Magic Mike + The Mechanics – Born of The Gods

Born of the Gods logo

So Born Of The Gods has been out for a wee while now and through a mix of pre-release and game day events, booster tournaments and casual play, we’ve gotten thoroughly used to the two new mechanics the set introduces. While Heroic and Bestow make a return appearance, Monstrosity is well and truly gone, being replaced by Tribute and Inspired. Are they worthy substitutes or are they offerings that perhaps shouldn’t have been made?

Tribute

First off, we have Tribute, which offers your opponent a nasty choice: when a creature with the mechanic enters the battlefield, they can choose to either give a number of additional +1/+1 tokens to the creature or, if they refuse, allow its caster to perform an enters-the-battlefield ability. Examples of Tribute cards include Fanatic of Xenagos, Flame-Wreathed Phoenix and Thunder Brute.

Tribute Cards

Tribute is by far the stronger of the two mechanics in the new set due to the fact that, whenever you resolve a creature that has it, you’ll either gain an ability or get a big creature. With a win-win like that, what’s not to like?

Say, for example, you play Nessian Demolok. Does your opponent allow it to resolve normally, risking one of their enchantments, artifacts or lands on the board or do they pay the tribute, leaving them with a 6/6 creature that – bearing in mind the enchanted-focused nature of the Theros set – they’ll be wanting to get rid of sooner rather than later? Or Ornitharch, where no matter what happens, you’ll have what amounts to 5/5 flyer on the field.

Either way, it won't be pheasant for your opponent.
Either way, it won’t be pleasant for your opponent.

The fact that the entire landscape of the game area can change whenever a Tribute card is played also injects unpredictability and excitement into games. Does your opponent really want to lose control of or sacrifice a creature to avoid paying tribute? Indeed, cards such as Nessian Wilds Ravager and Pharagax Giant are potential gamewinners if brought onto the field at the right moment. Having Oracle of Bones in my Minotaur Deck was responsible for a few round-five wins at my local Game Day Event.

“Oh. You’re not paying tribute? In that case, I’ll play Asphyxiate and destroy your only blocking creature in that case.

Swing you for everything next turn.

Game.”

You brought this upon yourself.
You brought this upon yourself.

The capricious nature Tribute cards lend to games and the fact that they can turn games around in an instant makes them a useful and fun addition to the set, causing them to be strong additions to any tourney or casual deck. Hopefully Journey into Nyx will increase the amount of Tributes to be paid on the battlefield, with a myriad of game-changing moments being added to the final block.

Inspired

Inspired is an ability that is activated whenever a creature a player controls untaps, whether it be during their upkeep phase or through some other method. Cards that use this mechanic include Oreskos Sun Guide and Servant of Tyramet.

Inspired Cards

The idea behind these cards is that by causing your creatures to untap, you can then manipulate your opponent’s to your advantage. You won’t always want to attack with these weak creatures in order to activate their abilities, so it’s a good thing that the Theros set is scattered with cards that allow you to untap your creatures via other methods, like Crypsis, Kiora’s Follower and Springleaf Drum. As such, you can happily untap away to your heart’s content.

The thing is, unless you’re using a population deck, the abilities offered by Inspired aren’t particularly great. Every colour has their own token creation card, allowing you to – assuming you can prevent these weak creatures from being destroyed and you have enough mana – create an army of tokens whenever they untap.

Good for token decks. Anything else... not so much.
Good for token decks. Anything else… not so much.

Pickings are slim if you’re looking for any other abilities to take advantage of, though, since the majority of Inspired cards have poor abilities. Oreskos Sun Guide and Servant of Tyramet are potentially good cards to start a game off on, but because they’re so weak, they’re likely to be removed from the game sooner rather than later. Sphinx’s Disciple is way too high a cost for its ability and power and toughness – why not just use the cheaper and less expensive Divination instead?

Deepwater Hypnotist, however, is not just the weakest Inspired card but potentially the worst card in the entire set thus far: running a couple in my Blue/White pre-release deck, I found them to be useless in every respect, their ability adding nothing useful to play. I ended up sideboarding them out before my third game, never to be used again.

The worst card in Theros?
The worst card in Theros?

Only two of the Inspired cards are exceptionally useful, those being Arbiter of the Ideal and Pain Seer (although be careful your opponent doesn’t use this one against you to win the game). Otherwise, they range from simply mediocre to absolutely godawful. It’s a shame, as this unusual mechanic, the one I was most looking forward to, turned out to be rather underdeveloped in this set. Hopefully the release of Journey into Nyx will remedy this, releasing more inspired cards that are actually worth playing.

At the end of this service, the conclusion is that Tribute is a worthy, strong mechanic that can drastically alter the outcome of a game while Inspired is unfortunately lacking, requiring a bit more thought and work to make it something more… well, inspired.

Hopefully these two mechanics will be further improved upon in Journey into Nyx, complementing the new mechanics in the new expansion. The Theros set has been particularly intriguing thus far, so it’s with eagerness we look forward to see how the Magic take on Greek mythology concludes.

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