Born of the Gods: Playing to your Weaknesses – Blue
(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.)
Today I’ll be covering the blue cards in Born of the Gods and how they fit in to the Theros sealed/draft format. If you look at the blue cards overall, you’ll see that heroic has been pushed pretty hard. Blue seems to have gotten more powerful since the last set, and there seems to be a focus on creatures this time instead of spells. Theros will supply you with an ample amount of tempo cards such as Sea God’s Revenge and Voyage’s End, but BNG will help you to strengthen those UG midrange, UW flyer, and UB tempo decks that were popular in Theros limited.
While not an impressive creature at 2/4 for 4 mana, the thing I do like about Aerie Worshippers is its Inspired ability. With a 2/4 body, you can feel safe attacking with her most of the time, especially if you’re playing UB or UR with some removal. You won’t have that many chances to activate her ability, but I think putting in a few 2/2 flyers for 3 mana is worth playing her, especially if you’re playing a long game. It wouldn’t be a good card in heroic, but I think it could find a spot in UG and UB if you’re playing sealed. It would probably be a 8th pick or so in draft if I was going that route, and in sealed I think I’d probably throw it in one of the top 20 spots for my deck. If you have the synergy with cards like Voyage’s End and Griptide (and extra mana floating around), I think she can be a good card.
When I see this card, I think of cards like Overrun (+3/+3 and trample). You’re not really playing it because it’s a creature, you’re playing it for its effect. Think of it as your finisher spell. The fact that it’s a creature is just a bonus. You’ll play lots of creatures the first 5 turns, then on turn 6 you play the Archetype and win the game (or at least put it out of reach for your opponent). Suddenly giving every creature of yours evasion can be a huge game swing. This is especially good in a UG deck where you have access to huge creatures, but it would be alright in UB and UW too. At 6 mana you probably don’t want to be first picking this, but I think it would be a solid 5th-6th pick in draft if you’re building a non-heroic blue/X deck. It would fit into one of the top 15 slots of my sealed deck as well. This is a card I WOULDN’T cut if I was over 23.
When I said that blue got more aggressive with BNG, I wasn’t kidding. This is a great card to play in any blue deck, but especially in UW or UR heroic. Most heroic decks are ground based, combat trick focused strategies, so having something that has evasion gives you the advantage. It excels in heroic themes, but I think it would be fine in any blue deck you build. I’d probably take this as a 3rd-4th pick in draft if I was going for a blue/X strategy, and it would be one of the top 10 cards in any blue sealed deck I make.
Remember what I said about sealed decks basically being about 70% creatures? Well, this card might as well be a Gods Willing from Theros, because it’s going to make your creature impossible to block. While the untap ability is a nice trick to use on defense, I think this is a great card to finish off your opponent with. Just imagine playing this in a UG deck with a monstrous creature like Polukranos, World Eater or Nemesis of Mortals. It’s pretty much game over if it connects. This would also be a good card in a UR or UW heroic deck, but I think you’ll get the best value from it by playing it in a UG deck with big creatures. I wouldn’t take it too early in draft, but I could see it being a 7th-10th pick there, and I would probably put it in one of my last spots of my sealed deck as well. This card could be really good if you draw it at the right time, but don’t be afraid to side it out if you need more creatures or removal in your deck.
Card draw is always good in sealed, and aside from a heroic deck, I think this is a must have in a blue deck, especially in UW, UB, or UG. I’d take it pretty high in draft, and if I was playing with a lot of power in my sealed deck, I’d have this in there as well. I’d want to draw my power cards as quickly as possible, and it’s a solid card for limited. I’d say play it.
This is a pretty scary card in limited. This card is good early or good late in the game. Think of it as an Invisible Stalker (ISD) without the hexproof. You can play aggressively and put all your bestows and enchantments on it, and it will slowly whittle away at your opponent’s life. Sure this will be the first thing to suck up whatever removal your opponent has, but if they don’t have anything you can pretty much consider the game won. This would probably the the first or second pick in a draft for me (outside of a great rare), and it would be one of the first 5 selections in my sealed deck too. It would be great in just about any blue deck you play, especially UG where you can slap it on a big creature and go to town on your opponent. It would also be a very good choice for a blue/X heroic deck as well.
And here’s your blue finisher. The Kraken is going to absolutely destroy people left and right. If you’re playing him, you’re most likely playing a two color blue/X deck, which means you’ll be playing 7/8 islands. At 7 mana, he’ll be coming down around turn 7 or later, which means your opponent is going to have very few choices for blocking it, if any. I think this would be a great finisher for UB where you have access to removal spells like Hero’s Downfall and Sip of Hemlock, but it could be good in a UR deck as well. I think I’d take this as my 3rd-4th pick in draft if I was going for a blue midrange deck, and I would definitely have it as one of my top 15 cards in my sealed deck. It would do well in any non-heroic blue deck.
Solid body, decent bestow cost, I’d play him. It wouldn’t go high in draft (8th-9th pick?), but I would play it as one of my 23 cards in sealed. I think it would work well in both heroic and other blue decks, so add him to whichever blue deck you’re playing.
Oracle’s Insight is one card that I would risk a 2 for 1 for (meaning risking your creature getting killed while you target it with this enchantment). This effect is INCREDIBLY powerful in limited. It works great with the Inspired mechanic, good with Heroic, and is worth a spot in any blue deck you make. I’d have a hard time saying you shouldn’t take this as one of your first picks in draft, but I think it would depend on if you’re going the heroic or regular blue deck route. It would be a lot more effective in the UG, UW, UB, and UR midrange decks. I actually think this could give previous weak decks like UW which has big blockers some more oomph. Definitely a top 10 spot card in a blue limited deck.
Well, barring any removal from your opponent, this is basically turns your creature into a Disperse (M14) for a turn. This works great as a trigger for Inspire, as well giving UW heroic another cool combat trick. If you’re building a tempo deck, or just adding tempo cards into your strategy, you’ll want to play this card. It would work better in a non-removal combination of colors such as UW and UG. If you’re playing UR or UB and have the removal, it’s probably better to put this in the side. However, this is a good card for getting rid of gods, enchantments, and planeswalkers so it would be a solid sideboard card in those decks as well. It’d be a 9th-10th pick in draft for me, and probably take the 22nd or 23rd spot in my sealed deck if I didn’t have better removal.
My last pick for blue from Born of the Gods is Stratus Walk. It’s a cheap enchantment that draws you a card and gives you evasion. The drawback is that it can only block creatures with flying, but if I’m playing a UW or UR heroic deck, do I care? No. You still risk the 2 for 1 if your opponent has a removal spell, but if you’re casting this on turn 2 or 3, you don’t have much to worry about. I would probably take a card like Nimbus Naiad over this, but it’s not a bad card to have in your 23. I wouldn’t take it too early in draft (maybe a 12th pick), nor would I devote a spot to it in a sealed, but if you need a final card to finish up your deck, consider Stratus Walk.
Other Cards that Might see play
- Eternity Snare – 6 mana is a little high, and there are lots of other cards such as Voyage’s End that work as quick tempo effects, but if you need removal and don’t have many choices, this is okay to play. Keeping their finisher tapped later on the game and drawing a card isn’t a bad effect. I’m just worried it might be too slow.
- Floodtide Serpent – If you’re playing an enchantment heavy deck, this card is pretty good, but if you don’t have enough, you’re just paying 5 mana for a 4/4 blocker that can sometimes attack. Good if you have the synergy, but otherwise relegated to the sideboard.
- Nullify – It counters both auras and creatures, which means it will counter enchantment creatures for both their regular and bestow costs. This is a good card if you want some tempo in your deck, but for me I’d rather have creatures getting me closer to the win. Sideboard card.
Coming Up Next
So that’s blue. What do you think of the set so far (and I don’t mean from a standard point of view)? A more aggressive blue suddenly opens up limited and adds more strategies. UW heroic is stronger, UG is better, UB and UW also get some new cards to work with, but I think that even UR will see increased play (and do well) in limited over the next few months.
There are 5 days left until the midnight pre-release here in Japan, and I’m looking forward to playing with the new cards. Brewing decks is going to be interesting, and I think the Theros block is going to have a lot of interesting synergies. I’ll be working on black next, so expect the next article on either Monday or Tuesday night. If you have any comments or suggestions on blue, feel free to leave them below.