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Theros spoiler analysis: Black cards, part 2

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Born of the Gods previews are weeks away - they'll be coming sooner rather than later if we get Christmastime spoilers like we did for Gatecrash last year - but until then we're basically in the dark about the upcoming set. What better way to prep than by continuing to review Theros? Jumping off from the first part of Theros's black cards, in my color by color and card by card breakdown of the set, I'll move on to the second portion of color number three. Here goes:

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Fleshmad Steed - A 2/2 for 1C with a mild drawback is pretty okay in Limited in about three out of five colors, one of which is black; unfortunately, black's been spoiled with Gutter Skulk and Walking Corpse in the past two blocks so a 1B-costed bear with no abilities other than a drawback nor any relevant creature types feels slightly sad. Also in last block: A probably-more-effective treatment of the Diomedes's-carnivorous-horses trope in Carnival Hellsteed. Oh, sweet Tavern Swindler, I miss your pretty face more than ever...

Gray Merchant of Asphodel - If you haven't been asleep during your last few FNMs, you'd realize that Gary here is an amazing workhorse in monoblack devotion decks. In terms of being an unexpectedly powered common in Constructed, it's not quite a new Delver of Secrets - you can't make an entire deck around a Gray Merchant, after all - but it comes close.

Hero's Downfall - Instant-speed three-mana Dreadbore. Basically the epitome of Boring but Practical - hey, it kills two different kinds of threats, one of which is relatively hard to deal with in general, doesn't it?

Hythonia the Cruel - One of the requisite "too expensive to be effective most of the time but so worth it when you pull it off" monstrosity creatures, I like Hythonia as a design because she's effectively reanimation-proof without resorting to awkward "if you cast this from your hand" or shuffle-from-graveyard clauses. And as a flavorful representation of the queen of all Gorgons she works very well. All in all a fun kitchen-table mythic.

Insatiable Harpy - I'd like to say "Flying and lifelink are great in Limited, an entirely life-racing creature-based format, no matter the cost!" but in this instance I really can't. I'll swallow my bile about this card long enough to say we got Vampire Nighthawk at common in Zendikar and then no more.

Keepsake Gorgon - Hythonia the More Reasonably Priced! Keepsake Gorgon is the sort of thing that sees Limited play because it's an almost insurmountable ground blocker and definitely not for its monstrous ability - although I will admit if you can and do pop that ability off it'll definitely swing games, killing a big threat on and after turn seven and all.

Lash of the Whip - There's this wonderful moment where you realize that -X/-X effects kill indestructible creatures, including the Gods - and this terrible one where you remember that all of the Gods in this set have toughness 5 or greater. Still, nice effort, right? Removal is removal in Limited, and this'll probably kill anything but a God.

Loathsome Catoblepas - Props to R&D for making an obscure creature from mythology and all, but repeatedly activating that ability sadly doesn't do anything, and all the costs here are at least 1 mana too much for the smelly-breath bull monster to be really effective. Uh, that art's pretty badass though, no?

March of the Returned - Recursion is good in Limited, sure, especially when it's card advantage; but I don't think Death's Duet broke any formats at 2B. And had a way better name, fyi.

Mogis's Marauder - I really, really like this guy. He's never worse than a 2/2 with haste and temporary intimidate for 2B, and quite often amounts to "your whole army is unblockable this turn." He does his best work in the late game, it seems - powering him out can mean your newly-dropped fatty can swing right away straight for an opponent's face and end the game right then and there. And then there's the whole Samson-esque jawbone-as-a-weapon WTF factor.

Nighthowler - This is some pretty aggressively costed bestow, which I like. The main body is fairly sweet too; Lhurgoyf's not a bad card and this comes down a turn sooner than that. All it's missing is Hans flavor text.

Ordeal of Erebos - The whole Ordeal cycle is, as I've said before, pretty good pump with the sacrifice effect as anything from "gravy" to "enough to push the card from good to awesome." This is easily the weakest of them, since by turn five most Limited hands will be relatively empty anyway, but it's still very playable.

Pharika's Cure - After those worse versions of past cards at the same rarity, it's refreshing to see Pharika can improve over Vicious Hunger.

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