Nethroi, Apex of Death
– Ikoria: Lair of the Behemoths
June 5, 2020
Commander [EDH]: 4.13
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Nethroi has one of the most exciting mutate triggers, and one of the most variable ones too. Maybe those are connected somehow. I like that it’s worded in such a way that you can get one creature, or ten (or more if some of them are Ornithopters. You might want lots of Ornithopters, I don’t know). This means you can use Nethroi in numerous different kinds of decks, with numerous different strategies and numerous different styles. And he’s got very efficient stats on top of that – that’s a recipe for becoming a casual all-star.
The apex of death certainly lives up to it: a 5/5 with deathtouch and lifelink is okay at five mana, but the real attraction comes in the mutate ability. Seven mana gets you the deathtouch and lifelink, but it also gets you back creatures from your graveyard with total power 10 or less. Total power can be an interesting wrinkle, since it’s possible for some really powerful creatures in effect to have higher mana costs (like Karmic Guide and Wood Elves, to name two in Nethroi’s colors), but the increasing power of creatures overall means that green’s Absolute Units aren’t the most synergistic creatures. Seven mana for this is nice if you’re getting a lot out of it, but it’s still pricey, and Nethroi is merely okay as a body.
That said, mutate works both ways; you can cast this for 5 mana and then, a turn later, mutate something else onto it to trigger the effect. It still comes out to about the same overall investment, but it might help make the cost manageable. No protection is awkward, but deathtouch and lifelink make combat dicey prospects with Nethroi. I’m not sold on it in Constructed; it’s a bit too slow to really fire. But it has potential, and I’m interested to see what the mutant Cat Nightmare Beast can do.
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