Hi! It’s review season again! Theros Beyond Death has arrived and offers us new toys for cube owners and i’m excited to get into it with you.

First, and as advertized, Sagas are back. Sagas play out well, their countdown mini-games excellent designs for limited. Of the new ones here in Theros, there are a few that have exceeded my expectations after some testing.

We also have a fistful of new enchantment gods, remixed from their original incarnations. And perhaps the most important of all is Escape, which has proven itself far above even my highest expectations. As it turns out, spells you can cast over and over again—even with some restrictions—can feel broken.

Then there’s constellation, or Enchantment-matters. This is, relatively, the parasitic mechanic of the set. Most of these cards won’t make it into our cubes without a serious commitment to supporting the archetype. Therefore, i’ll only be touching on cards which hold an inherent power level and don’t rely too much on synergy. However, it’s possible that Theros Beyond Death has opened up the possibility of an Enchantment-Matters archetype in rarity restricted cubes.

I won’t be giving out letter grades, but I’ll rate my top cards at the end of each article. We’ll go in WUBRG color order, then Multicolor and Colorless.

You can read previous reviews of White, Blue, Black, and Red here.

Without further ado!

Nylea, Keen-Eyed

Finishing up our review of the new Gods, I must once more ask you to evaluate these cards as enchantments first. Nylea, Keen-Eyed gives us a permanent discount on all future creature spells, for the low, low cost of a card, a turn, and four mana. If you can sense my sarcasm, well . . . believe me, it’s there. Spending our turn four to get a discount on our six-drop means this six-drop damn well better win the game. But as you probably know already, it often won’t and you’ll just have to settle for getting to curve out like this. The mana discount might catch you back up after spending a turn casting Nylea, but I doubt it.

Before we get too deep into the gutter on this card, let’s have a look at her activated ability. For three mana we get to spin a riff on Vivien’s Grizzly, except with less successes—no planeswalkers, only creatures. In the abstract i’m a fan of this mana sink (I’m a fan of most mana sinks) but unfortunately for Nylea I’d much rather run a card like Duskwatch Recruiter. Duskwatch is cheaper, attacks and blocks right away, and each activation simply lets you look at more cards. Oh, and of course, flipping duskwatch gives you Nylea’s static ability anyway. Sure, with Nylea you get to dump unwanted cards into your graveyard, which over time does have value, but it’s simply too high an investment and too slow to get going.

Nylea is a fine card and I can certainly see interest in her being run in large cubes with a lower power level—one where perhaps planeswalkers are replaced by Gods—but it’s not an efficient card. I’d rather be spending my mana on something with immediate impact once we get to start casting four drops.

The First Iroan Games

I’ve spoken about this card before now, both here and on Twitter; but it seems no matter how much praise I give The First Iroan Games it still manages to fall short for some of the cube community. This card is the real deal, friends. Just on rate alone, the numbers are extremely desirable. Three mana for a 4/4 creature, two cards, and a Lotus Petal is excellent. Being a Saga too means the value doesn’t come all at once, a fact which I actually think benefits the caster more than it might seem.

Iroan Games has a special way with the opponent, especially when cast early—coming down as early as turn two—asking them to have an answer ready for your piddly little 1/1 Human creature token. If they do—and let’s face it, they usually do—it’s never too big a deal. Just play another four power creature! Attack! The First Iroan Games puts a controlling opponent to the test, putting pressure on crucial resources just to keep the Saga’s value at bay. And if they don’t have an answer, you’ll easily win the gold!

I’ve been so utterly impressed by this card, both with how much you get for your mana investment, but also how much it forces your opponent to react to its time bomb Chapter III. I could probably stop this review here—it’s one of the best cube cards in the set.

Wolfwillow Haven

Two-mana Rampant Growth effects have always had a place in Green, and Wolfwillow Haven is a unique and welcome addition. Similar to Fertile Ground and other permanent based ramp, it’s immune to creature removal. The trade off, however, is while Wolfwillow Haven doesn’t tap for mana of any color, it makes you a 2/2 wolf token when the mana ramp isn’t needed anymore.

Combining this kind of resilient acceleration together with a mana sink is very good. Nothing extraordinary, but rock solid for any green deck. Don’t expect to be amazed by Wolfwillow Haven, but expect it to always make the cut.

Destiny Spinner

Outside of a dedicated Enchantment-Matters theme in your cube, Destiny Spinner falls flat, being both strangely oppressive and hilariously underwhelming. The rate on Spinner is good, two mana for a 2/3 is certainly above the curve. The static ability initally feels like flavor text, except when it isn’t and is instead a total blowout. I hate when cards have game-warping static effects like this in cube. It’s just too polarizing, and we often forget it’s there until we can’t use our Mana Leak on your five drop. I don’t find text like this interesting, or skill testing, much like Teferi, Time Raveler or Narset, Parter of Veils. Suppose instead that Destiny Spinner couldn’t be countered. Wouldn’t this just be better for everyone?

The activated ability on Destiny Spinner is interesting, but overcosted. Unless, of course, you have a heavy enchantment-theme in your cube and can get at least three or four onto the battlefield. I wouldn’t recommend trying to set all this up, as the payoff just doesn’t meet the setup cost; if you have a rarity restricted cube and are interested in supporting an enchantment archetype, by all means play this—just get ready for the Blue matchup feel bads.

Renata, Called to the Hunt

Aside from the obviousness with which Renata, Called to the Hunt supports your friendly neighborhood persist combo, she still manages to provide some fairer applications. While slightly overcosted—if she costed three instead of four, my god—and fairly vulernable to cheap removal, her impact in a heavy creature or token-making midrange deck shouldn’t be underestimated. Renata is somewhat a Baneslayer in that if you untap with her you’re well set up to win almost any creature mirror, which is a fine power level for a rarity-restricted cube.

However she doesn’t do anything on the way in and needs other cards to make her static relevant. Renata needs help, and needs time in order to be effective. So don’t expect her to simply shine when there are other, more powerful cards in the mix. She’s not right for most environments, but if the power is low I see her being an interesting synergy card, especially alongside tokens.

The Binding of the Titans

The Binding of the Titans is a new tool for graveyard-centric cubes, or other high-synergy environments which don’t focus too much on raw card quality as they do on decks greater than the sum of their parts. As a graveyard enabler Binding goes deep, six cards if you count Binding itself trading for a card milled into your graveyard. This encourages Delirium, Flashback, Scavenge, Dredge, and naturally, Escape.

But why, when this might seem like straight up value in the right environment do I insist on it being for graveyard cubes specifically? Well, as a regrowth effect you should certainly just play Regrowth or Eternal Witness. Binding is much too slow comparatively, so one should be focusing on what they can abuse by milling over six cards for only two mana. This card is all synergy, with Chapter III being the “Okay, I guess i’ll give your card back” punctuation. Don’t put this into a cube unless it’s hungry for everything other than the ending.

Ilysian Caryatid

Cubes hungry for Green acceleration will be trying out Ilysian Caryatid. Our new friend has long limbs and ripped abs but is somehow only a 1/1; perhaps they’re not plants at all, but the dead heros of past battles now reincarnated into peaceful hoisters-up of the Ilysian groves. In any case, they’re small, fragile, but enable color fixing and give you some serious ramp potential. If your cube is looking to maximize mana producing creatures the Caryatid is certainly an option, and a good one. Tapping for every color ain’t nothing to sneeze at, and if you’re running a rarity restricted cube this cards helps support Green Multicolor archetypes.

Power Rankings—Green

Unpowered Cubes:

  1. The First Iroan Games
  2. Wolfwillow Haven

Peasant/Pauper Cubes:

  1. Wolfwillow Haven
  2. Ilysian Caryatid
  3. Renata, Called to the Hunt
  4. The Binding of the Titans
  5. Destiny Spinner

Green certainly got the short end of the stick among the five colors in Theros. Aside from The First Iroan Games there’s not a lot to get excited about, as most of the rares/mythics in green just don’t get there.

Next week i’ll finish with Multicolor/Colorless, and then it’s time for Ikoria!

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