Theros: Playing to your Weaknesses – Multicolor, Artifacts, and Land
(NOTE: “Playing to your Weaknesses” is a series of articles I have been doing on my own blog since Avacyn Restored that cover all of the uncommons and commons in a new expansion and which ones I would choose to use as one of the 23 cards in a 40 card limited deck. For those of you uninitiated to limited, it simply means sealed and booster draft, where you open packs and then proceed to make a deck out of them. I’ve purposely left out the rare cards because it is much more likely that you’ll see multiples of uncommon and commons in your packs/pools.)
The pre-release of Theros has already passed, but Theros limited has just begun. Over the next 3 months, Pro Tour Qualifiers, booster drafts, and some Grand Prix will be centered around the set, so it’s important that I finish my review of the uncommons and commons of the set with today’s article. How did everybody do at the article? I went 1-2 at the midnight release with GR and screwed myself by not putting enough mana of a certain color in, but on Saturday morning I destroyed everybody with an insane BR deck with an amazing pool of cards and went 4-0 for first place. The game after that I went 1-3 with a UW deck with no removal, and learned the hard way that it’s not all about flying creatures, tempo, and card draw. I’ll talk about how the decks worked out in a future article, but for now let’s move on to the last batch of cards.
The Hoplite is a decent card for 2 mana. For a very small investment you can turn him into a 3/3 or 4/4 and also scry to smooth out your draws and put the cards you don’t need on the bottom of your deck. After playing blue white in the pre-release, I can’t really recommend it, but if you can play an aggressive heroic deck in those colors, or even add a 3rd color to mix like black or green, he might be worth playing. I don’t think he’s a high pick in either draft or sealed, but if you end up in those colors I think you should definitely put him in there. He won’t win you any games, but heroic is a great battle trick that can catch your opponent off guard and let you swing the tempo back in your favor.
As with the other Hoplite, the Akroan hoplite works best with a high number of creatures. Cards like Hammer of Purphoros and other effects that put in token creatures would really help him out, but even in decks without lots of tokens to boost him up, I think he would still be good to play. Think of him like a battalion creature. You want to attack with at least 2 other creatures to give him a +3 bonus (it includes himself). Cards that would combo well with him are Evangel of Heliod and Akroan Crusader. I think the Akroan Horse would also work well with him. He’s the type of card that would work well in a heroic deck. He’s not a high pick in draft, but if you end up going the heroic route and have some disposable tokens to throw around, he could really surprise you. It really depends on the cards you get.
The Chronicler of Heroes is another card that works well with Heroic strategies, as well as monstrous. A 3/3 creature for 3 is good in itself, but adding in that draw a card turns it into a cantrip (or a card that has an effect and draws you a card). I think I’d take him high if i was going for a green/white monstrous + heroic deck in draft, but otherwise I think the 3/3 means he should be one of your first 12 picks if he’s in your color. He’s a good attacker and good blocker in any GW deck. He’d be one of the top 20 cards in my sealed deck too.
Usually a card like this would be put in the sideboard of sealed decks, but I think if you’re playing Green and Red, this is absolutely necessary. Just as with the other white and green spells out there that get rid of enchantments and artifacts, these spells can be considered as good of removal as a card like Doom Blade (M14). While it is limited to a certain type of creature, I think on average it will have 4-5 targets in a limited deck. Not a first pick, but a high pick in draft and necessary as part of your 23 cards in sealed if you’re playing in Green and Red.
I don’t know, but I think this is an amazing card in sealed. A 3/2 FLYER with trample AND flash is great, but adding on the ability to gain life when you draw a card? VALUE! I really like this card, and can’t wait to brew with it in a Simic colored deck. At its worse you gain 1 life a turn when you draw a card. If you can combo it with Bident of Thassa or any other enchantment that draws you a card, you’ll be getting incredible value from it. I’d take this pretty high if I was going UG, and it would definitely be in my sealed deck. Putting an enchantment on this to boost it’s power/toughness only makes it better. Green and Blue might end up being one of the better decks to play in draft! We’ll see after a few more weeks of play.
There are a few Minotaurs in this set, and I bet there will be more. The Warcaller is nice by itself (a 4/3 when attacking with haste), but if you have a few other ones such as Fellhide Minotaur, Borderland Minotaur, Fanatic of Mogis, Deathblow Raider, Minotaur Skullcleaver, or Rageblood Shaman, he becomes a lot better. The Rageblood Shaman is the best best of course, but at common you’ll see a lot of Borderland and Fellhides. These will be rather easy to pick up in draft, so if you end up going BR (which is a strong color combination) in draft, you could get a impressive team going that is able to attack fast and hit hard. Due to how many Minotaurs I opened during the pre-release, I think it’s possible to make a theme deck with them a booster draft. In sealed I think there might be better creatures for 5 or 4 mana that you could play, but he might be alright in that final 23rd spot.
I have YET to see a Gorgon without any value to it. The Keepsake one kills a creature when it becomes monstrous, the Reaper of the Woods gets hexproof and deathtouch, and this one is like a MUCH better Gravedigger. One extra mana gives you 2 more power and 1 more toughness than a Gravedigger did, and it also lets you bring an enchantment back from the graveyard. I like it a lot, and this would absolutely be part of a GB deck I made in either sealed or draft. Good power, good ability, decent casting cost. If you’re going GB, pick this up early!
It’s a 3/3 flyer with vigilance in black and white. I don’t think this is a hard decision to make if you’ve been following what I’ve said about flyers. White and Black is great to play if you get enough removal in those colors, and the Sentry would be part of both of my limited decks. A definite top 15 card in sealed, but maybe a later pick in draft.
This creature could spell BIG trouble for your opponent if you have enough mana open. I found UB to be difficult to play against during the pre-release due to it’s ability to kill and use tempo cards. If I decided to draft black and blue, this would be one of the first 10 cards I get as it holds off opponents early on and lets hurt your opponents when they least expect it by combining the black ability with other spells. I think it would be pretty good in sealed too.
I have a feeling this might see some play in standard, but in limited it should be pretty good too. While the limited format doesn’t usually have too many spells in order to make room for creatures, you should still be able to cast this as a 3-5 power creature on average in sealed or draft. Blue tends to have a lot of counters spells and red has burn spells that you’ll be using, so this guy could get pretty big if the game goes on longer. The 3 toughness makes him vulnerable to Lightning Strike, but there are few other spells outside of black that can handle him. I’d probably take him as my first pick if I decided on playing a UR deck. Double evasion and the ability to get huge in a matter of a few turns. Draft him high.
It can go in any deck and give that giant creature of your’s flying and haste. If you only play one artifact in your deck, this should be it. In draft I’d probably take it around #7, and it would round out my sealed deck in the 20-23rd spot. Not much else to say. It’s a useful card in limited. Flying is the best way to deal damage.
Do you know how many walls there are in Theros? 1.
This card basically says “equip 2: creature is unblockable. If your opponent has used up their removal cards and isn’t playing Mnemonic Wall, they’re dead. This is a great card to play with if you’re playing a lot of creatures with Monstrosity. I think it would be effective in just about any deck, but if you don’t want the game to run long attach it to a big guy and hit them fast and hard. I think I’d draft this high since it puts your opponent on a clock. Once it’s in play you can keep attacking away with one creature until they’re dead.
It’s like that elk from Dark Ascension expect one more mana and it searches for one more land. Good in ramp strategies using green or just wanting to activate their monstrous abilities faster. The best time to use his ability is after blocking and just before he dies. You could do it faster if you really wanted the mana, but he’ll give you more value if you block with him first.
Other Cards that Might Be Good
- Flamecast Wheel – If you want to play certain colors and have absolutely NO removal spells, then this is better than nothing.
- Opaline Unicorn – If you’re playing 3 colors you’ll want this in your deck, but otherwise I’d leave it out of aggressive decks. Might be good in decks with a lot of monstrosity as well.
- Unknown Shores – Again, this is good if you’re playing 3 colors or a lot of double mana symbols and you’re worried about not being able to cast them. You should be fine with just basic lands, but if not toss one of these in there.
- Anvilwrought Raptor – Theros has a lot of flyers in white and blue, but other colors don’t have them so much. If you’re playing a color with little or no flyers, it’s a good idea to put it in there.
That does it for Playing to Your Weaknesses. I hope you’ve picked up a few good ideas here and there and that reading these articles has helped you to improve your win percentage a little bit. Later this week I’ll be talking about the pre-release a little bit, then I’ll be writing about the current state of removal in the standard metagame and which ones are the best for this format. After a few weeks when the dominant decks have been established, I’ll be starting my investment articles “Bang for your Buck”. Prices from the past sets on some cards have already started to creep up, so it might be better to do it sooner than later!
Anyways, thanks for reading, comments are welcome, and if have any questions or suggestions I’d like to hear from you!