Tag Archives: born of the gods

Archetype Breakdown: Green-Blue

Today we’ll look at the popular Green/Blue archetype in Theros draft. The basic principle behind this deck is fairly straightforward: Combine the big beaters of Green with the disruption of Blue to come out ahead. Nonetheless, the are a few things to be aware of during deck construction that will give you an edge. First off, Green/Blue is a deck that wants to win by attacking with four, five, even six drops. As such, you’ll need to have a plan for dealing with more aggressive starts from faster decks. Related to the above is the crucial need for mana acceleration, as casting your creatures ahead of the curve is what gives this deck an edge. Second, Green/Blue is somewhat lacking in the removal department. The bounce from Blue is not a permanent solution (part of this archetype being dubbed “tempo”), and Green’s premier removal is Time to Feed, which is obviously conditional. As such, cards which fill this role need to be prioritized highly, as their effect is unique, whereas any random beater can deal damage. Once again, we’ll look at the broad categories that need to be filled for this deck to function. Mana Acceleration

  • Kiora’s Follower
  • Voyaging Satyr
  • Omenspeaker
  • Satyr Wayfinder
  • Opaline Unicorn
  • Karametra’s Favor

Kiora’s Follower and Voyaging Satyr are the premiums here, as they allow you to jump from 2 to 4 mana and start casting large monsters quickly. Omenspeaker and Wayfinder, while not putting lands directly into play, help you at least find those lands to ensure you won’t miss a land drop. Opaline Unicorn is merely okay, but could support some kind of splash or off-colour activation if needed. Karametra’s Favor can be used to turn a random early guy into a mana source later. Burnished Hart is kind of not what this deck wants to be doing, using two full turns while not really accomplishing much else. Karametra’s Acolyte is a good source of mana, though it doesn’t put you ahead early, it can be used to activate monstrosity abilities later on in the game, and is a good blocker on top of that. Peregrination, at four mana, is slightly too slow for what this deck wants to be doing. Early Game Creatures

  • Nimbus Naiad
  • Leafcrown Dryad
  • Nyxborn Triton
  • Sedge Scorpion
  • Agent of Horizons
  • Swordwise Centaur
  • Nessian Courser
  • Bronze Sable

In general, the rule of thumb here is that you want some early plays here in order to not die to 2-drop creature decks, while still having some utility if drawn later. The bestow creatures thus headline this section, with the other creatures bringing their own benefits to the table. Sedge Scorpion’s deathtouch is basically always relevant, and the Agent can get through on stalled boards with his unblockable activated ability. Nessian Courser is notable for his third point of toughness. The Beaters

  • Horizon Chimera
  • Nylea’s Emissary
  • Pheres-Band Trompers
  • Nylea’s Disciple
  • Chorus of the Tides
  • Siren of the Fanged Coast
  • Prescient Chimera
  • Horizon Scholar

As said above, this section is the most interchangeable of the entire list. The main notables are Nessian Asp, for basically being Nessian Asp. Horizon Chimera is an evasive threat with an incidental source of lifegain, and the flash plays well with disruption like Griptide. Pheres-Band Trompers is an excellent creature that will grow out of control if not dealt with. Nylea’s Disciple is another excellent source of life that can help you stablize against faster decks. Other then that, fill out your “green ground beaters” and your “blue aerial beaters” however you see fit, keeping things such as curve requirements and colour into consideration, of course. Evasion/Finishers

  • Sea God’s Revenge
  • Noble Quarry
  • Aqueous Form
  • Prowler’s Helm

This section is about having some giant way to break open a game and bring it to a swift conclusion. Sea God’s Revenge headlines here, as a curve of 4-drop, 5-drop, Sea God’s is a powerful play that will be difficult to recover from. Archetype of Imagination is also at it’s best here, as giant green monsters appreciate the gift of flying more then most of the actual blue creature. Noble Quarry is also an excellent way to force through damage, and combines nicely with either a giant creature or deathtouch. Aqueous Form and Helm are less powerful options, but will get through a stalled board eventually. Preference is given to Aqueous due to the scry and cheaper setup cost. You probably won’t want more then one of either. Disruption/Tricks

  • Voyage’s End
  • Griptide
  • Time to Feed
  • Retraction Helix
  • Sudden Storm
  • Savage Surge
  • Feral Invocation
  • Mortal’s Resolve

Voyage’s End and Griptide once again rear their ugly heads as the best way to interact with enchanted creatures in Blue. Time to Feed is the best permanent removal available in the colour, and has some nice lifegain tacked on to help get to the lategame. Retraction Helix is again the “weaker” Voyage’s End, though this deck is going to get more use out of it then a more focused aggro deck, as Green/Blue is more likely to have random dudes lying around that aren’t attacking to use it with. If you’re lucky, you can even get the combo with Kiora’s Follower to bounce multiple creatures! Sudden storm is another decent way to push through damage. Lastly, the tricks ensure you aren’t blindly running headfirst into 4 power creatures hoping they don’t call your bluff. This deck isn’t focused on triggering heroic though, and as such, you don’t want to overload on these. Otherwise, you’re probably looking to build a different deck with the Green Heroes.

A sample decklist for this archetype would look like this:

1 Sedge Scorpion
1 Omenspeaker
1 Kiora’s Follower
2 Voyaging Satyr
1 Nessian Courser
1 Agent of Horizons
2 Pheres-Band Tromper
1 Horizon Chimera
1 Nylea’s Emissary
2 Nessian Asp
1 Prescient Chimera
1 Vulpine Goliath
1 Retraction Helix
1 Aqueous Form
1 Voyage’s End
1 Savage Surge
1 Feral Invocation
2 Griptide
1 Sea God’s Revenge
9 Forest
8 Island

And that’s it for this breakdown. The Green-Blue deck can definitely be powerful, though will sometimes struggle with drawing the “wrong half” of the deck. However, if it gets to the 5 mana mark, the number of powerful creatures, combine with trumps such as Sea God’s, can allow it to deplete your life total very quickly.

Until next time,

Random

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Archetype Breakdown: Blue-Black Control

Today I’ll be looking at my favourite archetype from triple Theros: Blue-Black Control. While this archetype became slightly more difficult to draft with the inclusion of the Born of the Gods pack, the deck still has legs and can be very powerful when built correctly.

I tend to group decks in this archetype into two subcategories: decks that play cheap fliers and attempt to race your while answering your important things, and decks that play for the late game and try to win with some powerful threat (typically Gray Merchant). The former is generally based blue and the latter base black, although the other versions certainly exist. My preference is usually the former, though I have been known to build the latter on occasion.

I’ll start with the fliers deck. I’ll be identifying broad categories of card that you want filling specific roles in your deck. Then I’ll do the same for the lategame version.

Fliers

The Beatdown
You can’t be an fliers deck without random guys in the air. Cards you want in this category include:

  • Vaporkin
  • Shipwreck Singer
  • Nimbus Naiad
  • Blood-Toll Harpy
  • Siren of the Silent Song
  • Chrous of the Tides
  • Insatiable Harpy
  • Prescient Chimera

Basically, the rule is the cheaper the better. Vaporkin is the MVP for this reason, as once you have two fliers in play that’s generally good enough to start leaving up mana to use on whatever it is they’re doing. Ideally, you want all the creatures in your deck to fly, but having random ground blockers like Omenspeaker isn’t the end of the world.

The Disruption
To the surprise of no-one, this is basically a list of the best removal available in blue and black:

  • Voyage’s End
  • Griptide
  • Asyphixate
  • Bile Blight
  • Nullify
  • Sudden Storm

Unlike the lategame counterpart, this deck is looking to close the game earlier, so expensive removal like Sip of Hemlock and Sea God’s Revenge are a slightly lower priority. It’s still totally acceptable, and probably even correct, to have one in the maindeck, but you don’t want to go overboard on it like the other version. This deck is more interested in the cheaper disruption so it can play another flier alongside a spell, for example.

Random Other Stuff
While the first two categories will generally make up most of your deck, other spells that are totally acceptable to play include:

  • Ordeal of Thassa
  • Triton Tactics
  • Fate Foretold
  • Stratus Walk
  • Vortex Elemental
  • Baleful Eidolon
  • Thassa’s Emissary

The “Draw a card” auras are fine if you need a random card to fill out a deck. Triton Tactics is a card that can buy a whole bunch of time, thanks to the “doesn’t untap” clause. Ordeal of Thassa can be a nice way to recoup cards and get some bonus damage in, just be wary of removal. Elemental and Eidolon are notable for being ground guys that actually get stuff off of the board instead of sitting around looking bored. Emissary is a nice lategame card that can draw you a few extra cards and help put the game away.

Putting it all together, we end up with a deck that looks something like this:

2 Vaporkin
2 Returned Phalanx
1 Omenspeaker
2 Blood-Toll Harpy
1 Servent of Tymaret
1 Nimbus Naiad
1 Siren of the Silent Song
1 Chorus of the Tides
1 Thassa’s Emissary
2 Prescient Chimera
1 Triton Tactics
1 Ordeal of Thassa
1 Voyage’s End
1 Divination
2 Griptide
2 Sudden Storm
1 Sea God’s Revenge
10 Island
7 Swamp

Lategame
The object of the lategame deck is trade of resources with the opponent, via means like removal and Disciple of Phenax. Once you’ve reduced their hand, you pull ahead with some source of card advantage, such as Thassa’s Emissary or Divination, and win with a threat while disrupting whatever they try and achieve.

The Roadblocks
In order to survive until the long game, you need to get guys into play that either trade with or hold off any attackers in the early turns. Examples include:

  • Omenspeaker
  • Returned Phalanx
  • Servant of Tyramet
  • Wavecrash Triton
  • Vortex Elemental
  • Baleful Eidolon
  • Coastline Chimera
  • Disciple of Phenax

Omenspeaker is a nice early play that sets up future draws. Returned Phalanx is an all-star in this kind of build, and can even get his beats on later to double as a finisher. Servant of Tyramet is a stubborn obstacle that can gain a little bit of life along the way. Wavecrash Triton has a high toughness and a relevant heroic ability for this deck, although it may be difficult to trigger. Vortex Elemental and Eidolon were discussed in the previous section, and continue to be fantastic here. Coastline Chimera is notable for his high toughness and ability to block fliers reliable that other creatures can’t. Disciple of Phenax is one of your attrition tools, serves as a reasonable blocker, and provides a cool two black devotion for a certain Merchant.

The Removal

  • Voyage’s End
  • Griptide
  • Pharika’s Cure
  • Asyphixate
  • Bile Blight
  • Nullify
  • Lash of the Whip
  • Sip of Hemlock

Most of the above list still applies here, but now you’re more willing to take the high end removal spells as well. I’ve has decks with something like 3 Lash and 2 Sip. Balance is key here, as you want a decent mix of things to do early along with stuff that kills things dead.

The Finishers
Once you’ve answered what your opponent is doing, you need some threat to take over the game. Popular options include:

  • Aerie Worshippers
  • Benthic Giant
  • Cavern Lampad
  • Nimbus Naiad
  • Erebos’s Emissary
  • Forlorn Pseudamma
  • Gray Merchant of Asphodel
  • Keepsake Gorgon
  • Kraken of the Straits
  • Sealock Monster

The Inspired token makers will easily run away with games after a few attacks. The bestow guys turn any random dude you have on the board into a threat, and then stick around for another round. Emissary is a reasonable body, the bestow is realistic, and the opponent always has to respect the pump. Benthic Giant can sometimes put that hexproof to good use with auras. Gray Merchant and Keepsake Gorgon are classic black devotion finishers that pull the focus of the game towards them or their effects. Kraken of the Straits is not something I have personally tried, but it seems to full the desired role fairly effectively.

Card Advantage
As mentioned in the intro, a few ways to get ahead on cards is generally beneficial. The options mostly consist of:

  • Thassa’s Emissary
  • Divination
  • Read the Bones
  • Oracle’s Insight
  • Sphinx’s Disciple
  • Triton Fortune Hunter

At higher rarities, there’s also stuff like Bident of Thassa. Fortune Hunter is okay, but finding the heroic triggers can be difficult, as you’ll need stuff like Retraction Helix. Continual scry effects, such as Aqueous Form and Prescient Chimera, are an acceptable substitute, but the raw draw is preferable.

Other Stuff
Things that don’t fall neatly into the above categories:

  • Ashiok’s Adept
  • Insatiable Harpy
  • Mnemonic Wall
  • Siren Song Lyre
  • Shipwreck Singer
  • Triton Tactics
  • Viper’s Kiss

Adept is another guy in the “roadblock” camp, but takes a bit more effort to be good. Harpy is a very underrated card that can keep you ahead on life, especially with bestow, and helps up the black devotion count. If you have a large number of good instants/sorceries, the Wall can be good. Siren Song Lyre is really slow, even for this build, but you feel you can do it, go for it (bonus points if used with Sphinx’s Disciple). Shipwreck Singer is an awesome control card, killing one toughness creatures and forcing guys to run headfirst into bigger ones. Triton Tactics can buy time, like in the fliers build, but can also kill some guys if timed properly. Viper’s Kiss is a nice sideboard card that can be brought in to stop Monstrosity, or pick off random X/1’s.

Once again, an example decklist:

2 Returned Phalanx
1 Omenspeaker
1 Baleful Eidolon
1 Shipwreck Singer
1 Servant of Tyramet
1 Blood-Toll Harpy
1 Nimbus Naiad
1 Siren of the Silent Song
1 Insatiable Harpy
2 Disciple of Phenax
1 Thassa’s Emissary
1 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
1 Keepsake Gorgon
1 Pharika’s Cure
1 Voyage’s End
1 Read the Bones
2 Griptide
2 Lash of the Whip
1 Sip of Hemlock
10 Swamp
7 Island

So that’s the two varieties of Blue-Black! I hope the style of breakdown used in this article was useful, as it was something I hadn’t tried before. I liked how it came out, so hopefully everyone else does too.

Until next time,

Random.

The Golden Rule of Theros Limited

Today I’ll be covering an element of the Theros block draft structure that is the fundamental basis for how the draft structure plays out.

One of the themes of this set is is the hero overcoming the odds and becoming stronger through conflict. Gameplay-wise, this manifests in the form of auras, with Heroic abilities chipping in to help. This creates a fast snowballing affect, where your first guy gets an aura, becomes larger then everything else, and can attack without fear, before future auras come down and just put him far out of reach. Normally, this kind of gameplay is suppressed by the inherent card disadvantage of auras. If you spend your second turn on a two drop, and your third turn on a three mana aura, only to be met by a removal spell, you’ve spent two cards and two turns to get basically nothing.

As the designers wanted this style of gameplay to be viable within Theros (“building a battleship”, as it is colloquially known), changes had to be made in the environment to support it, such as bestow creatures “falling off” to negate the aura disadvantage. One of these changes was the scaling back of removal, in order to allow time for players to build up their heros.

Rage of Purphoros          Sip of Hemlock

Expensive Removal is the norm in Theros Draft

However, the scaling of the heroes is generally faster then the scaling of the removal, meaning that even if you have the answer, you might just be dead before you can cast it. To take a practical example, Ornitharch is considered to be one of the best uncommon in Born of the Gods. If tribute is paid, it is a 5/5 flying creature for five mana, which is a great rate for Limited.

Wingsteed Rider          Feral Invocation

Now Imagine we curve out a Wingsteed Rider, into a Feral Invocation. By combining just these two cards, we have built our own Ornitharch! Except instead of casting it on turn 5, we’re attacking with it on turn 4. That’s a huge difference. If we’re relying on the slower removal to answer this threat, we’re either taking 10, or losing some flying creatures of our own.

This leads to what I’ve dubbed “The Golden Rule” of Theros.

If you don’t have cheap interaction, you’re at a huge disadvantage

While cheap interaction is generally beneficial regardless of what format you’re playing (for example, a cheap interactive spell allows you to deploy threats while still interacting with you opponents game plan), in Theros, it takes on a far more important quality. If you let you opponent build a giant threat without any interaction, you’ll play behind very quickly, and the game might not be that long. While it is, of course, possible to play against a more attrition-based deck with a longer endgame plan (see Gray Merchant of Asphodel), the prevalence of aggressive heroic-based decks in this format means you need to be prepared to fight them.

“Cheap interacton” falls into two categories here: Cheap disruption, which is used to hit the small creatures before the become large threats, and cheap protection, used to ensure whatever giant threat you have is not dealt with by your opponent. We’ll investigate both categories, starting with cheap disruption. I’ll define “cheap” as being two mana or cheaper for the purposes of this discussion, pointing out exceptions where necessary. Once again I’ll only be covering commons and uncommons here. While something like Chained to the Rocks certainly applies, it won’t normally be found in the vast majority of Theros drafts. We’ll start with Theros:

White:

Last Breath         Glare of Heresy

As White is often the aggressive colour in Theros, it is generally more concerned with beating the opponent with a giant threat then with having answers. Nonetheless, these are the two primary answers within the colour. Last Breath is mainboard worthy, although an aggressive deck will be more concerned with the life gain then most. It hits most of the heroes before they get bigger, but will be ineffectual once they’ve gone large (this will be a common theme amongst these spells). Glare of Heresy is strictly sideboard only, but will take out a white hero no matter how big it is. Ray of Dissolution is three mana, but certainly falls in the disruption category.

Blue:

Voyage's End

Here we can see why Voyage’s End is one of the most important spells in the format. Not only does it meet our criteria for cheap disruption, it does so no matter what point it is drawn at. Any +1/+1 counters and auras the hero has acquired will disappear and not be present when it comes back. It’s bigger brother Griptide also brings these benefits, but Voyage still has the edge due to being cheaper and having the scry effect.
One could argue Triton Tactics has a place in this category as well, as the tapping effect is very strong if you can land it without losing your creatures. Dissolve is the catch-all answer of blue, but holding up three mana in this format is generally a big deal.

Black:

Pharika's Cure

The premier spell here is Pharika’s Cure. This spell helps a base-black deck bridge the early and mid game, killing an early threat while providing a little extra life, and as such is crucially imprtant for these decks.

Baleful Eidolon          Returned Phalanx

The other cards that help a black deck survive the early game. While the game plan of black decks tends to be more drawn out, as discussed, you can’t afford to sit there and ignore your opponent. These creatures help mitigate the damage any early aggression may cause. Baleful Eidolon, of course, can be bestowed if drawn late.

Red:

Lightning Strike          Magma Jet

Once again, we can see one of the accepted “best commons” in Lightning Strike. This is not a coincidence. Magma Jet also gets the job done in most cases, but misses a few notable targets like Nessian Courser.
With the advent of Born of the Gods and more 1-toughness creatures (Loyal Pegasus, Akroan Skyguard), Spark Jolt has improved considerably, and can be included in this category.

Green:

Sedge Scorpion

In general, the role of Green in Theros is to ramp into its bigger monsters and win by having larger creatures, the problem is, this isn’t necessary true with the heroes involved. This is another reason why Time to Feed, greens premier removal spell, is somewhat outclassed in this format. Not only is it a three mana sorcery, but it requires a decently sized creature on your board. By the time you’ve met all these conditions, your opponents giant threat may have grown out of reach.

Savage Surge

The untap clause puts this in a different category then the white pump spells in the set, making it more likely this card will be used to ambush something then force through damage, although it does go both ways.

Leafcrown Dryad          Defend the Hearth

Leafcrown Dryad is notable for being an early drop that interacts with fliers, as well as having bestow. Defend the Hearth is a sometimes-necessary sideboard for the aggressive decks. Shredding Winds is also fine here, although three mana escaped our definition.

So we can see a small handful of cards that are either useful in the early game or prevent the snowballing effect. What did Born of the Gods bring us in this category?

White:

Revoke Existence

Once again, White not being too concerned with having the answers in this block, although the effect is nice.

Blue:

Crypsis

A blue trick for creature-based strategies (so primarily white and green), this card is a little narrow, but will generally get the job done.

Nullify

A card that can either take down the cheap heroic creature if on the play, or can hit a bestowing creature late, Nullify is a very useful tool in the blue arsenal.

Retraction Helix

While technically meeting our requirements, it’s worth noting that Retraction Helix is slightly clunkier then it looks. The best targets for this tend to be three mana, such as Triton Fortune Hunter and Wavecrash Triton, so this generally ends up being cast on turn 4. Nonetheless, it still has all the advantages of bounce in this format, so is still a very reliable spell.

Vortex Elemental

The blue Sedge Scorpion, this little guy does an excellent job of deterring attacks. Any ground guy with a sufficient number of auras won’t want to go near him, and in the late game he can just hunt them out instead.

Blue:

Bile Blight

Removal designed for constructed sticks out in the Theros landscape (this card was designed to target multiple Burning-Tree Emissary draws in standard). This does an excellent job dealing with early threats, and occasionally you’ll even get a two-for-one.
Asphyxiate deserves a mention here despite being a three mana sorcery.

Red:

Fall of the Hammer

While not always being played on turn two (unless you played a Sedge Scorpion, in which case you’re living the dream), this is generally good enough to snag an early creature.

Searing Blood

Like Pharika’s Cure, two damage to an early creature for two mana is good enough in this format. The double red in the mana cost ensures that this only goes into base red decks.

Green:

Unravel the Æther

Vastly outclassing Fade into Antiquity, this Naturalize variant, while not dealing with the heroic creature itself, ensures it doesn’t stay too big, allowing greens creatures to be a match.

Now we’ll deal with cheap protection. In general, these are the spells you’ll cast alongside your auras and pump effects in order to dodge the removal that your opponent will throw at you. Not even card will protect you from every effect above, but this should give you a good idea of what to look for. We’ll again start with Theros and then move into Born of the Gods.

White:

Gods Willing

One of the best spells in Theros, this card allows you to protect your creature from any of the above effects, get a heroic trigger, and scry… all for the low, low price of one mana. Applying what was said above, it’s not hard to see why this is one of the best cards for the heroic deck.

Black:

Boon of Erebos

This card is slightly under the radar, as black does not tend to be a heroic deck. Nonetheless, as a “worse” God’s Willing, this still does everything you want a one mana protection spell to do.

Red:

Coordinated Assault

Likely the most powerful one mana trick in the format. Red isn’t generally concerned with protecting its creatures, but this powerful spell does that and more.

As we can see, there aren’t a great deal of cheap protective effects, which isn’t too surprising. As such, it is likely any such effects in Born of the Gods should be prioritized highly, such that you can focus on your disruption and threats in Theros.

White:

Acolyte's Reward

Acolyte’s Reward is an odd one in the sense that it’s a weird hybrid of the protective/disruptive split. In general, I see it as a protective spell with a possibleupside, hence its placement here.

Hold at Bay

While hardly the most exciting spell, this will generally get the job done. It also triggers heroic, for what that is worth.

Red:

Rise to the Challenge

Admittedly more of a trick then a protective spell, but red doesn’t have pure protection.

Green:

Mortal's Resolve

One of greens strongest acquistions in Born of the Gods, this is a very strong protection spell that generally only gets foiled by bounce. A very strong card in any green deck.

That’s all for now! Hopefully people enjoyed the more theory-based article, and that this has helped your understanding of what makes the format tick. I don’t have many drafts lined up in the near future, so I’ll probably have to come up with some more archetype breakdowns to fill in the time.

Until next time,

Random

Adventures in Blue-Black

While I haven’t had much of a chance to express it on this blog yet, Blue-Black control is easily my favourite archetype in Theros block. I like the slower pace of the game, answering the threats that matter, before randomly beating them with a 2 power flier (I tend to play the more aggressive varieties, which I’ll have to explain when I eventually do the archetype breakdown). My last two draft have put me into these colours, so I’m happy to finally get the chance to explain what makes this archetype tick.

Draft 1 was last weeks FNM, which kicked off with a Vortex Elemental. After Retraction Helix and Divination, a late Bile Blight indicated to me that black was open, and I kept an eye out. This was confirmed when an eighth pick (!) Siren of the Silent Song came along, which firmly committed me to the colours. Here’s the deck in it’s entirety:

1 Vortex Elemental
1 Omenspeaker
1 Vaporkin
1 Returned Phalanx
1 Shipwreck Singer
1 Nimbus Naiad
1 Blood-Toll Harpy
1 Triton Fortune Hunter
1 Siren of the Silent Song
1 Disciple of Phenax
1 Breaching Hippocamp
1 Chorus of the Tides
2 Prescient Chimera
1 Triton Tactics
1 Retraction Helix
1 Crypsis
1 Ordeal of Thassa
1 Voyage’s End
1 Bile Blight
1 Dissolve
1 Divination
1 Griptide
9 Island
6 Swamp
1 Temple of Enlightenment
1 Temple of Deceit

This particular build leant more toward the Blue side, which made cards like Bile Blight and Disciple of Phenax slightly worse. One card I want to draw attention to is Vortex Elemental. I’ve been very impressed with how well this card can hold the ground for you, leaving you free to focus on the skies. Triton Fortune Hunter was okay. Making the Retraction Helix cantrip is quite nice, but there isn’t a lot else to target him with. The other creatures and blue spells are quite acceptable, with the exception being Ordeal of Thassa and Crypsis. While turning any of the fliers into 5/4’s is quite good, the card disadvantage is a big deal to the Blue-Black playstyle, and I don’t think I cracked it once. Crypsis feels like it’s there to be cute with Fortune Hunter and Siren of the Silent Song, and should probably be other things. Looking at my sideboard, I probably could have included a Nyxborn Eidolon to trade with early creature rushes, and a Guardians of Meletis to further block up the ground. There’s also a Shrike Harpy in the board as well, which I remember not including because the choice of creatre sacrificed is up to the opponent, and I wasn’t confident in my ability to influence that choice.

Unfortunately, this deck didn’t do too well at the event, managing only a 1-2 finish. While I got slightly unlucky with some draws (I flooded to eight lands at least twice against aggro decks) I don’t doublt that I probably made some play mistakes as well. One game even came down to Wingsteed Rider, Ephara’s Enlightenment, hit you five times, which is basically the exact opposite of how this archetype should lose. Still, we can see that the maindeck is slightly loose, with no real reliable finishers, so it’s not altogether surprising that the deck under-performed. One sweet play I managed a five mana, was to Retraction Helix the Shipwreck Singer, bounce a creature, cast Breaching Hippocamp to untap the Singer, and bounce another creature. Such value.

 

The second draft I present today comes from a random Magic Online event I decided to play. I first picked a Siren of the Silent Song over Akroan Conscriptors in the first pack, mainly because I like that card a little too much. With my colours locked in early, I mainly just picked the best card available in each pack. Black also seemed quite open, so I ended up having a pretty deep sideboard. Here’s the finished result:

1 Vortex Elemental
1 Fleshmad Steed
2 Returned Phalanx
1 Shipwreck Singer
2 Blood-Toll Harpy
1 Mogis’s Marauder
1 Servant of Tymaret
1 Siren of the Silent Song
1 Breaching Hippocamp
1 Insatiable Harpy
1 Sphinx’s Disciple
1 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
1 Keepsake Gorgon
1 Pharika’s Cure
1 Asphyxiate
1 Read the Bones
1 Grisly Transformation
1 Necrobite
2 Lash of the Whip
1 Sip of Hemlock
7 Island
10 Swamp

This deck, by contrast, leans much further toward the black spectrum, featuring such powerhouses as Keepsake Gorgon and Gray Merchant of Aspodel. Gray Merchant in particular functions as a great finisher that was missing in the previous deck. The rest of the creatures either protect you on the ground or attack them in the air. The should generally be clear considering the high amount of removal available.

Speaking of the removal, it allows the deck to have a greater amount of board control then the previous. Interestingly enough, there is no bounce available in this deck, where it is normally a staple of the archetype. Necrobite is likely the “worst” removal spell, though it gets the job done. Grisly Transformation is probably the worst card overall, and made it in mostly on the back of how well it works with the Insatiable Harpy and Sphinx’s Disciple, and the fact that it cantrips at worst. Asphyxiate, while clunky, will generally get the job done. I find it either kills creatures played in the previous turn, or a blocker they decided to leave behind.

This deck had a much better success story, as I won this event. This is, however, slightly misleading as my Round 2 opponent randomly didn’t show up, so a 2-0 finish in reality. Overall, I was very happy with the deck. This is a good example of the strength of a good control deck.

That’s all for now! Hopefully people enjoyed this look into the “control” archetype of Theros. Hopefully soon, I can write up the proper arc hetype breakdown for this deck, going into more details of the key cards in the deck, and the general pick order. Stuff like that.

Until next time,

Random

Born of the Gods Draft Review: The Rest

Time to look at the remaining cards from Born of the Gods.

Ephara’s Enlightenment

Designed to push players into the White-Blue Heroic builds, Ephara’s Enlightenment definitely seems like it will live up to the task. The boosts are permanent, and stack with each additional casting. The flying is a very nice bonus, and it gives the heroic deck something to do with it’s mana when topdecking creatures in the late game. I expect we’ll see good things from this card in the future.

Fanatic of Xenagos

While I’m not quite sure he makes the cut for Standard, I certainly believe Fanatic of Xenagos is one of the more powerful uncommons in the draft environment. Not many things have the ability to deal with a 4/4 that early in the game, and his innate trample ability means he combines well with bestow creatures (Nyxborn Wolf, anyone?). I expect the Fanatic will be crashing into the red zone very often, and taking large chunks of an opponents life total with him.

Kiora’s Follower

One of my favourite cards in the set, this guy certainly has the tools to perform well in draft. His ability says “target permanent”, so he can affect anything on the battlefield, including your lands. On top of that, his two power means he can be either an beater or mana accelerator in the early game as required. In the late game, you can untap attackers to block, but he also has all sort of unique synergies with other cards, allowing him to be even tricker. For example, he can untap a creature targeted with Retraction Helix to get double the value. One of my favourite tricks I’ve seen is to untap an opponents inspired token maker in your turn, before they have the mana available (credit to Caleb Durward for noting that in his draft video). I’m very keen tosee what else the Follower has in store for us.

Reap What Is Sown

The premier Heroic enabler of the format, this card is going to be absurdly powerful. I probably don’t need to explain how good it is. Dream curve is probably Favored Hoplite -> Phalanx Leader -> Wingsteed Rider -> Reap with God’s Willing backup. This card with do some dumb things within combat.

Siren of the Silent Song

While I haven’t gotten around to writing about it yet, Blue-Black was my favourite archetype in triple Theros draft, and I can’t wait until I open one of these guys and just windmill slam it. I’ve played plenty of Blood-Toll Harpys, and this is just a strict upgrade. It denies them resources while applying a clock, and you can find other ways to tap him, as well. As I am a terrible human being, one combo I want to set up at some point is Kiora’s Follower + this guy, which causes the opponent to discard a card in their draw step, and lock them out of playing anything but instants. One of my favourite cards for draft.

Gorgon’s Head

I’m not really sure how good the Gorgon’s Head will be, but I expect it’s better then my initial impressions. The casting cost is cheap, and not a lot of Theros decks have turn one plays. After that, guaranteeing each of your creatures will trade one-for-one for only twio mana is very good. I expect it’ll take a while for people to warm up to this card, but once they do, we might finally see a use for artifact removal in this block.

Siren Song Lyre

The Lyre is another example of a card that is more powerful because of the format it exists in. While this effect can normally be gotten for much cheaper, in an environment where people are making giant monsters by means of bestow, tapping a creature every turn is very, very good. While the Lyre is a bit slow and clunky, I expect it’ll eventually be a adapted as a solid role player in the format. As a bonus, if it is equipped to an inspired creature, you’ll get free triggers!

Springleaf Drum

The most powerful inspired enabler in the set. While creatures that have just been summoned cannot tap themselves straight away, other effects can cause them to tap immeadiately (think Glimpse the Sun God). Springleaf Drum is one of those effects, so it allows you to get your inspired effect a whole turn earlier, on top of being a mana accelerator. I expect this card to be very powerful in the draft environment.

And with that, we’ve finally completed our journey through Born of the Gods! Any cards I should have commented on? Are my opinions plain wrong? What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time, Random.

Born of the Gods Draft Review: Green

Here’s the (somewhat belated) Green review of Born of the Gods!

Aspect of Hydra

This card has the potential to do some really sweet things in limited. Green is arguably the easiest colour to build devotion with, and if this gets to “just” a Giant Growth, you’re still getting a very good deal. I can easily see this going to +4 or +5, maybe even +6 (I’ve cast a fair amount of Nylea’s Disciples in my time). When playing this has a combat trick (as opposed to a burn spell), one will need to be wary of instant-speed removal, as the value of X will be decided upon the resolution of the spell, not the moment of casting.

Graverobber Spider

I opened this guy at one of my prereleases, and he seems pretty legit. Base Giant Spider isn’t the end of the world, especially given that Nessian Asp is Greens primary defense against an aerial assault, and that’s a high pick common. If you can activate his ability, it gets even better, as he can start going on the offensive. Getting +3/+3 for that activation seems like a reasonable rate, so anything beyond there is just gravy.

Karametra’s Favor

An innocent role-playing card, the Favor will likely see play in decks with >3 colours, providing an easy way to fix your mana with a cantrip, similar to Nylea’s Presence. Of course, this one can accelerate you has it doesn’t target a land, but that makes it vulnerable to removal. I expect this to be a staple in every Chromanticore deck ever built.

Mortal’s Resolve

Possibly the best trick Green received in the new set, in my opinion. While being more defensive in nature, fizzling spells like Lightning Strike and Sip of Hemlock for a cheap mana investment seems very strong. Stuff like Lash of the Whip and any bounce spell will still work however, so while this card isn’t the end-all for creature protection, it wil do a lot of good work.

Noble Quarry

One of the most subtly powerful cards in the set, Noble Quarry is really, really good. While somewhat unimpressive by itself, the ability to bestow this onto a more threatening creature can lead to some giant blowouts. This can be combined with abilities such as First Strike and Deathtouch to make combat absolutely miserable for your opponent.

Nyxborn Wolf

Likely the most powerful of the common bestow creatures, in my opinion. The large power boost will allow the bestowed creature to trade up in combat, and the body it leaves behind isn’t embarrassing either. Completely reasonably to play on curve if you need it, and works excellently with the Heroic creatures, especially in-colour. In my opinion, one of the high-pick commons of the set.

Pheres-Band Raiders

Similarly, the Raiders look to be the best of the “Inspired tokens” cycle. Unlike most of the others, he doesn’t really require any work to get him tapped. Just send him into combat, preferably with trick backup, and let him do his work. He’s big enough to survive most one-on-ones, and if the opponent double blocks, green has enough tricks to punish the play even without Whites help. After that, you can cast a Nessian Courser in your upkeep, which was already worth a card. Extremely solid creature, and one I could see first picking.

Setessan Starbreaker

While I like the ability to interact with bestow creatures in a profitable way, I’m not quite sure the cost relative to the body is worth it. While he can easily be suited up with a bestow creature himself after he comes down, weak initial stats combined with the lack of evasion mean he might not be good enough. Worth testing, but I don’t have high hopes.

Swordwise Centaur

Solid gain for Green here, as early drops in this colour were previously lacking. Voyaging Satyr was the best two drop, and that served mainly to accelerate to your later drops sooner. This guy allows for more aggressive green builds to exist, and while he’s no Kalonian Tusker, he’s certainly good enough to bring the beats.

Unravel the Æther

The combination of “instant” and “cheap” makes this Naturalize variant a whole lot better in this block then it would be in other blocks. Being able to interact with bestow creatures within combat can and does lead to severe blowouts. On top of that, you gain the ability to interact with Gods at no additional cost. This is an uncommon purely because of the format it exists in, making this effect more powerful then it usually is.

That’s all for Green! Time to finish up with the rest of the cards… right now! Let’s get to it!

Random.

Devoted To Xenagos

Unfortunately, our last FNM didn’t have an appropriate number for draft, so we ended up doing a 12 person pod. Sorta clunky, but no big deal. I ended up opening a Xenagos, God of Revels, and forced Red-Green despite the person to my right also being in red/green. That’s some real devotion.

Xenagos, God of Revels

And you thought he was good in Constructed…

I ended up with the following decklist:

1x Sedge Scorpion
2x Spearpoint Oread
2x Kragma Butcher
1x Minotaur Skullcleaver
1x Noble Quarry
2x Nylea’s Disciple
1x Nylea’s Emissary
1x Ill-Tempered Cyclops
1x Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass
1x Fanatic of Mogis
1x Snake of the Golden Grove
1x Nemesis of Mortals
1x Vulpine Goliath
1x Coordinated Assault
1x Dragon Mantle
1x Mortal’s Resolve
3x Time to Feed
8x Mountain
9x Forest

My sideboard had some interesting cuts, including a Titan’s Strength and a second Dragon Mantle. I was expecting to pick up some Satyr Hedonists in the Theros packs, but unfortunately the person to my right ended up picking two, maybe three of them. One mistake I made in the drafting was picking the Fanatic of Mogis over a Voyaging Satyr. I was aware I needed the two drop acceleration, but overestimated the number of red mana symbols I had at that point (I ended up being heavier green). Overall, the deck was somewhat clunky, but I was happy with it.

I was fortunate enough to draw Xenagos at least once in all for matches, and the guy is completely and totally insane. There were a number of cool interactions with the creatures here, including Kragma Butcher getting a higher pump, Noble Quarry becoming a death machine, and Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass becoming a legitimately scary threat. I also managed to get the achievement of curving Xenagos into Vulpine Goliath, but my favorite play probably goes to bestowing Noble Quarry on the Sedge Scorpion to remove both blockers in play.

So after being bitten my the Xenagos bug, I’ve decided to take him out for a spin in Standard. Not to mention I still haven’t decided on what I’ll be playing at GP Melbourne. That in mind, I’ve taken a basic G/R Monsters list and tweaked it slightly to my liking:

4x Elvish Mystic
4x Sylvan Caryatid
4x Courser of Kruphix
4x Ghor-Clan Rampager
3x Polukranos, World Eater
4x Stormbreath Dragon
2x Xenagos, God of Revels
1x Flesh//Blood
3x Mizzium Mortars
4x Domri Rade
2x Chandra, Pyromaster
1x Xenagos, the Reveler
10x Forest
5x Mountain
1x Mutavault
4x Stomping Ground
4x Temple of Abandon

The interaction between Courser of Kruphix and Domri is something I’ve been keen to try since the card was spoiled, so I’m very much looking forward to that. Outside of that, this is a pretty typical “play dudes and hit them” style of deck, which I’m a fan of. I’ve always been a fan of these styles of decks, as I find presenting the threats is harder to get wrong then needing the specific answer in hand. While I think this deck might be a little soft to a Pack Rat, I’m definitely keen to see how this goes.

While obviously others have far more experience with the deck then me, I thought I’d go over my tweaks compared to a “stock” GR list:

23 vs 24 land: Most of the lists I’ve looked at have 23 lands, which seems pretty loose for a deck that wants to hit 4 and 5 mana as soon as possible. While Courser could make this a little smoother, some lists might not even have him, as we’ll get to below.
Mutavault: On top of that, I’ve been seeing two Mutavaults as the standard. While I definitely want at least one to make Xenagos God better post verdict, I’m hesistant to go to two for the time being, although that might be right.
More Forests: The major change I’ve made is the addition of more basic Forest. You want to get your engine online as quickly as possible with turn one Elf into one of your 3-drops, and more untapped green sources help facilitate that. Beyond that, I’d rather have a smoother early game between Mystic, Caryatid, and Courser then draw too many Mountains. In the end, most of my manabase changes resolve around being more conservative, though it’s definitely possible it could be pushed further.
Fanatic vs. Courser: The “second 3-drop” besides Domri is a clash between these Fanatic of Xenagos and Courser. I’ve seen Fanatic used in a few playtest videos around the internet, and it doesn’t seem too impressive. I’d rather generated some pseudo-card advantage against other creature decks in order to get ahead.
Chandra vs. Xenagos: I normally see Xenagos as the 4-drop ‘walker of choice. While I understand he makes a Desecration Demon really sad, I think I’d prefer to have a Chandra in play. Her +1 allows you to push through damage and close out a game, and her 0 ability also has excellent synergy with Courser of Kruphix. I’m still keeping in Xenagos in order to test both, however.
1 or 2 God Xenagos: Most people seem to be playing conservative and only bringing 1 Xenagos to the party. However, from both my own experience and playtesting videos, Xenagos is absurdly powerful and you definitely want to increase your chances of drawing one. Besides, stuff like Detention Sphere and Revoke Existence exist. To this end, one Polukranos was cut in favor of Xenagos two, but that might jsut be wrong (also, I don’t have a complete playset of Polukranos).

I haven’t yet finalized a sideboard, but I expect it’ll be fairly stock (Unravel the AEther, Plummet, etc).

That’s all for now. This article style was a little different, so I hope it was enjoyable. With any luck, I’ll draft a decent deck tonight and be able to break it down for the blog.

Until next time, Random.