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By: gwyned, gwyned
Feb 10 2014 1:00pm
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I. Introduction

A couple weeks have passed since the full spoiler for Born of the Gods was released. Last time, I covered all of the creatures and spells that make use of the new mechanics for this set. This time, I will be covering the remaining creatures and spells. By now, you should be familiar with my methodology. Rather than assigning a particular letter grade, I will instead simply note each card as a "hit" or a "myth" and discuss why I believe this card will or will not be relevant. After all, unlike in Limited, you will rarely if ever have an instance where you have to actually prioritize one card over another in any meaningful way, and thus a letter grade is probably not that helpful in actual practice. Let me also give credit where credit is due to ChannelFireball, who inspired the "hit or myth" categories as well as my feeble attempts at humor. On to the cards!

II. Born of the Gods "Non-Mechanic" Commons
A. White

Sadly, the remaining White cards consist of meager combat tricks and worse creatures. While at least one card will probably see play in the Sideboard, there is little here to be excited about.

1. Excoriate is yet another instance of a long line of conditional White removal spells. This is clearly analogous to Divine Verdict, but for the most part is inferior. While it does exile the creature (which is particularly good against Bestow creatures with Auramancer in the format), it does so at Sorcery speed, and thus can't be cast until after the target creature attacks. Given that Divine Verdict is still in the format, along with Celestial Flare, Pacifism, and Last Breath, I don't think White needs such a clunky source of removal.

Verdict: Myth - I won't go so far as to censor it, but I don't expect it to carry its weight.

2. Great Hart is another incarnation of the many Elk to be found in recent sets, this time as a vanilla 2/4 for . While such a creature is a staple in White at Common, often such creatures come with some sort of relevant ability, such as the recent Sunspire Gatekeepers. Indeed, only a few sets earlier, we saw Seraph of Dawn, which for the same converted mana cost included both Flying and Lifelink. Clearly this elk suffers greatly in such a comparison. As a result, I simply cannot imagine a situation where you would want to include this in any deck.

Verdict: Myth - Neither mind nor hart is great if you play this card.

3. Griffin Dreamfinder has one of the more powerful abilities at its disposal - the ability to return cards from the graveyard when it enters the battlefield. Even better, it targets Enchantments, which is the staple of what White wants to be doing in the current metagame. Unfortunately, Auramancer is almost always going to be better. A 1/4 with Flying for is obscenely expensive, no matter how much value you get out of its ability. Make it a 3/3, and we would have something worth considering. But as is, this isn't going to make the cut.

Verdict: Myth - This card could only dream of finding itself in a deck.

4. Hold at Bay is a typical White damage prevention spell, the likes of which date all the way back to Healing Salve in Alpha. Perhaps the best such card in recent sets was Safe Passage, which was a decent combat trick for White. Sadly, Hold at Bay is much worse. Not only is it limited in the amount of damage it can prevent, it also only targets a single creature or player. Even if the damage prevention was unlimited, this still would be essentially unplayable. If you truly wanted this type of effect, Pay No Heed does the job better and cheaper.

Verdict: Myth - Rather than holding on to this, I would just drop it in the bay.

5. At first glance, Loyal Pegasus might seem a close variant to the very good War Falcon, but on closer inspection it is worse in every way. Unlike the falcon, this Pegasus can never block if it is the only creature on the battlefield, and always requires another creature to attack with it. A closer comparison is Ember Beast, which has not seen play even in the aggressive Red Deck Wins archetype thanks to the heavy removal that is typical in Standard Pauper. This same restriction on attacking and blocking relegates this Pegasus to the sidelines.

Verdict: Myth - My loyalty to War Falcon compels me to peg this as unplayable chaff.

6. If Mortal's Ardor looks familiar, that because cheap White combat tricks are a dime-a-dozen at Common. In fact, Moment of Heroism is nearly identical, save that for one mana more you get an additional one point boost in Power and Toughness. Unfortunately, Gods Willing is firmly entrenched as the premiere White combat trick in the metagame, and Mortal's Ardor offers nothing that would persuade me to take its place. While the additional Lifegain from lifelink is handy, in almost every spot Gods Willing does the same job better.

Verdict: Myth - This mortal has no ardor for such a card.

7. Revoke Existence returns from Scars of Mirrodin, and is just as suited to Theros as it was to that war-torn plane. While Keening Apparition is arguably better due to its versatility as either a creature or Enchantment removal, Revoke Existence has the substantial ability to remove pesky Enchantments and Bestow cards beyond the reach of Auramancer. It's also a shame that it comes at Sorcery speed. While I probably wouldn't maindeck this card in most decks, this should be a top consideration as a Sideboard option for any deck that can cast it.

Verdict: Hit - While it doesn't revoke Keening Apparition, its existence is certainly a good thing.

B. Blue

Unlike White, Blue has some decent effects and creatures at its disposal. With some returning favorites and a unique effect, there is certainly enough here to be intrigued by. Of course, to what extent these will impact the format remains to be seen.

1. Crypsis does something that no Common has ever done before. So how good is it? Granting protection from your opponent's creatures makes the target unblockable and prevents all damage dealt to it by opposing creatures. It also can't be targeted by any activated ability from an opponent's creature. This makes it a strange hybrid of Gods Willing and Mizzium Skin. The untap clause is also relevant, making this an interesting method of activating Inspired. While not amazing, the versatility of this card makes it good enough to warrant further testing.

Verdict: Hit - I hate to be cryptic, but it remains to be seen how good this will be.

2. Divination sees yet another reprint, having been in both a Core set and an Expansion set for several rotations. In Standard Pauper, this card has remained the premiere draw spell of the format. While lacking the Instant speed of Inspiration, the difference between three and four mana is significant enough that Divination is almost always the better choice. Drawing cards is one of the best reasons to be in Blue, and Divination's reprint in Born of the Gods ensures that Blue mages will be able to access this effect for a long time to come.

Verdict: Hit - It doesn't take a diviner to know that this will continue to see play.

3. Floodtide Serpent marks the return of the classic Sea Serpent to the Standard card pool. Like its forerunner, this serpent has a restriction on when it can attack. In this case, though, it's not hard to see how this drawback could become an advantage, giving you the ability to return Bestow creatures to hand and recast them for full value. Furthermore, while its 4 Toughness means it is vulnerable to Chandra's Outrage, it is otherwise beefy enough to make for a sizable threat, particularly in Blue. While not amazing, there is certainly good value to be had.

Verdict: Hit - This serpent seems good enough to turn the tide, even when you're flooded.

4. Sadly, Nullify is not the return of Counterspell to Standard. Two mana counter magic is good in Standard Pauper, but the instances where you wouldn't rather have Essence Scatter are not that many. That said, in a Mono Blue deck, this is clearly better, especially given the preponderance of Auras being played in the format right now. However, I would still argue that the extra versatility of countering an Aura spell isn't worth the liability of its mana cost in any multicolor deck that isn't very heavy Blue. For that reason, I don't think this will see heavy play.

Verdict: Myth - This almost gets there, but the casting cost really nullifies its effectiveness.

5. Retraction Helix is a clever piece of design work, taking Disperse and turning it into a pseudo-Enchantment that falls off at the end of turn. Essentially though, you're trading one mana for the liability of having to cast this on a creature and having that creature not get destroyed in response by your opponent. In an archetype that's trying to reliably activate Heroic or Inspired, this is an attractive method of getting access to this sort of effect, but one that definitely carries some risk. Given that such decks are pretty fringe, I don't think this makes it.

Verdict: Myth - Someone said this was good, but I demanded he retract it immediately.

6. Stratus Walk appears to a reject from the cycle of Theros Auras at Common that draw a card when they enter the battlefield. Typically, Auras that grant Flying but don't provide any boost in Power and Toughness (such as Flight), have not been very good in Standard Pauper. Worse, this even has the drawback of preventing the creature from blocking non-Flyers. Of course, this also means you can, in a pinch, cast it on your opponent's creature to let your ground based attackers get through. But despite that added utility, this isn't a card I want to play.

Verdict: Myth - If this is your best strategy, you should probably go take a walk.

C. Black:

Black is traditionally full of removal, and Born of the Gods is no exception. Sadly, most of the remaining Black cards are already outclassed by existing cards in the format. With one exception, I don't think any of these will see play in the emerging metagame.

1. Gone are the days of cheap, Instant-speed, unconditional Black removal at Common. Instead, we now get spells like Asphyxiate. While this may be cheap, the fact that it's Sorcery speed and requires the creature to be untapped is a painful combination of restrictions. Since you can only cast this on your turn, this can never target a non-Vigilance creature that's attacking you each turn. That said, this is still a solid option for removal in Black, and given the scarcity of choices in the current format, this should still see plenty of play.

Verdict: Hit - It's not breath-taking, but it certainly makes the cut.

2. Eye Gouge is flavorful, but ultimately pretty subpar. We already have both Viper's Kiss and Wring Flesh, both of which will typically be better than this in almost any spot. However, its secondary ability is not totally worthless. Of the 3 Cyclops in Standard Pauper right now, both Ill-Tempered Cyclops and Nivix Cyclops are pretty good. Still, neither of those cards are dominant enough to probably warrant including Eye Gouge in your Sideboard. Even if that were different, I can't imagine this would ever be anything but a fairly narrow Sideboard card.

Verdict: Myth - Put that down before you poke an eye out.

3. Apparently 2/2s for 2 in Black at Common are so broken now as to need a drawback, at least if Fellhide Brawler is anything to go by. A vanilla 2/2 is already below the threshold of playability in Standard Pauper, and adding a drawback to it makes it even worse. Black has plenty of other choices for creature with Power and/or Toughness of 2 for , and even a clunker like Gutter Skulk is better than this. Unless at some point there is some insane synergy to creating a Minotaur deck in the format, there simply is no reason to play this card.

Verdict: Myth - If you bring this to the brawl, you'd best fall and hide.

4. Forsaken Drifters continues the trend of bad Black creatures with a drawback. Sure, 4 Power for is great, but 2 Toughness means that this will trade with just about any creature on your opponent's side of the battlefield. And while milling yourself for 4 cards isn't a huge drawback, we've come a long way from Innistrad where there was value to be had by filling up your own graveyard. Returned Centaur is the closest analogue, and will probably be superior in almost any board state. This card is bad, and won't see any play.

Verdict: Myth - Forsake this and let it drift away like so much chaff.

5. Grisly Transformation is another instance of the cycle of Common Auras from Theros that replaces itself with a card when it enters the battlefield. In this case though, it's a more expensive version of Gruesome Deformity, a card that saw absolutely zero play back when it was in the format. There simply isn't enough value to be had in giving your creatures Intimidate, especially when this card does nothing to boost Power or Toughness. Given the liabilities associated with Auras, you need some serious value before they make the cut.

Verdict: Myth - This card could transform any deck into a grim and ugly mess.

6. Necrobite returns for another go-around, this time with some noticeable synergy with Inspired cards. Namely, when regeneration resolves on a creature, that creature is tapped, giving you the ability to activate Inspired without having to attack your opponent. In that instance, the creature also kills whatever it deals damage to. Overall that's a decent trick, but it's not an easy set of circumstances to line up for full value. If a Golgari or Rock archetype emerges into the format, Necrobite could be a decent trick; otherwise, it's probably not good enough.

Verdict: Myth - Its bite isn't enough to revive my interest.

7. Like Eye-Gouge, Weight of the Underworld is a subpar Black removal spell that is already outclassed by cards in the format. Fatal Fumes does this as an Instant, and already hasn't seen play. As far as enchantments go, both Stab Wound and Quag Sickness are better options, and both have seen widespread play in the current metagame. Wring Flesh is even almost as good, and costs 3 mana less. With all of these better options, there simply is no reason that Weight of the Underworld would see play anytime soon.

Verdict: Myth - Not having to play this feels like a world-class weight has been lifted.

D. Red:

Red brings us its typical set of direct damage, combat tricks, and aggressive creatures. But once again, they seem to be outclassed by cards that already exist in the format. Of these, only one will probably see widespread play, but it's good enough to help make up for just how mediocre the rest of this batch of cards really are.

1. Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass is the third Cyclops in Standard, but clearly ranks behind both Ill-Tempered Cyclops and Nivix Cyclops. In fact, given the lack of a Red-based Devotion card at Common, this card is strictly worse than Cobblebrute, which hasn't seen any play in the format. While 5 Power for 4 mana is great, once more the lack of Toughness means that this just trades with any opposing creature. And as the final nail in the coffin, vanilla creatures are basically never good enough even in Standard Pauper.

Verdict: Myth - If you have any Magic chops at all, you'll know this is one to pass on.

2. Fall of the Hammer is just the kind of removal I can get behind. This is essentially a one-sided Pit Fight that can only be cast in Red, which seems plenty good. And like Pit Fight, it's probably best in a Gruul build, since you want to have a good amount of high Power creatures to get full value out of this. The fact that this isn't Sorcery speed is somewhat surprising, as that card would have been perfectly playable in Limited. As is, I would argue that most of the time this is even better than Bolt of Keranos, and as such should see plenty of play.

Verdict: Hit - No matter how it falls, this is a smashing success.

3. Fearsome Temper is yet another Aura in this set. With the release of Theros, Red decks have been utilizing Auras with cards like Akroan Crusader for pretty good value, capitalizing on early aggression to finish off an opponent as quickly as possible. This Aura is pretty expensive for that style of deck, but the ability to sidestep even one opposing creature could be quite strong, even if it does cost to activate the ability. Still, this seems pretty borderline for me, especially given all the inherent weaknesses of Auras in a format full of removal.

Verdict: Myth - I fear some might find a good use for this, but if so I promise not to lose my temper.

4. Impetuous Sunchaser is another card that seems tailor-made for a hyper-aggressive Mono-red build. Suit this up with relevant Auras, and you have a threat that can quickly end the game. While it does cost , Haste makes this the equivalent of costing just without Haste, since either way you get to attack with it on Turn 2. That said, outside of this one archetype, I can't imagine wanting to play this card. And even then, it's competing with cards like Akroan Crusader and Foundry Street Denizen. It's worth testing, but on first glance I don't think it gets there.

Verdict: Myth - My son, it isn't impetuous to reject this even without playing it first.

5. Reckless Reveler is merely Torch Fiend reborn, and once again in a format with few relevant Artifacts at Common. Right now the only widely played Artifact is Razortip Whip, and most of the time decks with access to Red can simply ignore such a slow source of damage and instead simply smash face. Otherwise, a 2/1 for is not something that will see play in Standard Pauper. Thus, unless future sets bring about some important Artifacts at Common, I would really be surprised if this saw any play now or even in the future.

Verdict: Myth - I revel in rejecting such recklessly bad cards.

6. Rise to the Challenge is the perennial Red combat trick, and in fact already exists in the format under the name Thunder Strike. While boosting Power by 2 and giving First Strike is a nice trick, in most situations Lightning Strike will get the same job done while providing quite a bit more versatility. I can't remember ever seeing Thunder Strike being cast against me, and there certainly doesn't seem to be anything in Born of the Gods that would push me to play it. For those reasons, Rise to the Challenge will almost certainly not see play.

Verdict: Myth - This hasn't seen play yet, and I doubt this new version will rise to the challenge.

E. Green:

Rounding out the rest of the Commons, at last in Green we find a few cards that might see frequent play in the new metagame. Two of the creatures in particular seem good right now, and I look forward to testing how they might impact the format going forward.

1. While most 1 Power creatures with Trample have some sort of built-in mechanism to boost their power, Charging Badger is an odd exception to this rule. Clearly this is built with Bestow or other Auras in mind, giving Green a creature with built-in evasion to help punch through damage. While Trample is somewhat unusual at Common, its presence isn't good enough to overcome the lack of relevance one gets for any 1/1 for 1. Even if a Green Stompy archetype emerges into the metagame, this card isn't good enough even there.

Verdict: Myth - How do you stop a badger from charging? Take away its credit card.

2. Culling Mark seems to be an attempt to give Green some pseudo-removal, but I don't think this is a very successful attempt. At it's pretty expensive for what it does, and it gives you absolutely no control over how your opponent blocks other than the bare fact that this particular creature must block something this turn. Way back in Lorwyn block we had Hunt Down, which is clearly superior to this card in every way. But in the current format, I'm not certain I would even play Hunt Down. And in that case, I certainly don't want to play this.

Verdict: Myth - With such low marks, it should be culled from your collection.

3. Mortal's Resolve has a very close analogue in Ranger's Guile, since typically Hexproof is used merely to sidestep removal. That said, I would argue that this is generally better, since for the additional 1 mana you guarantee that the creature will survive combat and removal spells alike. Most of the time, the fact that your opponent can still target the creature again shouldn't make a difference. Overall then, the choice between this and Ranger's Guile is pretty close, but either way I doubt you would ever want both in your deck.

Verdict: Hit - Resolving this is certainly not a mortal sin.

4. Satyr Wayfinder is an interesting variant on Sylvan Ranger. The ability to search out a land from your library and put it into your hand attached to a creature has traditionally been pretty good. However, despite the similarities, Satyr Wayfinder is considerably worse. First of all, you aren't guaranteed you will find a Land in your top four cards. Second, even when you do, the Land could very easily not be the type you need in that situation. Finally, the 1/1 body is pretty mediocre. All that to say, I don't think this has a place in the current Standard Pauper metagame.

Verdict: Myth - I say no way.

5. Setessan Starbreaker's value depends entirely on how valuable the ability to destroy target Aura really is, since getting a 2/1 for is pretty miserable, particularly in Green. The effect also isn't as good as Naturalize, as it only targets Auras, not other Enchantments. All that said, traditionally one of the best ways to get ahead in Standard Pauper is to utilize creatures with strong 'enters the battlefield' type effects. I probably won't play this in the maindeck, but against White Weenie or even RDW this is a possible Sideboard consideration.

Verdict: Hit - This certainly isn't broken, but playing it is hardly reaching for the stars either.

6. While not quite Kalonian Tusker, Swordwise Centaur is probably as close to playable as a vanilla creature gets at Common. While lacking the Trample found on Garruk's Companion, the fact that you get a 3/2 for is quite strong. It also makes a great target for Bestow or other Auras, since even a modest boost in Power and Toughness can turn this into quite the formidable threat. As I mentioned above, a true Standard Pauper Stompy deck hasn't emerged yet, but if one were to come about, this card certainly deserves a slot.

Verdict: Hit - For my 2 cents, this is a wise choice.

III. Final Thoughts

Looking back over the set as a whole, I don't think Born of the Gods will make a major impact on the format. Of the 60 Commons in the set, only 18 were good enough to be considered playable in the format. And less than half of those I would consider very good cards that will make a sizable contribution in whatever deck they are included in. For that reason, I don't expect the metagame to look much different going forward. While certainly there will be some changes with the new cards, these will only strengthen current archetypes, rather than providing for something very different than what has come before.

IV. Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed my full review of the Commons from Born of the Gods for Standard Pauper. Remember, you that you can check out all of my previous articles here on PureMTGO by clicking here. I also publish over on my blog on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and encourage you to keep up with all my projects there. You can get a sneak peek at any of my videos before they go live here at over on Simply search for "gwyned42," select one of my videocasts, and click the Subscribe button. Finally, you can keep up with everything I'm doing on Twitter at the username gwyned42; check out my profile here and click on Follow. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy Born of the Gods!