With Theros: Beyond Death coming out this weekend on MTG Arena, we are going to have a whole new format to explore. Yes, Standard will change some, but let's be honest - Limited is by far the best format!
With two Limited Grand Prix in New Jersey and Reno coming up, it is important we get familiar with the new cards. Arena Limited isn't cheap, so let's dive into the set and get as prepared as we can. Over the next five articles I will be going over each card in Theros: Beyond Death and discussing its playability. Please keep in mind I have had no hands on experience with the set yet, so leave your thoughts!
And be sure to check out the other entries:
Rating - Explanation
1 - This card is not making it into any of my Limited decks.
2 - Not good, but a necessity for filling your curve and smoothing out your draws.
3 - Value cards you are happy filling your deck with.
4 - Cards to get excited about and premium removal.
5 - Reserved for cards that will win the game if left unanswered.
Alseid of Life's Bounty - 2.5
I am not normally the biggest fan of 1-drops, but this one can be very playable. This feels like Gods Willing on a stick. It's important to note that its sacrifice cost is not a tap ability. It can be used as more than anti-removal as well. You can swing in for lethal by protecting your creature from their blocker.
6 CMC is a bit high but I am almost always happy to have one or two 6-drops at the top end of my deck, and a flying 4/4 can easily close out games. This ability is extremely strong for card advantage - Set is full of enchantments. Some may argue that it might not die, but if that's the case I think I am happy to just kill them with the 4/4.
This card has great base stats and adds 2 devotion. I believe constellation will be easy to trigger - sometimes even at instant speed, and that means this card can easily win the game if not dealt with. Even after it is removed you will most likely have gained extra value on board.
Banishing Light - 3
This is a reprint that is normally powerful removal, however, in this set it will be easier to deal with. The format has so many more payoffs for main deck enchantment removal.
This Saga does nothing I want it to do. I feel like this might be playable if it did not limit you to only fetching Plains. Any small synergy I get from the various chapters is not enough to ever make me happy to run this.
A 4/4 body seems to be fairly large for the format (event at 5 CMC), and its ability will be easy to trigger. This works a lot like D'Avenant Trapper which has proven to be incredibly helpful in closing out games with aggressive decks. This might even be more flexible with flash enchantments being more common than Historic cards were.
Commanding Presence - 1.5
Getting taken 2 for 1 with expensive enchantments is never fun. Removal seems consistent enough in the format for me to not want this card in most of my decks.
Dawn Evangel - 2
The cards stats are very base for the CMC. Not typically something I am happy to add to my deck, but is often needed to smooth out the deck. Its ability I can see the ability putting in work in the right deck, but not in the average deck.
This card feels better than generic filler as a base 2/2 that helps with devotion. His board presence is not powerful, but he is very strong for 2 CMC. I am more than happy to play this in my 2-drop slot.
Daybreak Chimera - 3
Casting this card for three should be fairly common in this format. Casting a 3/3 flier on three or even four can be very hard to deal with. This will fit into all White decks that are not worried about paying a double White casting cost.
Dreadful Apathy - 3
I worry about all enchantment based removal in this set. This card is more than playable, but I would try to exile the creature when given the chance to ensure you don't get hit with the inevitable main deck enchantment hate.
The stats are what I would expect from the CMC, and I am always filling my deck with 2/1 first strikers. Sadly its static ability is almost never going be relevant in Limited so it makes this rare no better than commons we see from other sets.
This is one of my favorite cards in the set. The fact that chapter one says "permanent" makes this card great removal at a four. Chapter two is filler, but then you get chapter 3 as a pure value bonus creating a HUGE board state swing. This is what Limited is all about. As powerful as a dragon, but a lot more fun.
Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis - 4.8
Planeswalkers are almost always amazing in Limited. Elspeth is no exception to this, however, I do think she is a lot less impactful than walkers we have seen in the past.
Favored of Iroas - 2.5
Low end filler at its worst, but in the right deck this card can be a solid synergistic piece.
Flicker of Fate - 2
Most of the time I'd rather not play flicker effects, but sometimes things in your deck might be worth protecting. Unlike many flicker cards this allows you to target your opponent's creatures as well, and that makes it a lot more flexible. It will not be hard to get 1 for 1 value by negating a more powerful removal spell or pump. Also be on the lookout for ETB effects, and cards that you want to cast on your opponent's turn.
Glory Bearers - 3
I am fine with the base stats for the CMC on this card. This will help you stone wall the aggressive decks, and its text box can easily become relevant when you are the aggressor. I am happy to have this card to fill out my deck.
As expected, Heliod is going to be extremely difficult to deal with in Limited. His ability adding counters to other creatures even when he is not active is going to make him extremely powerful.
This set is absolutely riddled with enchantments, and I think it will be easy to hit 2 targets with this card. This card is a 4 on its low end and I believe it has a lot of upside.
Heliod's Pilgrim - 2
The card has a reasonable cost for its ability. If you have the Auras it is definite card advantage. The bigger issue is that a deck full of Auras is often weak in Limited. I would say this is stronger in sealed where removal is less plentiful.
This card kept getting worse with every line of flavor they added. Rather than normal Pacifism (this does take away abilities as well so it's a little better), they added a time counter on it to allow the creature to work off its debt. It's like Monopoly - If you wait enough turns you get out of jail for free! -1 card advantage.
At worst this is a bear. At its best it is an amped up trick that makes big combats difficult for your opponent no matter what side of it they are on. Love having this in my 2-drop slot.
Hero of the Winds - 1.5
There doesn't seem to be any reason to want this card in your deck. His base stats and abilities are not very good, and his added text box is very low impact for a 4-drop.
Idyllic Tutor - 1.5
In the average deck I don't believe this is going to be worth playing. I believe this card becomes far more playable if you have a wide range of enchantments to allow you to adapt to your current situation. This card will be better in Draft than it will be in Sealed.
Indomitable Will - 1
Low impact auras are almost never worth playing. I would have to have a very synergistic deck with high ETB effects to want this in my deck. In the average deck not at all.
This card can fit well into both aggressive and control decks. For one mana this card is extremely flexible and I am happy to play this in all of my decks.
This card is good stats for its CMC and can fill out your curve nicely in what feels to be a low to the ground format. It doesn't add additional card advantage with the card hitting the top of the library (unlike borrower witch in the previous format), but it can help smooth out your draws.
Most 3/1's tend to only make the cut when I am trying to smooth out my curve. This card is no exception, but I do like the extra text to help with take away fuel for the Escape mechanic.
Nyxborn Courser - 2.5
The extra devotion trigger can be useful, but it does seem less necessary in this Theros set than in the past. The fact that it is an enchantment is a lot more relevant.
Omen of the Sun - 2
This card is doing many things but none of them well, but if you have any enchantment synergy this card will pull its weight. Flash allows it to also trigger cards asking you to play cards on your opponent's turn as well. Filler with upside.
Phalanx Tactics - 2
With cards like Reverent Hoplite you are going to be able to get a lot more value out of wide combat tricks like this. I am normally able to find room for one of this card type in most of my Limited decks, and I think the pay off might be slightly higher in this format.
Pious Wayfarer - 1
Slightly flexible 1-drop, but still a lot less impactful than anything i'd like to put in my deck. This is a 1-drop that only works well with a deck full of 1-drop's.
Reverent Hoplite - 3
The format does seem to be low to the ground and has multiple payoffs for going wide. Drafting Mono-color seems viable and makes this card have a higher pay off than it might be in other formats.
Revoke Existence - 3
Far higher value in this set than most. There WILL be something in the deck to hit with this card, and exiling it helps with the enchantment recursion effects on cards like Archon of Falling Stars, and avoids giving Escape fuel.
Rumbling Sentry - 2
Not normally happy to play random 5 drops in most sets. Its text box seems like an afterthought. Filler or sideboard against low to the ground aggro decks.
Sentinel's Eyes - 2
Slightly low impact, but the Escape ability can help this card pull its weight. Not happy to put in most decks, but I can see using it as a 23rd playable or wanting it with heavy fliers.
Shatter the Sky - 3.5
Having the option to clear the board in a game of Limited is always nice to have. I believe it is cheap enough to stop aggro decks before things get too dicey. I do believe this is less powerful than some of the board clears we have seen in other formats.
Sunmane Pegasus - 2.5
It's a little heavy compared to most 2/3 fliers we've seen in other formats. The added lifelink and vigilance will help solve some of the racing issues flying decks often face. Happy to have it in most decks.
Taranika, Akroan Veteran - 3.5
This card can range between a 3 and 4. Its base stats and devotion make me happy to have this is as my 3-drop slot. The card does have a lot of upside in a more aggressive deck. Potentially game winning upside.
A 1/2 flier for 2 is fine. Its ability will be less relevant than cards like Faerie Duelist, but the added enchantment type will make this a staple in many synergy based decks.
Triumphant Surge - 3.5
This card adds the "power 4 or greater" clause, but it is instant and takes away the common "attacking or blocking" clause you see on many White instants. That said I would normally put this card at a four (slightly off premium removal), but the format doesn't seem to have an exorbitant amount of power four or greater creatures in colors other than Green.
Top 5 White Commons
Tomorrow we will be taking a look at the Blue cards, seeing what it brings to the table in this new Limited format. See you then!
MTG Nerd Girl