THEROSSPOILERPart1

Check out the first installment of our set review for Theros, in which all of the writers at GDC come together to say whatever the hell we want about the cards spoiled in the past week that caught our attention. Value! (It also creates a sweet sub-game where you have to guess who wrote which review. Yay!) We’ll be doing a few more of these once there’s another critical mass of EDH-relevant cards spoiled officially.

Also, check out the spoiler list on MTGSalvation (or MythicSpoiler if you prefer) for card images and full details.

White

Chained to the Rocks

Chained to the rocks immediately begs comparisons to Journey to Nowhere. It also nominally resembles Swords to Plowshares; it’s one mana exile removal, and if you want a critter gone, this is the cheap and expedient way to do it. Unlike Swords, there is no life gain associated with it.

Like Journey to Nowhere, Chained to the Rocks lasts only as long as you can hold on to it. Chained has an increased vulnerability in addition; if someone ever destroys the underlying mountain, the Chained creature walks. In an environment rife with Strip Mine, is this worth the one mana you save from Journey? Probably not, but, at least your Kor Spiritdancer would draw you a card. In terms of enchantments that are removal, it’s much like Pacifism, Temporal Isolation, Arrest, and the rest.

Perhaps the saddest part about Chained to the Rocks is that Zedruu the Greathearted, the most common purveyor of these kinds of effects (because they can be donated after their good work is done), can’t donate Chained because it must enchant a mountain you control. This isn’t helped by the fact that there are already a plethora of Journey to Nowhere and Pacifism-style effects.

All this to save one mana. Why couldn’t you just chain him to your opponent’s rocks?

Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

Yeah…I suppose this thing is pretty good in white token decks, since it, you know, makes white tokens. It kills off big creatures, because, you know, white tokens. And then it makes white tokens bigger and flying, because, you knozzzzZZzzzZzzzzZzZZZZzzzz…

Ah…sorry. Nodded off with all the excitement here. Is this thing any good? I really have no idea. It’s incredibly narrow in application, and as is usually the case, also incredibly over-priced for presales. My recommendation is to sell this off as soon as possible unless you play Standard, collect planeswalkers, or have some personal desire to have this thing for some wacky reason.

Gift of Immortality
Gift of Immortality

Oh hey, the card everyone is bitching about for Zur the Enchanter decks!

I’ve played against Zur a few times, and it’s pretty annoying, but to me the funny thing about Zur is that he gets hated on really hard, and no one EVER mentions Bruna. Honestly, I would rather play against a Zur than a Bruna most of the time; at least Zur can’t find stupid Eldrazi Conscription.

Oh hey, I’m complaining! Quick, let’s pretend that this card exists in a world where Zur, Bruna, and Uril don’t exist!

This card is similar to Rescue from the Underworld (see below), which means that here in non-Bruna, non-Zur, non-Uril Land this card is an interesting way for white decks to get some extra value out of their dudes. The similarity of these two cards (and the likelihood that people will play them) also suggests that Grim Return might be worth considering adding to any Black decks you haven’t added it to already.

Also, play more graveyard hate!

Blue

Bident of Thassa

Look, it’s Coastal Piracy 2.0! Okay, now that we’ve stated the obvious, the second ability is what really sold this card for me. There are many ways to force an attack from your opponent, but this one is built on to something useful. The forced attack is not so much an excuse to start running Wall of Ice or the ultra-thematic Labyrinth Minotaur, but to grant you a blocker-free red zone into which you swing (and then draw cards!). There’s not much else to this card, other than encouraging red-zone tactics in a colour that is basically never known for it. Look for it in someone’s Sun Quan, Lord of Wu deck.

Curse of Piggy-Wiggy (AKA Curse of Swine)

I sort of hate that this card exists. More specifically, I sort of hate that his card is Blue.

I say that I “sort of” hate this card because I have a bunch of decks that really wanted a blue Plague Wind, and now they have one. It was always frustrating when building mono-blue that I could bounce creatures, or I could steal creatures, or I could play Ixidron and ruin people’s lives, but I could never permanently get rid of creatures, and now I can get rid of all of them at once (within reason). I know Cyclonic Rift is a thing, but this actually gets rid of them, for reals, forever.

The reason I hate this card is because blue now has a Plague Wind. For those of y’all keeping score at home, that now means that every color (except green) has a card that functionally says “Destroy all creatures.” This seems color-pie problematic.

Hold up! No one wants to hear me complain about staples and homogenization or the fact that they could have just made this a White card and not ruined my life! Sorry! Let me try again!

This card is awesome! It makes Piggy-Wiggy! As a huge fan of the movie Willow, I love how they did an awesome job capturing the flavor of a bunch of dudes that were turned into Piggy-Wiggy!

(Although, and it’s been a while, I don’t remember the movie Willow ending with all the dudes getting turned into Piggy-Wiggy, because at some point they got turned back into their original forms, right? I look forward to the spoiling of “Return from Piggy-Wiggy” in a week or so, because this card wouldn’t just RFG the creatures forever and turn them into Piggy-Wiggy, would it? Especially not in Blue, right? Crap, I’m complaining again!)

Shipbreaker Kraken Shipbreaker Kraken

I wanted to jam this card from the moment I saw it, but I may have a mild obsession with sea creatures. I don’t anticipate this guy crushing any dreams, but rather just being flavorful and fun, along the lines of the GIANT FREAKING WHALE (Colossal Whale) or Stormtide Leviathan.

As far as Monstrosity, locking down four dudes is only a little bit good. There are niche uses for Frost Titan, for example, and the Kraken is a great stall for difficult creatures like Avacyn, Angel of Hope until someone finds a Swords. Of course, at six mana for a 6/6 and then another eight mana to tap four dudes for a while and upgrade to a 10/10, nobody’s writing home about mana-efficient ship breaking.

Then again, I don’t know any eel-looking monsters with crabs on their heads that are all about ROI.

Thassa, God of the Sea

To me, the single most interesting thing about the new Chroma things that have been spoiled so far is how they seem to be very intentionally designed to contribute as little as possible to your Chroma count. If you look as something like, say, Primalcrux, part of its appeal is that you drop it onto an empty board and it’s immediately a 5/5. By contrast, playing this thing into an empty board still puts you a ways away from full value. That said, in non-critical mode it is an indestructible Think Tank with a value ability attached to it, which makes it, um, OK in non-critical form.

Once this thing goes critical, it obviously gets better, and the ability to drop a three-mana indestructible 5/5 that has other non-drawback text on it seems like pretty insane value and an absolute beating in limited. That said, indestructible creatures are not new territory in EDH, and the fact that this is always an Enchantment may or may not have caused me to go buy SCG out of Aura Thief, who is about to get way, way better.

Is this card “good” in EDH? Sure! Am I worried about it? Not really. I’m sure someone will figure out how to make some really annoying mono-blue thing with it, where it comes out early, Scrys into good cards and eventually makes itself unblockable for the win. Then again, the idea that a legendary creature could be used to make an annoying mono-blue thing is not exactly new territory, so there’s that.

Black

Abhorrent Overlord/Gray Merchant of Asphodel

A demon with a drawback! It’s like the good old days. So, what’s special about these chaps? Abhorrent Overlord is the latest black creature to join the ranks of cards that produce hapless (or not so hapless) creature tokens, like Breeding Pit, Sengir Autocrat, and Bitterblossom. Sadly, they will probably all get crammed into an Ashnod’s Altar for the inevitable dorky Exsanguinate (or Maga, Traitor to Mortals) in someone’s mono-black control deck. The real question will be how many tokens can you produce, and can this card break Carnival of Souls?

Merchant of Asphodel is disturbingly reminiscent of Kokusho, the Evening Star. Incredibly, it drains each opponent and provides two devotion to black all its own; all the usual Kokusho loops apply. Is it hard to create a big devotion to black? I don’t think so; Phyrexian Obliterator and Reiver Demon are not bad creatures who give a whopping quadruple black mana devotion. Necropotence, Grave Pact, Mikaeus, the Unhallowed, and many others are also very willing to help.

Perhaps most relevant to Merchant’s lifegain is Lich and it’s younger cousin, Nefarious Lich. Both of these also provide quadruple black devotion, and will draw you a card for each point of life you would gain (to draw you into more reanimation spells and sacrifice outlets. Obviously.) Furthermore, it’s a Zombie, which immediately brings Unholy Grotto, Lord of the Undead, and Rooftop Storm shenanigans into question. Needless to say, this will be a card to watch, given that his drain could be stronger than Kokusho’s.

Rescue from the Underworld
Rescue from the Underworld

Interesting card. Seems like they clearly designed this one in an attempt to avoid any infinite combo loops, what with the delayed return and the self-exiling. I approve.

Is this card good? Sure! It’s some nice value, and the fact that it is an instant and puts it back on a delay gives it nice usefulness against Wrath effects. It is interesting to note that graveyard hate after the spell has resolved can still get rid of the creatures that were going to come back.

Overall, seems fun and reasonable.

Red

Akroan Crusader (it’s only because of Seething Anger)

So this isn’t an EDH card. But I’m high on it anyways. Don’t play it. It will make your deck worse. I also really like Young Pyromancer. And the recently spoiled Red God makes him a little less dumb.

The coolest thing to do with Akroan Crusader, as far as I can tell, is Seething Anger and Braid of Fire. There’s a turn-two kill in Modern if you play in Magical Christmas land, but in EDH you just add this guy to your Tibor and Lumia deck, not because of any real reason, but because it gives you a backup plan to have no impact on the game in another fun way.

Hammer of Purphoros
Hammer of Purphoros
It’s pretty exciting to have an artifact that gives all your creatures haste and only costs three mana. This would be all over the place if it didn’t have red color identity. As it is, it’s probably going to be in a lot of red decks going forward.

Oh wait…there’s an ability that does something else? Hmmm.

<reads card>

Well, that seems aggressively underwhelming for a legendary hammer. This thing shouldn’t have tapping as part of the cost. I suppose that would make being legendary from a mechanical standpoint pointless under the new rules, but flavor-wise, it seems way better. (Editor’s Note: Ever notice how close tapping is to swinging a hammer? A Really Heavy Hammer that takes a while to pick up again?)

{Author’s Note: The thing is floating in the air. Can’t be all that heavy, now, can it? 😉 }

Seriously…can you imagine a god descending from the clouds and landing with a thundering crash, raising up his legendary hammer, and…crapping out one golem before calling it a day? Who’s that going to impress?

Oh well…can’t win them all, I suppose. This thing is still pretty cool.

Green

Bow of Nylea

Versatility town. That’s where I want to go. And apparently I’m riding Nylea’s bow because this goddess is all about options. I’m torn about whether it’s the all-deathtouch feature or the activated abilities counting up from one to four that I like better about this card.

Token decks, recurring-little-dudes sacrifice-matters decks – they’ll all like this. Lots of decks enjoy playing with +1/+1 counters, but there are several more efficient ways to do it. Shooting flyers for two is basically blank text. Three life isn’t great, but it means you can get value even on an empty board. And the last ability may be the most useful if you shuffle or tutor regularly, like another Battlefield Scrounger.

Just like with the RTR-block charms, more options on one card makes it worth more than you’d think because it’s never dead and fills a lot of situational needs. On the other hand, it doesn’t look like the bow from Hunger Games, and it’s an enchantment and an artifact so it dies to almost every variety of stuff breeze. But that seems fair.

Nylea, God of the Hunt
Nylea, God of the Hunt
Right off the bat, I’ll say that I’m a little over-enthusiastic about the god cycle. This is probably tied into my early love for Greek mythology, which ensured that I could tell you anything you wanted to know about anything in the Greek pantheon and also ensured that I wouldn’t get a date until I was about seventeen.

Anyway, I’ve been waiting for gods to be introduced to Magic since I learned to play the game two decades ago. This is awesome. I had an initial fear that Wizards of the Coast would come up with some rule surrounding the sub-type “god” that would negate the need to make it legendary and thus prevent it from being a valid EDH general, but thankfully they did it right.

So you can now play a god as your general. Awesome.

The dual mode (part enchantment, part creature) thing is cool too. It does mean that there are some weird non-flavorful things that will happen (“So I sacrifice my Academy Rector to High Market and put a God into play. Your turn.”), but the benefits outweigh the negative aspects. For example, the ability to mess with your devotion count to dodge Swords to Plowshares seems pretty cool.

Again with the dual mode thing, though…I like this application. There are some cool interactions that can come out of this, mostly related to tutoring (Yay!) and removal (Boo! Although if I’m doing the removing, then Yay! after all…)

So…Nylea. Indestructible. (If you read this site regularly, you know that’s the keyword that will sucker me in over anything else in a general.). I’m sold.

6/6 seems fine, I suppose. I’d like to think that these gods would be able to laugh at Eldrazi, but I guess you can’t win them all.

This thing will be great in green decks. This is not a shocker by any stretch. The ability to pump a creature is not too compelling, but adding trample to all your creatures in the same indestructible package seems pretty good. If anything, I’m unsure why this thing wouldn’t give itself trample; seems like a pretty easy thing for a god to do, but whatever.

Pretty exciting, all in all. This should see a lot of play from a flavor standpoint alone.

Reverent Hunter

Oh hey, boring Chroma guy!

This has the same Chroma issue as Thassa. In other words, it contributes very minimally to its own Chroma count.

Empty board: he’s a 2/2 for 3. Awful!

Average board: he’s a 5/5 with no evasion or abilities for 3. Whatevs.

Insane board: HE’S HUGE! (…player next to you untaps and wraths. He’s dead!)

Gold

Anax and Cymede
Anax and Cymede

Anax is a savage, angry ball buster. And his wife… supports him aggressively or something? In EDH he offers Boros a slightly different angle of attack. People dream of curving Anax into Tajic, Blade of the Legion into Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran into Aurelia, the Warleader into Gisela, Blade of Goldnight (into Razia, Boros Archangel if you really want…) for the full-on Boros beatdown.

You really want to spew out some other decent-sized guys and then Overrun with him. The decent options for targeting spells rarely see play in EDH, so running them is interesting. Radiance spells like Bathe in Light, Surge of Zeal, and Rally the Righteous seem like a reasonable place to start, but I’m sure there are more creative options. I like that it’s not too linear, but suggests some clear direction; I’m partial to attacking, so that piece of the narrowness doesn’t bother me. I’d rank Anax and Cymede below Daxos of Meletis in terms of breakability, but being a three drop means he might have a very high synergy upside in the right curve-focused shell. Just don’t bust out Ruination and Ravages of War to maintain parity.

Daxos of Meletis

Saboteurs (WotC Design and Dev’s name for dudes who have a trigger on attack damage) have a mixed history in EDH. Most are pretty bad, but Edric, Spymaster of Trest is clearly solid, and Ohran Viper and Cold-Eyed Selkie see some play because they connect. Daxos can only be blocked by chumps, which is worse than Islandwalk, but comparable to triggered deathtouch as far as chances of landing a hit.

I’d rather draw a card than cast the random top of my opponent’s deck, because in my deck I know there are fewer irrelevant “misses.” However, Spin into Myth and team offer a fun angle. It’s a free card, but only about 60% of a card; it says “cast,” whereas Nightveil Specter says “play.” So I’m guessing lands are off limits. Then there’s the life gain. After narrowly failing to kill a friend many times across many games due to Miren, the Moaning Well, I have a new respect for incidental life.

I’m not excited about building a Daxos deck, but I will almost certainly love playing against creative, mechanically themed decks commanded by the Meletian.

Underworld Cerberus

Not a sublte guy, the stats on this Greek Hellhound of Hell are relevant in other formats, but who cares about a no-evasion 6/6 in EDH? He does have three heads and thus flavorfully can’t be blocked by fewer than three creatures, but he’s never making it through being triple-blocked, so you’re probably just going to point him at the player with the weakest board, perhaps to make casting Rakdos, Lord of Riots easier.

Then it’s Ground Seal (does this mean a creature Torpor Orb is forthcoming? We can only hope!). In black/red, protecting fatties the yard from grabby reanimation spells a unique effect that I may be undervaluing. Lastly, it casts Empty the Catacombs when it gets knocked off. I’m sure you can break this parity even though the new self-exile prevents abusive loops. That protection seems like mainly a shout out to EDH and other casual formats, and I appreciate it.

All in all, this mythic won’t make a huge splash in EDH, although it will probably be a decent role-player in decks that aren’t too interested in Reanimate and cousins.

Artifacts and Lands

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Ok, first things first: at some point in the next three weeks, someone is going to (erroneously) refer to this as the next “land that goes in every single EDH deck ever.”

Again, this is wrong, but let’s start on a positive note and look at the last “land that goes in every single EDH deck ever,” which is called Thespian’s Stage and is currently selling on SCG for a whopping $.99.

These should hopefully (and most likely) be cheap (eventually, although I would imagine they would trade well the first few weeks, as Thesbian’s Stage did). (Editor’s Note: Good lord, the presale prices on this thing…)

But what about the more important question? Is this the next “land that goes in every single EDH deck ever”? Well, to answer that we have to pause for a moment and examine how achievable we think Chroma is going to be. The main distinction between this and Cabal Coffers (a similar-seeming land that you will hear people erroneously liken this thing to) is that Coffers only cared about having Swamps, which was relatively easy to do by either playing mono-black or cheating.

In contrast, in order to make this better than, say, a basic land, you have to have at least Chroma 3 (and at Chroma 3, this functionally IS a basic land in a mono-color deck). At Chroma 4 this starts being pretty OK, at Chroma 5 it’s good, and anything higher than Chroma 5 is probably pretty awesome. So how often do you achieve Chroma 5 or better? I would imagine the answer would be “pretty often” in mono-color decks, which are the decks that truly want this all the time (especially since it also taps for colorless, which is nice). This is probably only playable in multicolor decks if you are running something that pumps out a lot of (nontoken) permanents.

My initial impression of this thing is that it’s going to be good, but people will try to GoodStuff it into multicolor decks and have it do less than they expect. That said, I have no doubt that within one week of this set being released everyone who reads this will have experienced some combination of this thing, Seedborn Muse, Rofellos, Llanowar Emissaryand Yeva, Nature’s Herald to absolutely ruin your life. Awesome!

. . . . .

So there you have it. Round one. You can comment here or hit us up on Twitter to extend the conversation. Part(s) two (and three) will show up as soon as we’ve got more cards to complain talk about.

—>The GDC Guys
Dave – @MdaveCs
Imshan – @generalspeak
Mr. P – @thingsMrPthinks
Cass – @GDCCommander