Limited Use – Theros, Part 1

Woooo! Full visual spoiler for Theros is up, which is always great. I’ll be at the prerelease this weekend, and I’m pretty excited about the latest M:tG set; after the rather lucklustre Magic 2014, how could I not be pumped for a set based around Greco-Roman myths? I’ve loved that stuff since I was a kid, and I can’t wait to see what Born of the Gods and Journey Into Nyx will add to what we’ve got already.

I was originally going to do a brief rundown of some of the cards that have jumped out at me and impressed me, like I did for Dragon’s Maze and Magic 2014, but I realised – to my dismay – that there’s not a lot in Theros that impresses me in that way. There’s certainly lots of cool stuff, but there’s also lots that’s very subpar. We’re entering into a different era of Magic, I feel; what some people call “battlecruiser” Magic, where games are long, grinding duels of attrition, with expensive spells and creatures. Scars and Innistrad were ferociously quick, and Return to Ravnica started to slow us down.

Since I love played Limited (draft or sealed, s’all good), I instead decided I’d run through each colour (plus artifacts and multicoloured) and instead pick out certain cards that will probably be great on the day, and that I’m looking forward to opening and running. No money-rares here please, we want good solid commons and uncommons, the building blocks of Limited, Peasant and Pauper! We’ll start off with white, the colour of Apollo Helios Heliod, god of the sun, and blue, the colour of Thassa, goddess of the sea.

 

pegasus

 

Obviously meant for a white/red or white/green deck full of Human weenies, Cavalry Pegasus provides evasion for your whole attacking force. Evasion wins games. Even if you only swing with one or two Humans each turn to gain the benefit, Peggy is well worth including in the deck. I’d run him even if only half my creatures were Humans, to be honest.

dauntless

Good old-fashioned pump spells like this are bread-and-butter in Limited. It’s even better if you’re running lots of Heroes, as you can get a sneaky double activation of their Heroic abilities, gaining +1/+1 counters or something even flashier. Even without Heroes, it’s a good, solid combat trick.

gods will

 

On the subject of combat tricks, I can’t think of one better than this, especially at common. Granting protection from a colour of your choice for one mana at instant speed is one of the most powerful tricks available n Limited; you can make one of your guys unblockable, counter a removal spell, tip a block in your favour… it’s pretty great. The scry 1 is just icing.

“Hello ladies. Look at your creatures, now back to me, now back to your creatures, now back to me. Sadly, not all your creatures are me, but if you target me with a spell, then they could have +1/+1 counters on them like me.”  Great stuff for Limited, turning all your temporary buffs and combat tricks into army-wide improvement. Gotta love the Old Spice Spartan.

scholar

 

An excellent creature for the long game. Big booty to serve as a blocker? Check. Repeatable activated ability to slowly drain away your opponents’ life and break a stalemate? Check. Even without black mana in your deck, still serves as a Horned Turtle if you really need a chunky blocker.

aqua

 

You know what I said about Cavalry Pegasus, and that evasion wins games? This, my friends, this is the good stuff. Unblockable and repeated scry 1 for one mana, at common? Glorious.

giant

 

Six mana seems pretty fair for a 4/5 that your opponent can’t do a damn thing about. Not much I can say about him other than he should prove to be an excellent beatstick. Benny’s also one of the very few things in Theros that actually has or grants hexproof, so he’s noteworthy for that.

horizon

 

Ah, finally, a decent mono-blue Sphinx at uncommon! He’s essentially a more-expensive but less colour-intensive Air Elemental with an upside when he enters the field. Again, great stuff for Limited, a big flyer like this will generally end up finishing the game if not quickly dealt with. I like him.

nimbus

 

Wind Drake is decent in Limited, so a Wind Drake that can be turned into a Spectral Flight during the late-game is even better! What I love is that even if your opponent gets rid of your pumped up creature, the Naiad can still keep fighting. Probably my favourite out of the Nymph cycle, because I’ll say it again; evasion wins games.

omenspeaker

 

Really, really damn nice. 1/3 for 2 is an excellent early blocker. The scry 2 when she comes in is sublime, letting you fix your next few draws. In the absence of Preordian, she’ll do. Very nice indeed. Damn, blue is looking really good for Theros Limited…

triton

 

Another one of the “teamwork” instants, this one isn’t as straight-forward as Dauntless Onslaught, but I still think it’s really nice, as you get to turn two of your guys into super-tough Walls of Frost for a turn, excellent for delaying an opponent’s bigger creatures. As a sidenote, Wizards really needs to keyword that “doesn’t untap during its controller’s next untap step” rules text at some point. I don’t mind wordy cards, but I know some players will see this and their eyes will just glaze over before they finish the third line of text. Their loss!

voyage

 

And finally, what would a new set be without a bounce spell with the block’s mechanic tacked on? This is fine as an Unsummon variant, though I wish it had been one mana, or scry 2, but then that would be greedy of me. It should be noted that Theros is a very top-heavy set, so expect plenty of juicy, expensive targets for this.

So, white’s not really that exciting, but blue’s looking awesome! Tomorrow I’ll be looking at black and red.

Gareth

 

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