Cardsphere Picks: Theros Beyond Death

Ted Rodney • January 24, 2020

Time seems to move at a different pace during winter.  Throne of Eldraine dropped just a few months ago, when at the time it felt like we were bombarded with new products, and now it feels like it’s been too long since we've gotten any new toys to play with.  Suffice it to say, our bodies are ready for a new set.  

In the lead up to the full release, we're working hard to establish preliminary ratings and synergy rules for the bots over at the Cardsphere Draft & Sealed Simulator, but reading cards is never the same as playing with them. So, this time around, we've got our picks article going out after the pre-release. With that being said, the people we invite to share their opinions are encouraged to choose cards on any basis; whether this is power level in their favorite format, enjoyable jank, flavor, or even needed reprints.

Joining us this time round is one of the Tunnel Snakes (Discord Moderators), Josh Moore, who also occasionally writes articles and puts on a Secret Santa hat, and Elizabeth Rice, recent Cardsphere sponsee and new articles author, probably better known as Eli of the Veil.  Let's see what everyone thinks.


Theros Beyond Death has me tempted to dip back into standard again, if only for the awesome new black devotion decks, but I still mostly look at this set as I do every other: which overpriced foil flashy cards can I try to jam into my favorite commander deck?

Woe Strider

You had me at "free sac outlet" you wonderful uhh... whatever you are, but also letting me Scry each time I do it would set my heart aflutter if only my cold, undead Orzhov heart was capable of beating.   Yes this is going to be another card i'm choosing only because of its potential in my beloved Teysa, Orzhov Scion EDH deck, but being able to recur this over and over again and getting a goat token each time it shows up means it could earn a permanent spot on the roster, and not get relegated to the absolutely massive maybe-board that sits in Teysa's deckbox.

Elspeth Conquers Death

A lot of people fawned over the stained glass walker art from War of the Spark, but something about it just fell flat for me.  This gorgeous mosaic style art on Elspeth Conquers Death by Ryan Yee, however, scratches me right where I itch.  Oh yeah and I guess the card itself is pretty good too.

Gray Merchant of Asphodel

I don't play a lot of standard anymore, but seeing the new mono black builds with Gary coming into play with an Ayara, First of Locthwain, Tymaret, Chosen from Death, or Murderous Rider already on the battlefield have got me really tempted, and the really dirty ones running Bolas's Citadel are making me feel like it could be worth it to dive back into rotating formats to revel in the Gary hate if only for a short time.


I didn't know that I was ready to go back to Theros yet, but despite a dismal placing at prerelease (Top 8 is not exciting in a field of 16, really,) I'm enjoying being back so far. My picks:

Idyllic Tutor

I'm not sure Idyllic Tutor was the most-needed reprint, but it sure is a good one. I like that it doesn't feel hamfisted showing up on Theros, and I think I even prefer the art, heresy though that may be. So much so that I might have to pick up the promo, because I don't think it needs the flavor text.  

Labyrinth of Skophos

I like Labyrinth of Skophos because every so often we all need a solid reminder to RTFC.

Athreos, Shroud-Veiled

My playgroup has started getting back into Commander after a long period of almost exclusive Limited play, even at the kitchen table, and I am ready to be a jerk. Not the kind of jerk who busts out the OP decks. But rather the kind who ignores their own rule about expensive CMC commanders just so they can flip dollar store plastic coins at people saying "Thasss miiiine".


I'm a Pauper player and there are a few cards in THB that have piqued my interest. Omen of the Sea looks to be immediately playable, however I'm most excited for these:

Hero of the Pride

Boros Heroic decks have become a little more competitive with the addition of Hero of the Pride and Hero of the Games. These creatures build upon the Heroic package that uses spells and enchantments to boost Akroan Crusader, Akroan Skyguard, Lagonna-Band Trailblazer, and Satyr Hoplite. Just add Ethereal Armor, Mark of Fury, and Madcap Skills, and turn your creatures sideways!

Towering-Wave Mystic

Towering-Wave Mystic adds a little spice to the ever present Mill decks. Using enchantments such as One With the Wind and Spectral Flight with Towering-Wave Mystic are interesting boosts to the Mill game.

Lampad of Death's Vigil

Lampad of Death's Vigil is my favorite pick for my fun Rakdos Steal 'N Sac deck. It's very fun to steal your opponent's creatures using Act of Treason and Traitorous Blood, attacking with them, then sacrificing them to Carrion Feeder, Altar's Reap, or Fling. Lampad of Death's Vigil offers another useful sacrifice outlet.


As a mostly standard player, this set has me very excited. It seems as if so many of the cards are either underrated, under-raritied (is that a word?), or both. While its still TBD (see what I did there? of course you did, you smartypants) if this set will dramatically change the landscape of standard, there's a lot to be excited about.

Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis

I am really into Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis. At first glance, this card appears to be underwhelming, especially if you're comparing it to format breakers like Teferi, Time Raveler and Oko, Thief of Crowns. However, after playing with her, I've been impressed with her potential. I think she slides right into a UW control shell. She's definitely a mirror breaking card in control match up that presents a recurring and aggressive clock. Six damage per turn is no joke, and protecting the queen becomes easy when you have a grip full of counters. The ability to then turn those counters into her escape fuel is another upside.

Dream Trawler

Oh baby, is Dream Trawler a heck of a card. At this point, a lot of people have begun to open their eyes to its power level, but for me it was love at first sight. Aptly compared to Lyra Dawnbringer and Dragonlord Ojutai, this card is better than both. At minimum it is a 5/5, flying, lifelink, hexproof creature that draws you an additional card. That's the kind of absurdity that control decks are going to need if they hope to stand out in this power heavy meta.

Nightmare Shepherd

Nightmare Shepherd is a shoe in to see standard play, especially in the sacrifice strategies. While it is a bit of a nonbo with the cauldron familiar in particular, the pseudo recursion will certainly make your opponents removal much worse, and create stickier threats. Can you imagine sticking a Gray Merchant of Asphodel, sacrificing it, and creating a token? YES.