Okay, it's time once again! Here are my predictions as to which 10 cards from the Magic the Gathering: Born of the Gods set are most likely — in the current environment — to be useful in Standard Constructed play.
Call me crazy, call me irresponsible, but I think this guy deserves some respect… He might just be the foundation of a whole new deck type. Put in some counter spells, some walls and other high toughness creatures (Frostburn Weird), and four of this guy. Viola! You've got a potentially strong mill deck. As soon as Phenax hits the table, start milling your opponent for a dozen, or maybe two dozen, cards a turn… because now every one of your creatures mills according to its toughness, so — ha, ha, ha! — walls and other defenders start to become lethal. Opponent won't live long. It's a concept, anyway.
Hercules! Hercules! He's the greatest hero of them all! He's… the Hero of Iroas! "Herc," along with my #9 choice, cries out to be tried in a heroic deck. That he gets +1/+1 counter as a heroic effect is decent to begin with. Note that his other special ability affects both "normal" auras and bestow costs, so all your auras become progressively cheaper for each Hero of Iroas in play. Time to "hero up" in a fast white deck. You'll also want to run Fabled Hero and Phalanx Leader, of course.
Once upon a time, there was a creature named Keldon Warlord, with power and toughness equal to the number of creatures under your control. He cost four. Now… reduce his casting cost to three, make him count auras as well as creatures, and finally add the bestow option for a reasonable cost of four. (But with a Hero of Iroas on the table, the cost is three… even less with multiples on the board.) Now you've really got something. It's time to test out a W/R or W/U heroic deck.
If you think about it, this is potentially so much better than a Keldon Warlord. If things go according to plan, then bestowing this spell on a creature makes it huge… but if that creature leaves play for any reason, this "Eidolon" transmutes into a creature, which — as long as you've got other creatures and/or auras — will still be big. Note that this spell counts any copies of Pacifism that you cast, as well as other "removal" auras.
Okay, this isn't quite a Dark Confidant, but what in the Standard environment is? Although it doesn't work as reliably or quickly as Confidant, the threat that it might work at all makes it a strong two-mana drop for any fast black deck. It might even find a place in black devotion, for the reason that it's going to be a far more powerful turn-two play than Pack Rat, which frankly is more of a mid-game card. As Dr. Zachary Smith said on Lost in Space: "Oh the pain, the pain!"
Xenagos, who always likes to have a good time, is BAAAA–ACK… this time as a god. In any form, Xenagos wants to have a party. (For the record, so does Thassa: "It's my party and I'll scry if I want to…")
This version of the X Man, however, requires you to have SOME creatures — left to himself, he won't invite his goat pals over for dinner. But making sure you have at least one decent-sized creature isn't usually too big a problem for red/green. Once this Greek god is on the table, any large creature you have on your side threatens to dish out a world of pain– especially tramplers, and green doesn't have those, does it? You'll be partying, while your opponent will be the one crying.
Finally, consider how "broken" this god is with Kalonian Hydra, should you ever get both in play. The Hydra will be attacking as a 12/12 trampler with haste (or more if you buff it) as soon as it hits the table. The next turn it can attack as a 24/24 trampler.
This new god looks very attractive in, say, a blue devotion deck, provided it supports enough white (and Temple of Enlightenment will definitely help there). Even if she doesn't achieve devotion right away, she should help you get a steady stream of cards. This should enable you to draw more creatures, helping her trigger more often, getting more cards, etc. Consider it a divine feedback loop. And all of this helps achieve the magical seven devotion. A sweet bonus is that she might work especially well in a variation of white/blue devotion that runs Spear of Heliod, as well as the Bident. This "merfolk" deck is ready to go.
Note how the rules work: any turn on which you bring at least one creature into play — including your opponent's, should you have flash — enables you to draw ONE extra card on the following upkeep, whosever's that is. The good news is that, for the most part, the annoying Spirit of the Labyrinth is not going to turn off this god's ability (unless you flashed your creature in on opponent's turn).
Green/blue decks finally got their own planeswalker, and this one is sweet (not to mention, hot). Card draw plus mana accel is good for green and blue, and the "ultimate" — should it ever go off — promises to end the game in your favor pretty quickly by putting a 9/9 Kraken into play on your side on each of your turns.
Note the "+1" ability: prevent damage from and to an opponent's permanent until your next turn. This is a nice +1 ability, as it gives this planeswalker a way of defending herself. Note, by the way, that you can target any permanent on opponent's side (assuming it is targetable), including, say, a Mutavault though it's not yet a creature.
Okay, I don't know where Oreskos is, but apparently a lot of four-legged fur balls (i.e. kitty cats) live there, and BRI-maz is their leader. Brimaz effectively deals four damage on offense AND on defense, making it equivalent of a 4/4 for three mana… except that he has vigilance and is legendary. All things considered, the power level is fairly comparable to Loxodon Smiter, another 4/4 for three mana but with advantages of his own. Although Brimaz is potentially a little better… under the right circumstances, he's going to build up an army of kitty cats. Meow!
Black just got another primo removal card and (Limited players rejoice!) this one's not even a rare! Unlike Pharika's Cure, which does see a fair amount of Constructed play, Bile Blight takes down a lot of threatening three-toughness creatures, such as Nightveil Specter and Boros Reckoner, which are huge staples in the current environment. The potential to take out more than one is gravy. And don't forget the potential to wipe out an entire army of tokens — at instant speed. Not bad for two mana.
Although this may be primarily a side-board card, what it does for black decks is huge. This is exactly what players of Desecration Demon have always needed: the return of a card much like Mutilate, to clear the board of small fry. Consider how good the -2/-2 effect is for the current black devotion deck. None of its own key creatures are killed: Nightveil Specter, Grey Merchant, and Desecration Demon, all of which survive! Of course, it might reek havoc on Pack Rat if there aren't enough rats on the table… but then, you'll hold back the spell until it's to your advantage to play it, right?
Not much to say here, except that all of these are really, really GOOD…. and really, really good in many different decks. It's hard to believe that white/blue, one of the most natural color combos, didn't get its own scry land until now. But now The Temple of Enlightenment is all dressed up (I mean, it has really pretty art!) and is ready to go.