January 7, 2020

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The Best Cards from the First Week of Theros: Beyond Death Spoilers

Hey guys, welcome back to my first article in quite a bit. Today we’ll be talking about the newest Ajani’s Pridemate wannabe, Gary the reprint, a dubious lord, and a green card that I nearly didn’t include at all as my pick to see the most play, as well as a brief review of how well I did when I wrote a very similar article to this one for Throne of Eldraine.

This seems like the perfect finisher for a mono-white aggro deck. First, it doesn’t just scoop to doom-blade like some big angel would. The second reason it could be great is that while it could just work in some go-wide white deck, a lot of the good white cards right now focus on life gain, and this plus Ajani’s Pridemate and Daxos, Blessed by the Sun or Impassioned Orator seems great. Though I doubt that Mono-White aggro will be one of the most feared decks, if it exists, I would bet that this will be an inclusion.

Blue cards haven't impressed me in this set so far, but this one could see play. While making a 1/1 every turn and growing this creature without much effort is okay, it probably won’t be good enough to see play on its own. However, if blue devotion is a thing, this increases your devotion and is a passable creature. If it does end up being bad, publicly shame my dad in the comments of the next Challenge Accepted video. (He’s been really hyping it.)

Obviously, this isn’t a multi-format all star. It has decent stats, and a 2/2 every turn is pretty darn good for two mana. I think its best chance of success is in a deck with Tymaret Calls the Dead. They both care about zombies and enchantments in the graveyard. While this obviously isn’t going to be great, it could end up being a lot better than people thought.

Although I like to be careful with cards like this that are powerful but very narrow and format-dependent, Gary can’t not be good with Underworld Dreams and Ayara, First of Locthwain in the format. The one thing to remember with devotion cards is that there will be significantly less of them than the last time we had devotion in the format. For such a narrow card, I’m fairly confident that this will be widely played.

The sad part about this card is that I seriously doubt it will be used in some super creative way. I’m pretty sure it will just end up being the Ajani’s Pridemate of the Witch’s Oven decks. It does have some upside, but it will probably just end up being a HUGE vanilla creature. This is a fairly safe pick for one of the best cards in the set since, while it probably won’t be great, it HAS to see play in some Cauldron Familiar deck. Well, actually, if Cat gets banned, obviously this won’t see play.

Remember, Languish? Well, it’s back. Sure, it doesn’t kill indestructible creatures, but most of them were bigger than 4 toughness anyway. The part that makes or breaks Storm’s Wrath is it killing planeswalkers. While it is certainly more thorough, it doesn’t give you the huge swing in advantage that killing your opponent's board while keeping your own board of planeswalkers does. So, while Storm’s Wrath is not what planeswalker-heavy control decks are looking for, control decks with few planeswalkers will be ready to crush midrange with this, since it doesn’t leave their planeswalkers behind like most other board wipes. The main part that makes me want to try this out is that I hate Nissa, Who Shakes the World so much. This is the runner up for the Most Likely to See Play Award this set.

And the winner of the Most Likely to See Play Award is… Drumroll please… Arasta of the Endless Freaking Creepy Crawlies! It’s like the ultimate counter to your opponent’s Murmuring Mystic. This seems mainly like a sideboard card. But if things are just right, I could see playing it mainboard as well. While it’s probably just a sideboard card, I would be willing to bet that it’ll be a sideboard card that, while it probably won’t get banned like Veil of Summer, will be almost as much of a staple as Dovin’s Veto, Duress, and Sorcerous Spyglass. Arasta of the Endless Web will CRUSH tempo decks since not only does it swarm the board every time they play a cantrip or counterspell, it also blocks all the creatures that are supposed to sneak past your defenses. Against control it should also work as a green Niv-Mizzet, Parun. If you’re a control player without arachnophobia, don’t worry, you won’t be for long.

Hate cards have been getting better recently. Originally, we had Tocatli Honor Guard, which would occasionally be maindecked just since it was really good when it was good. Then we got Hushbringer which screwed even more things, and had passable stats that, while they didn’t justify playing it on their own, make it a strong card since it will occasionally hose some decks. While this looks like it won’t hose nearly as many decks, if there is any deck that does a lot of escaping, this will make their deck useless. But honestly, it can be maindecked on stats alone and be good, unlike Hushbringer.

I will admit that this probably won’t see play. There probably won't be any support for this card. Which sucks, because the ability isn't bad by any stretch of the imagination. It is a lord for 2 mana that not only buffs all your creatures, but also gives them a very relevant ability, and draws cards too! What more could you ask for from a lord? (Besides a relevant tribe to go with, of course.)

Review from Throne of Eldraine

When Eldraine came out, I wrote an article after the first week of spoilers. I thought I’d take a second to look at how well I predicted the power level of various cards. If you haven’t read the article, you can find it here!

Heehee, oops. While this has seen plenty of play in adventure decks, that has mostly been because it triggers Edgewall Innkeeper. It hasn’t seen play “in any prominently white midrange or aggro deck”. Oops. I give myself a 2/10 on this prediction.

While I think I overrated the creature half of this card a little, I think I got this one pretty close. I give myself an 8/10 on this one.

Okay, this saw some play, but it wasn’t like knights was a huge deck, so… 3/10

This was great in the Red Black Cauldron Familiar deck as a removal spell of sorts, but most of the Mono-Red decks aren’t playing any of these, even in their sideboard. This was definitely my worst pick. 1/10

In the first few weeks of Standard, it looked like this was never going to see play. However, it bounced back thanks to Rotting Regisaur and a few big green creatures. While it didn’t see lots of play with Chandra’s Spitfire, I’m still going to count this as a win since it did end up being very strong. 5/10

While this does see some play, I overhyped this so much. So much so, that I would justify my overhyping and point out, “Hey, at least it saw play." 4/10

I think I hit the mark more or less on this one. I did underestimate how good food-based synergies would be and missed the power of having a dork on turn 1 if you plan on playing Nissa, Who Shakes the World on turn 3, but can you blame me for not foreseeing that would be a thing? 7/10

Even after saying that this card was over the top, I still managed to underestimate it a lot. When I wrote that article, I seriously didn’t expect the card to get banned in multiple formats. 4/10

I think I got Garruk about right. He’s a good card, but he doesn’t see very much play because he doesn’t line up well in the current metagame. This was probably my best call. 9/10

My average was a 4.8/10. Not great but not absolutely awful either. It's all about setting you standards low enough.

Cards I Completely Missed

…And here are the cards that I thought about included and decided not to, and am now regretting not including.

I nearly included this in the article but I decided that, hey, I already have a bunch of red cards. It was also so late in spoiler week that the rest of the article was finished by the time it came out. This would have been a way better pick than something like, I don’t know, Claim the Firstborn.

I didn’t mention Oko because I wasn’t sure quite how good it was. There were a lot of people who had very strong opinions on the card. While I didn’t think it was bad, I thought it was a little overhyped. Now look at it, banned in three formats.

Anyway, thanks for reading. What are your favourite cards from the new set? Do you think I did better or worse than last time? Let me know in the comments.