Born of the Gods Pre-release: Building a Better Olympus

Wherever the gods in Theros reside, it’s getting packed. This last weekend was the Born of the Gods pre-release, and it added 5 new gods and 160 cards to the Theros limited format. Cruel and powerful gods punished any mortals that stood before them, and those wishing to challenge the gods bestowed themselves with powerful creatures from Nyx. Heroes were born and legends were created, but when the dust settled only a few survived.

How did you fare?

Friday, Midnight Pre-release, 16 people

Friday's deck, UG monster tempo

Friday’s deck, UG monster tempo

After a week of pouring over the cards for the pre-release, I was more than excited to build some new sealed decks with Born of the Gods cards. I started my pre-release weekend at Advantage in Kamimaezu (Nagoya). It’s a small shop so the midnight pre-release was limited to only 16 people. My friend had joined me and up until the release we had been discussing which colors to get. Some people were saying blue, some were saying red, but I ended up going with green and was NOT disappointed.

UG Monster Tempo (main)

  • Aqueous Form
  • Bident of Thassa
  • Nessian Asp
  • Omenspeaker
  • Archetype of Imagination
  • Divination
  • Courser of Kruphix
  • Aspect of Hydra
  • Centaur Battlemaster
  • Crypsis
  • Feral Invocation
  • Nimbus Naiad
  • Nylea’s Disciple
  • Nyxborn Triton
  • Prescient Chimera
  • Setessan Oathsworn x3
  • Siren of the Fanged Coast
  • Triton Tactics
  • Voyage’s End
  • Pheres-Band Tromper
  • Nessian Wilds Ravager
  • 9 Forest
  • 8 Island

I have to say, this was probably one of the strongest decks I’ve ever made. It had everything. There were big creatures, tempo, card draw, a few heroic cards with some combat tricks . . . I absolutely loved Courser of Kruphix and think it will become a very popular card in standard. I went 2-1 for 4th place with this deck, beating a BWU and a UW heroic deck before losing to my friend Rajib in the finals to his UW midrange deck. He played his tempo cards, countered my Courser of Kruphix on turn 3, and after that I didn’t draw mana too well and couldn’t get back into the game. My sideboard was also decent too. I had Unravel the Aether and other Aura destruction which came into play quite often.

My first thoughts about the UG archetype for Born of Gods limited is that it is one of the best. Blue is incredibly strong in limited due to card draw and tempo, which seems to be better than removal in other colors.  Blue and Green was also a popular combination in Theros limited, and it should remain so in BNG limited as well.

Saturday Pre-release, 50 people

Saturday's deck, UW heroic

Saturday’s deck, UW heroic

On day 2, I played at Amenity Dream in Osu Kannon (Nagoya) where 50 people showed up to the pre-release. It was a packed room needless to say, and I got pretty lucky again with my pool. I chose blue for this day’s event and went 4-1 for 7th place. I beat GB, UW flyers, RWB midrange, and GB midrange but lost to a BW thanks to the player’s big finishers and removal.

UW Heroic/Tempo

  • Crypsis
  • Nyxborn Shieldmate
  • Siren of the Fanged Coast
  • Oreskos Sun Guide
  • Observant Alseid
  • Hopeful Eidolon
  • Favored Hoplite
  • Oracle’s Insight
  • Divination x2
  • Nullify
  • Phalanx Leader
  • Revoke Existence
  • Elite Skirmisher
  • Coastline Chimera
  • Voyage’s End
  • Battlewise Valor
  • Chorus of the Tides
  • Nyxborn Triton x2
  • Aqueous Form
  • Arbiter of the Ideal
  • Wavecrash Triton
  • Glimpse of the Sun God
  • 8 Plains
  • 8 Island

This deck was just downright unfair. It had a great curve, tons of scry and card draw, more than 9 heroic triggers, flyers, and tempo. Aqueous Form was key in quite a few wins, but I thought that Revoke Existence did a lot of work in the main deck, as well as Nullify. Auras and Enchantments have become so mainstream with Born of the Gods that you no longer have to run them in the sideboard. I would recommend running enchantment removal in the main deck for BNG limited because there are going to be more than just 2-3 targets like there was in Theros limited.

Another card I was suprised with is Siren of the Fanged Coast. I hadn’t ranked it as highly in my review of blue cards because I felt like 5 mana wasn’t a cost effective, especially if they just give you a 1/1 creature to control instead of the counters. However, I repeatedly found myself in a situation where my opponent only had 1 creature (due to my tempo spells or combat tricks that killed his other creature) and more often than not they would let me get the counters to make him a 4/4 flyer. It was like having an extra tempo card. If you time it right, it can be a great card. I recommend it in blue decks.

The UW heroic (and UW flyers) archetype has only gotten stronger in Born of the Gods thanks to more aggressive blue creatures as well as better removal/tempo cards such as Revoke Existence and Crypsis. I absolutely love the heroic mechanic in draft and sealed, and if you have a good card pool there are VERY FEW decks that can beat it. The archetype is no longer restricted to the traditional RW and UW heroic decks of Theros though. I believe that it is more than possible to make heroic decks in other colors such as GR, UR, and GW now. Don’t be afraid to play those colors if you have the pool for it.

Sunday Pre-release #1, 35 people

Sunday, pre-release #1, UB mill

Sunday, pre-release #1, UB mill

Oh dear god. I lived the dream of building a decent UB mill deck at a pre-release. I had actually chosen RED as my color, but I had such good rares in Dimir that I decided to go with it instead. Yes, that’s an Ashiok and Phenax you see in there. I botched it though because I tried to play a RW heroic deck of game 2(which I also had a decent pool for) when I wanted to play faster against my 2nd round opponent’s slow deck . I think If I hadn’t of used that deck, I could have gone 4-0 or 3-1, but instead I ended at 2-2. I beat GWU aggro and RW midrange, but lost to mono blue tempo and Naya midrange. This event was held at the mom and pop store Mishimaya in Ozone (Nagoya).

UB mill

  • Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
  • Asphyxiate
  • Baleful Eidolon
  • Crackling Triton
  • Nullify
  • Griptide
  • Disciple of Phenax
  • Floodtide Serpent
  • Insatiable Harpy
  • Sip of Hemlock
  • Necrobite
  • Nyxborn Eidolon
  • Phenax, God of Deception
  • Retraction Helix
  • Returned Centaur
  • Returned Phalanx
  • Shipwreck Singer
  • Shrike Harpy
  • Akroan Horse
  • Weight of the Underworld
  • Fate Foretold
  • Flitterstep Eidolon
  • 10 Swamp
  • 7 Island

Once I opened the Phenax and Ashiok, my goal was then to build a deck that could survive until I got them into play. I loaded up the deck with all the removal and tempo cards I could find and any high toughness creature in my colors. This was tough because my pre-release box was the RED one, which mean pretty much all the cards in my seeded booster were worthless and I couldn’t use the promo card. I also had to be pretty clever with my removal, using cards like Necrobite, Baleful Eidolon, and Shrike Harpy to get rid of cards I didn’t like. If only I had more card draw like a Divination or 2, this deck could have been great! I can’t be too sad though, I was able to mill a few players for about 20+ cards when I played a turn 3 Ashiok, and I managed to activate Phenax a couple times as well, milling two opponents for the win (thanks Akroan Horse soldier tokens!).

I think this is a pretty strong deck, but you definitely need to have enough big creatures to stall the board and removal so your life doesn’t drop into the danger zone. It’s also A LOT OF FUN to play. Card draw is key though, so make sure you have ways to dig to your win conditions if you’re playing a deck like UB control.

Sunday pre-release #2, 25 people

Sunday pre-release #2, GB

Sunday pre-release #2, GB

I went with green again for my 4th and final pre-release tournament, and I was a little disappointed. I pulled another Courser of Kruphix and a Hero’s Downfall, but I had so few creatures in any color that I had to get creative and splash for 2 off color cards. The cards were strong, but I didn’t always have the colors I needed, even with a splash of blue, a BR scryland, and 2 cards that let me tap for any color.

GB midrange

  • Hero’s Downfall
  • Courser of Kruphix
  • Fanatic of Xenagos
  • Horizon Chimera
  • Baleful Eidolon
  • Asphyxiate
  • Cavern Lampad
  • Nessian Wilds Ravager
  • Nighthowler
  • Noble Quarry
  • Nylea’s Emissary
  • Necrobite
  • Nylea’s Presence
  • Nyxborn Eidolon
  • Pheres-Band Centaurs
  • Setessan Starbreaker
  • Swordwise Centaur
  • Time to Feed
  • Warchanter of Mogis
  • Weight of the Underworld
  • Mortal’s Resolve
  • Boon of Erebos
  • Opaline Unicorn
  • Temple of Malice
  • Unknown Shores
  • Island
  • 7 Forest
  • 7 Swamp

Aside from the Nessian Wilds Ravager, I didn’t have much else that could be considered a finisher. Most of my cards were good early on, but they had trouble finishing out game. If I had pulled a few more big creatures in any color, I would have done better but instead I went 2-2 again, beating GB midrange and UB tempo but losing to UW midrange (I drew 14 mana and flooded severely in game 1) and UB control. 

I think the lack of any card advantage or scry hurt this deck, especially when going up against blue decks. The GB archetype can actually be pretty good if you get some flyers in black and some big creatures like Nessian Asp in green, but otherwise I’m not too impressed with it.

First Impressions of Born of the Gods limited

 

Blue was winning all day long at the pre-releases, so in the future that’s what I’m going to shoot for. I think it will a good choice in both sealed and draft if you can put together a blue/X deck. UB control, UW heroic, UW flyers, UG monsters, and UR tempo can all be good decks. I think Green is also pretty strong, but it really depends on what you team it up with. Green and Red and Green and White would probably be good, but I’m not convinced on GB. Heroic decks in any color outside of black could probably work as well.  

At 10-6 in BNG limited so far, I’m going in the right direction but I still have a lot of work to do. I look forward to doing draft and sealed in the next few months before Grand Prix Nagoya in April (BNG/THS sealed), and will be posting any helpful information I come across for those of you that enjoy the limited format. I’m interested in how all of my readers did as well. Did my suggestions help at all? If you have any comments about your pre-release or just drafting Theros block cards, please share them down below. 

As for the special news I talked about on Twitter happening on Monday (Who Wants to be a Cardboard Samurai?), that will be happening tonight so be sure to check back late tonight or tomorrow for information! Thanks for reading and look for the start of my Bang for your Buck articles before Friday. 

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