by Steve ‘DDT’ Giannopoulos
Another set is soon upon us and rather than having analysed each card as it was spoiled, we are going to look at what I consider the relevant cards.
Let’s get things started with the set’s big money card:
Brimaz, King of Orsekos
I guess they had to really have more creature types than humans in white. There were probably not many or any leonin in Greek mythology, but whatever. It’s fine. For 3 mana we have a really really good ahead of the curve + bonuses creature. You get to play both offense and defense while pumping out tokens. You probably don’t want to be double blocking a 4/4 unless you have another Brimaz in your hand (his legendary disadvantage).
Cat tribal decks now have another general other than Raksha and Kemba, which is nice.
In Standard, when followed up by a Spear of Heliod, you get a 4/5 that makes 2/2’s when he attacks. Just remember to play the creature before the spear or you’re losing a full turn doing nothing. The challenge also becomes figuring out how many of each to play since they are both legendary and we do not have a discard outlet to benefit from. Trading Post need not apply.
Kiora, the Crashing Wave
…To the paper magic format. She was a planeswalker in the Magic: Duels of the Planeswalkers game. Each and every expansion gave us hope that she would appear in the set. I’m not too surprised that she’s in the Theros block, what with Thassa and Master of Waves. We need to get more playable sea critters to be able to play Whelming Wave too.
The main use for her that comes to mind is in Maze’s End decks. You know, the ones that saw some play during block season. I know that they are usually of the ‘turbo fog’ archetype, but I much prefer a more removal heavy list with Dreadbore, Thoughtseize, Detention Sphere, Supreme Verdicts, etc. One of my friends ran it a month or two ago and it seemed surprisingly strong. He had 2 or more Prophetic Prisms for color fixing, since all those lovely spell are all over the color wheel.
We can pretty much ignore her ultimate for the moment, but even her +1 is very relevant when facing down the likes of Blood Baron of Vizkopa. Of course, we just rather use the -1 ability a couple of times to get ahead. It’s a turn faster than Urban Evolution, but you draw 2 less cards. In a deck where you are always essentially a turn behind, I think this is very acceptable if not much better.
Make dudes and draw cards. Simple enough
I don’t think she was one of the more talked about ones because people are just used to seeing good old UW Control in Standard. I do however think she can be really decent in the UW Sphere control deck that I posted a while ago.
I really like the fact that she makes cards like Heliod and Security Blockade much better. Elspeth works well with her as well, but Elspeth is good enough on her own too. Detention Sphere goes double towards UW devotion. There is definitely something to be done here, we just need to maximize on noncreature permanents (preferably those that also make tokens too).
Much like Heliod, she becomes one of the deck’s win conditions when ‘active’. It’s funny to think that all of the deck’s ‘creatures’ are indestructible (Gideon, Champion of Justice) but are never guaranteed to ever be creatures.
Sorry people, he’s ‘just’ a God and not a Minotaur
While he might flow well with the curve of your favorite RB minotaur deck, Mogis is not himself a Minotaur. No cost discounts with Ragemonger and no +2/+0 Haste with Kragma Warcaller. Still, he’s not terrible. A decent variant of Sulfuric Vortex (because we always need to compare) without the ‘guaranteed’ 2 damage a turn. It is a one-sided Sulfuric Vortex after all.
Like all of the Gods he is susceptible to Selesnya Charm, but you’re usually the beatdown in those colors and your opponent might have had to use Selesnya Charm to simply make a chump blocker or pump one of his guys to take down a minotaur. Either way, that’s not going to dissuade you from running this guy. Let’s also not forget that a certain devotion creature is also a minotaur:
All the minotaur references aside, this guy is probably an auto-include in a Mogis-themed deck. Unless you go towards the dark side… Then you probably want this guy:
We all know that Underworld Connections is pretty good for both devotion and card advantage, so black might be the better main color. You get to deal free damage or make his army smaller and with the devotion enablers you can have Mogis attacking pretty early. One thing is for sure: people will definitely try it.
Make sure you put it in your Commander sleeves
I’ll try not to spend to much time with this particular God. She’s basically getting basic lands (or Temple Garden) in Standard when you already have at least 5 mana. I don’t find that particularly exciting. She also only does this as of your next turn, unless you had an extra mana or two so that you can cast that Elvish Mystic you were holding back for just this occasion. Green and White are beatdown colors after all, so you should have almost no problem meeting the devotion requirements on her. Loxodon Smiter,Fleecemane Lion and Voice of Resurgence do a fine job in making sure you ‘get there’. Remember however, that tokens such as those created by Advent of the Wurm do nothing to help in the devotion department.
So now that you’re a God, what will you do? “I’m going to Disneyworld!”
My main reason to like this card is for the pure silliness of casting a Xenagos, the Reveler on turn 4 followed by Xenagos, God of Revels on turn 5. You get a 2/2 Satyr each turn with the possibility to make it a 4/4. The other thing is that you get two harder to deal with permanents that get you 4/7 of your devotion.
There is also the fact that the token can simply hang back and block for Xenagos, the Reveler. I don’t think UW control decks have enough Detention Spheres to deal with what can end up being a very very tough spot for them. You can’t Supreme Verdict your way out of this one!
Clearly this God has no interest in petty things such as combat. I was really impressed by it in my pre-releases. I played it in one of my decks and it was a complete blowout. Getting the devotion for it was simply ‘good game’. Granted that he can’t activate the turn you cast him, but then again you get a huge blocker.
The obvious plan of attack with Phenax in Standard is the Wall strategy where you play cards like Wall of Frost, Hover Barrier, Doorkeeper,etc to defend early (what else can they really do?) then hope to draw a Phenax early enough to just close out the game. I’m not a huge fan of this at all. I would rather go with cards that already mill such as Ashiok, Siren of the Silent Song, Breaking/Entering, Jace Memory Adept, Pilfered Plans.
In order to get the devotion, you can go with the planeswalkers, Underworld Connections and Nightveil Specter. They are good cards that can make you win despite not getting your mill plan going. You can also have tougher to kill creatures such as Aetherling, we all know that he can be pretty ‘tough’ to kill and that he can get that extra ‘toughness’ for some mana (which obviously translates into more mill with Phenax on board.) Again, the theme is to win without the mill plan all while having it be viable. In the Wall version you basically do nothing with Phenax in play, which seems terrible.
Since you would maybe play Breaking/Entering in the deck, I think the Red splash can be fun. If you mill an opposing Phenax you might as well Entering it if you don’t have one in play. Please no Traumatize suggestions as that card is certified terrible. Psychic Spiral might be a good one of in the sideboard (good response to Elixir of Immortality) and if you absolutely have to you can play Consuming Aberration too.
Courser of Kruphix
How can you not love this card ?
So it blocks well, gives you a potential land drop when you haven’t drawn one and it gains you life? Sign me up! This little centaur is pretty impressive. Oh, and it has four toughness to slow down absolutely most aggro decks (yes, even you Brimaz). It’s enchantment subtype might help when weirder decks arise but it’s clearly a disadvantage right now.
Unlike Sylvan Caryatid, it can attack and it also doesn’t die to your own Anger of the Gods. I know it’s obvious, but how many times have you played a midragne deck with your opponent at a low life total and drawn Sylvan Caryatid only to shrug your shoulders, cast it and pass the turn? You just wanna cry. If monogreen were to maybe become a thing again, this would instantly find a spot in the deck. As of now however, monoblack is still a thing and Lifebane Zombies as well as Tidebinder Mages are roaming all over the place. When the format becomes more diversified, Courser of Kruphix will get its chance to shine.
Eidolon of Countless Battles
This is going to start off as a cheap Brimaz replacement, but over time it should see more and more play. It’s a fairly safe Bestow that will at the very least be giving +2/+2. Like I said before with the Sphere of Safety deck, it can just enchant a Security Blockade token on turn 4 and start beating for at least 5 (this, the token and Security Blockade counting towards the bonuses). It’s almost better than having Spear of Heliod in that deck, since at the very least it’s a creature and at best it’s big and enables devotion quite well. Sometimes you have a hard time with the other control decks due to your own lack of cratures and I believe that Eidolon of Countless Battles has a place in that deck. Especially if you can manage to perfect the mana to fit in 2-4 Chained to the Rocks now that the UW Scry lands are out.
There is also the obvious White Weenie application for it, but I don’t like overstating the obvious.
The UW control decks don’t like to tap out. Fine. Now the Selesnya decks can almost never have to tapout either. Between this, Boon Satyr, Advent of the Wurm and even Selesnya Charms, you don’t have to. Just avoid main decking cards like Rootborn Defenses and you should be golden.
Against other decks, don’t hesitate to cast it on your own turn as the Scry 2 benefit is really really relevant. Just because it has the word ‘Instant’ on it doesn’t mean you should always play it at the end of your opponent’s turn or a the declare attackers step. Also, turn 5 this into turn 6 Collective Blessing is a beating.
A much hyped and talked about card is Pain Seer. It’s a human just like its predecessor, but it has a requirement which basically in Standard would require it to have a attacked (not going to play Springleaf Drum just for this guy). I see it getting played in Orzhov Humans or Rakdos Aggro sideboards versus the more controlling decks, but against the rest of the field it’s not going to do much. Even Monoblack has that extra turn to deal with it before it untaps and nets its controller a card. You can also wait to win some full art ones in the Born of the Gods Gameday.
Spirit of the Labyrinth
It’s a great hatebear in both Legacy and Standard. Great versus cards like Brainstorm and Sphinx’s Revelation. I just found it hilarious that it stayed forever in my sideboard eventhough I ran a UW Heroic Weenie deck. I hate some Fate Foretold and Chosen by Heliod. This hurt my deck more than the extra aggro benefit it provided. I actually ran a Travelling Philosopher over this.
In the end, this card belong in the same category as Ethersworn Canonist, Thalia and co. as it’s great when it disrupts the right deck and very very average when it doesn’t interact with it. Still, with this and cards like Aven Mindcensor even Modern decks should feel the hate.
Pack Rat problem? End it before it spreads (4 rats or more).
Aside from helping in controlling the rat population on Ravnica, it also serves as the definitive 2-cost removal spell. It make my precious Dimir Charm obsolete in Dimir Devotion as it kills pretty much what it does (minus Master Biomancer and Master of Cruelties, ah! good times!). It also handles Boros Reckoners as well as anything that regenerates (Lotleth Troll). It’s just that good.
Fanatic of Xenagos
a 4/4 now or a 4/4 later? Some choice …
The 3-drop spot was usually reserved for the likes of Domri Rade in Gruul decks, but now you have the option of casting Fanatic of Xenagos too. It’s basically maybe a Loxodon Smiter-sized creature for Gruul or a quick 4 damage (not much is getting in its way that early). Like most aggro creatures it just gets worse as the game goes one, since subsequent late game copies will just be less effective.
That’s one sharp magic card, ouch!
Yes that was a bad paper cut reference. Moving right along, we get a spell that’s somewhat less versatile than a Magma Jet but can potentially deal 3 damage at times. Don’t forget that the creature doesn’t have to die via the Searing Blood. If it happens to die in combat or whatever, the 3 damage will still occur.
I personally don’t prefer this over any kind of burn spell. I prefer my burn spells to be the most efficient at what they do, so I’d still got with Lightning Strike here and then even then maybe just good old Shock.
We finally get a Disenchant that doesn’t cost infinite. Not much to say here really, it’ll do.
If and I said ‘if’ reanimator decks end up being a thing, I can only imagine that this Mulch throwback will see play in those decks. You get a nice little chump blocker and the effect of milling yourself while getting a land out of it (usually). There is no Unburial Rites to Flashback as before, but it does what the deck tries to do. Commune with the Gods or Grisly Salvage will get cut in favor of Satyr Wayfinder most likely.
More to come …
That about does it for the quick Born of the Gods set overview, but be sure to stay tuned for more articles and decklist to come!