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[Article] Sleepers in Standard

During spoiler season there were many speculations about which Born of the Gods cards would see competitive play and which ones would be left behind. At the Star City Games Nashville Open, people got their first taste of Born of the Gods in a competitive setting. With SCG Somerset being cancelled thanks to Mother Nature we sadly missed another opportunity to see which Born of the Gods cards people are brewing with. However, SCG Nashville (and more recently SCG St. Louis) already showcased some of the expected hits from Born of the Gods:

The Cat King Brimaz, King of Oreskos tested the waters in both G/W Aggro and U/W/x Control.

The Seer of the lands Courser of Kruphix beat down alongside other creatures in G/R Monsters.

The Kraken creator Kiora, the Crashing Wave fought alongside other planeswalkers in a rather nice looking Bant Planeswalkers deck.

And of course, Bile Blight became a nice addition to Mono Black Devotion allowing for even more ways to kill off creatures.

Pain Seer, Revoke Existence, and Unravel the Aether made some appearances as well throughout the Open.

What do I think about these top tier performers? While Brimaz is a powerful card, I felt that it underperformed and was either removed too easily or, cards such as Boros Reckoner and Polukranos, World Eater were able to hold it at bay. It’s quite possible the deck he was placed in wasn’t the kingdom he was meant to rule. Rather than being a sideboard threat in U/W/x Control decks I think Brimaz fighting alongside white weenies with a Spear of Heliod in hand is the way to utilize him best, but that’s just me. Courser of Kruphix on the other hand proved even better than expected. Sure, we all knew it had power but seeing it in action and how fluent it works in G/R Monsters cemented its place in a top tier deck. Kiora, the Crashing Wave seems to have found a home in a U/W/x control shell and while people felt she might be too fragile, she seems to hold her own (with the help of counters and wraths).

And yes, 9/9 Krakens are just as scary as I imagined they’d be.

Not much to say about cards such as Bile Blight and Revoke Existence. They have one job, and they do it well.

Now that the boring stuff is out of the way, I would like to talk about my top 3 cards that I think people might have overlooked from Born of the Gods. They are the “sleepers” in standard and I believe they have more uses than people give them credit for. I’ll talk about the card a bit, and for a couple of them, throw it in an example deck to give you guys a better sense of what I’m talking about. Maybe you’ll get some ideas for your own decks!

1. Eidolon of Countless Battles

This card is a great addition to White Weenie. In a deck that is chalk full of threats, Eidolon benefits quite well. More-so if those decks include cards such as Precinct Captain and Brimaz, King of Oreskos to generate tokens which in turn makes Eidolon stronger. The reason why I like it is because there are not too many 4 drops that White Weenie plays (if any) so the bestow is actually quite prevalent and because wraths are so frequent in standard, it’s nice to have some insurance. Sure, it’ll only be a 1/1 once it falls off but it’s still something to swing with and if you can play a couple creatures the following turn you get to swing for 3 right away. It’s also a nice substitute for Banisher Priest if they’re not playing many creatures to target. This allows you to have a stronger threat on board that gets more powerful as your board progress.

Let’s take a look at an example! This is actually one of my favourite decks I’m playing right now. It’s fast out of the gate but has slightly more reach than old White Weenie. It also has some explosive power with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx.

'Devoted Weenies' by Michael Yee

Creatures (25)
Angel of Serenity
Banisher Priest
Heliod, God of the Sun
Precinct Captain
Soldier of the Pantheon
Boros Reckoner
Brimaz, King of Oreskos
Eidolon of Countless Battles

Other spells (11)
Boros Charm
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
Gift of Orzhova
Spear of Heliod
Lands (24)
Sacred Foundry
Temple of Triumph
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
13 Plains

Sideboard (15)
Celestial Flare
Fortify
Glare of heresy
Last Breath
Pithing Needle
Revoke Existence
Spirit of the Labyrinth

We have some White Weenie staples in the form of Soldier of the Pantheon, Precinct Captain, and Boros Reckoner. The deck utilizes the plenty of double white cards to be able to ramp quickly into an Elspeth, Sun’s Champion or Angel of Serenity which can end the game quickly. However, we have a ton of aggression early on with Soldier, Precinct, Reckoner, and the King himself Brimaz, King of Oreskos. Brimaz is a card that has a great home in White Weenie. Spear of Heliod makes Brimaz into a killing machine, making each token produced a 2/2 and making him a 4/5 natural body which puts him out of range of most removal. Bestowing Eidolon on Brimaz is crazy good and each time he attacks he gets stronger. You do have to watch for his P/T lowering if your creatures start dying but a quick bestow will usually turn Brimaz into a 5/6 or 6/7 quite early. Slap on a Gift of Orzhova for some quick evasion and lifelink and you’ve got yourself a threat needing to be answered (If Brimaz by himself wasn’t enough). With Brimaz, Precinct Captain, and Heliod, God of the Sun being token producers, you can see how large Eidolon can get in a short amount of time.

2. Herald of Torment

Now, let’s head to the dark side of things and look at the next card, Herald of Torment. This card is going to bump up B/x aggro. It has evasion, it’s a 3/3 for 3, and has the ability to bestow later on in the game to another one of your creatures flying to beat down in the air. The downside is you get ticked for 1 damage on your upkeep but I feel that is a fair price to pay to chunk your opponent for 3 in the air each turn. B/x Aggro didn’t really have any amazing 3 drops. You had card such as Xathrid Necromancer, Mogis’s Marauder, Agent of Fates, etc. but the problem with those cards is that they always need other cards to be useful. Necromancer needs humans, Marauder needs other creatures, and Agent needs heroic activators. Herald of Torment is fine on its own since it’s just a 3/3 for 3 flyer. It can also bestow later on in the game if you need to give one of your other creatures that extra boost in the air and for an aggro deck, having the ability to do that turn 5+ to squeeze in that last few points of damage is quite important.

Here’s a quick deck list I came up with. Not too much that goes into B/x Aggro but still might give you an idea of what kind of deck to throw Herald of Torment in:

'Mono Black Aggro' by Michael Yee

Creatures (25)
Rakdos Cackler
Tormented Hero
Xathrid Necromancer
Mogis’s Marauder
Herald of Torment
Pain Seer
Lifebane Zombie

Other spells (12)
Hero’s Downfall
Ultimate Price
Doom Blade
Thoughtseize
Boon of Erebos
Lands (23)
20 Swamp
Mutavault

Sideboard (15)
Erebos, God of the Dead
Lifebane Zombie
Dark Betrayal
Devour Flesh
Duress
Bile Blight

3. Whelming Wave

Yes that’s right, I like this card. Sure, it’s not a card that will work in a variety of decks but I’ve been playing with 1 copy in the mainboard of my U/W Trading Post Control deck and I have to say, it’s proving extremely well. If you’ve played U/W control you’ll already know of countless times where you need one more turn to either come back, or need to buy one more turn to have a chance at top decking that final answer. Well, Whelming Wave helps you with that. Let’s face it; no one plays Krakens, Octopods, Leviathans, or Serpents. Sure they pop up every once in a while and yes, Kiora does produce Krakens. However, if Kiora ends up going ultimate you’ve probably lost the game by that point anyways.

Whelming Wave can act as a 5th “Wrath” alongside your four copies of Supreme Verdict. Yes it can be countered, yes it requires double blue, and yes it is sorcery speed. However, it is another board wipe that can buy you the time you need to find an answer. Similar to how Azorius Charm helps slow down your opponent by putting an attacking/blocking creature on top of their library, Whelming Wave has the same effect. Forcing your opponent to spend another turn or possibly 2 turns playing their hand back out is usually what you need. In more fringe situations, it works great against White/Boros Weenie decks or Selesnya Aggro where you end up getting blown out by them having a sneaky copy of Rootborn Defenses or Boros Charm to protect their creatures from Supreme Verdict. Not only does Whelming Wave get around indestructible but it gets rid of any tokens permanently which is quite relevant against cards such as Elspeth, Kiora, Voice of Resurgence, and Advent of the Wurm.

I don’t think it’s the greatest card in the world by any means, but I’ve been testing with one less copy of Azorius Charm (3x) and playing one copy of Whelming Wave in the main board. Every single time I’ve pulled it I’ve been happier than if it were in fact that 4th Azorius Charm.

So there you have it; my top 3 cards I enjoy from Born of the Gods. These are purely my opinion and I have no doubt many will disagree with me about them being useful but go ahead and let me know which cards you enjoy from Born of the Gods in the comments below!

– Michael Y.

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