Slowly but surely, Theros: Beyond Death previews are starting to trickle in. We’ve already had some exciting offerings that are sure to change the landscape of Standard, and some cards will doubtlessly be picked up in other formats, such as EDH. Let’s have a look at the cards that have already been revealed!
Storm’s Wrath deals 4 damage to each creature and each planeswalker.
This card is the real deal. We’ve seen red sweepers like Hour of Devastation never quite get there, while cards like Anger of the Gods go on to be Modern mainstays. This is closer to Anger than Hour, make no mistake – it’s a four-drop sweeper that cleans up Elspeth or ticked-down Teferi, keeps Nissa and her lands in check, as well completely stopping aggro decks in their tracks.
Deafening Clarion is the go-to “sweeper” in Jeskai Fires, and for good reason – it can stabilize you at any stage of the game, as it doesn’t hit your Cavaliers and can also give them lifelink. Is Storm’s Wrath better? That very much depends. It competes with Sphinx of Foresight for the four-drop slot (and also destroys any Sphinxes you’ve already cast) so at first you might think it won’t make it.
However, if four toughness becomes key in TBD Standard – as it was during original Theros, thanks to Courser of Kruphix – then Storm’s Wrath is going to put in some real work. There are plenty of key four-toughness creatures: Crackling Drake, Thrashing Brontodon, Nightpack Ambusher, and even Kethis, the Hidden Hand. If these creatures make a real resurgence, then Jeskai Fires might end up looking like this, instead:
3 Castle Vantress 3 Fabled Passage 3 Hallowed Fountain 2 Island (335) 2 Mountain (343) 1 Plains (331) 3 Sacred Foundry 4 Steam Vents 2 Temple of Epiphany 2 Temple of Triumph 2 Temple of Enlightenment 3 Bonecrusher Giant/Stomp 1 God-Eternal Kefnet 4 Cavalier of Flames 4 Cavalier of Gales 2 Kenrith, the Returned King - Collector Pack Exclusive 3 Justice Strike 2 Shimmer of Possibility 2 Thirst for Meaning 4 Teferi, Time Raveler 4 Fires of Invention 4 Storm's Wrath
Thirst for Meaning
The real reason you should be interested in this card is because of its pedigree. While it’s fallen out of favor recently, there was a time when Thirst for Knowledge was an Eternal powerhouse, and having access to an effect like this in Standard is big news. TBD is obviously going to be chock-full of enchantments, so there’s no shortage of synergy there, but we can dig a little deeper here.
Dance of the Manse decks have hung about the fringes of Standard for quite awhile, and this is the perfect card to take the archetype to the next level. The deck has plenty of enchantments to discard to Thirst, but even discarding two artifacts is fine, as it fuels a big Dance later on.
Secondly, with Escape as one of the mechanics in TBD, any slow, controlling deck looking to recur powerful threats such as Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis, will welcome a way to fill their graveyard while digging to new cards. Binning unneeded copies of Prison Realm or Dead Weight turns this into an instant-speed Divination with upside, which is pretty bonkers.
Finally, if you’re not sold on this card, have a quick think about what separates it from something like Strategic Planning. You don’t have to discard the worst cards from the three you’ve drawn – you can discard cards that were already in your hand. Why is this important? In the lategame, decks that run Thirst can sandbag lands, rip a Thirst, and all of a sudden have a fresh hand to work with. Don’t underestimate this card.
Gallia of the Endless Dance
Gallia is destined to be Commander favorite. There are currently 18 green and/or red satyrs – and some of them are extremely powerful – so you can definitely expect to see her stacking hundreds at the EDH table (and then losing to, like, any sweeper ever).
I don’t expect to see satyr tribal overrun Standard, however. There would have to be a ton of high-powered satyrs crammed into TBD for this to happen, which, based on their density in original Theros, is unlikely. However, as an aggressive two-drop with a powerful triggered ability, Gallia might still do some work.
A low-to-the-ground red-green deck could use Gallia to refuel once they’ve emptied out their hand – in response to the trigger, flash in Embercleave, discard the one land left in hand, and draw two fresh cards. That’s not even that outrageous a situation to imagine, and so I’m keeping a close eye on Gallia and looking out for other cheap red-green beaters like Pelt Collector to go with her.
Gray Merchant of Asphodel
This is a spicy reprint that may foretell the return of one of the most divisive decks in recent memory. Mono-Black Devotion was one of the three pillars of Theros Standard, alongside White-Blue Control and Mono-Blue Devotion. In it, “Gary” was often the finisher, used alongside cards such as Underworld Connections and Desecration Demon to drain an opponent out.
Could it happen again? I rather think it could. There are a ton of black cards in Standard right now that go a long way in emulating those in the old Mono-Black Devotion lists. Some of them are even upgrades – forget Hero’s Downfall, how about having it stapled to a lifelinking 2/3 that provides two devotion?
22 Swamp (339) 3 Castle Locthwain 1 Witch's Cottage 4 Yarok's Fenlurker 4 Murderous Rider/Swift End 1 Ayara, First of Locthwain 3 Rankle, Master of Pranks 3 Cavalier of Night 4 Gray Merchant of Asphodel 3 Duress 3 Dead Weight 4 Dreadhorde Invasion 3 Cry of the Carnarium 2 Liliana, Dreadhorde General
The main thing missing here is a card advantage engine in the style of Underworld Connections. Ayara, Rankle, and Liliana can help you draw extra cards, but turning a Swamp into Library of Alexandria was a huge part of Mono-Black Devotion’s historical success.
Having said that, this deck gets access to Dreadhorde Invasion. This card is insane when combined with Ayara and Rankle, not to mention Cavalier of Night. There’s plenty of incidental lifegain to offset Invasion – Gray Merchant is, after all, the reason we’re playing this deck. There’s still room for improvement (cards like Duress and Dead Weight are more or less placeholders), so we’ll wait and see what else TBD has in store.
Allure of the Unknown
This card is bad. It might not look it – the art, especially, makes it very alluring indeed – but the fact of the matter is this card sucks and you know better than to play it. Consider the following. You play this card in your sweet Grixis Control list. You use your entire turn, tapping out completely, in order to draw five cards. A good deal? Think again.
You’re drawing the worst five of the top six cards, which again doesn’t sound that bad – until they put the Nicol Bolas or Liliana you revealed into play, for free. They then untap and go about their gameplan unhindered, but now with a bonus haymaker in play, that you gave to them for free. Drawing five cards is no good when you die before they do anything.
Don’t fall for it when people say it’s good in aggro decks, either. It’s a five-drop sorcery that doesn’t affect the board or the life totals – no aggressive player is interested in that! If your best argument for this card is that you can play it in a deck where you’ll only give them bad cards for free, you should think about why you’re only playing bad cards in the first place.
Tymaret Calls the Dead
History of Benalia saw consistent top-level play in Mono-White Aggro decks throughout its lifetime in Standard, and Tymaret Calls the Dead isn’t too far away from History of Benalia. While it doesn’t quite pack the same punch – it doesn’t buff up the Zombies, after all – it still has some useful tribal synergies we can exploit, in an aristocrats-style deck with Ayara, First of Locthwain.
4 Gutterbones 3 Knight of the Ebon Legion 3 Foulmire Knight/Profane Insight 4 Lazotep Reaver 3 Priest of Forgotten Gods 3 Ayara, First of Locthwain 1 Midnight Reaper 4 Murderous Rider/Swift End 4 Rotting Regisaur 3 Gray Merchant of Asphodel 4 Tymaret Calls the Dead 2 Gruesome Menagerie 18 Swamp (339) 3 Castle Locthwain 1 Witch's Cottage
Did you remember Gruesome Menagerie exists? If we’re milling ourselves with the new Saga, discarding cards to Rotting Regisaur, and sacrificing cards to Ayara, it’s nice to have a way to get even more value from our graveyard! This deck plays enough creatures to ensure the exile clause on Tymaret Calls the Dead doesn’t interfere with Gruesome Menagerie, and is overloaded with powerful options at the one-, two-, and three-drop slots.
There’s a lot of hidden synergy in this list. Reanimating a Rotting Regisaur (and the cards you discarded to it) feels pretty disgusting, and it’s even a zombie to go with Tymaret Calls the Dead! Lazotep Reaver makes two zombies – perfect for both the Saga and for cards like Priest of Forgotten Gods and Ayara. Gray Merchant even gets another run, this time in much more aggressive deck, where its power as a finisher will really shine.
This is just the start of preview season, and already we’re seeing a lot of new options and angles open up. While we’re all hoping Theros: Beyond Death doesn’t end up being another overpowered set like Throne of Eldraine, it’s nonetheless exciting to start thinking about and exploring how Standard will develop in the coming weeks and months!