As the head designer of Magic, Mark Rosewater has taken it upon himself to write a yearly column called the "State of Design," in which he looks critically of the sets of the past year. The State of Design 2013 article he just published certainly contains some interesting insights about Return to Ravnica block, but also, at the end, something Rosewater often makes but hasn't for a couple of years: A list of cryptic hints about the upcoming set. Here's what the column tells us about Theros:
A 3/3 with three abilities that uses fate counters
This is definitely a legend that represents the Three Fates - I'm thinking the abilities make some fate counter-marked creatures indestructible and destroy the others.
Multiple cards with the word "nongorgon"
This sounds like a vertical cycle - Gorgon-themed instants and sorceries with text like "All non-Gorgon creatures get -2/-0 until end of turn," "Destroy all non-Gorgon creatures," et cetera, to represent the baleful magic in those eyes.
A high-profile cycle of legendary permanents that are not creatures or lands
We already know what these are - the gods' artifact enchantments, such as Bident of Thassa.
A rare card with five words of rules text in which one of the words is "planeswalker"
A sorcery that says "Target player sacrifices a planeswalker"? Probably not likely - that's a bit too narrow and too much like a "Destroy target planeswalker" effect. I've got nothing.
An artifact creature that appears to be a big horse made out of wood
Woohoo, top-down Trojan Horse design! Maybe "Whenever this creature deals combat damage to a player, exile it. If you do, put five 2/2 white Soldier creature tokens onto the battlefield."
A 5/5 giant snake that can be cast for GG
Maybe the guardian of Theros's version of the Golden Apples of the Hesperides?
A multicolor Minotaur lord
Those colors will likely be red and white, given Return to Ravnica block's Minotaurs.
A card that could have been in Modern Masters
Hence, a reprint. Definitely not the Future Sight futureshifted card, according to Mark Rosewater. Speculate away.
A giant that brings fire to humans
Again, this is a top-down design that could go anywhere - but perhaps it has a Battle Hymn-like effect.
A creature with a saboteur ability (it has an effect if the creature deals combat damage to an opponent) which is one of the Power Nine
Well, there are only three instants/sorceries in the Power Nine: Time Walk would be absurd as a saboteur ability since it could easily result in infinite extra turns after the creature gets through once, and Timetwister is sort of already done by Dragon Mage, so... Ancestral Recall it is.
In addition, Rosewater listed some card names that will be used in Theros:
Anger of the Gods
This definitely sounds like a burn spell.
Chained to the Rocks
Harmful Aura all the way. Could be white, blue, or black.
Lost in a Labyrinth
This is probably full of untap-skipping shenanigans.
Rescue from the Underworld
Woohoo, reanimation! Or, failing that, returning stuff from the graveyard to the hand.
Looks like we'll be getting another Demon Hound to keep Hollowborn Barghest company.
This is probably a spiffy enchantment of some sort - beyond that, it's hard to guess.
Finally, the following creatures will be seen in Theros:
- Hundred-Handed One
- Nymph (Alseid, Dryad, Lampad, Naiad, and Oread)
The Nymphs cited, respectively, are those of clearings, trees, the Underworld, the ocean, and rocks - sounds like a cycle. Perhaps Dryads will get their creature type retconned back into Nymph!