Lesser Gods of Theros Block

So since Mark Rosewater confirmed my suspicion that we’ll be seeing a cycle of ten two-color, minor gods in Theros block, I wanted to do some further expansion upon my original speculation. My source material:

Planeswalker’s Guide to Theros, Part 1

Planeswalker’s Guide to Theros, Part 2

Planeswalker’s Guide to Theros, Part 3

The Lost Confession

The Card Image Gallery for Theros (flavor text)

I’m going to start with the 5 gods whose Temples are in in Theros.

RW: Iroas

Temple of Triumph

The main references to Iroas thus far have been in terms of the “Iroan Games”. The flavor text from Arena Athlete: The Iroan Games award no medals. Athletes vie for a visit from Iroas, god of victory.”  Iroas also inspires loyalty to one’s comrades, to the point of self-sacrifice. The flavor text from Priest of Iroas: "Even my last breath with be a blow struck for Iroas." The people of Akros embrace Iroas, resulting in a very martial culture.

An army that worships Iroas should be quite organized. It would have a clear chain of command and well-planned supply lines.

Since Iroas is one of the “Twins of War”, the other being Mogis, I have a suspicion that Mogis is driving the conflict in this block, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a confrontation between the two, or their champions, by the end of the block.


WB: Athreos

Temple of Silence

Athreos is referenced on two cards so far, Sentry of the Underworld and Scholar of Athreos. The Scholar’s flavor text reads: “She asks pointed questions of the dead who wait for Athreos, learning of life from those who are about to leave it.” The Sentry’s flavor text reads: “When Athreos gathers the newly dead to be ferried across the Five Rivers that Ring the World, he sends skeletal griffins to fetch those who stray.” Athreos is Theros’s Charon-analogue, serving as the ferryman to Nyx. Athreos is clearly associated with “orderly death”, or at least customs surrounding death and funerals. Reference from PW Guide 3: “When a human dies on Theros, a funerary mask of dark clay is customary, used to “frame” the identity of the deceased for Athreos.”

The Returned are probably a huge thorn in Athreos’s side, since they’re not behaving in their proper, ordered fashion.


UB: Phenax

Temple of Deceit

Phenax is thus far only referenced on a single card, Disciple of Phenax. Sadly the card has too many words to fit any flavor text. Mechanically, I expect Phenax to be associated with hand disruption and mill (see Ashiok).

Phenax probably spends most of his time right at the boundary of Theros and Nyx, slipping into the minds of dreamers. Therans probably know that not all dreams are safe — with a god like Phenax around, a nightmare could become real.

The Returned denizens of the Necropolis of Asphodel are very aligned with Phenax — these undead beings have embraced deception so thoroughly that they spend their entire existence trying to deceive themselves that they yet have “lives”.


UG: Kruphix

Temple of Mystery

Kruphix is mentioned on two cards, Prophet of Kruphix and Agent of Horizons, which has the flavor text “The light in the woods just before dawn reveals a glimmering network of branches, roots, and spiderwebs. The acolytes of Kruphix walk this lattice unseen.” Kruphix is associated with change, as well as the boundaries between two disparate things (dawn, horizons). A river changing course would be Kruphix’s doing.

I expect that Kruphix, as well as Keranos, strikes mortals with divine inspiration. However, a mortal struck with a compunction from Kruphix is likely to spend the rest of their life working on a massive undertaking that will bring radical change to some aspect of life. Kruphix may also take a role in dreams (see Phenax), as sleep is a sort of transition-state between life and death.

I would love to see Kruphix represented as neither male nor female, but in a constant state of flux between these states. I had the thought that perhaps centaurs are of Kruphix, but I think that a centaur would be insulted at the idea that they are “half human, half horse”, and would instead clarify that they are fully centaur and nothing else. Chimaeras, on the other hand, are truly of Kruphix.


GR: (Agrios)

Temple of Abandon

I don’t believe we have seen a name for this god yet. As it’s fairly clear to me that this god is a Dionysus/Bacchus analogue, I will use one of his epithets for this god: Agrios, meaning wild.

Agrios is the god of revelry, of impulse, of doing whatever feels good, and of “damn the consequences!” Agrios and his followers are truly selfish and without foresight. They are violent, but not due to malice — they commit violence because it felt good/right to them at the time (see the card Destructive Revelry). In a way, followers of Agrios are childlike — an undisciplined child will hit another child because they have no concept of consequences, or interest in considering the other child’s pain.

The satyrs of Theros have completely embraced Agrios’s way of life. They build no settlements and form no lasting relationships, since either of those would require planning and consideration. As the flavor text on Satyr Rambler says: “A satyr is bound by nothing—not home, not family, not loyalty.”  

Xenagos, as he stands right now, is a devotee of Agrios.


For these other 5, the temple names are speculation.


RB: Mogis

Temple of (Brutality, Malice, Wrath)

Four cards in this set reference Mogis, and he was also mentioned a number of times in the Planeswalker’s Guide Part 2. The cards are: Mogis’s Marauder, Fanatic of Mogis, Borderland Minotaur, and Deathbellow Raider. I think Deathbellow Raider is the perfect representation of a devotee of Mogis — must attack each turn if able, can pay a price to keep going beyond when he should have died. His flavor text: “The temple has been rededicated. It belongs to Mogis now.”—Rastos, disciple of Mogis Mogis is not one for wanton destruction — he and his followers will make use of anything they can wrest away from others.

Mogis represents a dedication to violence to the point of self-sacrifice. Bloodlust and cannibalism are associated with him. It’s no mistake that two of the Mogis-mentioning cards are “Berserker” creatures. Many of Mogis’s followers are minotaurs. The Returned that dwell in the Necropolis of Odunos also serve Mogis.

Mogis seems to like starting trouble with his brother, Iroas. There are multiple mentions of conflicts between these two in the Planeswalker’s Guide, Part 2, and from the tone of these interactions, it sounds like a standard “younger brother jealous of elder brother” interaction.

My most out-on-a-limb prediction for this block is that Xenagos has fallen under the influence of Mogis. Xenagos appears briefly at the end of the Theros trailer, as Heliod has been talking about a dark influence on the plane. I believe the worldbuilding panel also mentioned that he, having Planeswalked elsewhere, has discovered that his ambitions are not satisfied by being a hedonist — and that level of power-hunger and planning do not fit with Agrios. Xenagos wants to upset the order of Theros — but I think he desires to be a tyrant, not send the plane into anarchy. It would be pretty amazing to see this planeswalker change within the block (Sarkhan-style!).


UR: Keranos

Temple of (Inspiration, Insight)

Keranos, god of storms, is referenced on two cards: Lightning Strike and Steam Augury. Steam Augury’s flavor text speaks to Keranos’s volatile nature: “Keranos is a fickle god, delivering punishment as readily as prophecy.” The flavor text on Lightning Strike also speaks to the impulsiveness and violence that his red side lends him: “‘The hand of Keranos can be seen in every rumbling storm cloud. Best not to stand where he points.’ —Rakleia of Shrine Peak”

Keranos also apparently has a temper — after being scolded by Karametra for damaging her chosen city with a storm, he sent an even more destructive storm, with the intent of destroying the city’s food supply. He also made an attempt to kill Anthousa, a mortal favored by Karametra.

Keranos is not all destruction, though. He is responsible for the visions of many seers — including the queen of Akros, Cymede.

(Mechanics note: “Flip a coin” seems like it would be fitting on a Keranos-associated card. You might get brilliant inspiration! Or, you might take a lightning bolt to the face, who knows!)


UW: Ephara

Temple of (Order, Truth, Balance)

Ephara is mentioned on a single card thus far, Ephara’s Warden. Her flavor text reads: “When you threaten the sanctity of the polis, you insult Ephara herself. If she doesn’t smite you, I will.” This speaks to Ephara’s association with order — and by extension, her association with civilization itself. Ephara is the god that granted magic to the humans, in order to give them the power to overthrow the tyrannical archon which had them enslaved.

Philosophy, universities, the search for knowledge in general, should be pleasing to Ephara. Meletis is associated with this god, but Meletians are also known as being devout and praying to many gods. I do not think this should bother Ephara — each god has a domain and reasons to be worshipped, and that is right and orderly. (Interestingly, the artwork on Scholar of Atheros suggests that the scholar herself is Meletian).


GW: Karametra

Temple of (Harmony, Fellowship, Community)

Karametra, patron god of Setessa and Theros’s Demeter/Hestia analogue, is referenced on three cards: Setessan Battle-Priest, Karametra’s Acolyte, and Bronze Sable. The flavor text of the Setessan Battle-Priest encompasses a lot of this god’s flavor: "Your god teaches you only how to kill. Karametra teaches me to defend what I hold dear. That is why I will prevail." Karametra is a god of community and growth.

The Planeswalker’s Guide Part 2 references Karametra as god of orphans: “Karametra, the polis’s patron, is the god of orphans, and abandoned children are brought from outside to be raised by the polis.” This confused me initially, as orphans represent a complete lack of community and thus should be anathema to Karametra — but this lack is what makes them irresistible to Karametra. She gives them a home.

Karametra is also associated with agriculture, which is referenced in the flavor text of Karametra’s Acolyte: "The wilds are a garden tended by divine hands."

From what we know of the gods so far, it seems like Karametra may be one of the gods who takes the most interest in mortals (another being Iroas). From Planeswalker’s Guide Part 2: “Their leader is Anthousa, who also leads Karametra’s Council of Warriors. She is considered the god’s closest advisor and de facto ruler of the city when the god is not present, which is much of the time.” Anthousa is also referred to as Karametra’s favorite.


GB: Pharika

Temple of (Transmutation, Transformation, Renewal?)

Pharika, patron god of gorgons, is mentioned on three cards in Theros: Pharika’s Cure, Viper’s Kiss, and Pharika’s Mender. Pharika is another god that is associated with the boundary between life and death. She is credited with “hiding many secrets in basilisk blood”, and poisons, venoms, and venomous creatures in general are definitely of Pharika.

Despite how deadly a god of venoms sounds, she serves as the healer-god. The flavor text of Pharika’s Mender reads: “The direst venom becomes a panacea under Pharika’s guidance. I bring it to the worthy, clinging at the edge of the abyss.” Pharika’s Cure has the flavor text: "’The venom cleanses the sickness from your body, but it will not be pleasant, and you may not survive. Pharika’s blessings are fickle.’ —Solon, acolyte of Pharika”

Athreos (and even Erebos himself?) may resent Pharika’s healing interventions as meddling with those he should be ferrying to Nyx. Additionally, gorgons are reputed to be immortal (thus evading Erebos), and I’m not sure whether someone petrified by a gorgon is actually truly dead, adding yet more reasons for conflict.

(Reblogged from teal-deer)

More recent alters.

Some Theros Speculation

Well, the new set that’s coming out in just a few weeks has managed to excite me enough that I have something to talk about again! 

Theros is a plane of gods. We know that there are five single-color gods: Heliod, Thassa, Erebos, Purphoros, and Nylea (in WUBRG order). If you read through the “Planeswalker’s Guide to Theros” articles that have shown up over the past few weeks, though, you’ll know that there are definitely some other, perhaps lesser gods involved in this world. Karametra is mentioned repeatedly, along with Iroas and Keranos. 

(Planeswalker’s Guide Part 1: http://www.wizards.com/Magic/magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/feature/261c and Part 2: http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/feature/262c )

My theory is that there are ten lesser gods, each representing a color pair. I didn’t entirely like this idea at first, as it feels like it crowds the guilds from the Return to Ravnica block. However, I’ve come around on this, and now think it makes for a good transition out of a gold-heavy set, both in terms of gameplay (get your sweet gold cards while the mana is still good) and in terms of color identity. It will be good to be reminded that GW does not only mean Selesnya and the associated tokens/populate mechanics, it also stands for the chaos of nature somewhat tamed (think of a garden).

I’ve found 6 names of “lesser” gods in the Planeswalker’s Guides so far, and here’s what I think their pairings/representations are:

Keranos, UR. Mentioned as a god of storms and creativity. Grants visions to seers — Cymede, queen of Akros, was granted visions when struck by lightning. This god has a serious beef with Karametra, apparently. 

Ephara, UW. Mentioned in the history of Meletis as the god who gave magic to the humans. 

Iroas, RW. Basically the god of the Olympics, or perhaps the glory of battle, honorable war, concepts such as loyalty to one’s warband. One of the “Twins of War” along with Mogis.

Mogis, RB. From a teasing image at the end of the Theros trailer, possibly the big bad guy of the set? The other of the Twins of War, represents battle unhinged, ferocity and cruelty, even to the point of turning on one’s comrades to the point of cannibalism. Sounds like he’s got some minotaur worshipers. 

Karametra, GW. Mentioned as the god of the hearth, and has an uneasy relationship with Nylea due to the whole tension of wilderness/agriculture. Also a god of orphans. 

Pharika, GB?. Definitely death-associated, is mentioned as being a god that is associated with Underworld/ death/ old age. 

I don’t think I’ve seen anything to fit UG, UB, RG, or BW yet — perhaps the third Planeswalker’s Guide will bring more clues. 

I’m not actually expecting to see each of these gods as a card in the set — more, I expect to see gold cards referring to these gods. 

More recent alters.

I’ve been remiss in posting my recent work! Work has been light lately, so I’ve gotten to do some serious painting. The set of Unburial Rites sold nearly as soon as the paint had dried — and was OK’ed by the head judge to be played in a PTQ! 

Toast thinks I’m paying too much attention to altering Magic cards and not enough to him.

Still a little bit in progress. Also I think this is the first Rare I’ve done. I just got my Golden fluid acrylics, so I’m still getting familiar with new, better paint. It doesn’t toothpick-scrape off as easily as cheapy craft store paint did!

revisedangel:

mtg-realm:

Magic: the Gathering - Production

Where MTG cards are born … at the printers.

So much awesome!

(Reblogged from revisedangel)

Dragon’s Maze/Gatecrash/Return to Ravnica Draft Archetypes

I’ve never drafted a triple set. The closest I’ve come was Dark Ascension-Innistrad-Innistrad, and I’m prepared to admit that I had no real clue what I was doing then. I don’t want to go into DGR draft with no plan, so my husband and I have worked together to come up with some “archetypes” that may play out well in this triple-set draft format.

This is not a guide to which cards you should pick first; I trust that you can spot a bomb and will take that first. This is intended to to provide some suggestions for what your picks should be for your not-first picks of DGM, and a loose guide to what you will be prioritizing in your GTC and RTR packs.

Red-based Aggro

This is a split archetype; Rakdos and Boros are both viable options here. Prior to the prerelease, I was skeptical whether a two-color aggro deck could still be pulled off, but having seen it have some pretty impressive success in prereleases, I think it can happen in drafts. These decks should ONLY be two colors; trying to go Rakdos/Boros hybrid will slow the deck down too much.

If you’ve started out with some Rakdos cards, some other key cards from DGM are: Spike Jester, Carnage Gladiator, Rakdos Drake, Rubblebelt Maaka, and Punish the Enemy. Toil//Trouble is a possibility. In GTC you will be picking up mostly red creatures (Firefist Striker, Ember Beast, Warmind Infantry, Viashino Shanktail, Skinbrand Goblin), some black creatures (Gutter Skulk, Deathcult Rogue), and a mixture of spells (Act of Treason, Mugging, Madcap Skills, Killing Glare, possibly Shadow Slice). In RTR you should… draft Rakdos.

If your DGM draft started with some sweet Boros cards, you will want to round out DGM by picking up Warleader’s Helix, Viashino Firstblade, Rubblebelt Maaka, and Punish the Enemy. Later in the pack you should keep an eye out for Haazda Snare Squad — while this card is not all that impressive offensively, it is going to enable some attacks that would otherwise get too much of your team killed. In GTC, draft Boros, but I think it will be correct to prioritize creatures over removal (and especially over tricks) here, since many of the available creatures in RTR are not that impressive. In the RTR pack, poach as many red creatures as you can (Rakdos Cackler, Gore-house Chainwalker, Splatter Thug, Rakdos Shred-Freak, Blood-Fray Giant), but also keep an eye out for certain white creatures (Dryad Militant, Azorius Arrester, possibly Keening Apparition), and some non-creature spells (Swift Justice, Annihilating Fire, Traitorous Blood, Dynacharge).

RUG

I actually played straight Gruul in one of my prereleases this past weekend. I realized partway through that the way I was playing was very similar to how Izzet decks played in RTR — get in some early damage, maybe a bit of sustained damage from a pinger, build up your board with sizeable guys, and then play some sort of breakthrough spell and kill your opponent from what seemed like a comfortable life total (say, 15 or 18!). The key component of this deck is the breakthrough cards, and you’ll want more than one. In this category I include Armed//Dangerous, Gruul Charm, Mark for Death, Golgari Decoy, Teleportal, and Blustersquall. Gruul War Chant plays somewhat of a similar role, and Act of Treason/Traitorous Blood can also help out in a pinch. Teleportal and Armed//Dangerous are probably the best of these, and Chemister’s Trick is the last-ditch, oh-no-there-wasn’t-a-Teleportal version you’ll grab if you absolutely must. I don’t think Awe for the Guilds makes it, even in desperation.

The cards you’ll want to pick up in the DGM pack are: Armed//Dangerous (NEVER pass this in this archetype), Gruul War Chant, Zhur-Taa Druid, Rubblebelt Maaka, Scab-Clan Giant, Thrashing Mossdog. Kraul Warrior is a fine late pickup, and I have no idea if Feral Animist is actually a trap or not. In GTC, pick up Gruul cards, especially those with bloodrush. Don’t pass any Gruul charms. In RTR, take any of the good breakthrough cards mentioned above, and also be on the lookout for Brushstriders, Cobblebrutes, Bloodfray Giants, Splatter Thugs, and burn spells.

This deck could also be run with a lot more blue mana, which opens up the possibility of taking cards like Beetleform Mage, Nivix Cyclops, and Fluxcharger in the DGM pack, as well as some good Simic cards (Drakewing Krasis, Elusive Krasis) in GTC.

Golgari-Orzhov (Junk)

This deck is built to have good stuff all around. Good removal, big brutes thanks to Golgari, and inevitability from extort and scavenge. Black will be the central color of this deck, with green secondary and white tertiary.

In DGM, look to pick up Putrefy, Tithe Drinker, Korozda Gorgon, Ubul-Sar Gatekeepers, and Thrashing Mossdogs. Kraul Warriors are a fine late-pack pickup as well. In the GTC pack, focus on getting removal (Killing Glare, Grisly Spectacle, perhaps even Death’s Approach) and extort, especially on black creatures (draft ALL the Basilica Screechers!). Some green creatures are also fine to pick up (Crowned Ceratok, Crocanura, Rust Scarab). In the RTR pack, look for removal (Ultimate Price, Stab Wound), and good creatures. Ogre Jailbreaker should be a great pick in this pack, and you may even luck into a Centaur Healer later than you should if the people who are GW are panicking and scrabbling for token-generators.

Naya

Think: What would Brian Kibler play? This is a deck with ramp, incidental lifegain, and creatures that are bigger and better than what others have. Basically, take any creature that has good stats for its casting cost — especially if it is reasonable both on offense and defense.

Important DGM picks are Zhur-Taa Druid, Bronzebeak Moa, Unflinching Courage, Scab-Clan Giant (if you accelerate into him, he’s quite likely to squish whatever he fights), and Rubblebelt Maaka. Armored Wolf-Rider is a solid later pick, as are Thrashing Mossdog and Kraul Warrior. In GTC, grab Wojek Halberdiers, Zhur-Taa Swine, Ember Beast, and Pit Fights — and don’t turn down Greenside Watchers and Verdant Havens for ramp if you can get them. Ruination Wurm, Towering Thunderfist, and Nav-Squad Commandos will work out fine as later picks here. In RTR, take Centaur Healer, Knightly Valor, Golgari Longlegs, and tricks/removal like Avenging Arrow, Giant Growth, and Swift Justice.

U/B/x

This is where you’re heading if you picked up Mirko Vosk, Warped Physique, or Far//Away first. This deck is going to focus on removal, card advantage, and countermagic. It will poach extort when it can, but I expect that mechanic to be highly contested. If there is a mill deck, it will be this one — late DGM-pack Murmuring Phantasms will turn into fuel for Doorkeepers — but there’s no guarantee there will be Doorkeepers to pick up.

The “x” color will offer different advantages — red brings burn and more removal (Blast of Genius, Turn//Burn), green brings some good removal (Putrefy) and some good defensive creatures like Korozda Gorgon, Trestle Troll, and even Sluiceway Scorpion. White (AKA Esper) feels to me like a different deck, with black or blue more likely to be the tertiary color, depending on relative density of fliers and removal, and with extort playing as much of a role as possible.

In DGM, pick up Warped Physique, Far//Away, Haunter of Nightveil (this guy was a nightmare to play against as an aggro deck), and Ubul Sar Gatekeepers very highly. Opal Lake Gatekeepers, Pilfered Plans, and Runner’s Bane are good mid-pack pickups, and Murmuring Phantasms will be fine to pick up late, possibly Hired Torturer, too. In GTC, snag black removal, Psychic Strikes, and any black extort creatures you can afford to take. Pilfered Plans and Psychic Strike should help you turn on Death’s Approach, so keep an eye out for it. If you’re hedging towards a Doorkeeper plan, Corpse Blockade will be a pick here. In RTR, pick up removal, countermagic, and if you did get some mill synergies/other defenders, get those Doorkeepers (also: Ogre Jailbreaker).

 

I know there are decks I didn’t touch on here, but hopefully this roadmap will help ease your transition into the chaos of DGR! Feel free to tweet at me (@thornmallow) with any other archetypes you think are viable!