Born to Standard
Written by coboney on January 31, 2014
Welcome to the first of what will hopefully be many set reviews to come from me. This is me looking at Born of the Gods and unrelentingly making a fool of myself by giving my thoughts before I've had a chance to play with most of them. I hope offering my thoughts may help you find some idea or another.
This will be focused on standard with the odd commentary elsewhere such as modern or block. This is where I spend most of my time Ė a constructed competitive player so Iím writing from that perspective of the PTQ player and my first impressions on the set.
With that, Iíll keep the preamble short and let you read on. Feel free to post below about what you think I left out and inevitably disagree vehemently with.
Brimaz, King of Oreskos
The King of Oreos is going to be one of the big cards added to standard from Born of the Gods. 4 Toughness is huge in a format with Bile Blight now and Drown in Sorrow as well as Lightning Strike, and his ability to fight through most creatures and be a one man army are difficult to overstate. Heís going to force his way into the human decks because he is that good on both offense and defense. If some sort of token deck emerges in GW or WU he would likely be at the centre of it.
Eidolon of Countless Battles
This is a card that will see block play but whether it makes it to standard is an interesting dilemma. The three drop is a pretty strong spot power wise in white weenie but what Eidolon does provide is a strong heroic trigger as well as a worthwhile body after Ė rare for 4 mana Bestow creatures. I lean towards him not making much noise but he has the raw power with Bestow and size to prove me wrong.
This is going to see some play to the surprise of people I believe. Not necessarily main, but sideboard in UW Control that want 1-2 of this for planeswalker decks in Naya colours. There the instant speed can help and perhaps more importantly it leaves enchantments unlike Planar Cleansing, meaning that it doesnít blow up your own Detention Spheres. The ability to Scry after wrathing also helps set up your game towards the end. Overall a bad Rout is still more then playable on the whole.
Hero of Iroas
This is one of the cards I see making it if Eidolon of Countless Battles does. Going Turn 2 Hero, Turn 3 bestow with Eidolon seems pretty powerful and it helps a whole heroic deck out by making some of the creatures it wants to run have a powerful secondary mode that isnít too expensive. Its bear base stats are important Ė at 1/1 this almost certainly would be a different story.
This is another sideboard card replacing Keening Apparition, Glare of Heresy and to some degree Pithing Needle. Its ability to hit Detention Sphere, Underworld Connections and various Gods is big and by not being a creature it isnít vulnerable to various removal tricks.
Spirit of the Labyrinth
This is a card I see coming up at least in sideboard for white weenie as an anti-UW weapon to mitigate the pain of Sphinxís Revelations in the midgame. Iím not sure itís going to be good enough main Ė itís not a human and a 3/1 body is awfully fragile with no evasion Ė but against UW it might be a tool to help out given their weak card draw other than Sphinxís Revelation.
Our first blue card and it looks like we have something of a goody for mono-blue. At UUU not many other decks could cast it and clone effects arenít always where you want to be. On the other hand we have a monoblue aggressive deck and Master of Waves who begs to be cloned along with a deck wanting a strong curve of creatures Ė copying Tidebinder Mage against Green or Red also seems good. Its ability to be played as an instant lets you pseudo-protect Master of Waves tokens and when played straight curve you can set up your draws. Seems pretty solid.
Another potential goody for mono-blue if they want to play a couple of maindeck counters this is likely what weíll see. The thing is that monoblue doesnít have time to play counters until after turn 3 so its evaluation will boil down to what after turn 4 does it feel is necessary to counter? If there are a good amount of cards it thinks it can get, then we may see this coming around main Ė especially if say Drown in Sorrow makes it main in monoblack, having a counter answer of some sort will be useful.
One of the big winners of the set, black gets an answer to its 2 mana removal dilemma in Bile Blight. A BB, -3/-3 no other conditions removal spell it does the job of answering quick creatures with excellence and upside in removing any duplicates and punishing token decks. The only issue for the card is in UWB it will be inconvenient mana base wise but monoblack, white/black midrange and other black/x decks will make use of this. Echoing Decay saw play and this is an improved and more relevant version of it.
Drown in Sorrow
That sound you hear? Its aggro decks drinking to Drown their Sorrow. This cardís very existence is going to shake up the format because it gives monoblack and its derivatives a true sweeping option against decks that could previously flood the ground and overwhelm the decks 1 for 1 game plan. Drown gives it a cheap effective mass removal option so it will require other plans against monoblack. Whether it sees play main will probably depend on the metagame but just as an option it affects things.
Herald of Torment
Black doesnít get many goodies like this Ė a 3/3 flyer for 3 with upside in the Bestow ability means that itís something to look at. It may see play in some sort of more aggressive monoblack list that tries to speed up its clock and maintain its devotion mechanic. Additionally some sort of Rakdos aggro might be interested in it as a solid three drop.
One of the more controversial cards in the set Ė let me start off by saying, this is not Dark Confidant. On the other hand even a very bad riff of Dark Confidant is worth looking at. It has to attack and takes a turn longer to get online but the fact is that in WB Human and Esper decks itís possible to see play because it is an aggressive human who produces advantage. Otherwise and in older formats forget it I think.
A 3 damage attacker in black for 2 mana is always worth looking at because they are rather uncommon and this one is interesting. If there is some sort of monoblack for black heavy aggro deck I expect this will be part of it for its ability to aggressively start games and in the late game provide aggressive reach.
Archetype of Aggression
The only Archetype to make it here this is aggressively costed as a 3/2 for 3 in red. That size plus granting trample to all of your dudes and himself makes him a solid part for the GR Monsters deck to look at for both speed and helping it get over blockers in the late game. The deck ran Nylea more or less for that Ė this seems to be an overall upgrade there.
Those white aura guys with heroic focus are looking for partners and this here is one. On his own heís rather unimpressive but triggering heroic, giving a small boost and leaving a body that can be pumped in the late game make it well worth considering for such a deck along with Hero of Iroas, Anax and Cymede amongst others.
In the run of good 4 drops in red lately Felhide Spiritbinder is another one from the Minotaur clan that provides a decent 3/4 body and can produce additional damage each turn. For your top end of curve you could do much worse than this guy who will be producing damage and dudes each turn.
Oracle of Bones
Another 4 mana aggressive Minotaur this is our first look at Tribute that I think was merited. Tribute is what is known as a punisher mechanic that was first popularized on Browbeat. This means that it offers your opponent two choices, both of which hurt. Due to Tribute giving a creature regardless it is one of the stronger punisher mechanics but you have to evaluate each half of the card effectively.
As a 3/1 Haste on its own it isnít very impressive but I will note that Haste gives it a nice closing ability but letís take a look at his Tribute options. Tribute 2 means heís a 5/3 Haste when paid his tribute which I donít think will happen too often but getting a free burn spell off of a 3/1 Haste (Play an instant or sorcery for free) seems like a way to close out 6-7 damage from one guy pretty consistently.
A goody burnspell for red that attempts to be Searing Blaze but isnít quite. Still even a close imitator to that is good against various aggressive decks probably merits consideration in various red lists for its ability to kill and burn though its uselessness vs control and questionable merits against midrange will limit its play.
Oh look! Itís Honey Badger!
Courser of Kruphix
This looks like if you made Oracle of Mul Daya but aimed it at aggro matches instead of control. Instead of ramping you get life and a sizable butt on the creature and in some sort of green/x (or bant) midrange deck it seems like it can hold the ground while generating advantage in the game to help the deck get to its mid game.
This card, while vulnerable to Bile Blight seems like a perfect fit for the flash deck and a good way for green to answer wraths by dropping 6 power of creatures for 5 mana at EOT. There is a lot of power here and I think it will see a good amount of at least SB play while itís in standard.
Raised by Wolves
Another spell in green that puts out 6 power consistently for 5 mana it also does 2 of it as pseudo-haste but it has the vulnerability of an aura. Still 6 power for 5 mana is always worth considering and this might see some play in green decks given it also ups devotion and can make mana dudes useful later on Ė and grows based on mutavault. It will see block play Iím sure Ė how much standard play Iím not sure but Iíve got an eye on it.
An interesting way to get lands and stock graveyards this will become a staple in the (bad) GB graveyard decks and might see play elsewhere as good fixing outside of lands isnít too good right now and a cheap blocker who gets a land is worth some value.
Ephara, God of the Polis
This is an interesting card Ė drawing is always a powerful ability of course (cards are the most limited resource in magic). Epharaís turning into a creature happens when you have 5 other blue or white mana devotion (it says 7 but Ephara counts for two), which is more a bonus then something you can plan on getting the 6/5 body though it is nice with Detention Sphere. So youíre playing it for the card draw with occasional upside. Now where it can be useful is in a Flash aggro deck getting two cards from it a turn and potentially in a UW Devotion shell Ė U playing a bit more controllish using Ephara and Detention Sphere in white with Ephara being a less explosive but more consistent Bident.
Phenax, God of Deception
Donít let him deceive you Ė itís a TRAP!
Mogis, God of Slaughter
Another potentially impactful card, Mogis presents a card that can apply consistent damage without further investment against control and in aggro matches can turn into a field dominating guy or help adjust the clock. Rakdos is happy to gain the God of Slaughter and get some extra ongoing reach from it.
Just to comment Ė he will see play in block and if Minotaurs are a thing he is why as much as anything as cutting costs has always been a powerful ability. The reserve list though sadly has struck again as the minotaur tribe is unable to count on Didgerdoo getting reprinted so will have to rely on fairer methods of speeding up like this.
Fanatic of Xenagos
So 3 mana, 3/3 Trample. So far pretty standard but he has Tribute 1 Ė so either you get a 4/4 trample for 3 OR you get a 3/3 Haste, Trample with +1/+1 till end of turn. On the whole this looks like a good guy for an aggressive take on monsters, hitting on turn 3, hard and avoiding Drown in Sorrow.
Xenagos, God of Revels
I confess, Iím somewhat split on Xenagos. He seems like he should slot into monsters but it feels a bit almost like overkill and he doesnít give trample or anything other than making monsters super monsters. Thatís powerful but Iím having doubts itís enough.
Kiora, the Crashing Wave
Kiora is another card Iím split on. Its 2 initial loyalty is a BIG issue as it means even using its +1 its very vulnerable to burn and attacks. Still it can protect to some extent, its -1 is a powerful Explore ability and its -5 ultimate wins the game. If there is a GU ramp deck I have come down that Kiora will be part of it.
Speaking GU Ramp, if there is one it will be in part because this guy is an enabler for it. An improved Voyaging Satyr with more power and flexibility it can help ramp up quickly.
Temple of Enlightenment, Temple of Malice, Temple of Plenty
Do you need me to tell you these are good? If so then I will maliciously point you to plenty of enlightenment Ė lands that give 2 colours and scry are good.
Overall Born to the Gods looks to be a decent set despite the cries that come out every set of it sucking. Hereís a quick review of what I think are the most impactful cards on standard
1) Phenax, God of Deception
2) Temple of Enlightenment
3) Temple of Malice
4) Temple of Plenty
5) Bile Blight
6) Drown in Sorrow
7) Brimaz, King of Oreos
8) Pain Seer
9) Courser of Kruphix
10) Kiora, the Crashing Wave
That list is of course totally certain to be wrong but I leave you with this thought Ė prepare for Black and White as they are some of the big winners of this set.
by _Godica on 2014-01-31 22:28 CET
I can only assume you are joking about Phenax...if you don't have a board presence it does nothing, and if you do have a board presence Jace 5 is much better.
by coboney on 2014-01-31 22:47 CET
Its meant as a joke yes. He IS the God of Deception after all.
by fierybolt on 2014-02-01 23:57 CET
less phenax and more phoenix, is a bomb
by coboney on 2014-02-02 00:04 CET
Fierybolt, I don't think so for standard because it is competing at a very full spot in red. 4 Mana is always a tough competition and it will typically 'just' be a 4 mana 5/5 flying. I think it might possibly sneak into Devotion but I think that there are better options in aggressive builds because they want haste a lot of the times or something that is able to close a game more conclusively.
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