– Theros Beyond Death
February 4, 2020
Commander [EDH]: 3.75
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I’m not sure Magic has ever definitively established what mechanical abilities are associated with the sun. Some Heliod-themed cards from the first Theros block involved things like temporarily tapping opposing creatures, but that tends not to perform so well outside limited. This version of the sun god, though, has an enormous amount of potential. Apart from going infinite with the right help, he turns white’s strength in incidental life gain effects into permanent boosts, albeit ones that still fall to some of white’s traditional weaknesses. That’s only a minor complaint, though: the speed at which white decks can flood the table means that Heliod can do a lot of damage if left unchecked.
Out of all of the cards in Theros Beyond Death, Heliod, Sun-Crowned might have set off the most proverbial alarm bells coming into the set. On the surface, he seems merely okay; he’s another of the Theros gods, which means he only takes creature form if you believe hard enough, and his ability to buff things whenever you gain life feels more “cute” than actually good. Sure, you get the ability to give something lifelink, which feeds back into itself, but that feels more like a cute sideshow than anything else. A 5/5 with indestructible makes for a decent enough body, especially for only three mana, but he doesn’t really read as a whole lot out of the gate.
Because of how Heliod’s ability is worded, there are no fewer than three infinite combos with Heliod up. Spike Feeder can potentially gain you infinite life, and as long as you can toggle on lifelink with Walking Ballista or Triskelion, you can machine gun your opponents down in record time. These are actually combos that can reliably go off in a game, too; the Walking Ballista kill is the most promising one, since you can get the combo off around turn four in Modern if you build around it, but all of these are ways to enable Heliod to do profane things on board, and they’re playable in Modern and Pioneer both.
On his own, he’s a mediocre, albeit playable, payoff for decks with lots of incidental life gain, and even decks not aiming for the infinite combos (like Soul Sisters) might get some mileage out of his unique skillset. But it’s his combo ability that will get him play, and I think Heliod will continue to be one of the most sought-after cards in Theros Beyond Death because of it.
Hello Everyone and welcome back to Pojo’s Card of the Day!
Today we’re taking a look at the leader of the Godly Pantheon of Theros, inspired by Zeus, Heliod, the Sun-Crowned!
Heliod was a bombshell the moment he was spoiled, the combo with Walking Ballista and him were all the rage across forums and twitter and for good reason, a two card instant-kill combo in Pioneer is pretty rare. Well it used to be! (Thassa’s Oracle and Inverter have something to say about this.)
He’s pretty awesome in almost every format, in Limited he’s a bomb that can get you out of lethal range with his lifelink activation, and pumping up your team with a mana sink anthem of sorts. He can be removed with things like Revoke Existence, but if you’re in white chances are those are some of the cards you’re drafting anyways!
In Commander, this guy is great for a weenie based commander deck with a bunch of little dudes to turn on his devotion and pump your team. Unfortunately there’s a LOT more removal in this format so chances are you’ll be paying a 2 mana tax a lot if you run him as your commander.
In Standard and Pioneer this guy is starting to make the waves and I think we’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg at how deep this guy can go.
In Cube, this guy is actually something I’m considering for the weenie deck, it’s a strong sideboard card against the Mono Red deck, and can provide a bit of reach when the game goes late.
Constructed 4/5 – Strong here and I think it’ll only get stronger.
Limited 5/5 – Absolute BOMB. This guy wins games with a few creatures in play by simply putting your life total out of reach.
Commander 3.5/5 – Not as great here but a decent general, Commander groups are hard to quantify but I think of it as a mostly for-fun format where you can build and brew with a theme in mind.
Cube 3/5 – Not sure on him yet but I’m eager to give him a test run!
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