Well it's that time of year again. Theros becomes legal for all formats on September 20th as it pushes out the Innistrad block out of Standard. This means that Magic is completely refreshing once again. Seeing as we are all going to be drafting the set for the next five months, and the fact that it's Sealed PTQ season means that we are going to have to take a cold hard look at the set. Join me now as I go card by card in my reviews.
Abhorrent Overlord – 5BB – Creature Demon – R – When Abhorrent Overlord enters the battlefield, put a number of 1/1 black Harpy creature tokens with flying onto the battlefield equal to your devotion to black. At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice a creature. 6/6. Part of me wants this to be so good, but the other part of me wants this to just stay as jank. In Limited it's going to be nice because you can get at least seven power of fliers attacking the next turn, but still it's better in Constructed so you can play mono-black but seven mana in Standard is really slow.
Agent of the Fates – 1BB – Creature – Human Assassin – R – Deathtouch. Heroic – Whenever you cast a spell that targets Agent of the Fates, each opponent sacrifices a creature. 3/2. So good in Limited. Every combat trick becomes a removal spell when you get this on the board. If only Rancor was still in Standard this would be so awesome to have, but still it's really good in any kind of deck that can make use of this. Hmm, maybe we will see it in a Cyper deck.
Asphodel Wanderer – B – Creature – Skeleton Soldier – C – 2B: Regenerate Asphodel Wanderer. 1/1. Nice black one-drop for Limited.
Baleful Eidolon – 1B – Enchantment Creature – Spirit – C – Bestow 4B. Deathtouch. Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 and has deathtouch. 1/1. It will be good in Limited. Either it's that early game stall or late game it's just more over the top to pump a beater up.
Blood-Toll Harpy – 2B – Creature – Harpy – C – Flying. When Blood-Toll Harpy enters the battlefield, each player loses 1 life. 2/1. Why can't this cost one less so I could play it with Immortal Servitude? Still good aggro card for Limited.
Boon of Erebos – B – Instant – C – Target creature gets +2/+0 until end of turn. Regenerate it. You lose 2 life. I like this for the Heroic creatures in the set. It's a nice combat trick.
Cavern Lampad – 3B – Enchantment Creature – Nymph – C – Bestow 5B. Intimidate. Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has intimidate. 2/2. It's cool but not that cool out of Limited.
Cutthroat Maneuver – 3B – Instant – U – Up to two target creatures each get +1/+1 and gain lifelink until end of turn. Wow, Black has some of the best combat tricks in this set... I might just have to draft UB in Limited.
Dark Betrayal – B – Instant – U – Destroy target black creature. Seeing how Black creatures are very good once we hit rotation this is a great sideboard card to have.
Disciple of the Phenax – 2BB – Creature – Human Cleric – C – When Disciple of the Phenax enters the battlefield, target player reveals a number of cards from his or her hand equal to your devotion to black. You choose one of them. That player discards that card. 1/3. Not bad, not bad at all. I really think that post rotation we are going to see a very nice fridge mono-black deck that has some sweet discard effects in it.
Erebos, God of the Dead – 3B – Legendary Enchantment Creature – God – M – Indestructible. As long as your devotion to black is less than five, Erebos isn't a creature. Your opponents can't gain life. 1B, pay 2 life: Draw a card. 5/7. Not too shabby. I would almost say this one might end up on the Commander ban list just because it's card advantage that can't be answered all too easy once you cast it. I expect to see this floating around in different formats.
Erebos's Emissary – 3B – Enchantment creature – Snake – U – Bestow 5B. Discard a creature Card: Erebos's Emissary gets +2/+2 until end of turn. If Erebos's Emissary is an Aura, enchanted creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn instead. Enchanted creature gets +3/+3. 3/3. So much better as a creature and I'm sure that this is just jank out side of Limited.
Fellhide Minotaur – 2B – Creature – Minotaur – C – 2/3. Three-drop beater for limited.
Fleshmad Steed – 1B – Creature – Horse – C – Whenever another creature dies, tap Fleshmad Steed. 2/2. Not a fan of this at all. You are just asking to get two-for-one when you are playing with this in Limited.
Gray Merchant of Asphodel – 3BB – Creature – Zombie – C – When Gray Merchant of Asphodel enters the battlefield, each opponent loses X life, where X is your devotion to black. You gain life equal to the life lost this way. 2/4. Yeah, there is so a Sanguine Bond deck in Standard right now. Having just this and bond out is ten life lost by your opponent when you cast this. In Limited it's a nice way to stay in the race.
Hero's Downfall – 1BB – Instant – R – Destory target creature or planeswalker. With this and Dreadbore in Standard we should see a good number of Planeswalkers die at instant speed. Still just as good as Murder in Limited.
Hythonia the Cruel – 4BB – Legendary Creature – Gorgon – M – Deathtouch. 6BB: Monstrosity 3. When Hythonia the Cruel becomes monstrous, destroy all non-Gorgon creatures. 4/6. Too slow of a nuke for most formats but it will still be fun to use in Limited and Commander.
Insatiable Harpy – 2BB – Creature – Harpy – U – Flying, lifelink. 2/2. Nice flying beater for Limited.
Keepsake Gorgon – 3BB – Creature – Gorgon – U – Deathtouch. 5BB: Monstrosity 1. When Keepsake Gorgon becomes monstrous, destroy target non-Gorgon creature an opponent controls. 2/5. This is just so bad that it's funny. Sure you might just get there in Limited, but never in Constructed.
Lash of the Whip – 4B – Instant – C – Target creature gets -4/-4 until end of turn. Damn, that is some janky but good removal for Limited.
Loathsome Catoblepas – 5B – Creature -Beast – C – 2G: Loathsome Catoblepas must be blcoked this turn if able. When Loathsome Catoblepas dies, target creature and opponent controls gets -3/-3 until end of turn. 3/3. So there is the cycle of creatures that all have off color activated abilities, and none of them seem any good at least until we get deeper int o the block for Limited.
Match of the Returned – 3B – Sorcery – C – Return up to two target creature cards from your graveyard to your hand. Nice card for Limited.
Mogis's Marauder – 2B – Creature – Human Berserker – U – When Mogis's Marauder enters the battlefield, up to X target creatures each gain intimidate and haste, where X is your devotion to black. 2/2. Okay, I'm so working on a mono-black devotion deck for Standard. Haste and Intimidate is just such a powerful effect that this is going to be nuts in Limited.
Nighthowler – 1BB – Enchantement Creature – Horror – R – Bestow 2BB. Nighthowler and enchanted creature each get +X/+X, where X is the number of creature cards in all graveyards. 0/0. Already ordered my playset for Standard. Out of all the bestow dorks this is hands down my favorite one. Complete trash in Limited, but oh so awesome in formats where you can build around the graveyard.
Ordeal of Erebos – 1B – Enchantment – Aura – U – Enchant creature. Whenever enchanted creature attacks, put a +1/+1 counter on it. Then if it has three or more +1/+1 counter on it, sacrifice Ordeal of Erebos. When you sacrifice Ordeal of Erebos, target player discard two cards. With both Golgari and Rakdos guilds having +1/+1 counter mechanics I feel that this is going to be the number two most used Ordeal in budget decks.
Pharika's Cure – BB – Instant – C – Pharika's Cure deals 2 damage to target creature and you gain 2 life. Not a bad removal spell for Limited.
Read the Bones – 2B – Sorcery – C – Scry 2, then draw two cards. You lose 2 life. Some might call it a down grade from Signed in Blood but I call it an upgrade. This is so much better than a blind contract, but then again it's a dead card if you don't hit three mana. Still this is going to be a staple of Standard for the time to come.
Rescue from the Underworld – 4B – Instant – u – As an additional cost to cast Rescue from the Underworld, sacrifice a creature. Choose target creature in your graveyard. Return that card and the sacrificed card to the battlefield under your control at the beginning of your next upkeep. Exile Rescue from the Underworld. Hmm, so it's a reanimate that works with heroic? Well, I've order a pair of this for Standard. Seeing how we aren't in a graveyard block Reanimation isn't going to be as powerful as it was with Innistrad. Granted this works with the Heroic creatures, but it just seems that this is very forced.
Returned Centaur – 3B – Creature – Zombie Centaur – C – When Returned Centaur enters the battlefield, target player puts the top four cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard. 2/4. Yup, it's some more Mill cards only dropped into Black instead of blue so you can think about playing UB Mill. Just don't do it.
Returned Phalanx – 1B – Creature – Zombie Soldier – C- Defender. 1U: Returned Phalanx can attack this turn as though it didn't have defender. 3/3. That's not all that bad for Limited as long as you have drafted UB.
Scourgemark – 1B – Enchantment – Aura – C – Enchant creature. When Scourgemark enters the battlefield, draw a card. Enchanted creature gets +1/+0. Not bad for Limited. Trigger Heroic and replaces itself.
Sip of Hemlock – 4BB – Sorcery – C – Destroy target creature. Its controller loses 2 life. Nice removal for Limited.
Thoughtseize – B – Sorcery – R – Target player reveals his or her ahdn. You choose a nonland card from it. That player discards that card. You lose 2 life. YES! It got reprinted! Cross format all-star better pick up your playset now before it rotates and the price jumps back up.
Tormented Hero – B – Creature – Human Warrior – U – Tormented Hero enters the battlefield tapped. Heroic – Whenever you cast a spell that targets Tormented hero, each opponent loses 1 life. You gain life equal to the life lost this way. 2/1. Yeah, they pushed Heroic hard making this nice black one-drop for aggro in the set. I will totally draft these.
Viper's Kiss – B – Enchantment – Aura – C – Enchant creature. Enchanted creature gets -1/-1 and its activated abilites can't be activated. Kills most weenies, and turns off mana dorks. Also nerfs regenerators and anything else with an activated ability. Not a bad little removal spell. I could see this getting some love in some sideboards in a few formats.
Whip of Erebos – 2BB – Legendary Enchantment Artifact – R – Creatures you control have lifelink. 2BB, tap: Return target creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield. It gains haste. Exile it at the beginning of the next end step. If it would leave the battlefield, exile it instead of putting it anywhere else. Activate this ability only any time you could cast a sorcery. Okay, now that is a very fine reanimation card. I really hope I get something awesome to break this with in Standard. Still in Limited getting to recycle beaters and other stuff you lost to removal is going to be fun.
I have to say that the Black cards really impressed me in this set. Hands down I think black and red are the best two colors. With the pre-release having the whole pick your devotion gimmick I'm going to be hard pressed to want to pick Black over Blue. As for Blacks influence on the constructed formats I think we are going to see a few of the Black cards make the jump but the color I think is going to have the most impact is Red. So I'm going to wrap this review up so I can move on to Red next.
This has been...
Jeffrey Carmichael II
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