At the time this article hits the internet, there will be roughly 24 hours before hardcore Magic fans have their hands on the first Born of the Gods cards at midnight Prerelease events.

Others will be asleep. (Either way, it will be very exciting.)

So you’re here to see what Team GDC thinks of the new set, and its EDH applications. We intend to deliver just that. (Sort of.)

Born of the Gods is already a fickle beast. As with any middle set of a flavor-first block, the joy of the theme has worn off slightly, and we find ourselves looking more at mechanics and card design. Things have changed up a little with BotG from what Theros brought to the table, so let’s do a quick overview:

-The Gods are back. This time, they’re dual-colored and in the vein of the original color pairs (think Azorius, Selesnya, Rakdos, Dimir, and Gruul.) Devotion requirement are a little higher, and they only have passive abilities that either trigger or are continuous, rather than the Theros gods and their added activated abilities. Some might say these are powered-down in comparison as a result.

-New keywords!

Inspired – Things happen when creatures untap. Lots of exciting design space here, and Gilder Bairn doesn’t feel quite so lonely anymore.

Tribute – Either your opponents pay the cost and the creature enters the battlefield slightly larger than it otherwise would, or something way more powerful happens instead. (I’m guessing the implications of a big-mana casual format on this mechanic were considered for about eight seconds.)

In other words, enjoy your slightly-larger creature.

Past that, you’ll see a lot of familiar territory. The Bestow mechanic is back, as are creature/enchantment hybrids. The real meat of the set (in my opinion) comes from two new cycles – the Fated cycle (some strong instants that give you free scry 2 if you play them on your own turn) and the Archetype cycle (enchantment creatures that grant a keyword ability like flying or first strike to your creatures while also removing – and preventing – the ability from happening for your opponents’ creatures.)

I’m getting a bit too deep, though. Instead of going all-in on a comprehensive set review like we did with Theros, each member of Team GDC is here to weigh in on their personal top picks, cards they would rather not see, and mechanics and other assorted odds and ends that they feel will be changing the face of EDH.

Have fun at the Prereleases, everyone, and enjoy our look at Born of the Gods.

Cass – @GDCCommander

Can’t Wait to Play

Fated Return

Hands down, the Fated cards are my favorite thing about Born of the Gods. Anyone who has spent any time reading my articles across the internet knows how I feel about instant-speed actions; for the un-initiated, I want to be playing all the time, not just on my turn. Return to Dust has always been a favorite card of mine, but I find it hard to pass up on the double-play I get playing it on my turn; this cycle is a strict improvement. I don’t lose any action going off on another turn, and the bonus for playing it on my own is a nice touch if I can swing it. I expect to be playing a lot of these.

Fated Infatuation is a close second, but Return gets me a creature as well, and also includes my all-time favorite keyword in indestructible as part of the deal.

Honorable Mention

Silent Sentinel

Academy Rector, I’ve missed you. You look much better with a flying body that provides a beater and repeats the effect as often as I can attack. (And for the record, thanks for not being a “when this deals combat damage to a player” effect!)

I’ll Pass

Perplexing Chimera

For the love of all that is good and just, why does this trigger upon casting of a spell by an opponent? This is such a cool effect; would it have been too much to have given this guy flash and made it an enters-the-battlefield effect? As it is, this is set to languish in the “Well, no-one has been dumb enough to fall prey to an obvious on-board trick yet, so I think I’ll toss this in the bulk bin and play Spelljack instead” pile.

Such a missed opportunity on this one.

I’m interested to see how this mechanic changes the format

The Archetypes

At a glance, they’re so obvious, and I have no doubt that many will run the risk of ending up with the “format staple” label in short order. And for the most part (I’m looking at you, Archetype of Finality!), I think these will earn the distinction. They’re like a reformed descendant of the Praetor cycle in a lot of ways, albeit in a much friendlier way. Four out of the five are great effects to gain, and they have the ability to double as defensive options as well (Moat plus Archetype of Imagination, anyone?) even if you’re not looking to exploit the upsides.

These will see a ton of play. More than any other cycle in the set.

DAVE – @MdaveCs

First off, wump. I think part of the letdown I felt during spoiler season was because so few of the rares/mythics surprised or impressed me. This is probably due to both the smaller set size combined with gods taking up mythic spots, and to the higher concentration of cool effects at uncommon (darn you, limited). Anyway, here’s what made me think about EDH at all.

Make ’em say Unggh

Tromokratis

God. Ok not literally but seriously, say it with me like you’re Master P full of testosterone. TROMOKRAAATIIIIISSSS. Yeah. That’s how the idea of running out this lobster-handed legend makes me feel. I love sea monsters and don’t know why I don’t already have a Lorthos tribal. So here’s to that. And also to sweet monsters-in-the-mist promos.

If we’re getting technical, his ability is clearly on the weak end of the Voltron general spectrum. Fortunately, this isn’t flavor-EDH and his weird, kraken body can wear pants just as well as a humanoid.

Na-nah na-nah

Peregrination

This is the part of the song that you know everybody will sing along to no matter what, and probably shout. They might feel guilty about mumbling through the verses and not knowing any of the more original parts. But that won’t stop them from running it out.

I barely feel like I even need to explain why this is my guilty pleasure card. As if we (and I… I already have a resolution on the books to stop drinking the green-ramp sauce) needed another copy of Cultivate… Well whatever. I’m happy to get a 2.5-for-1 for four mana that accelerates my resource development. I’ll take that any day. In a way, this card is just better than its three-mana predecessor because it’s less of a dead draw late, in exchange for a later tempo window early. Sweet!

No tellin how bad it get, because the worst’ll vary

Archetype of Endurance

This is the EDH-targeted card that most has me underwhelmed. It’s best use is as… Glaring Spotlight. Here’s what I’m thinking. If you wanna run an answer to hexproof it exists for one mana. If you want to leverage hexproof yourself, you’re better off with various pants, because once you have enough guys on board that you want to hexproof up to make the eight-mana 6/5 with no abilities worthwhile, you’re already in wrath territory anyway. But I might be wrong. Asceticism is some card (oh wait, nope. It lets you regenerate through most wipes too. It’s way better.)

Bonus Answer – Mechanic(al Thing) That Matters for EDH – More Enchantment Stuff

Enchantments are still a very strong strategies in most groups because people don’t pack enough answers to the permanent type. Or, you know, they’re in Rakdos. So little role players like Dawn to Dusk and Griffin Dreamfinder, as well as more obvious bombs like Plea for Guidance and Silent Sentinel are poised to make those decks even stronger. It’s not like Enchantress decks are the only ones to run Auramancer now. Just saying, dust off your K-grips and Return to Dusts.

SEAN – @SwordsToPlow

Favorite Card

Karametra, God of Harvests

This seems like a bit of obvious pick, but I’m not exactly one for subtlety. It’s a strong effect and works well for big ramp decks. With creatures progressively replacing spells in Commander, this will continue to get better.

Least favorite

Whims of the Fates

I’ve heard a few people mention this as “fun” in chaos decks, but I’m not sure why. Random destruction seems randomly bad. I’m really hoping to not see people add this to their decks.

Mechanic with the greatest effect on EDH

The Gods

The more of these that get printed the more answers decks will need for indestructible enchantments. That means green, white, and blue will be able to adapt while red and black take huge metagame hits to their power level. This really means that we should see Avarice Totem in more and more decks. It is a universal colorless way of dealing with gods. All Is Dust may become the favorite wrath above Oblivion Stone with the gods taking over.

IMSHAN – @generalspeak

Born of the Gods is pretty exciting. Bicolour gods (who are not simply better than Theros’ batch), more bestow, more heroic, and some new mechanics too! I’m often of the mind that I want more of the same and Born of the Gods delivers; I actually prefer blocks with steady mechanics all the way through, like Scars of Mirrodin block, and unlike ones where they radically change for the last set (I’m looking at you Innistrad block).

Favourite Card of the Set

Spirit of the Labyrinth

This card has a lot going on, and I think that it’s not an exaggeration that this card might see play in Vintage or Legacy. 3/1 for 1W is nice, especially in 20-life formats, but what gets me is the impact that can be had for that cost. The shutting down extra draws is powerful, and the potential high impact for low cost is attractive, especially for Commander which is stereotypically a plodding format.

I can’t tell you how much I like this; Consecrated Sphinx can go die in a fire, value creatures like Mulldrifter can be overcosted and awful, and even Azami, Lady of Scrolls can feel the pinch. And it’s in white, which needs to level the “draw” playing field most of all. Maybe best of all? You can break the symmetry with non-draw effects that net you cards, like Fact or Fiction, or replacement effects like Abundance. Mostly, I just like that if white can’t draw cards, it can at least say that no one can.

Least Fave Card of the Set

Phenax, God of Deception

I play black and blue a lot, and to say that Phenax is disappointing is a massive understatement. I’m not especially fond of most gods in this cycle, but Phenax is the most softballed lazy pile of garbage imaginable. Mill? A mechanic not especially loved. 4/7 on an indestructible body? Couldn’t you at least be Erebos level? Why is Karametra 6/7 for the same cost?! Mana cost? A five converted mana cost for this? The whole thing is just so disappointing. And this, right on the tails of Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker as the previous U/B legendary creature. I am disappoint.

Highest Impact Mechanic

Although it isn’t a “mechanic” per se, I think the gods’ indestructibility will continue to have the greatest impact on Commander as a whole. There’s a new tuck effect in green [Editor’s Note: It’s a renaming of Deglamer, so now you can run that and Unravel into Ether to deal with pesky gods.], clearly meant to deal with gods.

If you play gods as commanders, you’ll find that they are generally inviolate; they’re usually too aggressively costed (Phenax, you have failed me for the last time) and take too narrow removal to ever cost 8-10 mana. In my experience with Nylea, you’ll pretty much have to cripple them with a Pacifism effect, or tuck them. This, more than heroic, bestow and inspired, will continue to make waves in Commander. And Arena will continue to be an enormously unfair card in a deck helmed by a god.

Mr. P – @thingsMrPthinks

Fave Card of the Set

Archetype of Aggression

I won’t lie: I love EDH, but it has totally hit critical mass. At this point, if you were to start playing the format today, you would have absolutely no problem finding at least one general in EVERY single possible color combination that is totally archetypal and linear. What this means is that I find myself much more enamored with Generals that seem unique or non-linear, which is why I love my Lovisa Coldeyes deck even if I don’t play it very much. Whenever a new card comes out that slots into a lower power deck that needs help, that makes me happy. Oh hey, this dude is a Warrior. Also, now my team has trample.

Least Fave Card of the Set

The Blue/Black and Green/White gods (Phenax, God of Deception and Karametra, God of Harvests)

Hey, remember when I complained about linear or archetypal generals? Oh hey, Phenax. Hey, remember when everyone snap jammed Sylvan Primordial into every single green deck ever? Oh hey, Karametra. Hey, remember when I talked about how many decks can’t ever get rid of an indestructible Enchantment? Oh hey.

Card/Mechanic/Criteria that will have the biggest impact on the format

Gosh, this set seems, um, reasonably powered? I can see the Tribute cards having a moderate effect on the format as everyone who snap threw them into their decks realizes that they suck and removes them for cards that actually, you know, do what you want them to. Aside from this, I expect to see a bunch of Blue/Black Mill decks, a bunch of Green/White/whatever super ramp decks, and the slight possibility that Cats tribal will limp back into the picture for another go. Is this winning or losing? You tell me.

 

BONUS COVERAGE – Mr. P’s Born of the Gods New Generals Review!

Ephara, God of the Polis

What is the most obvious thing you can do with it?

– Build blue-white GoodStuff with a minor tokens subtheme. I wonder where on Earth you might find such a deck list.

How does it compare to previous generals?

– Well, it’s a different angle for Blue-White. Still, “draw a lot of cards” is not exactly new territory for blue.

What is the most interesting thing you can do with it?

– Ummmmm…

Phenax, God of Deception

What is the most obvious thing you can do with it?

-If you don’t know the answer to this, um, wow.

How does it compare to previous generals?

– Hey, a blue black mill general! Thank god they finally printed one!

What is the most interesting thing you can do with it?

-Ummmmmmm…

Karametra, God of Harvests

What is the most obvious thing you can do with it?

– Put it in My 1st EDH and loan it out to people?

How does it compare to previous generals?

– Well, it won’t make anyone think anything warm and nostalgic about Emmara Tandaris, so that’s in play.

What is the most interesting thing you can do with it?

-Build some sort of “lands matter” thing? Landfall.dec? Ummmmmmmm…

Xenagos, God of Revels

What is the most-  obvious thing you can do with it?

SUPER AGGRO GO GO GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!RAWR!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How does it compare to previous generals?

– Um, it’s super aggro go go go? Rawr?

What is the most interesting thing you can do with it?

-Ummmmmmmm…SUPER AGGRO GO GO GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!RAWR!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mogis, God of Slaughter

What is the most obvious thing you can do with it?

– Play something black/red that annoys everyone and isn’t Kaervek.

How does it compare to previous generals?

– It annoys everyone. It’s black/red.

What is the most interesting thing you can do with it?

– This deals damage, which suggests that it could be paired up with damage doubling effects and/or Pestilence/red Pestilence effects to do something very, very painful. I won’t lie, I want to build this.

Brimaz, King of Oreskos

What is the most obvious thing you can do with it?

– Trade it to Standard players! Barring that, Cats tribal.dec!

How does it compare to previous generals?

– Three-mana Legendary cat! Is this better than Kemba, Kha Regent? Probably! 3/4 attacks-a-lot dude! Is this better than Odric, Master Tactician! Probably not!

What is the most interesting thing you can do with it?

-Trade it to novelty-obsessed Legacy players. Barring that, trade it to Standard players.

Tromokratis

What is the most obvious thing you can do with it?

Forget that it exists in your first draft of this set review?

How does it compare to previous generals?

Well, if you didn’t already have a Lorthos Seafoodtribal.dec, here’s your chance!

What is the most interesting thing you can do with it?

Buy a bottle of Kraken spiced rum, and invite some friends over! Release the Kraken! Now it’s a party!

-Mr. P
@thingsMrPthinks