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Feb 15 2014

Top 10 Born of the Gods Cards for EDH

MTG Born of the Gods Logo

Prepare for an in-depth review of my biased opinion on the Top 10 EDH cards from Born of the Gods. This set was a bit strange for me. I really did not have a clear cut order when ranking the cards in my top ten list. Even though I stuck with the format and labeled each card 1 – 10, I could easily jockey around almost every ranking and still be satisfied with my list.

For those of you that are familiar with my previous set reviews, you will remember that I provide Top 10 lists for cards that work in my EDH/Commander decks. With this in mind, there may be better cards for EDH out of the Born of the Gods set, but they just don’t fit into my current or future decklists. For reference, here is the list of my thirteen (13) EDH/Commander decks:

As I did with my previous articles, I will also include a few updates as my Top 10 list gets some play time. Be sure to check back for my JOURNEY INTO NYX Set Review for my EDH Decks in May/June 2014!

Let’s Get Started!

Honorable Mentions

Xenagos God of Revels Commander EDH

Xenagos, God of Revels: During Born of the Gods Spoiler season I had Ephara a tad bit ahead of Xenagos for best god in the set. After further contemplation however, I can honestly say that I was probably wrong and that Xenagos will probably prove to be the best god from this set for Commander/EDH. So why is he just an honorable mention in my article? Honestly, I just don’t have a deck to put “Super X” into right now. I have contemplated a trial run in Uril, the Miststalker (and still may) but he eats up that #5 spot where I want to be casting Uril. On the flip side, casting the Revel deity on turn five and then casting and giving Uril haste on turn 6 might not be too bad.

I have also considered building a deck for Xenagos but I really do not have any plans for a Gruul deck in the immediate future. I am sure there will come a time when I want one, but seeing that Red/Green are my least favorite Commander colors, this will probably be down the road quite a ways. Final Note, I am sure Prossh, Skyraider of Kher players are super-stoked about this guy.

Brimaz, King of Oreskos: Enter the chase mythic rare of Born of the Gods. Sitting on a perch of $39.99 on StarCityGames.com, I have no intentions on buying or trading for this guy until he drops way down in price, way down. That being said, if I did have a copy of him I would playtest the “Big Kitty” in either Tajic, Blade of the Legion or my nephew’s Daxos of Meletis deck. Brimaz would also be fantastic in a token deck. I just can’t help but to compare him to Hero of Bladehold, a card that just never seems to make the final cut of my EDH builds.

Less Than Honorable Mentions

There was a small group of cards that sort of disappointed me in this set. It is not that the following cards are bad, it’s just that there is another EDH card that is extremely similar and out-right better in my opinion.

Gild: Although this card is dripping with flavor, I can’t help but point out that Sever the Bloodline is so much better. Maybe this card will see play in a deck that already runs Bloodline and does not have access to white.

Fated Infatuation: At first glance, this card seamed to be a perfect fit for my Wrexial the Risen Deep copy/steal EDH deck. However, this card is no where near as good as Cackling Counterpart and I just don’t think another restrictive clone effect will suffice for Wrexial.

Courser of Kruphix: This enchantment centaur looks like a functional reprint of Oracle of Mul Daya. The main differences, Oracle lets you drop an additional land every turn and is easier to splash in a multicolor deck due to only one green in it’s mana cost. I’ll take the Oracle every time.

Astral Cornucopia: Opened a foil version and was excited. Then I did the math. At three mana I would rather have Darksteel Ingot, at six or more mana I would rather have Gilded Lotus. If I had a deck that ran Doubling Season or Populate effects, I, would probably be more enthused.

Unravel the AEther: If you have problems removing the new gods in Commander/EDH you may want to play this. I have never played Deglamer but will try out one of these should the gods start surrounding my kitchen table.

Enough of the “almost made its”… Let’s get to the list!

Top 10 Born of the Gods Cards for EDH Commander

#10 – Whelming Wave

Xenagos God of Revels Commander EDHLet’s get this out of the way first. Yes, Evacuation is better. With that being said, I plan on playtesting Whelming Wave in my Hanna, Ship’s Navigator EDH Deck. My Hanna deck revolves around Iron Maiden and runs mass bounce spells like Evacuation, Sunder and Cyclonic Rift to fill opponents hands before their upkeep. Since my strategy is for my opponents to have full hands at the beginning of their next turn, the sorcery speed of Whelming Wave isn’t that big of a deal. It definitely edges out Devastation Tide for a trial run in Hanna’s 99.

#9 – Archetype of Endurance

Sylvan Who? Okay, maybe I won’t go that far. However, the fact remains that the recent banning of Sylvan Primordial has left a one card hole in a lot of decks out there. In my Sliver Queen deck, Archetype of Endurance gets first crack on the high end of the mana curve. My five color EDH deck contains about 30 slivers and another 10 or more utility creatures, so giving them all Hexproof seems extremely good to me. Sure, the slivers have Crystalline Sliver and Steely Resolve, but that is shroud, and next to hexproof, shroud kinda sucks. Oh, and did I mention that Sigarda, Host of Herons and Lazav, Dimir Mastermind are also in my meta? By order of the queen we will take hexproof from our opponents and empower the sliver hive!

#8 – Fated Retribution

Fated Retribution board wipe White EDHWhen it comes to board wipes, White has a plethora of options. From old school creature destruction Wrath of God to EDH value town Austere Command, there seem to be plenty of ways for good witches and warlocks to cleanse the board. Coming in at #8 on my top 10 list for Born of the Gods is Fated Retribution. This wrath effect seems a little steep in the casting cost department requiring a total of seven mana , but it has a couple of features rarely found on any other board wipe. Yes, it destroys creatures, but Fated Retribution also takes out planeswalkers. My meta has an infatuation with planeswalkers (myself included) so being able to take out Jace, Ajani, Elspeth, Garruk and Liliana all at once is better than the free Dum-Dum suckers given out by your local bank teller.

The second blessing of Fated Retribution is that it can be cast at Instant Speed. Do you mean I can cast this at the end of an opponent’s turn? Awesome. Does this spell allow me to politically convince an opponent to attack elsewhere or I’ll wipe out his bazillion token army? Yes? Heck Yeah. Although this card is best saved for instant speed casting, you can cast it during your turn and receive the benefit of it’s Scry 2 effect. I love me some options.

My one copy of Fated Retribution will be tested alongside Rout in my new Boros Indestructible theme deck led by Tajic, Blade of the Legion.

#7 – Archetype of Imagination

A quick shout-out to my buddy Tony for bringing this card to my attention. I was struggling for the tenth Born of the Gods card for this list when we had a small water cooler discussion about Archetype of Imagination. Flying can be a somewhat underrated in Commander and if you are the only player than can have Flying creatures on the board that is the equivalent of all of your creatures being unblockable. This archetype will begin a playtest in my Sliver Queen Commander Deck in efforts to make sure all slivers are able to swarm the board unharmed and untouched. Depending on it’s performance, I may allocate other copies of this uncommon into my Lazav, Dimir Mastermind and/or my Wrexial, the Risen Deep Commander Decks. In Wrexial, the Archetype would pair well with Stormtide Leviathan ensuring that I should be the only player capable of a successful attack phase.

I have pondered building a mono-blue EDH deck in the near future possibly centered around merfolk, islandwalk, and unblockable abilities, so Archetype of Imagination would be a semifinalist during deck construction. I have also considered a 1v1 prison/stax blue/white build where the Archetype would be high dollar goodness when combined with Moat or the bargain priced Magus of the Moat. The only thing I do not like about this card is that darned 2 toughness!

#6 – Perplexing Chimera

Fun with Illusionist's Gambit in Commander

As an EDH deck builder there is that occasional new card in a set that you stare at and ponder “how can I break this”? I am talking to you Johnny, pay attention. The Perplexing Chimera is probably the most intriguing card in the Born of the Gods set. It is also the most rule intensive. Honestly, I expected a 120 page owner’s manual in 8 different languages when I acquired this Enchantment Creature via booster pack.

Here is what I understand thus far with the Chimera’s perplexing rule box. When this creature is on the battlefield and an opponent casts a spell, then the Chimera puts a triggered ability on the stack. If the ability is allowed to resolve then the controlling player MAY gain control of that spell (whether it’s an instant, sorcery or soon to be permanent such as a creature, artifact, enchantment or planeswalker). The decision to exchange control (and select new targets) is not made until the trigger ability resolves. Sounds simple enough.

Now it’s time for some brain strains. Through some modest Google research I learned that the Chimera’s ability triggers every time a spell is put on the stack. So if an opponent casts Lightning Bolt on our Chimera and then Incinerate, the stack resolves as trigger take control of Incinerate, point it back at opponent give him control of Chimera. Second trigger resolves and we get to take control of Lightning Bolt… even though we no longer control the Chimera! Yes, I know, this card is going to put some wrinkles on the cranium.

Two important tidbits I learned about our enchantment creature is that it’s ability does not trigger if he is flashed onto the battlefield after the spell is cast. Second, the controller of the Chimera cannot sacrifice it after the abilities go on the stack. In order for the triggered ability to resolve correctly, the spell and “P.C.” must be exchanged. Hey, no chimera, no stuff!

So why in the world do I want to play this card? Honestly, the first reason I can think of is Cyclonic Rift. With Chimera on the board, there is a 95% chance that your opponent is gonna hold that Rift. Just sayin. Not sold yet? How about two card combos? Mikaeus + Triskelion, Exquisite Blood + Sanguine Bond, Temple Bell + Mind Over Matter? With Chimmy-Chim on the field, we can successfully exclaim “I’ll take that!” if an opponent tries to put down their remaining combo piece.

I will begin the playtesting of Perplexing Chimera in my Lavinia of the Tenth Blink/Flicker EDH deck. With Venser, the Sojourner or Mistmeadow Witch on the battlefield I can recall Chimera to my side of the field for more spell stealing shenanigans. Oh, and Homeward Path. Must add Homeward Path. For you home viewers out there, I am sure P.C. will also be a welcome addition to Roon of the Hidden Realm and Zedruu the Greathearted EDH decks.

#5 – Fated Return

This is not your father’s reanimation spell… no-no, this is a whole new generation of being able to necro a creature. Let’s use our old man voice for this one, shall we?

I remember when I used to recur creatures from graveyards… We took our time and did it at Sorcery speed. You kids and your Instant speed bullcrap. Want everything now, now, now! If we reanimated at instant speed, that creature was removed from the game at end of turn. Spoiled, that’s what you are..

Okay, maybe not my best old man impression, but you get the gist. Oh, wait one more…

And when we wanted to play Magic we had to walk to the Local Game Store through 2 feet of snow, uphill, both ways!.

There we go.

Seriously though folks, recursion of target creature from any graveyard at Instant speed is some-good. Now, let’s talk cherries… because giving this reanimated corpse Indestructible is definitely a cherry on top. So it seems that Fated Return is greatness without drawback. Not quite. Graveyard hate is obvious, but there is also that inflated mana cost of . Other than that, I am looking forward to seeing epic combat tricks and end of turn game changers. With all of the milling in my Lazav, Dimir Mastermind deck there should be plenty of targets to try out this new weapon.

#4 – Chromanticore

Funnest MTG Card in Theros Akroan HorseOoooh, sparkly pretty. Must put in deck. I must admit that I have been somewhat disappointed at the outrageous mana cost of bestow creatures in the Theros block. Chromanticore, however, provides a beefy stat line at an incredible price. Not only that, but I believe Wizards hit a home run out of Fun Park with this one. The Rainbow Manticore’s mana cost is one of each color () or can be bestowed for an additional two () mana. This groovy penta-colored dude hits the battlefield as a 4/4 with Flying, First Strike, Vigilance, Trample and Lifelink. If you use the card for it’s bestow ability then tack on an additional +4/+4 to that resume of abilities. Can we say Mythic EDH Bomb? Chromanticore will be slated into my Sliver Queen EDH Deck where I could envision the Queen becoming an 11/11 Flying, First Strike, Vigilance, Trample, Lifelinker that can put an opponent on a 1 or 2 turn clock.

For fun, let’s see if we can decipher each ability and the piece of the color pie it derived from:

  • FLYING: Blue
  • FIRST STRIKE: Red
  • VIGILANCE: White
  • TRAMPLE: Green
  • LIFELINK: Black
  • MANTICORE: Artifacts/Colorless 😛

#3 – Champion of Stray Souls

What is good about janky Mythic Rares that will probably never find it’s way into a competitive standard deck? An EDH bomb that can be had for only a dollar or two. Champion of Stray Souls has been freed from purgatory and is now a member of my Chainer, Dementia Master “sacrifice” themed EDH deck. Champion of Stray Souls gives us another satisfactory method of looping life-drainers Kokusho, The Evening Star and Gray Merchant of Asphodel in and out of play. This sacrifice rotation will be even juicier if Grave Pact or Butcher of Malakir are on the battlefield.

The Skeleton Champ’s second ability of being able to put himself from the graveyard on top of it’s owner’s library is flavorful and all, but is a little steep. Nonetheless, his value in my Chainer, Sacrifice Master EDH deck should be fairly high.

#2 – Phenax, God of Deception

Phenax, God of Deception Mill EDHWithin the Dimir clan there seems to be a 50/50 deadlock on players love/hate relationship of the mill mechanic. You either embrace it or despise it. The forums screeched with an even split of delight and disappointment when Phenax, God of Deception was spoiled. We can leave the debate on mill for another time, but let’s focus on the delighted half of the Blue/Black followers by analyzing how good this deity will be in Mill-Based EDH decks.

Phenax will be a force to reckon with in my Lazav, Dimir Mastermind Mill deck. Lazav will exploit the Lord of Mill by turning our active dudes sideways and targeting players to flop some cards into the graveyard allowing more chances for a successful shapeshift into something dangerous. Once devotion is reached, Phenax himself will be an indestructible force that mills a player for 7 every turn. Phenax, God of Deception earns the number 2 spot on my list due to his incredible synergy with mill strategies and because I plan on him being a significant part of my Dimir Mill win condition.

A final thought on Phenax, is that he would also be an amazing Mill EDH General in his own right. Imagine a blockade of walls with their high toughness that will allow for an insurmountable amount of mill in a walls.dec. Wall of Frost or Wall of Junk target player mills 7. Hmmm…. maybe a 1v1 Phenax God of Walls Mill/Control deck is in the near future?

UPDATE: An update already? Yes, I am now contemplating the switch from Lazav to Phenax as commander of my mill EDH deck. Time for some research and contemplation! Stay tuned!

#1 – Ephara, God of the Polis

Ephara Best Born of the Gods Card EDHAs I stated at the beginning of this article, I honestly could have shook my top 10 list up and rolled them across the table in a rearranged order. That being said, I am still comfortable for my number 1 pick for best Born of the Gods EDH card as Ephara, God of the Polis.

One of the key ingredients to a finely tuned EDH/Commander deck is card advantage and card draw. Ephara’s ability states: At the beginning of every upkeep, if you had another creature enter the battlefield under your control last turn, draw a card. The key elements of her rules text are two-fold. First, her ability reads “every upkeep“. This means that in a four player game, we have an opportunity to draw a card during every player’s upkeep. Okay, that seems to be a little hard to do since we usually only cast creatures during our turn, but there are ways. This brings us to the second sticking point, if you had another “creature” enter the battlefield. Special investigative note, this does not say non-token.

There are quite a few ways to build around Ephara as a general or as a subtheme as part of the other 99. Here is a collection of thoughts on how to get Ephara’s ability to trigger on our opponent’s turns:

Now there are some ideas to get the creative deck building juices flowing. Ephara, God of the Polis will become an immediate cornerstone in my Lavinia of the Tenth Blue/White Flicker deck. My Lavinia deck is in desperate need of any kind of card draw, so Ephara will be sight for sore eyes.

I hope you enjoyed this article. This was definitely not my most clear cut top 10 list as of this date, but I am definitely satisfied with the final contestants. Remember, that the best Born of the Gods cards in EDH for you will probably be very different then my list.

Feel free to tell us about your favorite Born of the Gods Cards by commenting below. Don’t miss the JOURNEY INTO NYX set review – April/May 2014!

10 comments

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  1. Will Wilson

    I’m currently building a ephara dovescape deck 🙂

    1. Wally D.

      Sounds like fun… Will you be including the Dovescape + Guile combo?

  2. spaceagebrain

    The one time where I got Ephara, Roon, AND a Glen Aldra Archmage onto the board at once, I got an EASY eight cards off of the Polis Goddess

    1. Wally D.

      Nice! This is definitely the kind of card drawing shenanigans that I am hoping to pull off with Ephara in my Blink/Flicker deck. Good to hear some Ephara success stories already. 🙂

  3. Chuck Neves

    My friend put Phenax together the other day as a commander. Filled the deck with fat backsided creatures, untapping (freed from the real, etc) and other nasty stuff. We have to stop Phenax, or he wins so fast. It’s insane when you start milling for 15-30 a turn… Been moving Ulamog from deck to deck to combat it mildly, but he runs yard removers and pin point instant speed yard removal…

    1. Wally D.

      Whoa, sounds like Phenax has already turned to the dark side in your playgroup. Yikes! Interesting topic, how do you combat a well-tuned mill engine?

      You have really got me thinking now… I don’t have a lot of time invested in Lazav, I may just move Phenax to the Commander chair. Yes, I think I will!

      Would love to hear more Phenax horror stories!

  4. Austin

    Hey, Nick. I gutted my Lazav deck again a week ago, but I had looked into Phenax and thought about a possible switch as well.

    If you haven’t already, look at Eater of the Dead. That can get a bit nuts against creature heavy decks and I imagine it will be a staple in any Phenax deck. Slagwurm Armor might be worth a look too.

    1. Wally D.

      You gutted Lazav?? Noooooo! I liked that deck. 🙁 Did you build a new one?

      Corey already switched to Phenax, so looking forward to seeing two or three mill decks at the table at the same time. 🙂

      I am ordering Eater of the Dead now, great idea. Hope he gets here by next EDH night. 🙂

      1. Austin

        Yessir. The beginning of 2 mono black decks and possibly a UR deck.

        One of the mono black ones (Drana) should be good to go by Tuesday. The other two are on the back burner until I get more for them. Dralnu has some new tricks too.

        1. Wally D.

          Sounds awesome! Drana is one of my favorites. Can’t wait to see it!

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