Theros is upon us! I don’t know about you, but ever since Wizards of the Coast told us they would be doing a set based on Greco Roman mythology, I haven’t been able to settle myself down. Every day, more and more spoilers are being released. As a fan of the source material, I am already pretty dang excited, but as a fan of great limited environments, I am absolutely thrilled. Every time I get on the web, I get to see tons of cards that are not only cool, but also excel at making the sealed environment more competitive and fun. Below are a few cards that, based on similar cards already in play, I feel are going to be great.
Magic has done a lot of developing and growing since its inception, particularly when it comes to aggressive creatures. Wizards of the Coast are very careful when it comes to creating cheap creatures that can utterly dominate a game. Long ago, creatures like Jackal Pup and Savannah Lion were tournament staples for years, so it’s safe to say that Wizards likes to keep things on a tight leash. So when Watchwolf was printed in Ravnica, it turned a lot of heads, with many players realizing just how lethally effective such a creature was, especially when the only drawback was it’s mana cost. Heads turned once again in the most recent core set when Watchwolf’s bestial cousin, Kalonian Tusker was printed at only 2 green, essentially weakening the mana restriction against 3/3’s.
So when Fleecemane Lion was spoiled, I had to do a double take because all that caution seems to have been hurled to the wind. It retains the strength of it’s predecessors, keeping the early aggression alive and crushing things in stride. What makes this creature so powerful is that the longer the game goes, the better it gets. Indestructible and Hexproof are two very potent keywords; putting them in a set where you can just Bestow your nigh unstoppable lion means it will be incredibly hard, even borderline impossible to stop your 4/4 Hexproof, Indestructible, and whatever else, machine. I mean your opponent could just kill- oh wait, they can’t. Load this guy up with your best enchantment like one of the set’s five uncommon ordeal cards and watch as a single creature tears an opponent apart.
One of the most popular cards in Magic is also one of the simplest: Wind Drake. This efficient flyer has found its way into multiple sets throughout Magic History, popping in multiple Core Sets, tempest, and most recently Dragon’s Maze. What makes Nimbus Naiad an interesting addition to a limited set is that it builds on an already interesting, and competitive formula. The Nymph retains the same cost and power/toughness of its scaled brethren which makes it a decent creature on its own.
In addition to being a great creature on its own, Nimbus Naiad can make almost any creature in your sealed pool into a bomb because of the flexibility granted to it by Bestow. For example, simply bestowing this on the common Breaching Hippocamp, makes a 5/4 flier that can absolutely dominate a game by itself. What’s more, if your opponent does happen to find a spell that can kill your Shivan Dragon sized creature you still have a 2/2 flier to keep pressure on the board. In a format where being able to draw your bombs is important the idea of making anything a bomb with little risk to you is incredibly appealing.
Even Marshal Sutcliffe, in his article about the entire cycle of Nymphs, said: “This is the exciting one, I’ll admit”. He continues later on in the same paragraph by saying: “it has a fair bestow cost and the best ability of the bunch: flying. Flying has always been good, and it continues to be good to this day. I see no reason why that would change now. Even getting one hit in with a now-flying beater can end a game of Magic in short order.” Now if that’s not a fair endorsement for a limited creature I don’t know what is!
Titan of Eternal Fire
This is one of my favorite cards from the Theros spoiler. The Titan is incredibly flavorful, I mean it’s Prometheus! He’s literally in a game of Magic giving the human race fire! Aside from that, humanity’s favorite giant is also incredibly powerful. As a 5/6 creature the Titan certainly has a powerful body attached to its six mana cost and can act just like any other common finisher much like Tenement Crasher in the original Return to Ravnica.
However, it is that ability to give fire to mankind that makes this creature a true force to be reckoned with in sealed. Even if you only have one or two humans on the field when this creature is in play you’re still able to shock your opponent or wipe out any opposing Ephara’s Wardens that have the gall to tap us down. With three or more humans on the board, nothing your foe has is safe, including his life.
What’s more, this creature addresses a weakness typical of most limited Red/x decks. If an opponent manages to stymie your massive attack and gum up the board with an army of pesky blockers it can become progressively harder and harder to win. The ability to bypass your opponent’s army entirely and start pinging away at their life total is extremely potent. Not only that but with so many cheap humans that either get better throughout the game like Favored Hoplite or make more humans to give fire to such as Akroan Crusader, Titan of Eternal Fire is capable of finding synergy in a format where synergy is usually put on the back burner in favor of raw power. Titan of Eternal Fire is a creature that proves you can have both.
One of the characteristics of a classic bomb is something that not only threatens to end a game on its own, but also contributes something else to the board state. This contribution can be anything from the direct damage from Polukranos, World Eater, the additional bodies from Elspeth, Sun’s Champion or the ability to remove a creature immediately seen in Ashen Rider.
Abhorrent Overload is the kind of card that encourages players to jump into black and commit to it hard. It’s already received some attention as a possible reanimation target in constructed and this means that it certainly has the chance to be a powerhouse in limited. As a 6/6 flier, the creature is already a dragon by itself on stats alone, able to eliminate incoming attackers and opposing blockers. What makes this card truly terrifying are the creatures that it brings with it to the party. With little work this creature can easily contribute 10 points of flying toughness and power to the board. In addition to acting as an impromptu air force, the Overload’s harpies help mitigate this card’s drawback of being forced to ditch a card each turn. Losing a monster every turn to keep your 6/6 demon is less annoying to deal with when you have multiple 1/1 harpies to feed your beast.
Overall, this looks like a set that encourages big plays, huge battles, and even grander monsters. With any luck we will be experiencing the best limited set since Innistrad, with an infinite number of legends just waiting to be ours. Ready your breakfast and eat hearty for soon we dine in Theros.
Thanks for reading, and may the gods be with you.
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