Tabletop Prevew: Magic: The Gathering – Theros
The latest Magic: The Gathering set, Theros officially launches tomorrow, September 27th. This new 249 card set has a very “Myths of Ancient Greece” feel to it and I’ve really enjoyed looking through the cards. It’s great to see a return of giants, centaurs, hydras, giant monsters and other creatures that we haven’t seen in some time. I think fans of Green And Blue are especially going to enjoy this set as there were so many great cards for those colours I had a devil of a time whittling things down to a single card to preview for you, our readers. I’ve picked ten cards from the set – one of each colour, three Gold, a land and an artifact to showcase here today in hopes of whetting your appetite for the newest Magic: The Gathering set. Note that these ten cards aren’t the best of their respective colour or type. Rather I picked them because I thought they’d be fun to talk about, had great art or something else. You’ll have to determine for yourself what you feel is going to make a killer Theros deck.
Blue – Sealock Monster.
As a player of Magic: The Gathering from the Alpha days, I have to admit I have a love for the giant overpowered and overpriced sea monsters Blue had. The Polar Kraken of Ice Age. The Leviathan of Fourth Edition. So I was happy to see some crazy monsters this time around like the Sealock Monster. You get a 5/5 creature for 3UU, which isn’t too bad – except for the fact the Sealock Monster can’t attack unless your opponent controls an island. Still, 3UU for a 5/5 defender isn’t a bad deal, especially in a sealed game. However…there’s more to the Sealock Monster, specifically its Monstrosity ability. For 5UU. The Sealock Monster gets three +1/+1 counters and the Monstrosity status. Now you have an 8/8 creature. Nice, huh? Even better, as long as the Sealock Monster is in its monstrous state, you pick any one land active in the game and it becomes an island in addition to its other type. Target an opponent’s land and suddenly your 8/8 Sealock is ready to rampage across your opponent’s troops. Give it a card that lets it trample or islandwalk and you have a game winner right here.
Green – Nylea’s Disciple.
I chose this so we can talk about the Devotion aspect that comes up a lot in the Theros set. We’ll see a lot of it tomorrow as I review the Devotion to Darkness deck, but let’s start the discussion here. Devotion takes many forms but it all revolves around the number of a specific colour count you have amongst your permanents in play. So let’s say you had the old Grizzly Bears from Alpha through 10th Edition. They were a 1G card to play. So if this was your only permanent, your Devotion rating would be 1. Now let’s say you had the Craw Wurm (I miss those) in play. That costs 4GG, so your devotion rating would be 2 if that was your only permanent in play. If you had both Craw Wurm and Grizzly bears in play, your Devotion rating would be at 3. Does it make sense? You’re basically adding up all the specific Mana symbols of a color.
So here’s Nylea’s Disciple. For 2GG you get a 3/3 Centaur Archer. Not a bad deal. It gets better though. When Nylea’s Disciple enters the battlefield, you gain life equal to your Green Devotion. So from our above example, if you have the Craw Wurm and Grizzle Bears in play when you summon Nylea’s Disciple, you would get 5 life as your devotion would be 5. One for the bears, two for the wurm and two for the disciple you just cast. So devotion cards become crazy awesome in the late game but also helpful in a pinch. Now devotion isn’t just healing. There are a lot of different versions and we’ll see a bunch of black ones tomorrow – one of which is just begging to be paired with a Lord of the Pit…or three.
White – Gift of Immortality
So this is an interesting card with both offensive and defensive capabilities. You pay 2W and effectively make a creature immortal. Whenever a creature enchanted with Gift of Immortality dies, it immediately returns to the battlefield under its owner’s control. Gift of Immortality returns to that creature at the beginning of the next end step. Think of the uses for this. Maybe you’re playing a goblin deck? Use this to keep your king alive. Maybe you have a creature that is a lynchpin for all your strategies? Now you don’t have to worry about losing them. Maybe you are playing a Black/White Pestilence deck? You can pair this with a creature that doesn’t have Protection from Black. Have a Legend or a card that is limited to only one copy per deck? Now it can survive indefinitely.
However there are offensive capabilities to this card as well. Imagine playing this on an opponent’s creature that has a crazy upkeep cost like Lord of the Pit. Some creature where you have to constantly spend Mana, sacrifice a creature, or destroy a land to keep them in play. Well with that Lord of the Pit, imagine playing Gift of Immortality on your opponent’s…and then playing Day of Judgment. Oh man, are they screwed! Same with this on a creature that needs land sacrifices and then playing Armageddon on them. Whoops! You can get creatively nasty with Gift of Immortality and I think we’ll see it happen as more people realize how insanely versatile this card is to have.
Black – Rescue From the Underworld
If it wasn’t for the sacrifice requirement, I’d be surprised that Rescue From the Underworld wasn’t a white card. The card isn’t amazing, but it can be useful and I really like the art. For 4B and the sacrifice of a creature, you can sift through your graveyard, pick out any creature card and put it immediately into play at the start of your next upkeep. Then you exile Rescue From the Underworld. This card can let you get one of your heavy hitters back in play, but let’s say you draw your most expensive card early on or lose it to a Hypnotic Specter or something. That’s happened to all of us multiple times. Now you can discard him into your graveyard and not only know you’ll get him back, but perhaps at less of a cost than you would have normally spent.
Red – Titan of Eternal Fire
Okay, I’ll admit it. I love this card for one big reason – it turns all your Humans into red Prodigal Sorcerers. Imagine the sheer amount of ping based direct damage you can get from this card in a red/white human oriented deck. Just gloriously hilarious.
Titan of Eternal Fire costs 5R. it’s a 5/6 creature that gives each human controlled by the player the following text: “R, Tap: This creature deals 1 damage to target creature or player.” Sweet mother of god. This adds a whole never level to say, a white weenie deck. Now you can have a white weenie deck mixed with a red direct damage deck and a few Titans of Eternal Fire for heavy blocking. This is such a simple cracktastic idea, I’m looking forward to see how clever people can get with it.
Artifact – Burnished Hart
Another pretty cut and dry card. For 3 you get a 2/2 artifact creature. Spend another three mana and sacrifice the Burnished Hart and you can search through your library, draw any two basic lands that you want and put them into play tapped. The card is by no means a must have but it can fit seamlessly into any deck, and is especially useful for those of you who have land management issues or just draw poorly. Burnished Hart is amazingly versatile and you could horribly abuse this with Gift of Immortality…
Land – Unknown Shores
This is a common but useful land. You can tap it to add one colorless mana to your pool or you can tap another land along with it to generate one of any color mana you want. Basically the land is great for dual or tri-colour decks as it prevent the usual situation of having a great card in your hand..but not enough (or any!) or the right mana. Again, it’s not a must have land by any means, but it can really come in helpful. I’m thinking sealed deck tourney players will love this.
Black/Blue – Pharika’s Mender
This is the first of the three Gold cards we’ll look at today. Pharika’s Mender is a 4/3 Gorgon for 3BG. It’s a decent price when you factor in the special ability of returning a single creature or enchantment card from your graveyard to your hand when it comes into play. It’s a simple and straightforward creature with the added bonus of giving you back a card you previously used or lost. Pharika’s Mender would be right at home with a B/G recycle deck.
Black/Blue – Shipwreck Singer
I’m kind of surprised Shripwreck Singer isn’t in the Black/Blue Theros deck, Devotion to Darkness that we’ll be looking at tomorrow as it’s a nice little card. For UB, you get a 1/2 flier with two special abilities. The first is that for 1U, a target creature controlled by an opponent must attack if able. The other is 1B and tap to give all attacking creatures -1/-1 until the end of turn. If you had several of these, you could feasibly kill a good portion of your opponent’s army by making them attack. After all, three Shipwreck Singers can causes your opponent’s attackers to lose -3/-3 to their stats. Good bye weenie decks, am I right?
Red/Green – Polis Crusher
The tenth and final card we’ll look at in this Theros preview is the Polis Crusher. This is one of my favorite creatures in the deck as it’s cheap and especially nasty. You get a 4/4 creature with Tample AND Protection From Enchantments for only 2RG. That in and of itself is a very nice deal. However it has two more special abilities that we have to look at.
The first is Monstrosity. We saw this at the beginning of the article with the Sealock Monster. For 4RG, you get three +1/+1 counters, pumping the Polis Crusher up to a 7/7 bad ass. As well, if Polis Crusher is Monstrous when it does combat damage to a player, you can destroy any target enchantment controlled by that player. Talk about insult to injury. This is just a really fun card that will see a lot of use in Red/Green decks. Hell, it’s a major piece of the Blazing Beasts of Myth deck for the Theros line.
So there we go. Ten cards from the Magic: The Gathering Theros set that releases tomorrow. Are there any particular cards you’re looking forward to getting? Any of the premade decks released for the set? Let us know in the comments section. Remember tomorrow, we’ll be posting a review of the Devotion to Darkness deck for this set, so feel free to come back then and see if you should pick that up or save your money for a different Intro Pack. See you then!