Theros: Beyond Death spoiler season has begun with the preview of the sets planeswalkers and buy-a-box promo card.

The first planeswalker is Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis. This is the return of Elspeth, who died in the original Theros block. All of her abilities are negative abilities. Her minus one ability gives two target creatures +2/+1 until the end of turn. A helpful ability for aggressive white based decks that can give creatures an added boost to deal additional damage to your opponent, allow a creature to survive combat, or possibly kill an opponent’s creature.

Her minus two ability creates two 1/1 white Human Soldier creature tokens. This allows Elspeth to create creatures that she can use to give her minus one ability. Her minus three ability gains you five life. This is helpful in games where your opponent is about to win the game and a few extra life allows you to stabilize. What makes Elspeth unique as a planeswalker is that she has the escape mechanic. For six mana and by exiling four other cards from your graveyard, Elspeth can be cast from your graveyard. This will allow you to redeploy Elspeth later in a game when you have used all of her loyalty. I can see decks that use Elspeth including Karn’s Bastian to proliferate to add additional loyalty counters to her to keep her alive. I expect aggro decks to try to find a spot for Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis.

Our second planeswalker is Ashiok, Nightmare Muse.

This version of Ashiok will fit well into a Dimir Mill deck. Ashiok’s plus one ability creates a 2/3 blue and black nightmare creature token with “Whenever this creature attacks or blocks, each opponent exiles the top two cards of their library.” One of the problems that the current version of mill has is that it has a hard time winning when it cannot mill out an opponent. Ashiok gives the deck an aggressive element that will help kill an opponent earlier in the game before you have to rely on milling out your opponent to win the hand. Ashiok’s minus three ability returns a nonland permanent to its owner’s hand, then that player exiles a card from their hand.

This is a great way to slowdown an opponent similar to the way that Teferi, Time Raveler does, but rather than you drawing a card your opponent discards a card. Doing this when your opponent does not have any cards is an effective way to get a troublesome permanent off the battlefield permanently.

Finally, Ashiok’s ultimate ability costs seven loyalty counters, but it allows you to cast three face-up cards your opponent owns from exile without paying their mana costs. When you pair this version of Ashiok with Ashiok, Dream Render from War of the Spark all of your opponent’s cards that enter the graveyard would become exiled. This gives you the opportunity to play the best three cards that your opponent has, which can quickly end a game. Ashiok, Nightmare Muse looks like the card that mill has needed to become a competitive deck. It will be interesting to see how mill players utilize him.

Finally, the buy-a-box promo is Athreos, Shroud-Veiled.

This legendary enchantment creature is a 4/7 god with indestructible for the cost of six total mana. What Athreos confirms for us is that devotion is back as a mechanic. Just like the gods from the previous Theros block, Athreos needs your devotion to be seven for it to be a creature. He has an interesting ability that may lead him into Esper or Orzhov control decks. At the beginning of your end step, put a coin counter on another target creature. Whenever a creature with a coin counter on it dies or is put into exile, return that card to the battlefield under your control.

This is a good way to protect your own creatures, but it can be an effect way to take control of your opponent’s creatures. You can place a coin counter on your opponent’s best creature then use a card like Prison Realm or Murderous Rider to get it off the battlefield. When this happens, you get the creature back on your side. The high cost of Athreos is the biggest downside to the card, but it looks like a creature that can become a win condition for a control deck.

That is it for our first round of official spoilers. The only other spoiler related news is that each pack of Theros: Beyond Death will have a full art land in it.

Until next time, good luck finding your win condition!