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Pojo's Magic The Gathering
Card of the Day

Daily Since November 2001!

Dictate of Erebos
Image from Wizards.com

 Dictate of Erebos
- Journey into Nyx

Reviewed May 27, 2014

Constructed: 3.25
Casual: 3.88
Limited: 4.00
Multiplayer: 4.25

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale:
1 - Horrible  3 - Average.  5 - Awesome

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Card of the Day Reviews 

David Fanany

Player since 1995

Dictate of Erebos

Is there any material advantage to giving Grave Pact flash? Not that long ago (like a matter of days), I would probably have said no. But it occurs to me that Grave Pact is better as a deterrent. "Don't use Hex on a bunch of my creatures. Just don't." Dictate of Erebos is like the card-game equivalent of Wei Shen blocking a punch and using the guy's momentum to hurl him through a fourth-floor window. "In response to Hex, everyone else sacrifice six creatures too. Have a nice day." In other words, they're not actually the same card, and one is as terrifying as the other. Considering Grave Pact's venerable history, that's the highest compliment I can give this card.

And the way the Dictates give every color, including non-blue ones, something insane to do on their opponent's turn? Awesome.

Constructed: 4/5
Casual: 4/5
Limited: 4/5
Multiplayer: 4/5

Michael "Maikeruu" Pierno

Today's card of the day is Dictate of Erebos which is a five mana Black enchantment with Flash that has each opponent sacrifice a creature whenever a creature you control dies. This is a powerful effect made even stronger by having Flash to use in response to removal, though it can also be used aggressively with suicide Black attacking or sacrifice strategies. Overall the cost is too high for the usual formats, but this will be popular in Multiplayer and Commander where it can really make an impact with support that works well independently.

In Limited this comes out in the middle stages of most games, but even one trigger is worth most of the five mana and can make a big difference depending on the field. With Flash to allow ideal timing there's no drawback and minimal risk of not getting some removal and it is an automatic inclusion when running Black in Sealed. In Booster this is a strong first pick as a form of removal that at worst should be a one for one and at best puts your opponent on the defense in a psychological chess match.

Constructed: 3.0
Casual: 3.5
Limited: 4.0
Multiplayer: 4.0

Michael Sokolowski

You probably play some amount of creatures in your deck. And, spoiler alert, some of those creatures are probably going to die. How would you like each of those creatures to say, "If I go down, I'm taking you with me!"

Dictate of Erebos is a card that's kinda good on its own, though I don't think I'd say great. However, if you work to put it in a deck specialized around it, it suddenly becomes incredible. That's because a card like this really wants to be in a deck designed around the effect, at least partially.

If you just throw it into any regular deck, here's what might happen. You pay 5 mana, cast it, it enters the field, and then... nothing happens. That's because Dictate of Erebos doesn't do anything right away. It doesn't change the state of the board, it doesn't give you anything or take away anything your opponent has. Something of yours has to die first. So you've just spent 5 mana with the hope of a future return on your investment. Your opponent will, of course, sacrifice his weakest and least useful creature whenever this goes off, assuming he's got more than one to choose from. So is 5 mana worth it to get rid of a Llanowar Elves? Might be worth it to get their Savageborn Hydra. But ideally you want to get more than one use out of this to get your mana's worth.

So how do you use this card to its best advantage? Well, a few ways. A big way is to have some kind of effect where you can sacrifice your own creatures. There are lots of ways to do this and get some kind of cool benefit from it. Barrage of Expendables, Gnawing Zombie, Gobbling Ooze, Scourge of Skola Vale, Tymaret, the Murder King, Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord, and that's just some of what's in Standard right now. Modern or casual players would have a world of even better options. And then there's what to sacrifice. Sure, you could sacrifice any old creature... but what about one with a "when this creature dies" ability? Anything from Solemn Simulacrum to Ashen Rider to many, many other creatures you might like.

Now what you have is you sacrifice a creature with an ability, and get that bonus. Your creature dies, and that triggers its own abiltiy, and you get that bonus. And finally, your opponent pays the price for you getting two cool effects by sacrificing a creature. That's much better! ...But how can we improve it even more? Why, by making it repeatable! This is where things like token generators, cards like Bloodghast, or even the mighty Athreos, God of Passage shine even more. You wipe out your opponent's board, and the cost you pay isn't really a heavy cost at all. Talk about stacking things in your favour.

So now that we've talked about how to best use Dictate of Erebos, I suppose I should get around to actually reviewing it. Is it any good? Well the problem is when it works, it REALLY works as we've just discussed. But it requires a lot of effort to set up everything just right. You have to cast the card for 5 mana, which does nothing right away. You have to have creatures out, although having said creatures die is no longer and issue after you've played Dictate of Erebos. Your opponent has to have creatures out but not enough to win and kill you next turn. It's requires specific circumstances, fortunately though those circumstances are pretty common. All that other stuff about sacrifice mechanics and such are just bonuses to help the card. But remember that Dictate of Erebos also has flash. If your opponent attacks and you can only block and watch your creatures die, you can surprise him by wiping his board too.

Overall Dictate of Erebos is a good card, perhaps a bit slow and combo-y. If you put it in the right combo-style deck it becomes crazy good, if you just throw it in any old deck and hope for the best it'll still be KINDA good. Casual players will really enjoy all the fun and crazy creations they can invent with this card, while limited will appreciate it due to their creature-heavy format. Even multiplayer will love it, because EACH opponent sacrifices, so now nobody will want to kill your dudes. It's a little slow for constructed, so I wouldn't expect to see too much of it, but maybe in the right deck it could still see some play.

Constructed: 3
Casual: 4
Limited: 4
Multiplayer: 4


Deck Garage

Dictate of Erebos
There's no doubt that this effect is very powerful. Any deck that can sacrifice its own creatures for benefit can use this to clean off the opposing side of the table in a hurry. Or, if you aren't sacrificing things, it turns all of your chump blocks into kill effects, making an opponent think twice before attacking into what seems to be an otherwise advantageous attack. This even makes an opposing kill spell more difficult, because it essentially hits one of their creatures too.
There are some cases when this will NOT be useful. If you have no creatures on the battlefield, this is NOT what you want to draw. It becomes a 5 mana spell that does absolutely nothing for you. Make sure you have a lot of creatures in your deck if you're going to use this. Also, if your opponent has no creatures, this does nothing. Some might argue that it's not very useful if your opponent has a horde of creatures and can simply sacrifice some little 1/1 token. While this is true, if your opponent has a horde of creatures, the game was probably lost a long time ago.
How often will the flash ability be relevant? Fairly often, I'd say. You can wait for the right moment when playing it would result in the surprise death of a number of opposing creatures. Then, in future games, once they know you have the Dictate, any time you leave 5 mana open, they're going to be wary of you flashing it in - whether you really have it or not.
But the 5 mana...that's the issue. Is the effect powerful enough and consistent enough to warrant the cost? Sometimes. If youre deck is built around using the effect, it's possibly worth the cost, but be ready to sideboard it out if your opponent isn't playing a lot of creatures.
In other formats, this gets a little better. Limited is all about creatures, so things are going to die a lot. The Dictate will be a worthwhile part of your deck. In multiplayer, EACH opponent sacrifices a creature, so that makes it much more valuable. 
Constructed: 3
Casual: 4
Limted: 4
Multiplayer: 5


Dictate of Erebos

All the "dictates" seem to be old standard beloved enchantments that have been given Flash. This one is a re-imaging of Grave Pact. The Flash helps, because you can respond to an opponent killing your creatures or play it during a combat that didn't go as well for you as you'd hoped. That said, if you're leaving five mana up because you're worried one of your creatures might eat it next turn, it's not really a trick then. At best, you might be able to turn a rout into a board wipe, which would be ideal if your opponent has a few powerful creatures and you have several unimpressive ones that can chump block. At worst, you're holding five mana open waiting for that dream scenario, but because it never comes, you're just tricking yourself into not casting anything. Take my advice-- if you don't get a good chance to play this on an opponent's turn, just play it on their end step instead of letting the mana go to waste. Grave Pact was good enough that it didn't need instant speed to be playable, and this will be too even if you can't use it like a counter-trick that doesn't actually stop your creature from dying.

Constructed- 3.5
Casual- 4.5
Limited- 4
Multiplayer- 5

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