Untapped: Theros Prerelease

In today’s article, Matt talks about his experience at the Theros Prerelease he attended and shares a couple new Standard brews for you to consider for FNM.

Friends! Romans! Countrymen!

Theros is droppin’, and I hope you made it out to a local Prerelease to give the set a shot!

I went to a local shop where I’d never attended a major event; I’d been scribbling down Theros decks all week, and it was finally time to hold the cards in my hand. Even after my switch to the virtual game, I still relish Prereleases in person. Everyone’s excited to play with new cards, people have been poring over the spoiler, everyone’s talking about which path they’ll choose; it’s great!

If you read my article last week, I wanted to march down the black path, the path of ambition. Black has increasingly become my color of choice over the last few months; it has a lot of different angles and powerful effects to master and, in my case, to fiddle with. I was also pretty sure that Abhorrent Overlord was busted in Sealed and liked the way black looked besides that, so I opted to give it a go. It seems that a lot of people had the same opinion—of the 60 participants that showed up, I’d say a good third of them were black, and it was the only color to be fully depleted by build time.

I attended the event with a couple pals, which is a first for me; most of the people I know aren’t usually down for a midnight romp in card land. Most people have more rational plans, like sleeping or living a normal life. But you and I know better!

Caffeine and black box in hand, I sat down and cracked packs madly, pulling three scry lands and an Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver. The scry lands are great and all, but in Sealed they’re lousy at doing much to impact the game. On the other hand, let me tell you what a big fan I am of Ashiok; it is so effective in the early game against any non-aggro deck, and adding any protection at all to it makes it unstoppable. Although it’s a slightly difficult brew target, working only with itself, I love its flavor and its play style.

Despite the shiny Demon looking back at me from my specially wrapped Prerelease pack, I found myself not impressed with the black my pool had to offer. I normally pile out cards by color and found my color-absent stack to be a little wanting. The creatures were flimsy, the removal was a complete no-show, and except for the Overlord, that chunk of the wheel had very few threats to contribute. Other colors looked more promising, so I decided to abandon black and saddle up with something a little more like my home guild. Here’s my first deck.

This deck was strikingly consistent and curved out in most games, even on mulls to six and five. Over the course of the night, I only faced one other what I’d call "aggressive" deck, and it was his second option. Although the deck was consistent and played fairly well, it sometimes had trouble dealing with the overwhelming frequent pile of black decks I faced, and as such it often lost to a resolved Abhorrent Overlord. The list had a great ground game but lost in a hurry to bombs and most powerful cards. Theros turned out to be very slow, so I sleeved up a second deck using my two bombs just in case.

For slower matchups, this deck was often what the doctor ordered. Removal was lousy and flooding was frequent, but the presence of those two powerhouses often proved enough against a slow B/x deck. I sleeved both and did my best throughout the night, but two black decks ended up being the end of me, the first sporting what seemed like a very buoyant copy of Reaper of the Wilds and the other a nuts heroic deck. I closed the night in thirteenth place with a 4-2 record.

A quick note about Theros Limited and we’ll hop into an exciting Standard brew I’ve been chewing up. From a purely Sealed perspective, I got a fairly negative vibe from the room about the quality of this set for Sealed. I thought it was fine, like a Subway sandwich. Is it the best thing you ever ate? No. Did it fulfill its purpose? Pretty much, yeah. Will you go back tomorrow to see if something else tastes better? Yeah, probably. It was not a set that was thick with silky smooth plays and backbreaking blowouts (bestow frequently diffused that possibility). It wasn’t a terrible Sealed experience, but it was . . . flat. I’m hoping that Draft will prove to be a more exciting way to experience Theros booster packs, and it usually proves to be the case. I don’t think this is Avacyn Restored redux, so you won’t be pulling your hair out or nothing.

Now let’s peruse the new Standard stock we’ll be seeing this Friday. Lots of planeswalkers, creatures, enchantment creatures, and . . .

Oh, that’s new!

Let’s do that!

I won’t spend too long on this, but if you ever wanted to kill your opponent with 38 enchantments, now’s your chance. Hopeful Eidolon (who I believe is pretty underrated frankly) starts off the team, and then the best bestow creatures in Theros come in after it. Oath of the Ancient Wood basically reads "when you cast a spell, put a +1/+1 counter on target creature," which isn’t too exciting, but it is efficient! I have tossed on a dash of red and believe it to be powerful and useful tool when used with Chained to the Rocks. You’ll notice two Return to Ravnica enchantments that get new birth here; Ethereal Armor can make one creature enormous for just one mana, and Sphere of Safety nearly locks your opponent’s offense out of the game. It helps when your attack force also contributes to the other cards in your deck.

The sideboard gives you tough to target creature options and an array of enchantments that will fill the gaps this aggro deck contains. The power level is low, but the consistency is considerable. It’s a fun, cheap way to get into the spirit of Theros!

How ’bout another one?

Mono-blue has been an impossible goal of mine since building my Ixidron Morph deck during college. I built it for the same reason I tried Mono-Green Control and Mono-Red Midrange. Why not? Theros, in my opinion, adds some new fillings to the color pie. Blue gets big, playable creatures; green gets conditional draw; and white . . . well, ok, white’s still doin’ its token thing. Nevertheless, I enjoyed Merfolk when it was remotely playable in Standard, and I wanted to port a shell like that to the new age.

The creature base hints at an aggro deck: decent one-drop, follow-up tempo plays, and a four-mana way to finish the game. Nightveil Specter, as most have pointed out by now, grants three whopping mana to blue devotion, turning your Thassa, God of the Sea into a 5/5 (!) rumbler. This is a rough draft; I’ve been testing other decks, but these are ones that I’m looking forward to running through the paces. I’ve tested Thassa, though, and she is the real deal. Free scry is way more powerful than you might think at first, and I highly recommend you take her for a spin and see what you think.

I hope your Prerelease was a great experience and, more importantly, that you’re ready to craft fun, unique decks for new Standard. Thanks for reading, and until next week, don’t forget to untap!

– Matt

CaptainShapiro on Magic Online

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