Theros Deck Changes

After his set review last week, Sheldon tells you how he’s going to slot the cards from Theros that he wants to play into his 23 Commander decks.

My favorite times of the year Magic-wise are when I take the opportunity to change all of my Commander decks at once. It’s a chance to add cards from the new set and swap around some cards that I’ve either wanted to try out in a different deck or wanted to bench as underperformers. As I’ve done with each of the past several sets, I’m going to tell you how I’m going to go about using them in each of my now 23 decks.

On the first pass through, I’m going to use exactly one each of the cards that I listed as Definitely Will Get Played during my Theros set review. There are multiple cards that I’ll want to eventually put into multiple decks (and I’ll point out some of those), but for now part of the puzzle is figuring out which deck wants a particular card the most. There are 50 cards on the list of definites, so there are plenty to go around—although I’ll be reserving the Gods to be the commanders of their own decks. Whether or not their weapons come with them will be determined by how much I want to play any of them right now. You’ll notice also that a few cards from the Probably Will Get Played list crept into my updates.

This episode of Embracing the Chaos is brought to you by my too-short Best of Queensryche playlist, which only takes in 48 minutes of music. Guess I’ll have to do something about that and get it closer to full article-writing length. The list has quite a bias toward later works, so I think I’ll go back to some earlier tracks for more material. Feel free to fire off suggestions.

"I Don’t Believe in Love"
"Queen of the Ryche"
"Suite Sister Mary"
"Scarborough Fair"
"Eyes of a Stranger"
"Another Rainy Night (Without You)"
"Silent Lucidity"
"Anybody Listening?"

If you haven’t heard their cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s "Scarborough Fair," you’re in for a real treat. Geoff Tate shows off most of his range, from deepest to highest. Give it a listen.

Also, part of this challenge is figuring out which cards are underperforming in decks and merit getting swapped out. In some cases, it means taking out really good cards for even better ones—although "better" sometimes might mean better fits the theme and not stronger on a power-level basis.

Adun Oakenshield

In: Polis Crusher, Lurking Predators (from Intet), Survival of the Fittest (from Intet)

Out: See below

Adun actually makes a 24th deck, but I’m not necessarily counting it because it got stripped for parts (all the Beasts to be specific) to rebuild Ruric Thar. It’ll still be a heavy creature-based deck, and I’m still going to use many of the graveyard recursion elements in it, giving both Lurking Predators and Survival of the Fittest new opportunities to shine. The cards are still in the deck box with the sleeves on them. They’re just waiting for 40 or so new friends to join them.

Animar, Soul of Elements

In: Xenagos, the Reveler; Colossus of Akros; Mistcutter Hydra; Domri Rade, Deadeye Navigator (from Merieke)

Out: Djinn of Wishes; Darksteel Colossus; Apocalypse Hydra; Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir; Call of the Wild

I made three straight-up trades here. Xenagos in for Djinn of Wishes was simply wanting Xenagos; despite the Djinn having had provided enough tomfoolery in its lifetime, it was often underwhelming. Casting the Colossus for free will open the mana to make it monstrous. Apocalypse Hydra just continued to underperform, and the uncounterable, hasty, pro blue Mistcutter Hydra just seemed like it’d have plenty of upside.

A deck with 44 creatures wants Domri, so that’s coming into the spot vacated by Teferi. Deadeye Navigator getting freed up from another deck gives me the opportunity to slip it in here while getting rid of Call of the Wild, which really isn’t useful in a deck without some library manipulation. A significant part of the fun of this deck is with Possibility Storm[/author]“][author name="Possibility Storm"]Possibility Storm[/author], and Teferi shuts off the fun for everyone else. It’s strategically strong but infinitely boring.

Aurelia, the Warleader

In: Glare of Heresy, Temple of Triumph

Out: Plains, Academy Rector

Glare of Heresy was put in here because there are certain white permanents, like Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, that simply shut down this deck. Academy Rector was mezzo-mezzo in the times I played the deck. It feels like it would serve another deck better.

Intet, the Dreamer

In: Curse of the Swine, Prophet of Kruphix, Temple of Mystery

Out: Lurking Predators (to Adun), Survival of the Fittest (to Adun), Yavimaya Coast

Curse of the Swine is great for Intet because it can produce a fair amount of mana and it needs to control creatures. It’s easier to Bonfire of the Damned or Fault Line away 2/2s than some of the giant things that you see in this format. Prophet of Kruphix is self-explanatory. Lurking Predators and Survival are simply better in decks with a heavier creature base. They won’t be sitting on the sidelines for long.

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord

In: Reaper of the Wilds

Out: Elvish Aberration

Many creatures die with the Jarad deck, many of them my own and when I want.

Karador, Ghost Chieftain

In: Ashen Rider

Out: Sheoldred, Whispering One

Ashen Rider is so good that it made me take out Sheoldred, the friendliest of all the Praetors. The seven-mana creature I always Birthing Pod for is Angel of Despair anyway. Podding Angel of Despair into Ashen Rider just gets me swoony. When I get around to putting individual cards into more than one deck, Karador will most likely get Rescue from the Underworld. I like that it can be used like Restoration Angel to simply blink something away from targeted removal. Obviously the trip takes a little longer—but still.

Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund

In: Stormbreath Dragon

Out: Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker

I still can’t wait to kill people with Stormbreath Dragon’s trigger. KJ is a casualty of the theme despite being really good in the deck. And it’s fated for Purphoros anyway.

Kresh the Bloodbraided

In: Nighthowler; Rescue from the Underworld; Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

Out: Night Soil, Rune-Scarred Demon, Swamp

Nighthowler and Rescue from the Underworld are two of the cards that I’m most excited to play with, so it seemed only natural to put them in one of my feature decks. Flinging a Nighthowler bestowed creature is going to be boss. Malignus rescuing Lord of Extinction with Flayer of the Hatebound in play could deal triple digits pretty easily. Kresh can be a little mana hungry, so I hope that Nykthos will help step up the production.

Lavinia of the Tenth

In: Medomai the Ageless

Out: Azorius Guildmage

I want to see if Medomai actually works in this deck. The blink tricks should be a little wilder with an extra turn every now and again, even if it makes detain a little worse. Medomai almost went into Phelddagrif because of Windreader Sphinx, but it felt like it would do better work here. Guildmage was the cut here because I found myself rarely having the mana to use it. The deck is slightly more active than many W/U decks, and the Guildmage belongs in a reactive deck.

Lazav, Dimir Mastermind

In: Dark Betrayal, Psychic Intrusion, Temple of Deceit

Out: Brainstorm, Twisted Justice, Island

Dark Betrayal is here simply because the deck has an Isochron Scepter package. I’ll admit to totally misreading Psychic Intrusion when I did my set review. I’m now convinced of its awesomeness. Any deck with B/U could have gotten Temple of Deceit, but putting it into Lazav just feels right, Brian. Feels right.

Lord of Tresserhorn

In: Gray Merchant of Asphodel; Tymaret, the Murder King

Out: Sword of Fire and Ice, Sword of War and Peace

I’d planned to take out the Swords for a while, and two really good Zombies cropping up is a pretty good excuse to do so. I think I want one of the Gods to carry those Swords. After Patriarch’s Bidding, Gray Merchant could be as lethal to the table as Exsanguinate. And how could I not play the king of murder?

Melek, Izzet Chronarch

In: Meletis Charlatan, Mnemonic Wall, Steam Augury

Out: Bribery, Shocker, Jester’s Cap

Melek is a deck I’m still fiddling about with. The cards coming in all support the theme. I’m a little surprised that I wasn’t already playing Mnemonic Wall. Shocker is cute and all, but it just wasn’t getting the job done. The idea behind Jester’s Cap was to get rid of someone’s Eldrazi so that I could mill them, but the graveyard hate should be enough to take care of that.

Merieke Ri Berit

In: Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver; Burnished Hart; Temple of Silence

Out: Uyo, Silent Prophet; Deadeye Navigator (to Animar); Tainted Field (to Obzedat)

There aren’t enough creatures with good enters-the-battlefield triggers to make use of Deadeye Navigator, so it had been slated for removal for a while. Burnished Hart will help the deck run a little more smoothly.

The Mimeoplasm

In: Thassa’s Bounty

Out: Profane Command

Thassa’s Bounty is right on theme. Drawing cards while getting Mimeo targets into the graveyard is just what I want to do since there’s a good chance that one of the cards will be some kind of reanimation. Profane Command has been surprisingly mediocre in the deck, so it was the cut. It was difficult because I still believe in the card but just couldn’t find anything else to take out.

Nath of the Gilt-Leaf

In: Pharika’s Mender

Out: Lotus Cobra

Nath didn’t need the mana boost from Lotus Cobra because everything in the deck costs five or less anyway. I imagine there’s some loop with Pharika’s Mender and Eternal Witness to be exploited.

Obzedat, Ghost Council

In: Hythonia the Cruel, Tainted Field

Out: Millikin, Plains

The Obzedat deck is about being able to wipe the board when it’s not my turn (so that Obzedat can run around unimpeded), so Hythonia is the stones. Millikin was a leftover from the days when the deck had significant reanimation. There’s a good chance it makes it into Adun.

Oros, the Avenger

In: Hundred-Handed One

Out: Galepowder Mage

I’m mostly ambivalent about this deck and have only held on to it because I want to have one of this wedge and the Sunforger package is fun. I’m considering building Kaalia of the Vast as a Demon tribal deck, but we’ll see. Until then, this deck needs a little more defense, so the monstrous Hundred-Handed One fits the bill.


In: Artisan of Forms

Out: Worship

Phelddagrif has Rancor in it. Rancor goes nicely with Artisan of Forms. Is there perhaps some foolishness with Artisan and Cage of Hands? You’d have an ever-flexible Clone, plus the chance to shut down someone’s good creature.

Prime Speaker Zegana

In: Shipbreaker Kraken, Bow of Nylea, Reverent Hunter, Ordeal of Nylea

Out: Experiment One; Garruk’s Horde; Zameck Guildmage, Inexorable Tide

All kinds of goodness for the Prime Speaker ("+1/+1 Counters Matter") deck. I’m looking forward to taking up Chad Clark’s suggestion from the forums to just put Ordeal of Nylea on a creature that already has +1/+1 counters on it. You can simply shortcut the Ordeal by attacking once. Solid. I’m not sure that Bow of Nylea is going to stay. It seems like Gods should be able to carry their own weapons. We’ll see if Reverent Hunter routinely gets as large as I think it will.

Rakdos, Lord of Riots

In: Underworld Cerberus

Out: Bosh, Iron Golem

The Rakdos "Life Is Short" deck is mostly pulled out. I’m missing a few cards that I have to acquire before sleeving it up. Once I do, your tears will sustain me.

Rith, the Awakener

In: Akroan Horse; Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

Out: Expedition Map, Shield of the Oversoul

Rith is a Soldier deck. I love the imagery of my Soldiers sneaking out of the Horse I gave you. Elspeth creates more Soldiers to lead the charge and when the going gets tough serves as another sweeper effect. I can see a scenario where I get one hit in with Rith, create a bunch of tokens, and then someone gets (rightfully) scared and kills Rith, so Elspeth won’t hurt me when I use it.

Ruhan of the Fomori

In: Bident of Thassa

Out: Angel’s Trumpet

Bident of Thassa’s second ability is what I’d like stapled to Ruhan. Angel’s Trumpet was in there to encourage people to attack, but people got rightfully scared of the things in the deck, so they just started taking the one damage.

Ruric Thar, the Unbowed

In: Polukranos, World Eater; Temple of Abandon

Out: Tracker, Forest

Polukranos doesn’t use the term fight, but it definitely fights, so it for sure belongs in Ruric Thar’s Beastly Werewolf Fight Club. Tracker needs some Voltron elements to be worthwhile, so it got benched. Just like Josh Freeman.


In: Abhorrent Overlord, Portent of Betrayal

Out: Perish, Cerebral Vortex

I’m going to try to use Portent of Betrayal like another Grab the Reins—steal a creature and then do something else with it, like use it to activate Attrition. Too bad there are no tricks to be done with it and Deadeye Navigator. Try to not let it slip to any of the Armada crowd that I’m taking Cerebral Vortex out, as they’ll be more likely to start drawing a million cards again. The Harpy-making Overlord plays right into Thraximundar’s sacrifice theme. I’m expecting it to be fuel for a Grave Betrayal / Attrition engine so that all the creatures are belong to us.

Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice

In: Gift of Immortality

Out: Druid’s Deliverance

I want my Angels to be immortal, but I want more for Trostani to live forever. Once she’s enchanted with this, I’ll be happy to not put her in the command zone when someone sweeps.

Here’s a list of all the Definitely Will Get Played cards and their dispositions:

White (6)

Elspeth, Sun’s Champion: Rith, the Awakener
Gift of Immortality: Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice
Glare of Heresy: Aurelia, the Warleader
Heliod, God of the Sun: Own deck
Hundred-Handed One: Oros, the Avenger
Spear of Heliod: Goes with Heliod

Blue (7)

Artisan of Forms: Phelddagrif
Bident of Thassa: Ruhan of the Fomori
Curse of the Swine: Intet, the Dreamer
Meletis Charlatan: Melek, Izzet Paragon
Mnemonic Wall: Melek, Izzet Paragon
Shipbreaker Kraken: Prime Speaker Zegana
Thassa, God of the Sea: Own deck

Black (8)

Abhorrent Overlord: Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord
Dark Betrayal: Lazav, Dimir Mastermind
Erebos, God of the Dead: Own deck
Gray Merchant of Asphodel: Lord of Tresserhorn
Hythonia the Cruel: Obzedat, Ghost Council
Nighthowler: Kresh the Bloodbraided
Rescue from the Underworld: Kresh the Bloodbraided
Whip of Erebos: Goes with Erebos

Red (5)

Fanatic of Mogis: Goes with Purphoros
Hammer of Purphoros: Goes with Purphoros
Portent of Betrayal: Thraximundar
Forge[/author]“]Purphoros, God of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]: Own deck
Stormbreath Dragon: Karrthus

Green (5)

Bow of Nylea: Prime Speaker
Karametra’s Acolyte: Goes with Nylea
Mistcutter Hydra: Animar
Nylea, God of the Hunt: Own deck
Polukranos, World Eater: Ruric Thar

Multicolored (11)

Ashen Rider: Karador
Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver: Merieke
Daxos of Meletis: Lavinia
Medomai the Ageless: Lavinia
Pharika’s Mender: Nath
Polis Crusher: Adun Oakenshield
Prophet of Kruphix: Intet
Reaper of the Wilds: Jarad
Steam Augury: Melek
Underworld Cerberus: Rakdos
Xenagos, the Reveler: Animar

Artifact (2)

Akroan Horse: Rith
Colossus of Akros: Animar

Land (6)

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx: Kresh
Temple of Abandon: Ruric Thar
Temple of Deceit: Lazav
Temple of Mystery: Intet
Temple of Silence: Merieke
Temple of Triumph: Aurelia

Like I said in my set review, although the density of cards from Theros that will make it into your decks is lower than with other sets, I’m quite happy with the quality of cards the set provides. They’ll create more and differently interesting board situations, epic game states, and great memories. There are cards that create deep and layered events without the worry of any of them being overpowered (although you might want to consider giving yourself protection from red when Purphoros is around). Here’s looking forward to hearing your stories of the fantastic plays the new cards create.

Embracing the Chaos,


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