash. I suspect the flash will prove more valuable than people think. Grave Pact is hard enough to cope with when you see it coming; imagine how much havoc you can wreak when it comes as a surprise.
Extinguish All Hope: This, on the other hand, is a one-sided board wipe all by itself. It's much stronger in casual play than in Limited, insofar as you're not going to see enchantment creatures at many casual tables. I doubt that Bestow decks have much chance in the eternal formats, however, so it's likely to be a bulk rare.
Felhide Petrifier: Another minotaur lord! Truly, it is a great day for players of minotaur decks, wherever they are.
Gnarled Scarhide: Maybe the strongest of the new Bestow creatures. 2/1 for 2 is a solid aggro play, while using it to keep an opposing creature from blocking could prove valuable in the late game.
Grim Guardian: This guy's Constellation power is like watered-down Extort, but unlike Extort it costs you no mana to activate. This looks like a strong contender for a Constellation deck.
Mindslaver. Its presence in black hearkens back to Word of Command, all the way back in Alpha.
Dictate of the Twin Gods: Like Dictate of Erebos, but for Furnace of Rath. Again, flash looks like it's disproportionately useful; cast it during your opponent's end phase, and you can burn your opponent with all your mana once your own turn starts.
Forgeborn Oreads: Another attractive Constellation card! It can't grind out board advantage as effectively as Doomwake Giant, but the ability to burn your opponent directly should speed things along.
Knowledge and Power: Burn and scry—two great tastes that go great together! I fear that the two mana cost to activate this enchantment is too much for it to be really effective, but I look forward to trying it and finding out for myself.
Prophetic Flamespeaker: An efficient body and a triggered ability that potentially offers continuous card advantage may make this one of the premier chase cards for the set.
Eidolon of Blossoms: This little guy has amazing potential in enchantress decks. Because the Eidolon cantrips, it's harder than usual for your opponent to sabotage you with removal.
Hydra Broodmaster: One of the best Monstrosity creatures yet—and the only one in the set that measures up to its precursors in the Theros set. It has the potential to pile up a bunch of mid-sized token creatures on your side of the field. I figure it'll be an absolute bomb in Limited.
Market Festival: An Overgrowth that costs one extra mana to give you any color of mana you want! This should be an amazing ramp card in multicolor decks.
Reviving Melody: A cheap, efficient recursion spell that seems designed to help out Bestow decks. I'd play it.
Solidarity of Heroes: Interesting in that it's the first non-permanent spell that doubles counters. And at instant speed, no less, so that it doubles (pun intended) as a combat trick. Unfortunately, +1/+1 counters aren't a dependable commodity—unless you build your deck around them.
Disciple of Deceit: This looks like a great toolbox card, allowing you to repeatedly transmute cards for no mana cost. It's even in the colors of Ravnica's Transmute keyword! I'm confident someone will find some entertainingly abusive ways to build around it.
Mana Confluence: It's the second coming of City of Brass! And it looks as though it should generally be a better card, too, insofar as your opponent can't tap it to damage you. I expect this will be one of the most expensive rares in real-world dollars, as players of every stripe snatch them up for mana fixing.
Well, that's my take on Journey into Nyx. What do you think of the new set? Any favorites catch your eye on the official Card Image Gallery? Post your comments below!