Callaphe, Beloved of the Sea
– Theros Beyond Death
January 20, 2020
Commander [EDH]: 2.50
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
You don’t often get a blue creature that can be cast on the cheap, but grow into an enormous threat. As such, it feels like we should be trying to take advantage of Callaphe’s ability: it does warp the way you construct your deck, drawing you towards creatures and enchantments and away from blue’s signature instants. That’s not such a bad thing if you’re in a larger card pool (cf. Tempest Djinn from Dominaria, Master of Waves from Theros), but could be harder in Standard. Her ability to slow down opponents’ removal spells is pretty appealing, though the fact that it’s limited by her legendary status is worth keeping in mind.
Judging by her look and the quotes from the Callapheia, Callaphe seems to be based on Odysseus, the protagonist of Homer’s Odyssey. My first reading of the Odyssey was many years ago, and it took me a number of re-readings to realize that Odysseus is not actually a good guy. He’s opportunistic, conniving, and dishonest; he’s more successful than many of his fellow kings, and powerless in the face of fate. That makes him quite an interesting character, and makes the Odyssey still thought-provoking after all these centuries.
A sort of soft protection effect is a nice thing to give to your entire board, and Callaphe gives it to most of the things that would need it in Theros Beyond Death. It’s not a hard protective effect: if they can get past the tax, they can still get to your things, and Callaphe is rather killable with only 3 toughness and no other protection. That said, Callaphe has the ability to serve as a good attacker, thanks to her scaling power based on devotion; she’s no worse than a 2/3 on the board, but can scale hard into a massive threat if your board is good.
I don’t think Callaphe is going to make it in Constructed, but it does a good amount in Limited. She enables constellation, she protects your board somewhat (and this is better when Limited has worse answers than Constructed), and she can beat down in late-game situations. These are all nice qualities for Limited decks, and I think she’ll carry her weight there, but I’m more skeptical about her protection being enough in Standard.
Hello and welcome back to Pojo’s Card of the Day!
Today’s card features Callaphe, Beloved of the Sea one of the Enchantment Creature cycles that features the creature type demigod.
This card features one of the main aspects of Blue in current game design which is a Spell Tax. Much like Kira the Great Glass Spinner before her she applies a little shield around creatures and enchantments you control, but unlike Kira this isn’t a hard counter but a soft tax of (1).
If you’re able to draft or sealed deck your way into a strong blue tempo deck this can be quite potent as the current philosophy of removal is evident in Final Death and Fateful End, inefficient, slow, and clunky in exchange for knocking out a similarly slow and inefficient creature. In this realm of strategy Blue can play a more midrange game by turning off their removal for a later turn and even better if they get locked on lands.
The floor for this creature is fairly decent for blue as well, her power being based on Devotion means she lands as a decent bodied 2/3. However where the other demigods provide a bit more active utility I think this card could have landed with a Draw and Discard effect to go with her sometimes dead tax ability and play into the Thassa Flicker Theme.
This card will see little use outside of your friendly draft chaffe bin and if you’re dying to pick it up I’m sure the chunked stacks of fodder will contain a few copies of this card at your FNM draft. That isn’t to say that this card is bad, but it isn’t a high pick for me in limited, I’d much rather test the waters with this card and hope to loop someone into the Blue Deck while I snatch up the juicy black and green cards.
In Commander I would have a hard time fitting this card in since there’s already Kira and a few other means of protecting your board from singleton removal. Her lack of ability outside of an annoying Force Spike that doesn’t even hit activated abilities means that in a format with so many ways to deal with almost any permanent on the board she’s going to be a speedbump that probably won’t even trade for the 3 mana you spent to cast her.
But not every card can be Nadir Kraken and sometimes it’s fun to dip down and play with the training wheels on!
Constructed 1/5 – Maybe. MAYBE. Just MAYBE a Sideboard card if Mono Blue Devotion or UW devotion takes off like it did back with Curious Obsession.
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