It’s parent-teacher conference day. You’re nervous. The halls of your school are mostly empty. You lock eyes with that kid from History class who refers to Thanksgiving as “Turkey Day” and Christmas as “X-Mas”. They clearly have tears in their eyes. Uh oh. It seems like Mr. Gaynor isn’t holding back.

“Purphoros!” declares Mr. Gaynor as he emerges from room 308, wearing his super cool hat and smelling real nice. What a swell guy.

“Yes, that’s us!”

The Bronze-Blooded family makes their way towards the room.

“Oh. Umm… You just wait outside Purphoros. Parents and teachers only.”

You stare intently at Mr. Gaynor and your parents, trying to get any indication of how much trouble you’re in.

“Anyway, here’s Purphoros’ report card. Let’s run through it together,” says Mr. Gaynor, leading your parents into the room where just yesterday you had to excuse yourself because you fell asleep in class.

Oh geez. It’s time. The only thing that gives you a bit of solace is the fact that you know all of the other Theros Beyond Death Mythic Rares are going through the same thing right now…

Heliod, Sun-Crowned

Heliod, Sun-Crowned.jpeg

Well, it really should be noted that Heliod is excelling in his extracurriculars, such as Modern and Pioneer. However, my focus as his handsome and relatable history teacher, Mr. Gaynor, is on Limited.

Getting five devotion (four outside of Heliod) is not as challenging as it may seem. White’s best commons, such as Dreadful Apathy, Heliod’s Pilgrim, and Omen of the Sun all can stick on the battlefield, while other commonly played white cards, such as Daxos, Blessed by the Sun and Daybreak Chimera add two white pips, the latter of which is one of white’s very best commons.

That being said, the triggered ability on Heliod can vary anywhere between unstoppable and mediocre, depending largely on the deck he’s being played in. Heliod obviously works well with his best bud Daxos, but I wouldn’t put too much stock into Heliod unless I could reliably turn him into a creature or have several consistent sources of incremental life gain.

Grade: B. In the right environment, Heliod will thrive. Reach for the stars!

Thassa, Deep-Dwelling

Thassa, Deep Dwelling.jpeg

As with the other gods in Theros Beyond Death, it’s a good idea to take a look at them in the context of their two different modes: enchantment mode (where they’re not attacking or blocking) and creature mode (where they are a massive indestructible creature). Thassa’s enchantment mode is excellent if you give her nearly anything to work with. Any enters the battlefield ability of some consequence effectively draws you a card (or a part of a card) every single turn. Similarly, Thassa combos with Portent of Betrayal, because she’s formatted to not return the creature to its *owner’s* control.

Turning Thassa into a creature, therefore, should be a bit less of a priority than with her pal Heliod, as keeping her in enchantment mode and gaining incremental value is a real way to win the game.

Her activated ability is a powerful one in the right context, but should really only be viewed as a late-game option. Spending 4 mana to gain 3-5 life when you’re behind in a game is not a good recipe for victory.

Grade: A-. I have been very impressed with Thassa the last few weeks. Keep up the great work!

Erebos, Black-Hearted

Erebos, Bleak-Hearted.jpeg

Erebos has had a bit of a tricky semester. On the one hand, he has dominated some games where he has had the time and space to really put in great work with his activated and triggered abilities in tandem. However, if the activated ability isn’t taking out a creature in combat and the triggered ability is too risky because of life loss, Erebos sometimes just sits on the battlefield as an enchantment, mindlessly staring at the clock and waiting for lunch.

It’s because of this that I am very interested in putting Erebos in environments where he thrives more. Say, for instance, a board where tokens are plentiful and there may be some additional life to play with. Turning Erebos into a creature isn’t terribly difficult, as black is the best color in Theros Beyond Death, and it’s very deep in terms of playable cards. 

Grade: B+. While Erebos can mostly be left to his own devices and succeed, that isn’t a failure-proof plan, and you should make adjustments accordingly.

Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded

Purphuros, Bronze-Blooded.jpeg

Oh boy. Well… I don’t like to say failing or use that type of negative attitude in the classroom. But… well… Purphoros is… struggling a bit at the moment. I don’t think it can be simply attributed to a lack of effort. Some kids just… don’t succeed in classroom environments.

Purphoros’ static ability combined with his activated ability certainly doesn’t come close to being worth a full card (and really is card disadvantage at its core). Because of this, Purphoros really needs to be reliably turned into a creature to succeed. This is where the real issues lie. 

Red has no commons that add multiple pips that you’d be satisfied to play outside of this context, and red itself is arguably the weakest color in the format. Purphoros, as predicted, has a good relationship with another student, Anax, but Anax tends to get a lot of attention because of how threatening it is. Underworld Rage-Hound, arguably red’s best common, is a real struggle to keep on the battlefield, as most of its power is derived from getting a hit or two in and then trading for a higher-cost creature and coming back later in the game.

Turning Purphoros into a creature reliably is a must in order for him to succeed, and that isn’t happening very much right now.

Grade: D. Much improvement needed, and your parents, other teachers, and I have been discussing how to help you. See me after class tomorrow.

Nylea, Keen-Eyed

Nylea, Keen-Eyed

Y’know, I’ve got to admit, I think I pegged Nylea as an underachiever. But wow, her test scores are great! Her activated ability doesn’t really do much of anything once you untap on turn 5, but that’s pretty much the only bad news here.

Theros Beyond Death is a format in which games go much later than in the average format, especially between two non-aggro decks. This leads to situations where players have stalled the board out and are just looking for a way to break through the mess, either through an individual powerhouse, or by card advantage. While Nylea may look like the former, she’s actually much closer to the latter! Her activated ability has proven itself to be a reliable way to out-card advantage your opponent in this format.

Additionally, as per usual, green has a significant number of permanents. In Theros, Voracious Typhon is a good addition to nearly every green deck, Nexus Wardens is a very sticky 3 drop, and both Warbriar Blessing and Setessan Training fill up some non-creature slots in your deck while also contributing to getting Nylea turned into a creature.

Grade: B+. All in all, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Nylea’s progress this semester. Keep up the work and you’ll be a star in no time!

Klothys, God of Destiny

Klothys, God of Destiny.jpeg

Klothys has really excelled this semester. I wasn’t quite sure how well she would perform given that she’s new to this school, but wow.

As the cheapest god in Theros (tied with Heliod), she has the luxury of being able to sit on the board for more turns than most. The triggered ability on Klothys barely requires any help, as she looks at both players’ graveyards, and she puts your opponent on a real clock! Not to mention that in certain circumstances you can use her to ramp as well! In a format where getting value out of escape cards is extremely important, Klothys puts a lot of pressure on your opponent to find value in other areas.

Turning multicolor gods into creatures is significantly easier, and Klothys fits perfectly into a R/G deck’s curve! They usually are looking to play a 2-drop, and 4 mana is a real cluster of power in this format, allowing Klothys to slot perfectly into your curve on turn 3. Turning Klothys on as early as turn 5 isn’t unheard of, and a 4/5 indestructible body that does a bunch of passive damage to your opponent is nothing to laugh at!

Grade: A-. I have been very impressed with Klothys. There is some room for improvement, but keep up the great work!


All in all, I’ve been liking Theros Beyond Death limited a lot, and think that it still has a bunch of room for exploration. I think that Wizards of the Coast really nailed the gods in this format. They’re powerful under the right circumstances, but none of them are slam first picks without paying due consideration to the setups they need to succeed. Well… except…

Mrs. Bronze-Blooded storms out of room 308 and grabs you by your arm, which it must be said is very toned for an 8th grader.

“We will discuss this when we get home, Purphoros, but you know that this sort of performance isn’t acceptable,” said Mrs. Bronze-Blooded, “Your funny and very attractive History teacher, Mr. Gaynor told us all about your semester, mister! There will be consequences! Consequences, I say! Consequences!”

The doors of the elevator closed, and Mrs. Bronze-Blooded stopped her ranting, leaving the Bronze-Blooded family alone in silence.

“It’s okay Purphoros, we still love you very much,” Mrs. Bronze-Blooded spoke softly, as she gave Purphoros a hug.


Until next time,

Mr. Gaynor, Theros Middle School 8th Grade History Teacher

@jonahgaynor on Twitter


What is going on in Theros Beyond Death Standard? Riccardo Monico has you covered with his early metagame analysis, which shows a certain color rising above the rest.

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