Theros: White & Green!

In today’s article, Patrick Chapin writes about the best white and green cards Theros has to offer as well as builds decks using all of them. Check them out for #SCGCLE!

Theros is legal, Innistrad and M13 have rotated out, and it’s a brand new format.

Today, I’d like to take a look at the best white and green cards Theros has to offer as well as builds decks using all of them. A look at black and red can be found here, and I’ll be back Wednesday with blue and gold.

Top 5 White Theros Cards

5. Heliod, God of the Sun
4. Last Breath
3. Chained to the Rocks
2. Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
1. Soldier of the Pantheon

Honorable Mentions: Gods Willing, Phalanx Leader, Fabled Hero, Favored Hoplite, Glare of Heresy, Spear of Heliod

Soldier of the Pantheon is a deceptively attractive one-drop that is going to have more of an influence on deckbuilding than I think most people are giving credit. While red would kill for each and every two-power one-drop it can get its hands on, they are basically a dime-a-dozen in white. However, there is a lot more going on with Soldier of the Pantheon that makes it a much bigger threat than most one-drops.

Let’s start with the big one: protection from multicolored. First, for reference, here is a list of all of the tournament removal spells and creatures Soldier of the Pantheon has protection from:

Gold Removal Spells

Azorius Charm
Abrupt Decay
Izzet Charm
Orzhov Charm
Warped Physique
Detention Sphere
Domri Rade
Ral Zarek
Warleader’s Helix
Vraska the Unseen

Gold Creatures

Rakdos Cackler
Dryad Militant
Deathrite Shaman
Nivmagus Elemental
Judge’s Familiar
Voice of Resurgence
Fleecemane Lion
Burning-Tree Emissary
Lotleth Troll
Frostburn Weird
Spike Jester
Tymaret, the Murder King
Sunhome Guildmage
Rakdos Shred-Freak
Cartel Aristocrat
Akroan Hoplite
Zhur-Taa Druid
Boros Reckoner
Loxodon Smiter
Dreg Mangler
Izzet Staticaster
Sin Collector
Varolz, the Scar-Striped
Vorel of the Hull Clade
Centaur Healer
Nightveil Specter
Anax and Cymede
Ghor-Clan Rampager
Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice
Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch
Alms Beast
Corpsejack Menace
Tajic, Blade of the Legion
Firemane Avenger
Blood Baron of Vizkopa
Obzedat, Ghost Council
Master of Cruelties
Sire of Insanity
Ruric Thar, the Unbowed
Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius

Dodging removal spells is sweet and all, but what makes Soldier of the Pantheon so exciting is its ability to completely take over the board as early as turn 1. Just imagine facing a G/W deck with Voice of Resurgence, Fleecemane Lion, and Loxodon Smiter (possibly even Dryad Militant!). Soldier of the Pantheon completely halts the attack and even gains you some extra life while you are hanging out. As long as you don’t do something silly like get your Soldier blocked by a Selesnya Charm Knight by surprise, you should be in good shape.

For most decks, several of their best cards are gold. Soldier of the Pantheon even has utility against monocolor decks, though, with strength against Rakdos Cackler, Dryad Militant, and Boros Reckoner!

It’s not that Soldier of Pantheon is a super reliable way to lock up a game. It’s that it is a two-power one-drop, so it doesn’t actually have to lock up very many games to pull its weight.

Ok, it’s a sweet card, but where does it go?

Just as there is a devoted following that always wants Mono-Black Control to work, White Weenie also has a devoted following (and it’s good less often than Mono-Black Control!).

Here, we just have a bunch of reasonable cards with a reasonable curve. The big payoff? Heliod is pretty nuts here, consistently being a 5/6 indestructible that continues to expand your army while making you resistant to sweepers.

Brave the Elements is just an excellent card and one of the big reasons to play such a deck, blowing open combat, protecting your creatures from removal and red sweepers, and making your team unblockable. Gods Willing doesn’t have as big an impact on the game but is still quite efficient and just a randomly good card.

Spear of Heliod is a reasonable card, but we already have plenty of three-drops, so there’s not a ton of reason to push the legend rule. You could play a second, but I’m not sure you even want another three-drop. It’s not clear if it’s better than Ajani Caller of the Pride anyway.

Keening Apparition is a sideboard card that we are going to be seeing more of in the days to come, and frankly maindecking it isn’t out of the question. It’s just a shame it doesn’t trump the Gods.

The straight white version suffers a bit in card quality of course. The two most obvious colors to pair it with are green and red. It would be nice to pair it with black, as black removal is kind of sweet right now, but you don’t really get many good gold cards. Most of the good W/B gold cards are more controlling in nature. That said, Soldier of the Pantheon is the kind of one-drop I could really get behind using Orzhov Charm to get back.

As for U/W? Well, the color combination is totally awesome; it’s just pretty slanted towards control. If you are going to play U/W Aggro, it’s probably some kind of heroic deck.

What about W/G?

It’s a shame we don’t have access to a W/G Temple, and I think we might still play a non-zero number of Selesnya Guildgates in addition to them.

The W/G version has a lower, leaner curve, just bashing opponents with raw quality. The loss of Mutavault is disappointing, but Selesnya Charm gives us a lot of nice options; just be careful to not try to pump a Soldier of the Pantheon. Obviously, Voice of Resurgence, Fleecemane Lion, and Loxodon Smiter are just great cards, though it isn’t even clear if Smiter is better than Boros Reckoner (and in fact I am inclined to think it’s not).

Fleecemane Lion has received a little backlash from players that may have been asking a bit too much of it. It’s not that a 4/4 hexproof indestructible creature is unbeatable; it’s just pretty great and comes with very little opportunity cost. You really don’t need to be much better than a 3/3 for two to be a good card, so having the ability to take over a reasonable percentage of games is pretty awesome upside.

While Banisher Priest isn’t great against U/W Control or red decks, it is going to be pretty damn good against the various white and/or green creature decks. It is just such a great creature to protect with Brave the Elements. Also, like Selesnya Charm, it can actually deal with Gods.

Four Fiendslayer Paladins in the sideboard? You’re going to be seeing that a lot out of my decks for a while . . .

What about Boros?

The problem I have with all these Boros decks is the mana. Take this list for instance. We decline to play Temple of Triumph to have enough Mountains to better support Chained to the Rocks, but now our mana is sketchy. Cut the Chained to the Rocks? Now what are we even getting out of red?

Chained to the Rocks is one of the most appealing incentives to play Boros, but it’s actually much easier to splash into a red deck than a white deck. For instance:

Of course, once you are a red deck, why do you even need Chained to the Rocks? I guess it is nice if the format ends up having as many green fatties, Boros Reckoners, and Gods as it looks like it might, but it’s still a little odd. We don’t even have enough creatures to make me want to Purphoros (although it might be that the first one or two cost you so little that you need to play them anyway).

Perhaps the best place for Chained to the Rocks in Boros Aggro is in a balanced build, splitting the colors down the middle but avoiding double cost creatures like Precinct Captain and Ash Zealot.

Ok, admittedly, calling this a balanced approach is a little generous. Are we supposed to be playing Dynacharge or Legion Loyalist and going even more all in? Boros Charm on an Akroan Hoplite is pretty sexy.

The one thing that I really like about this approach is the opening of one-drop into two one-drops or one-drop plus one-cost removal followed by two or three more spells the following turn. That is a pretty aggressive surge to start a game with.

While I have Boros Reckoner sideboard in this build, it’s possible we want to start with them main if enough other people want to be aggro as well.

Another possible use for Soldier of Pantheon is in a fast Naya deck:

Man, we didn’t know how good we had it with Boros’ mana!

In all seriousness, I think this mana base is just too bad for this to be where we want to be. Domri Rade and Ghor-Clan Rampager are pretty good cards, but missing a color is going to be brutal, we are going to take a lot of pain, and we have lands coming into play tapped in our deck that wants to curve out.

An additional awkwardness is that none of our tricks actually work with our best one-drop. You can’t even Ghor-Clan Rampager the Soldier despite it not be cast.

I think we’ll see Naya decks, but they will probably be bigger Naya with five-drops or Burning-Tree Emissary based builds.

While Soldier of the Pantheon isn’t Figure of Destiny, it does have chances of being used in non-aggro decks like Figure was. For instance:

This is the beginnings of an attempt to marry Elspeth, Sun’s Champion with Purphoros, God of the Sun. Both cards are extremely difficult to remove and when combined will usually end a game the turn after you play Elspeth. Every +1 is six damage, and Purphoros’ Firebreathing ability will make the army she added to especially deadly.

Assemble the Legion serves as a backup Elspeth, though it takes a little longer to get going. We only have room for so many five-drops, as I could see Scion of Vitu-Ghazi being solid for us even though we usually don’t have anything better to populate than a 1/1 flier. It is still three bodies, six power, and hits like a bag of trucks when it follows Ogre Battledriver (who is just sweet with all of the expensive cards). I considered Goblin Rally, but is it really better than Assemble or Scion?

As you can see, Soldier of the Pantheon makes an appearance, but here it is mostly used as a form of early defense that is still good against control. It is such a good early defender that I could even see it starting to make appearances in decks like U/W Control, perhaps out of the sideboard.

I like Elspeth as a complementary victory condition alongside Aetherling. Aetherling is extremely reliable but doesn’t always help you that much if you are losing. Elspeth is absolutely fantastic for digging out of a ditch.

Facing big creatures? Her -3 ability is awesome when it’s good. Facing small creatures? Making three tokens a turn and starting at five loyalty is just crazy to try to power through. Costing six is not trivial, but she has such a huge impact on the board.

I hear a lot of people decrying Last Breath, but it’s really not that bad. Presumably the life gain isn’t that big a deal, and the ability to beat Voice of Resurgence is much appreciated. It’s not like there is a shortage of legal targets. Of course, who knows, maybe maindeck Soldier of Pantheon is just a better Voice of Resurgence answer. Amusingly, that would give us a pretty solid plan against Domri Rade when combined with Mutavault.

People have been talking about the Legion of Doom since word started getting out that Ashiok is good, but Elspeth is strong enough to at least present an argument for why Jace, Chandra, and Ral Zarek should join her superhero team instead.

I particularly enjoy Ral Zarek’s ability to curve us into Elspeth a turn early!

I think this style of U/W/R is going to live or die depending on if the format has a lot of decks that get punished by all the sweepers.

Just as there are a lot of ways to build U/W/R Control, so too are there a plethora of ways to build an Esper deck, which I expect to be an early favorite. For example:

I fully expect Omenspeaker to be a popular choice early on, but don’t let its Augur of Bolas like exterior fool you. If you want an early blocker, I might just maindeck Soldier of Pantheon or possibly Precinct Captain if you can afford that kind of mana. Sin Collector is also a totally reasonable card depending on what you are trying to block (or hit).

Is this deck’s mana ambitious? Certainly, but it’s nowhere near the Naya deck we discussed earlier. People may be underestimating how much the Temples help smooth out your draw. Besides, if you really need better mana, you can always add another Prophetic Prism (which is particularly attractive when you are trying to support Dissolve, Hero’s Downfall, and Supreme Verdict).

Top 5 Green Theros Cards

5. Warriors’ Lesson
4. Satyr Hedonist
3. Sylvan Caryatid
2. Polukranos, World Eater
1. Boon Satyr

Honorable Mentions: Commune with the Gods, Reverent Hunter

The green card I am most excited to use is Boon Satyr, which is discussed at length here. The card is just sick, as flash on a bestow creature is significantly stronger than bestow would normally be. Besides, even when you aren’t doing anything fancy, it’s still a four-power threat, which is not a bad “plan B.”

One exotic use of Boon Satyr is in some kind of a new Simic Aggro deck. For instance:

In addition to all of its normal tricks, Boon Satyr is great at evolving your team at instant speed. Even though bestowing Boon Satyr won’t evolve anything, you are generally getting such big blowouts that I think you’ll manage. Remember, it is a sort of three-for-one since often the trick will prove worth a card; the +4/+2 sitting in play is worth a card; and if the creature dies, you get another creature to replace it (worth another card).

This concept is pretty cool, but it is going to take some tuning. However, there is a Boon Satyr deck that I think is going to rocket straight into the spotlight.

There are just tons of ways to build G/W, which has so many great gold cards. For instance, here is an approach that builds off the classic Block strategy:

That is a lot of card quality!

Now, maybe we are supposed to be a bit truer to the tokens theme, or maybe we are supposed to move away from it completely, adopting cards like Scavenging Ooze instead of Call of the Conclave. We even have plenty of five-drops worth considering, like Scion of Vitu-Ghazi, Archangel of Thune, and Kalonian Hydra.

However, the point is that Boon Satyr is a freaking monster.

Boon Satyr?

Detention Sphere?

Chained to the Rocks?

At what point does maindeck enchantment removal become a real thing?

It is actually kind of comical just how many different G/W decks can be built. For instance, here’s another G/W deck that shares just two nonland cards with the above maindeck:

This take on heroic uses white for heroes (Favored Hoplite, Phalanx Leader, and Fabled Hero) and green for top tier enablers (Warriors’ Lesson, Selesnya Charm, and Unflinching Courage). The game plan is to quickly develop a board of threats so big opponents can’t properly defend themselves. Gods Willing is particularly valuable for making sure that we are disrupted by removal.

Warriors’ Lesson is this deck’s Thoughtcast and in fact combines with double strikers to be Ancestral Recall or more at times.

Judge’s Familiar is pretty janky but works well with Phalanx Leader and Warriors’ Lesson, not to mention hedging against Anger of the Gods. Soldier of Fortune would be sweet, but it’s pretty bad with Unflinching Courage and Selesnya Charm. Maybe you are supposed to play it anyway, but a little flying seemed sweet.

The card I’d really like to add, if we can support something that expensive, is Boon Satyr. Now that’s an awesome way to target your guys!

Sylvan Caryatid and Satyr Hedonist lend themselves to a very different sort of green deck than Boon Satyr. Sylvan Caryatid is going to find a variety of homes without Farseek to overshadow it. Satyr Hedonist, on the other hand, is a very specialized weapon. Its two main uses? Combo decks that are desperate for acceleration and R/G monstrosity aggro.

This Gruul deck starts off sort of like Selesnya, just bashing with fatties. Where things get interesting is when we reach its late game and all of its creatures starting getting monstrous. Xenagos in particular is good at catapulting us directly into the endgame.

Ember Swallower has a respectable body off the top, but when combined with a little acceleration, it can put a lot of pressure on someone’s mana base (a kind of attack we haven’t seen much of lately).

I’m not sure I love zero Polukranos maindeck, but you do only have room for so many four-drops.

Why is that Hammer of Purphoros in the sideboard? It’s pretty good against Supreme Verdict, but when your curve tops out with Xenagos and Stormbreath Dragon, you don’t get as much value as you do from builds that feature Polukranos and Kalonian Hydra.

Ok, I’ll be back Wednesday with the blue brews, a more in-depth look at the gold cards, and more decks using cards that we omitted from parts one and two.

A couple notes before we call it a day though. First, everyone that noted the rather dubious claim that Augur Spree would provide extra damage is correct. My bad. Flames of the Firebrand would be a better fit that can also combo pretty sweet with Agent of Fates.

Why does Hammer of Purphoros being legendary matter? The haste ability would be redundant, yes, but making two creatures in a turn would at least give the second copy some halfway decent utility.

Angel of Serenity is a reasonable option in B/R/W, but it isn’t at its best alongside Chandra, who I think is key to the archetype. That said, using one or two is totally reasonable instead of Elspeth or Sire of Insanity or anything else like that.

Blood Baron versus Obzedat is going to be a question that’s answer changes depending on the metagame. Both are great cards, and both have their metagames to shine in. I generally like Blood Baron in blue decks a bit better and Obzedat in Whip of Erebos decks. If people play a lot of Mortars, Obzedat’s stock increases.

Finally, I prefer Prophetic Prism to Chromatic Lantern. Neither is great, but the three spot is so packed with amazing cards that I would rather trade my two-drop for better mana if that’s what I’m shopping for.

What white or green cards did I gloss over that deserve some spotlight? What blue and gold cards do you most want to see built around? See you Wednesday!

Patrick Chapin
“The Innovator”

Next Level Deckbuilding