Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: The King of Oreskos

It’s already the second week of the Born of the Gods spoiler season and so far, a total of 64 cards have already been spoiled out of 165 cards from the whole set as of this writing. And there are already a bunch of cards that I am already swooning over, hoping that I’d get to play with them soon. One of them would be the King of Oreskos, Brimaz.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: The King of Oreskos

It seems that Wizards of the Coast noticed that white seems to be having a difficult time in catching up with the other colors in the current format. If you haven’t noticed (though I am sure that you, faithful reader already did), white is the only color that has a devotion deck in Standard that didn’t have much impact in the metagame. Of course, this is not to say that playing white doesn’t have its merits. In fact, there are a lot of white-based aggro decks out there that can bring down a tournament. Orzhov aggro decks that rely on Thoughtseize and Sin Collectors to take away Espers means of destroying the white players’ armies (I am looking at you Supreme Verdict), and or Boros aggro decks that come out of the gates real fast supported by Boros Charm and Brave the Elements are common in every tournament.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: The King of Oreskos

“Answers”

With Born of the Gods around the corner, white is getting a lot of upgrades and one of those is the Brimaz, the King of Oreskos. When I saw Brimaz the first time, he reminded me of this card:

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: The King of Oreskos

“Are you ready boys?”

I personally like this card back then because it can single-handedly end a game if left unanswered. I used to board in this lady against midrange decks and or creature-dense decks back when I was still using UW Delver. Imagine, that’s already 7 power on the board if it goes through the player which means that it is a three-turn clock. This is not counting any other creatures you have in the battlefield that are inspired by the hero.

Brimaz on the other hand may not offer the same board presence as the heroine did when she was still legal in Standard but no creature will ever get past the king of Oreskos that’s for sure thanks to him being ever-vigilant. In addition, whenever he is assigned as a blocker, a soldier of his comes to his support to help take down any foe who dares try to trespass their territory. And take note that his loyal soldier is as keen as their king when it comes to those who’re trying to sneak past them.

In addition, Brimaz always go forth into battle supported by one of his loyal subjects. While the feline king doesn’t share the ability to inspire allies with a heartfelt battle cry like what the previous heroine was able to bestow on her comrades, he is blessed with the same body as the heroine in Mirrodin. However, what I liked about Brimaz in particular is his mana cost. For only 1WW, you will be able to call forth Oreskos’ King and this means that if you are playing first, you will be able to strengthen your board presence considerably and can swing for a good amount of damage before the opponent even plays a sweeper.

If there’s one drawback that Brimaz poses, it is the fact that he is a legendary creature. This means that you can only have one Brimaz on the battlefield at one time unlike with Hero of Bladehold. But I guess it won’t stop players in putting at least 3-4 copies of Brimaz in their white-based decks since it is likely that Brimaz would be hitting the bin more often than not because if he doesn’t, it means that your opponent is in deep trouble. Plus, you would want to draw him as often as you could because of the power that he offers when you play him. If your opponent is unprepared, he will be quickly end up in the backseat. Also, Brimaz can easily trigger battalion thanks to his ability to summon soldiers to his side.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: The King of Oreskos

Having this on the battlefield means that the King of Oreskos and his loyal soldiers can potentially trump the opponent’s creatures. So far, the decks that would love to have him would be the white-based aggro decks that I’ve mentioned above. In fact, Patrick Chapin already had brewed a couple of decks sporting Brimaz.

Orzhov Aggro

Main Deck: 60

Lands: 22

4 Godless Shrine

4 Mutavault

7 Plains

2 Orzhov Guildgate

1 Swamp

4 Temple of Silence

Creatures: 29

3 Banisher Priest

4 Boros Elite

4 Brimaz, King of Oreskos

4 Daring Skyjek

3 Dryad Militant

3 Imposing Sovereign

4 Precinct Captain

4 Soldier of the Pantheon

Spells: 9

4 Brave the Elements

3 Orzhov Charm

2 Spear of Heliod

Truth be told that this list is basically the same list that Nakada, Ryo used when he won in the Grand Prix Shizuoka event. So there’s really nothing new about the list though this list is still likely to evolve as the metagame develops.

Boros Aggro

Main Deck: 60

Lands: 22

2 Boros Guildgate

1 Mountain

4 Mutavault

6 Plains

4 Sacred Foundry

4 Temple of Triumph

Creatures: 30

4 Banisher Priest

4 Brimaz, King of Oreskos

4 Boros Elite

4 Burning-Tree Emissary

3 Dryad Militant

4 Firefist Striker

3 Imposing Sovereign

4 Precinct Captain

Spells: 8

4 Brave the Elements

4 Boros Charm

This list is pretty straight-forward and can easily overrun the opponent in a few turns. What I am interested in is a UW tempo deck that has a set of the Feline king in the mainboard, similar to the previous UW Delver deck which sides in Hero of Bladehold against slower opponents and to overwhelm aggro strategies. For the meantime, I’ll probably leave that to another article.

Overall, I would want to have my own play set of Brimaz though I am guessing that it’d be a challenge to do so come prerelease since supply will be scarce. Not to mention that people would probably hold on to him more than sell into the hype. And even if people would sell him, it would be at the current price of $25 or less and if you’re lucky, you can get a play set for around $70 or $80. Then again, getting a king to side with you comes with an exorbitant price.

Thanks for reading

@ravenknives at Twitter

imagecredit: mtgsalvation, gatherer.wizards.com

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

Frankly, I am not much of a fan of the phoenix creature sub-type in Magic: The Gathering and in fact, I am more inclined into hating the creature sub-type. It’s a long story but I am not here to talk about why I dislike the creature type but rather to let you know why this particular phoenix card got me to reconsider my distaste for it.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

To be fair, Wizards of the Coast has been doing well in improving various creature types for the past few years. Just take a look at the dragons (well, maybe not the recently spoiled one in Born of the Gods) in the past couple of sets.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

As I’ve said in a previous article, dragons have been part of M:tG’s legacy ever since the game was conceived. In fact, the Commander format which was originally referred to as EDH or Elder Dragon Highlander had the five elder dragon legends as the initial generals or commanders. I am really happy to see that the creatures being introduced in the game are improving in each set and the Phoenix sub-type isn’t an exception. So what do we have going for Flame-Wreathed Phoenix?

I had to admit that I wasn’t impressed with the firebird when I first saw it. Probably because of my personal biases but mostly because I imagined that like with most punisher cards, you tend to get the weaker effect since your opponent will be choosing what you will be getting when the firebird enters the battlefield. In addition, paying it tribute would only get you a 5/5 firebird for four mana which I immediately dismissed and compared with green’s four drop 5/5 creatures which doesn’t even have trample.

Then again it dawned on me; Flame-wreathed Phoenix has flying! The thing with most big green fatties is that even though they are aggressively costed, they lack a form of evasion. Even though they have the potential to deal massive damage to the opponent, they’re often sidetracked by the opponent’s critters. However, having a 5/5 creature for only four mana with flying is similar to having a green fatty having trample! In fact, flying is better in most cases than having trample!

 Also:

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

This was one of those creatures who made an impact back in old standard and it even has a drawback. The firebird we’re talking about however does not. Sure, Flame-wreathed phoenix may not have a board impact if your opponent sacrifices some lambs or goats to pay it tribute but rest assured, this creature won’t dare cross its path.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

So what if the tribute wasn’t paid? Well, your opponent is sure to expect a hasty flyer that cannot be permanently dealt with by these spot removals:

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

And even if it was successfully dealt with by black’s ever reliable removal Doom Blade or something similar or perhaps a Lighting Strike from Keranos, the destruction is not permanent and just like in the legends, the firebird will rise again to burn your opponent. In addition, this hasty flyer trumps its smaller cousin conjured by the planeswalker Chandra Nalaar as well as malicious specters. If there’s something that I am concerned about is that the four drop slot is becoming more and more tight. We have Fanatic of Mogis, Purphoros, God of the Forge, Mogis, God of Slaughter and then Flame-Wreathed Phoenix. I am imagining that people would probably cut on the two drop slot or leave out Purphoros and just leave the Minotaur and the phoenix.

Another thing that should be considered is that the larger version of the creature also doesn’t die from Mizzium Mortars and would require a combination of two burn spells to kill it. The only colors that can probably conveniently deal with this fiery menace is perhaps blue, through the use of Detention Spheres or Bounce effects and of course black. Overall, Flame-Wreathed Phoenix has the potential to make an impact on the current Standard. Am I excited to open this in one of my packs? Not really and not because I dislike phoenixes but because I am still a blue player at the end of the day after all.

And for those who’re interested in seeing a deck list to fit the firebird, we have this:

Red Devotion Wins

Lands: 24

11 Mountains

3 Mutavault

2 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

4 Sacred Foundry

4 Temple of Triumph

Creatures: 28

4 Ash Zealot

4 Boros Reckoner

4 Burning Tree-Emissary

4 Chandra’s Phoenix

4 Fanatic of Mogis

4 Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

4 Stormbreath Dragon

Spells: 8

4 Boros Charm

4 Lightning Strike

This list is obviously untested but this could be a good start if you’re interested in playing Flame Wreathed Phoenix. Well, that’s it for today!

Thanks for reading!

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: The Pantheon of Theros Part 2

Hi there! Today, I’ll be continuing the second part of my article discussing my thoughts and evaluation for the remaining two gods of Theros.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: The Pantheon of Theros Part 2

Frankly speaking, I am not really a fan of green and I initially hated that color for a couple of reasons. However, as of late, I am noticing that Wizards of the Coasts has been effectively addressing green mages’ complaint that green cards are weak and in fact, continues to strengthen green. Just look at the list; Thragtusk, Scavenging Ooze, Voice of Resurgence and many more in Theros and I’ve learned to appreciate what green has to offer and in fact, wouldn’t think twice of playing a green deck. I did construct an RG-based green deck in my early days of Magic as well as a Malignant Growth deck.

What I like about Nylea is her state-based ability which gives trample to all of your other creatures. And yes, I know, it kinda sucks that she doesn’t have it herself but flavor-wise, it’s just right since she’s blessing her worshipers with the ability to trample their enemies so having trample herself is out of flavor. On a serious note, her activated ability is not that impressive for me due to the activation cost but then again, as with the other gods’ activated abilities; it helps you do something worthwhile with your mana in the mid to late game.

Furthermore, even a lowly elf can match up with a Kalonian Tusker with Nilea’s blessings while a loxodon can get damage through even if opposed. Nilea is perhaps the most linear of all the gods when it comes to function and let’s not forget that it’s also easy to make her a creature. And you shouldn’t wonder anymore. We’re talking about the color green here. Elvish Mystic, Kalonian Tusker, Predator Ooze….wait…Not Predator Ooze, I mean, Scavenging Ooze, Sylvan Cataryid, Kalonian Hydra, and even Burning-Tree Emissary fits the bill nicely. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nylea will find herself part of a green aggressive or midrange strategy.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: The Pantheon of Theros Part 2

And last but not the least is the God of the Dead himself, Erebos. I initially speculated that the black’s god would cost five contrary to majority of the god cycle being four for the reason that Thassa, costs only three. I was also trying to imagine that he may have some recursion ability stacked on him and or something like a state-based effect similar to what Curse of Death’s Hold had but well, so much for my guesses.

These days, it’s not really that difficult to gain life since there are a lot of cards that generate such an effect. Centaur Healer, Unflinching Courage, Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice, Fiendslayer Paladin, Scavenging Ooze, and Thragtusk…. Okay, scratch that, it’s already rotating but you get the idea. With Erebos, God of the Dead in play, your opponents will no longer be able to gain any life. Even if you are not proactively attacking them, simply removing their capability to gain life is a big thing. This works well especially if you’re trying to race with your opponent and you’re in the position wherein you need to be defensive or controlling.

Take note that only your opponents are affected by this stigma and this means that you can still gain life making races more advantageous for you. Right now, a lot of people are excited to play this card primarily for his secondary ability which allows you to draw a card. And I can understand that. Everyone loves to draw cards but just like what Ben Bleiweiss said, “I also think that people saw “draw a card” and went hype over Erebos without closely looking at the cost.” And he is referring to the activation cost which is one black mana and one colorless mana AND two life. It’s nice that you don’t need to tap Erebos to activate his secondary ability and that you can activate it multiple times but the thing is that the life you pay will stack up as the game goes on.

Keep in mind that in order for you to win, you should be able to reduce your opponent’s life to 0. Your opponent may not be gaining any life but then again, if he’s just working towards attacking you and you just keep on drawing because well, you love drawing, then chances are, you’ll be on the losing end. Drawing won’t win you the game alone. Remember, your life is a resource and the higher it is, the more options you have so use Erebos’ ability sparingly. As for his devotion mechanic, well, I haven’t really thought much about it but I feel that making him appear in the realm of mortals is doable. Frankly, Erebos is the least of my favorites among the pantheon of Theros but then again, like Thassa, he’s already around $20 with the former being $5 more. This means that people are valuing him highly. In fact, he’s more expensive as compared to Heliod who’s currently sitting at $10 which I find surprising since I find Heliod’s ability more beneficial in the late game as compared to Erebos since the latter’s secondary ability costs you two life.

Overall, the gods of Theros will surely find their way in their respective decks and only time will tell which of them will greatly impact the new Standard.

Thanks for reading,

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

P.S.

As of this writing, the prices of the five Gods have increased from their starting price, particularly Purphoros who was at $25 two days ago but is now already at $30.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: The Pantheon of Theros Part 2

We can see that Thassa and Purphoros are the most expensive gods among the pantheon, with Purphoros being on the lead. Followed by Erebos and then Nylea. Heliod on the other hand is perhaps the god with the lowest price. Based from this data, we can say that people are dedicating their financial resources into decks which can support the top three expensive gods with Purphoros being on the top of the list, followed by Thassa then Erebos. I am imagining a lot of people are excited in playing their mono-red decks and I am also anticipating a fair number of control players taking advantage of Thassa’s scry ability. As for Erebos, well, I am honestly unsure what decks they could come up with this with the BG lists being the most likely candidate since that’s the next possible Jund Midrange. I know this may sound foolish since no one really knows how the new Standard would look like but we at least have some relevant data to ponder on.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: The Pantheon of Theros Part 1

I was supposed to write an article about the five gods of Theros yesterday but then again I wasn’t feeling well. In fact, I just posted my article about Stormbreath Dragon earlier this afternoon wherein it should have been posted yesterday evening. Good thing is that I am feeling a lot better as compared to yesterday and I hope that I won’t fall sick again especially that tomorrow’s already Saturday and I don’t want to spend my weekend bed-ridden or anything.

Without further ado, here are the gods worshiped in the plane of Theros.

 

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: The Pantheon of Theros Part 1

“No. They’re not the power rangers.”

Each color is represented by one god, with each of them having the indestructibility characteristic as well as the new Theros mechanic devotion. So how does devotion work anyway? Devotion is similar to the old mechanic chroma which was initially introduced in Eventide wherein it checks the number of a specific mana symbol of a permanent. However, it only checks the mana symbols on the permanent’s mana cost on the upper right hand side of the card and this determines how powerful a card’s ability is. A good example of this is the Eventide card Primalcrux.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: The Pantheon of Theros Part 1

“Scary? You ain’t seen nothin yet.”

Devotion, on the other hand, checks the total number of a particular mana symbol on the mana cost of all permanents on the battlefield before a certain effect is achieved. Let’s take a look at Heliod, God of the Sun as an example:

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: The Pantheon of Theros Part 1

Its text read “As long as your devotion to white is less than five, Heliod is not a creature (Each W in the mana costs of permanents you control counts toward your devotion to white)”. This means that the only way for you to make Heliod a creature is to have a number of permanents on the battlefield having a total white mana cost of five or more. So this can be in any combination of creatures, or enchantments as long as they have the white mana symbol on their mana costs. You can trigger the devotion mechanic by having a Boros Reckoner in play and a Precinct Captain in play. You can also trigger the devotion mechanic with a Detention Sphere, and a Boros reckoner since Heliod also counts itself as a permanent having a white mana cost symbol. Now, remember that devotion is a state-based effect and if at any time the number of permanents you control having the white mana symbols becomes less than five, then Heliod will revert to being just an enchantment instead of being a creature AND an enchantment. So, if for example you attacked with a devotion-triggered Heliod and then suddenly, your Boros Reckoner gets killed mid-combat, effectively reducing your devotion count to less than five, then Heliod will be removed from combat and reverts back to being only an enchantment. It’s not really that confusing if you’re going to think about it.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: The Pantheon of Theros Part 1

“Yep. That’s already five white mana symbols”

Moving forward, of all the gods spoiled so far, my favorite would have to be this:

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: The Pantheon of Theros Part 1

“That’s no little mermaid for sure.”

Okay. Maybe the blue mage inside me  is getting the best of me but then again, for only 2U, you get to Scry 1 for free every upkeep! Okay, fine. Maybe I am overreacting here but the thing is, how long has it been since blue had a way to constantly filter their top decks? And the thing is that you can play this card as soon as the third turn and what makes it good is that it’s hard to get rid off since it’s indestructible. Imagine having a turn two Omenspeaker and then playing this next. That’s already scrying for three all in all and also you get to choose to keep the top card before drawing it or putting it at the bottom of your library. Scry 1 may not be impressive at first but it stacks as the game goes on.

Her second ability is also nothing to scoff at and is even better than putting a Spectral Flight on your creature. Furthermore,  as soon as you are able to trigger devotion, your opponent can be sure that he or she will be taking a beating every turn unless he or she is able to deal with some of your blue permanents. And take note, 5 damage is nothing to sneeze at. Even if the devotion mechanic is not triggered, making a creature unblockable is a neat trick. The deck that I am visualizing the most that would make good use of Thassa would obviously be the blue-based contol decks. However, seeing that the UG scry land has already been spoiled makes me think that some sort of Bant or UG ramp deck may be able to effectively make use of Thassa.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: The Pantheon of Theros Part 1

“Yes. Him again.”

Heliod, God of the Sun is another interesting card from Theros and was also one of the mythic rares spoiled that got my attention. In addition to his godly qualities, Heliod can chunk out 2/1 creatures that counts as both an enchantment and creature. Now, these creatures being enchantments may not mean much at first glance but then again,, if you start thinking of cards that care about enchantments like Ethereal Armor or even Oath of the Ancient Wood in M14, then these creatures being an enchantment becomes more interesting. Sure, the cost to activate Heliod’s token generating ability is a bit costly but then again, it gives you a late game advantage and gives you a place to sink your mana. Remember how the old Counter Post deck wins its games?

This card may serve a purpose in a blue and white-based control deck though it will probably compete with Jace, Architect of Thought for the four mana cost slot. Not to mention we still have Gideon, Champion of Justice who also has the same mana cost as Heliod. Now, this is not to say that Gideon would likely be filling up the four mana slot in such a deck since in my opinion, Jace is a far better card in that slot, or perhaps even Heliod. But who knows? I am just trying to imagine how things would be in the new Standard environment. On a serious note, triggering Heliod’s devotion mechanic is made easier if you have Boros Reckoner and such an idea suggest a mono-white mid-rangey deck. These are only ideas but I think they’re worth exploring.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: The Pantheon of Theros Part 1

When Purphoros, God of the Forge was initially spoiled, my initial reaction was nothing short of the comment below:

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: The Pantheon of Theros Part 1

However, after reading Adrian Sullivan’s evaluation, and discovering that the price of Purphoros has increased to $25 in a span of a few days, and only has 33 stocks left in Starcitygames as compared to the rest of the cards in the set, I decided to carefully reevaluate Purphoros. I mean, I know I may be wrong but at the end of the day, it still remains to be seen. One reason Liz and I plan to proxy up some cards one of these days and see if this card is really feasible. Now, this is not to say that the other people are making a mistake too and I know I am no pro and still have a lot to learn but I guess I still would like to see how consistent it is and how it will actually impact standard post-rotation.

Setting aside my initial impression on Purphoros, like with Heliod, triggering the devotion mechanic on this card is pretty easy. Imagine this curve:

T1: Rakdos Cackler

T2: Burning-Tree Emissary > Firefist Striker

T3: Hammer of Purphoros

T4: Purphoros, God of the Forge

That’s already 7 red mana symbols which are more than enough to give the god of the forge the ability to manifest into the mortal realm and wreak havoc on your opponent on the 4th turn. If you’ve noticed, we didn’t even rely on a third turn Boros Reckoner to turn Purphoros into a creature. If we’re going to think about it, it DOES make sense to put Purphoros in a mono-red deck, provided that it is designed to be able to potentially trigger the devotion mechanic of the god of the forge as well as push damage consistently to the opponent.

With regard to his secondary ability, I was initially skeptical of it but as what Adrian Sullivan said in his article when he was discussing the implications of having Purphoros in an aggressive red deck.

 

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: The Pantheon of Theros Part 1

 

And he has a point. The damage coming from creatures that enters the battlefield would eventually pile up and can potentially kill the opponent in the long run. Imagine having a Purphoros and a Young Pyromancer on the battlefield and then you throw a let’s say, a Shock EOT of the opponent. That’s already 4 damage the opponent’s going to take! 2 damage from the shock and plus 2 more coming from the elemental token that will enter the battlefield thanks to the triggered ability of the Young Pyromancer as well as Purphoros’ triggered ability. And the thing is that Purphoros is indestructible and this means that the opponent won’t be able to get rid of him that easily. The Dynacharge ability is also a fine mid to late game mana sink, provided you still have creatures to use it for. Overall, I am interested in trying out this card and see how well it will do in the tournament.

Well, that’s it for the meantime. I will cover the remaining two gods in the next article.

Thanks for reading,

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Stormbreath Dragon

As usual, I immediately checked the spoilers as soon as I got online but the tweets on my twitter account got the best of me and got me looking for two specific cards that were mentioned in some of the tweets namely; Xenagos, the Reveler and Stormbreath Dragon and I find the latter really exhilarating for a lot of reasons. As soon as I finished getting things out of the way at home I immediately went into expressing my thoughts about the new dragon on the block.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Stormbreath Dragon

It seems like Wizards of the Coasts has gotten the hang of designing constructed playable dragons and I applaud them for that. Magic has designed countless cards having the dragon creature sub-type with most of them having the standard converted manacost of 6 and above. If my memory serves me correct, the first dragon that saw constructed play was Shivan Dragon.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Stormbreath Dragon

It was during the early days of Magic that this creature ruled the skies followed by Serra Angel and some others. And the thing was that if you don’t have any answer to the undisputed master of the mountains of Shiv, the game will gradually slip away from you. Imagine a time when there wasn’t much good creatures for constructed play with only a handful of reliable spot removals mostly limited to black, with the exception of Swords to Plowshares which is a white spot removal. In fact, even though Serra Angel was one of the best creatures in old Standard or Type 1, which was what Standard used to be called, it didn’t have the mettle to survive a rampaging Shivan Dragon. Time went by and expansion design, particularly creatures gradually developed and dragons continued to be printed.

However, dragons are rarely constructed playable primarily because of their high manacost. Only a few notable dragons saw play back then like Rathi Dragon, Volcanic Dragon, Rorix Bladewing and the four primeval dragons namely; Treva, The Renewer, Darigaaz, The Igniter, Crosis the Purger, and Dromar, the Banisher. And even so, not all of these dragons were a four-of in their respective decks.  Crosis, the Purger on the other hand, still sees play up until the present as a general in the Commander format but as for the rest of dragonkind? Not much.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Stormbreath Dragon

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Stormbreath Dragon

“The primeval dragons”

Fast forward to the present and what do we see being played in the current Standard format?

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Stormbreath Dragon

Yes. A dragon. So what happened? Well…

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Stormbreath Dragon

That’s what happened and combine it with one of the best abilities that a flying dragon could have which is haste and a decent power and toughness and you got the best ingredients for a constructed playable dragon. Though a lot of people didn’t initially think that Thundermaw Hellkite would see constructed play during the first time it became tournament legal since the metagame environment was all about Primeval Titans rampaging on the opponent’s territory and a certain insectile aberration that has been terrorizing the standard format, it eventually saw play after most of the key pieces of those decks rotated out of standard. But then again, it’s that time of the year again where a block will be rotating out of standard along with a core set and sadly, Thundermaw Hellkite only has a week or two to win games for you before it rotates as well.

Going back to what I was saying earlier, Wizards of the Coast has done a great deal in making dragons more constructed playable. And Stormbreath Dragon is no exception. It may not have the same power and toughness that its hasty predecessor had but its protection from white ability is very relevant. Not only can it dodge an Archangel of Thune, but it can’t be bounced by an Azorius charm nor can it be detained inside a sphere. Though it can killed by mortars, you still gain value from it the turn it comes into play, provided that it doesn’t die to a Putrefy or a Doom Blade. On the other hand, if your opponent is sporting white then chances are, it will be a quick clock, especially once the monstrosity mechanic is activated. And what makes it cool is that making it monstrous turns it into a Stormseeker on a stick. This means that if the opponent dare cast an end of turn Sphinx’s Revelation, he might not appreciate the backlash coming from this hasty flyer. And even if the dragon grows into a huge monster, it won’t be killed by a Selesnya Charm thanks to its protection from white. Another great thing about Stormbreath Dragon is that it’s a manasink in situations wherein you find yourself being flooded with lands.

So what decks would Stormbreath Dragon find itself in? I guess it would be any red-based deck with Kibler’s Gruul list being the most obvious home for it, replacing the Thundermaw Hellkite slot. I am also thinking of a Rakdos Aggro build with the dragon being the top of the curve preceded by Exava. It would look something like this:

 

BR Aggro:

Lands: 24

4 Blood Crypt

4 Rakdos Guildgate

8 Mountains

8 Swamps

 

Creatures: 26

4 Ash Zealot

4 Gore-House Chainwalker

4 Hellhole Flailer

3 Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch

4Rakdos Cackler

4 Stormbreath Dragon

3 Thrill-Kill Assassin

 

Spells: 10

2 Dreadbore

2 Doomblade

4 Magma Jet

2 Shock

 

Sadly, we only have Rakdos Cacklers as the best one drop for this deck. I already considered Legion Loyalist and Foundry Street Denizen however, putting Legion seems underwhelming and FSD works better if there’s BTE in the list. The reason I didn’t put BTE in the list is that it feels like the manabase is too unstable for the deck to take advantage of BTE’s ETB. Of course, I could be wrong here. Though I am confident that Theros would have allied lands spoiled soon, I don’t have any information as of yet as what the BR land’s name would be so this manabase, along with a couple of guildgates would have to do for now. How about Kibler’s Gruul Aggro?

RG Aggro

Lands: 24

8 Forest

4 Gruul Guildgate

8 Mountains

4 Stomping Grounds

 

Creatures: 27

4 Elvish Mystic

4 Burning-Tree Emissary

4 Firefist Striker

4 Ghor-Clan Rampager

4 Gore-House Chainwalker

3 Scavenging Ooze

4 Stormbreath Dragon

 

Spells: 9

1 Chandra Pyromaster

4 Domri Rade

4 Magma Jet

 

These lists are far from perfect but then again, they’re the ones I’ve thought of so far and will likely change as more cards are spoiled. If Liz and I can get the chance to play test with some of these cards through the use of proxies, then it will definitely help me evaluate these lists more. Overall, I really found myself speechless when I first saw Stormbreath Dragon and I was like “[insert random profanity] this card is impressive.” Funny thing was I’ve been saying for a while now that I haven’t found a card in Theros that really got me excited and then this happened. As for this card.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Stormbreath Dragon

“Wanna join in the fun?”

This will be for another day, the same as with the rest of the god cycle. If in case the fifth god of the set gets spoiled, I’d probably write about the gods first before Xenagos. Well, I guess that’s it for today.

Thanks for reading,

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

P.S.

As of this posting, the complete cycle of Gods and the filter lands have been spoiled but I decided to leave the rest of the deck lists unaltered. I’ll probably posting updated lists on the next batch of articles.