FABLES FROM KITCHEN TABLES – LET’S TALK THEROS, PART 1

Greetings, readers! This week is the first week in a while where I’m not talking about the deckbuilding process, instead deciding to focus on the spoilers so far from Magic’s upcoming set, Theros.

The newest set gives us a lot from both a flavor and mechanics perspective. We’re getting to enjoy a brand-new plane based off mythology, heroes and monsters, gods and creatures of all shapes and sizes.

The set gives us four new mechanics as well as one much beloved mechanic returning to us. While I’m sure Mike Clark will be all over the rules perspective of the new mechanics, let me cover them from a flavor perspective, and possibilities the mechanics have.

Bestow

Nighthowler

Bestow is a mechanic I myself wanted to create in Magic Set Editor a while back. – the idea of a creature that can also be an Aura enchantment. (I have a flavor affinity for Evershrike.)

What I think a lot of people miss that makes Bestow an excellent mechanic overall is the last sentence of the rules text. If the creature is removed from the battlefield while bestowed, the Aura becomes its creature form. I don’t know if you understand the sheer amount of value that provides, but I want to highlight it here with its best card for the mechanic spoiled so far – Bestow is excellent when you run into or up against sweepers.

Bestow offers flexibility due to not only having the creature and enchantment card type, meaning multiple specific tutors can find them, but because they offer a creature to block with as well as an Aura, giving you the option to run them in a Voltron build without suffering for blockers when you need them.

What I’d like to see come from Bestow:
I think a lot of really powerful Auras over Magic’s history can take the form of creatures very easily, and few creatures with the mechanic spoiled so far seem worth running except in the most niche of strategies. A Flickerform with Bestow would be excellent. A decent double strike bestow would also be welcomed. An insane trample bonus is also something I’d like to see. (So basically, something you can easily put into a Uril, the Miststalker deck.)

Devotion

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

Devotion is a lot like a previous mechanic from the Eventide set, Chroma – however, unlike Chroma, devotion isn’t extremely narrow in design space like Chroma was. Chroma is simply a mechanic that rewarded you for having a bunch of mana symbols, whereas while the same basic concept applies with devotion, where having many mana symbols is typically a good thing, devotion’s design space allows you play with the numbers, like with the God cards.

Devotion can be seen one of two ways – as Chroma’s return with more cards, or as an opportunity to give unexplored design space to an old, tired mechanic with a lot of untapped potential. (though I’ll be the first to admit I really did have a soft spot for Primalcrux)

What I’d like to see from Devotion:
There’s definitely the potential for a Mayael’s Aria-esque devotion card where if you’re really, really, really freaking devoted to your color, you get an absolutely crippling advantage. There’s also the potential for an Overrun effect whose bonus equals your devotion, giving a mass pump to creatures much like Craterhoof Behemoth. Drawing cards, placing +1/+1 counters, giving all creatures -X/-X, Threatening that many creatures, getting that many basic lands…there are a lot of possibilities, but I really do like what I’ve seen so far from the mechanic, between Master of Waves, Abhorrent Overlord, Gray Merchant of Asphodel and Karametra’s Acolyte. I can’t wait to see some more white devotion cards, as very few have been spoiled thus far.

Monstrosity

Polis Crusher

Monstrosity is a mechanic where a creature who isn’t a giant monster gets some +1/+1 counters and becomes a giant monster with some pretty decent benefit, all for the low, low cost of infinite mana.

One thing to note about the monstrosity mechanic is that, while all of the creatures with the mechanic (spoiled thus far) cost a rather hefty amount of mana to make monstrous, the ability isn’t restricted to sorcery speed. This is something I feel separates it from a very similar mechanic – level up. Level up’s biggest weakness is that it could only happen at sorcery speed, so I feel that this is a great step in the right direction, even if that cost is having to spend all the mana upfront to make the creature good. In EDH, it’s common to play draw-go with how many flash enablers, combat tricks, and in general surprises you can throw at opponents, making the concept of holding up mana with the intention of making your guy a giant monster not nearly as unproductive as it seems.

What I’d like to see from Monstrosity:
Honestly, a utility monstrifying ability like “{1W}: Monstrosity 1. When ~ becomes monstrous, destroy target enchantment.” would be absolutely excellent, as it not only gives Monstrosity a political element all its own, but it’s also a good combat trick to deter attackers already, and it lets the one glaring weakness of the mechanic – bounce and tempo spells like Capsize – not make every card with the mechanic an afterthought. Overall, cheaper costs and more utility-based effects would be awesome, but I’m honestly just really excited to see how they use the massive amount of design space the mechanic has.

Heroic

Artisan of Forms

Heroic is an ability where, when you target the permanent in question with a spell (sadly, not an ability – though admittedly it would be significantly easier to abuse), a cool effect happens. Clearly designed to work with Bestow, Heroic has to be my least favorite of the four mechanics so far.

My biggest wishlist for Heroic is by far something that makes the mechanic worth using. The mechanic is very difficult to commit to due to the fact that you constantly require a spell to cast in order to get value off of the mechanic, and that there are very few options aside from self-bouncing Auras (Cage of Hands, Krasis Incubation, Agoraphobia, etc.) that can really capitalize on the effectiveness of the ability. Adding to that the fact that Artisan of Forms is the best spoiled Heroic card by far (I mean, Anax and Cymede isn’t bad, but you have to all-in on a nongreen creature without Invigorate, which is just asking for trouble.)

What I’d like to see from Heroic:
Honestly, I’d like to see an abuse case. I know Limited is becoming more and more of a balance issue for the printing of cards, but seriously, having a 7-mana idiot that Time Walks wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. I mean, they printed Deadeye Navigator, right? The mechanic just needs something worth pouring all of those resources into, something to make it all pay off. I personally haven’t seen it yet, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

The second topic I wanted to cover in this week’s article is the God cards. Not because they’re particularly fantastic (okay, but they really are, when it comes down to it), but because of how much freaking utility they all have, which is really what makes them worthwhile additions to any strategy.

Heliod, God of the Sun

Heliod is an unkillable combination of Mobilization and Intangible Virtue, for overall the same cost.

Plus, if you’re devoted, you have an indestructible 5/6, excellent on offense and defense.

I dunno, I really like the concept of this. The God cards are all pretty ridiculous amounts of value, but white gets it pretty good by playing the control element exceptionally well by sitting back and slowly building an army that’s able to attack and block.

Thassa, on the other hand, is just another example of how pure color pie power favors blue. Not only is she the cheapest of the God cards revealed so far, but she’s got two of the top three abilities of the God cards overall.

She does what control always wants to do – makes your draws as best as they can be while getting the most value out of the creatures you have on board already (by joshua). Early game, it means you’re getting the damage you need with dorks like Thada Adel, Acquisitor, and lategame it means your colossal monster gets in with impunity.

Oh, and if you’re devoted enough, you have an indestructible 5/5. With Champion’s Helm, you get to that magic number of 7. And at that point, she’s also got hexproof.

Purphoros, God of the Forge

However, as much as I mention how good Thassa is, her two abilities pale in comparison to the lit fuse that is Purphoros.

I’m going to give you, the readers, a tip here – there’s a secret line of subtext hidden within the seventh layer of the card that reads “Legendary Enchantment Creature – God Goblin“. Seriously, eat your heart out, Krenko, Mob Boss – your title of “best Goblin general not close” has just been blown right out of the water.

The fact that it hits for 2 is stupid. The fact that it hits each opponent is just ridiculous. Imagine the curve of this into Siege-Gang Commander into Rapacious One into Chancellor of the Forge; this deck literally builds itself, people. But for those who are wondering, this is very likely going to be the next feature of my Let’s Build series, and I’m really hoping to get my hands on one at the prerelease. (A foil is wishful thinking, but hey, go big or go home, right?)

Nylea, God of the Hunt

Sadly, I feel green gets the short end of the stick here with Nylea. While I personally think Nylea is really going to be annoying to deal with in Limited, in EDH, I just don’t see it. Kamahl, Fist of Krosa is far superior in almost every single way to her, but for whose who aren’t convinced, let me try to make a case for her.

She’s a cheap 6/6, which is really decent on its own. It doesn’t take much effort to get her to a magic number with her activated ability, making a Voltron build not that improbable. She’s a solid attacker on her own, whereas Kamahl is fragile without his ability.

Really, though, that’s about all I can come up with. I guess if you pair her with her bow, your army becomes impossibly stupid and forces damage through like nobody’s business, but her bow by itself is a pretty fantastic utility engine.

Now that’s all for the God cards, but before I close this point, let me just take this opportunity to remind you that all of them being indestructible makes them a huge pain to deal with in EDH tables. Pack your Return to Dusts, kids.

(You may also want to reconsider Decimate with the influx of enchantments bound to hit the format.)

CLOSING THOUGHTS

That’s my initial thoughts on the spoilers thus far. The mechanics are awesome, the God cards are sweet as hell, and I can’t wait to see what else Theros has in store for us.

Until next week!
-L

P.S. This guy’s freakin’ insane.

Check out my previous articles here:

Adapting to EDH Metagames:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1177
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1252
Part 3 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1317
Part 4 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1370
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1454

Building on a Budget:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1522

Choose Your Champion:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1594
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1868

Dragon’s Maze Prerelease Weekend:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1810

Hits & Misses of:
Dragon’s Maze -http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1870
M14 –  http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2295

Legen-Wait for It-Dary:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2264

Let’s Build:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1606
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1595
Part 3 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2214
Part 4 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2278
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2303
Part 6 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2310
Part 7 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2323
Part 8 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2336
Part 9 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2341 

Let’s Talk M14:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2228 

Planeswalking and You:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2184 

Resource Management:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2200

Trial & Error:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2089

 

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