Bant Value

“Born of the Gods, the newest set in the Theros block: now with even fewer cards that’ll impact Standard!”

It seems like most articles and opinions I read aren’t very positive about the follow-up to Theros. But really, what did you expect? When most removal spells in standard don’t care about what text is on a card ([card]Hero’s Downfall[/card], [card]Devour Flesh[/card], [card]Detention Sphere[/card], [card]Supreme Verdict[/card], [card]Rapid Hybridization[/card]), heck, when even your own creatures don’t care what text is on your own cards ([card]Pack Rat[/card]), how did the illusion that the text on the cards in Born of the Gods would matter get into your head?

However, while I might be more excited about the possible outcome of the Banned and Restricted List announcement (the results of which are not known as of writing this article), there are a few cards in Born of the Gods I am very excited about. Two of the most talked about cards are [card]Bile Blight[/card] and [card]Drown in Sorrow[/card]s, but those are not the cards that get my creative juices flowing. They are both great additions to Mono Black, although I doubt they will make Mono Black that much stronger. [card]Bile Blight[/card] will probably take the place of [card]Pharika’s Cure[/card] in the main, while [card]Drown in Sorrow[/card]s will take its place in the sideboard.

Brimaz, then? The King of Oreos is definitely one of the more obviously powerful cards in the set, but it’s also not my favorite card. I appreciate a good, old-fashioned attack-or-block-type of creature, but more from the other side of the table, if you know what I mean.

The cards I am most interested in for now are [card]Courser of Kruphix[/card] and [card]Ephara, God of the Polis[/card]. As most of us know, card advantage is one of the better routes to victory in a game of Magic, and both of these card provide card advantage in spades.

Let’s look at the Courser in a bit more detail:

Courser of Kruphix

Decidedly not [card]Oracle of Mul Daya[/card], the Courser plays a bit of a different role. While Oracle was a ramp spell, letting you play additional lands, the Courser is a perfect fit in a deck that wants to make its natural land drops. In a controlling build, he lets you basically draw a card whenever there’s a land on top of your library, while providing defense in the form of a 2/4 body and some incremental lifegain. Courser helps you get past land clumps on the top of your library twice as fast, drawing you into more action.

Now imagine a deck wherein that “action” is either creatures or cards that draw more cards. Then fit Ephara into that picture. Are you getting tired of drawing all those cards yet? How about if we try to maximize Ephara’s triggered ability by fitting in some flash creatures, so you can draw extra cards on everybody’s turn? Now we just need to find a way to be able to play all those extra cards. For that, we turn to one of my favorite cards in Theros draft: [card]Prophet of Kruphix[/card].

Prophet does double work in this deck. It allows you to play creatures on your opponent’s turn, so you can draw an extra card with Ephara on your own turn as well, and it gives you double use out of your mana, so that you can keep casting all those threats you are drawing.

Besides [card]Prophet of Kruphix[/card], we can also take advantage of [card]Kiora, the Crashing Wave[/card], to let us play extra lands we draw, combining with [card]Courser of Kruphix[/card] to form a full-fledged Oracle of Mul-Daya on steroids.

So, we’re building a deck around [card]Courser of Kruphix[/card] and [card]Ephara, God of the Polis[/card], [card]Prophet of Kruphix[/card] and [card]Kiora, the Crashing Wave[/card]. What other cards would fit well with these cards?

First of all, we’re going to want something that helps us cast these cards earlier, or that helps us survive until we can cast them at our leisure. In this case, I’d prefer mana-making creatures, as they work well with Ephara, turning into cantrips by the time they would normally be dead cards. A card like [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] would hurt us almost as much as our opponent, the way I imagine this deck turning out.

We also need something to do with all our mana, so I propose we at the very least make use of the best mana sink in Standard: [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card]. On top of that, we’d probably want more creatures, preferably ones that are good at killing our opponent, since we do need to win at some point (although with all the card advantage I’m planning on gaining, it probably doesn’t have to be much).

Here’s a first draft of the deck I plan to clean house with:

[deck title= Bant Value by Jay Lansdaal]
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Courser of Kruphix
3 Ephara, God of the Polis
3 Polukranos, World Eater
3 Archangel of Thune
3 Prophet of Kruphix
2 Prime Speaker Zegana
1 Selesnya Charm
4 Detention Sphere
2 Kiora, the Crashing Wave
3 Sphinx’s Revelation
4 Breeding Pool
4 Forest
2 Hallowed Fountain
1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
4 Temple Garden
4 Temple of Enlightenment
2 Temple of Mystery
3 Temple of Plenty

The manabase was built to have plenty of early green (preferably untapped on turn one), for [card]Elvish Mystic[/card] and [card]Courser of Kruphix[/card], and enough white and blue to play [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card] and [card]Archangel of Thune[/card] later on. If you are ever building three-color manabases, I’d strongly suggest you bookmark this article by fellow Dutchman Frank Karsten about mana ratios. It’s very helpful as a guideline to how many colored sources you need to reliably cast your spells. With the amount of scry-lands and [card]Sylvan Caryatid[/card]s, this deck seems to do just fine on colored sources, despite the (eventual) need for double green, blue and white.

Technically, if the manabase is giving you issues, you could cut [card]Archangel of Thune[/card] for something like [card]Prognostic Sphinx[/card], and cut down on white sources. I like the Angel as one of my heavy hitters, though, because it synergizes well with [card]Courser of Kruphix[/card] and [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card], as well as being a great card to help you stabilize against aggro. The other big creatures are Polukranos, which is one of the better green threats at the moment and is cheap enough to help against aggressive decks, and [card]Prime Speaker Zegana[/card], a [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card] in creature form.

Right now, there is little interaction with the opponent’s cards in the deck outside of [card]Detention Sphere[/card]s (the most all-round removal spell that also counts towards devotion for Ephara) and a single [card]Selesnya Charm[/card], which can also function as a flash creature in a pinch. Of course, Polukranos can kill creatures, and Kiora can also “freeze” an opposing threat, but there are neither counterspells nor an abundance of removal. This is mostly because this deck is built around a bunch of synergistic cards, and I’d rather start with too little interaction and the maximum amount of synergy that I can fit onto my mana curve, then have too little synergy. Synergy is sometimes all you need to overwhelm your opponent, and at least this way we can really test whether the core of the deck is strong enough to continue working on it.

As you might have noticed, I did not put up a sideboard just yet. I’m thinking of using cards like Gainsay, more removal in the form of [card]Selesnya Charm[/card] or perhaps [card]Unravel the Aether[/card] to deal with gods, and [card]Nylea’s Disciple[/card] to stem the bleeding against aggro decks. I could also see threats like [card]Voice of Resurgence[/card] or [card]Mistcutter Hydra[/card] to help out against decks like Mono Black or control decks. How many slots you need to devote to what cards is harder to decide on without playing some actual games against those decks to see how things go, so I’ll come back to the sideboard if the deck does well in testing.

What cards are you excited about? Have you seen any new brews with Born of the Gods cards that make you excited for the new Standard? Or is it all doom and gloom out there because of the perceived future dominance of Mono Black?

Let’s get some value,

Jay Lansdaal
iLansdaal on Twitter and MTGO