It is a time honored tradition on the Destroy Target Permanent podcast to come up with our Top 10 cards for each upcoming set. I have to say that Theros: Beyond Death was a tough nut to crack and I’ve already had some hits and misses. So now let’s look at my list and where I think the cards stand now following the Early Access streamer event put on by Wizards of the Coast.
10. Thassa, Deep-Dwelling
This card should have been much higher on my list. This sea god and I are old friends. Originally, this card was in the last slot on my list because I wasn’t confident that it would be a role player in the format but, I was really hoping it would find a home.
This was, from my point of view, the breakout card during the early access event. The decks that utilize this card aren’t really concerned with having the devotion for Thassa to become a creature. The triggered ability that is on this enchantment creature is where a lot of the power lies. The ability to re-trigger enter-the-battlefield effects is extremely powerful, but that’s not the coolest trick that players have been implementing. Thassa, Deep-Dwelling in conjunctions with the temporary creature theft spells in red has proven nigh unbeatable in creature based match-ups.
What occurs in this interaction is that Thassa blinks the creature that you have “borrowed” from your opponent and returns it to the battlefield under your control. This means that the creature remains under you control for the remainder of the game.
9. Omen of the Sea
Omen of the Sea is basic as close to Preordain as we’re ever going to get. Many of the enchantments-matter decks that I have seen use this card to great effect.
8. Polukranos, Unchained
My opinion of this card was definitely colored by nostalgia. I have no problem admitting that. Through the games that I observed, this card is just okay. Nothing really special and ole Poly-K doesn’t add anything unique to green black strategies. Nissa, Who Shakes the World is better than this card by leaps and bounds; it’s also more difficult to remove.
Throughout the recent releases of Magic sets, “big dumb creatures” just don’t seem to impress. This monstrous hydra falls into this same category as it’s predecessors. Trample would have given this creature the bump that it needs to be really powerful and separate it from the previous iteration.
7. Klothys, God of Destiny
Klothys is an odd one and my judgement is still out on the god of destiny. There are scenarios where this card serves as an indestructible, one-sided Pyrostatic Pillar. With that I don’t have too much more to say about this card just yet.
6. Shatter the Sky
Unconditional four mana sweepers aren’t some that we have in abundance these days. There’s always some sort of restriction placed on what the “wraths” can and can’t kill.
Where this wrath does shine however is against such snow-ball inducing type cards as Gray Merchant of Asphodel.Gray Merchant costs five mana so Shatter the Sky gives you the ability to clean up all of the creatures providing devotion before the merchant arrives on the battlefield.
5. The Demigod Cycle
So I cheated a little with this entry, but I do believe all five of the demigods have the potential to see play in standard. For those who don’t know the demigods are Daxos, Blessed by the Sun; Callaphe, Beloved of the Sea; Tymaret, Chosen from Death; Anax, Hardened in the Forge; Renata, Called to the Hunt.
All of them have care about your devotion to their color, buffing either their power or toughness. Since they are all enchantment creature they also have a unique ability that can have a power impact on the game.
Let’s say that this is a list within a list.
1. Renata, Called to the Hunt
2. Tymaret, Chosen from Death
3. Callaphe, Beloved of the Sea
4. Daxos, Blessed by the Sun
5. Anax, Hardened in the Forge
Each of these legendary enchantment creatures has proven themselves as players in the format and it only goes up from here.
4. Woe Strider
Let’s call Woe Strider what it is, a safe bet. We’re all used to sacrifice decks in standard by now and this is a fantastic pickup for those decks.
Woe Strider is a free sacrifice outlet that also allows you to smooth out your draws in a type of deck that doesn’t always have access to such an effect. It goes without saying that this card is bananas when paired with Mayhem Devil.
3. Underworld Breach
This may be one of the more unique card designs that we’ve seen in some time. The cards effect is something we have seen before but the execution is something new entirely. Underworld Breach screams “I go in some sort of combo deck”. I don’t know exactly what that deck looks like yet.
I have to admit that after seeing the card in practice, it has so much more promise in older formats. This should come as a surprise to no one.
2. Ox of Agonas
Our bovine friend here just may be the card to help my beloved Arclight Phoenix rise from the ashes in standard. Ox of Agonas is a powerhouse in any deck that employs it.
This is the new way to get our phoenixes in the graveyard that also acts as a threat in the later stages of the game.
1. Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
It ramps, it gains life, it attacks and it protects, Uro does it all. I have come around to the fact that this may not have been my number one card from the set. Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath has a similar problem that we discussed with Polukranos, Unchained. The majority, if not all, of decks in standard contain Growth Spiral. So the question that I pose is, do both cards go in the same deck or do you just play one? My answer is it depends on what type of deck you’re playing and what you ultimately are looking to accomplish with your game plan.
For ramp decks this card single handedly solves one of the oldest problems that have plagued this archetype, drawing the wrong half of your deck. I have seen it happen time and time again, you either draw all of your ramp and none of the payoffs or you draw only the payoffs and no ramp. Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath is both of those at different stages of the game.
If you are in another archetype that is more interested in the creature have of this card and not so much the value from the initials cast then the ramp and life is just gravy. Don’t get me wrong this card is great, yet not unbeatable.
Ten Says He Shorts It.
So where does that leave us? At my revised top ten that’s where.
10. Omen of the Sea
9. The Demigods
8. Ashiok, Nightmare Muse
7. Klothys, God of Destiny
6. Shatter the Sky
5. Woe Strider
4. Ox of Agonas
3. Dream Trawler
2. Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
1. Thassa, Deep-Dwelling
This top ten was made after the early access streamer event for Theros: Beyond Death so I have an idea how a lot of these cards play out. The new entries into the list are Ashiok, Nightmare Muse and Dream Trawler, both of which greatly over performed. The return of the nightmarish fiend Ashiok just may rival Teferi, Hero of Dominaria's power. Ashiok, as well as Dream Trawler, dominate the board once they resolve. Dream Trawler is the card that may single handedly make control an playable archetype in standard again. The Trawler is extremely difficult to remove from the battlefield with a little creativity.
I’m fully aware that things may still sway my opinion since we just had our opportunity to play with the cards for the first time during the prerelease weekend.
Join me next week as I recap my prerelease weekend and dive headfirst into the brews I’m most excited about playing for week one.
Until then good luck, I hope you lose!