It’s the fall so that means that it’s time for a new Magic the Gathering expansion block. This time around, the theme is mythology. Although the information that came down around the original announcement said that it was Greco-Roman mythology, the actual deities (at least for this set) are not related to that set of gods. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of satyrs, centaurs, minotaurs, harpies, and other such creatures that give it a mythological feel. (There’s even a spell called Curse of the Swine which harkens back to the tale of Circe who changed men into pigs.) As is usual with a new set, there are new concepts and abilities.

Enchantment Creature – This is a new type of spell. Unlike the artifact creature which counts as both an artifact AND a creature, the enchantment creature is an enchantment OR a creature, depending on the circumstance. The one type of enchantment creature reminds me a bit of the old licid from the Exodus expansion. These cards have a bestow cost (see below) and if you pay the bestow cost, it comes in as an creature aura. Otherwise, it comes in as a creature. The other type of enchantment creature is the god type which are legendary. This type comes into play as an enchantment unless it’s devotion (see further below) cost is met. If the cost is met, it becomes a creature with the same game effects as the enchantment.

Bestow – As stated above, bestow is an enchantment creature ability. It will only appear on this type of creature but not on all enchantment creatures. The bestow cost is usually around 2-3 colorless mana more than the casting cost but imbues the enchanted creature with the abilities the enchantment creature would have. For example, the Hopeful Eidolon is a 1/1 creature with lifelink. If cast for the bestow cost, the enchanted creature gets +1/+1 and lifelink. If the enchantment becomes unattached from the creature (the creature is destroyed, exiled, unsummoned, etc.), it will become a creature. While this makes for an expensive enchantment, they are good enchantments (usually giving both a stat boost as well as an extra ability) and don’t just go to the graveyard when they fall off like most auras do.

Devotion – Devotion is very similar to the keyword chroma that was introduced in Eventide. It relates to the number of mana symbols of a certain color in permanents that you control. The god cards (one for each color) each have a requirement that you have a devotion of 5 or more of their color for the god to be a creature. (Each one has an attack and defense both in the 5-7 range and has one mana of their color in their cost.) Whenever your devotion to their color is less than that, they are just enchantments. The gods aren’t the only ones that use devotion though. Each color has spells that, based on your devotion, will do damage, give you life, add to your mana pool, create tokens, or cause other effects. This can take a moment each time to count symbols and see what you have and how it will effect game play. It will also encourage single color decks for those who want to utilize it since the more colors you play, the lower the devotion to each you are likely to have.

Monstrosity – There are also some creatures that have an ability called monstrosity. This is a single use ability that makes the creature more powerful. What happens is that any time after casting the creature (whether on the same turn or many turns later), you can pay the monstrosity cost to make the creature “monstrous”. When it becomes monstrous, it will gain a number of +1/+1 counters and possibly some other abilities or effects. There is one creature called Colossus of Akros which starts as a 10/10 and then gains +10/+10 when it becomes monstrous. (It’s 8 to cost and 10 more later to make monstrous.) There’s another called Fleecemane Lion which starts as a 3/3 and only gains +1/+1 but it gains hexproof and becomes indestructible. It may only be a 4/4 on its own but good luck trying to get rid of it.

Unlike the previous block, there are significantly less multi-colored cards. They are there but with the direction going to more single colored based decks, there are only 25 of the 249 cards with more than one color in the casting cost. They’ve also introduced 5 new dual lands (adjacent colors) that don’t have the option to come in untapped like the last couple sets did. They do have an automatic “scry 1” on them though. (Yes, scry is back with a vengeance in this set.) On top of gods for each color, there are also legendary weapons with both an ongoing effect and a tap ability. I really like the green one. There are also three planeswalkers. Elsepth makes her return and the white planeswalker with Ashiok (blue/black) and Xenagos (red/green) being introduced.

This past weekend was the weekend for the pre-release tournaments. I went out to a couple and had a good time. (There were 5 pre-release packs, each based on a color with a promo card of that color. Check our your local store to see if they have any leftover for sale.) I think this set will be a lot of fun and definitely give some new twists to the game. The set actually releases this Friday (September 27) so get out then and check it out.