Gods return to the Magic: The Gathering Standard format with the upcoming Theros: Beyond Death set.
Releasing digitally via MTG Arena on Jan. 16 and officially on Jan. 24, Theros: Beyond Death (THB) returns Magic players to the plane of Theros. The set contains seven Gods, two that are gold multicolored and five that are monocolored. All seven are dependant upon the returning MTG mechanic, Devotion. Mana colors in a God’s casting cost provide Devotion toward that God.
Unless a God has the Devotion required, it isn’t a creature, but rather just an enchantment on the battlefield. Players can use this to their advantage when an opponent targets a God with creature removal by sacrificing or removing your own permanents from the board to reduce the Devotion, making the God no longer a creature at Instant speed.
For strategic purposes, it’s important to note that Gods are classified as enchantments and creatures in any other zone. The planeswalker Calix, Destiny’s Hand, for example, can search a player’s library for a God using his plus-one ability. Gods also trigger the Constellation mechanic upon entering the battlefield. But the counterspell Negate won’t work against a God, even if it’s entering the battlefield as an enchantment, because it’s still a creature when on the stack.
Each God in THB has indestructible, along with a static ability. Monocolored Gods also have a mana ability in addition to the static and all abilities are active whether the THB God is a creature or an enchantment.
Multicolored THB Gods
There are two THB multicolored Gods. One is in the colors Black and White and the other is Red and Green. Both Gods require a Devotion of seven or greater to become creatures. Devotion is met using one or both colors associated with that God.
Athreos, Shroud-Veiled has an expensive CMC of six, one White and one Black, that’s worth its cost. The multicolored 4/7 God has a static ability that places a coin counter on a target creature at the beginning of your end step. The creature targeted can be one of yours or an opponent’s.
When a creature dies or is exiled with a coin counter on it, that creature returns to the battlefield under your control. Coin counters from Athreos protect your own creatures against removal and can steal an opponent’s.
Atreos, Shroud-Veiled is an ideal God to build around in a BW Control deck and is likely to become a strong commander in the EDH and Brawl formats.
Klothys, God of Destiny
Klothys, God of Destiny’s static ability allows a player to exile a target card from any graveyard at the beginning of your pre-combat main phase. If that target is a land, the player can add a Red or Green mana. If any other type of permanent is exiled, it adds two life and deals two damage to each opponent.
If a player is playing a Jund Sacrifice deck, for example, exiling Fabled Passage from the graveyard ramps the player up an additional Red or Green mana that can ramp into Korvold, Fae-Cursed King a turn quicker. Klothys can also control an opponent’s graveyard by exiling key cards with the Escape mechanic, earning you two life while doing two damage to each opponent.
Klothys, God of Destiny works in the Commander format as well, although the other players may not like you too much. Combo Klothys with cards like Strionic Resonator and Helm of the Host to produce additional triggers and copies of her.
Monocolored THB Gods
Monocolored Gods were designed to strengthen around abilities often associated with that specific color. White, for example, uses lifegain while Black uses Sacrifice. To turn each of these Gods into a creature, Devotion needs to be five or greater.
Perhaps one of the most aggressive Gods in THB, Pruphoros, Bronze-Blooded provides all other creatures with Haste and has a powerful mana ability. At the cost of three, one Red, a player can put a Red or artifact creature onto the battlefield. That creature gets sacrificed at the beginning of your next end step.
Purphoros can put creatures like Ilharg, the Raze Boar onto the battlefield, who in turn brings another creature from hand onto the battlefield—and they all have Haste. Other Red creatures that may end the match with a single attack include Terror of Mount Velus and Drakuseth, Maw of Flames.
Combo with Underworld Breach and every creature that ends up in the graveyard has Escape, including Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded.
Heliod, Sun-Crowned fits right into a Mono-White lifegain deck, providing a +1/+1 counter onto any target creature or enchantment you control when you gain life. His static ability essentially allows any creature to become an Ajani Pridemate.
To promote his static ability, Heliod’s mana ability provides lifelink to another creature until the end of turn. Combo cards that can trigger Heliod include Impassioned Orator, Gideon Blackblade, and Linden, the Steadfast Queen. Ajani, Strength of the Pride is also a solid planeswalker to include that will fuel your lifegain strategies.
Similar to Midnight Reaper, Erebos, Bleak-Hearted provides card draw when a creature dies at the cost of two life. Of all the Gods, Erebos is perhaps the weakest. But he can combo with Cavalier of Night, producing plenty of card draw without being worried about spending life points.
Erebos is also a solid God to have in a Sacrifice deck, using his mana ability to weaken or kill an opponent’s creature while triggering a sacrifice.
Nylea, Keen-Eyed fits right into a typical Mono-Green Stompy deck, reducing the cost of all creatures by one. Combo Nylea with ramp creatures like Arboreal Grazer and Gilded Goose to drop your creatures even further ahead of schedule and use The Great Henge to add +1/+1 counters to them.
The Green God can also help find key creatures quicker, using its mana ability to search your library.
Thassa, Deep-Dwelling is a powerful Blue God who flickers targets, exiling them at the beginning of your end step and then bringing them back onto the battlefield under your control. She can only target creatures you control, but her flicker ability is beneficial when combined with permanents that have “enter the battlefield” triggers.
The Blue flicker God can also tap down an opponent’s creature with her mana ability. It’s a tad on the costly side but may come in handy when facing down a Midrange Green or Red opponent who has several large creatures attacking.