BNG: Expected numbers of copies of a card

In triple Theros, an 8-person draft had an average of 2.4 copies of a given common, 1.2 copies of a given uncommon, 0.4 copies of a given rare, and 0.2 copies of a given mythic. Now that we’re down to 2 packs of Theros, we have fewer of the key cards for our familiar archetypes.

An 8-person BNG/THS/THS draft will have 2/3rds as many copies of a Theros card at a given rarity: 1.6 copies of commons, 0.8 copies of uncommons, 0.26 copies of rares, and 0.13 copies of mythics. While there are half as many Born of the Gods packs as Theros packs, the draft won’t just have half as many copies of a given Born of the Gods card at the same rarity since the set has a different rarity distribution (60 commons, 60 uncommons, 35 rares, and 10 rares). Instead, it will have an average of 1.3 copies of a given Born of the Gods common, 0.4 copies of a given uncommon, 0.2 copies of a given rare, and 0.1 copies of a given mythic.

This means that while you will see 1/2 as many copies of a given uncommon, you will actually see about 3/4ths as many copies of a given Born of the Gods rare or mythic, and 0.85 as many copies of a given common, which is more than you might have expected. In fact, if a given Theros common has a very close analog in Born of the Gods, it means you’ll now have access to 2.9 copies of the card instead of 2.4 copies.

In future weeks, we’ll use this information, along with the prior analysis of what cards each THS/THS/THS archetype gains, to determine where the prior archetypes have gained or lost with the introduction of Born of the Gods.

BNG: Evaluations

This is an initial set of evaluations of the cards in Born of the Gods. Here’re what my various evaluations mean:

  • Bomb (B): Will usually win the game if not dealt with and also difficult to deal with or play around, e.g., large flyers or mass removal.
  • Exceptional (+): A superior card that will turn the tide in your favor, e.g., most unconditional removal that isn’t overcosted or a 3/3 flyer for 4 mana.
  • Good (/): The bread and butter of most decks, e.g., a 2/2 flyer or a vanilla 3/3 for 3 mana.
  • Situational/Filler (~): Good in the right deck, filler in most others, e.g., a vanilla 2/1 in a deck that is not particularly aggressive.
  • Sideboard (S): Useful to have in your sideboard, but not usually playable maindeck, e.g., artifact/enchantment destruction or color hosers that aren’t good if you’re not playing against those colors.
  • Unplayable (x): Should not be played except in the right deck or under exceptional circumstances, e.g., a vanilla 1/1 for 1 mana. Some unplayable creatures can be sided in against the right deck, e.g., a vanilla 1/3 for 3 mana might still be sided in against an aggressive deck.
  • TBD (?): Requires more analysis or more experience with the format to evaluate, e.g., a card that depends on how many playable enchantments there are in the format.

The spreadsheet also has explanations for many of my evaluations. Here are some evaluations that are worth noting:

  • inspired cards and cards that grant tap abilities: the ones in blue and black are good because those colors have the enablers, the red one are strong because they’re well costed, the rest are mediocre
  • Ghostblade Eidolon, Flitterstep Eidolon (+): good as Aura or base creature
  • Glimpse the Sun God (+): enables alpha strikes, heroic, and inspired
  • Nyxborn Shieldmate, Nyxborn Rollicker (~): the creatures are so unimpressive that these are basically a +1/+2 for 2W and a +1/+1 Aura for 1R
  • Eternity Snare, Siren Song Lyre (+): the only ways to take out creatures along with their bestowed Auras
  • Floodtide Serpent (/), Meletis Astronomer (+): good in W/U heroic deck with cantrip Auras and Ephara’s Enlightenment
  • Eye Gouge (S): only playable Cyclops at common is Ill-Tempered Cyclops
  • Odunos River Trawler (+): good even without white mana
  • Akroan Conscriptor (B): can be used at instant speed

And here are the cards that need additional analysis to evaluate:

  • Sunbond: #/quality of lifelink creatures and lifegain spells
  • Evanescent Intellect, Mindreaver: #/quality of mill cards

BNG: Tap abilities and untap effects — and the inspired deck

During THS/THS/THS, I’d noted that the set had a number of untap effects in blue and green — Breaching Hippocamp, Triton Tactics, Savage Surge, and Prophet of Kruphix — but not many powerful tap abilities to abuse with them. I’d concluded that the only tap ability that seemed worth trying to abuse with the untap effects was Shipwreck Singer and Meletis Charlatan, and possibly Triad of Fates in a 3-color deck.

BNG adds the inspired ability to the mix, thereby giving us a reason to revisit this set of cards. The set also brings a few more untap effects to the table — Crypsis, Kiora’s Follower — as well as several ways to tap your own creatures (they’re commons unless specified otherwise):

  • White: Ephara’s Radiance, Elite Skirmisher, Glimpse the Sun God (uncommon)
  • Blue: Retraction Helix, Evanescent Intellect, Oracle’s Insight (uncommon)
  • Black: Claim of Erebos, Black Oak of Odunos (uncommon)
  • Red: Epiphany Storm, Lightning Volley (uncommon)
  • Green: Karametra’s Favor
  • Multicolor: Phenax God of Deception (mythic)
  • Artifact: Siren Song Lyre (uncommon), Springleaf Drum (uncommon)

Unlike bestow creatures and cantrip Auras, most of the Auras in this list open you up to card disadvantage if the creature they enchant is killed, without providing the raw power of the Ordeals. Elite Skirmisher belongs in an aggressive deck and would much rather be used against opposing creatures. And Glimpse the Sun God and Lightning Volley are one-time effects. That leaves Retraction Helix, Oracle’s Insight, Black Oak of Odunos, Karametra’s Favor, Phenax God of Deception, Siren Song Lyre, and Springleaf Drum. With the exception of Karametra’s Favor and the artifacts, all these spells are blue and/or black. Obviously, you wouldn’t typically use an untap effect to enable Black Oak of Odunos, Karametra’s Favor, or Springleaf Drum, but those cards are relevant if you’re trying to enable inspired.

In addition to these, there’re also 5 cards in Theros that grant evasion, allowing you to trigger inspired more reliably: Stratus Walk, Flitterstep Eidolon (uncommon), and Archetype of Imagination (uncommon) in blue, Grisly Transformation in black, and the W/U Ephara’s Enlightenment (uncommon). These are in addition to Nimbus Naiad, Cavern Lampad, Fleetfeather Sandals, and Prowler’s Helm (uncommon) from Theros. As before, these cards are primarily blue or black, or artifacts.

This would lead us to believe that the inspired deck is likely to be U/B even though the untap effects are in blue and green. Let’s take a look at the creatures with inspired to see whether this is the case:

  • White: Oreskos Sun Guide, God-Favored General (uncommon)
  • Blue: Deepwater Hypnotist, Sphinx’s Disciple, Aerie Worshippers (uncommon), Arbiter of the Ideal (rare)
  • Black: Servant of Tymaret, Warchanter of Mogis, Forlorn Pseudamma (uncommon), Pain Seer (rare)
  • Red: Kragma Butcher, Satyr Nyx-Smith (uncommon), Felhide Spiritbinder (rare)
  • Green: Pheres-Band Tromper, Pheres-Band Raiders (uncommon)
  • Multicolor: Siren of the Silent Song (uncommon)

As we might expect, the majority of the inspired cards, and most of the strongest ones, are in blue and/or black. The only inspired cards not in those colors that I’m excited to play that are Kragma Butcher and Felhide Spiritbinder (rare), although it’s possible I’m undervaluing one or both of the green ones (I am not a fan of green in Theros).

Since the best tap abilities and untap effects in Theros are also in U/B, it makes sense that these are the colors that allow you to best abuse the inspired mechanic. However, that does not mean that these are the only colors for this mechanic; I won more than one game at the prerelease by enchanting Kragma Butcher with Grisly Transformation.

Finally, it’s worth noting that these untap effects also allow you to protect creatures from Excoriate, and also potentially from a Glimpse the Sun God or Siren Song Lyre enabled alpha strike. Similarly, the tap effects allow you to protect creatures from Asphyxiate.

BNG: Impact on Theros/Theros/Theros archetypes and potential new archetypes

Let’s take a look at which archetypes from Theros/Theros/Theros draft benefit from the introduction Born of the Gods.

Aggro decks (usually W/X):

  • W/U heroic: Elite Skirmisher, Meletis Astronomer, Loyal Pegasus, Deepwater Hypnotist + creatures with bestow (Nyxborn Triton) + Auras (Stratus Walk, Ephara’s Enlightenment) + tricks (Acolyte’s Reward, Retraction Helix) + Falter effects (Glimpse the Sun God, Sudden Storm, both of which can also be used to trigger heroic)
  • R/W aggro (usually Humans): Akroan Phalanx, Akroan Skyguard, Archetype of Courage, Elite Skirmisher, Loyal Pegasus, Archetype of Aggression + tricks (Acolyte’s Reward, Rise to the Challenge) + removal (Bolt of Keranos, Fall of the Hammer, Lightning Volley, Pinnacle of Rage, Searing Blood) + finishers (Glimpse the Sun God, Akroan Conscriptor, Pharagax Giant)
  • B/R Minotaurs: Minotaur lords (Ragemonger) + Minotaurs ([Felhide Spiritbinder], [Oracle of Bones], Kragma Butcher, Felhide Brawler, Warchanter of Mogis) + removal (Asphyxiate, Bile Blight, Bolt of Keranos, Fall of the Hammer, Lightning Volley, Pinnacle of Rage, Searing Blood) + tricks (Necrobite, Rise to the Challenge) + Nyxborn Eidolon, Grisly Transformation (works especially well with Kragma Butcher), Spiteful Returned, Thunderous Might
  • G/U skies: creatures wth evasion (Archetype of Imagination, Chorus of the Tides, Flitterstep Eidolon) + enhancers (Nyxborn Wolf, Stratus Walk, Raised by Wolves) + tricks (Aspect of Hydra, Mortal’s Resolve) + finishers (Sudden Storm, [Hunter’s Prowess], Mischief and Mayhem, Noble Quarry). Note that many of these the tricks and finishers allow you to attack into Nessian Asp. Also, beware of Scouring Sands and Skyreaping.

Control decks (usually B/X):

  • Monoblack: Marshmist Titan, Sanguimancy + defense (Archetype of Finality, Black Oak of Odunos, Gorgon’s Head, Siren Song Lyre) + removal (Asphyxiate, Bile Blight, Drown in Sorrow) + Forlorn Pseudamma
  • W/B control: monoblack cards + removal (Dawn to Dusk, Excoriate, Revoke Existence)
  • U/B control: monoblack cards + removal (Eternity Snare which is often a 3-for-1 if used on a bestowed creature, Sudden Storm, Vortex Elemental, [Whelming Wave], Weight of the Underworld) + card advantage (Divination, Siren of the Silent Song) + win conditions (Archetype of Imagination, Kraken of the Straits, Sphinx’s Disciple)
  • B/G devotion control: monoblack cards + Pheres-Band Raiders, Snake of the Golden Grove
  • B/G graveyard: Graverobber Spider
  • 5-color green: bombs across multiple colors (including [Chromanticore]) + mana fixing ([Courser of Kruphix], Karametra’s Favor, Peregrination, Satyr Wayfinder, Astral Cornucopia, Springleaf Drum)
  • U/R spells/scry: Stormcaller of Keranos, potentially [Whims of the Fates] (since this deck has fewer permanents than most)

Looking over this list, it looks like a lot of the existing archetypes will get weaker. The W/X aggro decks are losing 1 pack of Hoplites, Phalanx Leader, Wingsteed Rider, Gods Willing, and the tricks that trigger 2 heroic creatures. B/R Minotaurs loses a pack of the Minotaur lords and instead gains Ragemonger which is much less impressive. G/U skies gains a lot of good cards but also has to face Scouring Sands and Skyreaping. Monoblack and the various B/X control decks lose a pack of Gray Merchant of Asphodel which is huge; losing Disciple of Phenax, Baleful Eidolon, Keepsake Gorgon, and Pharika’s Cure also hurts, although to a lesser extent. 5-color green loses a lot of the mana fixing from Theros. And U/R spells has a pack less of all the spells-matter cards (Flamespeaker Adept, Meletis Charlatan, Spellheart Chimera, and Prescient Chimera)

The introduction of Born of the Gods is also likely to enable new archetypes. Here are some archetypes that may have potential:

  • G/W heroic: Setessan Oathsworn, Reap What Is Sown
  • W/B lifegain: centered around Sunbond and lifelinkers, Odunos River Trawler, Sanguimancy
  • U/B mill: [Mindreaver], Evanescent Intellect, Forsaken Drifters
  • U/X enchantment reuse: Floodtide Serpent + cantrip Auras
  • G/U untap/inspired: Crypsis and Kiora’s Follower both allow you to untap creatures with tap abilities