It’s autumn, and for most that means new seasons. What those seasons are can depend; sometimes it’s the actual changing of the weather. For many of us it’s a time for new aspects of pop culture to come around, such as new or returning television series. Well for me, the best new aspect of the season is the fall set for Magic: the Gathering, because it sets off a brand new plane and all new mechanics to go along with it. This year Wizards of the Coast has sent us to the plane of Theros, a Greco-Roman mythology based setting (finally) and the first set in the Theros block came out last Friday. So I’ve got a Major Spoilers review to share with you after the jump.
Greek Mythology is awesome and used wonderfully
Mechanics and flavor align perfectly
Limited removal is clunky and hard to value
Theros is a top-down design. What that means is the entire set was approached from the aspect of making it feel like Greek mythology, or at least the resonant ideas we have of Greek mythology in the modern day. Wizards successfully accomplished a top-down block two years ago with Innistrad, and it was the second best year the company has ever had (last year was the best with Return to Ravnica). Theros had a bit more work to do because the Greek myths are more specific and iconic than the traditional horror tropes, so let’s take a look and see what they accomplished.
If you have even a passing enjoyment of Greek myth, then this set should draw you in. The sheer number of cards referencing specific events, characters, and items is astounding. From super-well known things like the Trojan Horse to rather obscure references like the Hekatonkheires, the set leaves few stones unturned. Then we can take a look at the overall feel of heroes fighting monsters and becoming something more than mere men. Then we have the Gods, which are wholly original to Theros, and their influence coming in the form of enchantments was a brilliant touch. The feel of the Gods aiding what mortals they choose fits wonderfully, and the idea that enough devotion to the god will make them rise is perfect.
This set does not read well. Heck, many of the mechanics read terribly. After two weekends of playing with these cards though, every terrible thought I had about them has been destroyed. Scry actually fits perfectly into the setting and is just a generally strong returning mechanic. Devotion, being the reworked version of Chroma, is perfect. It makes sense in the context of the setting and the tweaks work in its favor, having a rule to refer to and only looking in one zone are both improvements. Now, for the new mechanics:
This was the strongest looking mechanic going into the release, and one of the few parts of the set that read favorably. That reading has been mostly accurate. I find myself surprised to say this is my least favorite of the mechanics in the set. Which does not mean it is bad, far from it actually. Heroic does exactly what you want it to do, however each Heroic creature pulls focus from each other Heroic creature making it difficult to build a deck around the mechanic. I like Heroic, but it is not a unifying concept.
Going into the prerelease I was upset with how much it cost to Bestow anything and thought only two of the Bestow creatures were worthwhile. Boy was I mistaken. Bestow manages to be the strongest of the new mechanics and I fully understand why it was costed as such. 90% of the time you will want to Bestow the card instead of casting it normally, and that alone speaks volumes about how strong the mechanic is.
Monstrosity, as should be apparent by now, has actually ridden the middle ground for me the entire time. Going into the weekend I thought it, like most of the set, was a bit weaker than I would like. Well, it isn’t. The Monstrosity costs are high for a reason, they are very powerful. Even the commons without any abilities upon becoming monstrous are worth using. Besides, this draws a good parallel of investing in one thing that the Bestow mechanic lets you side step. The two mechanics are very similar in the extra cost for extra power, but I like how they work at different ends of this situation.
BOTTOM LINE: SO GOOD
Theros has quickly risen to my all-time favorite set. The flavor alone had me giddy the morning of the prerelease and I have not been disappointed by a single card in the set. I look forward to spending the next few months trying to break the format before Born of Gods comes out early next year. Overall, Theros fully earns a star for each God, giving it 5 of 5 stars.