Insider: One Last Look at Theros Block Constructed

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It feels like not very long ago we were talking about the “new enchantment block. With Gods!”

But that was actually like eight months ago, and these days both Theros and its gods have fallen, both in price and in the literal sense.

I’ve talked the last several weeks about Theros block, both because of the Pro Tour and its possible impact on Standard next year. At the risk of everyone being tired of the block and its million Prognostic Sphinxes, I want to talk one more time about it now that we have Pro Tour results to analyze.

Again, the point of this exercise is to not to evaluate what will grow in price from the Pro Tour, because that’s not really a thing this year. And it’s not like Block matters from this point on.

Rather, the point is to evaluate the cards and decks that will be strong enough to make it into Standard. That means we’re looking for powerful cards and decks rather than just synergistic like Eidolon of Blossoms, a deck that got away with playing a few subpar cards because the format was slow enough to allow it to build that long-term advantage.

So let’s dig in.

The Top 8

You can find the Top 8 lists here.

Looking over the lists, there is one thing that should stand out to you more than anything else: 28 Courser of Kruphix and 24 Sylvan Caryatid. 10 Ashiok. 20 Hero's Downfall. 15 Elspeth. 12 Sphinx.

Those all make sense. But what about 19 Silence the Believers? Anyway, if you want a cross-section of the format, that picture tells you quite a bit but not everything.

For example, the most prominent thing about Block is that there was no available Wrath variant outside of Fated Retribution, a card that no one played (though maybe they should have, given how long games went). That fact allowed Sphinx to rule the roost since it was practically unkillable, but it also meant that Caryatid never died and Courser never stopped providing incremental advantage.

That last sentence really defines the format, and anything good in that environment was powerful. If that’s the format you can expect after rotation, you can basically expect the same cards to dominate.

But I really don’t anticipate that being the case. If memory serves, there hasn’t been a Standard format without a Wrath variant since at least Magic 2010, which means it’s unlikely we’ll have one this coming rotation. Keep a close eye on Magic 2015, since that’s the most likely place to find a Wrath, probably in the form of Day of Judgment.

That said, if it doesn’t happen you can pretty much expect the Standard format post-rotation to feature many of the same cards since they’re so good in that environment, even if the shells of the decks they’re in change.

So what about the aggro decks we heard so much about? Well, they mostly got cut out of the Top 8, though one of my favorite picks for next year, Herald of Torment, did sneak into the Top 8.

I also like Silence the Believers. I put a notice on it a few weeks ago as a casual card to watch out for because the exile clause and scalability give it nice long-term appeal. Well, it turns out it’s also enough for Constructed, and I expect this to stick around after rotation simply due to how flexible it is. While something like Elspeth certainly has some clear upside, the fact that the buy-in is so high makes it a little less appealing, at least in percentage terms, compared to something like Silence the Believers.

Speaking of planeswalkers, Ashiok is also very good in a slower environment and is at an all-time low of $6. Assuming no reprints, I have to assume $5 is the floor in both the short and long term. I like getting into these because even if they don’t pay off next season they are a safe long-term play. And this was all over the room, if only in the sideboard.

The Not Top 8

While the Aggro decks outside of R/W Heroic may not have made it into the Top 8, they were well-represented among the decks that did well, which you can find here.

That list of decks is usually more enlightening than the Top 8 lists, to be honest. And in those decks, we find 10 playing Herald of Torment, which I suggested picking up at the $1.50 presale price and still like at the $2 they can be found for now.

I don’t know (read: I doubt) that there will be “another Desecration Demon” next season because it’s unlikely there will be a deck as dominant as Mono-Black was earlier this season. That said, if there is to be a card that fits the bill it will be something like Herald of Torment: powerful on its own, flexible in how it can be played and able to fit into several different decks. That’s a role that Herald fills much better than something like Master of the Feast.

Another card that I find appealing is Hero of Iroas, which has a fair amount of casual appeal baked on top of an attractive print run (i.e. not the first set of the block). Furthermore, the decks it appeared in are all somewhat “budget,” which means a few things financially.

When budget-conscious players try to put together a deck, they don’t mind shelling out decent money for a few cards if the rest of the deck is draft leftovers. And with goodies like Stratus Walk and Ordeal of (whatever you want), these Heroic decks certainly qualify. Outside of Brimaz and some lands, these are very inexpensive decks, so there’s definite room for Hero to grow.

Mana Confluence will return to being $15-18. I get that several of the decks playing it at the Pro Tour will have better mana in Standard and won't need to kill themselves with it, but keep in mind we're basically at peak supply for this thing right now. It's going to get reprinted at some point, but it's going to be in demand across formats between now and then, and likely won't be cheaper than it will be in the next month or so.

That pretty much wraps up my major impressions from the format. I expect the cards that were well-represented in the Top 8 to show some growth heading into next season, particularly those that are from Born of the Gods or especially Journey Into Nyx, simply because there are so many fewer out there.

By the way, within a year you can expect Banishing Light to be the next Boros Charm, a $2-3 uncommon even after a reprinting. The newest Oblivion Ring is simply too good and too in-demand across multiple formats to not be worth a few dollars before it gets reprinted into oblivion.

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

2 thoughts on “Insider: One Last Look at Theros Block Constructed

  1. Master of Feasts will be the new Desecration Demon (barring something coming in M15 or Khans of Tarkir). I think you play both in a mono-B aggro deck, especially since you can curve into the Bestow of Herald.

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