New Card Spotlight: Nissa, Steward of Elements

by | May 2, 2017 | MTG

So the Amonkhet spoilers officially ended Friday. And while some cards are catching a lot of attention – cough, cough, As Foretold – there’s one that I’m particularly intrigued by: Nissa, Steward of the Elements.

She is noteworthy for two particular reasons:

Nissa, Steward of Elements
  • There have been six previous Nissa planeswalker cards released throughout the game’s history: Nissa Revane; Nissa, Nature’s Artisan; Nissa, Sage Animist; Nissa, Vital Force; Nissa, Voice of Zendikar; and Nissa, Worldwaker. Each of those six have one thing in common: they’re all mono green. Amonkhet’s newest gem – Nissa, Steward of the Elements – is the first time we’ve seen the character branch off into an additional color.
  • Prior to Amonkhet’s release, there have been 86 total planeswalkers. None of those, however, have ever had an “X” as part of their respective mana costs. Nissa, Steward of the Elements, of course, does.

Frankly, I think Amonkhet’s Nissa is one of the most intriguing, well-designed planeswalkers the game’s ever seen. So let’s take a closer look at her and see if she’s going to see play in Modern, my favorite format.

The first checkbox to look at is her cost. Outside of Tron’s ability to burp out high-costed cards, there aren’t too many well-known archetype runs planeswalkers beyond a 4 CMC (outside of Elspeth, Sun’s Champion). So she checks off the first immediate test. The fact that Nissa, Steward of the Elements can land on Turn 3 is an added bonus point.

Her Specific Abilities

[+2]: Scry 2

  • Modern’s such a fast format that outside of Serum Visions and some Scry Lands in Ad Nauseum, Scrying is rarely used as it’s often considered too slow. So a Turn 3 Nissa into a Scry 2 just seems…well…a bit underwhelming, especially considering she’s still in Lightning Bolt range.

[0]: Look at the top card of your library. If it’s a land card or a creature card with converted mana cost less than or equal to the number of loyalty counters on Nissa, Steward of Elements, you may put that card onto the battlefield.

  • Now this is Nissa’s bread-and-butter. In a format of dynamic, impactful one-, two-, and three-drop creatures, Nissa’s [0]-ability just oozes card advantage. Playing her and hitting on a Tarmogoyf, Fulminator Mage, Scavenging Ooze, Kitchen Finks, Matter Reshaper, Grim Flayer, Eldrazi Displacer, Eternal Witness, Spellskite, Wall of Omens, or a Vendilion Clique is a ride to Value Town.And even if you brick and hit a land, she’s still providing sufficient ramp for your next turn – especially if (A) you’ve already played a land this turn or (B) snag a manland.

    In the right build – more on that next week – Nissa’s [0]-ability is very quasi-Dark Confidant, just without the life loss, but more difficult to remove.

[-6]: Untap up to two target lands you control. They become 5/5 Elemental creatures with flying and haste until end of turn. They’re still lands.

  • Planeswalker’s ultimates are supposed to end the game. This one, more or less, does as long as you’ve chipped away at your opponent’s life total in the preceding turns.

So what’s it all mean?

Well, I think there’s some potential for new Nissa to see some play in Modern. But I’d be surprised if she pops up in anything higher than a Tier 3 deck. Relegating your deck to a high number of creatures will likely cause some problems, especially without powerhouses like Chord of Calling or Collected Company. We’ll continue to take a look at Nissa’s chances in Modern next week as we explore some potential builds. Stay tuned!