Theros Partial Spoiler: First Impressions

July 12, 2014

Hi guys!

Waiting for Prerelease events of new set Theros, that will take place on Semptember 21st and 22nd, today we’re gonna take a look at the cards spoiled so far, trying to figure out their impact on the new Standard. It’s of course very hard – if not impossible – to identify new archetypes, but I’d like to share with you my first impressions about the new cards which stroked my attention the most.

Let’s start with my favourite card spoiled so far. It’s obviously a control card (and this explains why I love her), though it can be fitted into a midrange-token strategy to win the grind matchups. I’m not afraid to call it the perfect 6 drop in a control deck because it’s extremely versatile: you can sort-of-wrath the board when appears or just create three tokens every turn and chump with them until you’re able to cast a Supreme Verdict or a huge Sphinx’s Revelation. Once you managed to take control of the game, you can use it to finish your opponent by simply keep swarming tokens and alpha-striking with the ultimatum. Probably not a 4-of, but I’ll surely try to fit a couple of this in my next UW(x) build.

The main problem of this card is its color. Blue is not used to have a lot of permanents in play (with the exception of Merfolk, which I don’t think will be viable in Standard anytime soon), and due to Devotion you run the risk of having in play a suboptimal card for too long. Yes, Scry is a very good ability, but right now I wouldn’t play it in a control deck and still don’t see much space for a blue based midrange deck. We’ll see after the whole set will be spoiled.

The main problem for a red based aggro, while facing a control strategy, is obviously late game. While your opponent is busy wiping your board, drawing a ton of cards and gaining a million life, you just keep drawing your no.7 and no.8 Mountain and your very cool Foundry Street Denizen. Miiise. With Hammer of Purphoros you can recycle your extra lands and apply pressure even after a sweeper. It’s probably not a maindeck card, but most of the monored/red based decks will want two or three of this in their sideboard.

After his Hammer, let’s take a look at Purphoros himself. Unlike blue, red is a color that can reach devotion very quickly, so you can expect to start swinging with him quite early in the game. Mr. Purphoros survives sweepers, and his shock-ability is very useful while trying to re-assemble your Devotion. Although probably not a staple, I think it will see more than a game.

I didn’t have time to cry for Thundermaw Hellkite’s departure that they just printed a very good replacement. Since Lingering Souls is leaving too, we won’t miss the Hellkite side ability, and the fact that this can’t be Azorius Charmed/ Detention Sphered/ whatever surely doesn’t hurt. Yes, it’s not 5/5 like his famous predecessor, but is big enough to be at the top of the curve of your red aggro/midrange decks.

The perfect replacement for Farseek. It is not just a mana dork, not just a good blocker, but its invulnerability to any kind of spot removal makes him possibly one of the best 2 mana-ramp spell ever for a non-Scapeshift deck. Probably too much competition for him to see many Modern games, but it will surely be a staple for the next green-based Standard midrange decks.

With no one surprise, the two best cards spoiled so far are planeswalkers. With his older brother Domri Rade, this threatens to be another nightmare for control players thanks to its ability to swarm haste Wolves (doesn’t matter they choose to call them Satyr this time..). Its other abilities don’t seem to be that relevant, but they’re surely able to steal a game here and there. In Modern it will have to win the competition of Garruk Relentless, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it in Jund.

Other obvious entries in the new standard are Thoughtseize and Magma Jet, but with them being reprints I don’t think it’s necessary for me to explain why they’re so good.
Even if it’s just the 30% of the spoiler, I hope you liked these first impressions of Theros, and I’d love to discuss them with you in the comments.
See you next time

Alessandro Portaro

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