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.

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