It’s that time of the year again! A fresh set is upon us and has officially been entirely revealed! Theros Beyond Death looks like it will push the power level of Standard cards to a new degree. From my first look at it, I don’t have any doubt that the set will immediately shake up Standard. So let’s dive right into TEN cards I predict will see Standard play:
Ten Theros Beyond Death Cards That Will See Standard Play
10. The New Temples
This is technically cheating on my part since it’s five cards and not one, but I would be remiss not to find a way to include all of them. Mana fixing is fundamental to any constructed format, and Theros Beyond Death brings with it some much-needed help in the form of 《Temple of Abandon》, 《Temple of Deceit》, 《Temple of Enlightenment》, 《Temple of Malice》, and 《Temple of Plenty》. These duals will complement the other five color pairs that already exist in Standard.
The two decks that gain the most from these duals are Esper as well as Gruul. Last year, the mana was less than desirable for both of these decks, and both will welcome the new fixing. 《Temple of Malice》 and 《Temple of Plenty》 will likely have a lesser impact since those color pairs tend to be more aggressive and are therefore less likely to want a come-into-play-tapped land.
Enchantments like this that provide recurring card advantage at a low cost have frequently been great in Standard. Cheap creatures like 《Spectral Sailor》 provide the opportunity to be aggressive and bury the opponent in card advantage. This card may even see play in Modern/Pioneer Bogles. It replaces itself with one hit, gives +1/+1, while also providing lifelink at a cheap cost. This card will very likely see play.
I haven’t seen a ton of hype in regards to 《Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis》, and I think it’s slightly underrated. It’s an excellent and quite flexible Magic: the Gathering card. Its lack of a plus ability is admittedly concerning. Still, it makes up for it by being able to protect itself and provide even more value with the Escape mechanic that is attached to it after its loyalty goes to zero. I mainly have it on this list because of this Escape ability and the fact that it is four mana.
I like that all its modes seem to be reasonably relevant; my only concern is finding a suitable home for it. White Weenie or a grindy Orzhov Midrange deck that uses its graveyard jumps out to me as good fits for it — but only time will tell.
I see this card as an excellent addition to the main deck of Temur Reclamation decks or Temur Fires decks. It also could be a decent addition to the sideboard of decks like Izzet Phoenix or Izzet Flash. It plays well with turn 4 《Fires of Invention》 and can catch you up on a board. It’s not flashy, but it’s a robust board sweeper that gets the job done.
This card is here because three mana draw three is quite powerful and also because I think it will be strong in the Esper 《Doom Foretold》 deck, which I expect to see more of because of the upgrade in mana base the new Temples provide. 《Doom Foretold》 wants “fodder” in the form of artifacts and enchantments because these permanents are hard to interact with and synergize with 《Dance of the Manse》.
Nicknamed “Gary” in the magic community, this card dates back to original Theros when Mono-Blue Devotion and Mono-Black Devotion were both heavily played. Back then, it was played alongside 《Pack Rat》, 《Thoughtseize》, and 《Mutavault》 to form the best deck in Standard for a decent chunk of time. This 2/4 for five is deceivingly powerful since it can be hard for players to interact with the drain ability.
Gary seems well set up to be played along with cards like 《Tymaret, Chosen from Death》, 《Yarok’s Fenlurker》, and 《Ayara, First of Locthwain》. Throw in some removal in the form of 《Murderous Rider》 and a card advantage engine like 《Bolas’s Citadel》 that already has three black mana symbols, and you are well on your way to a robust Mono-Black deck. Fellow Hareruya Pros Matias Leveratto showed us just this in the Early Access Streamer Event with his Mono Black list that he went 9-1 with, only losing to the mirror.
4 《Castle Locthwain》
-Land (24)- 4 《Cauldron Familiar》
4 《Knight of the Ebon Legion》
4 《Yarok’s Fenlurker》
2 《Tymaret, Chosen from Death》
4 《Murderous Rider》
4 《Ayara, First of Locthwain》
4 《Nightmare Shepherd》
4 《Gray Merchant of Asphodel》
Another card that is excellent alongside 《Gray Merchant of Asphodel》 and that you see in Leveratto’s deck. This 4/4 flyer for 4, can end games either by beating down or through combos such as Gray Merchant + 《Witch’s Oven》, which allow additional triggers out of the Merchant. Its interaction with Oven is particularly great and can be used to even get instant speed discard with 《Yarok’s Fenlurker》, perhaps on an opponent’s draw step. The closing speed of a 4/4 flying body for 4 in combination with its synergy with sacrifice outlets like 《Witch’s Oven》 and 《Ayara, First of Locthwain》 make it a safe bet to be an excellent addition to new Standard.
《Setessan Champion》 seems like it has a lot of potential. It reminds me of 《Edgewall Innkeeper》 because it can snowball card advantage quickly. If it’s not answered, it will run away with a game FAST. My intuition is that Golgari or Abzan would be the best fit for it, and you’ll want to stock up on cheap enchantments and enchantment creatures. The fact that it grows is also non-trivial. A 2/4 or 3/5 body should be helpful, particularly against decks trying to attack you.
Wow, this creature’s ability is excellent! I’m putting it this high on the list because it seems like its upside of it in the right deck is exceptionally high. The natural fit is, of course, in a ramp strategy, but perhaps it will show up in other places as well. For example, there has been talk on Twitter of playing it alongside 《Hushbringer》 for a 6/6 on turn 3 that doesn’t sacrifice, but still allows for a trigger when it attacks. While this might be too cute, the options for this card are vast, and its body and ability are nothing to underestimate. It just needs to be put into the right deck.
The clear #1 for me. What can I say that isn’t obvious? The combinations that exist with this card’s blink ability are simply enormous and its 6/5 indestructible body and tap ability are nothing to scoff at either. It plays great with 《Risen Reef》, 《Omnath, Locus of the Roil》, and 《Cavalier of Thorns》. Popular streamer and good-guy Crokeyz showed us one take on it that even splashed red for 《Claim the Firstborn》 and 《Act of Treason》 to abuse the blink effect even further! I can’t wait to see what everyone else comes up with as well, but check out his sweet list below:
Feels like if I can tune this a little against straight Control that I will never lose another game of Magic.— crokeyz (@crokeyz) January 16, 2020
Cast a creature against me and it's just over. What a deck.
List: https://t.co/DORnShvnTZ pic.twitter.com/nDtwknAg2c
4 《Breeding Pool》
4 《Steam Vents》
4 《Stomping Ground》
1 《Fabled Passage》
2 《Castle Vantress》
3 《Temple of Mystery》
2 《Temple of Abandon》
1 《Temple of Epiphany》
-Land (25)- 4 《Leafkin Druid》
3 《Paradise Druid》
2 《Hydroid Krasis》
4 《Risen Reef》
3 《Omnath, Locus of the Roil》
3 《Thassa, Deep-Dwelling》
3 《Cavalier of Thorns》
2 《The Akroan War》
2 《Chandra, Acolyte of Flame》
4 《Nissa, Who Shakes the World》
That’s all I have for today. These are just ten of the cards that caught my eye, but there are plenty more out there that will be played. I’m looking forward to trying out the new cards, and I hope you all are too 🙂