Theros Set Review, Part 2

Check out the second part of Chas Andres’ financial review of Theros, which picks up where he left off on Monday and covers the green, gold, artifact, and land rares!

On Monday, we covered the first half of my Theros set review for rares. We’ll get to mythics next week, but for now let’s talk about green cards, gold cards, artifacts, and lands. We’ll also check out the spec portfolio and see how we’ve been doing.


Sylvan Caryatid – $4.99

  • Will three toughness stop a relevant number of attackers from the aggro decks?
  • Will there be anything good to ramp to?
  • Will this be outclassed by other ramp spells at the two-mana slot?

Utopia Tree was always somewhat playable, and this is a pretty nice upgrade. Ramp decks often find themselves taking a bunch of early damage while casting Farseeks, and the combination of three toughness plus hexproof really helps here. In the New World Order era, there are generally always good things to ramp to, so I can see this one maintaining most of its value for sure.

Fearless Prediction: Tier 1 Standard staple. Price between $4 and $6.

Mistcutter Hydra – $2.99

  • How relevant will protection from blue and counterspells end up being?
  • If there is a ramp deck, how good will it be?

Protection from blue is a rarity, and every time I see it I have flashbacks to the Goblin Piledriver era. This card isn’t Piledriver, of course, but I do suspect it will see play out of sideboards.

Against blue decks, this is a quick and versatile threat. The fact that it has haste helps so much, and it can easily get down and steal a game before the control player can stabilize. It dodges bounce, counterspells, and most red removal because of its size. U/W and U/B players will have an easier time with it, and it’s kind of low-powered against other decks, which is why I think it’ll be a two-of in sideboards at most. It is slightly better in ramp decks, but even there it’s going to be a silver bullet out of the board.

Fearless Prediction: Standard fringe player. Price between $1 and $2.

Boon Satyr – $2.99

  • Will the versatility of this card outweigh its prohibitive mana cost?
  • Will bestow be a successful, competitive mechanic in green?
  • Will there be a reasonable number of ground creatures to ambush?
  • Is this card better than Ghor-Clan Rampager at fulfilling a similar role?

The best-case scenario with this guy is that you flash it in bestowed for five mana, allowing you to pick off an attacker or beef up an attacker to take out a blocker. Your guy then gets a massive bonus—and when he dies, you get a body that isn’t inconsequential.

Worst case, you don’t really want to be paying three mana for a 4/2 or five mana for an Aura most of the time.

This guy bears some comparison to Thragtusk thanks to its versatility, but it obviously isn’t quite that good. It does give green decks a degree of trickery that they didn’t have before, and the slightly worse Wolfir Avenger did see play in Standard. I think this guy will as well.

Fearless Prediction: Tier 2 Standard staple. Price between $2 and $5.

 Bow of Nylea – $2.99

  • Will the "jack of all trades, master of none" versatility of this card shine even though none of the abilities are all that good on their own?

In my opinion, no. Having options is good and this card always gives you something to do each turn, but that’s not enough to make for a good Constructed card. Kitchen table players will love this and it’s outstanding in Limited, but it’s not a Standard staple.

Fearless Prediction: Future bulk rare.

Reverent Hunter – $1.49

  • Will people be okay playing a super-conditional win-more three-mana creature that is the worst topdeck ever?

It’s true; sometimes you’ll be far ahead, and this will be a 10/10 for three. You would have won those games anyway. The rest of the time you’ll draw this, stare at your empty board, and concede the game.

Fearless Prediction: Future bulk rare.

Arbor Colossus – $0.75

  • Will green decks have a better play on turns 5 and 6?
  • Will fliers become the dominant win condition in Standard?

Given that this card doesn’t do much until you invest eleven mana into it, I wouldn’t count on it making too many waves in Standard. It’s not quite as good as Silklash Spider in Commander, so don’t expect it to be a staple of that format either.

Anthousa, Setessan Hero – $0.49

  • Even though it’s very situational, will the fact that this card technically provides ten power for five mana be enough?


Fearless Prediction: Future bulk rare.


Fleecemane Lion – $7.99

  • Will Selesnya-based decks choose this over Voice of Resurgence?
  • If not, will they want to run four copies of each?
  • How much of an upgrade over Watchwolf is the monstrosity ability exactly?

From an upside perspective, this card is quite good. Getting a 3/3 into play on turn 2 is still above curve, and going turn 2 Lion turn 3 Smiter is going to be a reasonably big game. The monstrosity on this is eminently reachable, and hexproof and indestructible both make this an excellent midrange card. I love cards that are good early on and still useful late in the game, and this fits the bill.

Now the bad: this shares a casting cost with the most expensive card in Standard. If you’re in the market for a two-drop and control is still a thing (it always is), you’re gonna run Voices first. With Strangleroot Geist and Flinthoof Boar leaving, though, there’s going to be room at the inn for a few new two-drops. I really do believe this is going to be one of them.

Even still, $8 is a lot for a rare in a set that will be massively opened, and the demand for this won’t be as universal as Thoughtseize. Expect it to level off closer to the $5 range.

Fearless Prediction: Tier 1 Standard staple. Price between $4 and $8.

Prophet of Kruphix – $3.99

  • Will a deck exist that will want to spend time setting up a considerably more advantageous, fertile, and stealthy board state on turn 5?
  • Will the Prophet prove too brittle and prone to removal considering the mana cost?
  • Will a blue/green deck exist at all?

This is my absolute favorite card in the set. It showcases my favorite parts of blue and green together, and I cannot wait to play it in my Momir Vig deck, which has basically been tailored around this type of play. I’d love to live in a world where this is a tier 1 Standard staple.

I’ve grown cynical over the years though. At three toughness, your five-drop is just gonna get Searing Speared out of the game. And that’s not where you want to be.

Fearless Prediction: Standard fringe player. Price between $1 and $2.

Daxos of Meletis – $3.99

  • Will U/W decks want to play a creature that doesn’t block well and gets wrathed away easily?
  • Will the exiled card be a big game enough of the time to justify running this?

When I was at the Magic worldbuilding panel, Daxos elicited audible gasps from the crowd. This card is absolutely the real deal, and he just so happens to be in the color pair that has dominated Standard the most over the past few years. If I’m betting on any guild being playable in the new Standard, it’s Azorius.

Daxos is no Geist of Saint Traft—he doesn’t finish games that quickly—but he’s hard to block and kill, the life gain isn’t irrelevant, and there will be times when he will provide an absurd amount of card advantage. He’s not great against opposing little guys, but for the most part the decks that run 2/2s are attacking with them each turn, allowing Daxos to do his thing.

Fearless Prediction: Tier 1 Standard staple. Price between $3 and $6.

Reaper of the Wilds – $2.99

  • Will the 4/5 body make this a relevant creature at four CMC?
  • How useful will scry 1 be, and how often will it trigger?
  • Will a deck like Jund (or some neo-Rock midrange thing) want this at the four slot?

Four mana is the most competitive slot in most decks—there are always powerful things to do and lots of options vying for your time. Reaper of the Wilds doesn’t appear to do any one thing all that well, but it has a bevy of underrated and useful abilities: Scry, situational Hexproof, and a reasonable body. This is either going to be a nightmarish midrange jack-of-all-trades going straight up to $5-$6 or a bulk rare. I’m gambling on the latter, but the former wouldn’t surprise me either. Please note that this is almost identical to my review of Deathrite Shaman, so if this turns out to be the same sort of deal, feel free to light me on fire.

Fearless Prediction: Future bulk rare.

Steam Augury – $2.99

  • How close will this card play to Fact or Fiction?
  • How much will the red mana requirement impact this card’s playability?

Let’s try to answer the first question as best we can without actually testing the card.

With each card, there are only two possible splits: 4/1 and 3/2. With Fact or Fiction, you’d only get a 4/1 split if your opponent were scared to death of the one card you likely needed. In those cases, you’d either get the card you wanted for sure or would get to draw four. Both outcomes were great.

With Steam Augury, you’re only going to split 4/1 to try to psych your opponent out. This is going to be a sweet mind game, and I can’t wait to try to run the gambit. It’s slightly worse, but if you really do still need that one card, the outcome is still going to be good for you either way.

In a 3/2 situation, you were generally choosing between something like best spell + land and two worse spells + land or best spell + land and worse spell + two lands. Most of the time, getting either pile was pretty decent. In these cases, Steam Augury again is slightly worse but still just fine.

The best Fact or Fictions were when you played against someone terrible and they put the best two cards in the same pile or overrated something you didn’t actually need and gave you the card you wanted plus two bonus spells. This isn’t going to happen anymore unless you are a skilled bluffer. I can tell you this—Steam Augury will likely lead to more sweet bluff stories than any other card in recent memory.

Steam Augury is at its worst when you absolutely, positively need a specific card or out, your opponent knows it, and you only rip one of them out of the five that Steam Augury reveals. Your opponent gives you four irrelevant cards, and you scoop shortly thereafter. Fact or Fiction would have gotten you out of it, and Steam Augury did not. In these cases, the card falls into the same trap that Browbeat does—you never want to let your opponent control the outcome of any decisions you need to make.

So yeah, Steam Augury isn’t Fact or Fiction. Well, Fact or Fiction was one of the best draw spells of all time, and it dominated during the years it was legal. This was back in an era when spells were much more powerful too. Steam Augury doesn’t have to be as good as Fact or Fiction—it just has to be better than the alternatives right now.

Is it better than Sphinx’s Revelation? Probably not, but it works at a different point on the curve and probably goes in different decks. Is it better than Opportunity and Divination? Yes, I think so. And with Think Twice rotating, there’s room for new card-draw spells to become staples.

That brings us to our next question. How much does the red mana requirement hurt? Obviously this card would be an insta-staple if it were U/W or U/B, so either the blue decks would have to run red as their exclusive secondary color or we’re talking about a three-color control deck that would likely be U/W/R. U/W/R is pretty decent in Standard right now, of course, but the mana fixing is about to get a whole lot worse and Burning Earth isn’t going anywhere. If this cards fails to make an impact, that’s why.

All that said, I think people are going to embrace this card in casual and competitive environments. It’s too good not to see play, quite frankly, and people are going to want to adjust their mana bases to make it work. It’ll have some casual demand as well thanks to Fact or Fiction nostalgia, and it’s precisely the card that Izzet mages were hoping had been in the last block.

Fearless Prediction: Tier 1 Standard staple. Price between $3 and $6.

Tymaret, the Murder King – $1.99

  • Will a R/B deck exist that can take advantage of the recursion or sac outlet that this guy provides?

I think people are underrating Tymaret because they don’t really understand his second ability. Yes, it can be activated in your graveyard—in fact, that’s the only place it can be activated. People also seem bummed that he doesn’t combine well with himself. That’s fine—you’re running this card as an engine, not as some sort of solo control card.

Tymaret is deceptively powerful, and he packs a heck of a punch for a two-drop. I’m sensing some serious sleeper potential here.  

Fearless Prediction: Tier 2 Standard staple. Price between $2 and $5.

Anax and Cymede – $1.99

  • Will this be the three-drop of choice for aggressive Boros decks?
  • Will there be a good, cheap way to target Anax and Cymede?
  • Can the Boros decks build up enough of an army quick enough to make the heroic bonus relevant?

Much like with all of the heroic cards, the upside here is great. Throw a sweet Aura on these two and swing with your army for a million. I love three-drops with so much upside. I also suspect that Boros decks will come out of the gate swinging before the best control decks in the format come online.

That said, I’ve heard from several people that this card has underperformed in early testing, and a 3/2 firs striker for three conditional mana isn’t awesome by itself. I like this duo and they could spike a little at first, but I’d rather play Boros Reckoner.

Fearless Prediction: Future bulk rare.

Polis Crusher – $1.99

  • Will enchantments be powerful enough to justify running this over the better R/G four-drops?

At four mana, this card doesn’t really do much—a 4/4 for four isn’t all that good these days. This card doesn’t really shine until it becomes monstrous, at which point the trample should be enough to get the job done—the enchantment-killing clause is kind of irrelevant except in casual formats.

Fearless Prediction: Future bulk rare.

Triad of Fates – $0.99

  • Is there a way to speed this card up enough to make it playable outside of casual formats?

This is a wonderfully flavorful card. I’ll enjoy screwing around with it in Commander, where I love to just creep around and ramp up card advantage without doing anything too good. Triad of Fates seems tailor-made for that sort of thing. In Constructed, though, you need to play the Triad, wait a turn, have them judge a creature, wait another turn, and only then do they do something.

Fearless Prediction: Future bulk rare.

Psychic Intrusion – $0.99

  • Will the format lend itself to leisurely spell battles that give you the time to root around in your opponent’s stuff and find stuff to cast?

This is going to be a fun one in Commander. I especially like how if you whiff on their hand, you can still nab a spell in their graveyard. I love this in casual formats, but this is far too slow and clunky for competitive ones.

Fearless Prediction: Future bulk rare.


Pyxis of Pandemonium – $0.49

  • Are you playing wacky times Magic on crazy go-nuts island?
  • Are you a massive Warp World fanboy or fangirl?

Don’t get me wrong—this card has its uses. In my Momir Vig Commander deck where everything is a permanent, I’m always wishing I could cast Warp World because whenever someone else does it I win the game in very short order. This card is going to help fill that niche, and I love it.

Unfortunately, this is a sweet Johnny card that isn’t going to do much work in competitive Magic.

Fearless Prediction: Future bulk rare.

Akroan Horse – $0.49

  • Are you living in a world where Zedruu, the Greathearted is the heart of a tier 1 Legacy deck?

I’m so happy this set has a Trojan horse. It might even be okay in Draft.

Fearless Prediction: Future bulk rare.


Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx – $9.99

  • Is Nykthos a sweet, broken engine card or a hard-to-activate win-more land?
  • Will monocolored decks return to the metagame?

The fact that this is a "fixed" version of Gaea’s Cradle—a $180 card (!?!)—is making people go nuts over this card. SCG relisted this several times at $5 each, but after it kept selling out, they upped it to $10. Is it really worth it, though?

Let’s compare it directly to Gaea’s Cradle.

With nothing in play, you’re better off with Nykthos—it taps for colorless, while the cradle does nothing. Advantage: Nykthos.

With one creature in play with one mana symbol on it, the Gaea’s Cradle taps for a green. Nykthos . . . taps for colorless. Advantage: Cradle.

With two creatures in play or a devotion of two to a single color, Cradle is accelerating you. Nykthos might help you fix your mana a bit by filtering it into your devotion color, but otherwise it just taps for one colorless. Advantage: Cradle.

With three creatures in play or a devotion of three, Cradle is rocketing you ahead, while Nykthos finally starts paying out by giving you one mana of the color you have devotion for instead of just a colorless. Advantage: Cradle.

With a devotion of four, Nykthos is finally doing what you want it to. Meanwhile, the Cradle deck has already comboed off and won.

Comparing Nykthos to Gaea’s Cradle or even Cabal Coffers seems wrong to me. Cradle accelerates quite quickly, and assembling Swamps for Coffers is much easier than getting devotion in play and keeping it there. I don’t think that Nykthos will work well outside of monocolored decks—two color builds aren’t going to assemble enough devotion to matter, and they’ll want fixing that they can actually count on.

Because of that, the "any color" clause on Nykthos doesn’t really matter much. What it’s really saying isn’t that it can fix your mana but that you can play with it in any monocolored deck that you want.

There haven’t been too many monocolored decks recently. This card doesn’t combo well with the entire last block or the sweet cycle of multicolored cards in Theros. Between this, the Gods, and Mutavault, though, there certainly are reasons to rock them in the new Standard.

Casual players will want these too, of course, but I’m of the belief that this card won’t do much in Standard right off the bat. Because this is a rare and not a mythic, I expect the price to steadily drop. Over the next year, I see this card closer to $5 than $10.

Fearless Prediction: Tier 2 Standard staple. Price between $4 and $8.

The Scry Lands – $5.99

  • Is scry 1 enough to make the Guildgates playable?
  • Will Wizards print better lands soon so that you won’t have to play these for long?

Has there ever been a more reviled set of dual lands spoiled?

The pros seem to like them okay—early reactions have been positive—but scry is an underrated ability and most people seem to think these are terrible lands. They certainly are a step down from the check lands, fast lands, and fetch lands we’ve enjoyed over the past few blocks. People hoping to get the Nimbus Maze or filter land cycle were especially bummed.

With that baggage out of the way, you’re going to be playing these lands. In two-color decks, you are going to need at least eight lands that tap for two or more colors. Four of those eight are going to be shocklands. If you’re not running these, you’re playing . . . what, exactly? The strictly worse Guildgates?

These are going to be on the lower end for dual lands, at least for a while. People won’t covet or hoard them. They will need them, though, and that means that they’re a solid buy at $3 or less. They should be pretty stable in the $5-$10 range all year long, with a few dips down to $2-$3 for the ones that aren’t seeing play at the moment.

Fearless Prediction: Tier 1 Standard staple. Price between $5 and $10.

Spec Portfolio – Week #4

The StarCityGames.com Back to School Sale is still on, which means that it’s still going to be doubly hard to sell out of any of our cards. For the second week in a row, I’d like to cash out on Desecration Demon, but I don’t want to take the hit. I’m hopeful it will stay at $6 or higher through the end of the month.

There has been a bit of movement this week, all of it positive. Take a look:


Thespian’s Stage and Advent of the Wurm are finally ticking up a bit, and Angel of Serenity is back to the price we bought her at. The biggest mover of the week was Jace, who jumped from $12 to $15 and is currently sold out at that price. Supreme Verdict is also sold out, and I could see a jump to $6 or $7 when it is restocked. I’ll happily sell Jace at $20 if he makes it that far, and I suspect he will.

With Steam Augury in Theros, I wanted to jump on some Steam Vents before they went up, but I missed the boat at $8 and they’re currently sold out at $10. I also thought about foil Clockspinning as a cheap heroic enabler in Modern, but there was only one available so I kind of blew it off.

As an addition to this portfolio, I’m preordering ten Fabled Hero at $1.99 each—I put the buy order out over Twitter (@ChasAndres) last Thursday afternoon. I like it best as a low-risk, high-reward gamble, and I’m hoping I can cash out in the $5 range.

Until next week –

– Chas Andres