Top 10 cards for Standard in Theros Beyond Death.
Hey guys, we all took a little break over the holidays, but want to go back into making some content for you. First things first. Recently, I’ve decided to quit streaming to focus more on tournament preparation. It’s not a decision I came to lightly, and I’m going a bit deeper into the issue here. The reaction I’ve received on social media has been extremely positive, and I’d like to thank you all for supporting my stream in the past. As for this website we still plan to produce articles and videos for you all. Hopefully, we will be better than at the end of the year. We’re shooting to have 1-2 articles weekly, so fingers crossed we get there. As for today’s article, I’m going to be talking about the thing everyone seems to be excited for - Theros Beyond Death. So far I’ve seen mostly positive things about this set. It looks like we’ve dodged another Oko disaster. Personally, I think there’s lots of cool cards, and I’ve been pretty excited to dive in and try them all in the new Standard. Throne of Eldraine has been a super powerful set, so it’s totally possible we won’t see many new cards, but there are cards with a tremendous potential. Today, I will go over my picks for the top 10 cards in Standard. I’ve got these cards in order from the cards I’m least excited to play with to most excited to play with. Without further ado let’s dive in.
10. Setessan Champion
Whenever trying to evaluate new cards most pro players tend to compare them to cards of old. This is an exercise that makes a lot of sense, we’ve never played with a new card, but we got a ton of experience with any card that has been released in the past 10 years or so. If you’re Ivan it’s more like 20 years. For this card you luckily don’t need to look back much. You’ve probably guessed that I’m talking about Edgewall Innkeeper. The similarities here are striking. Both cards will depend on how synergistic your deck is. Innkeeper needs Adventures, while Champion desires the highest amount of enchantments possible. I do think Innkeeper is a bit better, but it’s probably been the most slept on card when Throne of Eldraine got released. I don’t think people will make that mistake again. The issue I have with Champion is that there aren't very many good cheap enchantments. Also it kind of locks you into being white, which has been the worst color in Standard for quite a while. Now there are some white cards on my list, and I have a high hopes Theros will be a redemption time for good old white. Still, I think this card is strong enough to be on my list. If left unchecked it wins the game pretty fast, and that’s a good sign for any card.
9. Storm’s Wrath
This card might not look like much, but I think it’s an interesting update over Deafening Clarion. I don’t think the damage to planeswalker line is that relevant, because after Oko’s departure there is really only one heavily played planeswalker and that’s Teferi. Teferi interacts kind of well with this card, it survives after plus and you’ve already gotten a card back if you minus. Still, it does something against this three mana menace, and what do I know, maybe Elspeth or Calix will prove to be a house moving forward, even though I don’t expect them to. What makes me excited about this card is that it might be enough for Jeskai Fires to drop white altogether. With Purphoros possibly replacing Kethis, I think getting rid of white might be the move going forwards. Also Theros reintroduced Devotion back into the format, and sweepers tend to be good against decks trying to achieve that. Overall, this lands at number 9 for me, but it’s position will depend a lot on how the format shakes up.
Cheating a bit here, but the Temples are obviously a huge deal for the format. The mana has been quite bad, especially for some decks. I don’t have to tell you how big of an update is Temple of Enlightenment compared to Trangul Cove. The Temple I’m the most excited for is Temple of Abandon. Questing Beast into Embercleave is a wet dream of any aggro player, but it has been quite difficult in the past. Having a tapped land sucks for an aggro curve, but RG has always been more of a midrange deck, and I’m fully expecting this Temple making it better. I’m very happy to see these lands return. The last time we had all the scry lands in Standard, I top 8’d two PTs. So maybe that will happen again? These lands are a delight to play with, they also pose an interesting deckbuilding question. For example at the last PT, we chose to run only two Temple of Mystery in our UG deck, because curving out was too important. Standard seems to be pretty slow right now, so I expect these to see a lot of play, and also more three color decks might become a reality.
7. Alseid of Life’s Bounty
Remember when I talked about not having very many cheap enchantments for Setessan Champion? Well here’s one that gets me excited. God’s Willing has seen a lot of play in the past, and while a bit more expensive this card is very similar. What makes it better in my opinion is the synergy it has with other cards. The Champion one is obvious, and I’m super happy WOTC decided to make this card enchantment. Another great synergy is with Heliod, Sun-Crowned and everyone’s favourite cat Ajani’s Pridemate. The life gain deck has been a meme for a while, but it got some solid additions with Theros. It might be a real deal all of a sudden, and this little Nymph will have a lot to do with that. This is the only non-rare card on this list, and it’s landed at number 7 for me.
6. Woe Strider
This is a very interesting card with a lot of text on it. On its front side we have a 3/3 distributed into two bodies, which is a plus. With cards like Midnight Reaper or the new Erebos having a good sac outlet is quite valuable. The Escape part is also quite strong. Four cards isn’t that many, while 5/4 is kind of a big deal, on the other hand 5 mana isn’t exactly cheap. My problem with this card is that I’m not quite sure where it fits. I don’t think it will quite make it into the food decks. Both Midnight Reaper and Mayhem Devil are better three drop options. BG Adventures aren’t going to use this, because it’s not an adventure. Maybe this is finally the card that pushes the BR Aristocrat deck into playable territory? Obviously Mono Black Devotion might be a thing with the printing of Gray Merchant of Asphodel, and I think it would be a great fit for this card. Which makes me kind of puzzled that this cards manacost isn’t 1BB. I think that would suit it better. Especially when you think of the combo of this + Nightmare Shepherd + Gray Merchant of Asphodel. That’s a pretty sweet curve right there.
5. Polukranos, Unchained
Speaking of not fitting in, I have no idea where to play this card. It does seem outrageously powerful to me though. The old Polukranos was a big boy (and a good buddy of mine), this one is like a darker and more edgy brother, and I’m liking it. 6/6 for four is good numbers, it kills quite fast if unopposed. It can be used as a removal for problematic creatures like Mayhem Devil or Nightpack Ambusher. Plus it comes back once it dies, in a bigger and badder form. It kind of reminds of a Siege Rhino, it could play a role of finisher in midrange decks. Right now I think it might be getting blanked by Cauldron Familiar too much, but I’d rather not underestimate such a powerful card. Number five for me, and hopefully I get to play with this card a lot.
4. Dream Trawler
If you’ve ventured to Twitter lately, you’ve probably already read the praises this card gets in Limited. While this seems like a truly unbeatable bomb in Sealed and Draft, I wouldn’t sleep on this in Standard either. Prognostic Sphinx is a card both me and Ivan piloted into a top 8 at PT Khans of Tharkir. While for me it was a sideboard card, it was the pillar of Ivan’s deck. The similarities here are striking, but this one is a tad more powerful. I’ve always loved to have the ability to gain life as an option to close the game for a control deck, and this can provide a hefty amount of life gain. Especially when you think of a card like Gadwick the Wizened. Will this make UW a player in this format? That I don’t know, but from the little I’ve seen from this card, I have faith it just might. I’m certain Ivan and Stan are already eyeing this.
Originally, I thought this card was pretty bad, but as an avid watcher of the Crokeyz stream, I’ve come around. The synergy this has with Threaten effects is not to be underestimated. I’d like to see this card used in some UR sheel, where it would actually be possible to achieve the Devotion. I’m a big fan of the card Gadwick the Wizened, and while blinking it doesn’t do much adding three for Devotion is a big deal. I haven’t looked into what are the good options to blink in the UR color, but I think the Elemental package might just be the start of the Thassa era. There is something beautiful in the curve of The Akroan War into Thassa, Deep-Dwelling, and it’s definitely something I’m interested in exploring. Omenspeaker has won a Pro Tour, what’s stopping Thassa’s Oracle from doing the same? Only time will tell how good this card exactly, but I’m eager to try it out. 2. Heliod, Sun-Crowned
This card has been the talk of the town for quite a while. In Modern you can combine this with Spike Feeder for infinite life. In Pioneer, this + Walking Ballista = infinite damage. Infinite damage is pretty good. Well, I haven’t heard much praise for this card in Standard, but I think it’s pretty busted. I already talked a bit about the synergy this has with Alseid of Life’s Bounty, but there’s more. With cards like Daxos, Blessed by the Sun or Linden, the Steadfast Queen having devotion on turn 4 isn’t utopia. I expect there to be plenty of indestructible 5/5’s being jammed into the red zone in this Standard format. Like I said white has had a hard time in Standard, but this God is here to turn it all around. I’ll be happy to see him succeed. 1. Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
You’ve probably guessed this would be at the top of my list. After all I’ve recently won a pretty big tournament with a Simic deck, and this one is a doozy. Look, this card is cool. It also already has an obvious home in Standard. Andrea Mengucci played a UG Ramp deck at the last MC, that coincidentally had four of Cavalier of Thorns. I think I don’t have to explain how well that interacts with Uro. If I do, I’d like to urge you to read the Escape ability and come back to this. I do think the Titan mechanic is pretty cool, but I'm a little afraid Wizards overshot this one a bit. Hey, at least it’s a legend and can be chumped with Cauldron Familiar forever, but it will still draw you an extra card a turn. The UG ramp deck had two issues in the past. Losing to getting swarmed and to flooding out here and there. This card helps with both these problems. Definitely my pick for the best deck in week one of the format. I’d like to note that incidental removal is pretty decent against this. Cards like Tymaret, Chosen from Death, Eat to Extinction and Elspeth Conquers Death might see more play. Uro will probably conquer us all in the end though. That’s all I have for you today. Are there any obvious cards I missed? What do you think are the best cards in the set? Let me know in the comments!