Magic History: Born of the Gods

Magic Untapped takes a look back at the set Born of the Gods.

After 30 years of Magic: The Gathering, it's nice to look back at older sets to reminisce and see just how much the game has changed over the years.

In this video, we look back at Born of the Gods, the middle set in Magic's Theros block.

Check it out:

Video Transcript:

On February 7, 2014, the 63rd expansion for Magic: The Gathering, Born of the Gods, released.  With it came 165 cards (including five reprints) and a continuation of the Theros story in card-form.

As such, Born of the Gods features the same top-down ancient Greek-themed design complete with gods, heroes, monsters, and an emphasis on enchantments.

As for the story, it’s more-or-less the middle portion of the block’s overall storyline as the planeswalker, Xenagos, plots and plans for ways to become a god himself and ruin the best-laid-plans of the plane’s established pantheon while Mogis, God of Slaughter, sends armies of minotaurs against the human cities of Akros, Meletis, and Setessa, only to find stout resistance from not just each city’s proud armies, but also from planeswalkers Eslpeth Tirel and Ajani Goldmane.

If you want to learn more about the story of Born of the Gods and, indeed, the entire Theros block itself, we suggest you take some time and check out our Theros video.

As for this video, let’s dive into what makes Born of the Gods tick as a Magic: The Gathering set.

Development for Born of the Gods was led by Tom Lapille, whom had worked as a lead previously on sets like Magic 2012 and Dark Ascension.  Design, a team which featured Magic head designer, Mark Rosewater, was led by Ken Nagle.

<Maro DTW Theros 4: “So Ken Nagel…grow up.”>

The set was sold in traditional booster packs, five intro packs, one event deck, and a fat pack.  It also continued Hero’s path, which was a series of nine challenges that Magic players could undertake as an official side event way of playing the Theros block.  Born of the Gods represented the fourth through sixth challenge in the series.

In terms of mechanics and themes, Born of the Gods continued its predecessor’s lot of enchantment creatures and bestow, as well as devotion, heroic, and the now-evergreen Scry mechanic.

New with Born of the Gods includes inspired, an ability word that basically says whenever a card with inspired is untapped, it does something as a triggered ability.

For example, when the card Pheres-Band Tromper becomes untapped, its inspired ability puts a +1/+1 counter on it.

The other new mechanic is tribute, which is something of a spin on monstrosity from Theros.  Creatures with the tribute ability offer opponents a choice between the creature getting larger or doing something else that is either beneficial for its controller, or adverse to the opponent.

The card Ornitharch, for example can either enter the battlefield with two +1/+1 counters upon it, making it a 5/5, or give you two 1/1 white bird tokens with flying instead – whatever your opponent decides.

Another theme that continued with Born of the Gods are the god cards themselves.  While in Theros, the gods were the mono-colored major gods, Born of the Gods (and its follow-up set, Journey into Nyx) instead have dual-colored minor gods – five in each set.

In Born of the Gods, the roster consists of Ephara, God of the Polis, Karametra, God of the Harvests, Mogis, God of Slaughter, Phenax, God of Deception, and Xenagos, God of Revels.

These allied-colored gods aren’t the only cycle in Born of the Gods, by the way, as there are a total of nine in the set altogether.  Notable cycles in the set (other than those gods) include:

  • Archetypes, which are creatures that grant a keyword ability (such as flying or hexproof) to creatures you control while removing that same ability from creatures your opponents control;
  • Devotion spells, which scale according to your devotion.  If you need to know more about devotion, we explain it in our Theros video.  And;
  • Fated spells, which are rare instant spells that all cost (at minimum) three mana of a single color and scry 2 in addition to whatever else that spell does when you play them on your turn.

In terms of single cards, Born of the Gods isn’t exactly known as a powerhouse set, there are a handful of cards worth a mention, including:

  • Brimaz, King of Oreskos, that was (at one time) a powerhouse aggro card in Standard;
  • Courser of Kruphix, a card advantage engine that was a staple in Standard at the time and still sees occasion play in Modern and Pioneer today;
  • Gild, a spot removal card that was the first ever printed to create a non-creature artifact token – something that’s not commonplace thanks to clue, treasure, and food tokens;
  • Kiora the Crashing Wave, the first printing of the planeswalker despite her introduction two years prior in Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012, which came out in June of 2011 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows PC;
  • Phenax, God of Deception, which is a fairly popular commander for mill-based strategies that can technically go infinite with a card from The Dark called Eater of the Dead;
  • Satyr Wayfinder, a card that sees play in Modern and Pioneer as a way to fill one’s own graveyard, and;
  • Spirit of the Labyrinth, often used as a “one of” in Legacy and Pioneer Death & Taxes decks.

As for the set’s promotional cards, Born of the Gods has five prerelease promos – one for each color:  Silent Sentinel, Arbiter of the Ideal, Eater of Hope, Forgestoker Dragon, and Nessian Wilds Ravager.

The set’s launch promo is Tromokratis.  A full art Kiora’s Follower is its game day participation promo with game day top-eight finishers being given a foil, full-art Pain SeerFated Conflagration is the set’s buy-a-box promo.

As for the overall reception for Born of the Gods, we’ll let Magic head designer tell you how that went.

<Maro DTW 2014 2:40-52 “Born of the Gods was…for the third set.”>

So, what are your thoughts on Born of the Gods?  Is it in your pantheon of god-like Magic: The Gathering sets?

Love it or hate it, let us know your opinion in the comment section.

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Thank you for watching.

Barry White

Barry White is a longtime Magic: The Gathering player, having started in 1994 shortly before the release of 'Fallen Empires.' After graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno, he went on to a 15-year journalism career as a writer, reporter, and videographer for three different ABC affiliate newsrooms.