Eidolon of Rhetoric
This guy is a little more resilient than Ethersworn Canonist since it survives Massacre or Lightning Bolt. Unfortunately, costing three is just too much, especially since you can get an actual Rule of Law for that price and be immune to the same things.
In Standard, a 1/4 body is going to be better than a 2/2 in the decks that want this guy. That is, control decks that can soft-lock the opponent out of the game with countermagic. Not a competitive option, but a fun idea for FNM.
Even though we’re still missing over half the spoilers, this is my pick for the most underestimated card in the set. It’s got a lot of things going for it, including a relevant creature type, adding devotion in Standard, and a deceptively powerful ability that can carry a game.
This isn’t merely a Howling Mine with a 1/1 body attached. About a quarter of the time, it’ll mill a piece of their gas, and another quarter of the time it’ll give them a brick while drawing you gas. The rest of the time, the cards will be close enough to require a value judgement. That’s the type of Magic I love, where decisions and foresight matter. Overall, I’d rate the ability somewhere between a draw and a loot.
I love how complicated the decision trees can get if both players flip cards that won’t matter for several turns. Does your opponent need a land more than you do? What about when he flips an Elspeth on turn two, will he even live to cast it? Like Cabal Therapy, Dakra Mystic is the type of card that will make you better by using it. If you keep a card and never cast it, and your opponent kills you with the card you give him, you’ll know you messed up. The more you pay attention, the more you realize what cards are important in what matchups. Your evaluations improve, and with it the rest of your game.
Silence the Believers
Players are split on this card, either falling into the “this is hot garbage” camp or bemoaning that black gets more removal.
The main benefit to Silence is that it hits Gods. While Gild could get there, it wasn’t that useful at sorcery speed. The way Gods are designed, they deal massive damage when they’re turned on, so you either need an instant or a more generic answer like Detention Sphere.
Seven mana is a lot to hit two creatures, but as a late game bonus it’s pretty sweet. Thinking back, Sever the Bloodline got flashed back a reasonable amount of the time, sometimes the turn after you drew it. While Silence the Believers won’t be as popular as Sever, it will see some play as a 1-2 of.
Extinguish all Hope
Six mana for Damnation is terrible.
Six mana for Plague Wind is great.
Currently, Courser of Kruphix, Boon Satyr, and Herald of Torment are the enchantment creatures that see the most Standard play, and if an Extinguish all Hope deck were to sprout up it’d probably be BGx. It needs the dedicated enchantment theme, as leaving a creature or two around isn’t quite worth it. Remember that Phyrexian Rebirth saw very marginal play.
At first I didn’t think there were enough cards for an enchantment creature deck, but Eidolon of Blossoms might be powerful enough to be worth it. Probably not, but it’s possible.
Master of the Feast
While juicing up a Toil // Trouble sounds attractive, I’ll be surprised if this guy sees Standard play. Three mana 5/5 flyers end the game. Giving the opponent extra cards ends the game in the wrong direction.
The sooner you put the game away, the less the extras matter, and haste is a fine way to speed things up. Remember that Travis Woo deck that used Cosmic Larva and Lightning Greaves? Master of the Feast might warrant a black version:
The basic shell is still Travis’s, with Lightning Mauler and Lightning Greaves blasting giant creatures at the opponent’s face, but the update feels like an improvement. We lose a little reach in Shrapnel Blast, but our average card quality is higher and we’re less dependant on Lightning Mauler living.
I don’t know if Grim Lavamancer is any good in here, but it is an early drop that clears blockers and takes advantage of haste.
I started base black before realizing how poorly discard works with Master of the Feast. If I’m feeding the opponent extras, my cards should be focused on making those cards irrelevant, not trading one-for-one.
Eidolon of the Great Revel punishes them for playing those extras, which is exactly the sort of effect this deck needs. Eidolon + Greaves is almost enough to win some matchups by itself.
Eidolon of the Great Revel
In Legacy, Pyrostatic Pillar used to see sideboard play against storm variants. It didn’t win the game by itself, and it was often too slow, and most burn decks eventually switched over to cards like Mindbreak Trap, but it was good enough for a long time.
Pillar needs pressure to lock the opponent out of the game. Eidolon, with a 2/2 body attached, combines Pillar with the pressure it needs.
One concern is that the deck that values Eidolon as a threat isn’t going to have a curve that goes much higher than the 3cc threshold, opening up the possibility of getting self-locked, similar to Manabarbs in the past. As with Manabarbs, most of the time your life total is more expendable than the opponent’s because you’re the one with a pile of efficient threats and burn spells, making it a good risk vs. reward. Also, the body makes a difference. With Manabarbs, the opponent can go all out to drop you as low as possible to lock you out of the game. With Eidolon, they’ll want to keep a body back to block or risk losing the race.
Against combo, most of the answers for it would answer Pillar as well. In the matchups where they have a critical mass of removal, they still take damage dealing with it. If it catches them with their pants down, they could take even more than expected.
This card will see Standard, Modern, and Legacy play. The Legacy claim is the least certain since burn hasn’t done well for a while in that format, but a buff is a buff and at least we have a reason to try it again. Imagine a curve of turn one Goblin Guide, turn two Eidolon, turn three Sulfuric Vortex backed up by a Fireblast or two.
In Standard, this guy is the aggressive one-drop that heroic red was missing. Tom Ross fiddled around with an Akroan Crusader sligh deck, which was close to good enough but not quite there. With another (better) one-drop, the strategy gets a lot more competitive.
Satyr Hoplite might single-handedly salvage my Limited game, too. While I did well in triple Theros, and I’m still performing well in Sealed, my draft win rate has suffered after the introduction of Born of the Gods. I spent most of triple-Theros forcing red sligh, which isn’t doable without knowing you’ll get some number of Dragon Mantles and Akroan Crusaders. With Satyr Hoplite as a common in the first pack, I should be able to go back to my old red-loving ways.
If not, well, I’ll just have to early-exit a few more Top 8. The only other option is to learn from my mistakes and advance as a player, and that sounds dreadful.
Font of Fertility
Most of the Fonts are pretty terrible, with this one and the Courier’s Capsule being the closest to playable. While this card is a worse Wayfarer’s Bauble, it’s still worth mentioning because the format lacked a way to Rampant Growth into Supreme Verdict into Sphinx’s Revelation.
The main problem is that, by needing to come down on turn one, there’s no spot in the early curve for scry lands, which is the best time to run them out.
To me, the card reads:
2G: look at the top six cards of your deck. Put any Nighthowlers into your hand and the rest into your graveyard.
It also grabs the new GB God, and Courser of Kruphix might be powerful enough to play even if it doesn’t necessarily fit the synergy behind a reanimator deck. I’m guessing that three mana is too expensive for the self-mill deck, but I wouldn’t count it out as an option.
Be careful with this card! As far as Standard goes, it’s functionally the same as City of Brass. Unless every game is ending on turn two or three, you can’t afford to draw multiples without giving your opponent a significant advantage. In a format with both shock and scry lands, there’s no reason to run more than one or two of this card, if any. That could change when Return to Ravnica block rotates.
Keranos, God of Storms
Five mana is a lot, but the abilities are less situational than usual. For most Gods, you need to be able to reliably turn them into creatures to be worth it. Keranos, on the other hand, just needs you to draw a card per turn to do something pretty great. As such, it’s the most likely to see play in a deck that isn’t in a rush to turn him on as opposed to a dedicated devotion deck.
Compare the card to Jace, Memory Adept. Both cards cost five, draw one per turn, and eventually end the game. The difference is, Keranos isn’t vulnerable to attack, and it’s draw effect doubles if you have a way to draw cards on the opponent’s turn.
While this list needs tuning, the basic idea is valid. We get to play the eight best walls in the format, all of which can turn sideways while giving max devotion to our God. Our high spell count means that Keranos won’t be online every time we cast him, but he still provides pressure in the form of Lightning Bolts while drawing us into a stream of gas.
The list can support a one-of Ephara. Not only does she synergize with Keranos while providing more devotion, but she’ll eventually be another body to end the game with. Unfortunately, space is a factor.
Another card to consider is Spite of Mogis, as it combines with Boros Reckoner to randomly burn people out in the late game. Hardly a Skred, especially at sorcery speed, but it might get the job done.
Athreos, God of Passage
ChannelFireball’s own Jacob Van Lunen and Carrie Oliver have already written about Athreos in Standard. While I like their lists and agree with their conclusions, I’m more excited about his prospects in other formats. The low casting cost makes him an interesting option for Modern, and there are a lot of different directions to take him.
My first build was a grindy shell with Liliana of the Veil and Phyrexian Obliterator, but in a deck like that you’re not pressuring the opponent enough, and they’re more likely to have some extra life to pay when they kill a creature. Athreos becomes less of a God and more of a situational 5/4, and in that case you might as well play green and run the much more efficient Tarmogoyf.
I settled on a Humans shell because Thalia and Dark Confidant are powerful cards in their own right (worth paying 3 life to keep off the board) and Cartel Aristocrat and Doomed Traveler have a natural synergy with Athreos. Cartel sneaks in damage, making each Athreos trigger more and more painful, and they have to exile Doomed Traveler the first time he dies.
While I like this list, there are a ton of different ways to build it. It could support Aether Vial, and Vialing in a God seems sick. Blood Artist combines with Athreos in a most pleasing fashion, and the constant drain leaves them with less life to pay. Auriok Champion is a highly underrated Human that could be perfect in a shell like this.
[Editor’s Note: This article originally stated that you could trigger Keranos on your opponent’s turn, which you cannot.]