Magic players get Christmas an additional four times a year when new sets are released. The better news is that we got to open the Born of the Gods stocking a little early this time. The full set is up, and it’s time to talk about it. There’s so much to say about cards from Born of the Gods that I’m breaking my set review into two parts. Today I’ll cover white, blue, and black cards. Next week I’ll do the same with red, green, multicolor, and artifact cards. I’m so entranced with a few of the mechanics from the set that during release week I’ll add discussion of those mechanics to my regular “which new cards am I putting in my decks” feature. All in all, this is a set worth a good deal of attention.
Remember that this is a set review for Commander only. There are plenty of cards in the set that I’m going to put in the “Won’t/Probably Won’t Get Played” category that may end up being a house in Limited or crazy good in Standard. As I’ve done over the past few sets, I’ll break down the cards into three broad categories: Won’t/Probably Won’t Get Played, Might/Probably Will Get Played, and Definitely Will Get Played. The first are simply cards that I can’t imagine will see any play in the format. The second category is cards that have more narrow potential uses—like in tribal or theme decks—but stand a reasonable chance to find homes in decks. The third contains the cards that you’re going to want to run out and acquire copies of. Let’s get cracking.
Won’t/Probably Won’t Get Played
Akroan Phalanx, Akroan Skyguard, Elite Skirmisher, Ephara’s Radiance, Ghostblade Eidolon, Great Hart, Griffin Dreamfinder, Hold At Bay, Loyal Pegasus, Mortal’s Ardor, Nyxborn Shieldmate, Sunbond, Vanguard of Brimaz
Might/Probably Will Get Played
Acolyte’s Reward: The prospect of turning the tables on someone with their own damage spell—like Blasphemous Act or Chain Reaction—is attractive. That the prevention is only equal your devotion to white and the fact that only damage to a creature is prevented knocks it down the list a bit.
Archetype of Courage: I’ll talk in more detail about the mechanics of the set, archetypes being one of them, in part three. This one is a Soldier, so it’s likely to find a home in tribal decks, and that the ability it grants isn’t just limited to Soldiers makes it way better.
Excoriate: I think players in this format often underestimate the value of exiling creatures, so here’s one more card to think about in your exile suite. Excoriate being a sorcery will limit it some, but I still expect to see it doing some work.
God-Favored General: I don’t think it’s going to work out as well as some folks hope it will, but I think it will work out well enough. You have to decide if you’re going to pay before you draw for the turn, but you have a reasonable idea of how your turn will play out so the choice on whether or not to pay will most times be clear. There are going to be times that you have no other action so you’ll be really happy to at least get the two 1/1s.
Hero of Iroas: It seems like it will be worth it for just the first ability, heroic just being a little gravy.
Oreskos Sun Guide: Simple, but over the course of a game probably worth the small investment.
Ornitharch: I’m going to spend quite some time in part two talking about the tribute mechanic and its Commander implications so I won’t go into it much now. All in all, I’m pretty ambivalent about this one, but those Bird decks will probably give it a run.
Aerie Worshippers: As with God-Favored General, someone will try to make this work. Whenever I see “becomes untapped” on a blue creature card, my mind always goes directly to Intruder Alarm. Expect to see it.
Crypsis: A major house in Limited, I think we’ll see this every now and again to simply get around annoying chump blockers, letting that one giant creature get in for the kill. We’ll see that more often than the “gotcha” of untap and block.
Floodtide Serpent: There might be too many maybes in order to make it work, but I may give it a whirl with Spreading Seas as part of a whole island home with the serpents and krakens theme thing. Other uses might be to reset cumulative upkeep counters on something or move that Treachery over to a better creature.
Kraken of the Straits: “Unleash the Kraken! Unless if, you know, there’s nothing too huge around.”
Oracle’s Insight: The draw will be high to try to make this card work because of the no-cost card draw. You’ll have to judge how sweeper happy your environment is before deciding if the card is worth the investment.
Siren Of The Fanged Coast: Some folks will try to make this work, but I predict the most common response being “pay the tribute—what do I care about a 4/4 flyer?”
Tromokratis: Neat flavor in a card with tribal/thematic possibilities.
Vortex Elemental: A great potential “don’t attack me with your commander” rattlesnake at a bargain-basement price, I’m pretty sure the first ability will get used more than the second.
Drown In Sorrow: We don’t see much of Infest, but adding scry to the package (at the same cost no less) is enough to make people take a second look.
Eye Gouge: If there are a fair number of changelings running around your environment, you might think about killing them for only one mana.
Forlorn Pseudamma: Existing Zombie decks will struggle to find room for this, but newly made ones might get right on board with it. Paying 2B a turn to get another body for the army without having to expend cards could get things going in the right direction.
Marshmist Titan: We live in an exciting world where a creature is 4/5 for one mana (conditionally, but a relatively easy condition to meet) and we kind of shrug at it.
Shrike Harpy: Five mana could be too much to pay for the possibility of getting rid of a nasty creature. This is one of the cards where politics becomes part of the game since the opponent you choose to pay (or not) the tribute doesn’t have to be the controller of the opponent you target.
Warchanter of Mogis: The issue isn’t whether you can get the Warchanter untapped but if the ability is all that useful. I’ll cross my fingers that Minotaur tribal becomes a thing (and get your Didgeridoo early!).
Definitely Will Get Played
Brimaz, King of Oreskos: A new Cat commander for you to play with, it makes more Cat Soldiers when it swings. I can see this leading a Voltron style deck since most of the cards that do stuff with Equipment are Cats, like Leonin Shikari and Taj-Nar Swordsmith.
Eidolon of Countless Battles: Eidolon of Countless Beatings is more like it. Since the bestow cost is only one more than the normal mana cost, I think we’ll see it bestowed far more often, especially onto that one unblockable or trampling creature.
Fated Retribution: Sweepers (that also take out planeswalkers) as instants will get played, played, and played again. Whether or not you’ll use it on your own turn in order to get the scry is going to be highly situational. You’ll have to judge whether those two cards you’re going to look at will be worth potentially getting rid of multiple additional cards that your opponents will play. At least for me I suspect the latter will be the way I go more often.
Glimpse the Sun God: Scry, even as simple as scry 1, is what pushes this card over the top. It’s not as mana efficient at tapping down someone’s team as other cards, but I like the ability to both get a few key creatures out of the way (whether that’s to keep them from attacking or prevent them from blocking) and have some plan for my next turn as well.
Plea For Guidance: We all know tutoring is pretty good. Tutoring for two things at once is even better. Because it’s a sorcery and moderately expensive, I don’t see any real danger to the card, but I can easily see assembling combo kills (like fetching Exquisite Blood and Sanguine Bond). The good news is that you’ll see them coming and have time to do something about them. Also qualifies as some of the nicest art in the set.
Revoke Existence: I hate to keep hammering this home, but exile is a thing that will keep you alive. Because it can target an artifact and doesn’t say “noncreature,” you can get rid of a pesky Darksteel Colossus or any other artifact creature causing you problems. I don’t mind that it’s a sorcery since it costs only 1W.
Silent Sentinel: I mentioned last week that I’m thoroughly excited about this card (since it had already been officially spoiled). It’s a Sun Titan for any enchantment of any cost. An all Archon deck has to be somewhere around the corner.
Spirit Of The Labyrinth: Get out of here, Consecrated Sphinx. Okay, don’t get completely out of here, but still. Note that it doesn’t stop you from putting cards into your hand, like with Scroll Rack, or from playing them off the top, like with Future Sight. I think a few months down the road we’ll find this shutting down cards that we hadn’t yet considered. The question isn’t whether or not I’ll play this but which deck it goes into first.
Arbiter Of The Ideal: Holy free permanents, Batman! I really don’t care if they can get Disenchanted. The potential upside here is crazy. Expect to see it played in concert with Opposition.
Archetype of Imagination: The best of all the archetypes, unless there’s something crazy like Chaos Sphere in play, your team will be effectively unblockable (how many reach cards other than Sylvan Primordial get played that often?). I also like this in an Izzet deck with Earthquake. Or in an Azorius deck with Moat.
Divination: I’m happy from a flavor standpoint that they put this in the set. It gets played already, so there’s no reason to think that won’t continue.
Fated Infatuation: I predict that this will be the Born of the Gods card that I most often misplay, horribly misjudging whether or not to wait for the surprise factor or to get the scry. In blue-heaving decks, the three-colored-mana requirement really isn’t a limiting factor.
Perplexing Chimera: The chaos-embracing card of the set, Perplexing Chimera will certainly create the most epic moments of any Born of the Gods card. Once in a while someone is going to forget onboard tricks and just cast that Cyclonic Rift.
Sudden Storm: This wins my “looks like it’s going to be solid but ends up spectacular” award for the set. Any deck that makes use of Angel’s Trumpet or Siren’s Call will play this. My only complaint is that it has storm in the title but the card doesn’t have storm.
Whelming Wave: Even if it’s not played for its tribal value, it’s another arrow in blue’s quiver to keep some parity on the board. If you’re playing it, just remember to be aware that changelings are also Octopuses.
Archetype of Finality: Deathtouch is vastly superior to, say, first strike. Your creatures become more dangerous, especially if you’re playing anything that pings. Like it was in Standard quite a while ago, Cunning Sparkmage can be repeatable creature control (back then it was equipped with Basilisk Collar). Pestilence Demon becomes a board wipe. The possibilities are endless.
Bile Blight: Thoroughly exciting as an instant, the only thing you’ll have to watch out for when you’re trying to wipe out an army of Plant tokens is a sacrifice outlet, which will counter the spell since the only target is gone. Otherwise, Bile Blight takes care of a number of token-creation strategies.
Champion of Stray Souls: Karador’s newest best buddy! This is the card that I’m most excited about in the set since I love living out of my graveyard. I’m most looking forward to playing it with Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder so that I can simultaneously keep Endrek Sahr around while reanimating creatures from the yard.
Fate Unraveler: I’m taking a poetry class this semester. I may just compose a love sonnet to this Hag. I don’t even think that you need other things to go with it (such as Windfall or Dragon Mage). Most players draw cards greedily enough that they’ll burn themselves. Fate Unraveler gets jammed right into those Nekusar decks, which are practically building themselves.
Fated Return: For three more mana than one of my great favorites, Makeshift Mannequin, I get to get a creature from anyone’s graveyard, make it indestructible (which could backfire if there’s a Homeward Path around), and possibly scry 2? Sign me up. It’s too expensive to be broken, but I’m not going to count that as a sin.
Gild: Sometimes all that glitters is gold. Black usually has to go through a two-step process to exile creatures, destroying them and then removing them from the graveyard. One card, one step, plus a little bonus. I’m in.
That’ll wrap it up for the first part. Tune in next week for the excitement of part two. By then the latest update to the banned list will be out, so we’ll see if there’s anything extra to talk about. Until then, keep embracing the chaos!
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