Athreos Decks In Standard

Would you like to play Athreos, God of Passage this weekend at SCG Standard Open: Cincinnati? Then take a look at the four decks Brian built with the card.

When a new set is added to Standard, aggressive decks tend to come strong out of the gate. The release of Journey into Nyx coming up this Friday means we should expect some changes in the format moving forward.

While I’m sure many of the top decks that have survived thus far—Mono-Black Devotion, U/W Control, Mono-Red Aggro, Mono-Blue Devotion, G/R Monsters—will continue to be good in Standard, I also think that Journey into Nyx opens up some space for new decks to exist.

Maybe I’m just riding high on the W/B train after really enjoying playing the Dark Death and Taxes deck I brewed up in Legacy, but the first card that I was drawn to build around for Standard when I looked at the full Journey into Nyx spoiler online was Athreos, God of Passage.

Rollin’ on the river.

In order to play this card, we really want to be able to reach the devotion quota of seven to bring the powerful God to life and start bashing the opponent. The interesting thing about Athreos is that when I looked at the card for the first time, I wasn’t exactly sure what kind of W/B deck I wanted to put it in.

Does he go in a W/B Humans deck?

Does he go in a W/B Midrange deck?

Does he go in a B/W Devotion deck?

Does he go in a B/W Aggro deck?

Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

The answer to the question of what W/B decks want to play with Athreos is pretty simple—no matter what the combination of creatures is, if the deck is creature heavy, Athreos should probably make an appearance.

The first thing I thought about when evaluating Athreos was another similar card:

The Blue Ball Lightning

Thassa, God of the Sea is easily the best and most important card in Mono-Blue Devotion. A three-mana God with relevant abilities that’s likely to be able to "God up" and bring the beats in the red zone is incredibly powerful in Standard.

Athreos is a different from Thassa, but there is a lot of overlap between the two. Both are three-mana Gods that have an ability that makes your creatures in play more effective. While Thassa can make her legions unblockable in combat, Athreos has a niche making your creatures difficult and costly to kill.

The biggest drawback of Athreos when compared to Thassa is that the W/B God requires seven devotion to hit the attack step, whereas Thassa only needs five. That is a pretty big deal when it comes down to actually getting a God active, but I think that in many ways Athreos’ protective/damage dealing ability may be even more game changing.

I really like curving out with aggressive creatures and then slamming down Athreos the turn before my opponent can play their big blocker or Supreme Verdict. At that point what is the opponent going to do? Are they going to cast Supreme Verdict and take nine damage? Are they going to block one of my creatures and get bolted by the guy that got blocked favorably or just give me my creature back? Either way, Athreos creates scenarios that are very favorable for an aggro mage.

This deck is pretty straightforward. It’s aggressive, powerful, and tribal.

Every creature in the deck is a Human, which makes the playset of Xathrid Necromancer extremely powerful and ensures you have a continuous supply of Zombie bodies to "deal damage" as the game goes on. Obviously we have seen the interaction between Cartel Aristocrat and Xathrid Necromancer before.

Keeping your board live, er, undead.

In this deck Xathrid Necromancer provides a very similar function to Athreos in that it basically ensures that you continue to have threats to play. Typically with rush weenie strategies the problem is that if the opponent isn’t dead by turn 5, the top of your deck isn’t very strong as the game goes on. If Supreme Verdict wipes away your team, the best you can hope for every turn is just a grizzly bear, while the opponent will have much stronger topdecks (Polukranos, World Eater; Stormbreath Dragon; Sphinx’s Revelation).

With cards like Necromancer and Atheros, W/B Humans can plop them into play before the control or midrange deck stabilizes and make sure the opponent has no way of ever gaining control.

The battalion mechanic is also put to work in this deck.

Send in the troops!

With Necromancer and Athreos to protect your creatures and ensure that endless ranks of the army and undead will continue to fight for you turn after turn, battalion is quite potent.

In a deck like this the goal is to deploy quick beats via the one- and two-drop slots and then have the rest of the cards support and back up the early pressure cards.

I’ve also found that Journey into Nyx provides a lot of really potent sideboard cards for a W/B strategy.

Sideboard All-Stars

Godsend seems like a fantastic way to attack through bigger monsters, especially Blood Baron of Vizkopa, which would otherwise be a big problem for a deck like this. Deicide is a great card against devotion decks with Gods (like Mono-Blue Devotion) as well as decks like U/W Control that have Detention Sphere to attack Necromancer and Athreos.

The next deck that I worked on was W/B Midrange.

This deck gets a few different weapons to play with than the first deck. First of all, any white-based creature deck gets to take advantage of Brave the Elements, which is an extremely powerful spell in any deck that jumps through the hoops to get to play it.

Nothing is going to stop us now!

Aside from protecting creatures from removal spells, Brave the Elements is pretty amazing in the combat step. Obviously making all of your creatures unblockable and alpha striking is a big game, but so is giving your team protection from opposing attackers and then making favorable free blocks.

A fine weapon for a white deck.

This deck has a lot of ways to generate tokens. Brimaz, King of Oreskos; Precinct Captain; and Elspeth, Sun’s Champion all provide this deck with ways to create a multitude of 1/1 tokens, and Spear of Heliod turns those tokens into legitimate damage dealers.

Instead of being all super fast drops like the W/B Humans deck, W/B Midrange goes all the way up the curve and tops off with Obzedat, Ghost Council and Elspeth.

All the way to the top of the curve.

I really like having access to top-end premier-level threats like these in any deck that I play. Both of these cards are capable of winning the game all by themselves simply by outclassing the opponent’s draw.

Obzedat is also pretty special in any deck with Athreos because it adds a whopping four devotion toward turning the God into a creature. Basically anything plus Obzedat will send Athreos into attack mode.

My take on B/W Devotion is focused on playing creatures that add devotion with both Athreos and Erebos, God of the Dead in the maindeck.

Atheros doesn’t really make or break this deck by any stretch of the imagination. It may even be correct to not play with the card at all. Still, Athreos is a powerful Magic card and will always be an option worth considering for a deck like this.

This deck is pretty straightforward. You play creatures quickly, beat down, and don’t stop attacking until somebody is dead (preferably your opponent!).

Of all the decks I’ve tried out so far, this is the one that I actually like Athreos in the most. The drawback of paying three life or getting your creature back is a big deal against this deck because it starts hitting and dealing damage so quickly. I’ve often found that the opponent simply cannot afford to actually kill your creatures once Athreos hits play!

After playing with Athreos in a number of decks, it seems that the more aggressive the deck, the better that Athreos becomes. The reason is that when you make it so the opponent simply cannot afford to pay life, the upside of the God’s ability becomes completely backbreaking.

Journey into Nyx is a very exciting set, especially if you’re interested in joining the Orzhov Syndicate for a Standard tournament in the near future!

There are a bunch of new cards that are bound to leave their mark on Standard, and Athreos, God of Passage is just one of the many great ones Journey into Nyx.