In ages past the Titans, primal urges given physical form, roamed the mortal realm sowing death and destruction. The people of Theros, having no defence, turned to prayer. From this act of absolute devotion the gods were brought into existence. Made powerful by the faith of mortals, the new gods overcame the Titans and sealed them in the Underworld.
The gods, confident with their newly imbued power, established themselves in Nyx, the night sky of Theros. From there they ruled the mortal realm unchallenged. That is until the ambitious satyr Xenagos harnessed the power of devotion to ascend to godhood himself. The gods were faced with an unwelcome fact, they could be replaced.
The sun god Heliod sent forth his champion, the Planeswalker Elspeth, to bring low Xenagas. Elspeth was successful, but with her victory arose a new threat to Heliod. The mortals of Theros revered Elspeth more than him. To stop her taking his place in the Pantheon, Heliod struck Elspeth down and cast her into the Underworld.
The Gods are at war. Heliod, realising the fragility of his immortal existence, seeks to consolidate his power. To this end he has ripped the soul of the oracle Daxos from the underworld and made him his champion. Daxos, reborn a demigod, is tasked with removing all trace of the other gods from the city of Meletis. In response, the other gods call forth their own champions to do battle.
As the gods clash the mortal realm suffers. Rifts to the underworld allow hordes of monsters to escape. Erebos, god of the underworld, is pulled into the conflict. With his attention diverted, Elspeth senses an opportunity to return to the mortal realm.
Elspeth overcomes foe after foe, forging a path through the darkness. With each victory she proclaims her weapon to be Khusor, Heliod's spear, and that Heliod wields a fake. Paralleled with her many triumphs, this story instils such strong belief in witnesses that the lie becomes reality. As Heliod attempts to block her passage, his weapon shatters and he is forced to surrender. Elspeth now holds Khusor and her freedom is won.
Theros Beyond Death is the 83rd expansion for Magic the Gathering (MtG), released on 24 January 2020. The set is comprised of 254 cards, including 101 Commons, 80 Uncommons, 53 Rares, 15 Mythic Rares, and five Basic Lands.
Collectors will be able to chase a further 103 alternate art and promo cards. These will be available at in-store events or from products such as Planeswalker Decks and Collectors Booster packs.
It is the fourth expansion to be based on the plane of Theros, a world modelled on Hellenic Greece. The set design, like others based on Theros, is heavily influenced by Greek Mythology.
The accompanying story leans on familiar tropes such as Gods manipulating mortals and adventuring heroes facing down fantastical monsters. Common creature types in this set include satyrs, pegasi, minotaurs, and nymphs.
As with all MtG expansions, Theros Beyond Death can be drafted in isolation.
Mechanically, Beyond Death continues to emphasise the Enchantment card type, as previous Theros sets did. Aside from introducing a large number of these cards, players will find plenty of cards with synergies for Enchantments. Also, with the introduction of the new keyword action Escape (see below), the Graveyard matters.
New Keyword Action
A card with the Escape keyword can be cast from a player's graveyard for its Escape cost. The card must be cast in line with normal rules. An Instant with Escape can be cast at any time. Other cards must be cast during the player's main phase.
A card with the Constellation keyword has synergy with Enchantment cards types. Whenever an Enchantment enters the battlefield under the player's control, the Constellation effect will trigger.
Devotion is a mechanic linked to the five mana colours. Cards with the Devotion keyword will have an ability that triggers if the player's Devotion meets the stated requirement.
A player's Devotion equals the number of mana symbols of the colour stated, on cards they have in play.
Returning Card Types
A Saga is an Enchantment sub type, first introduced (and last seen) in the Dominaria expansion. Sagas have three (or more) triggers. When a Saga enters the battlefield the first trigger takes effect.
On the player's next turn, if still in play, the second trigger will take effect during the pre-combat main phase. The Saga will continue to trigger until the last effect has been resolved. The Saga is then moved from the battlefield to the player's graveyard.
An Enchantment Creature is simply an Enchantment and a Creature. Rules affecting Enchantments and Creatures will apply to this card type. Enchantment Creatures were first introduced in the Future Sight set and again in previous Theros sets: Theros, Born of the Gods, and Journey to Nyx.
Thoughts on the set
Theros Beyond Death is a fun set to draft. It offers up some useful cards for legal formats. I was particularly pleased to see Underworld Dreams, Revoke Existence and Idyllic Tutor reprinted.
The mythology inspired theme works well and appeals to me more than the fairytale inspired Throne of Eldraine. The artwork on individual cards is great, the constellation lands and showcase cards in particular are fantastic.