THS: Tap abilities and untap effects

Theros has a number of untap effects, all of which are in blue and green: Breaching Hippocamp, Triton Tactics, Savage Surge, and Prophet of Kruphix. (There is also Portent of Betrayal in red, but it will rarely be used just to untap a creature you control.) However, the set seems to lack creatures with powerful tap abilities that you can reuse with these untap effects. Let’s examine the tap abilities in the set to determine whether that perception is correct.

Here’s a list of all the creatures in Theros that have activated abilities that involve tapping the creature:

  • White: Ephara’s Warden (common) which is unplayable
  • Blue: Meletis Charlatan (rare) which is sufficiently mana intensive that you can’t usually use it twice in a turn
  • Red: Titan of Eternal Fire (rare) which allows Humans to tap for 1 damage
  • Green: Voyaging Satyr (common), Karametra’s Acolyte (uncommon), Sylvan Caryatid (rare)
  • W/B: Triad of Fates (rare)
  • U/B: Shipwreck Singer (uncommon)
  • Artifact: Opaline Unicorn (common), Witches’ Eye (uncommon)

Of these, the only cards whose effects are particularly compelling are Karametra’s Acolyte, Triad of Fates, and Shipwreck Singer, although reusing Titan of Eternal Fire’s effect is reasonable if you don’t have enough Humans. Triad of Fates offers the most interesting interaction since you can exile or save a creature that doesn’t already have a fate counter on it, but it also requires a 3-color deck (W/U/B or G/W/B) which is not a common occurrence in Theros drafts. I once used Shipwreck Singer + Triton Tactics to wipe out much of an opponent’s army so I know that combo has potential, but Breaching Hippocamp costs too much mana to be an effective combo with it and the other untap effects require green mana and so also require a 3-color deck.

If your devotion to green is 3 or more, Karametra’s Acolyte can generate additional mana using Savage Surge. However, Karametra’s Acolyte costs 4 mana, so this means you already have access to at least 7 mana, which is enough for most effects in Theros. The set only has 3 spells that cost more than 7: Ashen Riders, Boulderfall, and Colossus of Akros. No bestow abilities cost more than 7, and only 6 monstrosity abilities cost than much: Shipbreaker Kraken (8), Hythonia the Cruel (8), Stoneshock Giant (8), Nemesis of Mortals (9, although it will usually cost 7 or less), Colossus of Akros (10), and Polukranos World Eater (XXG, although spending less mana on its monstrosity ability will still usually win you the game). This means that Karametra’s Acolyte + Savage Surge will only prove useful in the rare occasion where your green devotion count is exactly 3 and you really need the 8th mana, or if you have Karametra’s Acolyte + Triton Tactics and your green devotion count is 2 or 3 and you really need the 7th or 8th mana.

So Shipwreck Singer + Triton Tactics is the only such “combo” that really stands out to me. If you’re U/B, you should consider drafting Triton Tactics a bit more highly than in other U/X decks, especially if you’ve already drafted 1 or more Shipwreck Singers.

EDIT: Triton Tactics and Savage Surge are both cheap enough that they should work quite well with Meletis Charlatan. With Triton Tactics, you can untap an additional creature for every 3 mana you have available after casting it and give Meletis Charlatan an additional +0/+3, making it a formidable blocker. With Savage Surge, you can give Meletis Charlatan +2/+2 for every 3 mana you have available after casting it. (This is mostly useful on defense; on offense, you’d have to cast Savage Surge before attacking, otherwise Meletis Charlatan would be tapped while the spell is on the stack and the spell would no longer be available to be copied once Meletis Charlatan is untapped. However, in the unlikely situation that your opponent has no untapped creatures and you have Meletis Charlatan, Savage Surge, and a lot of mana, you might be attack for lethal even if your opponent is at a healthy life total.)

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