For the next month or so, we will be examining what’s been spoiled in the latest Magic: the Gathering set – Theros.
Let’s get things started:
Polukranos, World Eater
Hydras are getting mighty popular as of late
When it was first spoiled a lot of players were in disbelief. It’s a 5/5 for 4 mana with a pretty sweet ability. I know I mentioned this before with Deadbridge Goliath (eventhough it saw some competitive pay in BG Fight deck), but this guy is even more legit.
You get to choose what you ‘fight’ for starters, as opposed to just lashing out at all opposing creatures and risk dying. You can activate this ability as an instant, but of course it costs a lot of mana. You can easily slam it down early and just use it as a beatstick, no need to activate Monstrosity right away. I had a rather heated argument with a local gaming store employee as to how ‘good’ this guy is. He basically used the lame Doom Blade argument, which is pretty much a shame if that’s how you gauge creatures. He was willing to bet that it would not see much play in Top 8 lists and said it was not nearly as awesome a creature as Snapcaster Mage.
In my humble opinion, a creature that can remove opposing creatures will putting the beatdown to your opponent definitely merits a spot in ‘competitve decks’ (ie: Angel of Serenity). You just need to gauge the card on its own merits and on how well it would fit in the new format ( one that has yet to be defined). I believe that Wizards of the Coast is trending more towards creatures having abilities while in play versus the past 2 years of come-into-play abilities of Standard that we had. I might be completely wrong, but it sure seems that way with M14 and what’s been show in Theros so far.
I know that I will be trying to snatch up every copy of this card, despite it being printed in the Heroes vs. Monsters Duel deck. At very worst, I know it will be an auto-include in various Commander decks where you sometimes have more than one opponent. We all know how crazy mana ramp can get in those duels.
Anax and Cymede
Here we have an example of the Heroic Keyword (as opposed to Monstrous that we saw just above). It encourages you to cast ‘pump’ spells or does it? That’s what you would originally believe. The truth is: enchantments matter!
When you cast an Enchantment – Aura, you are targeting the permanent already. In the case of Anax and Cymede, even if your target were to expire – you would still get the Heroic ability to trigger. It sometimes seems minor, but you have to think big. Big, as in what happens if you had an Assemble the Legion in play with quite a few counters and tokens in play. Yeah, it can get pretty ‘interesting’.
As we will see later, the Aura aspect can become even less ‘risky’ than we are used to. Will we no longer live in fear of two for one’ing ourselves? Maybe…
I know, big deal right? Well, actually it is quite the big deal. In a format where we will see some enchantments being cast, this card is going to be in many many sideboards. The 2 damage is quite relevant because we can always redirect it to a planeswalker and possibly finish it off. It also gives Gruul decks a little more reach so that they can continue to churn out damage, as opposed to drawing a late-game Naturalize when they need that little bit of burn to win.
Let’s hope there’s no random child that happens to walk by …
We get a rather interesting fusion of red and green here. Satyr Hedonist can be cast on turn 2 as a ‘bear’ and then attack for two, sac himself and we get to cast some turn 5 fatty, planeswalker or other exciting card. Not too bad overall. More ‘explosive’ than a regular mana dork, but you only get that one-shot burst of mana. Fair enough, right?
Humans get to ride in style in Theros
Humans and Pegasus working side by side, isn’t that what Magic: the Gathering is all about? Well, not really. We get a cute little quote from Cymede (that was previewed just above) and a small hint that ‘Humans matter’ also in this block, but probably not as much as they did in Innistrad block
In limited it’s bound to be a high enough pick as it does what Trained Condor does in M14, only for potentially more value.
We get 20 new basic lands here, detailing the wonderful landscapes of Theros (or ancient Greece). Thank goodness that these were reprinted because if they weren’t we would be stuck making all non-basic land manabases and we all know how costly those are, right?
Ordeal of Poruphoros
Interesting way to ‘quest’ a Lightning Bolt
Whether or not this will get played in constructed is up in the air, but it’s an interesting take on the enchantment genre. It somewhat reminds me of the Zendikar ‘Quests’ , but also does something extra before you get to the quest reward. Another thing is that I noticed as a Greek-speaking person: Wizards has used the letter u (which sounds like an e in Greek) where they would otherwise put the letter Y (because in Greek u is y).
Pyrphoros – you get a sense of the ‘fire’, like with Pyro.
Poly-kranos – Poly as in many and kranos (cranium or head)
Just thought I’d point that out, most of you probably caught on to that anyways.
Bident of Thassa
Weird mix of Types and subtypes we don’t commonly see
So instead of getting Neptune’s Trident (Roman Mythology) we get the Greek Sea King’s (Poseidon) Bident. One less tooth. Also Thassa seems to be a shortened form for Thalassa (the Sea, in greek).
It’s essentially a Coastal Piracy with a random bonus. In the worst case scenario, it allows you to force would-be chump blockers to swing at you and die so that you can Counterstrike with your bigger dudes. It’s a cute combination of complimentary abilities, I’ll give it that much.
Anthousa, Setessan Hero
At first, I thought she was tugging on their beards
Another nice Heroic ability on a reasonably costed body. You just don’t get to untap the lands (like with Rude Awakening), but you can easily just get a big ‘surprise’ swing to finish a somewhat long game or ‘flash in’ some blockers when you’re outnumber on defense. A simple Giant Growth cast before combat can lead to a potential 13 damage. Not bad at all! The Giant Growth example was just a random one, I’m sure we will get better cards to target her with in Theros.
The important point is that if you’re planning to attack with her AND her friends, you will probably need to waste your would-be combat trick before combat.
Even less than half of the Wildfire effect is pretty good
You might overlook this little guy, but it’s effect is quite insane, especially if you accelerate the Monstrosity ability with a Satyr Hedonist (above). There has not been much in terms of decent land destruction and it’s understandable since it usually grinds games down to a halt. It makes people unable to cast things and rage quit. Standard is not meant to be as ‘tight’ on mana as its Legacy and to a certain extent, Modern counterparts.
As with most red creatures, it seems rather strong at first until you realize that it doesn’t really fit into the flow of a regular game. Say you get it off to monstrous on turn 5 (with Satyr) , you basically sacrifice your 3 lands, going down to 2 lands and your opponent would go down to 1-2 lands. Sure, I can kind of see that happening barring any other kind of interactions occuring. It’s just that it can be slightly awkward sometimes, plus you don’t get to resolve the Monstrous ability if he gets dealt with prior to it getting +1/+1 counters (Doom Blade, lol).
It can reward you for building a sort of land destruction deck around it, but I’m not convinced that will be effective with all the playtesting that goes into Magic: the Gathering sets these days.
Yet another Lord of the Pit
If we take it for face value, we get 2 little harpies and a big flyer for 7 mana. By the time we need to attack, we lose a harpy on upkeep then maybe get a big 6 damage in. Next upkeep, we ditch the harpy and swing in for another 6. On the next upkeep we lose our Abhorrent Overlord.
I know I made it seem a little on the bad side, but it really isn’t. The even worse scenario is he gets killed before his Devotion to black ability resolves on your empty board. The ability would check and see that the Abhorrent Overlord is no longer in play and you have no permanents with black mana symbols thus giving you zero harpies.
Despite all these bleak scenarios, there are times where you’ll just be getting insane value with this hitting play and you having a Dark Prophecy or two in play. Good times!
Release the Kraken indeed!
A reasonably costed kraken? Woah! there must be a catch. Nope, no usually ‘can only attack if your opponent controls an island’ garbage. The Monstous ability makes it a semi- Lorthos. If anything this thing will turn up in some casual Quest for Ula’s Temple decks.
Perhaps it’s time for that Sea Creature blue-green planeswalker to make an appearance
If that much rumoured planeswalker does not appear over the course of this block, I doubt she’ll ever become a card. Kiora Atua is her name and she is found in one of the Duels of the Planeswalkers games.
Come out come out, wherever you are!
The new ‘safest way’ to travel
Remember how I had mentioned above that there was a better way to trigger Heroic with Auras? Well, this is it!
The main drawback of Auras is basically negated by the Bestow ability. Your enchantment targets no longer in play? No problem, you still get your enchantment as a creature into play. Think of it as a ‘Safe Kicker’ ability, you pay more but you are pretty much guaranteed to get something (barring counterspells).
This one is just the tip of the iceberg too, we will probably get lots more interesting ones spoiled later. The other bonus to note is that it will also basically become a creature if say – your opponent plays Supreme Verdict. You will get to recover from that pretty nicely. It will be interesting to see how control decks play around this strategy or if the format will still continue being mostly aggro.
Let’s hope we get to see more cool cards like Celestial Archon (note: he is a starter deck Rare) as the weeks pass.
and finally, we have a ‘God’
Thassa, God of the Sea
Puts the ‘G’ in OMGWTF?
It’s pretty much confirmed on various other sites, so I’ll go ahead and show it anyways. I’m not sure what the ‘God’ subtype does but it seems strangely familiar to another to another CCG I played, Epic. I remember the ‘God’ type being talked about , but that was right before the game ceased to exist. However, I vaguely remember it being meant as a blatant rip-off of the planeswalker card type. Oh well…
Let’s examine this multi-faceted card.
I’m not entirely sure if the ‘isn’t a creature’ ability applies only when it’s in play or regardless of what zone it’s in. We will probably have to wait for the Theros FAQ for confirmation. It is a nice bonus even if it doesn’t feel that way. You basically have a kind of swiss army knife enchantment.
You get to scry every upkeep, reminiscent of Sensei’s Divining Top, only not as broken. You have protection from things that would otherwise destroy enchantments, since it’s indestructible even in enchantment form. You can cast a board whipe like Supreme Verdict since it’s also indestructible in creature form. Oh, and just in case you decided you need to win, you can make it or any other creature you control indestructible. In essence, this thing is like a planeswalker without actually being one.
The answers to it are going to be things like Detention Sphere and Celestial Flare or an instant ‘exile target creature or enchantment’ effect. So basically if you think this card is rated ‘R’ (for Retarded), you are very much correct. Thessa is going to cause a lot of headaches for the next 2 years. Of that you can be sure!
More to come …
Stay tuned for Wave 2