Perplexing Chimera is a staple in a couple of EDH decks, but what makes it so good?
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Talk about a silly card! Perplexing Chimera is a fairly perplexing creature. There are, of course, plenty of ridiculous shenanigans that could abound with this card. It reads: "Whenever an opponent casts a spell, you may exchange control of Perplexing Chimera and that spell. If you do, you may choose new targets for the spell." Just wow. Sounds pretty good, but what are we supposed to do with this card?
The most obvious use for this card is to keep this card on the board until your opponent plays something awesome. In Limited, that would be your opponent's bomb. It doesn't even have to be a creature, as it can be any spell. Of course, if this card is on the field, it would prevent your opponent from playing said bomb. Then again, if the opponent gains control of this card, they can then use its effect to your detriment, as well. Deployed correctly, though, especially in Limited, this card is a game changer. A 3/3 for 4U (4 colorless, one Blue) is nothing special, really. If you don't plan on playing anything too spicy after giving your opponent this, you've likely won the game.
The best home for Perplexing Chimera, however, is in Commander! In particular, there's Zedruu the Greathearted. The kind-hearted and generous Minotaur Monk relies on giving opponents cards that they don't want in exchange for cards they really don't want to lose. With Zedruu, you'd gain a life and draw a card at the beginning of your upkeep as long as this is under someone else's control. Still, you'd have to be careful, because that opponent may steal one of your things in return. But then, you could later steal one of their things, as well! Best of all, there's a card in Commander called Homeward Path that allows you to regain control of permanents you own. There are other cards that do that, but Homeward Path is a simple colorless land that would allow you to abuse this card over and over again. The Chimera can become a maddening little troll in a Zedruu deck.
But Zedruu is not the only Commander that has use for the Perplexing Chimera's ability. Roon of the Hidden Realm likes to make things go away and come back. How does this benefit you exactly when it comes to the Chimera? Well, you can, for one thing, get your Chimera back with his ability. Roon's ability can target creature's on your opponent's side of the board, not just your own. Because that creature comes back under its owner's control, you get to not only keep your opponent's thing, but your Chimera, as well. Good stuff. The Chimera pops up in a few other Commander decks, as well, probably for the fun of it.
While the Perplexing Chimera never really saw competitive Constructed play, the effect is pretty bonkers when you really sit there and consider it. With decks that rely on a few specific spells for a win condition, the Chimera can ruin their day. There was a time that I could actually see this side-boarded in for certain match-ups in Eternal formats such as Legacy and Vintage. Maybe I was overthinking its usefulness in those high-power formats.
However, Perplexing Chimera did see a bit of play in Theros Block Constructed in Magic Online, as seen in this mono-blue deck in the sideboard. It was also seen as a two-of in the sideboard of this Devotion to Blue Standard deck that placed fifth in a Magic Online Premier event. Outside of these two corner cases though, Perplexing Chimera is almost strictly a Commander-only playable card. That's just fine, because it's pretty good at what it does.
For the first time since 2009, Born of the Gods introduced a new five-color card into Magic the Gathering, Chromanticore. Unfortunately, it's not a Legendary Creature. So, we could throw "potential Commander" out the window, right?
Every one said how this Chromanticore could be a pretty sweet Commander, especially considering that it has Bestow on it! How interesting would it be to Bestow this from the Command Zone? To this day, I still wonder about it. But, I'm sure that the Wizards of the Coast design team had their reasons.
Anyhow, Chromanticore is a 4/4 creature with flying, first strike, vigilance, trample, and lifelink. If you Bestow it, which costs 2WUBRG (2 colorless, White, Blue, Black, Red, Green), the enchanted creature gains +4/+4 and all of those abilities. So, on its own or as an Equipment, it's very powerful. If you manage to get all five colors of mana available to you, it's going to be a solid finisher. Then, because it's a Bestow creature, if the enchanted creatures dies or is otherwise removed from the battlefield, Chromanticore remains on the field.
In Standard, it's understandable that Chromanticore didn't do very much. Being a five-color card in an environment where many decks were three colors - perhaps splashing a fourth - didn't really let this card shine. There are ways to sneak it out in Modern and other formats. But, there are such juicier targets to consider in eternal formats that why would you bother?
Although Chromanticore is not a Legendary Creature, some players decided to use it as an unofficial Commander. Decks built around the Manticore have focused on running almost exclusively Enchantment Creatures and other powerful Enchantments. Many friendly playgroups already allow Chromanticore as a Commander, since he's not overpowered. These decks are built purely for flavor, but they look fun. Still, if you're taking the deck to an unfamiliar playgroup, be sure to have a backup Commander on hand, such as Horde of Notions.
Officially, Chromanticore sees a fair amount of play for a five-color card in Commander. Interestingly enough, the Commander who uses the Bestow creature the most is Progenitus, which is odd since you can't attach anything to something with Protection From Everything. Of course, there are other creatures in the deck you can attach it to.
Chromanticore is pretty fun in Child of Alara decks. Attaching the Manticore to it makes for a 10/10 with flying, first strike, vigilance, and lifelink, as the Child already has trample. Karona, False God and Cromat decks also utilize the Chromanticore's talents sometimes.
Honestly, it's a bit strange that Chromanticore wasn't made a Legendary Creature in the first place. The flavor is there. Also, who realistically can play multiple copies on the board at once? You can see why this is an unofficial Commander for some people. It's a casual favorite, for sure. It's a well designed, powerful mythic rare that could have been quite a Commander (officially) if they'd just made it Legendary.
Sure, 5-color Bestow never became a thing in Standard or Modern... But you never know when they'll revisit the mechanic in the future!
Forlorn Pseudamma is one of many cards from the Born of the Gods set that features the Inspired mechanic. Inspired is a neat little ability that gives creatures with it a special effect whenever they untap. In this case, the Inspired ability allows the Pseudamma to create 2/2 Black Zombie enchantment creature tokens. But you have to pay 2B each time it untaps to get this ability. Honestly, in a Limited environment, such as draft and sealed deck, this isn't a bad ability. But is it worth it for Constructed?
Also, the Pseudamma is a little on the brittle side, being a 2/1 for 3B (3 colorless, Black). On the plus side, it does have Intimidate, which allows it to attack unblocked as long as the opponent doesn't control any Black or artifact creatures. This is good, as having Intimidate will allow this creature to attack often enough to make the Inspired ability relevant.
Unfortunately, even in Limited, a 2/1 probably won't last all that long. It's certainly too fragile for most Constructed formats, and even Zombie Commander decks don't really want it. It's not very efficient, although it's a good effect. Even being an Enchantment Creature, there isn't really any way to abuse this untap ability.
There are, however, a couple ways to make this ability cheaper. The artifact Heartstone from years back makes activated abilities cost 1 colorless mana less to activate, This means you can get a zombie token for only 2 mana. That's still pretty fair, so not quite good enough to be worth playing it. There's also Training Grounds from Rise of the Eldrazi which makes activated abilities cost 2 mana less. That's a 2/2 Zombie for only a single Black mana. That sounds really good on paper, but keep in mind, you still have to untap the Pseudamma to get the effect in the first place.
While there are some nice ways to make this guy better, there are just far more efficient and reliable ways to get Zombie tokens. So, it likely sits languishing in bulk boxes for the rest of its life.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
While Inspired never became a mechanic with the fuel to become its own deck archetype, the Born of the Gods “Inspiration-Struck” Intro Pack contains a lot of useful cards. When it was released in February 2014, most of these cards were limited all-stars. Also, the cover card, Arbiter of the Ideal, is a fine inclusion in many Blue-based Commander Decks.
Let’s take a look at the list and see what we’re dealing with:
2 Aerie Worshippers
1 Arbiter of the Ideal
2 Black Oak of Odunos
1 Breaching Hippocamp
2 Deepwater Hypnotist
1 Felhide Minotaur
1 Forlorn Pseudamma
1 Horizon Scholar
1 Insatiable Harpy
2 Returned Phalanx
2 Servant of Tymaret
1 Shipwreck Singer
1 Siren of the Silent Song
2 Sphinx’s Disciple
1 Triton Shorethief
1 Warchanter of Mogis
1 Curse of the Swine
1 Evanescent Intellect
1 Oracle’s Insight
2 Retraction Helix
1 Sip of Hemlock
1 Siren Song Lyre
1 Springleaf Drum
1 Thassa’s Bounty
The two rares in the deck are Arbiter of the Ideal and Curse of the Swine. Both are fairly decent cards. Let’s take a look first at the cover card.
Being an avid Commander player, I immediately saw Arbiter of the Ideal’s potential when the card was first revealed. A 4/5 flyer for 4UU is perfectly reasonable with as good of an Inspired ability as it has. Whenever the Arbiter becomes untapped, you reveal the top card of your deck. If it’s an artifact, creature or land card, you may put it onto the battlefield. The only downside is that it gains a manifestation counter, which makes it an enchantment in addition to its other types.
To be fair, that’s not really a major downside depending on what it is you decide to put down. It’s also a may effect, which is always nice. Not only do I love that it’s a Sphinx and has gorgeous artwork. But with the top-deck manipulation available in the Commander format, this is a pretty powerful engine for playing free big stuff.
As far as Constructed is concerned, though, it’s a bit high on the curve. It’s a card that a lot of the more competitive players may overlook, because it’s just too slow in a format that has so much removal flying around it. But it’s a fantastic little card in Commander, and is definitely a fantastic card in this Inspired-based deck. It would later find a home in many Phenax, God of Deception Commander decks.
Phenax’s ability gives all creatures you control the ability to tap to mill the X top cards of target player’s library where X is that creature’s toughness. This combines very well with the Arbiter’s ability, as 5 toughness makes it worth tapping. Then, every time it gets untapped, it can get back a card with its ability. It’s a really nice interaction.
Curse of the Swine, on the other hand, has been played in Standard. While it’s not the most efficient removal, the fact that it exiles and not destroys target creatures is important. It’s a way of taking care of the Indestructible Gods and anything else that your opponent would benefit from its “when it dies” triggers.
The fact that the opponent gets a 2/2 Boar isn’t really that relevant if what you’re removing is a major problem. The fact that it has an X cost means that this card only gets better the more you remove with it. It is at sorcery speed, of course, because at instant speed, this effect would be ridiculous. It’s a Constructed-playable card, though, that’s for sure. It also sees play in Commander, as well. In fact, it’s become somewhat of a staple, being played in literally thousands of Blue decks.
The rest of the deck, though, is another story. Despite having some of the prettiest artwork I’ve ever seen on some Magic cards, it’s basically a bunch of cards that would work well in a Limited deck, but not in Constructed. However, there is a copy of Springleaf Drum in the deck. Not only does this little artifact work well with Inspired, but it’s just a good card in general.
The best creature card in the deck is Siren of the Silent Song. Not only is this Siren a Zombie (meaning it’s playable in Grimgrin, Corpse-Born Commander decks), but it’s a 2/1 flyer for 1UB (1 colorless, Blue, Black) with a solid Inspired ability.
Whenever it becomes untapped, each opponent discards a card, then puts the top card of his or her library into his/her graveyard. If you can get multiple copies out on the board in a control deck, not only does the 2 damage in the air matter, but if you’re running Phenax, God of Deception in the deck, it can tap without attacking.
Now that we’ve established that Phenax is amazing with the Inspired ability, here is my advice for improving upon this deck: build a blue/black control deck! OK, Arbiter of the Ideal would have come out for Consuming Aberration with the Gatecrash mill deck all-star still in Standard at the time. But hey, getting 4 Sirens is a good start, and Curse of the Swine would be in there, too.
If you’re using this deck as a beginning to a casual deck, this list is a good starting point. However, you could get all of the cards you’d need as singles for significantly less than buying this deck as a sealed product. Considering that new copies of this deck can sell for more than $25 online, it’s worth staying away from. Really, the foil Arbiter of the Ideal was the draw at the time, but today they are only about $1. And Born of the Gods boosters were actually valuable at the time, being in Standard, because everyone was trying to crack their playsets of Temple scry-lands and Courser of Kruphix.
Out of the box, this deck itself is a bit underwhelming. It doesn’t really have anything that exciting and the two packs of Born of the Gods probably won’t get you your money back. As a deck, it’s not really too strong, and gets probably a C from me. It maybe deserves a C-plus for trying to put as many Inspired cards in it as possible. In any case, it’s not the best of the decks, by far.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
When the Insatiable Hunger intro pack was first released in 2014, it was “Value City” compared to most other intro decks of the time. Not only does the deck contain a Standard and Modern playable rare, Mistcutter Hydra, from Theros. But it has a lot of other goodies, as well. Is it an amazing playable deck out of the box? That’s debatable. But let’s take a look!
2 Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass
2 Fanatic of Xenagos
1 Mistcutter Hydra
1 Nessian Courser
2 Nessian Demolok
1 Nessian Wilds Ravager
1 Opaline Unicorn
1 Pharagax Giant
2 Reckless Reveler
1 Satyr Piper
1 Setessan Starbreaker
2 Snake of the Golden Grove
2 Swordwise Centaur
1 Thunder Brute
2 Voyaging Satyr
1 Destructive Revelry
1 Fall of the Hammer
2 Lightning Strike
1 Messenger’s Speed
1 Mischief and Mayhem
2 Mortal’s Resolve
2 Ordeal of Nylea
1 Pinnacle of Rage
1 Searing Blood
The Nessian Wilds Ravager is certainly an interesting card, and it’s the cover card of this deck. A 6/6 for 4GG that has the ability to either become a 12/12 or fight a target creature is definitely powerful in Limited. It’s not exactly my idea of what a red/green aggro deck should be running, but as far as fatties go, it’s not a bad one at all. But this isn’t the Hydra you’re buying the deck for.
Mistcutter Hydra may not look like much at first, but this little XG (X, 1 Green) creature can get out of control in a hurry. Not only can it not be countered, but it also has Haste (very important!) and protection from Blue, which is one of the best colors in Theros Block Standard. It enters the battlefield with X +1/+1 counters on it, so obviously the more you pump into it, the bigger it is.
It’s pretty much a win condition against mono-Blue decks and against blue/black control decks who have a hard time dealing with a big uncounterable creature (and even a lot of their Black creatures have Blue in their casting costs). Just having Haste makes it playable. It’s the best card in the deck.
The Intro Pack also has two copies of Fanatic of Xenagos, which is good whether or not your opponent pays for its Tribute cost. It’s either a 4/4 trampler for 1RG, or a 3/3 with Haste that becomes a 4/4 until end of the turn that it comes into play for 1RG, and it still has Trample. It’s just a valuable creature. With Xenagos, God of Revels around to give it Haste (and double the power until end of turn), this is a really good creature.
As with most Intro Packs, the rest of the creatures are sort of sub-par, most of them being Tribute creatures that are good in Limited but not aggressive enough for a typical Constructed atmosphere. Voyaging Satyr, though, which untaps lands is pretty good. Opaline Unicorn is also a cute little mana rock on a 1/2 body.
The non-creature spells aren’t bad at all, though. It has fine removal in Fall of the Hammer, two copies of Lightning Strike, and a Searing Blood. Destructive Revelry is also quite good enchantment/artifact removal. Messenger’s Speed is a passable Aura, Mortal’s Resolve is an OK combat trick, and Ordeal of Nylea helps you ramp up your basic lands. Pinnacle of Rage is a Limited-only card and Mischief and Mayhem is a bit too expensive for what you want to do with this deck, even though it has a super cool effect.
Improving the Insatiable Hunger Deck, In Context
Unlike some of the other Born of the Gods intro packs, there are ways to make the Insatiable Hunger deck better relatively inexpensively. Here’s a shot at it:
4 Fanatic of Xenagos
4 Mistcutter Hydra
2 Nessian Demolok
2 Nessian Wilds Ravager
1 Satyr Piper
4 Swordwise Centaur
1 Thunder Brute
4 Voyaging Satyr
2 Destructive Revelry
2 Fall of the Hammer
3 Lightning Strike
1 Mischief and Mayhem
2 Mortal’s Resolve
2 Ordeal of Nylea
2 Searing Blood
4 Temple of Abandon
We max out the Fanatic of Xenagos, since that’s easily one of the best cards in the deck, cutting the Opaline Unicorn (as cute as it is) and the vanilla Nessian Courser. We’re also cutting the Reckless Reveler who are too situational for two more Swordwise Centaur, who are vanilla but are 3/2 for two Green and fit our aggressive strategy.
We also max out the Mistcutter Hydras and drop a lot of the more irrelevant creatures: the Setessan Starbreaker and the two Snake of the Golden Groves. The Starbreaker’s removal ability will be compensated for by another copy of Destructive Revelry later. The Snake’s tribute ability can gain you 4 life or become a 7/7 for 5 mana. While that’s not bad at all, three more Mistcutters are more efficient and have Haste, which is very important!
We next cut the Pharagax Giant (great Limited card) for another Nessian Wilds Ravager. The Giant will usually just be a 5 for 4R, so the Ravager just does a lot more work here. The Cyclops are both cut for two more copies of Voyaging Satyr, which helps the deck ramp a bit. The two Nessian Demolok can stay for now, as well as Thunder Brute for being a Trampler that can gain Haste. The Piper will also stay, as having the ability to make one of the big creatures in the deck un-blockable is a nice touch.
We cut a couple of lands since we added Temples for the color fixing, and this gave us room for another Lightning Strike and Fall of the Hammer. Mischief and Mayhem stays in for now for the surprise element, and only the Messenger’s Speed (not really too great) and the Pinnacle of Rage leave for another Destructive Revelry and Searing Blood.
The next upgrade to do with this deck is replace the Thunder Brute with a Xenagos, God of Revels, which will be your win condition. If you can afford them, you’d replace the Nessian Demoloks with Polukranos, World Eater. You could also take out the Piper for an Arbor Colossus. Also, if the Swordwise Centaurs are too vanilla for you, just swap them out for a playset of Burning-Tree Emissary or Scavenging Ooze depending on what you want to do with the deck.
Like the green/black and red/white Born of the Gods intro decks, there’s a nice shell for a good aggressive deck here. I’d give it a B for providing so many value cards in the deck to start, plus you get the two booster packs. Unlike the blue/white and blue/black decks that don’t serve as good shells or provide you with much value in the lists, the red/green deck is easily the best value for your money.
Born of the Gods was a relatively weak set compared to Theros and Journey Into Nyx. So the booster packs aren’t worth much as those from other sets would be. But considering the Insatiable Hunger deck can be had for only about $10-12, it’s not a bad buy when you consider boosters are $3-4 each retail. So you basically get an entire 60-card deck for $5-7.
Mistcutter Hydra isn’t worth much, about $1 or so, but it is definitely a playable card. The Nessian Wilds Ravager is a bulk rare, but sees some play in Commander. An uncommon, Searing Blood, is probably the most competitively useful card in the deck, as it’s played in Modern Burn decks. Destructive Revelry also sees Modern play as artifact removal. Lightning Strike is still played in some casual decks, so it’s worth a non-zero amount, as well. So as a sealed product, it’s actually worth buying as long as you get one of the Gods, Courser of Kruphix, or Brimaz, King of Oreskos from one of your Born of the Gods boosters. A Temple tap-land is good to get, too.
All in all, for an older Intro Pack, Insatiable Hunger is a good one. Since the cards to improve this deck are pretty cheap nowadays, it’s a great pickup for casual players breaking into Magic the Gathering.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
One of the pre-release promo cards for Born of the Gods, Silent Sentinel has proven itself over the years to be a useful way to get back Enchantments in Commander. The Silent Sentinel is a 4/6 flying Archon that costs 5 colorless and 2 White to cast. Whenever it attacks, you may return a target Enchantment card from your graveyard to the battlefield.
While a 7-drop like this never saw 60-card Constructed play, it was clearly a pretty powerful effect for Commander right from the beginning. Being able to recycle Enchantments is quite powerful. You can discard something like Omniscience (which makes all of your cards have no mana cost to play) and bring it into play with one swing from the Sentinel. Being a trigger ability upon declaring an attack is particularly awesome, as the attack doesn't even need to deal damage to work.
There's another cool caveat to Silent Sentinel's ability. If you choose an Aura from the graveyard, you get to choose any legal target that it could attach to. However, since you aren't casting the Enchantment, the Aura technically doesn't target. This means that you can actually attach Auras to creatures with shroud (can't be targeted by spells or abilities) or opposing creatures with hexproof (can't be targeted by other player's spells or abilities).
The Sentinel's effect can also bring back the Theros Gods, as they are Enchantments, if they somehow end up in the graveyard. This gave it great synergy with the rest of the Theros block of sets that this card is from. However, the Bestow creatures that could also be alternately cast as Auras can only come back as creatures, since Bestow is an alternate casting cost.
The Commander who most often plays Silent Sentinel in their 99 is Daxos the Returned. This is primarily because the Sentinel was reprinted in the same Commander 2015 preconstructed deck as Daxos. But the Sentinel makes sense in that deck, since Daxos is all about the Enchantments! Other Commanders who have conscripted the Sentinel's services are Bruna, Light of Alabaster, Krond the Dawn-Clad, Uril, the Miststalker, Sigarda, Host of Herons, and Zur the Enchanter.
Silent Sentinel has proven to be a useful toolbox card for any Commander deck that uses a lot of Auras and/or Enchantments. Being able to dump a pricey Enchantment and get it back with a simple declaration of attack is a very powerful effect. While 7 mana is quite an investment, all you have to do is give your Sentinel shroud or hexproof and you should be able to get several activations of its ability, making it a fairly efficient way to recur your favorite Enchantments.
by Phoenix Desertsong
Astral Cornucopia in EDH / Commander
In Commander (aka EDH), there are a few cards that interact well with this card. For example, there is an artifact called Coretapper that can tap itself to add a charge counter to target artifact. There’s a similar one called Power Conduit. Also, Energy Chamber does the same thing at the beginning of every upkeep. There’s also Surge Node, but it is limited in how many times you can add counters, since the Node only starts with six. You also have to pay mana to move the charge counter. Since there are so many options to put charge counters on the Cornucopia so easily, it’s actually a pretty nifty mana rock. You can play it for free on turn one and then have charge counters build up on it over time. Out of nowhere, it can offer you a lot of mana.
On its own, without the proper charge counter support, it’s pretty underwhelming. When X is set to 1, Astral Cornucopia is basically a Manalith, giving you one of any color mana for a tap. It’s not as good as Darksteel Ingot, because that’s indestructible. So what’s good about this? It obviously gets a lot better when you invest more mana into it. First of all, having extra mana to sink into things definitely happens in Commander. So the possibility of being able to sink 6, 9, or even 12 mana into this is certainly there. You could have it tap for 2, 3, or 4 mana per turn quite easily.
Then, there are cards that can double the number of counters on something. These include Vorel of the Hull-Clade, Doubling Season, and Primal Vigor. Vorel, in particular, is a Commander that makes very good use of this card. There are also cards that have the Proliferate mechanic to add more of a given counter on a permanent. These include Contagion Engine and Tezzeret’s Gambit. War of the Spark added a few more like Urza's Bastion.
Astral Cornucopia in Modern, Limited, and Standard
There was speculation early after its release that Astral Corncuopia could find a home in such Tron deck in Modern. There are better cards in that sort of deck to invest mana into, however. Astral Cornucopia was never a high pick in Limited when Born of the Gods was in print, either. It was also a bit too mana-intensive to be usable in Standard or other Constructed formats.
Because it's almost exclusively used in Commander, Astral Cornucopia was reprinted in a Commander 2016 pre-con deck. This has kept the price of the non-foil card down. However, foils of Astral Cornucopia are still sought after and are solid additions to Commander decks.
There are enough silly things you can do with charge counters, such as with Lux Cannon, that this definitely has a home in a number of decks. Commanders such as Vorel, Rosheen Meanderer (who can tap to put at least 1 counter onto this with her ability), and Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient (Artifact shenanigans) are happy to have this mana rock artifact in their 99.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
When Hero of Leina Tower was first spoiled, it was believed that of all the Heroic cards in the set, she would see the most play. People were super excited about her best case scenario. Being able to pay X any time that the Hero is targeted to add +1/+1 counters may not sound incredible at first, but this Hero could get super big in a hurry. The problem was that the Heroic decks that emerged never wanted to use the mana to dump into her.
The Hero was a very solid first pick in Theros block Limited, as she was a one-drop that could easily become a 3/3 or greater quickly. But in Constructed, she proved to just be too slow for a deck that needed to rely on speed and mana efficiency. She was simply was too inefficient for Constructed Heroic purposes.
As it would turn out, Lagonna-Band Trailblazer from Journey into Nyx would prove to be a better one-drop creature as a 0/4 with Heroic for Constructed purposes. Also G/X Heroic proved to not be terribly competitive as U/W (blue/white) Heroic would. The best card G/X Heroic had to offer was Aspect of Hydra, which was played in Mono-Green and R/G Devotion instead (and still sees some play in Modern). Had there been more efficient Heroic creatures in Green, then this Hero could have had a good day.
Clearly, the designers of Theros block decided that Green Heroic creatures would start out inefficient, but gain multiple +1/+1 counters as they were targeted. This was fine in Limited, and this was even fun and very playable. (Setessan Oathsworn, for example, could become threatening in a hurry at common.) But in Constructed, creatures like Centaur Battlemaster and Staunch-Hearted Warrior were just too darned slow to be worth playing.
Hero of Leina Tower is a victim of not having the proper support, part of a case study in design creating an archetype that works well in Limited, but not in Constructed. The warrior was part of a feasible draft strategy that simply never functioned outside of draft and sealed play. When it came to building competitive Heroic decks, there were simply better options than the poor Hero.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Ephara, God of the Polis is an interesting card. Ephara’s Enlightenment, on the other hand, is a bit underwhelming. For 1WU (1, White, Blue), Ephara’s Enlightenment places a +1/+1 counter on the enchanted creature and gives that creature flying. Whenever another creature enters the battlefield under your control, you may return Enlightenment back to its owner’s hand.
While this is by no means a terrible enchantment, and is certainly playable in a Heroic deck (especially with Hero of Iroas), it’s hardly game-breaking. The Ordeal enchantments are considerably better than this. This isn’t bad in Limited, but it hasn't seen much Constructed play outside of Block Constructed blue/white Heroic brews and a few rogue Commander decks.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Many recent Magic: the Gathering sets have featured cards that don’t seem to serve any Constructed purpose and are clearly geared towards casual play. But, Whims of the Fates is not as maddening as some of those cards. It’s actually very straightforward to use.
Each player, starting with you, separates all of his/her permanents into three piles. Then, each player chooses a pile at random, and sacrifices all of the permanents in that pile. It’s an interesting sort of Russian Roulette. Why anyone would play this card outside of perhaps Commander (where there are plenty of ways to abuse a card like this and get all of the permanents you lost back anyway) is beyond me.
But wait, there is an interesting caveat to this card. There can be empty piles. Yes! This means you can actually separate cards into two piles, and randomly pick a blank one OR put all of your eggs in one basket and pray you don’t randomly hit the one with all of the permanents. Talk about a crazy card.
So, there are possibly ways that you could play this card and cripple your opponent without losing a thing. Essentially, you are trying to cheat fate. Just from a flavor perspective, this card wins big time. There are Commander players out there that will find a way to make this land crippling blows while escaping the worst of it with cards like Second Sunrise and Faith’s Reward that let them get the cards they lost back anyway.
As far as Limited is concerned, just hope that you never run up against Whims of the Fates. It will happen. If you get passed this card with nothing else you can use, take it just so someone else doesn’t use it against you. You’ll feel a lot better knowing that you didn’t let this get you, and it’s completely splash-able and possibly crippling at only 5R (5 colorless, one Red).
I'm sure that Wizards created this card to be one of those Limited nightmares. As soon as you see a Mountain, you never know if this card is coming to try and force a comeback or the always dreaded draw…
Really, though, it's just a fun casual card, and perfect for those players who love to dedicate their decks to create more than a little bit of chaos.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Nessian Demolok is an interesting green uncommon. It costs 3GG (3 colorless, 2 Green) and has Tribute 3. It’s a 3/3 already, and if its tribute cost isn’t paid, you destroy target non-creature permanent. Essentially, it’s an Acidic Slime that can also hit planeswalkers. If its tribute cost is paid, you get a 6/6 for 5 mana, which is OK.
This is definitely a good Limited card, as it can serve as either removal or a big beater. In Commander, it may see some play in decks that abuse +1/+1 counters, which will make the decision whether or not to make the Tribute more difficult (especially since you get to choose the opponent who will make that decision). It might not be quite good enough for Constructed play, but in Mono-Green its at least a fringe possibility for some play in the future.
by Phoenix A. Desertsong, Staff Writer, Healer & Advocate
The Fated cycle from Born of the Gods are all pretty interesting cards. All have seen at least some fringe Constructed play. The Black card in the Fated cycle, Fated Return, has similarly seen minimal Constructed play, mostly in some Blue/Black control builds. It costs 4BBB (4 colorless, 3 Black) to cast for an instant. That's a pretty absurd casting cost to begin with for an instant. So what does it do to deserve such an investment?
Fated Return's effect is interesting: Put target creature card from a graveyard onto the battlefield under your control. It gains indestructible. If it’s your turn, you get to scry 2 (look at the top 2 cards of your deck, then put any number of them on the bottom of your library and the rest of top in any order.) Scry helps you to set up your draws, and this particular effect appears on all five of the Fated cards.
This is definitely a card that worked well in Limited, as it can grab an opponent’s creature and make it indestructible. There are big enough creatures in the Theros block which made casting this card sometimes worth it. The scry 2 can be quite relevant, and although you ordinarily wouldn’t want to cast this during one of your own Main Phases, in Limited it’s certainly possible that you could. The main problem with this card is that massive mana cost. Gaining an indestructible bomb back from any graveyard is kind of nice, and could win you the game. But it’s a pricey trick.
This card does see some fringe Commander play, due to the fact that reanimation is so common and highly useful in that format. While it’s such a costly card to cast, Fated Return’s 7 mana cost is far easier to absorb in the very mana-hungry Commander meta-game. If Fated Return were 5 mana, perhaps 3BB, and didn’t add indestructibility, I think it would be more playable. Really no decks outside of the aforementioned Commander decks and Blue/Black Control Standard lists have included it. It’s one of those “bomb” cards that otherwise just has limited usability in Constructed.
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