February 4, 2020

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Overlooked Theros Beyond Death Cards

Hey guys. Today I’m going to be looking at some of the cards people may have missed or underrated during spoiler season.

Honorable Mention

Kiora Bests the Sea God is a value-packed enchantment that puts Agent of Treachery to shame. It does the same thing as Agent of Treachery (more slowly), except it also gives you an 8/8 hexproof and a Sleep effect. However, Agent of Treachery has gotten better due to a combo involving a new card. So, unfortunately Agent of Treachery is still the go-to blue 7-drop.


After getting some questionable discard spells such as Specter’s Shriek and Drill Bit in the last few sets, I was very hesitant to say that this was a good card. I guess it’s fairly close to Thought Erasure, which sees a lot of play so that maybe should have been a clue. It does have a downside though, where Thought Erasure has upside. Thought Erasure is also a little over-played. The main reason this is seeing lots of play is that Mono-Black Devotion is a good deck and the ability to Thought Erasure your opponent is very important to a deck that only has Ugin, The Ineffable as enchantment removal. It should have been a hint that a deck that has a bunch of counterspells still plays 4 Thought Erasure to deal with non-creature non-planeswalker stuff. The part gives it the potential to be better than Thought Erasure is that its ability to deal with graveyard shenanigans.


When Nightmare Shepherd first came out I looked at it and went “Oooh, this would be great with Cauldron Familiar.” Then I realized it exiled the card so I kind of just ignored it. First of all, this is a pretty good rate for a creature; it can end games fairly quickly. I know I mention this a lot, especially when talking about cards where the ability is the most important part. That’s because the ability of a creature won’t always be relevant. For example, would you play Nightmare Shepherd if it was a 2/2 without flying? Would you play a 3/2 Niv-Mizzet, Parun? How about a 2/2 Kenrith, The Returned King? A Hydroid Krasis without flying or trample? No, you wouldn’t. That’s why stats are important. Now on to this thing’s abilities. The main use for making a 1/1 version of a creature it that it is Gray Merchant of Asphodel and you want to get double the trigger by sacrificing Gary. This trick works with any other creature that has a good ETB effect and is often a good enough reason to play Nightmare Shepherd. It also works decently well with any creature that has a static ability you like. When the creature dies, you still get to keep the static ability until they kill the token. It’s also a key card in a new insta-kill combo deck (Prime Speaker Vannifar). This has to be one of the more versatile, but also powerful, cards in standard.


This needs a UW midrange or control deck to be tier one to be considered one of the best cards in standard. However, that shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. Stats-wise, this is basically a slightly worse Lyra Dawnbringer. Where it really gets its value is by being unkillable, and to a lesser extent, by drawing you cards. While it isn’t literally unkillable, the chances of it actually dying are small. If you want to kill it, traditional things like sacrifice effects and boardwipes will get around the hexproof, but other than that you’ll have to run the control player completely out of cards …and good luck getting the control player empty-handed, especially since Dream Trawler will be drawing them extra cards. One piece of text to remember on this card is that it does tap the card when they discard something. It is part of the effect, though not part of the cost, meaning that they can still give it hexproof multiple times a turn. The advantage this does give the Dream Trawler player’s opponent is that you can target it with removal before combat to tap it down and to buy time.


Know how I mentioned that Agent of Treachery is still good because of a new card? Well, this is it. Blinking a creature to get your best ETB trigger every turn is pretty good. At worst you’re drawing an extra card every turn from Fblthp, the Lost. At best you’re taking something with Agent of Treachery. The 6/5 indestructible body and the ability to tap creatures definitely doesn’t make it worse either. I would play Thassa, Deep-Dwelling just for its blink ability, but it comes with extra upside because that’s how mythic rares work. This is pretty good even without Yarok, the Desecrated in the format; with Yarok in the format, ETB effects are over the top. Oh yeah, and for rub-ins, the best ETB effect in the format is just, you know, taking your opponent's best permanent. Invest in Hushbringer, people.

All right, that’s it for today. What are your favorite cards from the new set? Do you agree with my analysis of these cards? Did I overrate them to sell cards? Let me know in the comments!