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.