Theros Beyond Death Limited Set Reviews
Today the forest comes alive, as all manner of woodland creatures stampede into our hearts and Limited decks! Be prepared for sweet cards aplenty, as Green’s plethora of fantastic options in this set would delight Demeter herself.
- S: Ridiculous bomb; has a huge effect on the game immediately, and threatens to dominate it if unanswered.
Examples: Oko, Thief of Crowns, Garruk, Cursed Huntsman, Lochmere Serpent
- A: Very powerful card, approaches bomb status, pulls you strongly into its colour.
Examples: Giant Killer, Epic Downfall, Stolen by the Fae
- B: Great playable, happy to first pick, pulls you into its colour.
Examples: Bake Into Pie, Fierce Witchstalker, Mysterious Pathlighter
- C+: Good playable that almost never gets cut.
Examples: Scorching Dragonfire, Tome Raider, Wintermoor Commander
- C: Fine playable or decent filler, sometimes gets cut.
Examples: Outflank, Maraleaf Rider, Foreboding Fruit
- D: Medium to bad filler, gets cut a lot.
Examples: Tall as a Beanstalk, All That Glitters, Claim the Firstborn
- F: Mostly to totally unplayable cards.
Examples: Happily Ever After, Fires of Invention, The Magic Mirror
Arasta of the Endless Web
Arasta has a good Giant Spider rate to begin with, and the Spiders are huge incremental value that will mean your opponents will really want to kill her (which isn’t easy to do). If you’ve played with Spider Spawning in Innistrad Limited (which I highly recommend if not), you know how annoying a bunch of 1/2 Reach creatures can be!
Arasta either dodges or comes out a little ahead against nearly all of the removal in this set. A 3/5 isn’t going to put too much pressure on your opponent but it has the potential to generate a good amount of value if it sticks around, especially against Blue decks. I do not think Theros Beyond Death is going to be a format governed by a lot of instants and sorceries (the enchantments will reduce their number), but the little Spiders are all upside.
The Binding of the Titans
This card is low investment for a reasonable amount of value but is really slow. You either want several Escape creatures or Enchantment payoffs, but even as a base case the three cards are likely to give you something okay to recur, or something is likely to die by then that you want to. The main problem with it is that it takes absolutely ages to get going, and is a really bad topdeck. On turn 2, you really want to be playing a 2 drop and not this, and it will be hard to fit into your turns. On that basis, I think I’m only going to give it a D, but it is a pretty high D, and this card is better if you don’t have a ton of 2s.
This is not a bad escape enabler and it replaces itself in the process. II also prevents your opponents from benefitingvia Escape. If your deck doesn’t care about Escape this is not very good at all, but I think this adds sufficient value to a deck that does.
This card is great – its body isn’t too bad in that it can trade for an x/1 and it might shoot down a Scavenging Harpy (the only x/1 flier in the set at common/uncommon), or set up a double block or a bigger flier with some damage already on it, but the important thing is that you don’t lose a card for doing any of this – the escape cost is cheap and at that point, it will completely eradicate flier decks. A recursive 4/5 reach creature is incredibly hard for decks with a lot of fliers to beat, and their best bet will be to use Enchantment-based removal on it, which there are plenty of answers for in this set, or to exile it outright. This card is also great with self-mill or looting, since it’s like you don’t lose a card when you ditch it with Thrill of Possibility. This patches up a major weakness in Green in an overwhelming way.
This is a little awkward because the base creature is pretty awful while in Escape mode it is awfully good. It puts you in a situation where if you play it early it likely won’t do much more than chump block. Ideally this is a card that finds its way into your graveyard a la something like The Binding of the Titans and makes its first appearance with Escape. This is a card that requires some build around and even then if your opponent isn’t running many flyers it could end up just being a 5 mana 4/5 reach with extra steps. Still, this will be very good if you are up against flyers.
Overstatted unit which hates on blue decks and has a strong activated ability in the late game? Sign me up!
Even though the abilities are quite situational, there are a lot of counterspells and enchantments running around in this set. At worst you have an easy to cast enchantment creature with pushed stats.
Dryad of the Ilysian Grove
This is no Courser of Kruphix, but it’s still a great card. It combines a solid body with fixing for every colour, and possibly some minor ramp.
In a 3-color deck or a 2-color deck with a lot of double-costed cards, this is a nice find. The first ability really only helps you cast a 5 or potentially 6 mana card on turn 4, which is pretty cool if it works out that way but quite unlikely. Still, a 3 mana 2/4 with some upside is worth an early pick.
The First Iroan Games
If they’re forced to use removal on your 1/1 or just lose the game, I’m pretty into that, and that will be what this card forces them to do a lot of the time. Three mana is not a big investment, and this card provides a gigantic amount of value for that. If you do have other 4 power creatures, that helps, but a lot of the removal in the set doesn’t even hit the creature (though it does have a weakness to Enchantment removal). It takes a few turns to get going, but it’s a high A and I doubt I’m ever going to pass this card.
This is going to work best if you have a 4+ power creature to play the turn after it. Otherwise, if the soldier runs into removal this Saga is going to leave you with a Gold star and nothing else to show for it.
Gift of Strength
This is a low C and a medium filler combat trick, but can be okay in some decks. As always with tricks, this is much better if you’re beating down.
This is not the combat trick you are looking for (but yet another one to be aware of)!
Removal seems good enough that this card isn’t particularly exciting, and it takes a while to get going. The payoff is there eventually, but I’m not that excited to play this card without something like Heliod's Pilgrim or other ways to make good use of auras. I would want to slam this on a disposable creature and wait around mainly, there’s no reason to put it on a good creature and risk being blown out.
Clearly this can get way out of control, but I still think it ends up being a bit worse than the flash Auras. A card like this telegraphs itself to the point that the creature you play it on may not be able to attack right away if you opponent can trade with it. If you sit on it for a couple turns it runs the risk of getting 2-for-1’d with a removal spell. Overall Hydra's Growth is a fine playable but I wouldn’t want to reach on it.
Hyrax Tower Scout
A 3/3 for 3 is a fine statline, and this is almost vanilla.
The untapping is a very minor ability, but a three mana 3/3 is just fine for a deck that wants to put on some early pressure.
The base case of a card that ramps you and fixes your mana for such a low investment is always good, and this will enable strong splashes in a set where only Green is likely to be able to do so. I really don’t believe there are nearly enough pings to make this card bad: the good ones in red are all uncommon and Black only has a couple of awkward ones at common in Mogis's Favor and Grim Physician. The chances of playing against specific uncommons in Limited aren’t very high, especially when there’s only a couple in one colour. This is a high C+.
There are too many effects that deal one damage to make me feel great about playing this card. I do not think this is a very good set for mana dorks. When there is a lot of removal it is better to diversify your threats instead of overinvesting in singular ones. The color fixing is going to make this important for a lot of decks, though, and the quicker Green can get a 4+ Power creature on the board the better.
I really think there is no reason to play this card. Even in decks with lots of enchanted creatures and auras, this card is incredibly situational, and you’ll run into other people with Enchantment creatures/auras where this won’t do anything at all.
This is far too situational to play in any deck unless you somehow ended up with only Enchantment creatures and Auras. Even then it isn’t that great.
I don’t think there are many decks that will be interested in this. If you are playing close to mono green and you have a bunch of cards with heavy green mana costs, maybe this card will be threatening enough since at that point, it might be giving +5/+5 or so – but even then, you’re not going to have that many creatures; green tends to go wide rather than tall.
I would be a little higher on this if it added trample, but 6 mana is really high in the curve for this effect and there are a lot of chump blockers in the format. If mono Green is a thing this could see some play but I still don’t think it is good.
A 3 mana 4/1 isn’t good, but this Escape ability is a lot of upside. In the late game when you’re out of other stuff to play, bringing this back over and over and it trading for something each time will be a way to win some very grindy games. This also enables 4+ power synergy cards like Nessian Hornbeetle and Furious Rise nicely.
This is your cheapest option for triggering cards with the 4+ power clause, but its value goes down from there. Escape creatures are great because you can keep playing them throughout the game, but do you really want to keep spending 5 mana on a 5/2?
Mantle of the Wolf
I think this card would be better in other sets, since a lot of the removal in the format tends to either be Enchantment-based or exile. This card is a lot better in Golgari or Gruul with sac outlets, since that ensures you can often get the 2/2 Wolves, and it’s still a high B.
Now this is an Aura I can get behind! You need to be careful to play it when your opponent is tapped out, but even if it meets removal on their next turn you are getting good value. Pacifism effects still shut this card down, but if you are in Golgari there will be other ways to get this into your Graveyard if necessary.
Moss Viper is a fine card in any non-aggressive deck, it can trade with whatever ground creature you need to at any point in the game, and I think ping effects are mostly at uncommon in the set (see my comment on Ilysian Dryad for more info).
Moss Viper will be a decent sideboard option against creature decks that don’t have good ways around it, but a one mana 1/1 is not where you want to be if you are the Aggro deck. Once again, 1 toughness is not where you want to be in this set unless there is solid upside. That said, the Viper should still make the cut more often that it doesn’t, I just don’t think it is a high pick.
This is a really efficient and powerful rate for removing an Enchantment, and prevents it ever coming back. That being said, only 1/3 of the creatures in the set at common and uncommon are Enchantment Creatures (data here and here), and it’s easy to imagine getting beaten down by a regular creature while having this stuck in your hand. It is nice that it hits a lot of utility Enchantments also, but a bunch of them get their value before you do so – this is really good against Enchantment-based removal specifically, but I don’t think you want to main too many copies of this and Return to Nature, or to take too many copies highly, so I’ve given it a C+.
I don’t consider this a playable card – it might trade with a few creatures, but they’ll get a bunch of draws in return. It’s specifically good if you can set up board states where your other creatures can kill them while they’re all forced to block the Boar, but this is like playing a 10/6 Defender for most of the game, and that’s not where I want to be.
This is going to bait a lot of new players, but really it is a horrendous creature. There are very few scenarios where you can come out ahead with this. To me this Boar looks like an overcosted Lure effect and might as well have defender until you are prepared to go wide.
Here we have 2 drop that becomes a huge threat very quickly and stays relevant later on in the game. Even if they get rid of it using Enchantment-based removal, it’s easy to imagine killing the Enchantment in the late game with a Return to Nature, and by then this creature might well be a 6/6 or 7/7.
This little Beetle is just going to grow and grow once your board is established. It can even get Aggro and attack for 3 on its first combat if you prioritize Loathsome Chimera. Either way it is one of the better 2-drops in the format.
In a deck with a lot of Enchantments, Nessian Wanderer ensures you never miss a land drop and you essentially draw an extra card a turn that’s a land. That’s a really strong effect, and the card combos very well with looting or rummaging effects of which Red and Blue have several at common each. This card evokes Dryad Greenseeker from M19, which was an insane card (though this isn’t quite as good). If you have shuffle effects or the game just goes long enough, the thinning of having a bunch of lands removed from your deck becomes very relevant. The card is hurt by a bit by the fact that Green doesn’t have as many Enchantments as the other colours, but those have tons. All that value for a 2 mana 1/3 means this is a very solid B, and I would be happy to first pick this card.
I like this card and it is a solid B for me, but I don’t really see it as a deck thinner since the other cards go to the bottom. You would need to get a lot of hits on this to make that work. However, there are going to be some times where you really need those lands, and the 1/3 body does some good blocking for you in the meantime. Keep in mind this is the sort of card that may end up letting 2/2’s through rather than blocking and potentially losing it to a combat trick.
This is the sort of card that can singlehandedly destroy an aggro deck. Gaining 2 life per Enchantment is a fantastic rate, and this has a very strong blocking statline especially against fliers. Most decks will be happy to have this card.
In a more defensive Green deck this card is very good, and can completely shut down Aggro strategies. Having reach gives it some value against key flyers such as Daybreak Chimera as well.
Five devotion isn’t hard to hit in Limited, and Nylea has insane stats and is hard to kill once you do. Her abilities are nice but not amazingly strong; I wouldn’t recommend splashing Nylea as I did some of the other Gods as most of her value does come in that fantastic statline once activated. It is nice that her abilities have synergy: in making creatures cheaper, she leaves you more mana available to activate her, and that second ability is strong in the late game, giving you a 40% chance to draw a card and surveil 1 for 3 mana if you don’t.
This is a ridiculous bomb that works as an engine to empty a good chunk of your deck onto the field in just a few turns, which then enables herself to become a 5/6 Indestructible. This is one of the few Gods that doesn’t require you to lean too hard into its color to be great.
Nylea’s Forerunner has a really bad statline, and I think you’ll generally be able to do better on 5 drops. It is nice that there’s a lot of Constellation in Green and it doesn’t have that many Enchantment creatures, but Wardscale Crocodile is not a great card. I will run this card if I have a lot of 4+ power payoffs, but I will never be happy to. Still, this is a high D.
While this is filler because it trades so inefficiently, Green is on the 4+ Power theme and Trample can be pretty good. If your deck has several creatures that benefit this may make the cut.
This is mostly a 4 mana 4/3, but that ability is decent upside in that you can just attack your 2 drops or other expendable creatures in and force them to trade, or take a bunch of damage.
This is a fine playable that helps you get aggressive and benefits your 4+ Power synergy.
3 mana to get your splash colour or search up two lands is a fairly weak rate, and that is the main use of the card; there aren’t many good utility lands. The set isn’t flier-heavy – against a lot of decks, this won’t do very much. This is an incredible sideboard card though, and I would take it highly if I already had a good number of playables. I would be okay to maindeck this card, but consider it a pretty low C and could easily see cutting it in a lot of decks.
I think this is worth playing, particularly if your deck has no-few flyers and/or a third color. 4-5 mana to Wrath of God the air can be such a devastating effect and I wouldn’t mind paying 4 mana to guarantee lands 5 and 6 if I had a handful of high curve gas. Some games you may need to pay 3 mana to turn it into a land, so it doesn’t come without risk.
This card functions mostly as a 3 mana 3/4 Trample most of the time – it does die to 3 damage removal, but the ability to instead buff other attackers is great. Green doesn’t have too many Enchantment creatures and has a lot of Constellation effects, so the Enchantment creatures it does have are in high demand, which is gravy on top of this great card.
3 mana for a pseudo 3/4 trample is a good entry point, and having the means to gift +1/+1 Trample to a key attacker is a powerful asset.
This card is not great – a 7 mana 5/5 trample is a really bad rate and if you’re casting a 7 drop, you don’t need more mana. This card gets better with mana sinks, but this format doesn’t have a ton of those by any means. I don’t foresee this card as being worth the investment in more than say 1 in 100 decks (these would be ones that have a couple of the rare x spells and then a bunch of the few mana sinks in the set), and that’s too low for me to give it anything but an F. Playing 7 drops with bad statlines that don’t have relevant abilities is a recipe for making the vast majority of your decks worse.
There are some cards like Destiny Spinner, but mana sinks to take advantage of the ability are fairly hard to come by in this set. 7 mana for a 5/5 Trample isn’t unplayable, but I am not too impressed by this Mythic in Limited.
You don’t want that many 6 drops in your decks, this is a hard to cast and mediocre one in a set with a bunch of great ones at Common/Uncommon. In a deck with 9 green sources, you only have a 59% chance to have the green to cast this on turn 6 averaging play/draw (see here to learn how to calculate this yourself and improve your future Limited deckbuilding!) – that’s a terrible rate because 40% of the time, you just won’t be able to play the card.
This is a low C, but the stats are fine and it benefits Enchantment and Devotion Synergy enough to be worth a card in many Green decks. Bonus points if you have a couple ways to give it trample.
Omen of the Hunt
Flash helps this card a lot, and it will approach C+ in Simic. It’s not that exciting outside of that, just a low C, but Green will be able to splash thanks to it and Ilysian Caryatid while other colours won’t be able to, and that’s an omen of success for the colour.
This is a pretty unexciting way to ramp/fix, but Green likes Enchantments and having the Scry 2 in your back pocket makes this decent filler.
As we saw with Blight-Breath Chimera, Ravenous Chupacabra for 6 is still great.
Affectionate Indrik was an awesome card and so is this. 6 mana to essentially get a 3 damage removal spell and be left with a 4/4 is a great deal. I would happily take this early.
This is a plummet from grace, but I don’t think you should run this card in your Limited maindeck this format. Still, take it over any real trash you encounter since it’s an okay sideboard card.
Sorry Plummet, you are still a fringe sideboard card. This set is Return to Nature’s moment in the sun, you’ll get yours some day.
This is just too little for 3 mana unless your deck really has a lot of Escapes, and good ones at that. If it does, it’ll still be only a C or at most C+, and that’s 1 in 10 decks maximum.
PS: This also has a pretty big failcase. To learn more, check the comments section at the end of this review, where I elaborated a bit more on my rating! See here to learn how to get the percents used.
This may end up being a ‘C’ if Escape decks are really good. That said, I have a hard time seeing how this can be cast on third turn without falling really behind in the game. I could be wrong but I think there are much better Escape enablers than this.
Renata, Called to the Hunt
Renata gives you good value, but she comes down at a point where you’ll already have played a bunch of your creatures and you might not have too many, and she’s a little understatted. Still, her ability improves your late game draws and is especially good with token effects, such as in Selesnya. I consider this a high C+.
She is going to be really good in creature decks. Everything coming out with a +1/+1 counter is a powerful effect, and if she can get trample in the late game there is a lot of potential damage to be had after cashing in the ability.
Return to Nature
Only 1/3 of the creatures in the set at common and uncommon are Enchantment Creatures (data here and here). There are a lot of Enchantments, but a lot of them give value before they’re removed so it’s important to keep in perspective that it often won’t be killing what you want or having that strong an effect. That being said, this card is efficient and versatile enough to be worth a C+. It’s important to note that you don’t want too many of these – I think a deck wants at most two Enchantment removal spells, and those that already have other kinds of removal may only want one, but will be happy to have this as a great Sideboard card.
Instant speed enchantment removal is going to be at a premium in this set, and it is finally time for this card to shine.
This card is absurd, but it takes some time to get going and most S tier Bombs do more than just draw you a card. There aren’t a lot of 1 mana Enchantments in the set, so you’ll often be waiting until turn 5 at least to play this if you don’t want to open it up to removal, where its statline isn’t as useful. If you have to just run this out on turn 3 when you’re behind, that’s not going to end well. The card is still a solid A, but it’s worse than it looks.
This card is insane and completely runs away with the game if not removed immediately. S feels like a little bit of a stretch but this is at least a high A. I do not think I would ever pass this card, and would try my best to splash it if it came late.
This card is good for enabling devotion, but there really isn’t a huge payoff for that at common/uncommon in Green. This card’s base rate is too inefficient and ineffectual to merit a better grade. Feel free to take it a little higher if you have Nylea (the only rare or mythic green Devotion payoff), but most decks should stay away.
I am really not interested in 3 mana 2/2’s, even if they gain some life.
This card doesn’t attack that well, and will often just trade for 2 drops even if you play one Enchantment. They’re not so cheap and abundant that you can get two triggers in one turn that often. I consider this about the same as a 2 mana 2/2 with no ability (which is a high D).
This is a high D, but I really don’t like this card very much. It is dependent on a continuous stream of enchantments to be decent, and even then it is likely only attacking as a 3/2. I must say that statline does interact well with the 1/3 commons that many colors have at 2-drop, so maybe this is a little better than I am giving it credit for.
I think this card is too inefficient to be a high pick. It does buff your 3/xs to 4 power for the synergies and enable your Enchantment payoffs, but it does so at too expensive a rate for most decks and it opens you up to instant speed removal (you won’t even draw the card). It can be worth it in decks where you want the synergies and have a lot of naturally beefy creatures, but it’s not a very exciting use of mana regardless. Enabling Heroic with it isn’t even good, as you’re playing a fairly aggressive go wide deck then, and this is terrible in those kinds of decks. If this cost 1, I’d be giving it a much better grade, but as it is I think it’s just a high D.
This is decent filler, but is one of those cards that you will likely cut after the draft. Trample looks pretty good in Green and this is a ‘free’ card that enables Enchantment synergy. I wouldn’t mind having this in my deck if it benefits from both of those things.
A 2/2 Enchantment creature for 2 is a good rate, especially in Green, which has a lot of Constellation cards and not a lot of Enchantment creatures. In a deck with Enchantment synergies, this card will be a 2 drop you want. The abilities are very minor upside and not worth much; 3 mana to enable your Escape synergies isn’t that exciting when you only mill one card and get nothing else, but it might be okay in the late game when you really have nothing better to do. Even with a lot of Escape creatures, I don’t think this actually helps them that much except in the very late game.
This is often going to be little better than a Grizzly Bear, but Enchantment and Escape synergies give it some upside. The 2-drops in this set are all very much geared toward certain archetypes, so be careful about which ones you are collecting.
Voracious Typhon is great in every way – it has a good statline on turn 4, and will win late games by itself as a 7/7 that they have to get rid of potentially several times. It’s a bit weaker than it would be normally in a set full of Enchantment-based removal, but this is still the best Escape common in the set by far and a decent first pick.
This card is a borderline A for me. 4 mana 4/4’s are always great, and being able to recur this is an incredible bonus.
This not boosting power takes it out of the B range, but it’s still super strong. In Green, most of your creatures will naturally be bigger than theirs anyway this set and being an Enchantment is nice upside. That being said, watch out for instant speed removal, especially against Black! Ideally, go for this when they don’t have mana up (although that won’t always be feasible against Blue).
This is better than a typical fight card because it helps you win the fight, sticks around, and helps further your Enchantment synergy. Be wary about casting this when your opponent has untapped lands though, combat tricks and removal can blow you out.
Wolfwillow Haven provides ramp at a cheap rate, and you can cash it in in the late game when you don’t need it anymore. Sometimes it’ll be okay to replace a land with this but if your curve is on the expensive side, you’re better off not counting this as one.
This is a good ramp card that will perform best in high curve decks. If it didn’t only tap for Green I would rate it higher.
Green has some weak commons in this set, but overall the good commons it has are great and its uncommons are fantastic. It’s a shame that it has a lot of Constellation but its Enchantments at common aren’t that exciting, and you’ll have to lean on your other colour heavily for those (which is mostly fine, since the other colours have a lot of good Enchantments). Its synergies aren’t as well-supported as Blue (but I think it has a higher power), and on power level it’s somewhat weaker than Black. Black Green Escape and Red Green Big Creatures Matter look like the best things to pair with it.
My rough colour rankings for the set are as follows in order: black, blue/green, red and then white. I look forward to seeing how that pans out!
Green looks really good in this set. There are quite a few duds, but overall I think the Enchantment and 4+ Power synergy is going to come together very well. It is really early to rank colors, but after diving into all of them I would place Black at the top and Red at the bottom. Green, White, and Blue all seem viable but it would be jumping the gun to try to pick winners between them I think. Theros Beyond Death seems fairly well balanced at this point and it will be interesting to see how players end up breaking it 🙂