Theros Beyond Death Wildcard Crafting Guide – Standard
Wildcards are a precious resource in MTG Arena. Magic: The Gathering releases new expansions every three months, each with around 53 rares and 15 mythic rares – which is a lot if you multiply that by four for a full playset! The fact that cards of the same rarity are worth exactly the same – whether they are good or bad – can be both a blessing and a curse. Players will also find that a lot of these cards are unplayable or too specific to be any good. You will need to navigate yourself around these cards especially if you are a new player or your resources are limited. In this series of crafting guides, we will review the notable cards in each set, how many you should be safe to craft, and how they can be used.
Make sure to check out our metagame tier list guides to find out what Theros Beyond Death cards are being used in competitive decks:
- MTG Arena Standard Decks – Best-of-One (BO1) Metagame Tier List – Theros Beyond Death Standard
- MTG Arena Standard Decks – Best-of-Three (BO3) Metagame Tier List – Theros Beyond Death Standard
Check out the crafting guides from other sets:
Wildcard Crafting Strategy
- In general, our recommendation for the best way to use your Wildcards is to choose a deck you would want to play, and craft just the missing cards from your collection. Take this guide as an indication of cards that are played (or not played) in the current competitive metagame.
- If you plan to open more packs or play a mixture of limited formats (i.e. sealed and draft) then the longer you hold off using Wildcards, the better. This also allows you to potentially build up your resources for the next set.
- As the current system stands, players will either not have too much trouble getting common or uncommon cards from the latest set or have a build up of common and uncommon Wildcards. For now, we will not include these in these guides but may introduce them for older sets for newer players.
- This guide will be updated and more cards added as the meta develops and as our evaluation of the cards changes. The Standard meta is not static (in fact, more fluid than ever due to wealth of information out there) and there is always a degree of uncertainty when ranking these cards.
Wildcard Crafting Category
With all that being said, we will attempt to categorize cards into categories so you get a general idea on how many copies a card might be in a deck and thus Wildcards you may need. This also pertains to fundamentals of deck building in general and also will depend on the format and meta on how much you may need.
- Tier A – Top Priority Craft: These are cards you will usually want to craft four copies of and safe to do even if you do not end up using it right away. Whether they are powerful cards or not on their own, they will be a key component of your deck and cannot generally be replaced.
Example: Godless Shrine, Nissa, Who Shakes the World, Teferi, Time Raveler
- Tier B – High Priority Craft: These are powerful cards, but you may not need the full four copies because you don’t necessarily want to have more than one during the game. This includes legendary permanents as you cannot own more than one of the same card on the battlefield or just an expensive but very powerful spell you won’t get to cast too much of. These cards also may still warrant four copies in your deck, but may not be essential.
Example: Knight of the Ebon Legion
- Tier C – Medium Priority Craft: Cards that may be somewhere in the middle – not so great in multiples, slightly specific in its purpose and/or not essential to the deck’s strategy and may be replaceable with other cards. Still, they may be a necessary evil in the deck’s archetype and still may need four copies for the deck’s consistency.
Example: Agent of Treachery, Fervent Champion
- Tier D – Low Priority Craft: Cards that are specific or narrow in nature so your deck will still function without it and you can find replacements relatively easily. This also applies to expensive spells (compared to your rest of your deck) and cards that may act as a finisher in your deck, don’t mind drawing these later on in the game, and/or you have ways to tutor/search for them. You would rarely need to craft more than one copy.
Example: Chandra, Awakened Inferno, Realm-Cloaked Giant
- Tier E – Bad Craft: These cards should only be used if you want to build a specific deck around them, and there are no alternatives available. They are likely made for playing in draft and not used in any constructed decks in the metagame except for very rare circumstances.
Example: Clackbridge Troll, Wakeroot Elemental
- Sideboard: Cards that are powerful but very specific or narrow in nature. If you only play best-of-one games, cards in this category will likely not apply to you unless the meta is so warped that you want to include some of these cards in your main deck.
Example: Noxious Grasp, Hushbringer
Theros Beyond Death Overview
- Theros Beyond Death seems to be more balanced compared to the previous set Throne of Eldraine, with less must-have rares and mythic rares.
- There are more powerful, build around cards at uncommon, good for building budget decks.
- As with Throne of Eldraine, this is a standalone set but the mechanics and themes are generic, such as Escape (graveyards), Constellation (enchantments) and Devotion (casting costs). This means that the synergies will not be confined by the set only, unlike Adventure or Food, which we will not likely see anywhere else.
Tier A – Top Priority Craft
- Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath: Another powerful Simic card while not as broken as Oko was, it has enough synergies going for it in its color pair to enable decks into top tier status such as Simic Ramp and Temur Reclamation. Ramp, big creature, lifegain, card draw and graveyard synergy all in one, which is what Simic does well.
- Temples: The five temples aren’t great for aggro decks, and hence the priority of color pair will be different. For example, you will most likely want Temple of Enlightenment and Temple of Deceit first, as they fit perfectly in their corresponding decks, where as the other three tend to be more on the aggressive side and usually don’t want lands that come into the play tapped. These don’t work terribly well with the Castle lands from Throne of Eldraine either. Having said all that, these dual lands are a necessary evil and we will have to stick with them for the next year until they rotate out.
Tier B – High Priority Craft
No cards in this tier yet!
- Elspeth Conquers Death: This is a really versatile and value-filled Saga comparable to The Eldest Reborn, and will be playing a role in control decks until the foreseeable future. It also pairs really well with Dream Trawler, since you have the option to use its discard ability to bring out a creature or planeswalker if you don’t have a suitable card in your graveyard.
- Shatter the Sky: This will be a very important board wipe spell for white-based control decks without having to rely on the restrictive mana cost of Kaya’s Wrath. The drawback is not as bad as predicted and will almost always be a better choice than the five or six mana spells (e.g. Time Wipe, Planar Cleansing) available.
- Thassa’s Intervention: This is the best card out of the Intervention cycle by far, as it can apply itself in most situations without being a dead card in your hand. Highly recommended if you like strategies involving Blue.
- Woe Strider: This card gives you two bodies, a free sacrifice ability and even a threatening Escape ability. If this card does not become played, then the only reason would be the glut of three drops in relevant deck archetypes. We still believe it outclasses most, and will be a player in the new metagame.
- Phoenix of Ash: This card is what red-based aggro decks needed, as it is good in longer games and even gives you a mana sink ability (though it may not come up often). It will potentially be a staple in these decks to come, though it may not always be a full playset.
- Dream Trawler: This card is the finisher that control and even midrange decks have been looking for. You will most likely want this in decks that has these colors, whether you are in Azorius, Bant or Esper territory. As mentioned previously, it combines well with Elspeth Conquers Death.
Tier C – Medium Priority Craft
- Heliod, Sun-Crowned: This God is an integral part of the Mono White Devotion deck, and will likely not be played anywhere else. Only craft this if that is one of the decks you really want to play.
- Thassa, Deep-Dwelling: One of the better Gods in the set that can be exploited with enter the battlefield effects. Whether that becomes a tier one strategy is yet to be proven, and even then having all four copies of the card seems unnecessary.
- Ashiok, Nightmare Muse: Definitely a good planeswalker (some even compare it to Teferi, Hero of Dominaria), but in a color combination that makes it more tricky to use. At this moment in time, there is no reason to play Dimir or Esper over Azorius hence its tier C status.
- Archon of Sun’s Grace: When you can pump 2/2 lifelinking flyers for no additional cost other than just playing your enchantments, the game can get out of hand quite quickly if your opponent does not an have immediate answer to Archon of Sun’s Grace. This card can serve as a powerful and dependable win condition in enchantment decks, second to Setessan Champion.
- Eat to Extinction: This is a fine removal spell, but we still have Murderous Rider in the same space. You will not be in a rush to craft these any time soon since they rotate at the same time as well, unless the exile clause is super important to deal with cards like Cavalier of Thorns.
- Nightmare Shepherd: Nightmare Shepherd is a solid roleplayer in sacrifice synergies and have been tried in Mono Black and Rakdos Sacrifice to some success. However, there are a lot of variations in the build and this is by all means not an essential card.
- Treacherous Blessing: Three cards for three mana is a good deal, and is even better in a deck that can sacrifice other permanents. Cards like Doom Foretold and Korvold, Fae-Cursed King goes well with this card, and potentially other black aggro decks that need a bit of help with card draw for longer match ups.
- Storm’s Wrath: Red gets a nice board wipe spell other than Defeaning Clarion that can even take out Planeswalkers. For more budget-minded players, Flames Sweep is a much worse but an alternative that was used previously.
- The First Iroan Games: This is a solid card that hasn’t quite found a home in a metagame deck, but like the other Sagas of Theros Beyond Death, is a great card packed with value. It plays well especially with Lovestruck Beast and we believe it will play a role in numerous decks in the future.
- Setessan Champion: Great card in decks that are built around it and other enchantments. Similar to Edgewall Innkeeper, enchantment decks while still playable and have a lot of potential with Theros Beyond Death, it has not broken the metagame quite yet.
Tier D – Low Priority Craft
- Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis: This seemingly unassuming card has not quite found the right home for it yet, finding its way in various midrange decks or a few copies in sideboards. Until then, there are enough alternatives.
- Kiora Bests the Sea God: A decent finisher card similar to Realm-Cloaked Giant, but you most likely want to be playing Dream Trawler or Agent of Treachery instead.
- Ox of Agonas: This card has a lot of potential especially with Arclight Phoenix but Standard possibly has too few enablers to make it good enough. Historic seems like a better fit for it at the moment.
- Calix, Destiny’s Hand: This planeswalker is pretty specific in what it does, so you will be able to deduce whether you need this card or not.
- Klothys, God of Destiny: One of the more decent Gods compared to others, but seems counterproductive to what a Gruul deck wants to do especially since the three drop slots are crowded. The Devotion will be hard to achieve and dealing 2 damage per turn will likely be the most likely mode.
- Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger: A two mana discard spell on its own is not too great. It still has potential sacrifice synergies (you can even sacrifice it with Priest of Forgotten Gods in response) or with Lazav, the Multifarious to make it into a 6/6 for two mana (click here for an example decklist).
- Polukranos, Unchained: Another mythic rare with potential since it’s not completely terrible (see Sultai Escape deck), and it’s unlikely you’ll ever want all four copies.
- Thassa’s Oracle: Has a potential role in more casual Mono Blue or Self-Mill decks.
- Thryx, the Sudden Storm: The card is still worth trying in some decks like Simic Flash and may play a role somewhere, but don’t go out of your way to craft it.
- Aphemia, the Cacophony: A decent build-around card but won’t be breaking the metagame anytime soon.
- Purphoros’s Intervention: This is a fine but inefficient removal spell for Red; there are better options than the base case of 3 mana 4 damage in other colours, and Mono Red is playing an all-in aggressive game and trying to maximize its mana efficiency. You will mainly be playing it for flexibility and may end up being better than it looks.
- Tectonic Giant: This is not a terrible card by any stretch but a four drop red creature has to be pretty good to see it being played. This is not quite on the same level as Rekindling Phoenix (and would be unfair to compare them) and is not likely to make a big impact.
- Dryad of the Ilysian Grove: A generic but versatile card that still needs to prove its value.
- Atris, Oracle of Half-Truths: Played in midrange Esper Hero builds, I’ve seen too many opponents take the face up pile which is almost always the worse option.
- Bronzehide Lion: A 2 mana 3/3 with a small upside is not bad, but the pure green white color combination is not too strong at the moment (especially with the addition of Shatter the Sky and Storms’ Wrath).
- Shadowspear: This card has potential, and obviously it’s nothing like Embercleave, it’s just another way to give your creatures trample. Lifelink and the activated ability is just a nice bonus.
- Labyrinth of Skophos: Utility lands like this can be useful in two color decks, similar to Blast Zone and Arch of Orazca. You likely want no more than one in your deck.
Tier E – Bad Craft
- Erebos, Bleak-Hearted: We don’t think current versions of Mono Black has space for this card and 2 life is a big price to pay compared to cards like Midnight Reaper and paying mana to sacrifice things is not required as we still have Witch’s Oven and Ayara, First of Locthwain.
- Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded: You can definitely do some fun things with this Purphoros but is likely to be too slow.
- Nylea, Keen-Eyed: By the time you cast this, its creature cost reduction ability will be less relevant and its passive ability is pretty average.
- Nyxbloom Ancient: We have no doubt this is a fun “win more” card, but is not close to being competitive.
- Athreos, Shroud-Veiled: We never thought cards like Korvold or Kenrith would be staples in a tier one deck, so we won’t rule this card out completely. We still say it will collect dust in your collection!
- Idyllic Tutor: The tempo loss to search for an enchantment is too big, even for widely played cards like Fires of Invention. In the current version of Jeskai Fires has Sphinx of Foresight so it’s not too hard to find it either. Will be one of the more useful cards in Brawl though!
- Taranika, Akroan Veteran: White already has a plethora of three drop creatures and spells (e.g. Gideon Blackblade, Acclaimed Contender) that it can play, and sometimes it doesn’t even want to do that at all. Being a Legendary also hurts the card.
- Nadir Kraken: We can see this card being useful somewhere to clog up the board in slower, controlling decks but in the end may not find the home it needs since the creatures themselves are low impact.
- Ashiok’s Erasure: Four mana for a counterspell that can potentially give back the card to your opponent is not the best tempo play. This card can get around spells that cannot be countered or good against decks that rely on specific cards. May be useful in sideboards, but there are probably better options.
- Protean Thaumaturge: There are better cloning spells in Standard at the moment such as Quasiduplicate or Spark Double if that is what you want to be doing.
- Wavebreak Hippocamp: If this had Flash itself it might have been much better but a 2/2 for 3 mana is not somewhere you wanna be.
- Gravebreaker Lamia: Card made for limited play to put Escape cards in your graveyard.
- Tymaret Calls the Dead: Probably not the most terrible card in this tier, but we just cannot see it be a good card in any deck.
- Storm Herald: This card has too many conditions to make it work. It is much worse compared to something like Thunderkin Awakener or Dreadhorde Arcanist.
- Underworld Breach: This card has more implications in paper formats such as Modern where the card pool is much bigger, and similar to Thousand-Year Storm Standard is probably not the place to be doing such things if you want to be competitive in Standard.
- Arasta of the Endless Web: Similar to Nadir Kraken, but even more situational.
- Mantle of the Wolf: Has a little potential in Aura decks but even that is a bit of a stretch.
- Nessian Boar: Even without the drawback ability, this card will still not be relevant.
- Nylea’s Intervention: Both modes are too weak to be played in any format, unless for some reason Azorius Flyers become a tier one deck.
- Allure of the Unknown: Giving your enemy a choice and a free card is never a good idea and should never attempt to be played.
- Dalakos, Crafter of Wonders: Clearly made for casual play.
- Enigmatic Incarnation: One of the popular cards that players built around in the Early Access Streamer Event but similar to Prime Speaker Vannifer decks of the past, it has quickly disappeared.
- Haktos the Unscarred: One of the more unique cards in Theros Beyond Death and has some potential but as of now it remains a too risky play that can be easily disrupted.
- Nyx Lotus: A card players tried to break early on but it looks like Standard is just not the place for cards like this.
- Eidolon of Obstruction: A two mana for a 2/1 first strike is not a terrible deal. In comparison to Hushbringer, this card only affects your opponent, so it’s really all upside. You won’t be in a huge rush to craft this one unless the meta calls for it, as there are a plethora of two drops in white that will do a similar job.
- Heliod’s Intervention: This card does not quite seem good enough for the maindeck but may be useful in sideboards.
- Erebos’s Intervention: This card does not quite seem good enough for the maindeck but may be useful in sideboards.
- The Akroan War: The card is used as a means to break board stalls in creature vs. creature decks but I’m not quite sold on it yet. It may be moved to the Tier D or E category eventually.
- Kunoros, Hound of Athreos: Grafdigger’s Cage on a solid body with a lot of keywords. It’s no Questing Beast, and there are probably more efficient graveyard hate cards, but it seems too good not to see play eventually.
- January 30, 2020: Guide added with current metagame data.