Farewell, Innistrad Standard—you probably won't be missed.
Every article you've read recently say a lot of the same things, don't they?
"I can't wait for Bonfire of the Damned to rotate. I hate miracles."
"U/W Delver almost killed Magic."
"THRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGTUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUSSSSSSSSSSSSSK" (usually followed by inaudible yelling).
My point is simple. Innistrad and M13 are powerful, and they easily eclipsed a lot of the cards that we have recently gained from Return to Ravnica and M14. Green-based decks begin and end with Thragtusk. Red decks battle with tons of hasted creatures like Flinthoof Boar, Thundermaw Hellkite, and Hellrider. White offers up one of the best flash creatures of all time in Restoration Angel, and blue had a stranglehold for too long with Delver of Secrets. Despite Return to Ravnica being a multicolored set, Huntmaster of the Fells, Geist of Saint Traft, and Olivia Voldaren from Innistrad block proved to be the best gold cards in Standard.
Think about that for a second. A gold set could barely touch the power level of three cards from a non-gold block. Does that make sense to you?
One of the coolest and greatest things that happens during a year of playing Magic is the block rotation. A new set is unveiled and usually makes an immediate impact, and if the spoilers we've been given so far for Theros are any indication of the strength this set will bring to the table, we should all be very, very excited.
How excited am I?
I feel like this set is dripping with the most flavor I have ever seen in a Magic block. Everything from a design point seems incredibly intricate and thought out, and without a doubt I haven't been this stoked for anything in Magic for years.
In order to celebrate this awesome block, I've decided to share the Top 10 reasons I'm excited for Theros and why you should be too!
Reason #10: Thoughtseize!
As many of you may know, Thoughtseize is going to be reprinted. What does this mean for you?
Well, the first big news is that it appears it's going to be in the rare slot, not mythic. This is great for people who haven't been able to acquire a playset because of the staggering cost this card presented players. As of this writing, Lorwyn copies have dropped down to $30, which is about half of what they were during the height of Modern season. This reprinting will make it more readily available at a far cheaper price, and this is going to mean great things for players looking to break into Modern.
For those of you that didn't play during Lorwyn, Thoughtseize is a very powerful card. Duh, right? There are games you will win strictly because you have multiples, and it's amazing at punishing an opponent who keeps a risky or greedy hand.
Nice Sphinx's Revelation.
Jace, Architect of Thought? Nope!
You were going to overload that Mizzium Mortars, weren't you?
Get ready for the blowouts, for they will be aplenty.
Reason #9: It Haz Flavorz
I said it a little earlier, and it is one of the reasons I am so incredibly excited.
This set is like Baskin-Robbins; it has a lot of flavors.
Reading cards like Chained to the Rocks blow my mind because they are so clever. You have to work for a strong effect, but the payoff is immense. Have you read Rescue from the Underworld? It's the kind of card that is so cool that it makes me want to battle with it even if it isn't good.
The overall feeling of gods battling for the fate of humanity gives a really interesting feel because people are obviously going to have their favorites and a side that they pick early, meaning they're either fighting for order or chaos, and that's the kind of line drawn in the sand I love to see.
Reason #8: NO MORE FREE WINS
You have superior board position, and your opponent is dead next turn. This game, for all intents and purposes, should be over. They don't even have any cards in their hand, and no creature can save them.
They peel the top card of their library and stare at it for a second. The anticipation is killing you.
They smile and start to laugh . . .
You start to count their mana and realize that all of your creatures are dead. Oh, and you're dead too! Great. Hooray!
As cool of a mechanic miracle is (lol jkjkjk), it often led to very annoying and tilt-inducing games where your opponent would draw multiple Bonfire of the Damneds and you wouldn't. It always seemed like they hit it when they needed it most, and I don't think any of us have complained about a card quite as much.
With rotation we can all say "later, Bonfire of the Damned."
Reason #7- Legends Are Cool Again
When Theros was originally discussed, people felt like we were headed right into Kamigawa Block 2: Electric Boogaloo.
What we have seen so far shows us that it's going to be anything but a generic and boring set, and great care seems to have been put into making the legends in Theros interesting and powerful. Anax and Cymede show off the interesting heroic mechanic, which means whenever you cast a spell that targets your A&C, your creatures are bolstered with +1/+1 and trample. Not only does this make it feel like your forces are receiving a boon due to a positive effect that you are blessing your creature with, but it's actually a great incentive to play a deck that's a mix of spells and creatures, giving you a lot of creativity in your building process.
Even the lands are bonkers. Have you read Nykthos, Shrine to Nix? As a legendary land, you're not getting humungous value from it, but in a deck like Elves, this card is going to generate absurd amounts of mana. I can see this land doing a ton of work in decks that can exploit the devotion mechanic, and I wouldn't even be surprised to see this card as a one-of in Legacy Elves decks as another Gaea's Cradle.
Reason #6: Spartacus
This block is the show Spartacus made into Magic: The Gathering.
If you don't watch Spartacus, apologies. Set yourself to purpose and begin watching.
Reason #5: Greek Mythology
While we've established the set has a ton of flavor, one of the really cool things it has going for it is a nearly endless amount of source material.
Greek mythology is deep, and when I say deep, I mean there are boundless stories, myths, tales, and characters to bring to the forefront of this game that we love.
Minotaurs? Cyclops? Gorgons?
These are just a tip of the iceberg, and I can't wait to see how deep they decide to go in future sets. I'm really hoping for titans (not of the Primeval variety), hundred-handed ones, and other insane or grotesque monstrosities.
Aside from the inhabitants of Theros, the stories are rich and full of lessons, messages, and entertaining themes. From the labors of Hercules to the Odyssey, Perseus to Jason and the Argonauts, there are a million veins to tap into for potential paralleling tales. This block won't just be remembered because it's well designed but because it captivated players with an amazing lore.
Reason #4: Elspeth Makes Her Return
Reading Elspeth, Sun's Champion made me feel like I was looking at one of the most interesting and balanced planeswalkers that I've ever come across. Her cost may seem steep at 4WW, but I believe the format is going to slow down. Mono-Red Aggro appears to be the fastest deck in the format, but G/W Aggro will do a fine job of keeping it in check, meaning the control decks should be able to compete in a way that they haven't in a long time.
Let's look at her abilities.
"+1: Put three 1/1 Soldier tokens into play."
This is the first measure of the planeswalker test; can it protect itself? This Elspeth does a fine job of keeping herself safe and maintaining a high loyalty count. Three creatures is a great payoff, and if you're able to +1 her several times, you will flood the board and take control of the game very quickly.
"-3: Destroy all creatures with a power of four or greater."
Another extremely powerful ability, and one reason that I think she has a hefty cost. This is level two of the planeswalker test—not only can she protect herself, but the ability will affect the entire board, most likely in a way your opponent won't like. A pseudo Wrath of God is still great, and even if they have creatures left, chances are the 1/1s that you made with her are going to keep you safe.
"-7: You get an emblem with 'Creatures you control have +2/+2 and flying.'"
Presumably, if you reach seven loyalty, you have made a possible nine 1/1 tokens. Those tokens now are 3/3 flying creatures.
Thanks for playing!
Remember, Elspeth isn't the planeswalker that we need, but she is the one that we deserve.
Reason #3: No More Thragtusk Test
One of the more annoying things to hear from a person is "that deck sucks because it can't beat a Thragtusk."
Thragtusk is good, and for a very long time the format warped entirely around it. Either you played a deck with it or you played a deck that was capable of beating it, and even in the latter case sometimes your opponent would chain Thragtusks against you and just gain an insurmountable amount of life that you couldn't overcome.
Aside from being one of the backbones of Standard's most hated deck, Jund, it is a card that showed up in a freakish abundance and was notorious for making rounds last longer than usual, which made tournaments drag on forever. In conjunction with Restoration Angel, it earns my vote for "Most Obnoxious Card in 20XX" and basically just invalidated strategies because of how much value it gave you.
Is Thragtusk too good? No. Hell no, actually, but it's just remarkably efficient, and that is what stunted the format for so long.
Reason #2: We Have Only Just Begun
As of writing this, Theros is only 57 cards into being spoiled, but we've been given a delicious taste of what is to come.
If what we've seen so far is enough to set the Internet community ablaze with speculation and chatters, imagine what a full spoiler is going to do to our collective community. I already know people that are brewing for the new Standard with only the few cards that we've been given access to, and with each passing day their list grows of what cards to add into their concoction. Theros is exciting in a way I haven't seen in years, and it seems to bring out the best in people by exciting their creativity.
When fully spoiled, you're going to see one of the most innovative and open Standard formats that you have ever seen, and unless they print some insanely oppressive card that we haven't seen yet, this might be the best combination of formats we have ever seen in Return to Ravnica and Theros.
. . .
. . .
Reason #1: Enchantments Will Be Very, Very Playable
This might seem like something innocuous, but for those of us that have been playing this game for years and years, enchantments have always been in a strange place. Either they were in a "combo" deck like Replenish or Enduring Ideal, powering haste creatures in the case of Fires of Yavimaya, or being dropped on a creature in Bant Hexproof, basically crossing your fingers and hoping that your own personal Voltron killed your opponent.
Bestow takes the problem that enchant creatures have always had and fixes it; instead of the enchantment going to the graveyard, if an opponent kills your target, the enchantment will enter the battlefield as a creature, like in the case of Celestial Archon.
This gives you a fantastic amount of reach and value, meaning that if the creature enchanted dies, it's no longer a two-for-one and you're still going to have a creature to battle with, which makes playing enchantments no longer a detriment but a huge boost to your board presence.
The idea of enchanted artifacts is also infinitely interesting to me because not only are you getting the power of an artifact but also a great affect to your team. Take Bow of Nylea for example, or Bowmezowa's Jitte as it has affectionately been nicknamed. This type of card gives a static effect as well as a bevy of options to exploit depending on what the situation demands.
For the first time in years, you can play enchantments with impunity, and that to me is the thing that makes me the most excited to battle with Theros so far—you can now play the full range of spells without a worry.
. . .
. . .
. . .
You guys excited? I know I am.
To say I'm not going to miss Innistrad or M13 would be a lie, but change is a great thing. We are about to go from stale and overplayed into a world that is full of new things to play with and enjoy.
I feel like a kid on Christmas.
Soon we all get to unwrap our presents, and it damn sure won't be socks this year.
Catch ya on the flip-