Theros Beyond Death Limited Set Reviews
We finish up our set review with all the miscellaneous stuff that has gone as of yet uncovered but don’t worry, there’s still a lot of exciting cards to go!
Important Note: For this review, Compulsion and I rate as though you’re already in the colors or have reason to be, and don’t ding for two color too much. This is because it’s a power level review (you can see our Mission Statement in White & Introduction). We’ll try to include some reference to Draft picks early on.
- 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 a 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
Acolyte of Affliction
Acolyte of Affliction is like Gravedigger but with many added upsides if you’re Golgari, and that’s a great place to be. Worse flavour though, how is returning a permanent from the dead afflicting things? Who knows.
In Draft, you can splash this card but it’s not amazing as splashes go and I would only do so with good fixing. Early on, I’d be taking this card at more like C+ level.
Golgari is on the Escape plan and I like it. Gravedigger is a card I am always happy to play, and Acolyte gets to fish for upgrades with the two bonus cards. Escape is a very powerful Limited mechanic and this color combination enables it best, so I would be fine letting this card pull me into them early unless there is a one color card that is comparable or better.
Allure of the Unknown
Playing Russian Roulette with your Bombs is fun but precarious! I think this is generally worth it but not really exciting, since cards in Limited are of a similar enough power level that your opponent is only getting good value if they get a bomb, and you always get to draw five cards (which is absurd for 5 mana) wherein you’ll probably find a removal spell or some answer to it. It’s a bit annoying that they get to immediately cast it so they get an attack in and one turn to use its abilities, and this is a truly terrible tempo play as a result, but this card will win the late game a lot of the time. I would be more inclined to play this card in decks that didn’t already have a lot of late game – you’re more likely to give your opponent something good, and the card advantage will be more necessary. I equate this to about a 5 mana draw three, all in all.
This card has enough going on that it’s weird to evaluate, and I could see having overrated it.
I love the art on this one but am going to err on the side of it is probably bad. About 3 (two if you’re lucky) of the cards are going to be land that you are unlikely to need because you already hit 5 mana playing Rakdos. So on average your opponent gets to see three cards and pick the best one, leaving you with the lesser two. You would be better off playing this in a 3+ color ‘good stuff’ deck like Jund with some Ramp. That way the lands may be more relevant and all 3-4 cards your opponent chooses from are good, leaving you with a solid advantage.
Ashiok, Nightmare Muse
Planeswalkers that protect themselves well and provide card advantage are always busted in Limited.
This is going to be an absolute nightmare to play against and is one of the very best cards in the set,
Atris, Oracle of Half-Truths
Atris is usually a 3/2 Menace for 4 that draws two cards since you always have the option to take two, but can also sometimes take one if that card is great. That rate is absurd; she’s not even so understatted that you’ll fall far behind against aggro.
Dimir is another color combination I think is going to be quite good, so I would not hesitate to jump in head first if I open Atris. Conceptually this is a pretty cool card that sets up an interesting player interaction. Choose wisely!
Bronzehide Lion is efficient, hard to kill and you get value if they do kill it. It’s a high A, but I don’t think it quite makes S since it will sometimes be hard to cast on turn 2 and it isn’t a bomb in the later stages of the game (but still very good).
Calix, Destiny’s Hand
Calix is a repeatable source of card advantage that is hard to attack. I didn’t quite give him the S, since that second ability is very vulnerable to Enchantment removal, which will be maindeckable this set, but he is still a high A.
You’ll be happy to pick this up but this Planeswalker is lacking in star power compared to the others.
Dalakos, Crafter of Wonders
There really aren’t a lot of Artifacts in the set, and even fewer Equipment. Dalakos will mostly just be a 2/4 for 3, but Bronze Sword is at Common and he does give it a boost (though that card isn’t great by itself). A 2/4 for 3 is a good statline, but I still wouldn’t take Dalakos too highly.
Assuming you are in Izzet, the stats alone make this a fine playable card. If you can secure Artifacts Dalakos’ value ticks up a little, but be wary. As you will see shortly there are only a couple good Artifacts and they aren’t commons.
Devourer of Memory
Devourer of Memory is a fine 2 drop with a fantastic ability, and there are quite a lot of self-mill cards in Black or Blue, with four at common. It’s hurt a bit because there are a lot of common pings in Red (and Black has a couple), but is still an incredible card that fuels your Escape and kills them by itself. It’s especially good if you can get multiple triggers with something like Sage of Mysteries, and if you’ve been luckily enough to open 2-3 of these and some Escape cards then it might well be worth playing the Sage.
There are quite a few playable Escape enablers that turn this on so you can keep playing spells and attacking, but the ability is nice to have after you have played out your hand. This does work counter to the Blue ‘draw go’ strategy as it encourages you to tap out on your turn, but I think it is powerful enough to build Dimir more aggressively a la Guilds of Ravnica.
This is the best card in the set if you’re Azorius. It’s unbelievable and will easily win most games you play it in: it’s unkillable, unraceable and draws you two cards a turn. In order to stop it, you’ll probably need two fliers or a flier with an aura or a trick, and the format is removal heavy so I strongly doubt that will work.
At p1p1, this is lower (around a low A) since it immediately commits you heavily to two colours and that won’t always work out, but I’ll still be taking it over all but the few best single-colour uncommons as the payoff is just that ridiculous.
This card is like an invincible Baneslayer Angel. The only real recourse against it is a flyer and a combat trick, but even in that scenario Dream Trawler is up two cards (you draw with the attack) and 5 life. I can’t believe this isn’t a Mythic rare and would be surprised if this doesn’t help Azorius make a resurgance in standard.
This card is quite bad – you immediately go down a card and it costs you a ton of mana. It gets better if you have Enchantments with great ETBs and good creatures to go and get (especially bombs), but that’s really best case scenario. If some of what I said applies to your deck, go nuts and try it out! But I fear even then it won’t work out too well – paying 4 mana to tutor up a Bomb isn’t even a good deal anyway, so you really want multiples. This card will be fun, but I think it’s only like 1 in 20 or 30 decks that will be a good case for it, and I can’t rate for those. So I give this an F, but it’s an F I’m sure I’ll try out once or twice and be burnt by…
Going off on your end step makes this playable in decks that are loaded with enchantments. I like that you can attack with enchantment creatures and then upgrade them afterward. Is this effect worth a card most of the time? Probably not.
Eutropia the Twice-Favored
Eutropia adds substantial value to every Enchantment you play, and threatens to kill your opponents very quickly if you’re at parity or ahead. This card is a low A, but merits the grade.
I would be taking this at mid B early in Draft, as it’s not a great splash.
Clearly Simic is going to be an Enchantment archetype. Eutropia is definitely not as good as Hadana's Climb but is nicely reminiscent of it.
Gallia of the Endless Dance
There are enough Satyrs at common and uncommon in red/green that the anthem effect will be useful, and if you can get this card through at any point with two other creatures, that’s a ton of value. I consider this a pretty low B though and would only be taking it at low C+ early.
Okay what is with this art? They sure don’t look like they are about to run over and kick your ass but that seems to be on the menu. The ability encourages you to curve out to the point where you have no cards or a land in hand and you get to draw two for free.
Haktos the Unscarred
Haktos is incredibly hard for Limited decks to deal with – any of their 2, 3 or 4 drops only has a 1/3 chance of being able to remove or block it, and it will kill them very quickly. Having to attack each combat is a pretty big downside though – the card is not good when you’re behind, and is hard to cast on turn 4 in a format with next to no fixing in these colours. I consider this a high B.
The mana cost is tough to pull off for a roll of the dice, but getting the right number at the right time can end the game. I think this card might end up overrated though, trading it for any old 2 or 3 drop is going to feel bad.
Hero of the Nyxborn
The heroic mechanics of the set have not seemed particularly exciting to me, and I consider Boros one of the weaker colour combinations. That being said, this is a pretty powerful card within those colours – it allows you to go wide by itself and pays you off for doing so. It’s not amazing or anything though – it doesn’t remain as powerful in the late game, and it’s still only 3/3 worth of stats for 3, but I think it will be well worth it for the synergy. That being said, this is only a C+ if you are already Boros – I would be taking this at around mid C early on when you’re not committed to your colours, since it’s not a good splash (not that Boros will want those anyway) and it commits you to two colours.
Boros is bringing the Aggro but I am not very convinced it is going to be all that good. If the deck is already coming together it is happy to add this hero. This is not a bad card by any means, and in the right deck it could be great.
Klothys, God of Destiny
This card is absolutely absurd in Limited on every axis. The ability by itself is incredible – it turns off their Escapes and wins any races. It’ll be hard for it to ramp you, since often neither player will have lands in their graveyards, but it doesn’t really matter. Turning on Klothys in a Gruul deck won’t be hard but this ability is worth playing by itself, and I would be happy to splash this card in any heavy red or heavy green deck.
I might take the few best uncommons over it, but nothing else really (those are usually hard removal in Black).
Klothys is an outrageous bomb that should never be passed. Draining two life per turn is unbelievably strong regardless of whether or not you can activate the 4/5 creature mode.
Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger
Kroxa requires you to be specifically Rakdos, and she’ll be a worse first pick on that basis. However, at any point in the game, a creature with this busted an ability on a huge body will be amazing. Kroxa’s power is entirely in her body – discarding them for 2 isn’t that great, so I’ve not quite given her an S but if you’re in Rakdos, she’s a high A. It’s worth noting that you probably won’t be able to bring Kroxa back more than once or twice in the very late game, as five cards is a lot.
Early on, she’s more like a B and there are certainly some commons and uncommons I think are better first picks.
Five cards is quite a lot, but it at least trades with their worst card up front. It becomes quite the threat later on and even if it meets immediate removal Kroxa represents a 3-for-1 card advantage due to the discard (2). I wouldn’t automatically jump on Rakdos if I saw this, but would switch if for example I opened it pack 2 and was already in one of the colors.
Kunoros, Hound of Athreos
Cerberus has an assortment of very powerful abilities. He doesn’t quite make it to S, as he’s not that impactful late game and I wouldn’t splash him but he is probably the best 3 drop you can play in the entire set. Remember that his abilities can be downsides – they shut off your own Escapes too! Remember to ding this card for multicoloured early on – there are a lot of good uncommons I would take over it, as I would only be taking it early at like low B.
I am all about these three abilities and White has some nice tools to buff this pup. The value of your Escape goes down, but I am thinking that running primarily White creatures alongside primarily Black removal is going to be a nice recipe in Theros Beyond Death.
A 2/2 flier for 2 is already a fantastic rate in Limited, this triggers your Enchantment synergies and gives you an extra damage and scry per turn if your deck synergises well with Izzet – which it’s easy to do, and the payoff is certainly there. This is a high B if you’re already in Izzet, and I would take it as a low B or high C+ early on.
oI am intrigued by Izzet in this set and will be looking for opportunities to try it out. Right now my concern is having enough Payoffs to justify leaving mana open instead of advancing your board. This is where Vexing Gull comes, and it delivers a great 1-2 punch with Mischievous Chimera.
Polly K is an incredible bomb, well worth splashing if you’re only in green or black. The power of a 6/6 for 4 that can repeatedly remove your opponent’s creatures is incredible (though it shrinks each time it does so), and it comes back as a 12/12 with its very reasonable Escape cost. With splashable bombs, you don’t need to ding them as much and I don’t think I would be passing his departed majesty for any common or uncommon in the set early on.
This Zombie Hydra is off the chain, that’s for sure. Six cards is a lot but this archetype has a lot of options for filling your graveyard, and a cheap 6/6 with built in removal is sure to keep your opponent occupied while you set up.
Rise to Glory
This is a high C+, but it does require some work out of you. You need a decent creature and aura in the graveyard, which means we’re looking at mostly late game. In the late game, returning them both is a lot of value and you’ll usually get a lot more than 5 mana’s worth out of it. This card is an okay splash, so I would take it at about low C+ early on in your Draft.
This is the type of card that has a fairly low ceiling but decent floor as well. As long as there is a reasonable chance to choose both I would be happy to include this. Just make sure you watch out for instant speed graveyard disruption.
Siona, Captain of the Pyleas
Baywatch Captain is very strong if you’re Selesnya, as you’ll want to run auras anyway for the Heroic and Constellation synergies and seven cards is a lot to look at. The ability is strong upside; spitting out 1/1s is great in general but especially with all the white Heroic stuff.
Again, ding this a bit as an early pick; you’re looking at more like C+ at that point.
This is a little like Hero of the Nyxborn where I am not sure how well the Aura plan is going to work out, but I really like the value offered by the card. Searching the top seven makes it likely to hit an Aura in decks that want this.
Slaughter-Priest of Mogis
Rakdos has good enough sacrifice synergy and fodder spread across the two colours that I believe in this card a lot. That being said, it’s still a low B in Rakdos since it doesn’t scale that well into the late game, it’s not worth splashing, and it does require sacrifice fodder strongly.
Ding this one quite strongly as an early pick, I would take it at low C+.
Rakdos looks to be powered by sacrifice enablers, and this is a great one. Landing this second turn is going to put a lot of pressure on opponents because it can continually attack due to threat of activation. If activations are not necessary, more threats can be played. There is sufficient fuel for this in these colors that you won’t mind sacrificing.
Staggering Insight is a fantastic aura – if you can get one hit in then it pays for itself, gains you a bunch of life, and makes any decent creature a much bigger threat. It’s weak to fast speed removal and often it will only cantrip and then cause your creature to be removed so it’s only a B and I would be only taking it at about C+ early.
This is an Aura that is well worth the risk. Azorius is packing a lot of flyers to target that will run away with the game if left unchecked.
Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
Uro’s power level is incredible: 3 mana Growth Spiral is okay in Draft when you gain 3 alongside it and then his Escape body is gigantic and probably wins the game if they don’t have Enchantment-based/exile removal (or regular removal and you can’t recur him for a while). You do need to be heavy Simic to Escape him, but he’s well worth taking early and I would only consider the best uncommons over him.
These bombs are getting out of hand! The 5 card Escape cost is going to be tougher in Simic but this is not a card to pass. Forgive me if I already stated this, but cards I rate S are ones that I will always take over the best commons and uncommons (unless of course it is opened pack 3 and I have no path to splashing it).
Warden of the Chained
Warden of the Chained is strong if you’re in Gruul – there are enough 4 power creatures spread among those two colours that he’s well-supported and a 4/4 trample for 3 is great (remember that he can always block!).
He’s a bad splash; I would ding him quite a lot early, and be taking him at high C.
There are enough ways to get this attacking in these colors to make it an above average creature. A 4/4 wall is definitely not where Gruul wants to be though, so make sure you have at least several ways to activate him.
- Remember that all artifacts are vulnerable to Return to Nature and Revoke Existence, which people will be maindecking! All of them are a little worse as a result (but not loads, since those are two high-pick commons).
- All artifacts are slightly higher picks early on in draft, but not enough to move up to the next grade unless they’re close already.
Altar of the Pantheon
You never really want to play this card, but it can be a necessary evil if you have good cards to splash/are low on 3 drops and high on 5s. Gaining 1 life per turn is relevant upside, but not very exciting. This is a bit better in Black, since that has the best Devotion payoffs. This is a high D, but I wouldn’t be happy.
As mana rocks go, you could do worse. It works against itself though because 3-color decks are the ones that will need it and those are less likely to be running Devotion.
I don’t really believe in Bronze Sword – it’s just too expensive to equip, and that’s where the worth of Equipments lie.
I would only consider playing this if I was having a really hard time finding 4+ Power creatures in my Green deck.
The Lyre isn’t for aggro decks, but is good in other sorts of decks. It’s slow and a large mana investment, but it does permanently keep the creature tapped until you want to move it to something else, and threats in Limited are contextual and ever-changing. You can’t get blown out by removal on the Lyre so it’s a bit better against fast artifact removal – the creature will only untap on their next untap step. This is hurt a bit because this format has a lot of removal options, and some decks may not need this. I consider this is a low C+ since it is very inefficient, but with a powerful effect.
This is stronger in Sealed where it’s slower, so spending a lot of mana matters less; I would rate it at more like high C+ for that format.
This is going to be very good at punishing Aura strategies, especially since you have the ability to move it. If I was playing a control archetype this is a card I definitely want. The mana investment is quite a bit up front, but later you can just leave their best threat locked down. If there wasn’t so much Enchantment/Artifact removal I would rate this a B. In Sealed it is a B, though.
Hexproof is nice, but this doesn’t really do enough – it’s winmore in that you need to have a good creature to protect and spending an entire card to do that is not great. It is a bit better in this set, since playing this and then putting auras on the creature is an okay plan. I’ve given it a low C for now, but could see going down further.
I really don’t see this doing enough to be worth a card in the vast majority of decks.
This card doesn’t fix, there aren’t many mana sinks, and it only begins to ramp you on turn 5. Now, it can ramp you for a lot but if your deck is jam-packed full of too many expensive cards, you’re going to lose a lot of games to aggro and when you don’t draw this anyway. It is really mana sinks you need.
In a format like Dominaria, things would be different but I think there are too few decks that would ever want to play this in THB to justify a D.
This will more than likely be an expensive paperweight in most games, and that is not something I ever want in my deck.
If you’ve played with or against Loxodon Warhammer, you know what a gigantic beating that card is in Limited. This is not nearly as good, but it does a good impression. This is a very low investment for a lot of power, even if sometimes it’ll run afoul of artifact removal. I don’t think there are commons or uncommons I would take over this early, as it’s colourless.
Well, there had to be at least one good Artifact! This slots nicely into any deck, adds great value with minimal investment, and the ability could be clutch if your opponent has certain bombs.
I wouldn’t maindeck this card ever. This is a fairly weak Sideboard card too – you don’t get to draw a card if you exile their graveyard, so the advantage in doing so has to be very large; your opponent has to be heavily invested in their Escape synergies. I would take it only over total trash in Draft and look to board it in against very few decks.
This isn’t horrible to have in your sideboard if your opponent is deep into Escape but that is about it.
This is too weak a statline for too much investment. Scrying 1 adds to it, but it’s still not worth it.
This is not a card you want in your deck but there will be times when your curve gives you no choice.
I consider this a pretty low C – this statline is bad for 4 mana. You do at least get an immediate attack in, but these abilities other than first strike aren’t that useful – Trample isn’t good on a 3/3, and haste is whatever. DO NOT PUT AURAS ON THIS – they’ll fall off end of turn!
This seems fine, especially in a deck with a lot of combat tricks. The mana cost is fair, and Crew 1 is easy with all of the incidental 1/1’s that can be created in this set.
This card is a good way to fix if you’re looking to splash stuff or have cards with heavy mana requirements, and not worth including otherwise, as it has always been. Replace a land with it if you do run it. This is a reasonable C – I would take it over low Cs, since those cards won’t add that much to my deck anyway and the potential to splash is a powerful thing.
I like playing cards like this over 1 land for thinning and fixing purposes, especially in slower formats. It gums up the works if your deck wants to curve out though, so I wouldn’t play this in decks that care about putting on early pressure.
Wings of Hubris
I don’t think this set is aggressive enough for this to be worth it. Even in the aggro decks of this set, I don’t really value this card that much – red has plenty of burn in the format, and white/boros are looking to go wide not have one of their tokens fly over and peck the opponent. In Green, I think you’ll usually be able to do better, just by putting reasonable creatures and other nonsituational in your deck. Return to Nature on this card will also lead to some blowouts, where they can just block the creature that was previously flying. I consider this a high D, but still a D.
Here is another Artifact I really am not interested in playing.
Field of Ruin
There won’t be enough nonbasics out there for Field of Ruin to consistently find a target, and so it won’t function as fixing. For that reason,no deck should main this card – you can board it in if they do have 4 or 5 nonbasics (which is incredibly unlikely), but you just lose a mana source for your fixing otherwise. It doesn’t do anything in this format.
This is worse than a basic land and I will leave it at that.
Labyrinth of Skophos
Utility lands are useful, but this one costs you a mana source and is only good in the late game. I would be happy to play this card in decks where I have another fixer or two and am not splashing or where I don’t have very mana intensive cards, but there really isn’t a lot of fixing outside of Green in this format – the other fixers have pretty big costs to include in your deck, like Traveler's Amulet, Unknown Shores & Altar of the Pantheon, or they’re Temples which are rare. If you’re a Green deck, you should take this higher – more like low C+.
If you didn’t understand what I meant by some of this stuff, check out my handy article on draft mana bases here!
This is a really good effect! It gives you a lot of utility in combat since you can use it to counter a combat trick, go wide and pull back one of your creatures that eats a good block, or use it to effectively ‘tap down’ an attacking creature. That is a lot of power in a land and I would take it over a lot of cards. In Sealed this is an auto include.
If you are both colours, whether splashing or not, Temples are fantastic and are more like B range. Play them even if you’re just one of the colours and aren’t really aggressive – they’ll just improve your deck at a very low cost. Overall, they’re about a C+ in terms of pick order.
These are good playables even if you are in only one of the colors.
Unknown Shores is not a good land to play, or a good fixer to rely on for your splashes. You can play it if you’re desperate and not that worried about your main sources, but should never be happy to do so.
This is terrible and I do not think it is ever worth playing. Even if you are 3-color, playing everything off curve by 1 is too high of a tax and I won’t stand for it!
And that’s a wrap! Phew, that was a lot of work and a lot of fun. Thanks to Compulsion for our talks and going through the motions with me, to Terence for his continued support as always, and to all of you for tuning in! TBD looks like a fantastic Draft set, reasonably well-balanced and very fun with fantastic synergies, and I can’t wait to draft it.
My colour rankings: Black, blue/green (not sure yet!), red then white.
My pick for best commons in each colour: Blight-Breath Catoblepas, Witness of Tomorrows, Voracious Typhon, Iroas’s Blessing and Daybreak Chimera.
Best colour pair: Either Golgari or Rakdos
I am really excited to play this set! Each color is well grounded in classic flavor (except maybe Red), and the 2-color archetypes look to be reasonably balanced and interesting. It is going to be a paradigm shift to enter a new world of Enchantment, but I like the idea of highlighting card types that are usually understated.
Primary color rankings(every color has enough strong playables to be a strong secondary): Black > Blue/Green/White > Red
My pick for best commons in each colour: Final Death, Thirst for Meaning, Voracious Typhon, Daybreak Chimera, and Iroas’s Blessing
Best colour pair: Anything with Black
Drifter’s articles: https://mtgazone.com/drifter/
Compulsion’s articles: https://mtgazone.com/user/compulsion/?profiletab=posts/
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