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Theros Beyond Death Standard Set Review: Black and Gold

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Find the the other parts below!

White | Blue | Red and Artifacts | Green and Lands


I will not be going over cards that I believe will not see play in Standard and I will not be going over the Commander cards that will not see Standard play. For example, cards like Elspeth, Undaunted Hero (Planeswalker duel deck rare) and Archon of Falling Stars will be omitted since they are just Limited/Commander cards and saying, "This is just a Limited card" repeatedly gets old rather fast. Don't worry though, I will be covering all the rare and mythic cards in the actual Theros: Beyond Death set. So, if you like a certain rare or mythic, it will be mentioned in the review.

Keep in mind I'm rating all these cards for Standard playability. I will mention Modern applications if I believe the card has some.

Each card will be listed by color, then alphabetically by name.

Each card will be given a rating of 1-5. If a card would receive a 0, meaning it will see no play in that format ever, its rating is left off the list.

Rating | Explanation | Standard Examples

0 - Will never see play in this format (0 ratings are not listed).

1 - Unlikely to see play. (Light of the Legion)

2 - Could see fringe play, or occasional sideboard card. (Drowned Secrets)

3 - Commonly played, staple in a single deck, or frequent play in several decks. (Oath of Kaya, Thought Erasure, Lava Coil)

4 - Format staples. Sees play in multiple decks, one of the best cards in the format. (Hydroid Krasis, Risen Reef, Narset, Parter of Veils)

5 - Format warping. If you're in these colors, you play that card. (Teferi, Time Raveler, Nissa, Who Shakes the World)

Now that we have that out of the way, let's begin!

Agonizing Remorse
4 - Thought Erasure is very good and Agonizing Remorse will probably be better overall since you don't need Blue to play it. Very solid card that will see a lot of play in all sorts of different Black decks.
Aphemia, the Cacophony
3 - This is a great card. 2 mana for a 2/1 flier that makes 2/2s every turn is extremely powerful. Curves well from a Dead Weight or even from a Mire's Grasp.
Cling to Dust
2.5 - A solid Sideboard or even main deck card if you're playing best of one. Just make sure you time it right if you're trying to get rid of a Cauldron Familiar, make sure your opponent doesn't have more Food laying around.
Drag to the Underworld
2.5 - I miss Go for the Throat and Doom Blade. Drag to the Underworld is a fine card if you're playing devotion as it should be a Murder for two or 3 mana. Seems good in Pioneer too for the Mono-Black aggro deck.
Eat to Extinction
2 - Rather have Vraska's Contempt. Eat to Extinction will be great against cards with Escape, like Elspeth and the Titans, but it's not worth it to play main deck in my opinion and I'd rather play Erebos's Intervention.
Elspeth's Nightmare
2 - Another Saga where it will be hard to hit both chapter one and two as aggressive decks don't play many non-creature / nonland cards. Also, 3 mana to kill a 2-drop is not very mana efficient. This could see play but I don't expect it to unless the meta changes a bit.
Erebos, Bleak-Hearted
2.5 - Erebos is a fine singleton card to play in sacrifice decks and devotion decks but I wouldn't play too many as you never want to see more than one Erebos. It's a fine card but it's not a card you're looking for every game. I expect to see one to two Erebos in decks that want him.
Erebos's Intervention
4 - This reminds me of a better Battle at the Bridge. It can deal with Gods while gaining you life or Exile a ton of cards from graveyards. Great in all sorts of decks from midrange, control, ramp, and even aggressive decks. It's a powerful answer card and I wish we had more like it.
Fruit of Tizerus
2 - Decent way to get a lot of reach out of one card mid to late game. Can see it as a one off in certain decks that mill themselves a lot.
Funeral Rites
2 - A Divination that also fuels reanimation or Escape isn't exciting but it is playable.
Gravebreaker Lamia
2.5 - Tutor that Escape spell you want and throw it right in the graveyard, or maybe you just want to put a Drakuseth there so you can Bond of Revival it next turn. Gravebreaker Lamia is a sweet build around me card!
Gray Merchant of Asphodel
3.5 - If you needed a reason for devotion, Black has the best devotion card in Gray Merchant. It just gives so much reach and pads your life total.
Hateful Eidolon
2.5 - Just a cheap enchantment creature that can go into many enchantment theme decks. I could see this in a bw, bg, or even Abzan enchantment deck. Great with Dead Weight and Mire's Grasp.
Mire's Grasp
2.5 - It's a removal spell in enchantment form, so it's very good in enchantments matter decks.
Mogis's Favor
2 - Another cheap enchantment that also works well with Hateful Eidolon.
Nightmare Shepherd
3.5 - This is such a sweet card! This ability works well with Gray Merchant. The dream curve would be Ayara into Nightmare Shepherd, into Gray Merchant, then sacrificing your merchant to Ayara. It's lethal if you are also able to get a couple of points of damage in with Nightmare Shepherd or Ayara.
Omen of the Dead
2 - And another cheap Black enchantment. Great way to build devotion and rebuy that Gray Merchant!
Pharika's Libation
2 - Solid Sideboard card for black allowing them to hit things like Fires of Invention.
Treacherous Blessing
3 - This card looks bad at first until you realize you can get rid of it and gain a lot of value through cards like Doom Foretold, Enigmatic Incarnation, or even just Vraska, Golgari Queen.
Tymaret Calls the Dead
3 - Missing on this card on turn three is very real and can happen. I don't like that it doesn't guarantee a zombie. Worse than History of Benalia but if you're a graveyard deck then you'll want this enchantment!
Tymaret, Chosen from Death
3 - An overall better card than Withered Wretch, I like that it can try to keep Cauldron Familiar and Escape cards in check all while increasing your devotion to Erebos!
Underworld Dreams
2 - Great for devotion and a super brew with Emergency Powers!
Woe Strider
3 - A free sacrifice outlet is what people have been waiting for since Judith and Midnight Reaper. While it can't sac itself, it can eat the goat that it brought as a snack.

Top 5 Back Cards

  1. Agonizing Remorse
  2. Erebos's Intervention
  3. Gray Merchant of Asphodel
  4. Nightmare Shepherd
  5. Treacherous Blessing

Black has also done very well. I'm not a fan of another Thought Erasure in the format, but here we are. Mono-Black Devotion should be a thing with Cauldron Familiar and Witch's Oven. I love having varied answers in Erebos's Intervention, and Treacherous Blessing alongside Nightmare Shepherd are not fair Magic cards and will do some crazy things in the right shell.

Next up multicolored cards!

Acolyte of Affliction
3 - Better than Golgari Findbroker and Golgari Findbroker was good. Hopefully this alongside Polukranos, Unchained can revive the bg archetype.
Allure of the Unknown
1.5 - This is a really bad card. They get to cast the best spell for free. Even with Teferi, Time Raveler it's not worth running this card in your deck, just play Drawn from Dreams instead. Fun card for commander, though!
Ashiok, Nightmare Muse
4 - If ubx control makes a comeback, you can expect Ashiok to be there. While not as powerful as Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, it's still a very solid finisher for control decks. Even an attack from Questing Beast won't kill Ashiok outright.
Atris, Oracle of Half-Truths
3 - 4 mana for a 3/2 with menace that can always draw you two cards is powerful for the cost. The mind games that can be played with Atris is also super sweet. This is what I love to see on Magic cards, love the engagement cards like this and Fact or Fiction cause.
Athreos, Shroud-Veiled
2 - Too slow for 6 mana but it is a pretty cool card to brew around. Honestly, I'd rather the buy a box promos be cards like this than Nexus of Fate.
Bronzehide Lion
3 - Nice callback to bestow and Fleecemane Lion. Solid body for the cost and the ability is pretty great too. If this card doesn't see play, it'll be because there's no good gw deck.
Calix, Destiny's Hand
2.5 - Finally, we got an enchantment planeswalker. Calix isn't that great, though. Being able to miss on your plus one and also have your minus 3 removal spell not be permanent is risky, especially with Teferi, Time Raveler floating around.
Dalakos, Crafter of Wonders
2 - Pretty ridiculous with Embercleave, but Embercleave is already an absurd card. I really don't see a home for Dalakos at all in Standard. You'd be much better off building around him in Brawl or Commander.
Dream Trawler
4 - Prognostic Sphinx had a revelation and is now a Dream Trawler! This card is a solid finisher for uw decks. uw has lacked a good finisher but now it has it in Dream Trawler. It has everything a control mage wants except flash, but I think that will be fine.
Enigmatic Incarnation
3.5 - Probably the best brew around card in the set as you really must think about the number of enchantments you want to run and the number of creatures. Plus what each enchantment can turn into etc. One annoying thing is it can't sacrifice itself which means it can be vulnerable to Teferi, Time Raveler. If you find the right shell for Enigmatic Incarnation, it's going to be nuts though!
Gallia of the Endless Dance
3 - What an insane lord. Even if you don't have any Satyrs in your deck Gallia is still a solid 2-drop. When you're able to start discarding random cards for card advantage then you're really getting your value out of her.
Haktos the Unscarred
3 - What's important to know about Haktos is that he gains protection from EVERYTHING ELSE that's not the chosen number. Basically, a Boros True-Name Nemesis with one small Achilles heel. You can't even sideboard cards for Haktos since it's random. I expect Haktos to kill many, many players since it will be unblockable most of the time.
Klothys, God of Destiny
3 - Deathrite Shaman is now a God and is somehow rg! Klothys gives reach and ramp to Gruul decks. I expect to see her to a lot of work for Gruul stratigies that aren't hyper aggressive.
Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger
2.5 - Kroxa is not very good when you first cast it. It's only truly doing damage when it's escaped and attacking. I think it will see some play still just because Black is best at putting things in the graveyard and Kroxa is still free card advantage when you're filling up your graveyard.
Kunoros, Hound of Athreos
2.5 - So, all dogs do go to Nyx! Kunoros is a hate card that can easily be played main deck. I believe these cards are more geared toward best of one games where you can play a decent card that can also combat certain metagames. Great against cat oven decks!
Polukranos, Unchained
3 - Polukranos is back, baby, and he mad! A very powerful card on its own and then even bigger and stronger when he escapes. Polukranos is going to fight and kill many, many creatures. Keep in mind, though, that if Polukranos blocks Questing Beast it will die, no matter how many counters Polukranos has on itself. However, if you use Polukranos's ability to fight Questing Beast then Polukranos will come out on top.
Rise to Glory
2.5 - Target Minion's Return and put it on an opponent's creature, then reanimate Cavalier of Night and kill that creature just to reanimate it back on your side. VALUUUEEEE!
Siona, Captain of the Pyleas
2.5 - Seems solid in an aura enchantments matter deck. We just need to see if we have enough auras to make playing Siona, Captain of the Pyleas worthwhile. We might have to wait to use her until we have access to more auras and enchantments.
Staggering Insight
3 - Go away Curious Obsession, nobody wants you here! Now not only do Obsession decks draw cards but they also gain life to help them cast all those cards they drew. It's like Sphinx's Revelation and Curious Obsession had a baby.
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath
4.5 - WOW! What an amazing card. Risen Reef is already a great card, but you are kind of forced to play all 4 if you play any. Not the case with Uro, you can easily just slot in a couple into your deck and get a ton of value off this card, especially when it escapes and starts attacking. Such a great and powerful card.

Top 5 Multicolored cards

  1. Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath
  2. Dream Trawler
  3. Ashiok, Nightmare Muse
  4. Enigmatic Incarnation
  5. Acolyte of Affliction

Looks like Simic got the best multicolored card again. It even has two in the top five in Uro and Enigmatic Incarnation. At least Incarnation will take a while to break as you need to build the deck correctly to abuse it. Enigmatic Incarnation is also a card that's just going to get better the more enchantments we get access to.

Tomorrow we'll be going over the Red and artifact cards, see you then!

As always, thanks for reading,

Ali Aintrazi

Follow me @AliEldrazi

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