Review of some Theros common/uncommon cycles

  • #1
    Ordeals
    These are 2cc auras that give a +1/+1 counter when enchanted creature attacks, and are sacrificed on the third counter to give an effect. These all seem pretty good, and my guess is that you play all the on-color ones you have in a sealed pool. From best to worst:
    Purphoros(lightning bolt): The best of the cycle, because lightning bolt.
    Thassa (divination): Drawing cards is pretty sweet, and blue is hungry for heroic triggers.
    Heliod (10 life): Lifegain isn't usually too exciting, but 10 life is a lot of life, and white has a lot of heroic guys, including some on curve - t1 favored hoplite, t2 ordeal of heliod, swing with a 3/4 that can't be dealt damage? Seems solid.
    Nilea (double rampant growth): Ramp and fixing is sweet.
    Erebos (mind rot): Turn 5 mind rot that the opponent can see coming two turns in advance isn't very exciting. It's not bad, but you'll never get two awesome spells.

    Nymphs
    Bestow creatures that are 2/2s with a color-typical ability. In sealed I'd say play em all, but maybe not multiples of the white and black ones. Best to worst:
    Leafcrown Dryad: A bear with significant upside (reach) is fine to begin with, so having the cheapest bestow cost is just gravy.
    Nimbus Naiad: Wind drake is fine. Wind drake with bestow is pretty good.
    Spearpoint Oread: As above, its stats as a creature are fine and the bestow puts it over the top.
    Observant Alseid: A vigilant 2/2 for 3 mana isn't anything to get excited about, although in most limited formats it would make the cut a decent portion of the time. The bestow pushes it into making the cut almost all the time, but even when bestowed it's just a worse knightly valor.
    Cavern Lampad: A 2/2 intimidate for 4 mana is pretty weak. Accursed spirit does good work in the slow format which is M14 sealed, but the extra point of power is big. The high bestow cost doesn't help.

    Emissaries
    Bestow creatures that are 3/3s with color-typical abilities. Black and green currently unspoiled. As hill giants with significant upsides and bestow, these are auto-includes.
    Thassa's: Curiosity always has the potential to steal games, and if you bestow this on curve you stand a very good chance of getting in for an extra card or forcing them to chump.
    Heliod's/Purphoros': These are about even, both making blocking very difficult. Heliod's is probably better because it can actually remove blockers instead of just being evasive.
  • #2
    I have to disagree with you on the best ordeal. A lightning bolt you see coming for that long isn't that good. I would generally much rather have 2 cards.
  • #3
    For Ordeals -- let's not forget that while they all give +1/+1 counters, the ability to give +1/+1 counters is not something that usually exists in all colors. That component of it is much more valuable in Blue (evasion creatures) and White/Red (aggressive creatures that get outclassed in the late game). In fact the Blue one might be the best simply because it has the greatest chance of attacking successfully 3 times without having to pull some tricks. Just slap it on a flier and go to town.

    The Green one by comparison is tough because the creature probably won't have evasion and can be gang-blocked.

    These are all late game abilities by the time they trigger, so I agree that Draw 2 cards is the best bonus ability. Your opponent can play around the Red/Black/White ones, and the Green one is mana ramp that might not be necessary by the time it triggers.
  • #4
    for ordeals, i agree that the best ones are red and blue, and i agree that red is better. white is very good too and competes with those two, i'm not sure if blue is better than white.the other two are complete junk and i'd only play them if for some reason i decide that only the pump effect is ok for me. the green one is the worst.

    nymphs: i'd play any any of those. leafcrown is very good and the most agressive one, either mode you choose. blue i see being cast more times as wind drake cause blue usually isnt the most agressive color, but if in a particular game you're on offensive the bestow cost is great.
    black one: blue one made bad. still playable though cause modal cards are always good it seems...
    red: body is not great but holds aura very well on offense and defense, besisdes being playable. playing bestow makes an attacker or blocker that will many times be the biggest thing in play, but it doenst help you to do both at the same time
    white: one of the best (along blue and green) because it allows one creature to control the battlefield on its own. you use the pump both to attack and block. playing it one a mere 3/3 makes things hard for opponents. also, when you're left with the creature, an aura on it repeats the same stuff. body without bestow is not a good play, but sometimes you need it.
  • #5
    Quote from carpeamentum
    I have to disagree with you on the best ordeal. A lightning bolt you see coming for that long isn't that good. I would generally much rather have 2 cards.


    What do you do with the information that your opponent is going to cast lightning bolt? Not play out creatures with less than 4 toughness?
  • #6
    Quote from SundownTown
    What do you do with the information that your opponent is going to cast lightning bolt? Not play out creatures with less than 4 toughness?


    No but you avoid creating 2-for-1 opportunities and you play knowing that your best X/3 or smaller creature is dying in however many turns. The point is you get to play around it so that it's just a 1-for-1 and doesn't ruin your game, as opposed to an actual Bolt which has the elements of timing and surprise. That's why calling it Lightning Bolt is misleading -- it's lacking the upside of a real Bolt.
  • #7
    Quote from SundownTown
    What do you do with the information that your opponent is going to cast lightning bolt? Not play out creatures with less than 4 toughness?


    Hold open combat tricks?
    Hold your best x/3 in hand for later if it makes sense to do so.
    Similarly, don't play any fragile "bombs"
    Aggressively trade your creatures that would die to it.
    Play protective auras/equipment on the creatures you care about.


    More so, there is a lack of flexibility to the timing. Lightning Bolt can be used in conjunction with first strike, or large toughness creatures to help finish off a creature. Lightning Bolt can be used to kill a creature in response to a combat trick or aura.

    The ordeal doesn't have any of the instant speed removal benefits.
  • #8
    I would also point out that while 2/2 intimidate isn't great, +2/+2 intimidate is potentially game-breaking. Having two evasive power on the board after is pretty rough- they might be able to get rid of the guy that'll kill them next turn, but the still have a clock to tend to. I'd put it on par with the blue guy (with the probable edge to blue.)

    I'm also in agreement that Ordeal of Thassa > Purphoros.
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  • #9
    Ordeals- They're all playable, but the best ones will give you unconditional value and will feature in the decks that most want heroic. To that end, I rank them:

    Thassa- Extremely good value potential, plenty of heroic in the color.
    Purphoros- Strong ability that almost always has a worthwhile target.
    Nylea- Mana fixing/ramp and improved draws give you the best chance to win the long game. Dependent on green's aggression.
    Heliod- Card disadvantage, but in the best heroic color and a significant setback for aggressive strategies.
    Erebos- Forced sacrifice can occasionally be a drawback rather than reward.

    Nymphs- It's important to consider whether the 2/2 versions of these are actually worth a card. Always play the first two, usually the third, last two dependent on the deck.

    Nimbus- The others don't come close. Wind Drake/Griffin Guide split card should always be a high pick.
    Leafcrown- Upside bears are good, especially ones that can bestow even in an aggressive deck.
    Cavern- Evasion will be very important in a slower format with big creatures. Intimidate also gets better in a monocolor-heavy environment. Will get worse if these predictions are wrong.
    Spearpoint- First strike will occasionally be useful in deterring low-toughness guys, but this guy gets quickly outclassed, and bestow is very expensive for such a mild buff.
    Observant- Blah. He'll get played in decks that have little else to do, but neither effect is particularly good for the mana.
  • #10
    Let's not forget that an ordeal on someone already with at least two +1/+1 counters, like a critter who's monstrous, can trigger the effect immediately.
  • #11
    The white naiad seems underrated: you have to remember that white seems to have the highest density of heroic cards, so anything that can trigger heroic seems solid. Knightly valor was a high pick in RTR, and while the naiad isn't as strong as the valor, I think that the naiad will be still be a mid to mid-high pick in this block since it can enable heroic.
  • #12
    Quote from NorthernPolarity
    The white naiad seems underrated: you have to remember that white seems to have the highest density of heroic cards, so anything that can trigger heroic seems solid. Knightly valor was a high pick in RTR, and while the naiad isn't as strong as the valor, I think that the naiad will be still be a mid to mid-high pick in this block since it can enable heroic.

    It looks a lot like Knightly Valor indeed - only difference being that you get your 2/2 as an insurance after the enchanted creature dies. I guess you usually want the creature right away, it's better against sweepers though.
    Without Heroic it would be nearly unplayable, with Heroic I'm guessing I'd play one or two as fillers.
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  • #13
    I think the green ordeal is actually going to be a decent role player. Looking at the mana costs and ability costs in this set, I'll likely be playing every bit of ramp I can get.
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  • #14
    It looks a lot like Knightly Valor indeed - only difference being that you get your 2/2 as an insurance after the enchanted creature dies. I guess you usually want the creature right away, it's better against sweepers though.
    Without Heroic it would be nearly unplayable, with Heroic I'm guessing I'd play one or two as fillers.


    The other difference being that you can play it on turn three if you need to trade with a grizzly bear or get a target for another aura. I'd be surprised if this ended up being much worse than Knightly Valor.
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