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Jun 07 2014

Multiplayer Madness V – My Personal THEROS Top 10 Multiplayer Cards

Hello everybody! I’m glad you’re back!

I always love Spoiler Season. As soon as the spoilers start, I am usually glued to my computer, excited and a bit nervous as well. I know there will always be cards I want to have as soon as possible, but what about the overall set? Will it be any good for multiplayer? Will I find cards for my existing decks? Or better yet, will there be any cards that make me want to build a new deck?
Ah, the suspense, the tension!

But Kuchisama, isn’t this article about Theros?

Uhm, yes.

And wasn’t that set released months ago?

Uh, I guess you’re right again. But then, I also like to take stock of the situation a few months after a set release and to reflect on the cards I ordered and whether they have lived up to my expectations.
So today, I’ll have a look at Theros and the goods it brought to us for interesting and fun multiplayer games. Born of the Gods and Journey into Nyx shall follow soon.

The Mechanics of THEROS

First of all, I have to admit that I wasn’t all that impressed by our trip into Greek mythology. The atmospheric background was nice and all but not really up my alley. And some of the mechanics of Theros aren’t well-suited for multiplayer either. Let’s have a look!

Heroic: This tends to get you two-for-oned which may be even worse in multiplayer than it already is in duels. Also, the bonuses you get from heroic abilities tend to be mediocre in most cases (Setessan Battle Priest says hi!). Sadly, there are only few exceptions (although one of them actually made my personal Top 10).

Bestow: Oh well, if only the bestow costs were lower… This ability could have been a huge success. In multiplayer, creatures die all the time, and being able to keep something on the battlefield if somebody wipes the board is always interesting and can be downright powerful (see Woodfall Primus or Wurmcoil Engine for example). I guess the bestow creatures are just not impressive enough.

Devotion: This ability actually isn’t too bad. What I certainly don’t like though is that it forces you to play as few colors as possible – and I’ve never been a monocolor fan myself. However, if you’re fine with that, there are some very powerful devotion cards out there. Also, don’t forget that hybrid cards (such as Kitchen Finks) count towards all of their colors.

Monstrosity: Actually a fairly interesting mechanic as it grants you options if you have the mana and also allows you to spend mana if you have nothing better to do. Most activations are quite expensive though. The effects cover the whole range from boring and rather negligible (Nessian Asp) to strong and useful (Arbor Colossus).

Scry: This ability had its debut in Fifth Dawn and always is a welcome addition to any card it appears on. In Theros, most notable and best-known are probably the Temples that scry 1 when they enter the battlefield, although there are a few others that have proven themselves over time.

There is also a bit of an enchantment theme in Theros, with enchantment creatures making their reappearance after Lucent Liminid hinted at their existence in Future Sight a few years ago. It’s up to you whether you like that theme or not. I myself am fine with it but would also not complain if it had never happened.

Honorable Mentions

So, let’s come to the meat of this article, Theros in multiplayer Magic.
There is a number of cards I like but that didn’t quite make the cut in my personal Top 10:

Gift of ImmortalitySakura-Tribe Elder and Ravenous Baloth send their regards. According to my playgroup, this is a really annoying card to play against.

Bident of Thassa – This thing can dominate a game all on its own. Nevertheless, I have also seen it do absolutely nothing.

Ashen Rider – A tad too expensive, even though I think that the mana cost is fair. Evil in combination with Unburial Rites and a sac outlet.

Hundred-Handed One – A nice blocker. But in the end, that’s almost all it is as it doesn’t have any kind of evasion even in its monstrous form. Very thematic design though, for what it’s worth.

The Podium

So, with that out of the way, here are my personal top 10 Theros multiplayer cards:

10. Agent of the Fates – This is the only heroic card to make my list. And it wouldn’t be here either if it didn’t have deathtouch. Ouch, that’s definitely a harsh assessment. But true. Oh, and I have a deck with this, Evershrike and Rancor that is lots of fun. Agent of the Fates went right in when it came out and has not disappointed me yet, so it must have something going for it.

9. Anger of the Gods – A combination of good early defense and the opportunity to annoy graveyard-based decks. Not spectacular but very useful.

8. Gray Merchant of Asphodel – Some people might complain that this isn’t ranked higher. Let me tell you, I have a deck where this guy is an absolute bomb and my most powerful win condition, able to kill the whole table in one shot. However, if I draw only him and nothing else, he just sucks. Draining everyone for 2 and gaining six or eight life? That does not accomplish anything but putting a target on your head. So you need to set it up: with a Demigod of Revenge in hand, cast Buried Alive for three more Demigods. Cast the Demigod from your hand, bringing back those in your graveyard. Attack with your hasty air force for 20. Next turn, cast Gray Merchant of Asphodel to finish them off. He is powerful, yes, but he can’t do it on his own. So for me, number 8 it is. Also, the art is … uhm … not so pretty.

7. Reaper of the Wilds – A 4/5 with three abilities for four mana!? Whoa, anybody else remember when Erhnam Djinn was considered a powerful card? We’ve obviously come a long, long way since then. The Reaper can quickly sift through your deck and smoothe out your draws but becomes weaker if your playgroup prefers exiling effects such as Sever the Bloodline or Detention Sphere instead of destroy and sacrifice variants like Terminate, Divine Verdict or Fleshbag Marauder. As a defensive creature, it functions more like a rattlesnake that deters attackers (if you manage to repeatedly keep open) and that can be difficult to remove thanks to hexproof. A great package in a single card!

6. Thassa, God of the Sea – I still think that Thassa is a strange one. On the one hand, she provides early value by scrying every turn, granting you a lot of control over what you draw. On the other hand, the last ability seems more like an option for when the game has ground to a halt. It’s hard to lay a finger on why exactly I feel so compelled by her but she has been great in any game I cast her. She looks harmless enough, but believe me, dear reader, she isn’t.

5. Curse of the Swine – This is basically blue mass removal. Well, very targeted mass removal but mass removal nevertheless. “Yo, I don’t like your Avacyn, Angel of Hope. Have a pig instead! Oh, and what’s that? An Archon of Justice? As well as a Darksteel Colossus? Oink! Hey, why don’t you become a pig breeder?!” In all seriousness, when I saw this for the first time, I was actually a little annoyed. I mean yes, the flavor is brilliantly spot-on (you’re turning something into a pig, for God’s sake!) but permanently exiling creatures still doesn’t strike me as something Blue should be able to do. Sure, we’ve had Phyrexian Ingester but that’s basically it. I’m not sure I like where Wizards are going with this. That doesn’t prevent me from playing Curse of the Swine though. I mean, it is a powerful and fun card! Of course I play it!

4. Stormbreath Dragon – For its cost and abilities, this dragon is one of the most aggressive creatures you can play. Being able to dodge a lot of the spot removal you’ll see in a game (for example Swords to Plowshares, Oblivion Ring, Unmake) certainly helps and makes it a real power player. Play it at the right moment and you should be able to use its monstrous ability to take out at least one other player.

3. Medomai the Ageless – In my personal ranking, this only scores higher than number 4 because extra turns are so extremely valuable. Unfortunately, you need Medomai to connect, and that can be difficult at times. Hm, Whispersilk Cloak anyone? And in a multiplayer match, at least one player should be open anyway. Combine Medomai with cards like Relentless Assault or Hellkite Charger for more than the expected number of extra turns.

2. Prophet of Kruphix – This is power! The only other card type that regularly needs untapping and is not listed in its text box is artifact, so in my opinion, the prophet’s downside compared to Seedborn Muse is negligible. Her additional upside though is tremendous! Casting all your creatures like instants means that every opponent has to expect surprise blockers and can never be sure if attacking you is going to end badly for them. Prophet of Kruphix provides your creatures with pseudo-vigilance and lets you use mana and activated abilities of lands and creatures multiple times instead of only once before your next turn comes around. The Prophet is in my Sliver Queen Commander deck and has single-handedly won me several games without breaking a sweat. So if you see her on the other side of the board, kill her. Immediately.

1. Purphoros, God of the Forge – Was there ever any doubt? I own nine copies of this bad boy and have written an entire article about a deck I built around him. He is also one of my favorite win conditions in my Sliver Queen Commander deck (which you can find here). Purphoros is a multiplayer beast and my playgroup has learned to fear him.

So, all in all I wasn’t impressed by Theros. A few absolute bombs and some stuff that’s above average. Here is hope that Born of the Gods and Jouney into Nyx do better in my next two articles!

Thanks for reading! And as always, if you have any questions to ask or interesting stories to tell, let them be heard in the comments.

Cheers!

Kuchisama

2 comments

2 pings

  1. Felipaio

    Hey Kuchisama,

    good article. I especially sympathize with your perspective on the Gray Merchant and the Theros set. Yes, I know it has been ages since you published the article so I dont know if you ever read this, I hope to read more from you, anyway.

    Cheers!

    1. Kuchisama

      You shall, Felipaio, you shall!
      I’ve been extremely busy in the last few weeks as I had a lot of work to do. Your feedback is very much appreciated though!

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