Yesterday I wondered what the chances were that the only two cards I needed were numerically next to each other. It turns out that the chance must be pretty high as it has happened again today! Clearly WotC are seeding my packs now that I’ve started down this path of double posting in this scenario…

Nikya of the Old Ways

Nikya of the Old Ways is a 3 Generic ManaRedGreen 5/5 legendary creature with two abilities:

  • You can’t cast noncreature spells
  • Whenever you tap a land for mana, you get an extra mana

That first ability is an interesting debuff; it means no enchantments, instants, sorceries, or (most annoyingly) planeswalkers. On the flip side, getting double mana1 is very nice especially as you can choose which colour the additional one is when using dual lands (i.e. you can tap Stomping Ground for Green and then get Red as your freebie). A 5/5 creature for 5 CMC is also a good return although it’s a shame it doesn’t have trample bearing in mind it’s a centaur2 and it has the word trample in the flavour text!

This could definitely work well if you played a copy or two of Rhythm of the Wild early on and had the rest of your deck as big scary creatures. The one thing to watch for is that you’ll have no opportunity to get additional card draw and you’re likely playing this shortly before you get to the top-decking stage of a game; for that reason, you’ll be wanting big creatures that are also mana sinks so you can spend all of this lovely extra mana. Some good candidates would be Biogenic Ooze, Frenzied Arynx, Shivan Dragon, or Waker of the Wilds.

And now for something completely different:

Pitiless Pontiff

Pitiless Pontiff is a WhiteBlack 2/2 creature with the ability to pay 1 Generic Mana to sacrifice another creature in order to give itself deathtouch and indestructible until end of turn. This plays well with the cards I mentioned yesterday insofar as it fits into the aristocrat meta of killing smaller creatures. One of the key things about this is that the ability applies to any creature you control rather than nontoken creatures you control; this is particularly useful as there will be a number of spirit tokens in a deck that makes use of this card.

Obviously the most common use of this is going to be whilst blocking in that you can sacrifice a chump-blocking creature (hopefully with afterlife) and then make this card able to kill something much bigger than itself without losing it. The ability to make yourself indestructible is also useful against things like Shock or Cleansing Nova, especially at the low cost of 1 Generic Mana. This may well work it’s way into my aristocrat deck when I get around to making it.

Of course, my favourite thing about this card is the flavour text. I wonder if in a future card redesign there will be space for the author of these texts as there have been some excellent examples in recent sets. I also love the artwork by Yongjae Choi which was animated for the Ravnica Allegiance trailer.

  1. Mostly. This doesn’t double the mana of something like Llanowar Elves↩︎

  2. Although, saying that, none of the 6 centaurs in Standard have trample and of the 56 centaurs since 1993, only 7 of them have had it as a keyword. You’d think it would be higher given that they have hooves and all. ↩︎

This post is part of a weekday series where I open up a booster pack and pick a card to discuss. Whilst these are often the best cards from the set, I'll often pick one that is a bit niche or one that has cool artwork or flavour text. If there's a particular card you want me to take a look at, get in touch or join my Discord community.