In Theros Beyond Death Limited, there are a lot of sweet combos to assemble, cool plays to make, or weird interactions to explore. This article collects 20 such tips and tricks (in arbitrary order) as my Theros Beyond Death Limited bucket list.
1. Create your Own Overrun
Klothys’s Design may give a huge boost to your team, but without evasion, your opponent merely has to line up a few chump blockers. The solution is to add Nylea’s Forerunner to give all of your creatures trample and set up a lethal attack.
2. Be Tricky with Flicker of Fate
The obvious use of Flicker of Fate is to save your own creature from a removal spell, but it can do so much more. For example, it can produce a surprise constellation trigger, remove the +1/+1 counters from an opposing escaped creature, remove Auras from your opponent’s creatures, reset a Saga, help your trampler deal lethal, or reuse an enters-the-battlefield ability.
But my favorite trick is to Flicker my own Dreadful Apathy in response to its activated exile ability. (On MTG Arena, you need to enter full control mode to respond to your own abilities.) The end result is that the original creature gets exiled and a new creature can be Pacified.
3. Escape the Labyrinth
When one card specifically refers to another, assembling the combination naturally belongs on a bucket list. And it’s a pretty powerful combo to boot.
Labyrinth of Skophos itself is reminiscent of Maze of Ith, with one big exception: It can also remove blocking creatures from combat. If you remove a blocker from combat, then the attacking creature remains blocked, so it normally won’t deal combat damage. Unless the attacker has trample. Then you get to trample over for full, so a trampler and Labyrinth of Skophos work very well together.
4. The Unfortunate Pharika’s Spawn
There are only two Gorgons in the entire set. So the ultimate bad-luck achievement is when you would escape Pharika’s Spawn when your opponent controls only Venomous Hierophants and/or Pharika’s Spawns. In that case, they won’t have to sacrifice a creature.
5. Exploit Treacherous Blessing
By itself, Treacherous Blessing is a playable card draw spell for hyper-aggro decks that don’t care too much about their life total, but the life loss clause can be a little dangerous for most decks.
Unless you’re red-black. Then you gain access to Blood Aspirant, Final Flare, Skophos Warleader, and Slaughter-Priest of Mogis. All these cards can sacrifice Treacherous Blessing to get rid of the life loss clause and produce a beneficial effect. As a result, the enchantment shoots way up in value when you’re drafting red-black and can reliably get rid of it.
6. Wrap in Flames Your Own Heroes
The intended use of Wrap in Flames is to target three opposing creatures. But when you control one or more Heroes, it can be beneficial to target your own creature as well. Especially if your opponent has two or fewer blockers, the extra power boost can be the difference between winning and losing.
Less commonly, you may be able to produce a surprise win by targeting your own Hero with a removal spell like Final Death. This requires a weird board state where you have a lot of small creatures, but it’s worth keeping in mind for those rare games where this suddenly produces lethal.
7. Infinite Scry
It’s a three-card combo, but when Archon of Falling Stars enchanted with Minion’s Return dies, both permanents will return to the battlefield. Thanks to Woe Strider as a free sacrifice outlet, you can do this as often as you want.
8. Lose After Resolving Kiora Bests the Sea God
Kiora Bests the Sea God costs a LOT of mana. But when you can cast it, it is arguably the most powerful card in the set. So much so that I put the “accomplishment” of losing after resolving it on this bucket list. This will be very hard to do, so if it happens, then that would be quite a story.
9. Exploit the Omens
The cycle of Omens provides a ton of cross-synergies. For example, they could provide an instant-speed constellation trigger, an instant-speed point of devotion to a color, a surprise +1/+1 counter on an attacking Blood Aspirant, a free Dreamstalker Manticore trigger, fodder for Final Flare or Thirst for Meaning, or repetitive value with Shimmerwing Chimera.
They basically synergize with everything, and all the “hey, it works well with that too” discoveries have been fun.
10. Untap Alirios
The idea of Alirios is that, as long as he is narcissistically captivated by his Reflection, he won’t enter the fray. Unless you untap him somehow.
Realistic ways to do so are with Hyrax Tower Scout and Stinging Lionfish, which can effectively unlock a free 2/3 blocker. Just be careful not to attack with him, as he may not be able to untap again.
11. Win the Game with Thassa’s Oracle
This is also a serious achievement, but in a deck with enough devotion to blue and ways to stall into the late game, Thassa’s Oracle is a sweet win condition.
Just keep in mind that the devotion count is checked on resolution, so if you play it when your devotion to blue would be equal to the number of cards in your library, then your opponent may spoil everything with an instant-speed removal spell.
12. Keep a Stolen Creature for Good
Most blink effects put back the permanent under its owner’s control, but Thassa is different. If you stole a creature with Portent of Betrayal and blink it with Thassa, it will return under your control. Since it returns as a new object, Portent of Betrayal’s “gain control until end of turn” effect no longer applies to it, which means that you get to keep it indefinitely.
13. Deal with a Hexproof Dream Trawler
Dream Trawler is one of the best cards in the set. As a mix between Baneslayer Angel and Prognostic Sphinx, it is really hard to beat. If you would target it with Dreadful Apathy, for example, then your opponent can just discard a card to counter it.
But there are ways to get around hexproof. The key is that Auras only target when they are cast, not when they enter the battlefield. So if you use an effect like Rise to Glory or Flicker of Fate to put an Aura onto the battlefield, then you aren’t targeting anything—you simply choose where to attach it. Hence, Rise to Glory allows you to attach Dreadful Apathy to Dream Trawler, and no amount of hexproof can stop that.
14. Enchant Opponent’s Creatures for Value
Hateful Eidolon and Dawn Evangel care about enchanted creatures dying, but they don’t care who controlled them. This means that they pair particularly well with Auras that kill opposing creatures, such as Mire’s Grasp or Mogis’s Favor. And when you are removal flooded, you might even want to put Sentinel’s Eyes or Indomitable Will on an opposing creature to draw another card.
15. Turn an Enchantment into an Enchantment
One with the Stars is one of the most befuddling cards in the set. First, you have to figure out that if a creature loses the creature card type, it can no longer attack or block. The next thing you might wonder is why One with the Stars can enchant enchantments. The main answer is that if One with the Stars couldn’t enchant enchantments, then it would fall off right away.
But my bucket list contains the corner case where you control a random constellation creature and enchantment (say, Setessan Skirmisher and Warbriar Blessing), are one damage off of lethal, and know that you are dead on the next turn (say, you’ve seen Purphoros’s Intervention in your opponent’s hand earlier). Then you can cast One with the Stars on your own enchantment to accomplish absolutely nothing other than producing the lethal constellation trigger, which is one of the weirder ways to win a game.
16. Sacrifice a Saga with The Last Ability on the Stack
There are a number of cards that allow you to sacrifice enchantments: Slaughter-Priest of Mogis, Blood Aspirant, Final Flare, and Skophos Warleader. To exploit these cards, sacrifice a Saga while its last chapter ability is on the stack.
For example, take Elspeth’s Nightmare. At some point, as your precombat main phase begins, you put the third lore counter on it. Hence, the Saga triggers, which puts the “exile target opponent’s graveyard” ability on the stack. (This ability on the stack won’t be affected if the Saga leaves the battlefield.)
This is your window to sacrifice the Saga for value. You need to do it at instant speed while the third chapter ability is still on the stack because once it resolves, Elspeth’s Nightmare would be sacrificed as a state-based action. But in this small time window, you can have your cake and eat it too.
17. Cleverly Assign Combat Damage to Avoid Death Triggers
If your opponent double-blocks a 4/4 with a 2/2 and a Grim Physician, they may expect that you will assign lethal damage to both creatures. But you don’t have to. You can assign all damage to the 2/2 so that Grim Physician doesn’t die and your 4/4 will live.
A similar thing can happen when your opponent double-blocks a 6/6 with a 2/2 and a Careless Celebrant. Just assign all damage to the 2/2 and no damage to the Careless Celebrant, and your opponent has effectively chump blocked.
18. “What does protection do again?”
This is bound to come up at some point. A player controls a creature wielding Commanding Presence, has Alseid of Life’s Bounty as a piece of protection, and is feeling pretty good about the game. The opponent then tries to stop the enchanted creature with Dreadful Apathy, which gets countered by sacrificing Alseid of Life’s Bounty.
And then it dawns on both players that protection from white means that Commanding Presence will fall off as well. It’s not all upside!
19. Punish Heliod
Enchanting an opponent’s Heliod with Heliod’s Punishment is of course a massive flavor win. Even more interestingly, if on the next turn your opponent’s devotion to white would fall below 5, then Heliod’s Punishment would fall off.
This may be counter-intuitive because you would think that the “Heliod isn’t a creature” text would be part of the abilities that get wiped by the enchantment. However, the Release Notes clearly state that this is not the case: “If an effect causes a God to lose all abilities, its ability that causes it to stop being a creature still applies if appropriate.”
20. Put Hydra’s Growth on Polukranos
Hydra’s Growth doesn’t care where the counters come from, so putting it on an escape creature or—heaven forbid—Polukranos, Unchained means that you will outsize everything rapidly. To really drive it home, give the creature trample via Setessan Training or Nylea’s Forerunner.
By the way, Polukranos’s damage prevention ability will lead to some weird interactions. If a creature with lifelink would deal damage to Polukranos, then your opponent will not gain any life. And if Moss Viper fights with Polukranos, then Polukranos will live with one fewer counter.
I could go on, as the format is pretty deep. Here are a few quick hits that also might have made my bucket list:
- Quad-block Nessian Boar, draw 4 cards, then kill it at instant speed.
- Bring back Iroas’s Blessing with Storm Herald.
- Give my own topdecked creature haste with Portent of Betrayal for a lethal attack.
- Draft around Gallia of the Endless Dance. There are actually many green or red common Satyrs: Skola Grovedancer, Irreverent Revelers, Nexus Wardens, and Stampede Rider.
- Turn Pharika’s Libation into a semi-targeted removal spell by forcing an opponent who controls, say, an enchantment creature and two regular creatures to sacrifice an enchantment.
- Fully counter an opposing Phalanx Tactics, including the global boost, by killing or blinking its target.
- Curve turn-2 Transcendent Envoy into turn-3 Commanding Presence and pray they don’t have removal.
- Use the activated ability on Shadowspear to kill a God or to nullify Starlit Mantle.
- Bring back a 3/3 creature with the third chapter of Elspeth Conquers Death, then put a loyalty counter rather than a +1/+1 counter on it to play around Triumphant Surge.
- Exile an escape card from their graveyard with Agonizing Remorse.
- Collect all Gods, i.e., draft mono-color devotion decks of all colors at least once.
I hope you enjoyed this collection of tips, tricks, accomplishments, and weird interactions in Theros Beyond Death Limited. If you have any additions or stories of your own, then don’t hesitate share them in the comment section below!