When I approach life, I have a genuinely positive attitude. Whether it be finding the bright side to my new work schedule or focusing on which events I will be able to attend, I always try to find the upside. Why focus on what you can’t control? Instead, find the positive things about whatever situation you find yourself in.
Don’t look at that sealed pool and think, man this is the worst pool I’ve ever seen, I should just drop now. Why not think, how can I build a deck from this pool that will win? When you start having that type of attitude, you will find yourself winning more games. Analyze the situation and your deck then figure out a line of play that will win you the game. Look for your outs instead of resigning to losing the game.
Many writers and players have expressed some negative opinions about Theros as a set. I’ve heard a lot about how awful the new mechanics are and how slow the sealed format is. What I am not hearing much about is how fun the sealed format is or how epic the flavor is.
Sure sealed might be slow, but there are a lot of interactive games for a set with such high-cost removal. This set is drenched with Greek flavor and a pile of fun to play with. For a player like me who loves sealed, this is a great set to play a lot of matches with. Sure it will test your skill as a player and make you find interesting lines of play, but these things just help you become a better player.
In terms of Constructed, this set is filled with impactful cards. The only problem is that the cards are hard to evaluate. Theros is filled with interesting and unique cards. When a set is released with cards that have vastly new effects on games, sometimes it takes extensive testing to determine their effectiveness.
The gods are a perfect example. I’m sure in your prerelease adventures you played against or saw someone play with the new god cards, but they are all extremely good. Even though they are great in Limited, that doesn’t mean their power level will be the same in Constructed. It’s possible that because of cards like Boros Reckoner, Nightveil Specter, and maybe even Rubblebelt Raiders, five devotion will be easier for a constructed deck than it is in limited, but only time will tell. Theros seems like a great set for Standard, so let’s dig in!
Without further ado, I present to you,
All of these new removal spells seem quite good and will be played. None of them overly impressed me though. Chained to the Rocks really costs more than one mana unless you have a Sacred Foundry, Dissolve is really just Cancel with small upside similar to Dissipate, and Hero's Downfall costs three just like Accessories to Murder did. Lightning Strike is an exact replica of Searing Spear, but that’s not a bad thing either.
All of these cards are solid role playing removal spells and all will be played, but I don’t think they deserve the coveted MtgJedi on Twitter Top 10 spot.
For me, this was a close call. Savannah Lions is an old favorite of mine and this card has two abilities on top of being aggressively costed! That being said, he is still just a one-mana 2/1. You are not gonna win the game with him alone. He has impressed me in testing though and is sure to see play.
A card that can make as many tokens as this guy always catches my eye. Master of Waves is the blue Deranged Hermit and that’s pretty awesome. This guy is dripping with flavor. Get it? Dripping? …Because he’s in the water.
Anyway, if I can find a home for this guy, I think he will be amazing, but that is yet to happen. He may go in a deck with Omenspeaker and/or Thassa, God of the Sea, both of which have been better than I expected in testing the new format.
Decent but Just Okay
Here is a list of cards that I think will be impactful but come up a little short in my eyes:
It’s not that these cards are bad, quite the opposite. Each of them will find a glimmer of hope in someone’s deck, but they are not the hype-driven beasts they claim to be.
Even Polukranos seems like just a four mana 5/5. Ten years ago, he would have impressed me beyond belief, but now I just see him as clunky and hard to use effectively. Maybe I am suffering from Doom Blade delusions, but I think I have all of these cards pegged correctly as the last man on the team. Sadly even the oh-so-promising Fleecemane Lion is not as grand as he first appeared.
Are players really gonna jam Jackal Pup with a slight upside in Standard? We are long since past this card’s time to shine. I've cast more than my fair share of Jackal Pups and defended them every step of the way, but the ground is filled with more troops than ever before.
Make him a 3/1 for one if you want to get my attention, but this I will gladly play against. Seeing Firedrinker Satyr in Mono Red decks with a couple passable burn spells is like trying to convince me Legion Loyalist is a good card even though it is really just Raging Goblin.
It’s just not going to work. Save yourself the pain of having your Satyr and your face burned by some mortars made of Mizzium. Best. Searing. Blaze. Ever.
Apparently the whole of the Magic community thinks Magical Xmasland is a real place. This card is about as real as a Tarmogoyf reprint in Standard put there specifically to keep the Jace, the Mind Sculptor 2.0 in check. This shrine is neither Cabal Coffers nor Gaea's Cradle and it’s not particularly close. Play any of the other shrines instead of this one and you’ll be better off.
This is the second coming of Umezawa's Jitte! In what world? Anyone making this claim fails to remember every player including Jitte in their own deck just to fight against every other Jitte. I can assure you that no one is going to play the slow bow in order to mitigate other players from stringing their bow.
Bow strings aside, this artifact seems reasonable, just not over-the-top amazing as some are claiming. My first hand experience playing this card in Limited helped me see just how mediocre all the abilities it grants are. Often it rotted in my hand unstrung while I beat down with some monstrous creatures from Greek mythology.
The Theros Top 10
Really? I can almost hear you all asking yourselves if you should actually be reading a top ten set list that starts with a narrow sideboard card like Glare of Heresy. What you should be asking is why other authors aren't including one of the best sideboard cards in their discussions of this set.
Glare of Heresy might not be the best card in every Standard format, but it’s certainly potent right now. It gives you a cheap way to deal with anything in White Weenie, but more importantly it gives you a way to remove Heliod, God of the Sun or his weapon, Spear of Heliod. Neither of those two cards are easy to remove with the current card pool.
The list doesn’t stop there though. We have other heavy hitters such as Boros Reckoner, Detention Sphere, Voice of Resurgence and Trostani, Selesnya's Voice. Even though the most apt comparison may be to Celestial Purge, I think Glare of Heresy will have a larger impact from the board than Purge did. I wouldn’t leave home without at least a couple in my board.
Magma Jet is a card that I knew was going to be on my top 10 as soon as I saw it on the spoiler. It’s been over a decade since we last saw the scry shock and now a whole new generation of players get to experience this burn spell first hand.
You may be thinking that it is underpowered but if that’s the case, I doubt you have cast it many times. Magma Jet is subtly powerful so it may take a little while for players to catch on the same way it did last time. There is a reason that I had more Magma Jets than any other uncommon. Scry 2 is much better than scry 1, so don’t be the last one on this band wagon.
Players are talking about Whip of Erebos like it’s Recurring Nightmare or Sneak Attack or something. I doubt this clunky enchantment can live up to the avalanche of hype it has picked up, but it does deserve a spot on the list.
The possibility of Reanimator being a deck draws almost as many players as Mono Black Control, but I think Scavenging Ooze and Deathrite Shaman might have some words with you if you start down that road.
With that being said, I think it has a home right beside Obzedat, Ghost Council. If you are playing Ghost Dad 2.0, you should definitely be whipping them too. In case you don’t know, by stacking the triggers, you get to keep a whipped Obzedat after it should be removed from the whip. It’s a pretty neat interaction. It feels a little like cheating, but it’s totally legit.
The main aspect of the card that is important is granting lifelink. Because your creatures gain lifelink the turn you play it, the drawback of not being able to activate it in the same turn is not an issue. Most likely this will be a two of, so it does not make your draws clunky.
If BWR Midrange is tier 1, like it looks to be, you will be seeing a lot of Erebos’s weapon. Just when I thought Thragtusk rotated out of Standard, Whip of Erebos comes along to help Obzedat impersonate him pretty well.
Coming in at number seven on the list we have Xenagos, the Reveler. Many an author, his brother and his brother's best friend has tried to compare the new red-green planeswalker to Garruk Wildspeaker but I think that is the most accurate way to describe him. Both of them have mana abilities as well as being able to make a creature.
Xenagos seems just okay to me. The ability to make a 2/2 haste every turn is decent against a control deck and the mana ability is sometimes relevant. I thought his ultimate was weak before I tested against it. The speed of the ultimate is a reasonable number of turns after you cast him and if you have any creatures with haste in your deck, the ability is likely to end the game.
Against another aggressive or midrange deck, they won’t have a way to remove your new army either. However, against a control deck, I think I would go for the extra +1 before I used the -6 ability. Finally, if there is a ramp deck that is good enough, I think Xenagos is perfect for it seeing as how all the mana acceleration we have right now is from your creatures rather than spells.
When I saw Read the Bones on the spoiler I thought it was a fake card, that’s how powerful it is. Sure you are only getting a Blood Divination or more expensive Sign in Blood out of it, but when you have some measure of control over the cards you draw that adds to the potency of the spell. The more apt comparison would be to Foresee.
Regardless of which card you are comparing it to, the fact is that Read the Bones is the most powerful card drawing spell we have seen since Preordain. This black spell is so powerful that it may even see play in Modern.
Wait, what? It has other text!?
The anthem effect alone would still be playable in today’s Standard, but another ability on top of an already solid card is pushing it in terms of power level. While not quite as powerful as I previously thought, the killing creatures ability forces your opponent to play the game much differently than they are used to.
Make certain you understand you can only kill creatures that have dealt damage to YOU. If you block or they block, you cannot spear them. This near strict upgrade is potent enough to see play in multiple decks in Standard so watch out for it.
Of all of the gods, Purphoros, God of the Forge is the one that will see the most play. At the moment, this enchantment has all of my attention. It is currently my favorite card in the set and I am constantly thinking about new ways to abuse it. Over the next couple weeks, you will definitely see some articles about this card and how to maximize its power in Standard.
In case you are curious, I don’t care much for the other gods. The reason why is because if they stay enchantments the entire game they won’t have much of an impact. Heliod, God of the Sun seems decent because he is most likely a creature as long as you are playing White Weenie. Thassa, God of the Sea might be the other exception because scry 1 every turn is very powerful.
As far as Erebos, God of the Dead and Nylea, God of the Hunt are concerned, neither of them do much. All of the gods feel the same way titans did to me when they were first released so maybe all of them will end up being playable. I will say, the bigger Standard gets, the better the gods get as well. More cards equals more ways to make them creatures more efficiently.
Purphoros is different from the other gods because he rewards you for playing the game. That’s right, he rewards you for just playing the cards you would normally be playing anyway…creatures. If your deck has red mana and creatures, Purphoros is the god for you.
He will obviously be as good in Mono Red as Heliod is in Mono white because since all of your creatures are red, once you have a bunch of them in play, the god of the forge will be ready to strike for you. Unlike the other gods though, he can be the centerpiece of many decks. Even though Purphoros reminds me of Assemble the Legion because they are both cards that take a turn to become active, being a mana cheaper makes that tempo loss easier to overcome.
The loss of a turn is worth your time to wait. Cast some guys after you have the forgemaster in play and you will quickly see what I'm talking about. The only question left is, are you ready to face the heat of the forge?
When I was doing my initial work on this article as cards were being spoiled, there was no question in my mind Thoughtseize would be my #1. What changed? Look below to find out. Listen, we all know this is the best hand hate spell of all time and we all know it will be good in Standard.
Honestly I am not certain though that it will be a maindeck card. At least for the moment, I think it belongs in the sideboard of a couple different decks.
What will change my mind is if some better black cards see print in the next couple sets. Right now, there are not enough cards to assemble a solid tempo deck that supports black mana. Maybe someone else will be able to find the right selection of cards, but I couldn’t make anything work. But Thoughtseize is still grossly overpowered so as the format evolves it will probably be adopted by something.
How are players supposed to beat this new Elspeth? I hope that tells you how good this planeswalker is, but if not, let me try to convince you some more. Captain's Call costs four mana, four mana! Elspeth’s +1, that you can do every single turn, is a free four mana spell! What you should be asking yourself is, how is that not insane?
On top of that, you can cast Retribution of the Meek at some point as well. Don’t worry though, when you kill a bunch of your opponents’ creatures you still get to keep all the tokens you made. After a while, you can make your creatures huge as well to finish your opponent off swiftly.
Elspeth does it all. How is anyone supposed to win against this planeswalker? She is going to prove to everyone that not only are six-mana planeswalkers playable, but they are powerful as well. Your control deck won’t be the same without her. One thing that does remove her though is Glare of Heresy.
Anger of the Gods is too powerful to see print and to be honest, I have a little Anger of the Gods inside me that it is included in this set. The new Slagstorm changes everything. No longer are your aggressive decks safe from controlling opponents. No longer will your Voice of Resurgence or Xathrid Necromancer be potent threats.
Not only do you need to relearn how to play around Counterspell (no more Cavern of Souls to lean on), you also need to play around three-mana Final Judgment. It's not fair! Anger of the Gods is going to ruin a lot of players' fun in Standard, that is for certain. Loxodon Smiter never looked so good in my whole life.
Anger of the Gods alone has changed the landscape of Standard more than any other card in the set. I would be expecting some red mana from your control decks in the near future my friends.
If you disagree with my Top 10, post yours below. No matter what though, don’t fall behind. Start scrying with your lands asap. Once you start you won’t ever go back.
Until Next Time,
Unleash the Theros Force!
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