With a new set fully previewed, I am pretty excited about the new tricks we get to pull off. Wizards focusing on Commander and giving us way more preconstructed decks and contributing directly to the format in other ways makes me very, very nervous, but if Commander becomes a less interesting or fun format, we can safely conclude it won't be this set's fault. There are a couple of problem cards, but overall, the set looks like a lot of fun.
When I do these set reviews, I am going to point to cards that encapsulate 75% principles well and ones which have a spot waiting for them in one of my decks. You don't need me to tell you that Dryad of the Ilysian Grove is a good cards - we have a great team of writers who can help you with that. Some of these picks might not make your Top 10 best cards of the set list but that's not what we're trying to do here. I'm not saying don't argue with me in the comments, absolutely do that, I'm just saying I want everyone to be clear what we're actually doing here. With that out of the way, I'd love to jump right into my list of the 10 best 75% cards in Theros: Beyond Death.
10. Nyxbloom Ancient
I'm not sure if this card is quite as exciting as it is worrisome which is why it's at the bottom of my list. It's pretty 75% to break parity by having way more mana than them but I hope that triple isn't the new double when it comes to card design. This dies to an awful lot of removal but seven mana isn't that hard to come by and this tripling mana from any permanent opens the door for dumb combos like infinite mana with Basalt Monolith. This won't go in every deck, but my Kruphix and my wife's Omnath, Locus of Mana decks will jam this right away. This contributes 3 pips to Nyx Lotus and makes it tap for nine mana at minimum so enjoy losing to that combo at the prerelease!
9. Thryx, the Sudden Storm
Making your spells uncounterable is pretty strong. Making a certain class of spells uncounterable is a little more 75%. Granted, it would obviously be much better if you shut down counters entirely, but I don't like one card that invalidates an entire strategy, even an irritating one like counter soft locks. The mana savings are non-trivial and this card is very interesting. I have made multiple versions of Riku, but all of them could use a card like this to make sure our big spells resolve and to cast them early. I have thought about using Boseiju more so spells like Expropriate always resolve and this makes my spells even more likely to resolve. I'm a fan.
8. Allure of the Unknown
This card can be scary. A simple Fact or Fiction allows your opponents to make a mistake with the piles and give you everything you want, and really benefits you when there are no good options for your opponent. This card, though, is much more likely to benefit them and they're less likely to make a mistake if there is something very good they can use. However, the chaotic elements to this card, the possibility to use this as a political card, perhaps shipping another player removal they can use the stop someone who pulled ahead and the fact that this is a draw 5 for 5 makes this absurdly powerful. This was designed to be a little more fair in 1v1 where you're giving your only opponent something to beat you with but there are way more possibilities in multiplayer and that's where I plan to use this. I just finished my Chainer deck and already I have to make a cut to make room for this.
7. Enigmatic Incarnation
This is a very specific card with very specific conditions that can be a powerful engine for getting creatures out. We have to build with a mixture of Enchantments and Creatures to really benefit, but some of my decks already do that. We could sac a Hatching Plans to get an Eternal Witness to get Hatching Plans back. We could sac a Utopia Sprawl to go get an Argothian Enchantress. My Estrid deck runs about 10 creatures and being able to tutor for all of them is very attractive, especially since the deck has ways to bring the enchantments that I sacced back from the grave. Decks with Replenish effects will really benefit from this spicy card. I'm excited to brew with this and foils are going to look hot. This card shows they could easily make Simic do exciting and dynamic things and the fact that they rarely do is a choice.
6. Woe Strider
This likely doesn't replace Viscera Seer as a sac outlet for the decks that want it but this is absolutely going to replace Yahenni, Undying Partisan in any decks I have that run them. Woe Strider dies more easily but it comes back, makes a token when it enters play and is a redundant copy of Viscera Seer's ability. Woe Strider isn't flashy but it's a very useful creature that is bound to see a lot of play and I'm excited.
5. Nylea's Intervention
This card is very interesting to me because modal cards are quite good. Deck space is limited and cards that can do two different things are very effective use of our limited. You won't want to Hurricane every time you draw this, or even every third time, but the games where you need it, you'll be glad you have it. This could take down a ton of Dragons or angels for a low mana investment and if you don't need to teach their whole board the lesson of Icarus, you can casually go grab an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and a Cabal Coffers. This isnt quite Hour of Promise since it puts the lands into your hand, but putting extra lands into play has never been an issue for Green decks. Besides, Hour is capped at 2 lands and this can assemble Urzatron, get a host of Snow-Covered lands for your Extraplanar Lens or just thin your deck. This card doesn't go in every Green deck but I have a few homes for it for sure.
4. Nadir Kraken
This turns your Rhystic Study into even more of a value machine. You build tall and wide all at the same time, and it's not as if Blue has any shortage of ways to trigger this. I am a big fan of Blue creatures that grow and care about card drawing and this could be a nice pairing with Chasm Skulker. I don't think this is just for silly tribal decks - I think there are plenty of decks that care about +1/+1 counters and this giving you creature tokens, too, is exploitable.
3. Ashiok's Erasure
With a little bit of work, this can be a repeatable counterspell, but you give the spell back to them which makes this difficult to use, but less of a feel-bad when you counter their spell. I love the idea of an Oblivion Ring for the stack. Countering a Teferi's Protection and not letting anyone else but you play Teferi's Protection while it's under there can swing the game, but any spell you exile can be impactful. This seems easier to re-use than most Counterspells, harder to abuse because it costs 4 and an interesting twist on countermagic. I love the idea of popping a Sterling Grove to find this and I love the idea of giving them their spells back and countering something else. This is a very interesting design and I'm a fan.
2. Kiora Bests the Sea God
There aren't a ton of ways to steal their creatures in this set but this is a real beating for them. An 8/8 hexproof creature for seven mana is non-trivial and frosting their board is brutal, so make sure you do it to the player who is farthest ahead. Finally, you get to take any Permanent. Have you been toying with Confiscate for six mana? I have, especially in Maelstrom Wanderer, and this is just better considering Maelstrom Wanderer makes your new token have haste. Can we talk about how Krakens are 9/9 and Octopus tokens are 8/8 or should we save that for another day? Either way, both my Estrid and Maelstrom Wanderer decks are going to test this card for sure and I couldn't be more excited for a card I know I'm going to lose to at the prerelease. We can scale our decks to the power level of their decks by stealing their creatures and having the option to frost the board of the player farthest ahead makes this a powerful tool in your 75% arsenal.
1. Arasta of the Endless Web
One of our guiding principles of 75% deck-building is our assertion that it's better to punish people for doing things than to prevent them from doing anything. Limiting their options is good, but actively hurting them for doing what they want can be even better. This says "an opponent" which could end up generating quite a bit of spider value depending on how many players are up to shenanigans around the table. I'm not sure I want this to be my commander but I'm sure I want to test this in a few Green decks. This embodies one of our most important deck-building principles and for that reason, I am crowning this the most important 75% card in the set. But wait, there's more!
Honorable Mention - Eidolon of Obstruction
One of the ways I like to slow people down in Commander is to tax them rather than prevent them from doing anything. I think this may be a little too weak for Commander since it only taxes them by one and is only really effective against Superfriends decks, making it basically a sideboard card. However, it's worth using this as an opportunity to discuss how I am really starting to lean more into hatebears to chip away at my opponents' option to break parity without preventing them from having any plays. If I assemble enough hatebears that they have no plays, that's negligence on their part, but I'm not going to just 'Geddon people. I like cards like this and a wide, modest nerf on walkers is preferable to a Pithing Needle the way I tend to build.
What do we think? Did I miss your favorite 75% card? Feel free to argue with me in the comments - part of what has made this ethos grow so quickly is that members of the community made 75% their own and added their own ideas. This set is shaping up to be very impactful to our format with powerful Planeswalkers, Gods, Titans and some quality Enchantments that my Esrtid deck can't wait to jam. Next week I'll be back to building a new deck, so make sure you tune in for that. Until next time!