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