Hour of Devastation… Sphinx tribal?!


The last year or so has been a pretty good time to be playing EDH. Lots of new cards tailored for our format, from giant monsters, to big silly spells, and everything in between.

As I went over on Monday, spoilers have started for the next set, Hour of Devastation, the sequel to the Egypt-themed Amonkhet, and it looks like Wizards very much has us EDH players in mind with this set… in fact, it looks like they even have cards planned for those of us who love tribal EDH decks!

But not just any tribe… tribal Sphinxes?! Let’s take a look at the new legend previewed today!

Wizards keeps surprising me with more and more EDH tribal support cards for underused tribes in recent years (such as Ishkanah, Grafwidow, who gave the Spider tribe an EDH general). Today’s card is for a tribe that hasn’t really gotten much love: the mostly-blue Sphinx tribe.

Now, I’ll be honest. I have seen people try to build Sphinx tribal decks for EDH in the past, and for the most part, they’ve always been awful. People have used generals like Isperia the Inscrutable, Isperia, Supreme Judge, and Arjun, the Shifting Flame, but these generals are all really bad at being tribal generals, since they all have the same failing: they don’t do anything to help out the tribe.

Well, today’s new general definitely helps the tribe in a big way:

Every Sphinx costs 2 less.

Every Sphinx now has a Fact or Fiction stapled to it when it comes into play.

…If there were two lines of text that would tempt me more to build Sphinx tribal, I don’t know what they would be!

This card pre-emptively fixes the main issue I would have had with tribal Sphinxes, which is that they all cost about eleventy billion mana each. Making each one cost 2 less is a great way to kickstart your flying army of beefy riddlers.

And the Fact or Fiction trigger? Well let me tell you, FoF is one of my favorite card drawing spells of all time, and to have that attached to each Sphinx played is amazing to me. They couldn’t have made this bad tribe suddenly seem more playable to me if they tried!

So having said all that, if we sit down to brainstorm Sphinx tribal, what is the creature base that we’re working with? There are currently 27 Sphinxes in print, most rare, and most have very wacky abilities.

Let’s take a look:

Mana cost 3:
Vexing Sphinx

Mana cost 4:
Argent Sphinx
Conundrum Sphinx
Curator of Mysteries

Mana cost 5:
Belltower Sphinx
Glyph Keeper
Guardian of Tazeem
Jwar Isle Avenger
Master of Predicaments
Prognostic Sphinx
Serra Sphinx
Sphinx of Lost Truths

Mana cost 6:
Arbiter of the Ideal
Cerulean Sphinx
Consecrated Sphinx
Horizon Scholar
Sharding Sphinx
Sphinx of Jwar Isle
Sphinx of Magosi
Sphinx of the Chimes

Mana cost 7:
Alhammarret, High Arbiter
Chancellor of the Spires
Goliath Sphinx
Sphinx Ambassador
Sphinx of the Final Word
Sphinx of Uthuun
Windreader Sphinx

The majority of Sphinxes are all very large flying creatures, and grouped around mana cost 5-7. Since they cost so much, having the 2 mana discount from Unesh is going to be a huge deal, letting you cast multiple of these giant beaters per turn, instead of just one each turn.

So, what would the rest of the deck look like? Well, you could add mana ramp (to ramp to Unesh… once he’s in play, you just cast Sphinx after Sphinx). This could be anything from tribe-specific ramp like Urza’s Incubator, to mana rocks like Worn Powerstone, or anything in between.

I’d be tempted to add in any card where “flying matters,” since the entire Sphinx tribe has flying. Cards like Favorable Winds and Gravitational Shift are excellent ways to pump the Sphinxes (and the Shift even shrinks all ground creatures, which is a huge bonus!)

It’s worth mentioning that just having a tribe where every creature has the keyword ‘flying’ will win this deck games. My Isperia the Inscrutable and Kangee, Aerie Keeper decks are both chock full of bad flying creatures, but they win games because people can’t block them. Tribal Sphinxes would be the same thing.

For removal, the deck would want one-sided removal that leaves the Sphinxes in play. Cards like Cyclonic Rift, AEther Gale, AEtherspouts, Baral’s Expertise, and so on, would all be excellent at removing problem cards, while letting the flying Sphinxes keep beating down.

One thing that I do like is that this general enables a deck that doesn’t need any form of card drawing (since it’s built into the general). I usually tend to pack at least 7-10 ways to draw extra cards into my EDH decks, so to have those slots free for other spells is quite nice.

Since his mini Fact or Fiction puts cards into your graveyard, that is an ability that can be built around. There are lots of blue cards and artifacts that care about cards being in the graveyard, from things like Runechanter’s Pike to any of the blue delve spells, so this may be a mini-theme as well.

I do find it quite ironic that as I’m in the process of doing an EDH tribal tourney, Wizards is coming out with awesome tribal cards, heh. It’s like they want me to run a sequel to this tourney next year, but with Sphinxes, Pirates, and Dinosaurs.

All in all, I like this guy quite a lot for a bad tribal card, and I’m highly tempted to build him for EDH!

Sphinx tribal. What will Wizards come out with next?

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