– Theros Beyond Death
January 10, 2020
Commander [EDH]: 3.75
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
There’s a chapter of Homer’s Odyssey where Odysseus visits the Underworld, and he ends up leaving in a hurry because he’s afraid of what Persephone might send up from the lower reaches. I’ve spent my whole life wondering just what sort of creature he had in mind. Now that I’ve seen Polukranos, Unchained, I think I know.
The cunning king of Ithaca was right to be worried. While it looks like Polukranos has a disadvantageous design (throwing blockers away actually hurts him permanently), your opponent always has to fear the possibility of his escaping as a much larger threat. There are ways around it – Banishing Light comes to mind, and creatures with deathtouch are good at fighting him – but if it comes to pass, it will simply overwhelm many opponents. And I don’t think I need to point out how well he works with proliferate.
I would really like if “Polukranos can’t die now” became a meme for each time we return to Theros. We’d spend future spoiler seasons wondering what kind of bizarre way he found to come back and haunt Elspeth. It’d be great!
Everyone’s favorite mythical hydra from Theros came back, even after its death at the hands of Elspeth. Polukranos is now undead and still a hydra, but its death caused it to sprout another head in the process; a four-mana 6/6 is very powerful on its own, even if it does start falling apart whenever it takes damage and is easily chump blocked! The ability to fight other creatures is welcome, though, particularly as a repeatable ability and at instant speed. Given that Polukranos is in colors that easily give it deathtouch, it can easily remove problematic creatures on its way to eating the entire board.
Of course, it has one other trick: it has escape, and escape makes it a 12/12. That’s pretty nuts, even if it asks for set-up and is six mana. A 12/12 finisher that can keep coming back is going to be a massive threat, particularly since that massive body lets it get into a fight with just about anything that moves.
Polukranos, Unchained has promise; it’s cheap and powerful, though it’s extremely vulnerable to both burn and chip damage overall. Still, being able to come back after being removed is a great feature for a threat, and it’s definitely a massive bomb in Limited! I think it’s likely to make a splash in Standard, as it has both removal on the body and the ability to just keep coming back in the process.
Hello and welcome back to Pojo’s Card of the Day! This week we’re featuring some of the new cards from Theros, Beyond Death and today is no exception.
So let’s dive right in and take a peek at Polukranos, Unchained.
Now the original Polukranos was a rampin’ chewin’ fightin’ sonofagun that took the Mono Green deck and made it able to deal with a bunch of weenie threats while bolstering his power and toughness. However it turns out that he bit off a bit more than he could chew and now we’re looking at the undead version of the legendary hydra.
Now at first glance a 6/6 for 2BG is nothing to sneeze at, except that its power and toughness come in the form of +1/+1 counters rather than base p/t. Which is fine! I do love me some tricks with Doubling Season!
However this is where it gets tricky, normally in Black/Green’s portion of the color pie damage dealt to creatures with power and toughness based off of +1/+1 counters is prevented and you remove a single counter, not so true for this Polukranos which immediately raises cautionary flags for me. Instead damage dealt to this hydra acts as cutting off a single head, the amount of damage dealt to it prevents it… and removes that many counters instead.
Now the Fight Ability on it for 1BG which initially seems awesome, becomes a lot less so when you want to chew up more than one creature, as your big beefy hydra slowly shambles away into a pitiful shell of its former self.
But the saving grace is that it escapes with 12 counters on it for the cost of 4BG and 6 other things in the yard. This will allow Polukranos to chew up more creatures more often, especially so with defender creatures that have an 0/X power and toughness.
However one thing that I think this card is missing is trample, because it can be chumped and chipped all day every day unless you want to sink mana into trying to clear out some board space at the cost of your creatures power and toughness.
Now in Limited this is a much different story, where removal is hard to find and usually overcosted or incredibly narrow, this guy’s ability to trade with multiple creatures will set it as one of the most insane draft bombs in the format. If you open this windmill slam it, it’s worth splashing, hell it’s probably worth color switching. Repeated removal is so powerful in Standard Booster Draft, and this is repeated removal with recursion with a bomb creature attached. … You could probably mulligan down to 5 with this card and still win (as long as they don’t exile it!)
Commander and Multiplayer are kind of weird on this card, I could see it being a decent card in a GB recursion themed deck but exiling is a lot more costly in those formats where you have various TimeTwister effects and re-using your cards are fairly common. On top of that exiling 6 of those precious cards to get a 12/12 doesn’t seem too appealing.
In Cube I don’t see this guy doing much other than being chucked away for the lower powered formats where removal is more sparse. I run a vintage powered cube so chances are this guy is gonna get beaten down faster than he can actually take a bite out of the mono red deck, or get insta-gibbed by Path to Exile or Swords to Plowshares! …Or just straight out countered.
Constructed 3/5 – It’s okay, maybe it’ll find a home as a one of or two of.
Limited 5/5 – Someone call Homeland Security cause this is an atomic bomb of a card!
Commander 3.5/5 – You can get away with more Timmy Shenanigans here but I don’t think it’s worth the deck spot.
Cube 1/5 – Golgari has too many good options that left even poor Spiritmonger feeling the years and this guy doesn’t beat him to a spot.
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