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Born of the Gods: Underworld Herald

 
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Quick confession. I circled the recently released Born of the Gods decks with some trepidation. The reviews from MTG players and aficionados were mixed. I was particularly soured by the fact that all the decks encouraged mono building based on the manna distribution set up per each deck. I have always frowned on mono deck use for a number of reasons. Elements work well in conjunction with one another. This was, for me, the beauty and the allure of Magic: The Gathering as a game.

I was always drawn to the yin-yang of black and white decks myself. The darkness and light dichotomy of the deck served me well in duel play. I ended up, more often than not, handily trouncing a lot of fine single element players.

I did however, manage to bear in mind that tournament play had different rules of engagement, so, I re-assessed the Theros decks with this eye. I soon found that Born of the Gods held up pretty well under scrutiny.

The major pros include:

Great Tournament Handling

Born of the Gods deck's strongest trait is its usefulness in both premiere and non premier play. I can also see individual cards coming in handy in constructed events or basic duel decks. MTG also managed to find a way to make mono decks strong in their own way.

To highlight this, I decided to concentrate my reviews on the various color elements of each event deck.

Let's start with the newly released Underworld Herald deck list, which has already created a slight buzz on the tournament circuit.

Underworld Herald Card List (60 Cards +15 Card Sideboard)

Born of the Gods Event Deck

24x Swamp

24 Lands
1x Agent of the Fates
1x Blood Scrivener
1x Crypt Ghast
1x Desecration Demon
1x Erebos's Emissary
1x Herald of Torment
3x Mogis's Marauder
1x Pack Rat
4x Rakdos Cackler
4x Rakdos Shred-Freak
3x Spiteful Returned
3x Tormented Hero
2x Xathrid Necromancer

26 Creatures
2x Bile Blight
3x Doom Blade
1x Fated Return
1x Gift of Orzhova
1x Hero's Downfall
2x Ultimate Price

10 Other Spells
3x Cremate
2x Dark Betrayal
4x Duress
2x Gift of Orzhova
2x Pharika's Cure
2x Staff of the Death Magus

Sideboard (15)

Here's why:

The Underworld Herald Born of the Gods event deck has a lot of excellent creatures.

I am a spell-caster myself, but I did find a lot of Underworld Herald's creatures to be rather fearsome.

My favorite card among them was Tormented Hero. Tormented Hero comes onto the battle field tapped and decimates opponents soundly. It's the kind of card I would have loaded my own duel decks with, largely due to its low manna expenditure and battle effectiveness. Underworld Herald offers three of these. My advice: Savor those cards, utilizing them sparingly throughout play. Some people have a tendency to use up smaller creatures quickly, which is not always a good move.

Xathrid Necromancer just made me smile. I have always been partial to low cost and deadly black monsters and Xathrid Necromancer doesn’t disappoint. I love the fact that Xathrid allows you to put a 2/2 zombie creature token into play tapped. Again, tiny but deadly. Unfortunately, you only get two in the MTG pre-built deck.

Desecration Demon is a beast. At 6/6 he is a monster well worth the manna expenditure when you really need to put the smack down on an opponent. Desecration Demon allows you to place a +1/+1 counter on any creature your opponent sacrifices. That's just all kinds of nice, which is why it is understandable that only one is included in an event deck.

Desecration Demon is also a value card, which costs $10.00 alone. There are a couple other cards in the Underworld deck of similar worth. This makes Underworld Herald a terrific purchase for anyone looking for hard to find or pricey cards.

Solid Black Spells

As stated earlier, I am a spell slinger, so I thought there were a few terrific spell cards, the standouts being Ultimate Price and Fated Return. You get 2 ultimate price cards in this deck, which allows you to kill any manner of mono colored creatures. Fated Return is just one of those absolute, do not leave home without it cards that should be found in any reputable black deck. This fantastic spell allows you to resurrect a defeated creature and it gains indestructible. Added bonus—if it's your turn, you can scry 2.

Yeah, you only get one of those.

Hero's Downfall is another nicety that brings the value of the overall deck up a notch. Normally around $8 bucks, the card would have certainly found a place in my dueling deck (I may not have had many of them due to the cost though). The spell is a hulk- smash type of deal that allows you to destroy any planeswalker or creature.

Now, that's just all around fabulous.

Great sideboards

Underworld Herald's sideboard allots 2 Dark Betrayals, allowing you to backhand your opponent's black minions into the netherworld. The sideboard also offers 2 Pharika's Cures, sad seeing as this card is tremendously useful. This little number deals 2 points of damage and gives you two lives back. Bad for your opponent—very nice for you.

Pharika's Cure put me in mind of one of my fave black card artifacts, Chalice of Death, which deals your foes a 5 point loss of life. I considered Chalice of Death a must have for any black themed deck and Pharika is added to this list.

Cons

Now, some things I still didn't care for.

Underworld Herald, like other Born of the Gods decks, is very heavily creature oriented, which may handicap players like me, who minimize monsters (largely used for sacrifice) and rely heavily on spells.

If spell slingers decide to use any of the Born of the Gods decks, they may have to adapt their style and strategy a bit to accommodate.

Then there is the deck's mono color concentration, which still, in my humble opinion, has its drawbacks. I will concede however that this is matter of taste.

I do hope to explore why I feel this way in future articles.

 

All and all, Underworld Herald is a really good deck, with Born of the Gods being a forerunner in event play.

An investment in any Theros pack or Born of the Gods packs is worth it, especially for those seeking rares or great deck value. Intermediate players looking to gain planeswalker points and experience in the Magic The Gathering world of play may find these decks of use as well.

Rating Scale:

  • 5: Leaves Opponents trembling in its wake
  • 4: Great solid deck but not perfect
  • 3: Good for passive home dueling
  • 2: Okay, but nothing to write songs about
  • 1: You gotta be kidding me

Born of the Gods Underworld Herald Rating: 4


 

 

Comments on "Born of the Gods: Underworld Herald"

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Author: Gabriel Chase

Date: February 24, 2014

Comment:

Looks and sounds good. I might have to check it out, though I do already have a lot of the cards within, and may just buy the others as singles.

Author: Alicia Norman

Date: February 24, 2014

Comment:

It is a good solid deck, all depends on what kind of duels you desire to build and why I suppose :-)