Previous Limited Reviews: White | Blue | Black | Red | Green
Welcome to my Theros Beyond Death set reviews. I’ve been reviewing each and every set since Alara Reborn, and I always kick things off with Limited. This review will give each card a grade for Limited, which does mean both Sealed and Draft. However, if there is a meaningful difference between the two formats for a specific card, I’ll call that out in the comments. Note that the grades help you compare the cards to each other, or see where a card lands at a glance, but the commentary on the cards tells the full story. Enjoy!
Retired and inducted into the Limited Hall of Fame: Pack Rat. Umezawa’s Jitte. The Scarab God.
5.0: The best of the best. (Oko, Thief of Crowns. Embercleave.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (The Great Henge. Lochmere Serpent. Stonecoil Serpent.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Murderous Rider. Bonecrusher Giant. Edgewall Inkeeper.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Bake into a Pie. Scorching Dragonfire. Covetous Urge.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Rimrock Knight. Trapped in the Tower. Maraleaf Rider.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Rosethorn Acolyte. Lost Legion. Youthful Knight.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Raging Redcap. Garenbrig Squire. Wicked Guardian.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Ogre Errant. Sporecap Spider. Fling.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Eye Collector. Fortifying Provisions.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Return to Nature. Crystal Slipper.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Irencrag Feat. One with Nothing.)
I’ve already splashed for this in UB, so you could say I’m a fan. Acolyte gives you card advantage, card selection, and fills your graveyard with goodies to get back. Note that this doesn’t target, so if the opponent has Return to Nature they have to cast it in response to the trigger, and you then get to bring whatever is left back. This also loops fairly easily with Omen of the Dead, or if you’re lucky, two Acolytes.
As alluring as the prospect of drawing five cards may be, when the opponent gets not only the best of your top six, but also to cast it for free, you should avoid at all costs. Save this one for the spicelords who are going to combine it with Teferi, Time Raveler.
Ashiok does it all. It slices, it dices, and it wins the game in very short order. The -3 ability keeps a flier or any other big threat from killing Ashiok, at least for a turn, and if they are empty-handed it’s just an exile target permanent straight up. The +1 ability leaves Ashiok at a ton of loyalty with a solid blocker in play, and note that the tokens exile opposing cards even on block. The ultimate is actually quite feasible, and in one draft with Ashiok I ended up using it twice. It also lets you play any exiled cards of theirs, not just ones Ashiok and its minions have hit, so it will often be three strong spells. All told, Ashiok is one of the best cards in the set (3rd by my estimation), and splashable enough that you should rarely ever pass it.
Atris leads to some cool mind games, though for the most part you can evaluate the two piles as such: does the face-up pile give me what I need? If no, take the other, and if yes, take it. With only three cards, you won’t get tricked too badly, though watch out for the always-cunning pile of two bad spells face-up, with the face-down card being a land. People love taking the hidden pile, based on my past experience with similar cards, and you can weight the piles slightly towards the face-up pile as a result. Everyone wants to know what’s in the box – it could even be a boat! This is also a 3/2 menace, and given that it draws you at least a card (and likely two), it’s a very good pick indeed.
Bronzehide Lion is ahead of the curve early, and impossible to block due to the threat of activation. Later, it still can rumble and at least blocks well, making it relevant at any point in the game. It also provides a nice bonus when it dies, and the total package is an impressive one.
Limited: 1.0 // 3.5
In an enchantment-heavy deck (and I’m talking like 10+), Calix is a strong draw engine that also acts as removal. It is dicey against enchantment removal, because you’re always putting multiple eggs in the same basket, so ideally you use Calix’s -3 ability on your own Omens (which at least got a card already). This is one of the more narrow planeswalkers, but the payoff is there.
Dalakos is mostly just a 2/4 for three, but one with awkward mana requirements. The ability rarely comes up, though it is very nice with Bronze Sword specifically, and if I had Dalakos and enough creatures, I’d run a Sword.
This will incidentally get a bonus from your other cards, and worst comes to worst it can enable itself. Unblockable damage plus filling your graveyard is well worth two mana, and Devourer of Memory is a high-value 2-drop (funnily enough, this is better on turn six+ than turn two, as you don’t even really want to trade it off).
Traditionally, six-mana 5/5 fliers are close to bomb level, especially with another ability or two. This having lifelink takes it well into that territory, as it’s nearly impossible to race. It drawing cards really amps it up, as an extra card every turn means that you’ll have plenty of other gas to go alongside this. The fun doesn’t stop there, though, and what really makes this a dream is that it also somehow has hexproof (even if it taps when you activate it). So, your lifelinking card-drawing flier ALSO can’t be killed by removal? Yep, that’s a bomb, and the only card better is Kiora Wins The Game On The Spot.
Limited: 1.0 // 2.5
Fun Level: 5.0
It’s pretty hard to make this work, as you need a bunch of enchantments that you don’t mind sacrificing and the right curve of creatures to go along with them. That said, if you can assemble a handful of Omens, this could provide some pretty good value, and I will definitely try to make this one pop.
Eutropia ends games very quickly, as she buffs your creatures and makes them into unblockable threats. Blue-Green also supports constellation extremely well, and this is one of the premier payoffs at common/uncommon. You can even use her midcombat with Flash enchantments, leading to some nice blowouts.
Gallia is quite strong in low-curve RG, though that deck doesn’t usually go quite as wide as it does tall. There are enough other Satyrs that her tribal ability is relevant, and note that she doesn’t need to attack in order for her last ability to trigger.
Haktos is a high-variance card, but the upside is much greater than the downside. If your opponent doesn’t have the right number, or you have removal to push Haktos past it, they may just die in mere turns. If they do, maybe Haktos trades for a 2-drop, but that’s something I’m willing to risk in order to win the game. Be aware that Haktos doesn’t discriminate – you can’t cast pump spells unless they cost the right number either.
Once again, cards like Hero of the Nyxborn help support multiple themes at once (constellation/heroic), and in this case we have a card that powers itself up. That’s a great deal for three mana, and any RW deck will be very happy to have a Hero.
Now this is a God that doesn’t need devotion to work. In most games, Klothys will act as a drain 2 every single turn, which is a really rough clock to beat. It also will sometimes animate, at which point you’re really doing it, but all this needs in order to be great is for things to happen and cards to hit the bin. That’s not a high bar.
Kroxa will chew up your opponent with even minimal work, as getting five cards into your graveyard is not that hard for black/red decks. It also trades for a card to start out with, so you don’t need to escape in order to get a little value. I’ve had the misfortune of facing this down once, and it was not pretty.
Kunurous is excellent early, and pretty solid late. It doesn’t have deathtouch or first strike, so once the board gets more full than it stops dominating, but it can hit for a lot of life swings early on. It also hoses escape, which is a powerful ability as long as you keep that in mind while deckbuilding.
Shockingly, this is the perfect fit for the UR Flash deck. It starts pecking away early, and attaching a scry 1 to your spells makes them find more spells in short order.
Quick, chain him back up! PolyK version 2 is somehow less beatable than the first, as it puts a ton of power onto the board AND comes back later. PolyK version 2 does at least die a little easier, as this will usually fight two things before dying, but as we all know, that isn’t the end of the story. The second incarnation runs wild, and kill multiple things, one of which is your opponent. This card is absurd, splashable, and would make me go hard on enabling escape.
Most decks will be able to get a 2 for 1 off this, but it won’t always be at the most convenient time. It conflicts a little with escape, so make sure to balance those things when building and playing.
Given enough Auras (5-6), Siona is a great way to get your engine going. Once you hit, you also likely get a 1/1 soldier at some point, and it’s possible to get a lot of value from a fairly cheap play.
This is playable in your average RB deck, and great once you have a couple sacrifice combos. It even works when other things sacrifice, though most of the time you will need first strike in order to survive combat. I like enablers that also pull their weight outside their specific deck, and Slaughter-Priest certainly does.
Staggering Insight gives you extra cards and the life to use them, which is a fantastic combo. Landing this on a flier (ideally with Starlit Mantle or Karametra’s Blessing backup) will end the game in short order, and it’s not hard to set things up.
This gets the nod over Kroxa because the Explore + 3 life effect is better than the discard effect, and because drawing a card helps fuel escape well. If your opponent doesn’t have an answer, they lose rapidly, and if they do have an answer, you got a 3 for 1 or better. That’s a winning combination, and you aren’t going to want to pass this one.
It’s not hard to enable this, and getting a 3-mana 4/4 is a very sizable reward. This also has no blocking restriction, so it buys you time to find a friend.
Limited: 1.0 // 2.5
I wouldn’t play this unless I had multiple strong devotion cards, was splashing a third color, or ideally both. 3-mana accelerants just aren’t efficient, so you want to be using all benefits here to get sufficient value.
Bronze Sword doesn’t offer enough stats to justify its inclusion, with the exception of Dalakos.
Entrancing Lyre is slow, but getting to keep it tapped helps make it a reasonable removal spell. It is pricey, but getting to switch to whatever is currently the most threatening is a big upside, and this shines in a long game.
I like Mirror Shield as a sideboard option (against removal, not Medusas, to be clear). It’s a bit too slow and doesn’t offer enough stats for maindeck play, though I suppose an all-in Aura deck probably can make use of this.
Nyx Lotus isn’t great at ramping you, but it is great at making 10+ mana. Most limited decks won’t be able to make use of that, so I’d recommend against playing it.
Shadowspear giving lifelink is a big game, as that makes up for any amount of clunkiness inherent in the card. I’d run this in any deck with a lot of creatures, and it’s especially great in any green combination.
This fills your graveyard while emptying theirs, all without costing you a card. That’s solid, but it doesn’t do enough to be more than filler (unless they are dedicated escape).
If you need a flier, this does the trick. It’s mediocre in just about any deck that doesn’t contain Staggering Insight.
The stats on this aren’t bad, but it doesn’t play nicely with any of the themes in the set. I suspect this is worse than most people think, as lacking synergy is a big deal in this format.
This helps both escape and splashing, making it a card you will want one of in most decks. I also would cut a land for this, as a one-land hand with Amulet is essentially a 2-land hand.
In a deck that needs evasion, this can get your creatures past the finish line. I like this more in post-board games, as it’s most effective in a board stall.
I’d side this in against Labyrinth of Skophos, but would never maindeck it.
This takes up a land slot, which makes it essentially a 2 for 1. The ability here is very powerful, and in the lategame can be extremely impactful. You can also break up double-blocks by removing one of their blockers, which leads to a huge blowout (once).
These are all solid playables, but rarely worth taking over a card your deck needs. They go up in value if you’re playing 3 colors, and I’d play a half-on Temple in most decks.
I’d only play this in three colors and with cheap splash cards, as paying a one-mana tax is a huge drawback.
That does it – we’ve reviewed all Theros cards for your Limited pleasure. Next week come the Constructed reviews, which I am committing to finishing entirely, so make sure not to miss them.
Enjoy the prerelease!