I love new cards—just love ’em! That’s who we are as Magic players. We are fascinated by new cards. When spoiler season hits, we will read entire articles that discuss the potential that just one card might have. For example, how many articles were written on just the impact Kiora, the Crashing Wave might have on new Standard, Commander, Modern, and so forth. Was she good enough to run? Entire articles sprinkled the ’Net, flooded with comments, because we can’t get enough of a new set.
Pain Seer be a force in Modern or Legacy? What cards might have an impact in Vintage? On and on, the questions mount.
So today, I am answering a simple question: What do I think are the Top 10 cards from Born of the Gods (in a casual context)? Let’s look and see!
Honorable Mention #1 – Archetype of Imagination – I always like to start my lists with a few that just missed the cut. Basically hitting at 13 on my list is this combination of Gravity Sphere and Levitation combo on a 3/2 body. It’s great because it acts a lot like Sun Quan, Lord of Wu, who is an amazing card, for the same cost (and just a smaller body). And Sun Quan is a house in multiplayer because he basically makes your team unblockable. As does this, and that’s quite good. Plus, nothing can gain flying later with effects and such, so you are confident that your team will be unblockable again and again, turn after turn. The only drawback is that it’s so fragile, and any removal spell this side of Shock will kill it.
Honorable Mention #2 – Spirit of the Labyrinth – There are a lot of people at the casual table who like to draw a ton of cards, and this shuts them down hard. In a similar way to the Archetype above, the Spirit of the Labyrinth suffers from Fragile Creature Syndrome. There are scads of ways to kill, steal, shuffle, or exile it. It slides into a lot of these sorts of early creatures that can cause a lot of chaos. (As an example, we have Stigma Lasher or Yixlid Jailer.) I wish it had flash and maybe cost another mana, such as Aven Mindcensor. Then it would be Top 5 material. But you don’t invest the same mana and time into this as you do more expensive dorks, such as the above guy, and that helps. It’s also a fast-beating creature that’s easy on the mana and can dole out some damage before shields are fully raised.
Perplexing Chimera – I know that a lot of people have not been looking at our good Chimera here as a potent dork, but it really can be. You can steal any spell on the stack—creatures, artifacts, planewalkers, or whatever is best. In a multiplayer setting, that pretty good, right? But there are some tricks under the hood that I have seen people miss. A fun interaction surrounds cards like Homeward Path. Swap it with a potent spell, and then take your creature back. If you are stealing a creature permanent, you don’t want to give it back, so use the Path after you have handed over the Chimera but before that spell resolves. (Note that the Path just swaps back creatures, so if you stole an artifact or enchantment or ’Walker, that’ll stick with you). There are a ton of tricks under the hood here for your consideration.
10. Xenagos, God of Revels – I wish he gave the whole team haste—that would be ba-roken. He’s still a nasty machine of death. Haste is amazing post-sweeping-removal, and said removal will probably leave Mr. Indestructible here in play. Cast that removal, and then plop down anything feasible, and attack with an empowered creature. For example, just play a simple 5/5 Dragon post-Wrath. Now swing with your hasted 10/10 on an empty board. And if you have a creature of competitive size, this can blow out the game. Consider a hasted Lord of Extinction. You can imagine how silly-stupid Xenagos gets quickly (especially in Commander when he doubles and speeds up Commander damage).
Peregrination – Do we need a 4-mana Cultivate or Kodama's Reach that will scry just 1? Yup! It’s another tool in the tool chest. For example, in Commander, I’ll often begin my green suite with those two spells and then wonder which ones fit the deck next. Some might want Shard Convergence, another Skyshroud Claim, and a few Explosive Vegetation. But many will want to consider this. We’ve seen how good a single scry can be on the Temples and other places. This is another way to add some deck manipulation while also digging for lands.
8. Archetype of Endurance – All of the Archetypes are interesting, and I enjoy the cycle. They will all go into Abe’s Deck of Happiness and Joy, a 2,700-plus-card Five Color Highlander deck. But four of the five are quite fragile, rocking a defense that can be ended with any Lightning Bolt variant. Their board presences are lacking. But this one is much better. First of all, it’s big enough to matter. It’s pertinent in the red zone; it’ll smash face suitably. But second, it gives the whole team hexproof, which means it also has hexproof. That protects it from any targeted removal while also helping the team. The combination of size and protection make it the clear winner of the cycle, and it’s one of the best cards from the set at the kitchen table.
7. Kiora, the Crashing Wave – Planeswalkers are a lot of fun in Casual Land. Don’t you just love having a friend by your side as you attack these unworthy enemies of yours? The concept is cool, and after Equipment, it’s the best addition to the game by far since legendary permanents. Kiora does a few fun things, the Explore is brokenly good, and the +1 can keep something from bothering you (or keep a creature of your own as a great blocker) for a while. The ultimate is every Timmy’s dream, right? She’s fun! But there is a problem with Kiora. That loyalty is awfully low. I mentioned before about how easy it is to kill the Archetypes and Spirit of the Labyrinth. The same is true here. Again, Kiora is very vulnerable to death, and it’s easy to take her down. I’m leery of just how powerful she’ll be—you play her, someone Urza's Rages her, and that’s it: dead Kiora.
Fated Retribution – I love mass removal. It is the great equalizer when playing multiplayer. Rout has always been one of the highest-rated Wraths because it’s 5 mana as a sorcery and 7 as an instant. So, here you get one that has to be 7 mana and is a little bit harder on the mana cost with 3 white instead of 2, but you get a scry 2 when you play it during your turn. It’s like Rout meets Return to Dust (and it also wipes out Planeswalkers, too). If you need the scry, just use it. Otherwise, keep this instant, board-wiping spell in your hand as an emergency release valve.
And now for the cards that made my Top 5!
5. Courser of Kruphix – Green likes lands. That much is obvious. And fully five of the green cards that made my Top 10 plus the three in honorable mentions will somehow help you accelerate or find lands. That’s a huge addition to green’s pot from the set. Our good Courser friend is like a light version of the heavily-played Oracle of Mul Daya. We know how good that card can be. This has a cheap cost and a bigger butt, which helps it out a lot. You can play the land, but you still have that one-land-a-turn limit. So you’ll have an extra card about thirty-three to forty percent of the time. Note that cards with scry or other similar effects will strengthen the Courser, and this is another tool to empower an already-powerful multiplayer deck type.
Fated Return – This card has everything that you want from a Zombify variant. It can be played as an instant if you want it to be. Otherwise, you can enjoy the scry 2, as above. It can retrieve a critter from any graveyard, not just your own. And, oh yes, the creature gains indestructible, making it really hard to kill again. Notice that the card is missing six powerful words: “until the end of the turn.” That’s right, the creature has indestructible eternally! It’s not going anywhere. When you add that to the instant status and the flexibility to use any graveyard, you have one of the best Resurrection effects ever printed for casual Magic.
3. Satyr Wayfinder – Our only common and highest-rated, non-God on the list is this humble body. I want you to take another look at just how interesting our Satyr friend is. For a just a 2-mana investment, you unlock a 1/1 body with a great enters-the-battlefield trigger. You reveal the top four cards, put a land into your hand, and put the rest into your graveyard. Now let’s unpack how potent it is. First of all, as a blind card, you’ll almost always reveal a land in the top four, so you’ll draw a card off it reliably. It replaces itself with land. Not bad for 2 mana. Note that it pulls the top four cards off your library, so it plays well with things like Sensei's Divining Top or Sylvan Library on one side and Scroll Rack and scry on the other. Consider it a great friend of the Courser above. It’s an amazing duo with those sorts of cards. Then, it also enhances graveyard-based strategies. Did I just add creatures that will pump up cards like Lhurgoyf and Boneyard Wurm? Did I add in cards like Anger, Wonder, Bloodghast, and flashback spells. Am I able to take advantage of a quick threshold, dredge, and more? Sorry about that! There are a large variety of decks that can use it, and it will be a lynchpin in them all.
Mogis, God of Slaughter – I like forcing my opponent to either sacrifice a dork or take 2 damage to the face. I have to admit that I really want to spring it on someone. While I do think, ultimately, that it’s the second-most-powerful God in the set, it looks like the one that’ll be the most fun. That’s what Magic is ultimately about, right? Having fun! Especially at casual night—it’s not as though you are playing for prizes. Might as well have fun! So, yes, Mogis, I want to be your servant. Please bring your slaughter to my table, and take your harvest of flesh.
1. Karametra, God of Harvests – Sigh. Karametra is the best God in the set. Sigh. Imagine if Born of the Gods had a vanilla creature with no abilities, but which cost just 1 mana and was a 3/3. Everyone would be talking about how it was clearly the best card in the set, but it’d be boring. I suspect that’s how Karametra will feel. Did I play a creature? Get a land. Did I play a creature? Get a land. Ho hum. Boring. She’s not smashery like Xenagos. She’s not slaughtery like Mogis. She’s not even draw-draw-ery like Ephara. Nope. She just finds lands when you play dorks, so you can play bigger dorks. She’s obvious, like a vanilla 3/3 for 1 mana. Get ready to see too much of her.
And that’s my Top 10 (plus three). The next card on the list was Gild (it’s rare that mono-black can so easily exile a creature, but it’s at sorcery speed, so no Top 10 for you).
Are you ready for the Born of the Gods madness to begin? Are you ready to inject another set of awesome cards into your decks? What do you think the Top 10 cards will be for casual games? Here we go!
See you next week,