Theros Beyond Death releases this weekend, which means it’s time to draft! Whether you’re heading to MagicFest New Jersey, playing in your local game store’s Draft Weekend events, or just jamming games on MTG Arena, there are tons of opportunities to draft Magic’s newest set.
If you’re feeling a bit adrift in Theros’s Underworld, we have some tips to help you succeed in your next draft.
Every draft format has its own unique features and mechanics. Here are a few things to keep in mind when drafting Theros Beyond Death:
- Enchantments Matter: Theros Beyond Death has more enchantments than the average set, and one of its keyword mechanics (constellation) incentivizes you to draft them. There are 49 enchantment creatures in the set, which should make it easier for you to add to your enchantment count. Enchantment removal is also more prevalent, so keep an eye out for spells like Return to Nature and Revoke Existence.
- Graveyard Matters: One of Theros Beyond Death’s other mechanics is escape, which allows you to cast spells from your graveyard. This may bring the speed of the format down a few notches, and cards that exile spells from graveyards will be at a premium.
- Devotion: Finally, the devotion mechanic will also make you look more carefully at the mana costs of your spells. If you’re playing any spells that require devotion, be sure to prioritize permanents with two colored mana symbols – and try to keep them on the battlefield for as long as possible! (Enchantments can help add to devotion, too, and they can be harder to remove than creatures.)
If you draft a lot, you’re probably used to seeing ten two-color archetypes in each draft format. Theros Beyond Death doesn’t deviate from this formula; while devotion strategies are common and mono-colored decks may be viable, two-color decks are still the norm.
Here are the ten central strategies in Theros Beyond Death.
Theros Beyond Death has some fantastic flyers, from Daybreak Chimera at common to Thryx, the Sudden Storm at rare. This deck can also benefit from the constellation mechanic, especially if you’re looking to get in for damage with Triton Waverider or fill the skies with Pegasus tokens. Commanding Presence can be big game in this deck, since it has the most evasive creatures.
If you drafted Throne of Eldraine, this archetype shouldn’t be too unfamiliar to you. Blue-Black in Theros is all about mill – but sometimes, it pays to target yourself and take advantage of the escape mechanic. Give this archetype a try if you first-pick an Ashiok or a strong black removal spell.
The black-white archetype gets the best of both worlds: all the enchantment synergies of the mortal realm and all the riches of the underworld. If Rise to Glory is any indication, this deck wants to get repeated use out of creatures and enchantments (and enchantment creatures!). Black and white also have access to the best common removal spells in the set, so don’t sleep on this archetype.
Black-Red Sacrifice decks have been common in Limited of late, but fewer sets have graveyard themes as strong as Theros’s. You won’t mind sacrificing an Underworld Charger if you can cast it for its escape cost later!
Blue-Red: Instant-Speed Matters
Several blue and red cards in Theros Beyond Death encourage you to cast at least one spell on your opponent’s turn. This deck can make the most effective use of Omens, as well as creatures with flash. Pick up a Wavebreak Hippocamp early and bury your opponents in card advantage.
While the heroic keyword didn’t return in Theros Beyond Death, several creatures have abilities that trigger when you target them with spells. Hero of the Nyxborn and Heroes of the Revel both grant extra attack power to creatures, so this seems like a good “go-wide” strategy.
The “ferocious” keyword from Khans of Tarkir block also isn’t technically in the set, but the red-green archetype is based around creatures with power four or greater. Fortunately, there are plenty in the set, some of which are quite large for their mana costs (like Warden of the Chained). Use Nylea’s Forerunner to give your creatures trample and you’re in business.
Like the Blue-White deck, Blue-Green cares about the constellation mechanic. While you won’t see as many creatures with flying in this archetype, Eutropia the Twice-Favored can always put a creature in the air. Stock up on beefy green beasts and send them soaring!
While all colors have access to the escape mechanic, you’ll find the most cards with the keyword in black and green. This archetype wants to put cards into the graveyard and use them to fuel more powerful spells later. Your games may take a while, but you’ll likely have the last creature standing.
While the blue constellation decks have access to some auras, the majority are in green and white. This deck can best leverage Heliod’s Pilgrim to tutor up spells like Warbriar Blessing or Dreadful Apathy. It also has the most access to enchantment removal spells.
All these archetypes can be powerful with the right cards, but where do you start in your next draft? Here are some of our top picks at each rarity.
In the common slot, we picked our favorite card(s) in each color:
White’s leading common is Dreadful Apathy, one of the best catch-all removal spells in the set. Its activated ability is also useful – if an opponent tries to remove Dreadful Apathy or eke additional value out of the creature, you can exile it in response.
Thirst for Meaning is a fantastic source of card advantage for any deck playing enchantments. It’s likely the best common in blue, but devotion-enabling aura Ichthyomorphosis gets an honorable mention here.
Mire’s Grasp is a cheap removal spell that also enables constellation! It’s currently our pick for best common in the set for Limited. (Final Death gets an honorable mention for black commons, since it’s one of few ways to efficiently deal with Gods.)
Omen of the Forge takes the top common spot for red. It’s an efficient removal spell that also provides card selection in a color that doesn’t often get it.
Voracious Typhon is our pick for best common creature based on efficiency and reusability – a four-mana 4/4 that can become a seven-mana 7/7 later! You’ll want to play this creature even if you aren’t in a dedicated escape deck.
With just a few early drafts under our belts, it’s hard to rank all the higher-rarity cards relative to one another, even within their colors. In this section, we’ll share some of the top uncommons in different categories.
In a format that cares about enchantments, unconditional removal spell Banishing Light is king. While vulnerable to enchantment removal, Banishing Light can exile any permanent, including a Planeswalker or a God. If you’re not playing white, Drag to the Underworld is your next-best uncommon removal spell, especially if you can cast it for two mana.
While all the multicolored uncommons are powerful in their respective archetypes, we prefer the ones that generate the greatest card or board advantage. Acolyte of Affliction, Eutropia the Twice-Favored, and Staggering Insight are the ones we have our eyes on in early drafts.
The demigods are among the strongest creatures in Theros Beyond Death, especially at uncommon. Renata is our current favorite, since she helps green play the biggest creatures possible, but we’re also big fans of Tymaret and Anax.
Finally, here are some of the rares and mythics that impressed us the most at Prerelease weekend and in early drafts:
It’s only fitting that the face of the set is one of its best cards. Planeswalkers are historically hard to deal with in Limited, and this one keeps coming back again and again.
This creature has so much going for it. It’s efficiently costed, it flies, it has lifelink, and it can create a board full of smaller flying lifelinkers. Sign us up!
Memes aside, this big fish means business. Nadir Kraken is a card advantage engine, and while it’s vulnerable to removal, it can flood the board with tokens in no time.
Blue’s best rares are hard to argue with, and Kiora Bests the Sea God may be the best rare for Limited in the entire set. Any of its three chapters can win the game on the spot; combine them all and your opponents will have few options.
In Limited, card advantage is king. With the right support, Setessan Champion will draw you a ton of cards while getting swole in the process.
Okay, we’re pretty high on this Blue-White flyers deck, especially thanks to Dream Trawler. This sphinx always attacks as a 5/5 and will gain you some precious life points when you need it.
What can we say? Planeswalkers are strong in Limited, especially when they create tokens to protect themselves. The ability to cast cards your opponent exiled to pay escape costs is just icing on the cake.
We saw this hydra mowing down tons of creatures at Prerelease events this weekend. Exile Polukranos when you have the chance!
Elspeth’s weapons have always been strong; this one can see play in any Limited deck. Even if you don’t have an opportunity to destroy a God, you can still gain some life and deal some valuable trample damage.
Did you agree with our picks? Did you draft a sweet deck on MTG Arena? Let us know on Twitter at @Card_Kingdom!