Zendikar Rising Spotlight: Archon of Emeria

Thalia took lessons in rhetoric from a certain Eidolon, forgot her first striking ways, and later transformed into a 2/3 flying Archon. So goes the fictional story that could have culminated in the brand-new white three-drop from Zendikar Rising named Archon of Emeria. Death and Taxes players take an interest!

archon of emeria

Death and Taxes is all about not letting your opponent cast their spells. One way to reach this goal is to cut their mana supply with either Wasteland and Rishadan Port (Legacy) or Ghost Quarter (Modern). Another, additional measure is to restrict the number of spells your opponent (and most often you) are allowed to cast. You are better positioned then, because Aether Vial lets you put creature cards directly into play. Stoneforge Mystic is another way to get either Batterskull or Umezawa's Jitte and/or your Swords onto the battlefield without having to cast them.

Archon of Emeria does both for Death and Taxes: it reduces the number of spells allowed per turn and it impedes the opponent's mana development. And it does so in Modern as well as Legacy. Let's take a look at the competitors and discuss if Archon of Emeria can become a staple in Death and Taxes builds.

archon of emeria archon of emeria

Comparative History

In ths section I want to take a quick look at older cards with similar effects. The original Urza's Saga enchantment Arcane Laboratory was the first card to limit the number of castable spells per turn in this manner. Later, the card moved to white with Mirrodin's Rule of Law. Still later, Dark Ascension brought us Curse of Exhaustion. This Aura is to highlight, because it only restricts your opponent. It costs four mana and isn't a creature though. Throne of Eldraine finally brought us Deafening Silence, which is the most extreme (in terms of mana efficiency) card of this type so far. With the enduring presence of Storm decks in Eternal formats, this latest entry even made it into Legacy and Vintage sideboards. As far as pure storm protection goes, this is the best option for most decks.

arcane laboratory deafening silence

Archon of Emeria has two big advantages over Deafening Silence: Its effect, just like those of Arcane Laboratory and Rule of Law, isn't restricted to a certain type of spell. Most importantly it is a creature. This is significant because Death and Taxes and other Aether Vial-centric builds want to run as many creature cards as possible.

The good old Ethersworn Canonist from Shards of Alara already got the advantage of being a creature, profiting from Aether Vial, and it costs just two mana. But it only shuts down nonartifact spells. Eidolon of Rhetoric is a creature too, even quite a stable creature at toughness 4! It features the same clean shut-down effect of Rule of Law at the same mana cost.

But forget about Eidolon — now we are blessed with Archon of Emeria! The new card is a creature as well and features the exact same spell-restricting effect and casting cost. It provides no target for enchantment removal, though. It flies and hoses your opponent's nonbasic lands. That is a lot for just three mana. The only disadvantage to the Eidolon of Rhetoric has to be the slightly decreased toughness.

thalia, heretic cathar
Archon of Emeria looks as if Thalia, Heretic Cathar and Eidolon of Rhetoric had a winged child …

Death and Taxes Decklists

I think Thalia, Heretic Cathar and Archon of Emeria can make a very effective split in Death and Taxes. This is how a monowhite list in Modern could look like.

The Modern and the Legacy version of the archetype have become quite similar since the unbanning of Stoneforge Mystic. Here's a Legacy build with Archon of Emeria.


Archon of Emeria does not change the game of Death and Taxes, but it offers a lot of value for only three mana. Especially the Legacy version can profit from the card, because it effectively shuts down storm decks while not being a dud on offense like Eidolon of Rhetoric. Archon of Emeria can provide main-deck storm protection and still has another very reasonable ability on top.

Some Modern players ran three Thalia, Heretic Cathar in their main decks. I expect them to cut one or two Thalias for one or two Archons. This would give the deck more flexibility and reduce the likelihood of having to deal with the legendary rule. In the end, filling the final slots of a Death and Taxes build comes down to personal preferences for many people. Do I like the 3 power and the first strike ability of Thalia or do I want a flier whose abilities are a little more flexible? Modern and Legacy are relatively creature-heavy formats these days. Therefore I still see one or two copies of Thalia justified. I am relatively sure we will see both, Thalia, Heretic Cathar and Archon of Emeria, in a couple of Death and Taxes lists. And if Modern and Legacy become dominated by storm again, make sure you already own your copies of Archon of Emeria.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.


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Negace(10.09.2020 12:46)(Edited: 10.09.2020 12:49)

Thank you for the article too! Archon is definitely interesting piece. However, your Legacy list is really rough according to my experience of playing the deck. 21 Lands are really not enough for such "disaster Curve" when 8 of the are just colorless disruption pieces. Agree with Nexus3000 about the Disenchants in the main. They are really unusual and could be just dead in Delver's game so I recommend just make Karakas and Plains of them. Love playing D&T but the build up can be really too slow sometimes. Risk of being short of lands is not worth the Disenchants when we have Thalias and Rewokers already. In addition, In world of Oko, Miran Crusader is doing his job again. And yes, Palace Jailer is always nuts.

ctobehn(10.09.2020 14:39)

Negace Thanks! Had no mana problems yet. Maybe I'll cut one main Disenchant with a heavy heart :D can't go down to zero. I just can't. Love the card. It's not reasonable, I know :)

Negace(10.09.2020 14:52)

OK sir! As long as it serves you well, why not?! It is your deck! :) Overall, the whole idea of using Archon is just interesting. The effects are so good. It immediately triggered my interest for D&T. However, the deck has ton of three-drops already and not being able to tutor it by Recruiter is also pretty unfortunate. Still, I hope it will work well. I love to see new D&T possibilities. Good luck with the deck! Hope I will find some 5-0s in the online reports.

Nexus3000(10.09.2020 08:07)

Thank you for the article.
I think the legacy version should definately feature a palace jailer, it is just an incredible draw engine. Also two disentchant seems odd in the mainboard.

ctobehn(10.09.2020 10:48)(Edited: 10.09.2020 10:50)

Nexus3000 Thank you for the comment! Palace Jailer is def a very good card. I am just not a fan of the design. I am having a soft spot for Disenchants :)