We’ve got a long row to hoe, so let’s get to it! Theros drops this weekend, and so me and Zach Barash, of Drawing Live, are here to walk you through all 101 commons in the set. (Each review is marked at the end with a ZB for Zach, or an HRS for Hunter (Reaves) Slaton.) These are the cards you’re going to be seeing the most of, so you better know which are A’s and which are F’s. With that in mind, here’s the scale that I and Zach devised:

A: These are among the best— or are the best—commons in their colors. These are first-pickable (e.g. Mist Raven in AVR, Lightning Bolt/Doom Blade in M11, Stab Wound in RTR, Travel Preparations in ISD).
B: These are solid cards that you’ll always play if they’re on-color. This includes good creatures, decent removal spells, and very good noncreature, nonremoval spells (e.g. Frostburn Weird in RTR, Punish the Enemy in DGM, Feeling of Dread in ISD).
C: These are average cards. They can fill out your 23 or sit on the sidelines and you won’t feel too bad in either case. This includes OK creatures, awkward or situational removal spells, and decent noncreature, nonremoval spells (which are easy to overload on; e.g. Syndicate Enforcer and Smite in GTC, Fatal Fumes in DGM, Ranger’s Guile in M14).
D: These are marginally playable cards. You’ll sometimes have one or two in your 23, but you’re best off with zero in your maindeck (if you’re running four or more, things probably didn’t go too well.) This includes bad creatures, bad removal spells, sideboard cards (e.g. Coral Merfolk in M14, Corpse Lunge in ISD, Maze Sentinel in DGM).
F: These are unplayable cards. You’re almost always better off putting a basic land in your deck over this. Some cards are terrible in all decks except for very specific archetypes in which they shine (like Raid Bombardment in RoE and Dream Twist in ISD; e.g. Search Warrant in RTR, Battle Hymn in AVR, Soulmender and Merfolk Spy in M14).



Annul—In Scars of Mirrodin, where artifact creatures ran rampant, the lowly Shatter suddenly became very maindeckable. I predict the same for our friend Annul here, an incredibly cheap answer to one of the set’s main themes—enchantments. Don’t forget, too, that this counters any enchantment creatures with bestow, whether or not they are cast for their bestow cost. All that adds up to a good card. It won’t always make your maindeck, but it will pretty often, I imagine, and it will do work. C+ (HRS)


Aqueous Form—Bear with me, ’cause I’m going to be saying this a lot: any card that enables Heroic warrants consideration. There are a lot of these effects, from eidolons to these cheap auras, so I’d imagine you pick up your heroic cards first, then wheel your enablers. That said, different enablers likely work better for different decks (depending on your colors and what heroic effects you’re looking to enable). In blue, you have access to Triton Fortune Hunter, Wavecrash Triton, and half of Battlewise Hoplite. The question is, how good is the effect of Aqueous Form, and which creatures want it?

Aqueous Form combines two minor effects that aren’t good enough on their own. Spending a card just to make a creature unblockable (or as it is now, “can’t be blocked…able”) isn’t worth it—Cobbled Wings and Flight are weak cards. Similarly, Scry 1 is a minimal effect—a welcome one, no doubt, but a sorcery that says U: Scry 1 would be terrible. How many times need one scry in order for it be as good as “draw a card?”

Of course, stapling together two effects usually not good enough to be worth a card on their own can lead to something quite good, such as the risky but potentially game-ending Madcap Skills and Spectral Flight which combine evasion with a power boost. The awkwardness of Aqueous Form is the lack of synergy  between its abilities (evasion wants to end the game quickly, whereas repeated scry provides superior card quality the longer the game goes). I’d experiment with this card (particularly with Thassa’s Emissary). Also, you can cast it on an opponent’s aggressive creature and scry every time that it attacks you (perhaps to disincentivize an attack or to find an answer to that troublesome creature).

Aqueous Form is a tricky spell to judge. It seems weak, but it’s doing something we’ve never seen before, and that bears consideration (also, heroic enabler). I’ll go with D and be happy to eat my words. (ZB)


Benthic Giant—A 4/5 for six isn’t too far below the curve for blue to begin with—and the hexproof, especially in an enchantments-matter set, could be very good. Bestow a Nimbus Naiad onto this guy and go to town; what are they really doing in the air to stop you, after that? It remains to be seen, of course, whether or not this format is slow or fast. However, with both monstrosity and bestow in the set—both mechanics that lend themselves to late-game plays—I can’t imagine that we’re going to be facing a very fast format. Otherwise monstrosity would just be a joke, and you’d never have time to bestow upon anything. I doubt Wizards R&D would nerf two of their premiere mechanics in that way. B (HRS)


Breaching Hippocamp—Seems weak—an unevasive 3/2 for four tends to trade for a two mana creature or get eaten by a 2/4. Flash makes everything better, if only so you can hold up multiple spells on your opponent’s turn. The untap ability is interesting, though I question how often it will be relevant (like let you get a surprise block in or activate an tap ability to good effect). Is this better than King Cheetah, and if so, does that mean anything? D+ (ZB)


Coastline Chimera—Oh, I love me a good Horned Turtle, and for one mana more, it gets flying, extra toughness, and the ability to do even more defense? You Bellerophon believe I’m down for this durdling enabler. Probably not too high a pick, but something I’d be happy to hide behind alongside  Mnemonic Wall as I prepare to do… something. B- (ZB)


Crackling Triton—A 2/3 for three is often surprisingly decent, and tacking a relevant ability onto it—if you’re in those colors—is just gravy. Furthermore, it seems like there are a number of fixing options in this set—much more than M14—which would make the opportunity cost to activate this guy much lower. That said: Is a Shock (on a stick) good in this set? Initial impressions seem like this set’s average toughness is a bit higher than in recent sets, which would make two damage a bit less good. C+ (HRS)


Fate Foretold—What a neat card! It’s aura of Ichor Wellspring! There are cantripping common auras in each color (though green’s only enables heroic lands). They’re all easy ways to hit a heroic trigger and cycle (so, heroic enabler, bears consideration). I like Fate Foretold because it helps alleviate the card disadvantage of your chosen hero dying and synergizes well with sacrifice creatures, like Crackling Triton. I don’t expect this to be a high pick, though I wonder if there’s a deck that wants to pick up as many of these as it can (à la the Ichor Wellspring deck in BSS). (ZB)


Griptide—Hey, he’s back! This card was a beating in Innistrad, a beating in M14 (even at sorcery speed), and in a set where you are encouraged to enchant things—as well as target them to trigger heroic, and activate monstrosity—I predict it’ll be just as much, if not more, of a beating. (HRS)


Lost in a Labyrinth—A better combat trick than Fleeting Distraction, but scry 1 is much, much worse than draw 1. It can enable heroic in a pinch. It’s a total flavor hit, and an okay trick, but not something I imagine taking in my first eight picks or being delighted at having multiples of in my deck. Seems weak, but something worth considering when your opponent has an untapped island. D+ (ZB)


Mnemonic Wall—This guy was awesome in Rise of the Eldrazi, especially when he (?) was getting back rebound spells. That was gross. I predict he’ll be a little less good in this set than he was in Rise, though, although there are always some amount of good instants and sorceries floating around; probably a few less than in an enchantment-matters set, though. Not every deck will want him, but if a slow, grindy blue deck exists, he’ll be great in that. C- (HRS)


Nimbus Naiad—Hunter wrote about this entire cycle and I agree with him here. I love me a Wind Drake. Making it a split card of Wind Drake/Griffin Guide?  Sign me up!  Seems good (not great, but quite good). (ZB)


Omenspeaker—He’s no Auger of Bolas, but in Limited Auger wasn’t always hitting a whole lot, anyways—whereas scry is always going to be good. Keeping a two-lander with her in your hand is going to make you feel a lot better when you get to definitely (more or less) find your third land by scrying two. Is the 1/3 body relevant? Probably not very—although Bane Alley Blackguard was grudgingly playable in Dragon’s Maze, and Seacoast Drake definitely was in M14 (of course he had flying, but still). C+ (HRS)


Prescient Chimera—Ah, the ever-present common blue five mana 3/3… wait, it’s a 3/4? Who saw that coming? I like big flying creatures at common with upside. The format seems slow enough that you can safely cast a couple of these. They’re strong on offense and defense and pair well with the more defensive 1/5 Coastline Chimera. (ZB)


Stymied Hopes—Relatively easy to play around once you’ve seen it, but this is still going to get plenty of people on T2 or T3, acting more or less like an Essence Scatter. All things being equal, though—meaning no scry—I’d kind of rather have E.S. than this, as Stymied Hopes kind of becomes a dead card past a certain point in the game, whereas Essence Scatter is almost always live. C- (HRS)

There was Force Spike. There was Force Void and Disrupt. There was Runeboggle and Frightful Delusion. Now the worst counterspell to be “got by” costs the same as Mana Leak. Oh, yes. This is gonna frustrate folks like no one’s business. (ZB)


Thassa’s Bounty—One of the few random mill cards in a format where mill seems an unlikely win condition. We’ll all be casting this as Concentrate. Six mana is a lot to ask when we’ve just been playing with the substantially more powerful Opportunity. Granted, if you’re durdling with Mnemonic Wall, this is a card you’d be happy to recur (and potentially mill yourself with, to find more targets for your wall). If the format is as slow as M14 (which I don’t expect, or at least, I expect more ways to break board stalls and weaker countermagic), then this could be a higher pick. If six mana is a lot to ask for, which it usually is, you probably can have too much of these. C+ (ZB)


Triton Shorethief—I now turn this review over to Shaggy 2 Dope himself, author of our biweekly Draftasaurus Rex column, Hugh Kramer:

A functional reprint of Sanctuary Cat … in blue?? Can you say “mee-OW?” Now to any reasonable Magical Gatherer, a one-mana Squire is not exactly where we want to be in Limited, no matter its color. And by “not exactly,” I mean, “I’d play an 18th land before I play this card.” But that of course won’t stop one Hunter Slaton. Yes, good ol’ Hunter Slaton—day two’er of two Grand Prixs, 3-0-er of drafts, slayer of worlds, blogger of blogs, and most importantly, notorious proponent of Sanctuary Cat.

Before I knew Hunter as I do now, I found myself paired against him at the Innistrad pre-release. What follows is a turn steeped in legend, steeped in history, and steeped in … infamy. A million years from now, when historians of that era are studying our time period, they will no doubt discern that the turn of Magic I am about to recount for you is neither the single greatest nor single worst turn in Magic’s history, but simply, its most embarrassing. And with that, I present … THE TURN:

Me: “High roll?”
Hunter: “Sure.”

::Hunter wins the roll::

Hunter: “I’ll play.”

-Turn 1-
Play a Plains
…add a white mana…

And scene.


VaporkinWelkin Tern is back. The art is a flavor miss—how can this card only block creatures with flying  when’s its hovering just above the surface of the water? This is a last pick in flavor draft.

In real draft, this is a purely aggressive card. It blocks almost nothing profitably. If blue aggro (probably UW skies or heroic) is a deck, then this card is a part of it. If not, this card will sit sadly on the sidelines, its eyes misting over. There are bigger and badder blue fliers at common that would eat this little raindrop for breakfast. (ZB)


Voyage’s End—Unsummon is great. Unsummon that costs two (Disperse) is still pretty good—especially in a set with heroic and bestow. Tack scry one onto it and I think you’ve got a really decent card. C+ (HRS)


Wavecrash Triton—Another Horned Turtle with upside? Life is grand! Frost Breath is a flexible card, and giving you half of one whenever you target Wavecrash Triton with Fate Foretold or Ordeal of Thassa seems strong. The puzzle is how to best make use of Wavecrash Triton. It can be very defensive with its four toughness, but you can also get quite aggressive with it and a god’s ordeal or bestowed emissary. Flexibility is a good thing, and I look forward to finding all sorts of uses for this turtle mer-man. (ZB)



Asphodel Wanderer—This guy can wander right on out of the room, as far as I’m concerned. 1/1s for one are basically unplayable, minus some special interaction (Tenacious Dead in M14’s RB sac deck). Would it have killed them to make his activation cost 1B? Pass. D- (HRS)


Baleful EidolonTyphoid Rats isn’t a bad Magic card (though it’s no Deadly Recluse). On its own, it can trade for a monstrous or powered-up heroic creature, which is a great trade (and leaves you with a Typhoid Rats). Bestow means that it’s not a terrible topdeck in the late game, letting you upgrade your creature into something that will trade for all of its blockers (and is absolutely filthy on a creature with first strike or trample). Not a high pick, but not one I’d be averse to having in my deck. I wonder if they’ll print a pinger in Theros’ expansions? (ZB)


Blood-Toll Harpy—A 2/1 flier for three is fine, and bleeding everyone for one upon ETB is a small bonus. He’s basically a Wind Drake, anyway, as Wind Drake -1 toughness is pretty much the same deal. Decks will be happy to have this guy. C+ (HRS)


Boon of Erebos—As with Phyrexian Boon, this card does multiple things. It looks a lot like Necrobite with phyrexian mana. I like it—you can trigger heroic, protect a (heroic) creature, use it as a combat-situational removal spell, or even get in the last two points of damage to your opponent. Not insane, but versatility goes a long way, particularly in a one mana instant. C- (ZB)


Cavern Lampad—I dissected all of these guys back in this post. Dig it. B- (HRS)


Disciple of Phenax—For someone who didn’t like chroma, I sure do enjoy the look of devotion. Devotion turns the downside of a heavy-mana commitment into an upside. This reminds me of Vizkopa Confessor (though you’re not guaranteed to hit your opponent’s whole hand and don’t have extort). A 1/3 body isn’t great and is lousy on a four mana creature, but the Coercion could be backbreaking and it works well with also black devotion cards, like Gray Merchant of Asphodel. I expect this to be a late pick and a reasonable addition to monoblack. D+ (ZB)


Fellhide Minotaur—Awesome art is awesome. I pretty much always enjoyed playing an Undead Minotaur in M14—and it looks like three toughness is kind of a thing in this set, making Crackling Triton, the guy who can sac for a Shock, much worse. A solid roleplayer. C (HRS)


Fleshmad Steed—The format seems slow, and a 2/2 for two in a format of enormous creatures will get outclassed swiftly (to say nothing of the horse’s minor downside). I could see this help enable devotion to black or be a cheap body in a B/x heroic aggro deck, but this horse is probably neigh what we’re looking for. D- (ZB)


Gray Merchant of Asphodel—This guy’s going to be really good, I predict. Will mono-color decks be a thing in Limited? Probably not, I’m guessing—although devotion does point in that direction. I think you are going to be able to draft a really strong deck with this guy as the backbone. And, worse comes to worst, he drains life for two when he ETBs, and leaves behind a solid blocking body. Just think if you *can* curve out into him in a mono- or heavy black deck—by turn five you’ve got, what, five black mana symbols? And he drains for five? That’s kind of backbreaking, and goes a long way toward blunting any early aggression by your opponent—thus leading to more opportunities to play more of the Merchant. Sweet art, too. B+ (HRS)

I am so excited about this dude. Imagine getting five of them in a monoblack deck. (ZB)


Lash of the Whip—Weak removal in Limited? We’ve got an article about that! Lash of the Whip is no Grasp of Darkness or Auger Spree. This looks more like Fatal Fumes. For five mana, one is accustomed to an unconditional, sorcery speed kill spell. I grant that -4/-4 will kill most non-bombs (i.e. almost every common creature). The problem is that removal’s best feature is killing bombs for an efficient mana cost, whereas Lash of the Whip will mostly be killing at-best-good creatures for an inefficient amount of mana. I’ll put these in my deck, but I value them a bit less than Angelic Edict or Trostani’s Judgment (which were fine but not stellar removal spells). Sorry if it stings, but I give this a B- (ZB)


Loathsome Catoblepas—Hilarious name. I’d like to meet an Agreeable Catoplebas, or a Thrifty Catoplebas. Nevertheless—man, six is so much to pay for a 3/3. He’s more or less an overcosted Pitchburn Devils, and the must-be-blocked clause is nice, if you can generate green mana—but I’m going to say this guy just costs too much for too little. D (HRS)


March of the Returned—First there was Death’s Duet, then there was Morbid Plunder, now there is March of the Returned. See the pattern? Fortunately, you almost never want to cast these on curve, so it cost four only shifts whether you can cast this and one of your returned creatures in the same turn.

I love card advantage and this card draws you the two best creatures in your graveyard. In a slow match where you trade off creatures, recurring your two best threats is insane. You can also abuse this in monoblack devotion to recur Gray Merchant of Asphodel (a card I’m more than a little bit excited by). In a fast match, this will sit in your hand, doing nothing as you die. How good March of the Returned is depends on the speed of the format and how well one can deal with one’s opponent’s threats. I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that the format should be slow enough. A- (ZB)


Pharika’s Cure—Sorin’s Thirst, reborn. But again I come back to, is a Shock good in Theros? I’m going to say somewhat less so than usual. And BB is tough. Still will probably be fine, as removal is removal, but I bet it’s not going to be amazing. C- (HRS)


Read the Bones—Black sure is getting access to card advantage (making it a good candidate for control decks). Sign in Blood and Foresee are both solid cards, and their offspring looks good. The life loss is relevant, since decks that want cards like Read the Bones and Divination tend to have problems dying in the early game. Reads the Bones does dig you up to four cards deep in your library, and that gives you twice the chance of finding something good compared to a blind DivinationA- because, unlike Divination in M14, too many of these will kill you. (ZB)


Returned Centaur—Where the hell did this guy come from? Why are we milling cards? We’re certainly not self-milling, and in the previews I’ve seen thus far there is very little of a milling theme. He’s not embarrassing as just a 2/4 for four, but what’s he here for? Seems homeless. D+ (HRS)


Returned PhalanxOgre Sentry is back and ready to smash! Cards like this make poor attackers, since you have to spend all of your mana to activate them, and later in the game they’re outclassed by threats. Ogre Jailbreaker‘s stats were very good in the RtR environment (and it didn’t cost mana to attack), but a 3/3 seems puny against green and red decks. I can see sideboarding Returned Phalanx in against aggro decks, but I don’t expect it to be good in most matchups. D- (ZB)


Scourgemark—If this were free or cost one mana, maybe it would be worth a card, given that it replaces itself (if it sticks, of course)—but it doesn’t, and it’s not. No thanks. F (HRS)


Sip of Hemlock—Huge flavor hit for the philosophy major here. Expensive removal is inefficient, but unconditional removal is always welcome. This is weaker than Assassin’s Strike (which was often too slow to be useful in triple RtR draft), but in a slower format. I wonder whether this is better or worse than Lash of the Whip. My gut says that cheaper, instant-speed removal is better, but being able to kill monstrous threats may take Sip of Hemlock over the top. B- (ZB)


Viper’s Kiss—Cool card! I think this is going to be more of a sideboard card than anything, given that there don’t seem to be a ton of one-toughness creatures running around that you really want to kill—but I often have lamented having, say, a Pacifism or a Claustrophobia in my hand, when really what I want is an Arrest. That said, I don’t think Viper’s Kiss is really going to be maindeckable. D+ (HRS)

A viper’s kiss can be quite humanizing. It eliminates any monstrous urges you might have had. (ZB)



Akroan Crusader—A neat twist on heroic; rather than give +1/+1 counters, he makes 1/1s. I don’t expect him to be Young Pyromancer, but he does a good job of enabling the 2-for-1 uncommon combat tricks and works very, very well with Phalanx Leader (except their colors don’t mesh and they compete for heroic enablers). That said, he’s a 1/1 for one, and those need to do something good to justify their inclusion. This is a format where a 3/3 might not be big enough, but perhaps a phalanx of 1/1s could do the job fast enough. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.  C- (ZB)


Borderland Minotaur—Like I was saying earlier, one point of toughness isn’t that big of a difference—and Rumbling Baloth, at this same price in green in M14, was a serious beater. Unless there are a lot of three-power creatures running around Theros who you really don’t want to trade (down) with, I think this guy is going to be solid. It still remains to be seen whether an aggressive deck is a thing on Theros, but if it is—tried-and-true RG smashy—I predict this dude will be a key role player. B- (HRS)


Boulderfall—Remember Ember Shot and Volley of Boulders? They’re insanely good removal effects at insanely high prices. An effect like this is best at killing swarms of small creatures, but when you’ve got eight mana, chances are you’re not afraid of swarms (the swarm deck should have killed you already), but giant monsters (which this is poor at killing). I expect that this will be best in conjunction with mana accelerants and fixers, perhaps in a G/x ramp deck or a U/x Mnemonic Wall-based control deck. (ZB)


Deathbellow Raider—As I’ve said, a 2/3 for three is often fine. So how’s about a 2/3 for 1R? Sign me up! And then we come to … the dreaded “attacks each turn if able” clause, which turns a good blocker—especially with his 2B regenerate ability!—into a turkey. Why can’t we have Goblin Flunkies? That guy hit hard. This guy just seems schizophrenic. I suppose slapping a three-drop aura on him, with regen mana backup (if you’re in RB), could be strong. We’ll see. C- (HRS)


Demolish—We’ve seen Demolish plenty of times, and while it gives you options, neither Craterize/Stone Rain nor Smelt/Shatter are strong maindeck options at four mana. There’s only one nonbasic land and two artifacts potentially worth killing, and even then, would you really want to put in Demolish to deal with an Akroan Horse? F+ (ZB)


Dragon Mantle—Firebreathing can be OK. And the opportunity cost is certainly low, given that it replaces itself—but unless you have spare mana lying around, it literally does nothing. I predict that this cycle of one-mana auras will go really late in draft, and not see much play. D (HRS)


Ill-Tempered CyclopsHill Giant with two upsides? I have two responses: yes and please! (ZB)


Lightning Strike—Now here we go. Lightning Bolt is amazing, and guess what? Adding another mana to it basically doens’t matter. This is premium removal, and it’s going to be first-pickable. Also, as I was saying—three toughness is looking like a magic-ish number on Theros, so I’m guessing this is going to kill a lot of what you’re wanting dead. A (HRS)


Messenger’s Speed—Holy artwork, Batman! I love the allusion to Hermes and the Flash. That said, I don’t expect to ever put this in my deck unless I really need heroic enablers (and there are so many, why would I need this?). (ZB)


Minotaur Skullcleaver—Red certainly has a lot of aggressive early drops. Viashino Firstblade was certainly steller in Dragon’s Maze, and this guy is an easier-to-cast version—although the lack of added +2 on the toughness makes him more likely to trade off. And, to be honest, that’s probably what he’s going to be doing. Trading your Grizzly Bear for their three-drop is a fine play, and the +2 power is only going to encourage that play. C (HRS)


Portent of BetrayalThreaten with Scry 1. Neat. This is a bit of a nonbo, since Threaten effects are supposed to end games when cast and Scry 1 improves card quality over time. That said, red decks that want Threaten usually don’t cast it on T3 and won’t mind the extra mana cost too much. There is a small amount of support for a BR sacrifice deck with Rescue from the Underworld and Tymaret, the Murder King, but that’s not much. C- (ZB)RgUfwAORNuu_EN_LR

Priest of Iroas—Weird card. A 1/1 for one is of course basically an F—but a Naturalize you can feel even better about maindecking, should the need arise? Sure. Only thing is, this lady is in the wrong colors—traditionally, at least—for playing non-threats, hanging back, and getting in character. Probably a D, but a decent, if clunky, sideboard option. D (HRS)


Rage of Purphoros—It’s a sorcery speed Lash of the Whip with scry 1. The random regeneration-hosing hearkens back to earlier Magic when regeneration meant nothing. I’ll probably play all of these, but they suffer from all the same problems that Lash of the Whip does and I’m not certain that having scry 1 is better than being instant-speed. B- (ZB)tKh5doPhfIl_EN_LR

Satyr Rambler—They might as well slap “put an aura on me” right in the text box. I also had to do a double take, because I initially thought this guy had haste, too, which would have made him much more playable. Whether or not this guy makes the cut depends on how fast the format is, and whether or not Grizzly Bears are good in Theros. I predict they will not be. And there’s nothing more fragile to try and target with an aura than a 2/1. D (HRS)


Spark Jolt—Spark Jolt’s effectiveness depends upon the ubiquity of X/1s. You’ll probably fire this off on the first available target (killing a Vaporkin in response to a Fate Foretold will be sweet, but how often will that happen?). If you’re not killing a creature with this, then you’re discarding a card to scry 1, and that’s horrible. C- (ZB)


Spearpoint Oread—Again, see my old-post round-up of these guys. C (HRS)


Titan Strength—Interesting design. This feels like a red pump spell; you smash harder, but you’re not much hardier yourself. I like it a lot in conjunction with heroic cards (give my creature +4/+2, some of which is permanent, and scry 1, all for one mana?  Yes, please!). I think that this is a solid trick in the heroic aggro deck and playable outside of it. (ZB)


Two-Headed Cerberus—But for flavor reasons, I would have guessed this guy got nerfed in development, as we’ve more or less had this same creature for 1W in Ravnica block (I forget his name), albeit as a 1/1. I really think you ought to be getting more for 1RR than a 1/2, double strike or no—but, then again, double strike is a scary ability, and R&D has to be careful. Once again, this guy screams “put an aura on me.” But paying three for essentially a Grizzly Bear doesn’t do it for me. D (HRS)


Wild Celebrants—A 5/3? These satyrs party hard enough to kill almost anything. Renegade Demon isn’t a great magic card, but there are a reasonable amount of artifacts, and if you can make Wild Celebrants into a Manic Vandal, you’ll want to celebrate. (ZB)



Agent of Horizons—Great art. And this guy is a clock. A 3/2 for three is totally fine as it is, and if you’re also in (or can generate) blue, this is a legitimate win-con. A bit clunky, as it forces you into two colors for max efficiency, but a real card. B+ (HRS)


Commune with the Gods—If you have one bomb that you absolutely need to play, then go nuts digging for your Nylea, God of the Hunt or Whip of Erebos. This card seems strictly worse than Grisly Salvage, as it can’t smooth your land-light draws and if you’re not in black, there’re very few recursion shenanigans to get value from your graveyard. (ZB)


Defend the Hearth—A marginally better fog, in that you can set up ideal blocks where maybe a guy of theirs dies, and you don’t take any damage—but even without this card, you would have had those blocks available to you. So unless you would literally die this turn if not for Guard the Fireplace, this card basically does nothing. Skip it. Let the fire go out. F (HRS)


Fade into AntiquityRevoke Existence was quite the card in an artifacts-matter block. Fade into Antiquity should be comparable in a format where enchantments abound. You’ll have less targets than Shatter did in Scars of Mirrodin, but you’ll be killing high-value targets, like bestow creatures or even disbelieving the gods themselves. (ZB)


Feral Invocation—Nice card. Sure, you run the risk of getting two-for-one’d—but it’s basically a permanent combat trick, and with combat tricks you always run the risk of getting two-for-one’d. I think this card is going to be a “groan test”-passer, as they say on Limited Resources—meaning that when your opponent resolves it against, you’re going to be miserable. I’m inclined to give it a B, but it does cost three mana, making it more difficult to do something else and keep this up in the same turn, as you might with a regular, cheaper-to-cast combat trick, like a Giant Growth. C+—possibly pushing to B-. (HRS)


Leafcrown Dryad—Again, I defer to Hunter, who wrote about this entire cycle. Bestow seems very strong, since it upgrades outclassed creatures into threats without fear of card disadvantage. B+ (ZB)


Nessian Asp—Why are these motherfuckin’ snakes so huge!? Monstrosity or no, I think there’s probably better stuff to be doing with five (and then seven) mana. He’s not bad, just unexciting. Asp does totally shut down the air, though—and that could be good. (HRS)


Nessian Courser—Centaur Courser was fine, but not great in M13. That format was faster than Theros appears to be (Theros has so many Horned Turtles). I expect to play these and enjoy bestowing power upon them, but I’ll stay the course and draft better cards first. C (ZB)re0D4PapnZY_EN_LR

Nylea’s Disciple—Hill Giant is never terrible—but a harder-to-cast Hill Giant, due to its devotion mechanic? That makes it much worse—and I don’t think you’re ever going to be gaining a backbreaking amount of life off of this guy—and, unlike Gray Merchant of Asphodel, I don’t think you’re going to be wanting to run three or more of these, because then at the end of the day you’ve just got a ton of life and Hill Giants (whereas with Gray Merchant you’ve not only gained that metric fuck-ton of life, but also done upwards of 10 damage to your opponent (if you have three or more of them, that is)). C (HRS)


Nylea’s Presence—I love me Abundant Growth. This is an interesting twist that makes me suspect this or next block will care about basic land types. It’s interesting that each color has a cantripping aura, but that green’s doesn’t target a creature. Given the amount of fixing available, I’d expect three-color green to be a deck and this to be a welcome component of it. C+ (ZB)ESUpzIIOLGu_EN_LR

Pheres-Band Centaurs—I’m a sucker for weird powers and toughnesses, and this guy certainly fits the bill—but I don’t think he (they?) are very good. I mean, a Siege Mastodon is often surprisingly good, and this is a strictly better Siege Mastodon, so sure—but you’re never super-psyched to run a good ol’ S.M. C- (HRS)


Satyr Hedonist—A 2/1 for two seems bad in a format of giant monsters (though bestow and the multitude of auras and combat tricks make every creature better). A red Dark Ritual is interesting. With this, you can cast a turn three five drop. Is that worth the card disadvantage? I’m not sure, but I’m sure to find out soon enough. (ZB)


Savage Surge—I always liked a Savage Surge, as it allows you to continue attacking while still holding out the option of getting your opponent with a combat trick. Also, it seems to me like people are much more likely to attack into boards where Savage Surge is really good, than the would about attacking into, say, an untapped creature and a potential Giant Growth. There’s something about seeing all those tapped creatures that lulls an opponent into a false sense of security. C+ (HRS)


Sedge ScorpionTyphoid Rats returns (we’ve got two of these in Theros!), ready to make all nontrampling monstrous creatures sad. If you’re looking to durdle, Sedge Scorpion is a pseudo-removal spell you’ll be happy to play. It’s no Deadly Recluse and there’s no Wolfhunter’s Quiver to abuse, but this still seems fine. C+ (ZB)


Shredding Winds—The seven damage makes the card seem flavorful, but at the end of the day this is a strictly worse Plummet. You probably don’t want to maindeck it, but it’s a fine sideboard card, and not shameful in your 23, either. C- (HRS)


Staunch-Hearted Warrior—Obviously, a 3G 2/2 is horrid, but a four mana 4/4 is solid, and a four mana 6/6 (with a little work) is a very good. This seems like the ideal target for Messenger’s Speed (a card I do not look upon favorably, but big creatures are much better with trample). This card only warrants inclusion if you’ve a reasonable chance of triggering her at least once. Granted, the fact that she turns any combat trick into Giant Strength will make your opponent strongly consider attacking into or blocking her. (ZB)


Time to Feed—OK, so Prey Upon that costs two more, but gains you three life? It just goes to show how good Prey Upon is that this is still playable—but they couldn’t have made it instant or something, to make up for the 2R mana cost? I’d even rather have Hunt the Weak, for 3R. The three life is just rarely going to matter. Still, a B-, probably. (HRS)


Voyaging Satyr—Mana acceleration is usually good and seems particularly so in a format with plenty of four+ drops to accelerate into. I expect to play this satyr in almost all of my green decks. A- (ZB)


Vulpine Goliath—That fox is fucking massive! I love that the name of this card is basically just “Huge-Ass Fox.” If you’ll remember, in Scars of Mirrodin, “Dinosaurs”—where you’d ramp into Alpha Tyrranaxes and basically just smash everything—became a late-breaking draft archetype; and this guy is a strictly better Tyrrannax. Now, of course myr aren’t running around everywhere on Theros, to provide easy ramping—but I still think this guy is going to be quite good. I’m going to go out on a limb and say B-. (HRS)



Bronze Sable—Now anyone can play Coral Merfolk! Should you? Probably not. D- (ZB)


Fleetfeather Sandals—Kitesail, from Worldwake and then M13, wasn’t half bad—although it was much better in Core Set, where you had to make do with what you will, than in Zendikar block, which was blisteringly fast. So will this be a slower format? I’m thinking it will be, in which case this new Kitesail’s stock goes up. Casting an undercosted green or red fatty and instantly putting it on the air and on the offensive can be big game—and the threat of an endless stream of similarly evasive monsters from your end of the field is a plan in a can. Solid C. (HRS)


Guardians of MeletisWall of Tanglecord was surprisingly great in Scars of Mirrodin draft, when you just needed to stay alive. Guardians of Meletis can block the vast majority of creatures. If you’re a deck that needs time to do something ridiculous, like play an army of Mnemonic Walls, this will help buy you time (and block creatures wearing a Prowler’s Helm). If you’re looking to beat face, let these statues guard your sideboard. C-/D+ (ZB)


Opaline Unicorn—Unicorn is basically a mana rock with upside, in that it can randomly get in for a point or two of damage, wear an aura, or chump- or gang-block, saving you some life. I always hate running Darksteel Ingot, strictly to splash—and I expect I will hate running Unicorn less. Still not an exciting card, but a cool design. C+ in a deck that really wants the fixing. (HRS)


Traveler’s Amulet—If you need fixing, I’ve got a bauble for you. Three-color decks or devotion decks looking to splash something are gonna love this. If you’re a two color deck, you’re probably better off saving your mana and just playing a land (hey, it’s not like you need a one-drop to keep Reckless Waif from flipping anymore). (ZB)


Unknown Shores—Sometimes adding one mana to the cost of everything you cast is a necessary evil. Whether or not you get punished for that tempo hit remains to be seen—although I think you’re probably going to be able to get away with it, more often than not. And you are going to want this fixing more, too, when you get some of the off-color activation costs on some of the common creatures we’ve seen thus far. In that sense, then, you’re not really using it for casting-a-creature-or-a-spell fixing—which means that, unless you’ve got a ton of double-color mana symbols on your cards, this isn’t really going to restrict your early plays. Do you see what I’m saying? If you are straight UG, with Agent of Horizons in your deck, you can simply play this as your 17th land and call it a day. Sure, you take a slight hit from having a land that only makes colorless mana (for free, anyway), but that’s not too high of a price to pay (again, unless you have tons of GG and RR) for the opportunity to activate your off-color activated ability basically for free later in the game. C (HRS)



Battlewise ValorMoment of Heroism was an excellent combat trick in ISD. Losing lifelink hurts, but enabling heroic at instant speed and improving the quality of your draws should make up for the loss. This looks like one of the best tricks for the heroic deck. B- (ZB)


Cavalry Pegasus—How many humans are in the set? I haven’t seen a ton, thus far—although white is traditionally the human-stocked color. Regardless, this guy seems just too fragile to matter. (HRS)


Chosen by Heliod—If you’re using this enable and protect an aggressive heroic creature, then you can choose to put this in your deck. If you’re low on playables, drawing cards is never bad, but cards should do more than cycle. C-/D+ (ZB)


Divine Verdict—Unconditional removal, sort of? Sign me up. Of course it doesn’t hit utility creatures, but there actually seem to be a lot fewer of these in the set than normal. Still, it costs a lot and requires that you basically skip your whole turn, if you want to hold it up on your opponent’s turn. But, as they say, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. C+ (HRS)


Ephara’s Warden—Kor Line-Slinger got a little bit bigger and twice as expensive (and some lovely sea foam green threads—I am loving so much of Theros’ art). Ephara’s Warden is now slower than many of the things she’ll be locking down. She’s playable, but there are better common removal spells and creatures. (ZB)


Gods Willing—A fine little trick, although the effect is pretty marginal; it does have a lot of versatility, though, knocking off troublesome auras, protecting your guy from burn, and so forth. The scry is a nice little bonus for no extra mana cost, given that this effect is usually at just W anyway. Still, pretty marginal, and probably not a maindeck card unless you are hurting for tricks. D+ (HRS)


Hopeful Eidolon—Unlike Baleful Eidolon, which is a decent creature on its own, the creature half of Hopeful Eidolon is Trained Caracal (which was unplayable, except in the Ethereal Armor deck). Lifelink is a very strong ability, particularly in Limited, but I hope that I won’t have to put these in my deck, because they’re not very good. D- (ZB)


Lagonna-Band Elder—Hey, enchantment or no, a 3/2 for three is welcome, as it seems like there are very few three-power, three-CMC creatures in this set. The enchantment clause is just gravy. C+ (HRS)


Last Breath—Ah, mana-efficient creature removal. These don’t kill gods or monsters, but they’re very good at killing heroes (particularly with a heroic trigger on the stack). Most decks should have a decent number of targets for Last Breath, and if they don’t, then side ’em out. A- (ZB)


Leonin Snarecaster—Goblin Shortcutter, or his white analogue, is good or bad depending on the set. In M14 he was pretty terrible; in prior sets he’s been a key tempo play. It doesn’t look like Theros will be that aggressive, so I’m thinking Leonin Snarecaster is going to end up much more like M14-era Shortcutter than not. D+ (HRS)


Observant Alseid—Hunter wrote a whole article on this cycle and I recommend you check it out.

Knightly Valor is back, and it works even if the creature is killed with it on the stack! Bestow is a powerful ability, and while spending a card to give a creature +2/+2 and vigilance is risky (but still worth doing, as we learned in RtR), not spending a card and still giving a creature +2/+2 and vigilance should be quite the play. B+ (ZB)


Ray of Dissolution—A fine sideboard—or even maindeck, on Theros—card. C- (HRS)


Scholar of Athreos—A Horned Turtle that extorts when you don’t cast spells? Neat. I’d play a swamp and a Traveler’s Amulet to activate this in a slow deck. Three mana is a lot to ask for, but when the game goes late, any advantage helps, and a 1/4 helps get you to the late game. (ZB)


Setessan Battle Priest—What a weak-ass battle priest! Only a 1/3!? It’s not like this is Grazing Gladeheart, either, which had pretty much 17 ways to gain life in your deck. So, max, you put an aura on this lady and maybe cast a combat trick on her at another point in the game and you’ve got four life? Who cares. D (HRS)


Setessan Griffin—Mazel tov! Assault Griffin and Knight of the Skyward Eye had a baby… somehow (I suspect that a Conspiracy‘s afoot). A five mana 3/2 flier often isn’t good enough, and four mana (two of which are off-color) is a lot to ask for. I’d rather have something that doesn’t require four mana a turn to be good enough, but if I’m in GW, I’ll play it. D+ (ZB)


Silent Artisan—Siege Mastodon is back, baby! Always welcome, never stellar. A great target for an aura makes him a bit better in this set, I think, as he’s not going to get sniped by burn or a -X/-X effect. Why make him WW though? Maybe because of what I just said? Or just to differentiate him? I dunno. C (HRS)


Traveling Philosopher—I will collect these and put them next to my philosophy degree. I will likely not put them in my deck unless I’ve got a Phalanx Leader to enable. (ZB)


Wingsteed Rider—This guy could get good quick. Sure, the WW on T3 is heavy, but if you can successfully target this guy with an aura or a combat trick, suddenly you have a three-power flier. I think Wingsteed Rider is going to be really good. B+ (HRS)


Yoked Ox—This is what happens when you don’t let Pillarfield Oxen run and play. If you want a Horned Turtle and don’t care about killing your opponent’s small creatures, you’ve got a blocker. Zero power is a lot less than one and I downgrade this card accordingly. Still, it’ll buy you time, if that’s what you’re looking for (and be a strangely good friend to Phalanx Leader). (ZB)

23/17 is a Hipsters of the Coast column focused on Limited play—primarily draft and sealed, but also cubing, 2HG, and anything else we can come up with. The name refers to the “Golden Ratio” of a Limited deck: 23 spells and 17 lands.

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