We’re just hours away from the Born of the Gods prerelease. It’s an exciting time, and we’re all eager to learn the ins and outs of the new Limited format. Today, we’ll be exploring Born of the Gods in an effort to identify which cards we should be trying to fit into our Sealed deck. We’ll discuss individual cards and attempt to rank the best Limited commons and uncommons of each color.
We should revisit my Limited strategy guide from a few weeks ago to sharpen our skills in forty-card formats. Understanding high-level Limited strategy can only take us so far in this weekend’s prerelease events, though. Identifying the power level of our cards is the most important concept in Sealed Deck construction. We can play a tournament perfectly and still be at a massive disadvantage if we’ve misbuilt our pool. Let’s explore what each color offers us in Born of the Gods.
Enter the Sun God
White CommonsElite Skirmisher is a very strong card for aggressive decks with a lot of bestow. We shouldn’t be frivolous with pump spells to force through damage with this card unless we have the goods to close the game in the next turn or two as a result. Trading cards for damage is generally bad. That being said, the fact that we’ll be enjoying a free crack at our opponent when we bestow something here is nice, and a 3/1 body for 3 mana is reasonably playable on its own.
Griffin Dreamfinder may be a reasonable one- or two-of in some decks, but it’s generally pretty easy to fill this part of our curve with something more powerful. This card becomes much stronger when played in a W/B deck with a lot of Baleful Eidolons.
Nyxborn Shieldmate is a pretty nice one. We shouldn’t cast this card on my first turn unless we have an Ordeal to follow it up with on the second turn. That being said, it’s a cheap way to trigger heroic, and it easily picks up a good amount of value when we bestow it on something.
Revoke Existence is fine as a one-of, and we may want to sideboard in a second copy. There seem to be a lot of Disenchant effects nowadays, and I still favor instant-speed versions because of their ability to accrue card advantage by using them in combat.
Oreskos Sun Guide is a Traveling Philosopher with a decent amount of upside. This will make our deck the majority of the time we’re playing white, but I don’t think it’s something we should consider as a factor when building our Sealed pool.
Loyal Pegasus seems like a trap. It has great stats for a Limited card, but it requires us to already be ahead for it to matter. We could want this card in a very aggressive fifteen- or sixteen-land deck, but that’s going to be hard to construct when playing Sealed Deck.
Best common: Nyxborn Shieldmate carries Ordeals like a champ, triggers heroic, and provides some reasonable effect to the board when bestowed. This is the best common for most white Limited strategies.
White UncommonsAcolyte's Reward is an incredibly powerful card if we’re lucky enough to open a Sealed pool with a lot of devotion to white. The card allows us to swing a combat interaction in our favor by preventing damage, and it often kills multiple of the opponent’s creatures for the low cost of 2 mana. This is something we definitely want to be playing if we have a lot of white mana symbols on our cards.
Archetype of Courage is obnoxiously difficult to beat in a game of Limited when it goes unchecked. Any ragtag crew of dudes can hold even the most impressive boards at bay when Archetype of Courage is involved. This card increases the value of pump spells and devotion creatures, and it happens to be fairly ridiculous just by itself.
Dawn to Dusk is a card that can accrue card advantage and tempo when played in the right deck. It’s not the type of card we’d want to be playing more than one copy of, but the first copy will usually be pretty good in this Limited format.
Ornitharch gives our opponent options, which isn’t usually a great thing. Luckily, both of these options leave us with 5 points of flying power on the table. This is a tremendously powerful Limited card.
Vanguard of Brimaz can be difficult to cast, but it’s a good way to pick up white devotion if we want it, and its heroic trigger can be relevant in a lot of games.
Enter the Sea God
Blue CommonsChorus of the Tides gives us a Snapping Drake body with some nice upside if we have combat tricks or bestow. Snapping Drake and cards like it have always been very nice pickups in Limited. We should play this card every time if we’re in blue.
Crypsis is a weak combat trick that has the potential to finish the game when the opponent is low enough. It triggers heroic, so it’s playable in a lot of decks, especially those with multiple Staunch-Hearted Warriors or Centaur Battlemasters.
Deepwater Hypnotist is very strong in aggressive blue strategies when we’re ahead. It makes blocking very difficult for our opponent if we’ve been attacking. That being said, it won’t always be easy to send this into the red zone, and we should basically treat this as a 2-power body for 2 mana that fills our curve.
Divination gives us two cards for one card. We’ll almost always be playing this card when we have it, but it shouldn’t be something we play the color for unless we’re lucky enough to have a wealth of inexpensive removal or cheap deathtouch creatures.
Nullify is playable, but the double-blue casting cost means we’ll probably have trouble advancing our board and countering something on the same turn in most games. We should play this card every time we’re heavy blue in Sealed Deck because of its ability to deal with bombs.
Nyxborn Triton is a very good bestow creature. It isn’t quite a Nimbus Naiad, but we should still play every one of these we’re able to.
Retraction Helix is a reasonable/cheap trick that becomes much stronger when we have one or more powerful inspired triggers. This card has a very nice interaction with Savage Surge and with Triton Tactics, so we can value it higher if we’re playing either of those two cards.
Stratus Walk is a great heroic enabler, especially in G/U decks.
Floodtide Serpent may seem bad at first glance, but combine this card with something like Stratus Walk, Chosen by Heliod, or Scourgemark, and we can actually gain value from its trigger. We shouldn’t play this in most decks, but it’s very powerful when we’re able to turn it into a card-advantage engine.
Best common: Nyxborn Triton and Chorus of the Tides are the best blue commons in a vacuum, and Nyxborn Triton is better in decks with a decent amount of heroic or first strike, but Chorus of the Tides is very good anywhere. A lot of the blue commons swing dramatically in power level based on the deck they’re played in and should be assessed based on the other cards in our Sealed pool.
Blue UncommonsAerie Worshippers is a great 4-drop. We’ll usually be playing 2/4s for 4 mana in our Sealed decks, and the ability to pick up a few free Wind Drakes is something that has the potential to take over a game. This card combos nicely with cards that let us tap our creatures for value, but we shouldn’t be playing things like Witches' Eye unless we have a lot of potential inspired triggers.
Archetype of Imagination will often win the game on the turn it’s played—it’s a card that’s sure to close the deal if we’re ahead. This card will always force a race if the opponent can’t use a kill spell on it immediately.
Eternity Snare may have been weak when it was printed in the past, but this Limited format often encourages players to pile up on one large creature. This means we can pick up quite a few cards for nothing because the Eternity Snare replaces itself. We don’t want too many things that cost 6 or more in our deck, but we shouldn’t be afraid to play a copy of this in our Sealed deck. We can always sideboard it out of our deck if we play against something aggressive that doesn’t have much in the way of bestow or monstrous.
Flitterstep Eidolon carries Ordeals very well and makes a very nice bestow target. Additionally, Flitterstep Eidolon is among the best ways to finish the game in a deck that has a lot of toughness and not much in the way of offensive clout. We can conveniently curve Centaur Battlemaster into this card and put our opponent on a three-turn clock out of nowhere.
Meletis Astronomer is a great sideboard card against aggressive opponents with a lot of 2-power creatures. Its power level increases based on the number of enchantments in our deck. We can play this card in our main deck if we have enough enchantments, but it will usually be a sideboard option against faster opponents.
Oracle's Insight is very good in a deck that has the ability to turtle up and be defensive. Returned Phalanx seems to be a perfect target for a card like this. We should never cast our Oracle's Insight on a creature that just came into play because we’re giving our opponent an opportunity to deal with two of our cards for a single one of his or her cards. We should only play this card in a very controlling strategy, but it will usually be quite good when we do.
Siren of the Fanged Coast isn’t a Mind Control or an Air Elemental. Both sides of this card are great Limited plays, but giving the opponent the option with a card like this makes it weaker than either half. Still, this card should be played every time if we’re in blue.
Vortex Elemental can carry an Ordeal on an empty board, trade with large monsters on the ground, and force some action in a clogged board. That being said, it requires leaving mana open, and there are a lot of ways in which the opponent can circumvent its effect on the game. We shouldn’t be eager to play more than one copy of this card, but it’s definitely worth experimenting with in the new Limited format.
Best uncommon: Archetype of Imagination forces a race and increases the value of the rest of the cards in our deck. The card is especially powerful in a G/U deck, but it should be played in any color combination.
Enter the God of the Dead
Black CommonsAsphyxiate is a removal spell that’s usually going to be killing something that cost more than 3 mana. This card is a lackluster top-deck when a giant monster is beating us down already, but it’s super-clutch when both players are establishing their board positions.
Eye Gouge is a fine combat trick that deals with potential problem cards and Ordeal carriers such as Sedge Scorpion or Vaporkin. There also happen to be a few Cyclops in Theros and Born of the Gods. It’ll be pretty nice to kill an Ill-Tempered Cyclops for 1 mana when it becomes monstrous.
Felhide Brawler is a fine 2-drop, especially if we’re able to pick up some Minotaur lords in our opens. We don’t want to be playing this card in our more controlling black decks, and those account for most Limited black decks.
Forsaken Drifters gives us a playable 4/2 body for 4 mana. Forsaken Drifters trigger upon death, and that can be beneficial if our deck is playing Pharika's Mender, Griffin Dreamfinder, Rescue from the Underworld, Whip of Erebos, or Odunos River Trawler.
Necrobite is a great combat trick that always wins against opposing pump spells. Triggering heroic, saving bombs, and always winning a fight are a pretty nice options for a 3-mana instant in this Limited format.
Nyxborn Eidolon is a fine 2-drop the bestow ability of which becomes stronger if we have a lot of evasion. It’s among the weaker bestow cards, but everything with bestow is playable in Limited.
Servant of Tymaret is a great target for enhancement of all varieties. It plays great defense and races reasonably well on offense. Regenerating causes Servant of Tymaret to tap, and this ability will often discourage opponents with superior boards from attacking into us, thus giving us opportunities to Asphyxiate their most important threats. We should play this card every time we’re in black.
Warchanter of Mogis essentially becomes a 3-power unblockable creature when it gets to attack once. It’s not the best card, but it will make the cut and be in our deck a good portion of the time.
Best common: Asphyxiate is a semi-hard removal spell that almost always kills something that costs more mana. Removal spells like this are very hard to come by in Theros or Born of the Gods.
Black UncommonsArchetype of Finality is extremely good, especially if we have first strike creatures to go with it. One of the most unbeatable Limited combinations presented in the new set is Archetype of Finality and Archetype of Courage. We’ll happily be playing this card whenever we’re in black, but it becomes an absolute bomb if we have three or most creatures with first strike.
Bile Blight is a very efficient instant-speed removal spell.
Black Oak of Odunos is a reasonable blocker that becomes very good if we’re playing enough creatures with inspired triggers. We don’t want to be playing this in most decks, but it’s definitely worth the slot if we don’t have many other options and we have at least three inspired triggers.
Drown in Sorrow is a powerhouse, especially in more controlling decks that don’t play 2/2s or 2/1s. The card is better than Infest, but bestow and the generally-large size of creatures in the format prevent this card from being a bomb like it might have been in previous Limited environments.
Forlorn Pseudamma is very good in an aggressive black strategy, especially against nonblack opponents. I would usually be sideboarding this out of my deck if my opponent is playing black, but it’s definitely worth a main-deck slot if we’re planning on attacking and playing black.
Odunos River Trawler has value written all over it. This card in conjunction with Baleful Eidolon will make the game very easy against players who aren’t playing white or blue, but it’s quite strong against those colors, too. We don’t need to be playing white for this to be a strong card, but it’s certainly a nice bonus that should be taken into account when assessing which colors we should be playing.
Shrike Harpy may give us an Air Elemental a good portion of the time, but there’s a decent amount of token-production and gravedigging in the new set, and it seems we may not be getting our mana’s worth with this card a big portion of the time. This card can make our main deck, but we probably want to sideboard it out if the opponent has two or more ways to make expendable bodies.
Spiteful Returned costs a lot of mana for what it does. I would play this card if I had a good amount of evasion or powerful heroic triggers such as Agent of the Fates, but we probably don’t want this in a lot of our Limited decks.
Enter the God of the Forge
Red CommonsBolt of Keranos is a fine removal spell. It would have been much nicer if it were an instant, but dealing 3 for 3 and scrying is definitely making the deck every time we’re playing red.
Fall of the Hammer is a great instant-speed removal spell. It’s a card we only want to be playing if we have a lot of creatures, but it’s very good when we do.
Nyxborn Rollicker is a great inexpensive way to bestow and activate heroic. Leaving behind a 1/1 body may not seem relevant, but it gives us something to bestow and clogs up the board if we end up racing in a home stretch.
Pharagax Giant is generally quite weak. We have a lot to do for 4 or 5 mana when playing red with Theros, and this isn’t the card we want for most of those decks.
Rise to the Challenge is a great combat trick.
Best common: Fall of the Hammer lets us trick our opponent into bad double-blocks, increases the power of our first-strikers, and deals with otherwise difficult creatures to deal with.
Red UncommonsAkroan Conscriptor may not look like the greatest thing ever, but it’s very good. It’s not unusual for players to go all-in on one large body or monstrous creature in this Limited format, and Akroan Conscriptor makes it very difficult for people to win races when it’s stealing the opponents’ creatures and cracking them in the face with a team.
Archetype of Aggression gives us a respectable 3/2 body for 3 mana and gives us a lot of incidental damage when we’re attacking with a pump spell at the ready. It’s not quite as strong as the previously-discussed Archetypes, but it’s still making our deck whenever we play red.
Everflame Eidolon can trade up and gives us a cheap way to bestow and get some heroic trigger action.
Lightning Volley reminds me a lot of Flame Fusillade. This card is especially strong with good inspired triggers, but it’s definitely worth the slot in any red deck with fourteen or more creatures. The card becomes very powerful, perhaps bombtastic, when we’re lucky enough to have a sixteen-to-eighteen-creature deck.
Pinnacle of Rage is a fine card that can pick up two-for-ones in some spots. That being said, we don’t want a lot of expensive cards in our deck, and using an early pick on this is probably a commitment to something chaotic and dangerous.
Satyr Nyx-Smith is very good if we are able to use its trigger even once. The card combos nicely with Lightning Volley, too!
Searing Blood is like a red Pharika's Cure. It’s good, but it may not be worth committing over unless we have multiples and a lot of good aggressive creatures. It’s making our deck if we’re playing red, but we shouldn’t play red because of it.
Stormcaller of Keranos is a good card in U/R decks, but it’s probably very weak when we can’t use its activated ability.
Thunder Brute is a fine top end to a curve because we’re going to enjoy a very reasonably-costed, large body no matter how our opponent decides to handle the tribute.
Enter the God of the Hunt
Green CommonsMortal's Resolve is a great combat trick.
Karametra's Favor combos nicely with inspired triggers while incidentally improving the value we get from monstrous creatures and ramping us into bombs.
Pheres-Band Tromper can get out of hand quickly if it’s able to start attacking right away. It’s a great target for a lot of the blue spells in this set.
Satyr Wayfinder is a pretty nice card that replaces itself a majority of the time and increases the power of graveyard interaction. I wouldn’t play this in most decks, but a Pharika's Mender or two would be enough to change my mind.
Setessan Oathsworn is a card that can be okay if we have a very dedicated heroic deck. This isn’t the type of card we want in all of our decks, but those rare situations in which we have ten bestow creatures will make this into a very formidable body quite quickly. Be careful not to bestow onto this when the opponent has a lot of open mana and many cards in hand. It generally won’t make the cut in our Sealed deck.
Setessan Starbreaker is a very good card in this Limited format. This card should make the cut in our deck every time and may need to be sideboarded out in rare situations. Two-for-ones are good.
Snake of the Golden Grove is basically a 4/4 for 5 mana. Our opponent won’t let us gain the life when it matters, so we should play this card as if it were just a 4/4 for 5, which is a fine Limited body in most cases.
Swordwise Centaur beats very hard when it comes down on the second turn. It’s a great card in mostly-green decks.
Best common: Setessan Starbreaker is the best common here for controlling decks and still quite good in aggressive strategies. Pheres-Band Tromper is the best common if we have a lot of ways to give it evasion.
Green UncommonsArchetype of Endurance is very expensive. We might play this if we’re looking for a solid top end against a control deck in Limited, but we should generally try to avoid playing cards that cost more than 7 if they don’t do something incredible the turn they enter the battlefield.
Mischief and Mayhem is a little too sorcery-speed for my tastes. It’s a lot of power for the mana cost, but it probably isn’t worth the card and turn unless our deck is aggressive enough to the point that this wins the game the turn we play it or forces two chump blocks. We’re usually not playing this in Sealed, but I could imagine some situations in which we would.
Nessian Demolok is hard to evaluate without playing with it. There’s almost always a noncreature permanent on the board in this format, and the two-for-one qualities of this card are impressive, but our opponent will always just give us a 6/6 if the Acidic Slime ability matters a lot, and a 6/6 for 6 that our opponent has control over may not be the best thing. We should play this card if we’re green and don’t have any other 5-drops, but we shouldn’t be eager to shove it into our deck.
Noble Quarry is very strong in the B/G deck in which it can jump onto a deathtouch creature. This card also becomes significantly stronger when we have multiple Sedge Scorpions. This card isn’t very good at catching up when we’re behind, but it’s huge when we’re ahead or when the game is stalled.
Peregrination is a fine spell in a deck with a lot of expensive cards or more than two colors. We don’t want this in a deck with a solid curve and good mana, but it provides us with an escape hatch when we have a difficult pool, and it can allow us to more easily splash a bomb rare we might have opened.
Pheres-Band Raiders is a fine 6-drop that can win the game by itself if the opponent can’t interact favorably on the next combat step. Unfortunately, our opponent has a turn to set up his or her plan, and this card is often going to just be a 5/5 for 6 mana.
Raised by Wolves is a very powerful heroic enabler that’s really good with flyers or intimidate creatures. It gives us bodies that trade with our opponent’s guys while also pumping up the intended target. There happen to be a few Wolves in this set and in Theros; we could see this giving a creature +4/+4 with some draws.
Unravel the Aether is an instant-speed Disenchant effect that only costs 2 mana and effectively deals with mythics such as the Gods. We would be happy to play with two of this card, but we wouldn’t play any other Disenchant effects if we did.
Best uncommon: Raised by Wolves plays offense and defense very well in a green Limited deck.
We should now have a solid understanding of the power level of commons and uncommons in Born of the Gods Limited. We’ll use this knowledge to dominate our prereleases this weekend and excel in the Drafts we do with our prize packs. It’s easy to see a rare and know it’s going to be a powerhouse, but real deck construction and card evaluation happens at the common and uncommon level. Join me next week as I begin to explore the ins and outs of Born of the Gods/Theros/Theros drafting.