Already the Magic rumor community is abuzz with talk of Born of the Gods, the upcoming winter expansion, but the first set of the block, Theros, is still a very fresh topic, having been released just this month. With that in mind, it pays to look at everything Theros has to offer as it enjoys its new Standard legality. Moving on from the final part of Theros's blue cards, I'm going to keep on with my color-by-color and card-by-card breakdown of the set and starting up with the black cards.
Abhorrent Overlord - Technically they had to give this guy a Lord of the Pit-esque drawback, both for the proper Demon flavor and for balance reasons - but usually it's not going to matter so much, because he's going to bring an absolute metric crapton of airpower with him when he hits the board. At bare minimum he'll swing in for 7 flying damage the first turn he can attack, which is perfectly acceptable for his mana cost, but he's probably being overlooked as a fringe black beatdown deck finisher in Modern with Geralf's Messenger as setup.
Agent of the Fates - Maybe it's because a top-tier heroic deck has yet to emerge, but it's hard to believe this card isn't selling for more money. You can't really overstate how lethal this guy is. To cite a relatively random example of a card that's good at setting up heroic triggers - Using an Agent of the Fates as one of the targets for a Travel Preparations and then flashing it back means you have a 5-power Assassin, a presumably-fat something else, and all of your opponents are down two creatures. That's what I call board advantage.
Asphodel Wanderer - This whole low-mana-cost, high-regenerate-cost thing just baffles me. The other way around obviously makes a lot of sense, but how dire are the straits you're in when you have nothing better to do with your 2B than save a 1/1 duder who's otherwise a vanilla? Oh how I long for thee, Drudge Skeletons.
Baleful Eidolon - In this case I can agree that bestow is way overcosted. Presumably the thing you're slapping this on as an Aura for five mana has a relatively high power and toughness in the first place, which are factors that distinctly make deathtouch not matter a lot. I guess if it's got first strike or double strike, or trample, it'd be fun/mean to pump it and give it deathtouch? Anyway at least a 1/1 deathtoucher is good for a lot.
Blood-Toll Harpy - I know all about tolls that have to be paid in blood; I've driven on the New Jersey Turnpike. Traumatic memories of driving lessons or no, I appreciate R&D's efforts to both make suicide-black a thing in Limited and to give some love to the obscure Harpy type.
Boon of Erebos - There's a lot going on here for a common, and the two bonuses work in opposite directions - the pump helps kill stuff in combat, and the regeneration helps the target not get killed in combat. The symmetry of the 2 life paid plus restoring the flavorful life of a dying creature plus giving it 2 extra power is quite pleasing as a transfer of one-tenth (one-twentieth in Commander) of your essence to one of your creatures.
Cavern Lampad - Sure, the Nymph cycle's bestow costs are high. But this particular one is dangerous because intimidate is one hell of an evasion ability - even in multicolor-sprinkled environments like Theros Limited it's often better than having flying from a purely offensive perspective. +2/+2 and unblockability to a big guy in the late game makes the late game into an over game.
Cutthroat Maneuver - This probably plays the most interestingly of the two-target-creatures heroic-enabler cycle - it turns things around whether you use it on attackers or blockers, and requires quite a bit of thought. It also is great for Erebos's life-payment theme, although just like your grandma admonishes you when she gives you birthday money, don't spend it all in one place, dearie.
Dark Betrayal - Okay, flavorfully? This might be the most black card of all time. Blacker than the blackest black, times infinity. Considering it's an instant-speed Deathmark with the color words changed, you're gonna want to sideboard it if you're at all running black.
Disciple of Phenax - Well, Phenax seems to be one of the minor gods of Theros, and by process of elimination (Athreos is white-black, Mogis black-red, and Pharika black-green) he, she, or it has to be the blue-black god (of secrets?). This tantalizing information aside, Disciple of Phenax should come down as effectively a Coercion on a 1/3 body for a black mana more given the number of cards in hand players have in Limited by turn four, which is quite a good deal.
Erebos, God of the Dead - Ahh, the Kinky Cosplay Hades himself! Erebos has perhaps the most niche abilities of the major-god cycle, seeing as his static ability is a pure strategy hoser, but Greed isn't that bad a card when you have life to spare to activate it a bunch of times a turn, and a lot of the black cards in this set will support you in those kinds of efforts. (That's not to say Greed is good, either, regardless of what Gordon Gekko will tell you - I don't think it would have hurt if Erebos's activated ability cost could have come down by 1.) As for his body, having 7 toughness and also being indestructible is a little bit like overkill, but Gods aren't known for their subtlety or restraint.
Erebos's Emissary - Sheez laweez, I know a card that Johnnies can make insane when I see one. Bestow and a mana-cost-less pump activated ability is a quick ticket to "put on an evasive guy, swing for win." Honestly, though, I prefer the idea of a 3/3 for 3B that, when needed (such as, say, when unblocked) can be a 5/5 or 7/7 or beyond. I was plotzing a little bit more about this when it was supposed to be +3/+3 for the activated ability, though.
Fellhide Minotaur - Hey, guess this is what Undead Minotaur was like in life! Not much to say here, I guess, blah blah black creatures have high toughness now, but that flavor text is so, so metal, I can't handle it.