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Written Review – Magic: the Gathering: Theros

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Exploring somewhat of a new avenue with Magic: the Gathering, the latest set takes us to the plane of Theros, after which the set gets its name. The new set focuses on valiant heroes, powerful gods, and awesome monsters that bring us a handful of new mechanics. Boasting a few reprints of some neat older cards, Theros puts to work immediately both single-color and multicolor builds, allowing players to have evened-out deck builds. The new set has been unleashed on the community and it’s changed Standard, as with its release the Innistrad block has rotated out. Will it be enough to keep the big decks at the top? Let’s take a look at what it’s got to offer.

First Look

The first thing I noticed when taking a look at Theros is that it boasts a lot of single-color cards. While the set offers both single-color and multicolor cards, the balance definitely shifts to single colors. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however. I feel like the original dual-color decks have been strengthened with cards that have released, as you get more utility out of your single-color cards this time around.

The artwork for Theros is magnificent. Not only do the cards offer great imagery, but most of them show off a new type of border that’s new to the game altogether. Some cards come from the legendary place of the gods, Nyx, and reflect that by boasting a special starry border. While it’s not something pivotal to the game, it is something fresh that helps make the cards look more appealing.

The Gods

Theros has a very greek mythological feel and it introduces five powerful gods – one for each color. Some players may recognize their names from previous cards, but the gods are:

  • Heliod, God of the Sun (white)
  • Thassa, God of the Sea (blue)
  • Erebos, God of the Dead (black)
  • Purphoros, God of the Forge (red)
  • Nylea, God of the Hunt (green)

The gods use a new mechanic called devotion, which counts each of their respective color symbols on the permanents you control and sums it up as your devotion to that color. Each of the god cards has a devotion threshold that must be met in order to play them as a creature on the board, otherwise they just exist as a legendary enchantment. This puts a little more focus on single-color builds, but the gods are very powerful cards, as they each offer up a special mana ability. Their stats aren’t bad either, which is great considering that they’re not really expensive cards.

Each god also has a special artifact associated with them, which is the weapon they wield. These legendary enchantment artifacts offer a boon as long as they’re on the table, but don’t benefit one single creature as they can’t be equipped. They also have mana abilities that are quite powerful, showing their power.

Bestow, Monstrosity, and Heroic

Theros introduces plenty of new mechanics. First up there’s bestow. A card with bestow allows you to play it for its bestow cost, and if you do it’s an Aura spell with enchant creature. Basically it comes into play as an aura enchantment which attaches to a creature you control, and it will give that creature a boon while attached. If, at any time, the creature it’s attached to leaves play/dies, the bestow card becomes a creature again.

Next up comes monstrosity. This mechanic is perfect for red/green players. A creature with monstrosity allows you to pay its monstrosity cost to make it beef up. Monstrosity is usually accompanied by a number, which is the amount of counters the creature will get when it becomes monstrous. On top of gaining counters, most monstrous creatures have other abilities that trigger when it becomes monstrous, making them even more dangerous.

Finally there’s heroic. You can’t have gods and monsters without valiant heroes, and Theros certainly provides those. Heroic creatures have special abilities that trigger when a spell targets them. Some of these effects buff other creatures, allow you to copy other creatures, and a lot of other tricks. Heroic is great if you’re planning to play a bunch of buff spells or enchantments, as they will benefit you much more when played on a heroic creature.

Card Play

Honestly, I feel that Theros is a set that offers great synergies and utility. If you’re a player who enjoys playing weenie decks, you build a deck with a bunch of heroic creatures and buff spells. Then you’ve got something that will overpower your opponent before they can believe it. The monstrosity cards are great for a red/green beatdown deck, and if you can manage your mana base well you’ll be smashing heads in no time flat. Bestow cards offer a lot of utility for when you need an answer, and they can also offer you a creature when you’re in need of something on the board.

I feel like the Intro Packs for Theros are really well organized. They offer a great play for the new mechanics in the set, and the cards included in the packs work well with each other, unlike Intro Packs from previous sets. Though Theros sees a lot of single-color build, the multicolor cards add a perfect option for splashing some things in for added surprises.

The Verdict

I feel that Theros was a breath of fresh air when Magic: the Gathering needed it. The new mechanics offer a lot to the game, and Standard has certainly been spiced up. Commander players will be very happy to see the host of new legendary creatures offered in the set, and there’s even a couple of new Planeswalkers included that we’ve never seen before. Theros is definitely a set worth picking up, though I wouldn’t go crazy with it. As a Commander player, I see a lot of potential for the set to be worth it for me. Standard players can see some staples coming from Theros, but don’t expect too much. Regardless, the new set will offer plenty of fun, and if you’re a fan of hydras, this has everything you could ever want.