Theros Beyond Death Set Reviews:
Welcome to my Theros Beyond Death set reviews. I’ve been reviewing each and every set since Alara Reborn, and I always kick things off with Limited. This review will give each card a grade for Limited, which does mean both Sealed and Draft. However, if there is a meaningful difference between the two formats for a specific card, I’ll call that out in the comments. Note that the grades help you compare the cards to each other, or see where a card lands at a glance, but the commentary on the cards tells the full story. Enjoy!
Retired and inducted into the Limited Hall of Fame: Pack Rat. Umezawa’s Jitte. The Scarab God.
5.0: The best of the best. (Oko, Thief of Crowns. Embercleave.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (The Great Henge. Lochmere Serpent. Stonecoil Serpent.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Murderous Rider. Bonecrusher Giant. Edgewall Inkeeper.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Bake into a Pie. Scorching Dragonfire. Covetous Urge.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Rimrock Knight. Trapped in the Tower. Maraleaf Rider.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Rosethorn Acolyte. Lost Legion. Youthful Knight.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Raging Redcap. Garenbrig Squire. Wicked Guardian.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Ogre Errant. Sporecap Spider. Fling.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Eye Collector. Fortifying Provisions.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Return to Nature. Crystal Slipper.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Irencrag Feat. One with Nothing.)
Alirios gives you a lot of stats at a pretty low cost, even if you have to wait on half of it. This combines nicely with bounce or sacrifice effects, and is just a good card on its own.
A four-mana counterspell with negligible upside is not what I’m looking for in Limited.
If you can reliably cast this for five mana, it’s passable but not exciting. You really need to be going ham on enchantments for this to be good, as drawing this and having it cost 6+ mana is going to make you pretty salty.
Callaphe gives you solid stats and a couple small upsides, which makes me like her, even if I wouldn’t call her beloved. She’s an enchantment, she adds two pips to devotion, and taxing your opponents can make a big impact in some games.
The numbers on Chain to Memory add up to a good playable, as it will stop an opponent’s creature in combat for just one mana. It’s especially good if you have deathtouch creatures or creatures with high power, and if you win a fight with this you come out ahead nicely.
I don’t like 3-mana counterspells all that much in Limited, as you have to keep mana up, may not get to use it, and when you do counter something it’s still just a 1 for 1. Still, this is a decent card for control decks that have a lot of instants, and can be a good sideboard card against someone with good expensive creatures.
If you need cheap Constellation triggers, I’m not philosophically opposed to playing this, but it’s not a card that affects the board very much. This is too expensive to really rely on, and as a 1/2 won’t do enough until then.
You’ll never feel too bad about having this in your deck, but it’s rarely going to make a big splash either. It’s got minor synergies with escape, and can help smooth out your draws, making it a solid playable but nowhere near elite.
You don’t have to think twice about playing this, since it cycles early and can give you a little value late, and is an instant for the UR flash deck. I’d only really avoid it in decks that are aggressive and have a lot of 2-drops, as it actually plays well even with other escape cards. While you probably aren’t using the escape ability if you’ve got other escape cards competing for it, in those decks this acts as a way to fill your graveyard cheaply, which is also nice.
There really is a world of difference between giving the opponent a 1/1 vs a 0/1, so I like this more than cards like Frogify. This also plays nicely with both constellation and the aura synergies (like Hateful Eidolon), making it a good piece of removal.
Kiora Bests Your Opponents Easily is more like it, as this is just the best card in the set. For seven mana you get an unkillable 8/8, then all their stuff gets tapped down for two turns, and then you steal their best permanent. What?
If you see this, take it, and I think even pack two isn’t too late to switch into blue, as this card will win the vast majority of games where you cast it (meaning that you should just focus on surviving until 7 and finding this).
This card is very fancy, but at the end of it you do get your mana’s worth. The trickiest part is naming the right card on the second chapter, as you want to predict what you want to cast the next turn, and hope the opponent doesn’t change the board such that you have to cast something else instead. Scry 2 + draw 2 is a fine deal, even if you have to wait a few turns to get all of it, and this is a cheap enchantment that both enters the battlefield and then fills the graveyard.
Even the scry 2 isn’t enough for me to forget how bad 4-mana counterspells are.
Nadir Kraken simultaneously clogs up the board and grows into a huge threat, all for just one mana a turn. Technically this is a combo with card draw, but it does just fine on its own, and starts costing too much mana to combine it with anything but the cheapest of card draw cards. This is a powerful threat for only three mana, and will be very impactful at any point in the game.
The best place for this is in the UR Flash deck, but as a 2/3 enchantment creature for 3, it’s totally fine to play this if you want more enchantments in your deck. That makes this a card that will see play most of the time, but you need a little incentive to run.
If you need an enchantment, some devotion help, or just a 4-drop to keep you alive, Seaguard is a fine choice. It’s never exciting, but not every card can be a bomb.
I’m more than happy to pay two mana for a Preordain with multiple upsides, so I can’t envision cutting this very often. It fixes your draws, triggers Constellation at instant speed, and sticks around for devotion as needed. Plus, you can even crack it to scry 2 later, which will happen a decent amount of the time. I like the Omen cycle, and this is a particularly good one.
One with the Stars is a good way to deal with opposing creatures, though note that they keep any spicy activated or triggered abilities. Also, on Limited Resources, we asked why this could enchant enchantments, and plenty of fine folks gave us the obvious answer – it’s so it doesn’t fall off immediately when the creature turns into an enchantment, duh.
If you can reliably trigger the Thaumaturge, it’s going to have a huge impact on the board. Note that the copy ability doesn’t last until end of turn, just until you choose to copy something else, so this will just about always be tied for first place of creatures on the board, as it can copy opposing creatures too. This is one of the best mid-combat Constellation triggers, so enchantments with flash become even more important if you have a Thaumaturge.
If you need a cheap blocker or a way to trigger your Flash synergies, this isn’t a bad option. I do have a hard time associating turtles with Flash, as they seem a bit slow, but I’m willing to overlook the flavor inconsistency.
Limited: 1.0 // 3.0
In the right deck, this can be a powerful self-mill engine that fuels both Escape and Constellation. I’m not as high on milling the opponent, as that can really go awry if they have powerful Escape cards, so I’d mostly focus on milling yourself for profit. Note that this is uncommon, so you aren’t likely to get many copies, which makes building the ultimate mill deck a little harder.
Limited: 1.5 //3.0
Sea God’s Scorn is always passable, but only really gets hot when you’re pressuring your opponent. Bouncing their board and doing nothing because you’re a control deck is not the way to go, so focus on curving out and having this as your top end finisher.
I like Shimmerwing Chimera a lot. The baseline of a 3/2 flier for four is good, and if you have enchantments with good ETB abilities this can make life very hard for your opponent. It’s even optional, so you don’t have to bounce anything if you don’t want to.
It’s got shoal, but it’s not a soldier (it’s a kraken, duh). I’d play Shoal Kraken in any deck with 5+ enchantments, as it clogs up the board well enough and may give you a couple loots over the course of the game.
Even in an aggressive deck, I’m skeptical of being able to cast this enough times for it to make a big difference. Three cards is a lot, so you may get 1-2 extra uses over the course of a normal game, which isn’t quite enough for most decks (and this competes with other, better, escape cards).
I like Starlit Mantle a lot less than Indomitable Will, because that extra point of toughness means you beat, not just trade for, a whole extra level of creatures (think a 3/3 beating a 4/4 instead of trading). Still, this fits nicely into decks that care about Heroic or Constellation, and can counter removal spells nicely.
I think we dismissed this a little too quickly on LR, giving it a D+ or so, which translates to a 1.0 here. I still don’t think you’ll always run this, but it can answer opposing Auras well enough that it deserves a place in decks that are lacking on removal.
I like Stinging Lionfish in any deck with even a couple instants, and it becomes a real powerhouse in a dedicated build. It can stop them from attacking, giving you time to cast your instant-speed card draw in peace, and can also be a powerful offensive tool by tapping down blockers. It even can untap your own stuff, meaning that they may hesitate to attack with a 2/2 if you have a tapped 3/3 on board.
Limited: 1.0 // 2.0
As sweet as the name and art are, this is a mediocre build-around at best. It’s unplayable unless you’re working very hard, and even then it seems rough to try and assemble a mill deck out of mostly uncommons.
I have faith that the Gods will be overrated by most people, as the devotion part can be more difficult to achieve than they expect. If you can reliably (like actually reliably) meet the threshold, Thassa is incredible, but my rating is mostly predicated on her other two abilities. She’s a build-around, but a powerful one, and if you can find even a couple creatures with good ETB abilities then Thassa becomes awesome. Her tap ability is nice to have too, even if it’s expensive enough to not do much until the lategame.
I like the flexibility here. You can leave up Thassa’s Intervention mana, and if they play something better than you casting a good card draw spell, just counter it. Either option is good, and unlike most counterspells, you don’t get punished if they don’t play anything. That makes this good no matter what, and flexibility + power is always what I’m looking for.
Thassa’s Oracle is a fine value play at any point in the game, and pumps your devotion by a lot. In the early game, it’s a pseudo-Omenspeaker, which helps you hit your land drops and curve out. In the midgame, it can look at a lot of cards and find whatever you are missing, and in the very late game, it may just be a straight-up win condition. I like all of those things, and combining them all makes a card I’m delighted to play.
This is high-rate card draw at common, and at instant speed to boot. In a deck with a lot of enchantments, it will play very well, and even discarding two cards won’t feel too bad (though that’s no longer card draw as much as card selection). I like Thirst for Meaning, and suspect I won’t be alone in that.
The song this sings is pretty sweet, just not for your opponent. This combines a combat trick and a surprise blocker, and is cheap enough that it will be good at any point in the game. It’s also a good creature to slap Auras on to, making it a desirable card for any deck.
Can you imagine this guy just coming out of the stormclouds all of a sudden? I’d lose my lunch, and your opponent certainly will when you ambush their creature and are left with a massive threat. It even makes your expensive cards better, not that that’s needed, as the stats on this already make it a beast.
If you want a 2-drop, this is acceptable. It doesn’t exactly tower over the competition, but it’ll trade for opposing 2-drops and fill your graveyard for Escape, which is fine. Even if you don’t have any graveyard synergies, your opponent very well could, so you should basically never target them with this unless you think the game is actually coming down to milling.
Given enough enchantments, this can do a good Phantom Monster imitation. It’s even better with flash enchantments, as the opponent might get ambushed.
RIP Wind Drake, 1999-2019. Vexing Gull is a little too small to be that good at ambushing, but it plays well with Flash synergies and counterspells, all while being a good flier for its cost.
Wavebreak Hippocamp is a fantastic payoff for playing instants, and doesn’t need much to justify itself. If you have even a few instants in your deck, this is great, and with 7+ it will be one of the best cards in your deck.
Countering abilities is a nice bonus, but this still is a 3-mana counterspell that doesn’t always even work. I’d look for this in Constructed more than Limited.
This is expensive enough that I actually think being an enchantment is more of a drawback, but either way it’s a decently-sized flier with a minor ability. You can’t typically do much better at common for five mana, and this will almost always make the cut.
Top 5 Blue Commons
4. Vexing Gull
Blue’s commons are lacking some oomph here, as it’s got some card draw spells and a fiddly removal spell as headliners. Naiad of the Hidden Coves is my pick for blue common that overperforms, and I could see it doing a great job powering the flash deck. Blue has historically performed better than it looked, so I wouldn’t count it out yet.