Theros Vintage Set Review

Theros may not have any all-stars for Vintage, but Brian DeMars found plenty of cards that might see play from time to time in Magic’s oldest format.

FINALLY!!! Theros is here to be played with and enjoyed by all!!!

In today’s article, I will be taking a look at a few of the new Theros cards that I believe are most likely to see play in Vintage.

Now, unfortunately being a Vintage "playable" card is kind of a tall order for any Magic single. In order for a card to be deserving of a slot in a Vintage deck, it has to hold its own in games where people are playing with cards like Black Lotus, Ancestral Recall, and Mana Drain.

Fortunately, not every card can reach Power Nine levels of awesomeness, and the in-between spaces in a Vintage deck often leave room for some really cool and unique cards to fill in the gaps.

In the past few years, we Vintage players have really been spoiled with some pretty exciting, game-changing spells: Snapcaster Mage, Griselbrand, Abrupt Decay, Griselbrand, Flusterstorm, Rest in Peace, etc.

Unfortunately, Theros doesn’t really provide Vintage with a break-out, all-star type card, like a Snapcaster Mage or a Deathrite Shaman. Not every card can be a Snapcaster Mage—and honestly, not every set can even have a Snapcaster Mage caliber card in it for Eternal!

While it may be a little bit disappointing for Vintage fans that there isn’t a homerun type card that is going to dynamically change the format, it may be comforting to know that I think the set still has quite a few cards that should make an impact—just on a subtler scale.

Theros also has a few cards that are right on the brink of being Vintage playable that via some future printings could find a moment to shine in Magic’s oldest format.

Let’s take a look at some of the techy treats that Theros has to offer us.

Angel of Despair, despair . . .

The first card on my radar is basically a strict upgrade to a card that already sees some fringe Vintage play from time to time in Dredge decks. Ashen Rider costs one more mana than its Angel counterpart but exiles a permanent instead of destroying it. It also exiles a permanent when it dies, which is a very nice upgrade.

If one were ever dredging and wanted to Dread Return an Angel of Despair, it seems fairly obvious to upgrade to Ashen Rider from now on.

I know, I know, Dread Returning an Angel of Despair isn’t what the cool kids are doing right now in Vintage—but if it ever came back into vogue, Rider would be the way to go from here on out.

Ashen Rider is really great at blowing up an opponent’s stuff and being a gigantic threat at the same time. I could also see Ashen Rider being a card that people want to Oath into, Eureka out (it isn’t legendary), or cheat into play via other means.

From here on out, Ashen Rider is an option for this sort of job.

Draw some cards?

Daxos is a pretty sweet card and will draw immediate comparisons to Augur Adept. Given that I have had Adept played against me in Vintage before and lost to it, I believe Daxos of Meletis will see some fringe play.

Daxos of Meletis has one major upside going for it. The Magic creature type Human matches up very nicely with Cavern of Souls and other Human tribal themes.

Now, the thing that can be a bummer is that against some decks they are going to have cards you can’t or don’t want to play. For instance, flipping up an Oath of Druids seems pretty lame.

However, he is much, much better against opposing creature decks since he can flip by bigger blockers like Tarmogoyf in order to connect by virtue of his evasive ability. And obviously he is blue and can be pitched to Force of Will if you are looking for a few more blue value creatures for a deck.

Daxos may be a little bit pricey, but he has some really nice abilities that make me believe he will show up in a Top 8 or two somewhere at some point.

Just ANOTHER option.

I don’t anticipate Destructive Revelry seeing a ton of play over, say, Ancient Grudge. But in an aggressive R/G deck (which show up and smash people from time to time), Destructive Revelry could see some fringe play.

It’s nice that it gets damage through, can hit artifacts (everybody has them), and can also take out the all-important Oath of Druids.

And it’s an instant.

Down with Jace!

Straight U/B Control now has a flexible answer to planeswalkers.

I really like Hero’s Downfall as a card that a straight U/B Control deck can maindeck and tutor up in order to kill an opposing Jace, the Mind Sculptor. In addition, it is a straight Terminate and can destroy basically any creature that might be trying to attack our own Jaces.

A surefire tool for winning the Great Vintage Jace War, I feel pretty confident that this card will show up in Vintage from time to time.

My mane man!

Fleecemane Lion may be a stretch to see competitive Vintage play, but I think it may have a chance. Awesome cards are awesome and tend to find their way to the cream of the crop.

The Lion’s stats are pretty sweet at 3/3 for two, but it is the ability to go monstrous that I think gives this card a chance to see some Vintage play.

Once it goes big, it is basically Vintage unkillable, which is a pretty big deal against a lot of different decks. For instance, how does Landstill or an opposing creature deck ever deal with a 4/4 indestructible and hexproof beater/blocker?

I don’t think that this card is going to be a stalwart mainstay, but somebody at some point will figure out the correct metagame for this critter and get paid off for their good judgment.

Also, the Detroit Lions are 2-1? Must be an omen.

Heart of the cards.

Three-mana Cognivore? Ok, sure . . .

Wow, this card is really impressive and has all the sweet abilities—trample and flying. I think that Spellheart Chimera could pair up really nicely with Young Pyromancer to capitalize on both of their strong synergies with casting spells.

Here is a possible starter shell for Chimera/Pyromancer:

Obviously, this a little bit rough, but Spellheart seems like a card that could finish an opponent pretty easily in one or two swings.

Who doesn’t love being rewarded for drawing cards and countering spells?

Going to war.

Soldier of Pantheon is one of the best one-drop creatures I have ever seen . . .

But it’s no Deathrite Shaman.

However, it is a card that I think could see some fringe Vintage play in a fishy beatdown deck.

The protection from multicolor is an ability that is better in Vintage than it has ever been (Abrupt Decay, Deathrite Shaman, Qasali Pridemage, Trygon Predator, and about 70 more) and is only going to get better as time goes on and better multicolor cards continue to see print and Vintage play.

It is probably only going to see play in a Human-based aggro deck as a one-drop (if it sees any play at all), but I think that this card has only upside and is on the borderline of being playable right now.

The Bird is the word.

I think that Swan Song is pretty clearly going to see some play in Oath of Druids based combo decks. The fact that it is a near hard counter that will also allow Oath of Druids to trigger without a Forbidden Orchard makes it a pretty boss spell in this type of deck.

Unfortunately and disappointingly, Swan Song doesn’t hit artifacts, which would have allowed it to have seen much more widespread Vintage play.

Basically, Swan Song will be competing with Flusterstorm as a counter that is good in blue mirror matches but sucks against Workshop decks. In most situations, Flusterstorm is a straight-up better card for counter wars.

However, it is the downside of this card (giving an opponent a 2/2 token) that may actually allow it to see play in an Oath deck. Being able to tutor for one card to protect against a combo deck and also turn on Oath is a pretty big game, and I predict most decks packing Oath of Druids will play at least one copy of this powerful instant as a tutor target.

I am super excited for Vintage Champs and to play with some of these new cards.

Have fun breaking them!

Thanks for reading.


Brian DeMars

Follow me on Twitter @Briandemars1