Theros Beyond Death has entered Standard, and as always the influx of new cards has created some potential for misunderstanding. In this article, we’re going to look at a handful of these new cards and break down how they interact with other effects in standard.
Drag to the Underworld
Let’s start with a returning mechanic: Devotion. Devotion counts the mana symbols in the mana costs among our permanents. Drag to the Underworld and Daybreak Chimera both reduce the generic mana we’ll need to pay based on our Devotion to their respective colors. Once we’ve determined the price and paid it, that’s it. Nothing will happen if your devotion changes while the spell is on the stack. Players don’t gain priority to respond until the spell is already paid for; if your opponent destroys a creature that was adding to your devotion, it doesn’t matter because you’ve already paid for the spell (for more details, see Casting a Spell). If your opponent wants to stop you from getting your discount, they’ll need to keep your battlefield clear at all times.
The cycle of “Intervention” spells are the only cards (save for Sanguine Sacrament) where the words “twice X” occur on a card. The potential for confusion comes from Purphoros’s Intervention and Nylea’s Intervention: They don’t deal “X damage twice,” but rather “two times X damage” in one chunk. If you control Torbran, Thane of Red Fell, and you cast Purphoros’ Intervention choosing the “twice X damage” option, your spell will deal 2X+2 damage, not 2(X+2).
Taranika, Akroan Veteran
Taranika, Akroan Veteran is a 3/3 for just three mana, and she has vigilance. Even alone she’s a decent threat, but her ability when attacking can really juice up your battlefield. Her ability untaps a creature you control and sets its base power and toughness to 4/4. This ability is mandatory, meaning if your only other creature is something big like Brine Giant, you’ll have to shrink it if she attacks.
Taranika’s ability sets the base power and toughness of the creature, meaning a 0/0 land that Nissa, Who Shakes the World has animated will become a 4/4 with three +1/+1 counters on it. Now that’s value!
If you’re familiar with how to abuse Oblivion Ring, you’ll know exactly how to abuse Ashiok’s Erasure. The exploit abuses the fact that exiling the target and bringing it back are two separate abilities (unlike newer cards like Banishing Light). This means if you can get rid of your own Ashiok’s Erasure before its first ability resolves, the “leaves the battlefield” trigger will resolve and return nothing to its owner’s hand. Then, the first ability will resolve, exiling target spell; as a result, the spell is exiled forever. In order to do this we could Disenchant our own enchantment, or sacrifice it to Skophos Warleader. Either method is fairly inelegant, but it can be a good move if you know your opponent will destroy Ashiok’s Erasure anyway.
Polukranos, Unchained prevents damage to itself, removing counters instead of simply taking the damage. The thing is, if damage can’t be prevented, damage will be dealt to Polukranos, Unchained and you will remove that many counters from it. Talk about a double whammy!
For example: Your opponent’s Polukranos has twelve counters, and they activate it to fight a 4/4 you control. In response, you cast Bonecrusher Giant‘s Adventure, targeting Polukranos. Stomp will deal two damage and remove two counters, then Polukranos will fight your 4/4, removing four counters and dealing four damage. Polukranos is now a 6/6 with six damage marked on it, meaning it has been dealt lethal damage and will die.
Nightmare Shepherd only triggers when a nontoken creature you control dies, not if it would. If a creature you control gets destroyed by Lava Coil, instead of dying it will be exiled and Nightmare Shepherd won’t trigger.
On the bright side, if you control Nightmare Shepherd and Syr Konrad, the Grim then your nontoken creatures will trigger Konrad twice: Once when they go to the graveyard, and again when the Shepherd exiles them.
Destiny Spinner is an enchantress player’s dream. Stopping your spells from being countered for a measly two mana is incredible. Animating a land based on your enchantment count is just icing on the cake.
The interesting thing about spells that “can’t be countered” is that someone can cast a counterspell targeting it, and that counterspell will resolve; the effect simply prevents the spell from being countered.
For example: our opponent controls Destiny Spinner, and we cast Ionize targeting a creature or enchantment spell. Ionize will deal two damage to the opponent, even though Destiny Spinner prevents the spell from being countered.
Use This Power Wisely
I hope you enjoyed this quick look at some of the unique interactions Theros: Beyond Death has brought to standard. I’m sure I didn’t cover them all, so let me know what interactions you’ve stumbled upon in the comments down below, on Twitter, or in our Discord server! Join me next time when I cast Rite of Replication kicked targeting Nyxbloom Ancient and fail to determine how much mana I can actually make.