Calling Born of the Gods a bad set is unfair. It has a couple of cards that will impact Standard, including a few that are very powerful. It’s oozing with flavor, and there are a small handful of good cards designed to excite players of each psychographic.
So why does the set feel so disappointing?
Financially, the biggest problem with Born of the Gods is how poor the rares are. The mythics are reasonable, and the uncommons are fine—certainly no more disappointing than Dark Ascension and Gatecrash. But the rares seem to be especially bad this time around. There are 35 of them in all, and only eight of them are even reasonably exciting. Among the eight are three scry lands (which are a known quantity) and five Standard role players that are all far from a sure thing.
People are going to be opening some soul-crushingly awful boxes of this set, that’s for sure.
Regardless, public opinion seems to have declared Born of the Gods to be a "bad" set. For us, that brings up an interesting question: are good cards in bad sets more valuable than good cards in good sets?
If a set fails to meet sales expectations to the point that Wizards has to underprint boxes, the best cards in it will likely be worth more due to demand issues. This is unlikely to happen with Born of the Gods, though it’s possible.
Singles prices are also linked to sealed box prices as long as a set is still in print. If you can buy a box easily for $85, for example, every rare in the set can’t be worth $10. This is what lowered the price of many cards in Return to Ravnica, an expansion filled with dozens of playable rares. In bad sets with lots of bulk rares, on the other hand, the best cards become more untethered from sealed box prices because it makes less financial sense for dealers to crack packs for singles.
Ultimately, I believe that this set will shake out similarly to Dragon’s Maze. There will be one obvious marquee mythic rare in the $30-$40 range like Voice of Resurgence, one (maybe two) other marquee mythics in the $15-$20 range like Blood Baron of Vizkopa, a mediocre planeswalker like Ral Zarek, and a couple of mid-value rares in the $3-$5 range. I would not overreact to the perception of this set as "bad" and buy everything that isn’t awful, but it’s safer than normal to preorder or trade for the significant cards in this set than it was for Return to Ravnica or Theros.
Brimaz, King of Oreskos – $30
Brimaz, King of Oreskos is the best card in Born of the Gods. It’s possible that Standard will not develop in a way that is favorable for Brimaz, but I suspect that this card would be playable in nearly every Standard format that has ever existed, including this one.
Does Brimaz have room to grow from $30? Over the short term, yes. It is already selling higher than $30 on many other sites, so when StarCityGames.com restocks I expect that the price will be at $35 or $40. In the long run, $30 is about right for the best mythic rare in a fairly weak winter or spring set. Domri Rade and Voice of Resurgence both held this spot in their respective sets last year, and both cards currently sell for the very same $30 each right now.
It’s safe to buy into Brimaz at $30 if you need him for a deck you want to play right away. If he doesn’t see tier 1 play, he’ll drop, but his short-term floor is pretty high thanks to all the hype surrounding him. I don’t think he can go any lower than $15 or $20 for a while even if he doesn’t see any play (the long-term floor is closer to $7-$8). If he does make an immediate impact, expect a short-term spike toward $45 followed by several months in the $30-$40 range. If he sees some play but not a lot, expect him to stabilize between $20 and $30.
Kiora, the Crashing Wave – $25
I love Kiora, but I’m not convinced she’ll make a major impact on Standard. Gold cards have to clear a much higher bar than monocolored ones thanks to their lack of flexibility, which has held back powerful two-color planeswalkers like Xenagos, the Reveler and Ral Zarek.
Kiora’s first ability helps protect her, which is a good thing for planeswalkers, but it’s not as versatile as the elite +1s are. If you want to attack, for example, Kiora’s ability doesn’t help that happen. Her second ability is great—drawing a card and a half is awesome—but it’s held back in a major way by her incredibly low starting loyalty. Her emblem isn’t going to come into play very much either. It’s possible she’ll find a home as a two-of in something like Bant or Maze’s End, but that won’t help her price.
Kiora is most comparable to Tamiyo. That planeswalker cost five instead of four, but all of that mana was a single color instead of two. Tamiyo’s abilities all feel stronger than Kiora’s down the line, including her higher starting loyalty. Tamiyo did have a few spikey price moments, but she still went unplayed throughout most of her time in Standard. Kiora could show up at the top tables and jump to $40 at any point, but a slow decline toward $15 and then $10 is far more likely.
Xenagos, God of Revels – $25
This super large version of Xenagos is exactly what I want in a two-color God. Even if he never becomes a creature, doubling the size and accelerating all of your topdecks is going to make every draw step terrifying for your opponent. I also like that Xenagos’ ability triggers at your combat step, giving you a trigger the turn you play him. It’s worth nothing that Xenagos can’t make himself into the ultimate party dude, but if you’ve got the devotion to attack with this guy, you probably have no shortage of attractive targets. This deck might be a couple of elite two-drops away from being tier 1—Strangleroot Geist is missed here—but dropping Xenagos should be one of the most powerful things you’ll be able to do in Standard for the next year and a half.
Even though Xenagos is likely to be great, there’s very little room for growth. Brimaz can go in many different decks, but Xenagos will likely see play in just one. His ceiling is likely to be $30 with peaks at $35, but I’d expect him to sit more in the $15-$20 range like Thassa, God of the Sea. If this deck does well, expect movement from Polukranos, World Eater (likely a four-of in this deck); Burning-Tree Emissary; and possibly Stormbreath Dragon and the planeswalker version of Xenagos.
It’s worth noting that the two-color Gods are likely to be more popular in casual circles than the monocolored Gods. Most Commander and 60-card kitchen table decks run two colors, which makes the loyalty ability on these cards much easier to activate. These cards may be strong casual risers in future years, especially if the set doesn’t sell well.
Mogis, God of Slaughter – $20
Do any of you remember when indestructible came out in Darksteel? Every card with the ability felt kind of unreal and powerful, even terrible 3/3s for six. Now I’m here thinking that Mogis might be kind of overrated at $20.
Considering the price on this guy keeps creeping higher, I suspect there are a lot of people who want to brew with Mogis. That should keep the demand (and price) fairly buoyant for a while. If this card had been in Theros, people would have put it right into Falkenrath Aristocrat’s slot in B/R and B/R/W decks and continued to play that archetype from last year.
Is Mogis good enough to bring it back? Possibly. This guy is a beast of an attacker, and his static ability is great in an attrition-based Rakdos deck. He can finish games all by himself, which is what you want in a competitive four-drop. You can also just slot this guy into Mono-Black Devotion with a splash (instead of Desecration Demon, perhaps?) where he does a whole lot more than Erebos, God of the Dead.
If Mogis ends up in a tier 1 deck, his upside is second only to Brimaz, and he could take on Xenagos for the #2 spot in the set and a fairly stable $20-$25 price tag. My guess is that he ends up more in the $8-$10 range, seeing solid play in a couple of good decks but not dominating the format.
Ephara, God of the Polis – $10
Ephara is underrated right now, and she is my pick for the sleeper mythic of the set.
First off, Azorius cards should always be given a little extra leeway. The color combination has dominated Standard time and time again, and at a certain point you just have to respect that. It’s like when Bill Belichick signs a football player no one else wanted—no one would have stopped to think about the transaction if it were the Raiders, but when the Patriots do it, everyone takes an extra moment to stop and think "wait, is there something here I’m not seeing?" Of course, this is the type of thinking that had me calling Daxos a format staple last time around, so take it with a grain of salt.
Ephara’s downside is that she does nothing on an empty board; she’s worthless if you don’t have any gas to pair with her. She’ll just sit out there, mocking you and laughing. That’s certainly not what you want in a four-drop. There will be times when she will be less efficient than a Divination.
If you build around her, though, she’s a heck of a card-drawing engine. She doesn’t quite turn every creature draw into a cantrip, but if you’ve got the right creature suite (Brimaz? Prophet of Kruphix?), you’re drawing two cards a turn. She’s like a planeswalker in that respect, except she’s indestructible and if you play enough stuff she’ll turn into a creature and join the assault herself.
Is that better than just playing Bident of Thassa in Mono-Blue Devotion or Sphinx’s Revelation in a control deck? I don’t know. Ephara is very high risk/high reward because she’ll require a whole new deck to be built around her. Even though I think she’s a sleeper and could easily stabilize in the $20-$25 range, I’m not going to buy a single copy because there’s just too much risk that she’ll flame out and be a $4-$6 card. Keep a watchful eye on her, though, because the potential is certainly there. If Ephara is the breakout card at a Grand Prix or Pro Tour soon, she will double in price, and you should buy in once the decklists start hitting the net.
Karametra is a miss—at least in Standard. Ramp is fine, but when you’re already able to generate five mana, tacking a limited Rampant Growth onto all of your creatures isn’t going to help you out all that much. If I’m building that deck, I’d rather play the planeswalker version of Xenagos.
I do think that Karametra will hold at $4-$5 thanks to casual demand, and this may end up being one of those cards like Vorinclex that spikes in a couple of years because of demand in Commander. For now, though, you can safely trade these away.
Phenax, God of Deception – $10
I’m already counting the days until Phenax screws me over. I’ll be playing in a draft, rocking some unreal deck, when my opponent drops this guy and proceeds to mill me out in two straight games. Sometimes Magic is like that.
Don’t sleep on the demand for this guy, though, not only in Commander and other casual formats but for people who want to bring rogue mill decks to FNM. Consuming Aberration was a Prerelease card and has never been good in any real formats, but it’s still a $2 rare thanks to people wanting to mess around with mill. Expect demand for that card to increase along with foil copies of Duskmantle Guildmage. The deck probably won’t win any Pro Tours, but it’ll rock FNM tables around the world.
Phenax might dip below $10, but he’s likely to stay at or above that threshold long term. Remember how Phyrexian Obliterator was always $10 to $20 (before devotion) even though no one you know actually played with it? Phenax is like that.
Flame-Wreathed Phoenix – $10
Oh hey, look, it’s a punisher card! Feel free to skip this section if you already know what I’m going to say.
There will be games when this is good, of course, but most of the time your opponent will either have a removal spell (and make it a 5/5 so they can kill it) or will have a way of dealing with it or ignoring it in combat (and make it a 3/3 so they can forget about it). These are not the kinds of decisions you want to allow your opponent to make. Future bulk mythic.
This will see some play in Commander, but there will be more than enough copies to go around. Couldn’t they have at least made it a Zombie instead of a Skeleton? A skeleton is just a zombie with all the flesh torn off, right? Bulk mythic.
Chromanticore – $3
I really want to open this card in a draft, slam it, and build some horrible deck around it. In Constructed, though, it will go homeless. How sad. Bulk mythic.
Pain Seer – $12
On one hand, we have Dark Confidant, an $80 format staple. On the other, there’s Blood Scrivener, a $0.75 dud. Clearly, little dudes for 1B that always draw you cards are better than little dudes for 1B that sometimes draw you cards.
But is it Dark Confidant? Hardly. Pain Seer is not going to be easy to activate, and you either have to combine it with something or have to find a way to attack with it consistently. I expect it’ll be better in older formats that are less creature based, but in Standard a 2/2 isn’t getting through most of the time. It’s possible that a deck will emerge that can break this card, but if so, its play will still probably be limited to just that deck. You could also run him as a random value two-drop in the Xathrid Necromancer deck, which might make Pain Seer a $3 or $4 card but not a $12 one. For a rare to stay anywhere near $12, it has to be versatile in addition to powerful. Pain Seer is far from that. This card is one bad month away from $1.99, and I’m not going anywhere near it.
This card is awesome in Death and Taxes in Legacy, and it may help make Maverick good again as well. In Standard, though, I’d rather just run Daring Skyjek in the main and throw a couple of these in the sideboard against control. It’ll begin to see maindeck play if Sphinx’s Revelation starts coming back, but it’s also limited in scope by its symmetry—any white deck running this has to eschew card draw itself as well.
I see this stabilizing at $2-$3 much like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben did for a while, but I doubt it’ll make more of a financial impact than she did. The massive print run of these newer sets means that anyone who wants this for Legacy will have no problems with availability. Expect a massive spread between regular and foil copies.
Temples of Enlightenment, Malice, and Plenty – $5
Poor Izzet and Golgari—they’ll have to wait about eight months from when the first Temples were released in order for theirs to see print. Having the Azorius, Selesnya, and Rakdos Temples around should help those three color combinations right now, though, which should be especially interesting considering how strong all three guilds were last year and how all three seem to have taken a small step backward since then. If Voice of Resurgence and friends rebound a bit, this is part of the reason why.
Considering how the five Temples from Theros are selling between $4 and $6, $5 each seems a relative bargain for these. Born of the Gods is a weak set, and fewer packs will be opened anyway, so these Temples should be a little more expensive than the ones in Theros. They could stabilize closer to the $7-$8 range, making them a decent buy at $5 if you need a set.
Courser of Kruphix – $4
My first thought upon seeing this was that it’s unreal. Then I read the card again and realized that it isn’t Oracle of Mul Daya at all; you still only get one land drop per turn. Most of the time you’re going to play your third land, drop this, reveal a land as the top card of your library, and slump your head.
Even still, the Courser is quite powerful for her cost, and she’ll generally "draw" you a card or two. The life gain isn’t irrelevant, four toughness is awesome, and she helps devotion. This card should see a reasonable amount of both casual and competitive play, keeping it stable in the $4-$5 range, but she lacks the upside that some people are attaching to her.
This card isn’t terrible, I guess. We’ve had Mortivores and Bonehoards for a while, and all of them have had a small bit of casual value above bulk. The Eidolon’s bestow cost is reasonable, but the effect it provides is going to be too small too much of the time.
I’ve heard people claim this is testing way better than expected, especially in white devotion decks, and that on an aggressive board it basically gives you a giant threat that must be dealt with twice. It’s certainly a card that I’m keeping my eye on right now, but I just don’t see it. Isn’t that slot going to four Brimaz anyway? This shouldn’t fall to bulk, but it’s more of a $1 card than a $3 card.
Satyr Firedancer – $3
If this were R for a 1/1, we’d be talking about a new format staple. At 1R, it’s a little expensive and fragile. That said, casual players love burn spells, and this guy turns a lot of your bolts into theoretical two-for-ones. Casual demand should keep this card above $2, and I could see it sticking around $3-$5 long term even if it doesn’t see much Constructed play. This guy is kind of like Vexing Devil in that it helps kitchen table red mages do exactly what they want to focus on.
Astral Cornucopia – $2
I’ll likely swap out Darksteel Ingot for this in some of my Commander decks that can ramp really high, but very few ramp decks are going to want to sink even six mana into this. Most of the time this is just going to be a Darksteel Ingot without the indestructability, making it worse in most of those decks. I’ll be looking to pick up a couple sets when it drops to $0.50 or $1 because it could be a $3 or $4 Commander card over the long term, but there’s no reason whatsoever to buy in at $2.
Hero of Iroas – $2
The hero of Auras should keep getting better as Wizards pushes the subtype as far as it can go. It should be easily available in the $1 range for a while, but it makes an intriguing long-term hold. For now, though, I don’t think this card will do all that much unless some version of Bant Hexproof appears that can use it as an engine. At $2, I’m staying away.
Fated Retribution – $1.50
This is kind of like an always kicked Rout minus the part that was best about Rout: the ability to play it on turn 5 to keep from dying before establishing control. Fated Retribution is a very powerful card, and instant-speed mass removal shouldn’t be discounted out of hand. But I highly doubt it’ll see enough play to keep it from staying in the $0.75 to $1 range. If someone builds some kind of large white or U/W Control deck that would rather use this than Supreme Verdict, I wouldn’t be totally shocked, but the odds don’t seem great to me.
Herald of Torment – $1.50
This is a powerful and versatile card that may be a bit of a sleeper. I don’t think it’s better than Pack Rat or Underworld Connections, but if black aggro/devotion decks need another three-drop, this guy is certainly worth considering. The drawback is negligible if you aren’t running Connections, and a 3/3 flyer for three with a powerful and affordable bestow cost isn’t a bad thing to have. Don’t sleep on this guy.
Heroes’ Podium – $1.50
This is an unreal engine in a Reki, the History of Kamigawa Commander deck. Otherwise, how many legendary creatures are you planning to run? Exactly. This is the kind of card that non-Commander players see and shout "Commander!" Future bulk rare.
Fate Unraveler – $1
The popularity of Nekusar has caused the price of many older cards to jump, but I don’t think that Commander will have much of an effect on Fate Unraveler. There are going to be dozens of copies of this available for every Forced Fruition left out there. Foil copies might demand a premium, and it might go up a little in a few years but should settle into bulk in the meantime.
Fated Conflagration – $1
This card feels underrated to me. It costs one more mana than Hero’s Downfall but will take out 98% of the things that spell will while also giving you scry 2, which is close in power level to drawing a card. I don’t know if a red-heavy deck will exist to take advantage of this, and obviously it would be way better if it could hit players. But I wouldn’t be surprised if this sees some play and jumps into the $3-$4 range.
Fated Infatuation – $1
Cackling Counterpart never did much, and this card has many of the same problems without even being as good. It’s dead or underpowered way too much of the time, making it a future bulk rare.
Fated Intervention – $1
This is kind of like a cheaper instant-speed Call of the Herd that sometimes gives you card advantage. And it’s not going to see much play. Magic sure has changed over the years, hasn’t it?
Big green decks want spells that help enable devotion, not a couple of 3/3s. It’s possible that this whole cycle is being underrated though—scry is very good. If it sees some play, it could end up in the $3 range. My prediction is that it will drop to bulk.
Fated Return – $1
I’m not paying seven mana for an Animate Dead in any format, even if it gives a guy indestructible and can be played at instant speed and/or scry 2. Well, maybe in a really dumb Commander deck. Like the kind you play blindfolded behind a shed so no one can see how bad it is.
Felhide Spiritbinder – $1
This may look like Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, but it’s so not Kiki-Jiki. The fact that you have to wait a turn, attack with it, wait another turn, and then untap it (or combine it with something) and pay two to get anything done will keep this from the big boy tables.
I guess you could combine this with Freed from the Real or something in Modern, but even then your engine isn’t infinite—you’d have to pay 1UR every time you wanted to make a copy of something, which isn’t even as good a deal as Fated Infatuation. Someone might "break" this in a large and unwieldy combo, but that won’t keep it from being a $0.50 card regardless.
Gild – $1
Any removal spell with the word "exile" on it is worth taking a second look at, but there’s no way anyone will run this over Hero’s Downfall unless they’re making a Rumpelstiltskin and/or King Midas theme deck.
Hero of Leina Tower – $1
How much mana are you going to have where you want to target this guy and then pay X? This is a fun limited card, but a constructed bulk rare.
Hunter’s Prowess – $1
This spell is probably better than you think it is. Sure, it’s a sorcery-speed pump spell, but the fact that it gives your creature trample means that you’re going to draw cards nearly every time you get an attack off. Removal is still a thing, though, meaning that your attacker will almost assuredly be killed before you can even turn it sideways. There are just too many ways this turns into card disadvantage. Bulk rare.
Mindreaver – $1
The fact that this card mills people should keep it above bulk rates. Costing double blue is a good thing too, and I expect people will consider it in devotion decks. Ultimately, though, I don’t think people are going to want to target this with any of their spells—the upside isn’t big enough compared to other things out there—and it will stay at $1.
This is a Prerelease/Intro Pack rare, so even with some casual demand it couldn’t go higher than $2 or $3. As is, there are better things even for kitchen table players to do with their six mana.
Oracle of Bones – $1
I like this guy a little more than the Phoenix because you can use it in a deck called Tell Me Your Fears that runs four copies of the biggest, scariest spell you can imagine just to try to psych people out. As long as your opponent is petrified of losing the game on the spot to whatever spell you might have, you’ll always end up with a 5/3 haste for four, which is actually not all that great but is okay, right? I don’t even know what spell you would run (Enter the Infinite? Firemind’s Foresight?), so I checked Gatherer to see if there were any obvious choices in Standard that would win you the game right away. Nope. Future bulk rare, but with the potential for awesome Travis Woo style mind games.
Plea for Guidance – $1
The fact that this isn’t an instant hurts. The fact that this costs six mana hurts even more. Tutoring up two spells and putting them straight in your hand is fantastic, though, and this will absolutely be a real card in Commander. I bet it looks amazing in foil too. I’ll be picking several of those up when I can.
Whelming Wave – $1
The line about Octopuses and Krakens will be fun for a small number of casual players (such as myself) who love sea monsters, but for the most part you can sharpie that clause right out of this card. The real question then is this: how good is a sorcery-speed Evacuation for four?
I’m not sure we’ll find out anytime soon seeing as Cyclonic Rift is almost always going to be better. This should stay above bulk, but I doubt it’ll make it above $2 until Cyclonic Rift rotates. Even then this spell is kind of clunky and not very versatile. Bulk rare.
Arbiter of the Ideal – $0.50
I might throw this in a very casual version of Momir Vig Commander, but otherwise I can’t see it being that useful in any format. Bulk rare.
Eater of Hope – $0.50
This is decent in casual Reanimator/Commander decks that want a good repeatable sac outlet. His stats are tiny for his mana cost, though, keeping it a bulk rare.
Forgestoker Dragon – $0.50
Every set has one of these. I judge them by how likely they are to make it into my Kaalia or Bladewing the Risen Commander deck. This one was dismissed out of hand. Bulk rare.
Perplexing Chimera – $0.50
This card is fantastic and super fun in multiplayer games of Commander. Worst case he’ll sop up some removal. A lot of the time, though, he’ll hold off a bunch of really powerful spells until he’s off the board. It’s still probably not more than a $1 card, but I expect I’ll see this in play more than most of the bulk rares in this set and will be buying a couple of foils.
Scourge of Skola Vale – $0.50
Flavor-wise this should have been an ooze like The Blob who eats everyone and gains their strength. That would have made him awesome, but he would have still been unplayable. Bulk rare.
Silent Sentinel – $0.50
For seven mana, I want this to win the game when my creature attacks. Bulk rare.
Tromokratis – $0.50
Tromokratis will be awesome in my Lorthos Commander deck, but this kaiju has no future in Standard. Bulk rare.
Whims of the Fates – $0.50
This card isn’t even fun. Chaos cards like this should be fun, right? Bulk rare.
Commons & Uncommons Of Note
I don’t like to speculate on these, but I do like picking up personal sets as early as possible. Oftentimes people will just give out their commons and uncommons at the Prerelease. Other times you can get several in exchange for a brand-new bulk rare. Here are the cards I’m targeting:
Searing Blood – $2: Players always want whatever the format staple burn cards are. This is one of them.
Fanatic of Xenagos – $1: Here’s a tribute cost I can get behind. Either a 4/4 or a 4/4 with haste that becomes a 3/3 the next turn? Both deals are fine.
Springleaf Drum – $1: This was sneaking up there in price thanks to Modern play. I don’t think it’ll do much in Standard, but people will probably want it for Modern until the market becomes saturated in a couple weeks.
Thassa’s Rebuff – $1: A nice sideboard card at worst for Mono-Blue Devotion. It should go over well with the casual crowd too.
Kiora’s Follower – $0.50: Casual players love this effect, and it might even see some competitive play. I’ll be angling for a set of the Game Day full-art version with the great art.
Satyr Wayfinder – $0.25: This is another common foil that should trade for a buck or two at some point.
This Week’s Trends
- Dark Depths shot way up this week, as did Grove of the Burnwillows. They’re both played in good decks, so the price spike is probably real.
- The price went up on a number of Legacy staples, including Underground Sea, Volcanic Island, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Force of Will, Rishadan Port, and Wasteland. It’s too early to tell if demand will sustain this spike or if the market will lower the price again. Stay out as a buyer, but feel free to sell if you have extras.
- A really nifty Enduring Ideal deck popped up on Magic Online, causing the card to spike briefly to five tickets. The paper price didn’t move much, so you still have a chance to buy a couple copies if you want. The card is a subset tutor (of sorts) from a very unpopular set, so I like it as a low-risk long-term hold. The deck isn’t good enough to sustain massive demand, though, so don’t expect to quick flip the card for $10 or anything.
- Archangel of Thune is seeing a little more play in Standard and climbing accordingly. Only get on this train if you want to play the deck yourself.
- Travis Woo tried to start a run on Primal Command. It kind of worked—the price went up a little and fewer copies are out there—but most people seemed to take my advice from last week, avoiding a major buyout and spike. Good job!
- Bloom Tender jumped from $5 to $10 thanks to . . . Commander I guess? Or buyouts? People seem to be actually buying them at $10, though, so I doubt the price will go down anytime soon.