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By: Leviathan, Mike Morales
Feb 14 2014 1:00pm
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Born of the Gods is here!  And.....  it's not all that powerful or impressive.  Still, there is some interesting stuff to look at in here and I'll go over it.  Again, just for reference, this review is for multiplayer Commander only!  If you want to point out awesome stuff for 1v1, feel free to do so in the comments.

  

Ok, so Heroic is back.  And I still don't like the mechanic.  It's gotta be pretty back breaking to really want to include the creature in your deck.  I point out a couple of them in here but mostly the mechanic is not good in this format.

  

Inspired isn't a bad mechanic at all.  Really, it comes down to whether having the creature untap just once is a big enough effect.  Do you get a free spell?  Or draw a card?  Then it's usually pretty good.  If you have to put effort into making the creature untap several times before the effect is worthwhile, then the creature isn't.  Yes, Intruder Alarm exists, but that card is annoying as heck to play against, let alone use.

  

The new punisher mechanic, Tribute, seemed really bad to me at first because I thought anyone could pay the tribute.  However, upon further inspection, you get to choose the opponent who can make the choice.  This elevates the mechanic from "really bad" to "just sorta bad" since there are some cards, like the Demolok you see above, that have an effect that can be mutually beneficial.  However those kinds of cards aren't very common and usually you'll get the least beneficial of the options because smart player don't want you getting the upper hand.  Of course, some of the differences between the 2 choices are negligible, and as such don't really matter much.  A big vanilla beater is still just a big vanilla beater and that's really what you're going to get the majority of the time.

  

Bestow is still around, but other than 1 or 2 cards, there isn't really anything exciting here.  They're all just power and toughness boosters for the most part.  The occasional key word (unblockability) comes at an extraordinary cost (6 mana!).  People will sing the praises of the Countless Battles guy, but unless you're running Uril, and even if you are, he's not all that.   And with all that out of the way, let's take a closer look at what we get! 

LEGENDS

Brimaz, King of Oreskos - Brimaz has a lot going for him.  He's efficiently costed and makes tokens.  Vigilance on the tokens, as well as Brimaz, is pretty nice as well.  The threshold he has to pass is that put up by Kemba, Kha Regent.  If you want a dedicated token deck, wouldn't you rather run Kemba, who can pump out tons of tokens all at once when well equipped?  If you want to go the voltron route with Brimaz, again, Kemba is better.  Although Kemba's tokens don't have vigilance, their bigger.  The blocking ability is ok, I guess, but most of the time the token will die I assume.  He's a bigger body who can hit a little harder, but really that's about it.  I'm guessing you'll see a bunch of Brimaz but for my money Kemba is where it's at.

Brimaz actually shines more as a support creature.  He would be awesome helping out Kemba, or any other token based deck.  Really he's not nearly as good as Hero of Bladehold but he can hold his own.  The vigilance isn't bad at all.

Ephara, God of the Polis - Ephara is one of those Commanders where the difficulty in building around her doesn't really end up worth the effort.  Of course, to best use her you want to give all your creatures flash, so stuff like Teferi, Leyline of Anticipation and Vedalken Orrery are all good with her.  Dudes with flash like Aven Mindcensor and (Masako, the Humorless) aren't bad either.  You can also put in token makers, like Luminarch Ascension and Nuisance Engine to have dudes enter the battlefield on other turns.  Still, the most you can draw from her is another card a turn, and you're going to be spending a ton of mana to get these cards.  I don't know, it just seems like a lot of hoops to jump through.

If you're running a Bant token deck that can make dudes at instant speed she might be worth playing as a support creature.  Otherwise I can't really see her being used as one of your 99 in any sort of Azorius deck.

Karametra, God of Harvests - Karametra seems really cool, but she's not as inherently powerful as you might think.  Really she's built to pump out some big spells like Genesis Wave.  What you want with her is a permanent based deck with a ton of dudes.  She actually works as a slow acting Boundless Realms.  You basically get her out there, play your dudes and ramp.  The real trick is figuring out what to do with that mana, and how best to use it.  I'm guessing she'll just head up a Selesnya good stuff deck most of the time, or maybe even run with a landfall theme.  Which is fine, it's just sort of boring, even if it is powerful.

Karametra is good for most creature based decks in these colors.  Of course, you have to make sure that you don't go overboard with your non-basic lands.  But Bant decks, Necra decks, Naya decks will all like her.  She's just good, period.

Mogis, God of Slaughter - Ah, poor Mogis.  His name is awesome, his art is awesome.  But his ability is so, so lame for this format.  Essentially he just says "each opponent is dealt 2 damage a turn."  I just wanted more, you know?  Because honestly in a 40 life format that's pretty much the choice everyone is going to make.  But you can build around that, with stuff like Wound Reflection, Bloodchief Ascension, Exquisite Blood, Furnace of Rath, etc.  Really what happens is it turns into a version of a Kaervek the Merciless deck. And he actually is better than Kaervek in the deck, because he comes out sooner and is harder to remove.  Of course, he won't hurt people as much as Kaervek, but he does have the possibility of hitting for Commander damage sooner.  He does provide a sacrifice outlet for your opponents, but that's not a huge deal most of the time.

I can't really think of a reason to add this guy to your deck, other than as a support card in a Kaervek deck.  He just doesn't do enough in this format.

Phenax,God of Deception - Really if you like mill, you'll like this guy.  Mill isn't a commonly used strategy in Commander, but there are a bunch of people that use it.  Still, what this guy needs is a heavy creature component.  Which is fine, because there are a lot of creatures that support mill.  Of course one of the main reasons that mill isn't usually used is because of the legendary Eldrazi.  But honestly it's been long enough that not everyone is running them anymore.  But even still, you can use Sadistic Sacrament and stuff like Jester's Cap to deal with those.  All this means that you will see people playing Phenax.

Phenax isn't a horrible support dude in mill decks, or just decks that like to abuse graveyards.  The Mimeoplasm seems like he'd really like Phenax.  I've seen Rise of the Dark Realms a couple times recently, and this guy would love that card.  If you can take advantage of your opponents' graveyards and are running a couple guys, Phenax is worth a look.

Tromokratis - My only real problem with this guy is that he is just asking to be Condemned.  Seriously, loosing hexproof during combat is a straight up bummer.  Other than that, though, he's pretty solid.  He's a 3 hit killer, which is always nice.  And the fact that they have to throw everyone in front of him if they want to block can lead to some uncomfortable situations for the defending player.  And honestly, if the hexproof thing really worries you just run Lightning Greaves and similar cards.  The big problem is that he costs 7 mana, which means that usually you aren't going to be seeing him very early.  On top of that, I thought his art would make him look bigger.  Seriously, look at Wrexial, the Risen Deep, who should be smaller but is just tossing boats around.  But if you're looking for a mono-Blue beat down Commander he isn't bad.

As a support creature he falls into a sort of finisher role.  Also, with the increasing number of Krakens, Octopi, Leviathans and Sea Serpents, you can actually start making a Thing from the Deep themed deck that can actually work.  I've yet to see one but I know they're out there.

Xenagos, God of Revels - I really like this guy.  He basically wants a really similar deck to Stonebrow:  Red/Green stompy.  But what he needs from his creatures in a deck are things that are either evasive (fliers like dragons) or trample (like Stonebrow and his ilk).  If you can find a decent intimidate guy or 2, that wouldn't be bad either.  There's not a whole lot more to talk about with him though.  Although if you have a way to pump your little ramp dudes with something like Gigantomancer or Wildheart Invoker that's another route to take.

Xenagos is gonna be good in any sort of aggressive Naya or Jund deck.  He just does a lot for any sort of deck that enjoys big beaters.  If you like stomping and smashing your opponents, you'll like Xenagos.  Plus, he looks so happy in his picture!

CREATURES AND PLANESWALKER

    
Aerie Worshipers, Forlorn Pseudamma, God-Favored General, Pheres-Band Raiders, Satyr Nix-Smith

Ok, in order to play with these your deck really, really wants to make tokens.  Basically every untap you pay 3 mana and you get a token.  That can really hurt your ability to use mana during the main phases, especially since you don't know what you are going to draw into.  If you really think you want tokens that bad, the White one and Red ones are the best, due to quantity and haste, respectively.  Still, I don't really think I'd touch these because there are lots of better ways to make tokens.

    
Archetype of Aggression, Archetype of Courage, Archetype of EnduranceArchetype of FinalityArchetype of Imagination

Ok, so each of the Archetypes are pretty good in their own way, in that they prevent your opponents from having abilities they would normally get.  However, the best one is the Blue one (obviously) because there are a lot of fliers that run around out there, and you basically make all your dudes unblockable.  Green is the next best one, giving your dudes hexproof, but unfortunately the cost is pretty extreme.  The Black one is pretty nice, making all the blocking decisions that much more complicated for opponents.  Red gets trample, which seems really strange since it's generally considered a Green ability.  But it's nice to keep those extra large Kresh's and such from stomping over your Kobold.  White gets the short end of the stick with first strike, but it's not that horrible when you think about it.

 Akroan Conscriptor - So all those people that originally played (Anax & Cymede) (there were a bunch when the card first came out, but then everyone realized they weren't good and gave up on them) found another decent Heroic guy.  To get full value you obviously need a sac outlet, but even without that it shouldn't be bad.  That is, in a dedicated Heroic deck.  Otherwise it's just poop.

 Arbiter of the Ideal - Free cards are free cards.  These should never be overlooked.  You want to be permanent heavy to play this thing, but even if you aren't, at least creature heavy.  You don't have to try and break this card to get value out of it, all you gotta do is have it live a turn or 2 and you should be happy.

 Champion of Stray Souls - People really seem to be liking this guy, and well....  I'm just not seeing it.  Basically, Hell's Caretaker does something similar for a lot less mana (although there is a restriction as to the timing).  I get that Commander is the land of huge goofy plays, and that someone, somewhere, will sacrifice a bunch of Kobold tokens to get back Jin-Gitaxias, Avacyn, Sheoldred and Empyrial Archangel, but it just takes too many things to really get going.

 Chromanticore - Seems cool, right?  But really, what 5-color deck is really looking to play this other than extremely casual decks?  Basically it turns any guy into a lifelinking Akroma, which isn't bad I guess, but the color requirement is really rough.  This is one of those cards that seems really cool to play in theory, but in practice will be found wanting.

 Courser of Kruphix - Is this guy as good as Oracle of Mul Daya?  No.  But similar functionality will make you want to play him anyways.  Being able to dig deeper into your library is never a bad thing.  I'm sure we'll be seeing plenty of this guy.  And that's not even taking into consideration the life gain aspect, which can actually be pretty fun built around.

 Eater of Hope - Big goofy demon is big and goofy.  Being a sacrifice outlet is good, but at 7 mana is pretty pricey.  Meh.

 Fate Unraveler - Underworld Dreams on a creature?  Where have I seen that before *coughNekusarcough*?  Seriously though, this is decent enough to add to decks that aren't using Nekusar as a Commander just due to the stupid amounts of card draw people use.  But in a Nekusar deck it's just silly.

 Felhide Spiritbinder - Ok, so essentially during your untap you get to copy a dude in play?  So this is sort of a worse Kiki-Jiki?  Which, when you think about it, is still pretty darn good, because you get to copy ANY creature in play, not just your own.  Plus the token turns into sacrifice fodder.  I like this guy a lot.

 Forgestoker Dragon - Big dumb dragon is big and dumb.  They're basically trying to use as many variations of the Ancient Hellkite ability as they can before coming up with something else for dragons to do.  Taking blockers out of the way isn't bad I guess, but I have a feeling that after Thundermaw Hellkite and   from the last couple sets they didn't want to push dragons too hard again.

 Hero of Iroas - I'm not mentioning this guy for his Heroic ability, I'm talking about him due to his ability to reduce the costs of auras.  Now I haven't seen Uril running around in a long, long time (I kinda miss the big ugly bastard) but this card seems perfect for him.  There are a few other aura heavy decks out there that wouldn't mind this guy either, like Krond and enchantress stuff.

 Kiora, the Crashing Wave - She's ok I guess.  Her low starting loyalty, precluding her from being able to ultimate the turn she comes into play with a Doubling Season out, makes me pretty sad.  The Explore ability isn't bad but paying 4 mana to get it once is.  The +1 ability seems... uneven.  Sometimes it'll save your bacon, most of the time it won't.  I dunno, I can't see myself jamming this into every Simic deck I have.

 Kiora's Follower - Similar to Unbender Tine, the ability to untap stuff can be very handy.  Psuedo-vigilance is the least powerful way to use it, but if you use it with cards like Arcanis the Omnipotent and 

 Perplexing Chimera - For people that like chaos stuff I'm sure this is something they'll love.  However, there are ways to make it more one-sided.  This includes stuff like Homeward Path and (Brooding Saurion).  Just make sure that you steal a non-creature, then at the end of the turn you get to keep the card (assuming it isn't an instant or sorcery) and get the Chimera back!  Worth it?  No, but I'm sure someone will try it.  Also, keep in mind that since it's a "may" ability and you aren't going to want to steal everything, it's going to trigger and require your input EVERY SINGLE TIME A SPELL IS CAST.  Not the best thing to play in MTGO.

 Satyr Firedancer - I rarely (meaning never) see the types of decks that would appreciate this kind of card.  Generally they include a lot of stuff like Pyrohemia and damage doubling effects.  But it's nice to have around.

 Servant of Tymaret - Remember Agent of Masks?  And how no one plays it?  This is pretty much the same.

 Silent Sentinel - Free recursion is always nice.  And now that there are a lot more enchantments that are creatures, the versatility of this card increases.  However, this guy does cost 7 mana, which brings you into Elesh Norn and Avenger of Zendikar territory, and as such has a pretty high bar to meet.  Still, in the right deck it'll be very nice.

 Siren of the Silent Song - The combination of discard and milling you can do to the table is pretty potent, and great for decks that like to live out of the graveyard like The Mimeoplasm.  Just be prepared to get targeted immediately as soon as you play this, because no one will like going up against it, even if it is a little flier.

 Spirit of the Labyrinth - So this card is made specifically for those Gaddock Teeg hate bear decks you see people playing every once in a while.  Obviously in a format like Commander where card advantage is critical it can be really painful for people, which means that it warrants a slot in decks that can support it.  If your deck doesn't have a whole ton of draw, and/or uses other methods as its main form of card advantage (like heavy recursion, token creation through permanents like enchantments, etc.) then stick it in the deck and watch the table start fuming.  If Omen Machine gets played, and it does, this spirit will get played.

ARTIFACTS AND ENCHANTMENTS

 Astral Cornucopia - While the initial investment is kind of high (Gilded Lotus costs 5 mana, while getting the same amount of mana from this thing would cost you 9!) really this card is made for decks that are heavy into proliferate and Vorel of the Hull Clade.  If you have a way to mess with the counters then it might be decent.

 Gorgon's Head - There are a lot of creatures out there that ping.  There aren't that many pieces of equipment out there that give deathtouch.  This equipment is for those creatures.

 Heroes' Podium - Captain Sisay and Reki, the History of Kamigawa will like this card.  The +1/+1 is pretty negligible for the most part, but being able to sink some spare mana into digging through the top of your library is kind of nice.  A pretty niche card though.

INSTANTS AND SORCERIES

    
Fated Conflagration, Fated Infatuation, Fated Intervention, Fated Retribution, Fated Return

So each of the Fated cards are instants that let you Scry 2 when you cast them.  They're all useful, but obviously people are going to like the bigger effects more.  Really, Retribution is the big daddy here.  A while back Rout was a really popular card just for the ability to be cast at instant speed.  Retribution does the same thing, but also hits planeswalkers.  Return is a nice, instant speed Beacon of Unrest that makes the creature indestructible.  Imagine using this on an opponent's Consecrated Sphinx, or some big beater.  Next is Infatuation, which, while an instant speed Clone, requires that you have something in play that you want to copy.  Conflagration and Intervention are likely on equal footing just due to the nature of the format and 40 life issues.  Really the only problem with the Fated cards are the heavy colored mana requirements.

 Dawn to Dusk - The card advantage here is nice.  Again, another enchantment themed card, but if you're running an enchantment heavy deck it's worth considering.

 Excoriate - You guys remember Assassinate?  Pay 1 more mana and you get to exile the creature!  But if you pay 2 more mana you get to exile all the creatures with Hallowed Burial.

 Gild - Fun card the invites a direct comparison to Sever the Bloodline.  Honestly I prefer Sever just for the ability to hit a token army, and then the possibility of bringing it back and doing it again later.  But why not run both?

 Hunter's Prowess - We already have Hunter's Insight, but which is better?  Insight is an instant and costs 2 less to cast.  Prowess costs 2 more, gives trample, but also gives a power boost.  I guess for my money I like the cheaper instant.  If you can only pick one, I would go with Insight.  Unless you're planning on really killing with Commander damage most of the time.

 Plea for Guidance - While Three Dreams gives you 3 auras for 5 mana, here you get any 2 enchantments for 6.  Does this seem pricey to you?  Because usually you aren't going to be able to cast the stuff you tutor up until the next turn, at least if it's truly powerful.  I guess if you're very enchantment heavy this gets better.

 Sanguimancy - Black seems to have gotten some decent devotion cards.  However, this one is similar to (Minion's Murmurs), in that you don't always have a ton of control over how many cards you draw and life you lose.  Plus you don't have the flexibility you would have with Promise of Power.  But it's still worth knowing about in mono-Black.

 Unravel the Aether - What's that?  Did you just say Deglamer?  Functional reprint?  Honestly both of these cards almost seem like auto-includes now just for the sheer amount of Gods that are running around.  Strangely, I've only seen Deglamer used once by anyone other than me.  I have a feeling with Unravel you'll see it more just because it's new.

 Whelming Wave - So before this we had Inundate, which cost 6 mana, but kept all the Blue creatures around.  This one only costs 4 mana, but has a much narrower restriction.  The restriction can be built around, especially if you are using Wrexial or Lorthos, but most of the time this is going to be a cheaper, sorcery speed Evacuation.  People like Evacuation because it's an instant, but if you really are looking to keep mana costs down this will be worth it.

 Whims of the Fates - Another card for chaos players to use.  Seems like each set is getting a big, 6 mana Red spell that does random stuff.  It'll be interesting to see when people play this card, and then put all their permanents into one pile.

CONCLUSION

So here is where I look and consider which cards are potential staples.  This doesn't mean they're the most powerful, just that when you play the colors that support these colors you should strongly consider them.  Without further ado:

Honestly that's more than I thought there would be.  The remainder of the set is a little underwhelming.  There are some role players, but not much else.  Anyways, if you think I misevaluated something or just completely missed a card, let me know in the comments!

As an addendum, here's a video about all the YouTube channels that show Commander game play!  Most people focus on 1v1 but some of these guys to do multiplayer.  Check it out!

Leviathan, aka Tarasco on MTGO
mrmorale32 at yahoo dot com
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