THS: Chronicler of Heroes

In a recent draft, I took 2 Chroniclers of Heroes early in pack 1, thinking I’d be able to build around them and that they would still be servicable as 3/3’s for 3 mana even if I weren’t able to draft creatures with +1/+1 counters. However, I don’t recall seeing many creatures with +1/+1 counters in that draft, and the ones I did see were rather expensive, making it unlikely that I would be able to play Chronicler of Heroes early and draw a card off it. Does Theros have enough early creatures with +1/+1 counters that there’s a reasonable chance of playing Chronicler of Heroes early and still drawing a card off it? Let’s find out.

Theros has 31 cards that can cause themselves or a creature to get +1/+1 counters. They can be broken down into 4 categories:

  • 16 creatures with monstrosity, concentrated in red and green: Hundred-Handed One (white rare), Sealock Monster (blue uncommon), Shipbreaker Kraken (blue rare), Hythonia the Cruel (black mythic), Keepsake Gorgon (black uncommon), Ember Swallower (red rare), Ill-Tempered Cyclops (red common), Stoneshock Giant (red uncommon), Stormbreath Dragon (red mythic), Arbor Colossus (green rare), Nemesis of Mortals (green uncommon), Nessian Asp (green common), Polukranos World Eater (green mythic), Fleecemane Lion (G/W rare), Polis Crusher (R/G rare), and Colossus of Akros (rare artifact).
  • 7 creatures whose heroic triggers add +1/+1 counters, largely in white and green: Fabled Hero (white rare), Favored Hoplite (white uncommon), Phalanx Leader (white uncommon), Wingsteed Rider (white common), Centaur Battlemaster (green uncommon), Staunch-Hearted Warrior (green common), and Battlewise Hoplite (W/U uncommon).
  • The cycle of Ordeals (commons), 1 in each color.
  • 3 green rares/mythics: Bow of Nylea (rare), Mistcutter Hydra (mythic), and Reverent Hunter (rare).

Looking at these cards, it seems that R/G and G/W are the colors with the most number of creatures with +1/+1 counters, so it seems like I should have been able to make the Chroniclers work. Eliminating the unplayables (the white/green Ordeals and Colossus of Akros), a G/W deck has access to 15 of these cards: 6 of the 16 creatures with monstrosity, 6 of the 7 creatures whose heroic triggers add +1/+1 counters, and all 3 cards in the last category. Of these, 3 are common, 4 are uncommon, 6 are rare, and 2 are mythic.

Now let’s take a look at when green and/or white creatures are likely to have +1/+1 counters so we can determine when Chronicler of Heroes is likely to draw us a card.

  • Commons: Nessian Asp (5 to cast + 7 to add counters), Wingsteed Rider (3 + spell that targets), and Staunch-Hearted Warrior (4 + spell that targets)
  • Uncommons: Nemesis of Mortals (2 to 6 + 2 to 8), Favored Hoplite (1 + spell that targets), Phalanx Leader (2 + spell that targets), and Centaur Battlemaster (5 + spell that targets).
  • Rare: Hundred-Handed One (4 + 6), Arbor Colossus (5 + 6), Fleecemane Lion (2 + 5), Fabled Hero (3 + spell that targets), Bow of Nylea (3 + 2 + creature), and Reverent Hunter (3).
  • Mythic: Polukranos World Eater (4 + 1, or 4 + 5), Mistcutter Hydra (2+, usually at least 4).

Monstrosity costs 5+ to activate (except for Polukranos World Eater and, possibly, Nemesis of Mortals), so those creatures are not going to allow you to draw a card off an early Chronicler. Moreoever, if you have a monstrous creature, it’s likely that you’re already winning the game and that an additional card and a 3/3 body won’t make much difference. Heroic is a better bet since there are commons available at 3 and 4 mana, uncommons at 1, 2, and 5 mana, and a rare at 3 mana, but it still requires you to cast an additional spell to trigger the Heroic effect. The remaining cards are rares and mythics; of these, Reverent Hunter can enable a turn 4 Chronicler that draws a card, and Bow of Nylea can enable the same on turn 5 (you can put the +1/+1 counter on the Chronicler itself if you have 5 mana). If you really need to draw a particular card, Mistcutter Hydra can enable a turn 3 Chronicler that draws a card, although you’ll usually want to wait until you can cast the Hydra as a 3/3 at least.

R/G is not a better option than G/W since it just replaces Hundred-Handed One, Fleecemane Lion, Fabled Hero, Favored Hoplite, Phalanx Leader, and Wingsteed Rider (1 common, 2 uncommons, and 3 rares) with Ember Swallower, Ill-Tempered Cyclops, Stoneshock Giant, Stormbreath Dragon, Polis Crusher, and the red Ordeal (2 commons, 1 uncommon, 2 rares, and 1 mythic). While there is one additional common, many of the red cards are creatures with monstrosity which, as discussed above, are not likely to yield creatures with +1/+1 counters in the early turns of a game. Going R/G also requires you to splash white for Chronicler.

So Chronicler of Heroes can be used in 2 kinds of decks. It can be used in a G/W or R/G/w deck with monstrous creatures, although you’re likely to already be winning the game if you have monstrous creatures in play, and an extra card and a 3/3 body are unlikely to have much impact on the game. Consequently, it is likely to be more effective in a G/W heroic deck.

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