Athreos, God of Passage
– Secret Lair
March 2, 2020
Commander [EDH]: 4.25
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Athreos is an interesting member of Theros’ pantheon for many reasons, not least being that many decks that use him care surprisingly little about whether or not he ever manifests as a creature. The amount of value you get out of reusing your creatures – or, for that matter, from taxing your opponent’s life total – is well worth his mana cost, regardless of how your devotion situation develops. A lot of decks will consider him when they’re already jammed with sacrifice effects, and he’ll very quickly get out of hand. This applies in pretty much any format, honestly; there’s no bad time to get either of his effects.
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Athreos, God of Passage is one of the more-popular of the “minor gods” from the original Theros block, seeing fringe amounts of play in rogue decks across different formats since it rotated. In effect, Athreos serves as a sort of “punisher” effect for a deck in its colors, offering continued recursion of dying creatures unless your opponent pays the price. Three life per creature doesn’t seem like a lot, and opponents will usually have enough life to pay into this effect early…but when life totals start to dwindle, Athreos can shine more brightly as your opponents have to make harder decisions as to if they want to let you have your creatures back.
Three mana for its casting cost is what makes Athreos shine; it comes down early enough to have impact over the entire game, even if it’s never a creature. And if it is a creature, a 5/4 with indestructible can put in some legwork. He’s not an unbeatable ace, but there are ways to make Athreos shine; when every decision your opponents make is a hard one, they’re going to make bad ones eventually. He pairs well with sacrifice outlets, which black/Orzhov has plenty of, so give him a try there.
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