Bitesize Theros Review: Sealed & Mechanics by Ruairidh Macdonald
Greetings and salutations program!
No doubt you will have read countless reviews and discussion surrounding Theros, so I’ll not keep you long. I played in the prerelease at Spellbound Games Glasgow last weekend and wish to divulge a few observations.
Tis’ very hard to turn these guys/gals on in Limited. Unless you managed to open up a mono coloured deck, you will struggle to get another four pieces of devotion for their greedy almighty-ness. Heliod, God of the Sun proves to be the exception, as the ability to spew out 2/1 clerics is pretty relevant.
Their weapons are however, Limited bombs. From first hand experience on either side of the table I found out that a resolved Whip of Erebos is nigh on unbeatable. Bow of Nylea does a fair amount of work also, and should be drafted highly.
[rant] A lot of people have been cooing over Nightveil Specter due to his high devotion to blue/black. STOP IT!
Furthermore, triple black devotion isn’t enough to turn Erebos, God of the Dead on, so you will need another permanent anyway.[/rant] Therefore, the best way to get a God online is to play relevant, solid permanent’s with double mana in their cost. Underworld Connections or Jace, Architect of Thought are more consistent devotees due to surviving wraths and untimely removal (most).
I like the fact that all the God’s narcissistic-ally provide one devotion to themselves, meaning you only have to find four more. For modern it is interesting to note that Griselbrand or Phyrexian Obliterator can single handedly rouse the black god!
Lets talk Commons
Over the three events I ran Esper, Izzet and Grixis. The common denominator here was Blue. Blue benefited from so many solid commons and had the best promo card.
It is a slow format. You should run 18/19 lands. If the games are going to go long, then you wanted the promo bomb with the best late game effect (Blue or Black). Which colour helps you get to the late game best, and therefore also gives you the largest window to draw your sick bomb? Blue!
The following cards all performed well for me all weekend.
This card is not very good. And so not many people play them. This results in people not playing around it. Which in turn, makes it quite good! I caught every promo with this card, and even a Stormbreath Dragon. Counterspells excel in slow, bomb dominated formats .
The only time it missed was when my opponent had seen it with Disciple of Phenax, and even then I could aim it at one of his spells to make him pay one more and allow me to scry.
Game 2 I would often take them out, once I had stuck the fear into them they would be playing around an effect that is no longer there. The exception to this was aggro matchups, where I would play a second one. They were running less lands and an abundance of 2 & 3 drops – relatively easy prey for SH.
This is super close to being uncommon power. In m13 I would happily play a Canyon Minotaur for curve considerations. This guy has trample as a bonus from the get go, and gets scary with 6mana. I feel like trample should have been granted with the monstrosity trigger. Having trample automatically makes the card pretty dangerous with Boon of Erebos or Titan’s Strength.
Monstrosity creates a game of cat and mouse when your opponent has removal. They hang on to a Lightning Strike hoping to catch the cyclops in response to them becoming monstrous, while you repeatedly beat them to death with a 3/3. Eventually they have to give up, at which point you go monstrous and finish the job.
Main deck it, thank me later!
With everyone dabbling in bestow and ordeals, this never fails to miss. Catching a weapon or White’s Archon promo are mega-deals for 1 blue mana.
This guy has just enough of a butt to be a problem. Without black’s removal you will be hard pressed trying to kill this guy! The scry effect is pretty relevant too, and can keep the engine running.
Better than Augur of Bolas on turn two. I said it! However, it is worse in almost every other situation.
I had a slew of these guys throughout the whole weekend and I think I only fired off two of them. That doesn’t make them bad, they just suffer from m10 damage stack rules and will often trade in combat for the same target they would have shot.
This and Voyage’s End do some real work against monstrosity, bestow and heroic. The mana investment into making a monstrosity gets crushed by a 4mana instant that skips a draw step for them. Unsummon with a scry stapled on is not worth two mana, but is still playable. This is mostly due to peoples infatuation with Ordeal of Purphoros and alike. They don’t have bestow folks, prepare to be 2 for 1’d!
Oh sweet condescend – I thank the gods for returning you to us! With flashback rotating out and Scavenging Ooze disencouraging graveyard shenanigans, Dissolve slides confidently into the space Dissipate just made, and at one less letter too!
This little guy is amazing! Having two in my pool for my first event allowed me to play a three colour deck with double mana symbols in every colour. It ramps, it fixes, it thins and it fights (occasionally)! If there is a 5colour control deck on the horizon, he might make it.
This costs 6 to bestow, not 7. Why didn’t any of my opponents tell me when I kept bestowing these for 7mana?! You know who you are.
Anyway, the crab rules.
Monstrosity: (Fleecemane Lion)
This provides aggro and midrange decks that extra bit of reach to try and keep up with decks that go over the top – by going over the top themselves!
Serving as mana dumps for decks that have flooded, the mechanic allows for more swingy games. I saw quite a few Kraken battles. Bar the Colossus of Akros (the format is not that slow) you should be playing any monstrosity cards that are on colour. Arbor Colossus is an awkward one, but if you can pay the bill then he will certainly help out with the green devotion.
As far as constructed is concerned, we will probably only see Fleecemane Lion and Polukranos, World Eater regularly. Ember Swallower may turn up in some kind of ramp land destruction deck. Stormbreath Dragon is not a monstrosity card: It will have been answered, or finished the job all by itself before you can activate it!
Bestow: (Celestial Archon)
If Wind Drake is playable, then you can bet your boots Nimbus Naiad is! The enchantment based weakness is not enough to stop you picking/playing any of the bestow creatures. They fix curve spikes beautifully.
Say you have a Nimbus Naiad, Thassa’s Emissary and Observant Alseid in your opening hand. Instead of having a inefficient play of a 3drop on turn 5, you can bestow Observant Alseid on one of the other two. If you drew another 4drop you could hold the Emissary as your 6drop. Versatility and variety, the delicious ingredients of consistency.
Scry: (Read the bones)
I love that scry is back, sooo much. It provides more balanced games as both players are able to shave away dead draws. It decreases the chance of getting mana flooded/starved which in turn makes for more enjoyable, closer games.
Like a lot of people, I was underwhelmed when I saw the scry lands spoiled (e.g Temple of Silence). I’ve been testing them for post-rotation and I love them more than this kid loves colouring! I had two of them for one of my sealed decks and they proved excellent also.
Devotion: (Master of Waves)
I guess I covered this when I was discussing Gods earlier. It encourages you to commit more to the board, making you more vulnerable to sweepers. For this reason, I’m out!
Heroic: (Fabled Hero)
I have no experience of using this mechanic as of yet. The existence of it certainly does increase the Ordeal’s playability, but it feels like an ‘everything or nothing’ archetype. Like Hexproof decks where sometimes they get just creatures or just enchantments and crumble like a dry biscuit (lose horribly).