A fresh new set is fully spoiled and players sit in anticipation. We eagerly await the clock to strike Midnight this Friday so we can all finally get our hands on a new set chalk full of brand new cards to try out. It’s about this time that I get to bring you the always interesting Top 10. Without further ado.
Ready, Set, Review!
The gods, just like planeswalkers, are extremely hard to evaluate. The multicolored gods take one more devotion to turn on than their monocolored predecessors, but they also count more mana symbols in your multicolored deck.
All of these new gods have powerful abilities that are difficult to utilize. Karametra, for example, has a great effect and lets you ramp into bigger and bigger creatures. The problem is that she costs five mana and we don’t have anything worth ramping into in Standard right now.
Ephara is astounding in a deck that can utilize her to draw multiple cards a turn, but that seems unrealistic in Standard right now. Mogis may actually see play but only if making him a creature is a reliable goal in a red-black aggressive deck. Only time will tell if we have enough tools in Standard to utilize these interesting two-colored gods.
On its own merit, this phoenix provides you with a solid creature no matter which choice your opponent makes. While that makes me consider this card for Standard, the problem is it has no home.
A red-based aggro deck might want it, but four may be too much for most red aggro decks. Red-Green Monsters might give this guy a shot but there are probably better options. For now it looks like the phoenix is decent but also homeless.
As the most overhyped card in the set, we are left wanting for a replacement for the irreplaceable Dark Confidant. One thing to remember is that inspired creatures like Pain Seer are much better in a world with bestow creatures because they become harder to kill. I think this will prove to be an important aspect of limited play.
There is one scenario where Pain Seer has potential to see play in Constructed. Think about a human-based deck that can support Xathrid Necromancer and might be able to set up the following board state:
These temples may not be flashy, but they will be an important part of Standard. We have already seen how the lack of them limits deck construction, with the green-black temple in particular.
Temple of Enlightenment and Temple of Plenty have preexisting decks they will slot right into. The small consistency bonus will prove important for those strategies and make others viable that were not previously.
9. Bestow Monsters
Born of the Gods has given us two exciting new bestow creatures to play with. Both Eidolon of Countless Battles and Herald of Torment are strong on their own, but are also powerful with bestowing for an efficient cost.
White seems to have gotten much better with Born of the Gods so Eidolon might bestow his power to some creatures right away. The Herald of Torment might have a tougher time finding a home though because the black cards in Standard right now are so powerful already.
His original stats trump do Nightveil Specter, which is important. It's been a while since we have had a 3/3 flyer for three mana. I think both of these will get some time in Standard before their time is up.
This card is up for the most-discussed award. Most of my discussions start with how awesome she would be with one more loyalty or if she cost one less mana. Since neither is the case, we should focus on what she actually does.
Ideally, if the board is clear, you can start to Explorer's Scope every other turn. Kiora reminds me of Garruk Wildspeaker a little because you often alternate between his +1 and -1, and I think she'll play similarly.
Bant Midrange is getting some hype thanks to number four on this list, Courser of Kruphix. Kiora and Courser have great synergy with each other and could be the shell for a midrange ramp deck. Playing white seems like a natural inclusion not only for the removal but also because Sphinx's Revelation might be the only card worth ramping to in Standard.
Low-loyalty Kiora might not be revolutionizing Standard anytime soon, but she could be a solid role player.
7. Drown in Sorrow
Mono-Black definitely needed cards to make it better. Sorry, I know that was not a funny joke. What’s scary about this card is how much more invulnerable it makes the black devotion decks.
The best way to beat them was to be as aggressive as possible. That’s why decks like Green White Aggro and Black White Humans were so good against them. Now that Mono-Black has Infest with a free scry 1 attached, aggro decks are in for some trouble.
The one glimmer of hope is that they most likely cannot play this type of card maindeck. Drown in Sorrow is going to bring sorrow to many players in the future, but it will also be the source of many wins.
6. Bile Blight
The only issue with the efficient removal in Standard is that it is all conditional. You can only destroy a mono-colored creature or a non-black creature, or make them choose what to sacrifice. If you want to pay three mana instead you can start to Murderous Betrayal your opponents creatures with Hero's Downfall or Putrefy, but at two mana, you are stuck playing with the conditional removal.
5. Spirit of the Labyrinth
It seems like we're upgrading from “hate bears” to hate Blade of the Sixth Pride’s. Not as catchy I know, but this card was clearly upgraded from his former bear status in order to impact eternal formats.
With Divination seeing play once again and the ever-oppressive Sphinx's Revelation still dominating Standard events, Spirit of the Labyrinth seems poised to make a quick and scary impact on the metagame.
Jace, Architect of Thought does happen to sidestep the extra cards clause, but other than that, your opponent will need to answer your two-drop before they can start pulling ahead on card economy. I’m looking forward to walking the labyrinth with my opponents in the near future.
4. Courser of Kruphix
This Oracle of Mul Daya variant is starting to generate a lot of hype online and with just cause. Over the course of a game, Courser of Kruphix can generate a huge advantage for one player. The fact that he has reasonable stats is just a bonus because his ability to play lands off the top of your deck is just that good.
The synergy with cards like Domri Rade, Kiora, the Crashing Wave, or just scry lands definitely seems powerful enough to impact Standard. Starting off any game with Elvish Mystic into Courser of Kruphix seems like a powerful opening game sequence.
Even if he does not take off in Standard, the Commander crowd will automatically include him in their Born of the Gods updates.
3. Fated Retribution
Not many cards scare me the way Fated Retribution does. The main way to get an advantage against a control deck in the last couple years has been to invest in planeswalkers. With this instant-speed Planar Cleansing, your permanents are worth much less than they used to be.
Certainly you may get a few activations out of them, but the time of ultimating planeswalkers to beat control is coming to a quick end. Any instant-speed wrath effects will be powerful, but considering where we are in Magic history, destroying all the planeswalkers also might be the most powerful thing you can be doing.
Deck design will need to change based on the existence of this spell. Luckily we have gods to find advantage in rather than planeswalkers, but you should start learning to play against this wrath immediately. Your haste creatures just got worse that’s for sure. Seven mana now means more than rev for four, it means you are fated for retribution for your pre-combat actions.
If you were thinking the steep cost will prevent this from seeing play, normally I’d agree, but this is worth getting to seven mana for. Watching this spell in testing has already proven to me how potent it will be in the format.
Speaking of gods worth investing in, there is no dispute this is the best god in the set. Xenagos really made a name for himself with his ascension, that’s for sure. Any card that can be reasonably compared to my favorite planeswalker, Sarkhan Vol, has my vote, and Xenagos, God of Revels definitely fits the bill.
At five mana, Xenagos starts with an immediate impact on the board. His ability is strong enough to see play even if he does not become a creature, but making a 12/11 indestructible with haste seems like a crazy-powerful line of play as well.
When I think of how to best utilize this newly-branded god, combining him with creatures that have trample seems like the best way to kill your opponent. Otherwise they can chump your enormous attacking creature and move on with the game.
Another aspect of Xenagos is that he can fit in a preexisting strategy. Green-Red Monsters is definitely going to update to include this bad boy. As one of the best cards in the set, Xenagos will start crushing opponents immediately.
Surprise, surprise, Brimaz is the number one card for this set. Alright, I know there weren’t any surprised looks at the end of this top 10 list, but power is power and Brimaz is certainly brimming with power.
Let me first say that I definitely do not think this three-mana creature is the best card ever printed or even the best card in Standard, but he is the best card in the set. Precinct Captain already sees a ton of play and is regarded as a powerful card. Think about if his ability activated when he attacked rather than when he dealt damage. Players would be going nutty over the captain if he were worded that way, and of course Brimaz is.
Getting free 1/1 tokens is great and if left unchecked, will definitely take over the game. While not as powerful as Pack Rat, he functions the same way in that you have one turn to kill him before he starts impacting the game in snowball-like fashion.
Brimaz is not without blemish though. This cat king has one minor flaw perhaps not apparent at first glance. There will definitely be situations where you want to block with the hero of Oreskos but don’t want to block with the token you are making when you do so. Unfortunately you are forced to block with the fresh token you made, but luckily not all the tokens in play.
In addition, you are forced to attack with the new 1/1, even if you would have normally held it back. When thinking about the power level of this card, consider that your opponent will have blockers and then our expectations for this creature can be reasonably measured.
Is he strong? Of course. Is he infallible? Definitely not. After all, he still dies to removal right?
Go Forth and Brew
In conclusion, Born of the Gods has certainly given us some great new cards to play with. Standard will evolve, not as much as I would like, but we will mix it up a bit. The Limited implications of the set seem extremely fun and I can’t wait some sweet sealed and draft action.
Unfortunately, not as many cards piqued my interest as normal, but there are some new cards to brew with. New sets are so exciting.
Post in the comments your thoughts on the Top 10. Did your Top 10 end up in a different order? Did I miss a crucial card from the spoiler? Let me know below.
Until Next Time,
Unleash the New Set Force!
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