MtG: Of Deathbringing Thoctars & Angelic Rebirth (Modern & Legacy Decks)

Dear readers and friends of M:tG!

Once again I want to share with you some of the many, many deck my these days so Magic-centered mind (when it comes to games at least) is churning out faster than I can keep up with or indeed than I am able to afford (if I bought all the cards to assemble all the decks I am coming up with). Today I am going to look at different versions of two decks, one of which I have at the ready and am putting to the test of the awesomely powerful Green/Red/White beatdown deck that won my sister the tournament some weeks ago (I designed that deck, so I am quite proud of that fact!) – with mixed results – and one which I will be testing soon. The former deck is all about one particular beast, namely Deathbringer Thoctar

… a card which I have found to be immensely powerful in the right deck, although it is considered a “crap rare” and hence very much affordable to get a hold of, and the second deck being a reanimator-style deck without any black, the color you might expect when it comes to reanimation (returning cards from graveyard to play aka “the battlefield”). Let us start with the first deck idea, centered around this very deadly type of Thoctar. I will be presenting you both with a Modern Format version and a Legacy legal version although I don’t think either would be fit for competitive play. I love the interactions though so there definitely is some fun to be had with the following decks in a more casual setting. Lets get started with the decklist, after which I will elaborate on the same a bit – as per usual.

Modern Deathbringer Thoctar:

Creatures…20

4 x Birds of Paradise G

4 x Scarland Thrinax RBG

4 x Sprouting ThrinaxRBG

4 x Corpsejack Menace 2BG

4 x Deathbringer Thoctar 4RB

Instants…12

4 x Terminate RB

3 x Altar’s Reap 1B

3 x Solidarity of Heroes 1G

2 x Putrefy 1BG

Artifacts…6

3 x Basilisk Collar 1

3 x Swiftfoot Boots 2

Lands…22

4 x Savage Lands

4 x Terramorphic Expanse

10 x Forest

4 x Mountain

4 x Swamp

About the Deck:

Well the center card of this deck is, and we established that already, Deathbringer Thoctar, a true crap-rare which goes for about 20 cents (US cents mind you!). It’s stats are weak at 3/3 for a 6 mana creature but its effect is awesome if you build the right deck around it. This I attempted in the above Modern Format legal deck.

Well if as you have seen for yourself, you get to place a +1/+1 counter on the Thoctar whenever a Creature is put into a graveyard from the battlefield. Moreover you can remove a +1/+1 counter from Thoctar any time to “shoot” one point of damage at target creature or player, much like you would with the classic Triskelion.

Now in this deck there are various means of maxing out on Thoctar’s ability, which is actually pretty amazing when combined with the right cards, so it includes many combos and card that synergize with Deathbringer Thoctar.

The most obvious combo is attaching Basilisk Collar to Deathbringer Thoctar, giving it Lifelink and DEATHTOUCH. The latter means you’ll just need to remove one counter to target any Creature (that can be targeted – Protection from black/red, Shroud and Hexproof are probably your worst enemies) and deal 1 damage to it to destroy that Creature. That would gain you another counter and you’d just rinse and repeat until you killed off the whole opponent army.

Thoctar also interacts greatly with one of my pet combo cards, which also happens to be an ostensibly unplayable crap rare going at around 60 US cents currently: Corpsejack Menace. Menace is a formidable 4/4 at the cost of 2BG that doubles the number of all +1/+1 counters you would place an a Creature of yours. This works greatly in favor of your deadly Thoctar strategy, as everytime you’d kill a creature, the Thoctar would receive not one but two +1/+1 counters. Imagine this in conjunction with Basilisk Collar. If you opponent had 4 targetable creatures for instance, you would be killing off one after the other and ending up with a Thoctar with 4 +1/+1 counter, making it a 7/7 zombie beast and an utterly defenseless, devastated opponent.

To ensure that the Thoctar will at least have one or some counters to start the madness, I am running an array of cards that let you destroy creatures, either your opponent’s or your own by means of sacrificing them for some beneficial effect.

Terminate and Putrefy are great, cost-efficient cards to get rid of opponent creatures (or artifacts in the case of Putrefy), thus putting a counter on Thoctar, whereas Altar’s Reap draws you 2 extra cards if you sacrifice one of your creatures, and that at instant speed. I like to have 1B to spare during my opponent’s turn to play Altar’s Reap in response to one of my creatures being killed anyways. Scarland Thrinax is also a great “sacrifice outlet” as it is a 2/2 for 3 mana (RBG) that lets you sack any one of your creatures to have a +1/+1 counter placed on it. Note the great synergy with Corpsejack Menace, which will double the number of counters placed on Thrinax as well (matter of fact I like that card, Corpsejack Menace, so much that I will be dedicating a whole article to decks built around it shortly!). Sprouting Thrinax on the other hand is awesome sacrifice fodder for its Scarland cousin, as it is a nice 3/3 also for RBG that spawns three 1/1 Saproling tokens upon death. While the tokens being sacked won’t trigger Thoctar’s ability (as should be apparent if you read the card carefully as I showed it to you initially) which is too bad, they can be sacked to make Scarland Thrinax grow huge, or even huger if Corpsejack Menace is out there as well.

Furthermore, I added Solidarity of Heroes as well, which lets you double the number of +1/+1 counters on any one target Creature at instant speed and at the mere cost of 1G. You can either make your Scarland Thrinax even bigger or, the better choice in my opinion, double the number of +1/+1 counters on Deathbringer Thoctar to get an even more menacing zombie beast.

Lastly, I am running some Swiftfoot Boots to protect my key creatures from any targeted harm (as well as giving them haste on top of it) and I have to note that I sooo wanted to add a few Bioshifts, which let you transfer +1/+1 counters from one creature to another. But in the end, that one didn’t make the cut because I found the effect to be somewhat too situational. Sure it would be great to send some counters from a heavily pumped Scarland Thrinax to a Deathbringer Thoctar, or “save” your +1/+1 counters in case the current bearer would be destroyed by just relocating them onto another of your creatures, but as I said, I skipped Bioshift in favor of other cards. Maybe I will reconsider after some more testing.

Now on to the Legacy format version of the Deathbringer Thoctar Deck:

Legacy Deathbringer Thoctar:

Creatures…24

4 x Birds of Paradise G

4 x Veteran Explorer G

4 x Carrion Feeder B

4 x Death Baron 1BB

4 x Corpsejack Menace 2BG

4 x Deathbringer Thoctar 4RB

Instants…10

4 x Dark Ritual B

2 x Bioshift U/G

4 x Terminate RB

Sorceries…2

2 x Vigor Mortis 2BB

Artifacts…4

4 x Swiftfoot Boots 2

Lands…20

4 x City of Brass

8 x Forest

4 x Mountain

4 x Swamp

About the Deck:

Well this is how I would play a Deathbringer Thoctar deck with the Legacy pool of cards to choose from. It is basically centered around the same general plan as its Modern Format counterpart, but I am running some great Legacy-only cards or card-alternatives that improve the deck greatly in my opinion.  First off, I added Dark Rituals and Veteran Explorers to speed up the deck. The latter is really awesome, as he lets you (and your opponent) search your library for 2 basic lands and puts them into play untapped! You can just chump block with this 1 cost creature or sacrifice him to Carrion Feeder, the considerably cheaper Zombie alternative to Scarland Thrinax and you’ll get two additional basic lands of your choice. Secondly, Death Baron replaces Basilisk Collar in this build, a choice which has its pros and cons. Death Baron gives +1/+1 and Deathtouch to all Zombies, and the Thoctar happens to be of that type. Also, I found room for 2 Bioshifts as I think it can be really useful to move some +1/+1 counters from Carrion Feeder to Deathbringer Thoctar or to a lowly Bird of Paradise, possibly making it a huge threat for your opponent. Two Vigor Mortis were added as well as a means to reanimate a destroyed Thoctar or another key creature like Death Baron for instance. The fact that you get to place a +1/+1 counter on the reanimated creature if at least one green mana was spent to cast Vigor Mortis goes quite well with Thoctar for obvious reasons…

OK so much about the dealdy Deathbringer Thoctar and how I would build decks around it in the Modern and Legacy Formats. Now on to something completely differnet:

I have always been quite fond of “off-color card effects”, cards that is that do something rather unusual for their respective color. Among those cards is white reanimation for instance. I am talking about cards like this for example:

So a white reanimation deck always gave me that kind of “must build deck around this” itch. In the second part of this here article, I will be presenting you two versions of reanimation decks that don’t run the typical color of reanimating stuff – black – at all, which I would like to call “Angelic Rebirth”. The first will be a quite costly Modern Format deck, actually being too costly for my taste and my meager budget and the second being a less costly, semi-budget Legacy Format legal deck. Once again, neither are intended for competitive play. Let us start with the expensive Modern deck then:

Modern Angelic Rebirth:

Creatures…14

4 x Noble Hierarch G

4 x Fauna Shaman 1G

4 x Merfolk Looter 1U

1 x Akroma, Angel of Wrath 5WWW

1 x Avacyn, Angel of Hope 5WWW

Instants…8

4 x Mana Leak 1U

4 x Compulsive Research 2U

Sorceries…14

3 x Time of Need 1G

4 x Supreme Verdict 1WWU

3 x Ressurection 2WW

4 x Defy Death 3WW

Artifacts…2

2 x Lightning Greaves 2

Lands…22

4 x Seaside Citadel

4 x Sunpetal Grove

4 x Yavimaya Coast

10 x Forest

About the Deck:

So the deck is called Angelic Rebirth. Why? The answer is simple: It is all about quickly reanimating the über-awesome Avacyn, Angel of Hope (or Akroma, Angel of Wrath as a backup plan). Bask in her angelic glory for a moment:

Yeah that’s right, a flying, vigilant, indestructible 8/8 that makes all your other permanents indestructible as well. If I had 2o dollars to waste I would so get a copy of this one! But alas… Nevermind and let us move on. So the basic plan is to A) get Avacyn into your hand, then B) drop Avacyn into your graveyard and lastly C) reanimate her cheaply from there. After that you can go knock yourself out casting stuff like Supreme Verdict to eradicate all opponent creatures (yours are indestructible after all!) in order to make them lose all Hope… yeah, “Avacin,  Angel of Despair” she should be called instead!

Ok so, how do we accomplish this series of requirements/steps?

First of all we have to get Avacyn into our hand. There are several ways to accomplish that in this particular deck: Either draw her via your formidable card draw in the form of Merfolk Looter or Compulsive Research OR fetch her directly through Fauna Shaman or, even better and cheaper through Time of Need. The latter costs just 1G and puts any one legendary creature from your deck into your hand. How convenient!

Step two, dropping Avacyn into your graveyard, would be accomplished by the very same cards – Merfolk Looter, Fauna Shaman or Compulsive Research. These are all great discard outlets and can place Avacyn in your graveyard easily and cheaply setting all up for the third and final step.

Reanimating Avacyn, Angel of Hope is accomplished by the classic Resurrection at the cost of 2WW as shown above OR by the newer and totally awesome Defy Death. Have a look:

Yeah that’s right, Avacyn would be entering the battlefield with two +1/+1 counters if revived by the above card, making her an even more awesome 10/10 vigilant, indestructible flyer!

Lightning Greaves are in the mix to give Avacyn Haste as well as Shroud so she can attack right away and escape these pesky exiling effects caused by such nasty cards as Path to Exile. And in case you need it, there is always the cheap Mana Leak to protect her as well.

OK now on to a similar deck as I would play it with the Legacy pool of cards available. It is considerably cheaper but not a lot less powerful in my opinion. Let us have a look at the deck list:

Budget Legacy Angelic Rebirth:

Creatures…20

4 x Birds of Paradise G

4 x Avacyn’s Pilgrim G

4 x Wild Mongrel 1G

4 x Fierce Empath 2G

1 x Akroma, Angel of Wrath 5WWW

3 x Artisan of Kozilek 9

Sorceries…14

4 x Careful Study U

3 x Time of Need 1G

3 x Breath of Life 3W

4 x Defy Death 3WW

Artifacts…4

4 x Lightning Greaves 2

Lands…22

4 x Brushland

4 x Yavimaya Coast

4 x Adarkar Wastes

6 x Forest

2 x Island

2 x Plains

About the Deck:

In this deck, I attempt to pull off something similar as in the deck discussed above: Drop a powerful Creature, in this case…

…into the graveyard by various means and then reanimate it quite cheaply to swing in for the win. This is supposed to be somewhat of a semi-budget deck so I skipped Avacyn, Angel of Hope in favor of Akroma, Angel of Wrath, which is about half as expensive and in fact the only costlier card in the whole deck. Well the “Painlands” are not exactly cheap either but as I happen to own playsets of all of them I am running them. The deck would work well with common and uncommon alternatives for lands as well though.

Anyways, as you can see clearly above, Akroma isn’t a bad deal either being a 6/6 vigilant, first striking, trampling, vigilant flyer with protection from red and from black.

The plan is the same as in the much more expensive Modern deck we have looked at before:

A) Get Akroma into your hand via Time of Need or Fierce Empath. The latter can be cast on turn 2 via your mana makers Birds of Paradise and Avacyn’s Pilgrim.

B) Dump the Angel of Wrath into your graveyard. This is done by discarding to Wild Mongrel or the very cheap Careful Study.

C) Reanimate Akroma via Breath of Life for 3W or Defy Death for 3WW as in the Modern Angelic Rebirth deck. In the latter case, Akroma would be attacking as an 8/8 the turn she enters play.

There is a nice one-two punch combo involved here as well. If you manage to drop both Akroma and…

…into your graveyard, you can reanimate him and through his effect, Akroma could be reanimated. That would give you the powerful Akroma AND a 10/9 behemoth with Annihilator 2. Add Lightning Greaves into the mix, equip it to Artisan and you’ll be able to attack for 16 damage in total the turn you cast Breath of Life or Defy Death.

Lightning Greaves is also useful to protect Akroma from all other targeted effects besides red and black ones, such as, I mention it once again, the notorious Path to Exile.

Note that Fierce Empath does not only fetch Akroma, he also puts Artisan of Kozilek into your hand if you need him.

OK that’s it from me regarding deadly Thoctars and Angels Reborn. I hope you enjoyed this article and had a good read. I am sorry for the over-abundance in Magic: the Gathering related posts. I will try to get in some variety by posting on something else for a change soon. Bear with me for now. I just have so many ideas when it comes to Magic Decks these days and the strong urge to share them!

With that I wish you all the best and

HAPPY GAMING!

Yours,

Andi

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