Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the two sphinxes printed in Zendikar, Sphinx of Lost Truths and Sphinx of Jwar Isle:
It’s fairly obvious that Wizards has deemed the sphinx to be blue’s iconic creature type (alongside white’s angels, black’s demons, red’s dragons, and green’s beasts), which many could have guessed all the way back in Planar Chaos.
Until now, however, we’ve had yet to see a Constructed-worthy sphinx for Standard (with the possible exception of the Alara-block sphinxes, Enigma Sphinx and Sphinx of the Steel Wind, et al, which haven’t really done much aside from some appearances in the Alara Block Constructed format). These two Zendi-sphinxes go a long way toward changing that.
Sphinx of Lost Truths functions similarly to Mulldrifter. For the same 5 mana, you get a larger body and dig one card deeper, but instead of card advantage you merely get card quality/selection. For an extra 2, you get to keep the three cards you draw. Both of these are solid options. Any deck that can take advantage of cards in the graveyard (or that has a way to easily get them back) can expect to get even more bang out of this sphinx. Grim Discovery, Soul Manipulation, and Emeria, the Sky Ruin are just a few cards that immediately come to mind.
Sphinx of Jwar Isle may turn out to be even more important to the format. In an environment filled to the brim with spot removal, a creature with Shroud can be a real pain to get rid of—especially one that doesn’t die to Volcanic Fallout or Pyroclasm. The only real threats to this Sphinx are Day of Judgment and Gatekeeper of Malakir. Don’t discount the option to look at the top card of your library either; with fetchlands in the format, you can see if the top card is relevant before you crack your fetch. In a cascade deck, you can get a bit more information on what you might cascade into.
Already, several pro players and Magic columnists have begun touting decks that include one—if not both—of these sphinxes. Patrick Chapin created a build of Five-Color Control using Sphinx of Jwar Isle as a finisher and coined the nickname “Jwar Jwar Sphinx.” Gavin Verhey recommended a Grixis-based Sphinx Control deck for the PT Austin grinders, while Richard Feldman claimed his Rembrandt (RWU control) deck to be the best he’d ever built. Stan Bessey and Brian Greer gave props to the sphinxes on the most recent episode of Deck Builder Radio.
Both of these sphinxes seem poised to make an impact on the current Standard. If a blue-based control deck finds its way into the metagame, expect one or both of these guys to show up.