On first glance, Throne of the God-Pharaoh doesn’t look exciting. But for a deck that turns a bunch of creatures sideways, the effect that this Throne provides can do some work! In fact, it already has done some work in Modern. Let's see how this card works!
This artifact costs only 2 mana, so it’s not going to wreck your mana curve. At the beginning of each of your end steps, each opponent loses life equal to the number of tapped creatures you control.
This card is good in aggro for a couple of reasons. First of all, you have Zombie decks that have Zombies coming into play tapped. Even though you can’t attack with them, the Throne allows those Zombies to actually do damage before they’re able to do anything else. See this White/Black Zombies list that ran two copies of Throne of the God-Pharaoh. It topped a tournament.
But Zombies aren’t the only aggro deck that can use the Throne. Earlier we mentioned Obelisk of Urd. This artifact costs 6 mana to cast, which doesn’t seem to fit in an aggro deck at all. However, it has the Convoke mechanic. It’s similar to Amonkhet’s Improvise mechanic, except that instead of tapping artifacts to help pay for its mana cost, you tap creatures. Even though this can slow down an aggro deck’s onslaught, the payoff is that your creatures of a chosen type all gain +2/+2.
Now, this Modern Elves deck list that placed 6th at a tournament didn’t run Obelisk of Urd. But it did run one copy of the Throne, plus a copy of another popular card with Convoke, Chord of Calling. There are also two additional copies in the sideboard. The Chord allows you to play a creature straight from your deck at Instant speed! The Throne is good to have on board to allow you to deal some extra damage from a turn where you used Convoke to cast Chord of Calling.
But since you’re not going to be getting any creatures with a converted mana cost higher than 3 in this deck, that’s not the big payoff for the Throne. Elves tap themselves a lot to provide mana, so this means that by tapping your mana dorks, the Throne will actually turn that tapping into a weapon against your opponent. It’s a neat piece of tech.
Another Modern Elves deck in a Magic Online Competitive Modern League ran two copies of Throne of the God-Pharaoh in the mainboard, as well. It was a slightly different build than the previous Elves list, and actually won the tournament! Also, a couple of Modern Affinity deck lists have toyed with a copy of the Throne, too, including this Affinity list that made the semifinals!
While it hasn’t been widely adopted quite yet, the Throne of the God-Pharaoh looks like it can do a lot of work. It may allow for some decks, such as we saw with Elves, a way to speed up the clock against their opponents. It’s a neat card and we haven’t seen it at its best yet.