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

BNG: Compact FAQ

This is a compact version of the Born of the Gods FAQ (9 pages vs. 22 pages for the original).

BNG: List of instant-speed tricks

This is a list of all the instant-speed tricks in the format. The first table has the spell names while the second one has abbreviated spell descriptions in case you don’t remember what the spell does. Note that the latter table may not accurately represent all uses of the spell and often leaves out certain things. Also, I sometimes make mistakes while filling out these tables; please let me know if you spot any issues.

Both tables categorize the tricks by converted mana cost, color, and rarity. Unless specified otherwise, each colored spell has one colored mana in its mana cost with the rest being generic mana, so a 3-mana white spell with no explicit cost has a mana cost of 2W. I also specify mana costs if the spell has X in its mana cost, is multicolored, or costs more than the column it is specified in. Spells in bold can leave a creature in play, e.g., flash creatures, spells that create token creatures, or spells that allow you to cast creatures at instant speed.

Here’s how to interpret the second table:

  • Abbreviations used: A (artifact), attkr (attacker), blkr (blocker), bounce (return permanent to owner’s hand), C (creature), CMC (converted mana cost), counter when used as a verb (counter a spell), dmg (damage), draw X (draw X cards), E (enchantment), flyer (creature with flying), freeze X (tap X and it doesn’t untap next turn), gain X (gain X life), I (instant), L (land), lose X (lose X life), opp (opponent), opp’s X (X controlled by opponent), P (player or power, depending on context), prot (protection), PW (planeswalker), reanimate (return permanent from the graveyard to the battlefield), redirect X dmg from A to B (next X dmg that would be dealt to A is dealt to B instead), regen (regenerate), S (sorcery), sac (sacrifice), T (toughness), your X (X you control).
  • Spells that confer an effect (+X/+Y, -X/-Y, hexproof, first strike, prot from a color, etc.) last until end of turn unless specified otherwise.
  • Spells can target any legal permanent or player unless otherwise specified, e.g., X dmg without any qualifiers means that the spell does X damage to any creature or player.
  • Spell descriptions sometimes mention other spells as a way to describe their effects, e.g., Steam Augury is described as a flipped Fact or Fiction to avoid having to write the full description.

BNG: Compact spoiler

This is a 7-page version of the full Born of the Gods spoiler. The card image gallery at DailyMTG is 29 pages and the printable spoiler at MTGSalvation is 46 pages so I’m hoping this saves trees, and it’s certainly easier to carry around in your pocket.