The pre-release of "Magic: Born of the Gods" hit card and game stores nationwide Feb. 1 at midnight. Players chose between single player tournaments and the two-headed giant tournaments where players competed in sets of two.
One of the benefits to pre-release events is that it forces players to become intimately acquainted with your deck of choice’s strengths and weaknesses on the fly with the newly unveiled abilities. “Born of the Gods” introduced interesting mechanics without being needlessly complicated:
- “Inspired:” Whenever you untap a card with “inspired,” it unlocks bonus stats or effects. If you continue to use your card to attack, it effectively becomes permanently enchanted.
- “Tribute:” When you drop a card with “tribute” into the battlefield, an opponent chooses to “pay the tribute” (e.g., x amount of damage to you) or choose an alternative effect to boost your opponent (e.g., x amount of 1/1 tokens on the battlefield).
Additionally, “scry,” “bestow,” and “devotion” return with new twists on the old mechanics.
One of the things I noticed right away is that there was a lot of slow build-up on both ends of the table until one player inevitably blew the other’s cards up. It was difficult to build the lowest-sized deck in part because so many of the creatures my pack contained were high-cost. This setup contrasted the gameplay with “Theros,” where matches played out much more quickly.
I chose an island box. I’ve always been a fan of decks with a lot of blue in them, so this was an obvious choice. I have to say upfront I have a pretty strong bias towards control over rush. As a relatively new player, control gives me the time and resources to protect myself while I learn new abilities or set up stronger creatures. My deck during the pre-release was no exception.
Originally, I tried to set up a three-colored deck with swamp, island, and plains, but that deck failed pretty miserably against a seven year old running mountain. A part of the failure could be attributed to a miscalculation that left me land locked during both matches, but the rest of it was that the composition was legitimately bad. Between rounds, I switched to a composition of island and swamp only.
The only thing I didn’t really like was how loose inspiration was. Some of the inspired abilities were awesome (e.g., “Aerie Worshippers,” which allowed you to add a 2/2 blue Bird enchantment creature with flying onto the battlefield every time you untapped the creature), while others did wildly different things. Some inspires allowed you to draw cards, while others allowed you to exile your opponents’ cards.
The dropdown counter was almost identical to those given out during the “Theros” pre-release with the exception where the “BotG” icon used as the “20.” Oh well. Additionally, the promo card you received to use in your deck during the event was expensive in terms of mana cost.
“Arbiter of the Ideal,” a 4/5 island flyer, cost six mana. “Eater of Hope,” the 6/4 swamp flyer, cost a whopping seven mana. “Forgestoker Dragon,” the 5/4 mountain flyer, also cost six mana. However, if you did manage to pull one of these cards out of your deck and use its abilities, you could really tear up your opponent. The sacrifice options with “Eater of Hope” terrified me.
Because there hasn’t been a standard Magic night since the pre-release (go figure), I feel pretty good about the integration with a standard deck. The new abilities worked incredibly well with cards from “Theros.” For example, the twist on cards with “devotion” prevents a card from being a creature if your devotion isn’t high enough (e.g., “Ephara, God of Polis”). Devotion, scry, and bestow all have serious potential in this new iteration, but only time can tell.
Overall, “BotG” has some serious potential to be an interesting, complex iteration of the long-running “MTG” franchise, and I look forward to participating in actual competitions. Be sure to check out the new set if you haven’t already at your local game store this Friday.