Theros Casual & Commander Review: White

Theros is a weird set. Over the last few years, Wizards has really pushed limited formats but that comes at a cost of complexity in cards. But this also means a lot of cards that are only playable in limited and not even something I would consider fringe playable at the kitchen table. Theros’s Voltron-inspired design makes for some odd choices that just don’t seem to quite click just yet but I’m hoping it will come together in the next two sets.

Like all of our Casual & Commander reviews, I will be looking at each card individually and comparing it against all the cards in Magic’s history to see which ones make the cut to the kitchen table and which ones should just be tossed into your Bulk box now. First up is white.

Theros Casual & Commander Review
White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Multicolor, Artifacts & Lands

Battlewise Valor

Simple pump spell with a dash of scry isn’t bad, and the addition of Heroic makes this card a little more exciting than Mighty Leap. But it still isn’t terribly exciting. What a way to begin!

Cavalry Pegasus

As mentioned in our Heroes vs. Monsters review, Cavalry Pegasus is a new human lord… and a flying horse. In limited, this is good but outside of it, eh.

Celestial Archon

The new enchantment creature frame is a nice touch (even if it is suspiciously similar to Ascension’s Fate cards), and Bestow is a great fix on licids. Even without bestow, Celestial Archon is on par with Serra Angel. But then there is bestow and that is an ability I adore.

Ever since enchant creatures first debuted in Alpha… they’ve kind of sucked. Only a handful of times have they ever been worth playing, but now with Bestow you effectively get a split card that is either an aura or a creature – without the risk of being 2-for-1’ed! As an aural, Celestial Archon isn’t great but it’s still completely playable.

Chained to the Rocks

Flavor-wise, this is a home run. And as an insane Naya player, I love the idea of Swords to Plowshares 9-12 in my deck. As part of the new changes in M14, it doesn’t have the weird stacking tricks available to it like Oblivion Ring, but at the end of the day this is a one-drop piece of sorcery speed removal for Boros and I’m sold.

Chosen by Heliod

As a heroic triggerer, this is fine. As an aura, this is bad outside of a Doran deck. It isn’t even good in Doran.

Dauntless Onslaught

A cool pump spell in theory (and can cause some very interesting blow outs in multiplayer games), but three mana feels a bit high for a single combat trick.

Decorated Griffin

With enough mana, this is a solid ability. So Zuberi decks might consider it, but not much else.

Divine Verdict

I prefer the flavor of Neck Snap (Lorwyn was terrifyingly violent in retrospect), but Divine Verdict still doesn’t live up to the best of White’s removal.

Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

In most constructed formats, a six-drop would need to do a lot to be worth while. In multiplayer games though, a six drop is a breeze to cast! Elspeth is an impressive walker and hits all of the right notes. Her +1 gives you a small army, and her -3 is very defensive player friendly (plus she can use it immediately). Her ultimate doesn’t wow me, but will will quickly end games if it resolves.

Ephara’s Warden

I’m sure there is some super contrived scenario where this is “worth” playing, but even then, it isn’t worth playing.

Evangel of Heliod

Devotion is a neat mechanic, especially in eternal formats where hybrid mana is rampant. But dropping six mana on a 1/ 3 hurts, even if it does come with its own army most of the time. But if you really want to make devotion work, check out the Borderposts for some easy gains.

Fabled Hero

Talk about a lighting rod for removal, Fabled Hero, on paper, looks impressive. Double strike on a 2/2 body for only 1WW is nice but the Heroic ability requires far more hoops to jump through than I thought. In a dedicated heroic deck (I’m thinking with lots of buyback), it is possible to shine but most decks simply aren’t targetting their own creatures with spells enough to make it worthwhile.

Favored Hoplite

Wizards still seems to be figuring out just how much each color can get for a single mana. Favored Hoplite is a fine one drop, but heroic still has some shortfalls. The ability is solid and has potential, but I think another set or two is required before it can really shine.

Gift of Immortality

Great, now Uril really can’t die. Gift of Immortality is a very cool way to give white another method of reanimation. While a simple Disenchant breaks the cycle, Gift of Immortality is just a fun enchantment that is full of casual appeal.

Glare of Heresy

The cycle of self-hate cards in this set is fascinating to me as a long term player. Giving white the ability to exile any white permanent means one very important thing: Purelace now has a purpose! This card is a huge metagame call, but the power behind it is absurd.

Gods Willing

Yes, it works as a heroic enabler in limited. Outside of limited… it doesn’t do much of anything.

Heliod, God of the Sun

Ahh, the gods are here and they are fascinating. Using devotion as a way to animate them is genius, but also allowing them to being simply enchantments makes them doublely useful. As an enchantment for 3W, Heliod is essentially an updated version of Mobilization – with a dash of being indestructible! But if your devotion is strong enough, he turns on and becomes a 5/6 at essentially no extra cost! The gods are going to be played at kitchen tables for years to come – just like the Praetors.

Heliod’s Emissary

On one hand, I love when Wizards prints dumb creature types, like magical Elks. On the other hand, making Seasoned Marshal better scares me – especially with the ability to cast it as an aura (this set is basically candy for Uril, righ?). Heliod’s Emissary is a solid 4 drop on its own, but the addition of bestow allows it to turn any creature into a threat. I really can’t wait to see the political games that play out when you bestow someone else’s creature.

Hopeful Eidolon

Lifelink is kind of exciting, but this card feels more like limited fodder.

Hundred-Handed One

I can’t stop smiling at this card! Sure, it’s usually worse than Guardian of the Gateless (which is still one of my favorite cards from RTR block) but the ability to grow gives it a weird quasi-Echo feel, like you’re getting more upfront for a spreadout cost. It’s a solid spell, but more funny than useful.

Lagonna-Band Elder

There are much better cards you should be playing. Unless your advisor deck really needs creatures.

Last Breath

This card isn’t as good as Swords to Plowshares.

Leonin Snarecaster

Tappers aren’t anything special in this set! With a flickering spell or two, it could be useful but on its own, this cat isn’t seeing play anywhere outside of limited.

Observant Alesied

I love these in limited, but like most of the bestow creatures, they aren’t quite to where I want them to be. Combining creatures (and having some extra protection against removal) is solid, but bestow just isn’t doing enough for me yet.

Ordeal of Heliod

Probably the worst of the ordeals, but that doesn’t stop me from loving these. The ordeals are a great blend that make auras I want to play. Putting the counters on a creature is nice and making them self-destruct is a neat ability. Add in the second effect, like gaining 10 life, and you’ve got a nice aura time bomb that is a lot of fun to play with.

Phalanx Leader

To prove I don’t hate all heroic cards, here is one that is worth the hassle of building around. Phalanx Leader is a great addition to the family of WW. Putting counters on each of your creatures makes casting a spell like Righteousness downright absurd. Yes, it will take some work but it is worth it.

Ray of Dissolution

Enchantments aren’t common enough to justify paying 3 mana to kill one.

Scholar of Atheros

Oh man, the name of the set is in this card’s name! “A Theros!” Gasp! I love this Orzhov card. Being able to extort for 3 mana is incredibly powerful in multiplayer – and the fact that it is a 1/ 4 makes it a mean defender. Add in a Heartstone or Training Ground and you’ve got a terrifying life draining deck.

Setessan Battle Priest

Yawn. This card is bad.

Setessan Griffin

This is the weirdest Rootwalla I’ve ever seen on a Magic card.

Silent Artisan

Anything I write will have more words than this card actually has.

Solider of the Panteon

I don’t know for sure if this has a home in Soul Sisters, or some twisted variant of it, but I want to try it out. Multicolored spells are running rampant in my playgroup and this might be the perfect way to throw a wrench in it.

Spear of Heliod

Yes, I will gladly play a stronger version of Glorious Anthem that also has built in removal. As for being an artifact enchantment, I don’t see that matter too much. I guess it will be easier for red players to destroy it.

Traveling Philosopher

How is this as strong as Grizzly Bears? HOW?

Vanquish the Foul

The reason Reprisal wasn’t played much wasn’t because it didn’t cost six or wasn’t only sorcery speed.

Wingsteed Rider

Yawn. Maybe in a deck with a lot of Overload?

Yoked Ox

Kraken Hatchling has a friend! And Doran! Oh no.

Top 5 White Cards from Theros for Casual & Commander
5. Chained to the Rocks
4. Soldier of the Panteon
3. Spear of Heliod
2. Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
1.  Heliod, God of the Sun

It always disappoints me when the top cards are all rares and mythics, which I think really goes to show just how limited focused this set is.

Theros Casual & Commander Review
White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Multicolor, Artifacts & Lands