THS: The heroic deck

Theros has 18 creatures with the heroic keyword, but how good are they? I did an initial evaluation of them, along with all other cards in Theros, in a recent post, but their valuation also depends to an extent on the number of targeting spells available in Theros. In particular, it depends on the number of beneficial targeting spells, i.e., targeting spells that you would like (or at least not mind) casting on your own creatures. In turn, the value of those spells also depends, on an extent, to how many good creatures with heroic are available in Theros.

Let’s start by looking at the creatures with heroic. Blue, red, and green each have a common, an uncommon, and a rare creature with heroic, so they will each have 4 creatures with heroic in an average draft. Black has only an uncommon and a rare with heroic and so will have only 1.6 creatures with heroic on average, and white has 2 commons, 2 uncommons, and a rare and so will have 7.5 creatures with heroic on average. A color is typically shared by 3 drafters at a table, so even a W/X deck will only usually have 4 creatures with heroic, so it does not make sense to try to pick up good beneficial targeting spells in anticipation of being passed good creatures with heroic.

This is especially true since many of the heroic creatures are playable even with few or no beneficial targeting spells in a deck. However, there are some exceptions:

  • White: Favored Hoplite (uncommon), Phalanx Leader (uncommon)
  • Blue: Triton Fortune Hunter (uncommon), Artisan of Forms (rare)
  • Red: Akroan Crusader (common), Labyrinth Chamption (rare)
  • Green: Staunch-Hearted Warrior (common), Centaur Battlemaster (uncommon)

So while white has the most number of heroic creatures, it is green and (to a lesser extent) red whose heroic creatures need to be accompanied by beneficial targeting spells in order to really shine.

Next, let’s take a look at which colors have the best beneficial targeting spells. This spreadsheet lists all the beneficial targeting spells available in Theros, including all instants, sorceries, enchant creatures, and enchantment creatures with bestow that help your creatures. The table on the left summarizes them by color, rarity, and quality, and the total row for each color computes the number of cards of that color and quality that you’re likely to see in an 8-person draft.

Looking at the total column, we see that white has the most number of beneficial targeting spells at 16, followed by black and red at 13, and then blue and green at 11. However, quality is more important than raw numbers, so let’s only look at spells that are playable (/) or better. It turns out that most colors have about 10 beneficial targeting spells in an average draft, while black has only about 6. Consequently, the average 8-person draft will have 46 such spells, or about 6 per player. (It is worth noting here that blue has more exceptional targeting spells than the other colors.)

This means that red and green decks will usually have access to enough good beneficial targeting spells that you can draft good heroic cards and expect to pick up some beneficial targeting spells later. However, most heroic decks are likely to be W/X since white has the most number of heroic creatures and the most number of beneficial targeting spells in Theros.

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