Journey Into Nyx spoilers have begun! That means it’s time for the worker of the week award! And by that, I mean my Born of the Gods top ten limited cards! Regular readers will recall with glee my Theros top ten. Here we go again.

As I explained in the Theros version, my grading is holistic. These are cards I have thoroughly enjoyed while playing limited Magic with Born of the Gods. Some make it on power level, while others score big on flavor, art, or some other ill-defined metric. The best excel on multiple axes.

Without further commotion or goodbyes, let’s get down to bizness.

Cymbals1

More cymbals than a Eudora Welty anthology!

10. Archetype of Endurance

What’s even bigger than a fox? Not this eight drop! So let’s get to the obvious. This costs two more mana than Vulpine Goliath for the same body and the format is pretty fast. How does this pig fly? Who am I, LSV?

But here’s the thing. In this format you can go small or you can go big. There are a lot of ways to ramp mana, and Archetype of Endurance is one of the rewards for doing so. They may have used their Searing Bloods and Asphyxiates before you can drop the hexproof bomb, but that Keepsake Gorgon just got a lot worse and Sudden Storm isn’t going to win them the game anymore.

First pick Kiora’s Follower and plan to pick up the Archetype on the wheel. Nobody else wants it. This deck wants Karametra’s Acolyte and Colossus of Akros. But you can do just fine with some emissaries and expensive removal. I’ve drafted some successful decks around this strategy and boy were they fun.

9. Everflame Eidolon

Cheap bestow is good. Eidolon art is good. Firebreathing is good. And on Theros, attacking is good. Sign me up for this one.

My precious. It burnseses! It also gets taken highly in draft. Don’t miss out.

8. Elite Skirmisher

Back when the set came out, I observed that Elite Skirmisher offers a nice bit of diversity in heroic triggers for white decks. Turns out I was right. While it’s nice to get a bunch of +1/+1 counters, at times you want something different. Skirmisher works especially well with Fall of the Hammer. Three power kills a lot of creatures and the trigger can tap down another, clearing a path for the beats.

All Elite Skirmisher needs is banding, right? They sure don’t make cards like they used to. Hitting for three and tapping blockers is a winning combination. By the way, Skirmisher also pairs well with Cavalry Pegasus.

7. Spiteful Returned

104 was spiteful. This is one of my beloved cards of the set. There’s not much better than when your opponent is at two life and you have Spiteful Returned bestowed on a creature. Born of the Gods is all about beating down, and this card likes to beat down. That’s a recurring theme, isn’t it?

You don’t even have to lose life to play with Spiteful Returned! And it can go on a Wingsteed Rider too.

6. Courser of Kruphix

Is this the best card or the bestest card? Gain life! Draw lands! Block! Hat tip to Hugh Kramer for calling this card as the powerhouse rare of the set. Have you ever played against it in limited? Pretty good, right?

Landfall is such a great mechanic, even when it eschews labels. Sure, you have to play with your top card revealed, but that’s a small price to pay. Just make sure you don’t get a game rule violation during a tournament when you cast Divination with Courser on board. You have to show both cards before putting them in your hand.

5. Shrike Harpy

Tribute is a deceptive mechanic. It generally feels bad to cast a tribute card because your opponent gets to pick what seems like the least bad option. Some of the cards, like Oracle of Bones, present an uncertain decision that your opponent might get wrong, but any time you give a decision to your opponent they might make a mistake. If nothing else, you can overload them with extra choices, and that can lead to fatigue.

Shrike Harpy, however, is just sweet. A 4/4 flier for five in black is fantastic, and a 2/2 flier for five with an edict attached is quite good as well. I love playing this card, and it goes a lot later in draft than it should (i.e. the first couple picks). Plus, my opponent once decided to sacrifice a Scholar of Athreos instead of giving me a 4/4. That sounds good to me!

4. Phenax, God of Deception

Mind Grind. Increasing Confusion. Sands of Delirium. Mind Sculpt. Stern Mentor. Jace’s Archivist. Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver. Doorkeeper. I am a fan of powerful milling effects in limited. So Phenax is right in my wheelhouse.

What’s especially awesome about Phenax is that he isn’t just a standalone card. He encourages you to play defensive creatures, which is what a mill deck wants to do anyway. A bunch of those other cards are just, “oh yeah I win” when you draw them late in the game. Phenax often is too, but he isn’t just a powerful card to slot into a normal deck. He rewards careful deckbuilding, which is awesome.

3. Fleshmad Steed

What? That stupid horse isn’t in Born of the Gods! True enough. Pretend it is Pain Seer if that makes your list integrity obsession feel better. But seriously, flesh-eating horses of doom? These steeds are nuts. Check out this retro art:

mares of diomedes

Fighting horses? Don’t leave home without the Club.

But seriously. In triple-Theros, Fleshmad Steed was a terrible card. A 2/2 with an annoying downside, in the most controlling color too? No thanks! It was a flavor win and a power outage.  Add in Born of the Gods, however, and suddenly a 2/2 for two mana becomes a useful card. Give black some powerful aggressive cards like Spiteful Returned and Asphyxiate, and now Fleshmad Steed is a solid part of a beatdown deck. Finally those horses get to eat some flesh! I actually picked one third or fourth in pack three when I was drafting a red-black aggro deck. Ye gods!

Also this slot really does go to Pain Seer, which is ten times better than the steeds.

2. Chromanticore

This is a deck. If you cast Chromanticore you basically win. How hard is it to cast? Not too hard if you know what you are doing. Just build a green deck, probably with blue, and scoop up all the fixing. Burnished Hart is an all star, but Traveler’s Amulet and Nylea’s Presence do just fine.

I saw someone post on Twitter that there are two types of Born of the Gods drafters: those who first pick Chromanticore and those who do not. Count me in the former camp! Seriously, you have to try it. It’s the most fun you can have in the format. Even if you lose, you get a sweet mythic. Plus, there’s no feeling like sacrificing a Burnished Hart for two basics you don’t already have in play and seeing your opponent squirm as they realize you are going to bestow the living shit out of them.

1. Ghostblade Eidolon

Why is the sky blue? Why is water wet? Why does this card win when I’m playing it? This card is a ghostface killer. Theros limited is all about huge swings that take your opponent by surprise. Ghostblade Eidolon does that so well. What, you thought there was no way I could swing for lethal? Well guess what? I can make any creature I want into a Fabled Hero. Bam!

ghost_dog_bloodbraid_elf_by_gudoug-d42f97z

Mixing metaphors with Matt Jones!

Top prize doesn’t just go to a powerhouse card, though. Look at that art! What a sick-looking, beautiful card. The eidolons are real treasures. This card has everything—power, versatility, aesthetics, uncommonness, and multiple ready-made pop culture references. Congratulations Ghostblade Eidolon, you are number one in my book!

Brendan McNamara (MTGO: eestlinc, Twitter: @brendanistan) used to play Magic in the old days. His favorite combo was Armageddon plus Zuran Orb. After running out of money to buy cards and friends who were willing to put up with that combo, he left the game. But like disco, he was bound to come back eventually. Now he’s a lawyer by day and a Dimir agent by night.

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