First Pick At Born Of The Gods

With the Born of the Gods Prerelease coming up this weekend, it’s time to take a look at how the set breaks down for Limited with Grand Prix Toronto winner Ari Lax!

With the Born of the Gods Prerelease coming up this weekend, it’s time to take a look at how the set breaks down for Limited.

I’m going to focus on how each color’s new cards match up with the old ones—what changes in the mana curve, what changes in the archetypes, and what changes in terms of card quality.

Reminder Of Theros

White had early bodies, Wingsteed Rider, and almost no other commons capable of winning a game without help.

Blue had no two-drops but instead had multiple removal spells and the best bestow common (Nimbus Naiad).

Black was missing an actual threat at common that could deal repeatable damage. Instead it had two-drops to trade, removal, and Gray Merchant of Asphodel.

Red had few top commons and tried to play a more traditional beatdown role most games. It was heavy at three but light on really good twos.

Green was saturated with good commons. The high end was more interchangeable than the low end.

Small Set Matters

Just a reminder on the math here.

Pack for pack, any given common in Born of the Gods is 1.5 more times as likely to be opened than any given common from a large set.

Pack for pack, any given uncommon in Born of the Gods is 1.5 more times as likely to be opened than any given uncommon from a large set.



2/1 Flying (Loyal Pegasus)



1/1+ Flying (Akroan Skyguard)

2/2 (Oreskos Sun Guide)


3/1 (Elite Skirmisher)

+1/+2 (Nyxborn Shieldmate)


2/4 (Great Hart)



1/4 Flying (Griffin Dreamfinder)





Revoke Existence


Hold at Bay

Mortal’s Ardor


Ephara’s Radiance


White’s curve in Born of the Gods matches the curve from Theros. Solid aggressive low end, trash on the high end.

White’s common power level in this set also looks extremely similar to Theros. You have your heroic guy, and the threats drop off from there. You lose a pack Hopeful Eidolon and Gods Willing, but you get a 50% boost in the number of Wingsteed Riders for the first go around.

While the heroic decks are always looking for more heroic guys, this may hurt them more than it helps. Looking at the commons, there isn’t the same number of cards competing with Akroan Skyguard on power level as there were with Wingsteed Rider. After a strong pick 1 in another color, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Voyaging Satyr, Nessian Asp, Voyage’s End, Griptide, Nimbus Naiad, and Lightning Strike were around the same class as Wingsteed Rider. That just isn’t the case in Born of the Gods. There is a much lower chance that an Akroan Skyguard slips through an extra pick or two. The increased number in the initial pack also creates more potential for a train wreck in which a bunch of people sick to their guns and end up with mediocre white decks.

Note that this swap does make Spark Jolt, Eye Gouge, and Viper’s Kill better since they can kill a decent number of the expected heroic creatures before they get going.

I think Excoriate is a more powerful card than Divine Verdict. The old “play around 3W open” plan doesn’t really exist with it, and you don’t have to make any big timing decisions. It also can take out utility creatures, while Divine Verdict has been sadly staring at them since the days it was called Neck Snap.

Ephara’s Radiance is very close to unplayable. It just happens to trigger heroic and inspired. There are some inspired cards that need the help, and if you are already white and you get the mechanical overlap, then it might make the cut . . . some of the time.





1/1 (God-Favored General)

2/2 Vigilance (Vanguard of Brimaz)


2/2 First Strike (Archetype of Courage)

1/1 Double Strike (Ghostblade Eidolon)


3/3 (Akroan Phalanx)



5/5* Flying (Ornitharch)




Dawn to Dusk



Acolyte’s Reward

Glimpse the Sun God





God-Favored General is the perfect example of an inspired card that needs the help. A 1/1 is not surviving any combats. You may be able to bestow or Chosen of Heliod it out of range for a bit, but you then end up in a situation where your mana gets stretched between triggering it and making it big enough to survive combat.

Ornitharch is the best tribute card in the set. Not only does it have the best base body at 5/5 flying for five, but it doesn’t give your opponent much of a choice in the null scenario. Either you get five power of fliers or you get five power of fliers.

There are six white commons in Theros and one uncommon that can trigger Sunbond. One requires black mana, and one is Last Breath your own guy. Black and green have two commons that gain life, with black also having two uncommons that do. In Born of the Gods, only white has life gain. One of these involves playing Ephara’s Radiance.

Note that there are no heroic cards at uncommon to replace Phalanx Leader, Battlewise Hoplite, or Favored Hoplite. It’s likely that “make an inspired guy attack multiple times” is going to have to fill in for that old game plan. Ghostblade Eidolon also is a fine target for certain Auras, but unfortunately most of the pump Auras are bestow creatures or Ordeals and are good on almost anything.

There are no Ordeals in this set. It’s likely that “not being 100% dead on turn 2” is going to replace that game plan.

Overall, the linear heroic deck is a little worse in this set than in Theros, but it will still function. The difference is the backup aggro deck gains a lot as the other colors lose ground.






2/1 (Deepwater Hypnotist)



2/3 (Nyxborn Triton)



3/2 Flying (Chorus of the Tides)



4/4 (Floodtide Serpent)

2/2 Flying (Sphinx’s Disciple)




Retraction Helix




Stratus Walk

Sudden Storm



Evanescent Intellect



Blue in Theros was short on two-drops. Deepwater Hypnotist isn’t the best option, but it still blocks better than Vaporkin. That said, it’s not like pack 1 is going to fill in the two slot and make up for the weaker packs 2 and 3.

Sphinx’s Disciple seems like it can take over a game, but it has no immediate board impact (also known as the Vaporkin problem). I’m inclined to think that Prescient Chimera is a better five-drop finisher, which puts Disciple somewhere in the mid to late picks of a pack.

Nyxborn Triton is a huge downgrade from Nimbus Naiad, but yet again it’s the best in the cycle. I’ve played my share of Blind Phantasms to hold the ground in various formats, and this one has the built-in upgrade for when it becomes less relevant late game.

Retraction Helix is no Banishing Knack. It will not bounce their entire team, though you may get a bonus guy out of a Breaching Hippocamp from time to time. Still, bouncing guys is basically removal in this format due to the investment in heroic or Auras. It’s not Griptide or Voyage’s End, but it’s removal that I’m going to take highly.

Stratus Walk is going to do a lot of work. It makes their guy not block sometimes. It makes your guy unblockable sometimes (important with inspired). It triggers heroic sometimes. It always draws a card. It’s not going to be picked highly since it has no assured impact, but I won’t mind having it.

Floodtide Serpent is going to be much better than just a 4/4 with a drawback. There is the cycle of cantrip Auras (Chosen of Heliod, Fate Foretold, Scourgemark, Dragon Mantle, and Nylea’s Presence) in Theros, Stratus Walk, Grisly Transformation, and Karametra’s Favor in Born of the Gods, and any bestow guy you want to pick up for a string of two-for-ones.

Nullify is uncharacteristically good for removal in this format. It’s on par with Essence Scatter, which was premium removal in Doom Blade formats. The only drawback is costing double blue.


0/1 (Vortex Elemental)



1/1 Unblockable (Flitterstep Eidolon)

1/3 (Meletis Astronomer)





2/4 (Aerie Worshippers)



4/4* Flying (Siren of the Fanged Coast)



3/2 Flying (Archetype of Imagination)



6/6 Unblockable* (Kraken of the Straits)




Eternity Snare

Thassa’s Rebuff


Oracle’s Insight



Eternity Snare is one of those really cool reprints that are completely different when they change context. It was one of the worst cards in any given Time Spiral draft, but in this format it’s going to shine. Removal is expensive, and it locks down any bestow creatures on the target. The built-in two-for-one is the low end on this card.

Aerie Worshipers is one of the better inspired cards in my mind. Getting in with a 2/4 is relatively easy, blue appears to have the most enablers, and just generating one Bird token is often going to be good enough.

Siren of the Fanged Coast will be Air Elemental when you are behind and Seller of Songbirds when you are ahead. I feel like the way blue plays in this format it won’t be too hard to make an Air Elemental. The question is whether that is even enough to turn things around against the threats of Theros.

The asterisk by Kraken of the Straits basically means it can’t be double blocked down or chump blocked. 6/6 could easily be too small against a Nessian Asp, and getting enough Islands to fix that problem is not feasible in Limited.

I would say Flitterstep Eidolon is the best blue uncommon, but it’s easy to get burned in this color by things that can’t provide a defensive presence when they resolve. I may also be overestimating how good the bestow mode is, though I’ve been very impressed by the equivalent Cavern Lampad lately.

Archetype of Imagination looks like a tricky way to make your creatures unblockable until you realize Nessian Asp ruled the skies and actual fliers didn’t. The card is still good, but it has checks in place to make it less of an auto win.

Blue takes a hit, but it was one of the colors with the most interchangeable cards.






2/2 (Felhide Brawler)

2/1 (Nyxborn Eidolon)


1/3 (Servant of Tymaret)



4/2 (Forsaken Drifters)



3/3 (Warchanter of Mogis)



4/5 (Marshmist Titan)





Eye Gouge

Weight Of The Underworld


Grisly Transformation




Claim of Erebos




Black had enough early-game fodder in Theros but was missing a top0end finisher. Gray Merchant of Asphodel can do a huge chunk of damage, but you can’t count on it for the full twenty. Warchanter of Mogis can get there, but it’s not a killer like Nessian Asp.

The black removal in Theros was fine but clunky. The black removal in Born of the Gods is just bad. Asphyxiate is similar to Premature Burial in Time Spiral. If the threat is attacking you, there is one turn for you to get out of it. Weight of the Underworld at least does something if you aren’t actually killing the creature, but it still only partly answers most of the large threats.

Claim of Erebos is my personal favorite of the inspired-enablers cycle, though I’ve always loved an Onyx Goblet. It’s not quite a black Aqueous Form, but the hyperaggressive B/R decks probably wouldn’t mind this effect. This archetype looks to have gained a decent amount mostly because the pure synergies in other archetypes got worse and it obtained more interchangeable two-drops and combat tricks.

Necrobite and Boon of Erebos work well with inspired. When an inspired creature regenerates, it taps.

These black cards are extremely uninspiring. Black was my least favorite color in Theros Draft, and these additions don’t do much to help.






“3”/1 (Spiteful Returned)




1/3 (Ashiok’s Adept)

0/5+ Defender (Black Oak of Odunos)

2/2 (Odunos River Trawler)


2/1 Intimidate (Forlorn Pseudamma)




4/4* Flying (Shrike Harpy)




2/3 Deathtouch (Archetype of Finality)





Bile Blight

Drown in Sorrow





I will be first picking Spiteful Returned a lot. Maybe less than I think because it’s basically the only black card I like in the set, but it’s very good. Four mana on the bestow here is a huge bargain when you realize it is at worst a must-be-blocked-twice Lava Axe.

Forlorn Pseudamma is unique among the inspired token generators thanks to its built-in evasion. Unfortunately, attrition matters most in the black mirror matches where the intimidate is blank.

Calling Shrike Harpy a 4/4 is ambitious. Most of the time it is going to be a 3BB 2/2 flying Diabolic Edict.

Archetype of Finality is basically bestowing Baleful Eidolon on all of your creatures. There’s a reason it’s a six-mana 2/3.

Black did not come out well in Born of the Gods, and that’s saying quite a bit considering it wasn’t great to start with.







1/1 Flying (Impetuous Sunchaser)

+1/+1 (Nyxborn Rollicker)

2/1 (Reckless Reveler)


+2/+2 (Fearsome Temper)

2/3 –> 4/3 (Kragma Butcher)



5/2 (Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass)




5/5* (Pharagax Giant)





Bolt of Keranos

Fall of the Hammer

Reckless Reveler

Scouring Sands


Rise to the Challenge





Epiphany Storm





Red had a reasonable curve but could have used a bear to bring a bit more solid beats early. That doesn’t change here.

What red lacked was dominating commons. It had Lightning Strike, but that was it. No Nessian Asp or Wingsteed Rider to close, no assured removal spell like Voyage’s End, and not even a good bestow creature. That may change.

Bolt of Keranos is on par with Lightning Strike, if not better since it won’t be picked higher due to being splashable.

Pharagax Giant is a tribute creature that doesn’t present a great choice. There aren’t many scenarios where shrinking a 5/5 to a 3/3 and taking five doesn’t present a serious threat to an offense, and most of those times if they do take the five the 5/5 body wasn’t bailing you out anyway. When the red player is attacking, neither option is attractive, but at least making a 5/5 makes them work a bit for it.

Basically, my point is that this is going to be a 5/5 for five. I’ll take it.

Kragma Butcher is also extremely large for its size. As a 2/3 it likely survives the first early swing, and then as a 4/3 it punishes them more. The fact that it’s the only red three-drop common in the set also matches well with the fact red was full of them in Theros (Spearpoint Oread, Two-Headed Cerberus, and Minotaur Skullcracker).

The last potential top-quality red common is Fearsome Temper. With the further drop in removal quality in Born of the Gods, normal Auras become less risky. Fearsome Temper pumps guys earlier and more than bestow creatures while also bringing a form of evasion to the table. It’s not quite Nimbus Naiad, but its close enough for red.

That said, it gets the worst bestow common yet again. Nyxborn Rollicker is not getting cast as a creature very often, and the Aura side isn’t exciting either.






1/1+ (Everflame Eidolon)




3/2 (Archetype of Aggression)

2/1 (Satyr Nyx-Smith)

2/2 (Stormcaller of Keranos)






3/2 (Akroan Conscriptor)




5/5* (Thunder Brute)





Lightning Volley

Pinnacle of Rage

Searing Blood


Thunderous Might




Red also has a slew of quality uncommons. The removal isn’t amazing since it doesn’t kill a huge creature, but the threats are top of the line.

Akroan Conscriptor lets you cast Threatens at instant speed. There’s a reason that Wizards stopped printing those at uncommon a while back. Their guy blocks their guy, everything they have dies, etc. Then you also get to Threaten again the next turn.

Stormcaller of Keranos might be a little slow for the still-Theros-dominated Limited format, but repeatable scry is extremely powerful. If it doesn’t end up being awesome now, look for it once Journey to Nyx arrives and the format becomes less about bestow and heroic making giant creatures.

Everflame Eidolon is an odd one to bestow. The fact that it provides a minimal impact the first turn it bestows makes me think it will perform worse than it looks.

Red gained a lot in Born of the Gods. Its overall card quality went up when that was its primary game plan, and other people’s synergies lost. The only minus it really saw is that Kragma Warcaller got downgraded to Ragemonger.



1/1 (Charging Badger)



1/1 (Satyr Wayfinder)

3/2 (Swordwise Centaur)


3/1 (Nyxborn Wolf)

1/1+ (Setessan Oathsworn)


3/3+ (Pheres-Band Tromper)

2/1 (Setessan Starbreaker)


4/4 (Snake of the Golden Grove)




Culling Mark

Setessan Starbreaker


Aspect of Hydra

Mortal’s Resolve


Karametra’s Favor



There are no Voyaging Satyrs in this pack.

There are no Nessian Asps in this pack.

There are no Time to Feeds in this pack.

Green lost a lot at common.

Nyxborn Wolf isn’t bad. Keep in mind the +1 on toughness isn’t typically making something big much harder to kill. More likely it makes your small or midsized creature hit hard enough to matter.

Setessan Oathsworn is to Staunch-Hearted Warrior as Akroan Skyguard is to Wingsteed Rider. Again, there are more heroic-pumping commons per pack opened of Born of the Gods than there were in Theros. This time the cost shift is a pretty big upgrade as opposed to a debatable downgrade. The biggest issue with Staunch-Hearted Warrior wasn’t size but clunkiness. The smaller version may be the best green common in the set.

The other contender for best green common is Pheres-Band Tromper. Hill Giant isn’t the best starting rate, but two triggers make this guy very hard to fight.

Aspect of Hydra is very important. Green didn’t have a one-mana trick in Theros, and true Giant Growths are easy ways to generate a lot of tempo. Sometimes +1/+1 isn’t enough to make a profitable combat, but making this +2/+2 or more shouldn’t be too difficult.

(Aside: Note that while Theros had one-cost tricks in all the colors but green, only white and green have them in this set.)

Satyr Wayfinder adds to a lot of other commons to support a self-mill theme (Returned Centaur, Commune with the Gods, Forsaken Drifters). I can’t tell if this is just retroactive placing due to Golgari, a hint of things to come, or both.

Setessan Starbreaker looks like a card that plays much better than its stat line suggests. Killing a bestow creature is a huge swing because it reverses a huge swing.

For Culling Mark, see Asphyxiate. This is an even more conditional version of the same card.

The only reason I have Charging Badger on this list is that it holds Ordeals really well.








1/1 Lure (Noble Quarry)



2/4+ (Graverobber Spider)



3/3 (Nessian Demolok)

2x 2/2 & +2/+2 (Raised by Wolves)


5/5 (Pheres-Band Raiders)






6/5 (Archetype of Endurance)





Unravel the Aether


Mischief and Mayhem






In Theros, green’s weakness was the quality of its uncommons. The reverse is true in Born of the Gods.

Noble Quarry is probably the second best of the uncommon Bestow cycle (Spiteful Returned being best). Double Falter is a lot of Falter, and that assumes you don’t use the Plague Wind mode of making a giant Lure guy.

Pheres-Band Raiders is disjointed with its cycle of inspired token generators. The other ones are all about “how do I make this tap so I can generate cards?” Raiders is just a giant guy that makes more large creatures. There isn’t a big need to mess around with tapping it in non-combat ways.

Green trades its common high end for some midrange. It’s a definite loss, but Nessian Courser style aggressive green decks stand to gain from the shift away from high-drops and Voyaging Satyr.

Nessian Demolok’s approximate text box: “If your opponent controls a good bestow creature, this enters the battlefield with three +1/+1 counters on it. Also, if they are trying to splash, they deserve this.”

Note that Raised by Wolves can create Pack Rat style math in combat. A Wolf dies, and then your enchanted guy shrinks and ends up with lethal damage on it.

Unravel Into The Aether is an instant. Think Destructive Revelry when you see this card and not Fade Into Antiquity.

Mischief and Mayhem is likely awesome in U/G and just okay elsewhere. It’s a matter of how often it is 4G for eight damage as opposed to 4G for double Diabolic Edict.

Green with Born of the Gods is worse than it was at doing what it used to, but it may be able to shift toward a different and more aggressive strategy to adjust.

Multicolored & Artifact

All of the multicolored uncommons are great. Treat them similarly to the Theros ones. Pick them first or second aggressively, and seeing them any later than fourth is a signal that color pair is open.

Note that these are all allied-paired cards besides Kiora’s Follower. There will be more people playing allied-colored decks, but if you don’t have one of the incentives by the end of pack 1, don’t worry about it.

(Aside: The new Gods are much better in Limited than the old ones. +5 across two colors is much easier than +4 in a single color when it’s near impossible to draft monocolored decks)

I was high on Siren Song Lyre at first glance, but then I realized it costs six mana before it does anything. The initial investment here is very high, and I expect it to be just okay outside of green and black decks where it lets you upgrade your random small guys.

Springleaf Drum is really a black or green card. Most decks not featuring those colors don’t want to jump the curve enough to devote a card and a low-drop to it. It also promotes the Five-Color Green deck as a mana source that can switch splash colors between activations.

The Takeaway

Red gets better.

White remains about the same.

Green gets different, which may or may not be worse. It gets better with the red cards as it changes focus, but that color combination is still missing two-drops.

Blue loses card quality, but the general game plan doesn’t shift.

Black only gets worse.

Removal overall gets much worse. The cards from Theros that make removal required get better, though hopefully their lower density helps balance that.

Heroic at common gains in density but loses at uncommon. My quick calculation of the ASFAN math means there’s a small loss in overall density, but that could easily be wrong or made up for through other means (like using heroic-triggering cards to force through inspired creatures).

Working for an inspired token maker is a way to win, but most of the cards that reward you for tapping them outside of combat are all uncommon.

Bestow creatures in this set are generally worse than in Theros due to both rate offered and their vanilla nature.

There are no monstrosity cards in the set. Instead we have Tribute. As always, the punisher mechanic is worse than it looks.

Rares in this set look to be at a similar level as they were in Theros. They are good, but the commons and uncommons can match what they present.

Overall, the format is going to look approximately the same as it was before the new set. The relative power levels just shift a little.

Building For A Banned List Follow Up

As per the suggestion of Dylan Streater in the comments last week, I tried a Gush Doomsday list. I’m not going to post a list since I have basically no authority on how the deck would actually adapt, but at first glance it seems that two things are clear:

1. Gush probably reduces the cost to kill with Doomsday by one or two mana in a few cases, often involving having not made a land drop or just having a single cantrip. The latter is the scary one, as the conflict of cantrips being a setup piece and combo piece is the main thing holding Doomsday back.

2. Gush is not a four-of in the deck, but more than one is probably correct.

Long story short, it’s a good idea, but further research is required.

People also asked about how fast Black Vise Burn is. It turns out that Vise speeds up the kill mostly by virtue of being a one-drop. Shrapnel Blast would require an additional artifact to be worth playing, and that can’t be Darksteel Citadel since you need multiple red sources on turn 2. It also conflicts with Fireblast since you are playing Great Furnace.

Basically, if you want to play Shard Volley or Bump in the Night, you would get most of the gain of Vise without the play/draw dependency of the card.