It has been just a little over a week, but already in that short period of time Theros: Beyond Death, the latest Magic: The Gathering Set to hit the market has been making waves throughout the Standard format.
This set was widely expected to make an impact, as the power level of all Magic: The Gathering sets have been incrementally increasing in strength, since the release of War of the Spark, however, it was unknown how much of an impact that this set would truly have after following on the heels of the massively successful Throne of Eldraine, widely thought of as one of the most impactful sets in Magic: The Gathers entire history.
Today, we are going to explore some of the most impactful cards from Theros: Beyond Death, that are utterly reshaping the Standard format.
Let's get started.
As is typically the case, the latest Magic: The Gathering set impacts the Standard format the most, as it is made up of the smallest card pool and thus, any new set that enters into it is likely going to have a very significant impact.
This is not always the case however, as we have seen in the past, with sets such as Ixalan and Rivals of Ixalan, which although were flavor packed sets and contained incredibly fun cards to play with, simply didn’t have the gusto to compete with the incredibly powerful sets that came before them, such as Kaladesh.
However, fortunately, Theros: Beyond Death does not have this problem, even though it was feared to be a possibility before spoiler season started, as that was just how powerful Throne of Eldraine truly was.
(Decklist source, MTG Goldfish)
Take for example the recent resurgence of Blue-White control in the Standard format, an archetype that up until recently has been playable, however not highly competitive.
Theros: Beyond Death has changed this drastically, filling in the gaps that this type of deck was desperately needing and making it the most played deck currently in the format, comprising 9.65% of the meta share.
One card that has blown players out of the water, or sky rather is Dream Trawler, a card that largely “flew” under the radar of even some of the most seasoned pros of the game.
This card is a powerhouse and incredibly difficult to deal with once it gets on the board, as it can give itself hexproof and thus not be targeted by another player, while also drawing a card each time it attacks.
For a control deck, of which typically grind games to a long drawn out stall, this is the perfect finisher, as the opponent often times will simply have no possible way of dealing with it, meaning that once this card hits the board, it is usually game over.
Additionally, many more Theros: Beyond Death cards make up the latest, most impactful version of U/W Control, such as Shatter the Sky, Omen of the Sea, Elspeth Conquers Death and The Birth of Meletis.
Shatter the Sky is a cheap board wipe card at just four mana, with only a minor drawback that will oftentimes not hurt your prospects of winning the game.
Omen of the Sea helps you draw cards, thin your deck and then get extra value through “Scry 2” at a later point in the game. Fortunately, because it has Flash, your options are left open and you can use this card on your opponent's turn in their end step, putting true control in your hands as when to use this card.
The Birth of Meletis helps you accelerate on land drops, creating a 0/4 Wall token that is effective at “chump blocking” attackers and then granting you 2 life in its final saga. An all around amazing card against any creature based deck.
Finally, we have Elspeth Conquers Death, which is a monstrous card in its own right. This card is removal, slow down and then recursion all on one card. It is an all around powerhouse and can be absolutely devastating to an opponent's gameplan.
If you like ruining your opponents day and taking the game by the reigns, putting yourself in the driver's seat, then this largely based Theros: Beyond Death deck is the one for you.
The second deck that is taking up the largest percentage of the new Theros: Beyond Death Standard meta share is Mono-White Lifegain, which includes the Theros god, Heliod and the demigod, Daxos.
These two god’s of Theros, in conjunction with a number of very impressive life gaining creatures, creates a true synergistic beauty that is something to be behold once it starts to unfold on the battlefield.
(Decklist source, MTG Goldfish)
This deck may look like a typical “White Weenie” deck that just simply wants to throw creatures onto the board as fast as possible, hoping to overwhelm the opponent, and although that may be the case from time to time, the true strength of this deck comes from its midrange abilities via its powerful suite of Planeswalkers and the god Heliod, Sun-Crowned, who adds a +1/+1 counter on a creature of your choice, each and every time you gain life, of which there are a plethora of.
Additionally, you will have a stunning amount of Ajani’s Pridemate, with four in the mainboard on their own, plus Ajani, Strength of the Prides ability to -2 and create another token of the card.
Each one of these cards also receive a +1/+1 counter on them everytime you gain life, essentially breaking the back of any other aggro deck that you are going up against, especially if that happens to be a mono-red player.
The last true strength that this deck possesses, is its ability to destroy control players post sideboard, who are likely to “board in”, a number of board wipe cards to deal with your creatures.
Fortunately for you, you are able to pivot in Elspeth and have a total of eight Planeswalkers that will survive, that can also put creatures on the board, getting you back quickly into the game.
This is an amazing aggro deck in an archetype that is a fan favorite, mono-white lifegain. Take it for a spin if you get a chance, we guarantee you will be impressed.
The last deck that we are going to talk about today, that is truly shaking up the game and of which is also one of the best performing decks in the Theros: Beyond Death Standard format is Mono Black Devotion.
(Decklist source, MTG Goldfish)
This is a throwback to the last time that the Plane of Theros was in the Standard format, back in 2013 and fortunately features a reprint of one of the most iconic cards of that time, the Gray Merchant of Asphodel, also known simply as “Gary”.
The Mono Black Devotion deck currently in the Standard format is truly one of our favorites, as so many different variations and tweaks to this deck can be made, depending on your playstyle and it will still be viable, as long as you keep the foundation of the deck intact.
This means that Mono Black Devotion can easily pivot and adjust to a changing landscape as the Standard format continues to evolve in the coming months.
This is in large part due to the fact that mono black currently has such a deep and powerful pool of cards currently available, such as removal, board wipes and even a sudo “Thoughtseize”, one of the most powerful cards in the Pioneer format, in the form of Agonizing Remorse.
Although the above two cards are great, what truly brings this deck together are Nightmare Shepard and Woe Strider, two additional cards that just so happen to be included in the newly released Theros: Beyond Death set.
Nightmare Shepherd allows you to survive board wipes intact, bringing your creatures back to life in the form of a 1/1 token and is also an impressive beater as a 4/4 flier.
Woe Strider works in conjunction with Nightmare Shepherd to truly make it shine, offering a “free” sacrifice outlet for your lesser cards, such as Yarok’s Fenlurker, making your opponent discard numerous cards in a row, denying them of the vital resources that they need to stay in the game.
Finally, through the combo of Nightmare Shepherd, Woe Strider and Gray Merchant of Asphodel, you can utterly drain your opponent of life, while increasing your lifepool in the time of need, through sacrificing Gray Merchant of Asphodel and making it “retrigger” its ability, often times causing you to outright win the game.
Mono Black Devotion is one of our personal favorite decks in the current Standard format and as we can see from the recent meta results, we aren’t alone.
Theros: Beyond Death has exceeded our expectations by a massive margin.
It has introduced numerous, fun to play decks that are being enjoyed by the playerbase of Magic: The Gathering, shaking up what was becoming a largely stale Throne of Eldraine Standard format.
Of course the cards mentioned throughout this article are just a sample of the most powerful cards from Theros: Beyond Death influencing the current Standard meta game, however, there are countless other great rare and mythics that we have not gone over, that are being used in custom deck brews by countless players.
We’d love to hear about what has impressed you most from Magic’s most recent set! Let us know in the comment section below and as always, thanks for reading.