Thragtusk: Beat ‘Em or Join ‘Em?

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Last night, I was talking to a friend on Facebook about the Standard metagame. Our discussion was primarily about what deck to play right now. My first point was that more players should be on board with a counterspell-based aggro deck like the one I talked about last week. As our conversation progressed I realized that all the decks we were talking about fell into two categories: decks that play Thragtusk and decks that try to beat those decks. At this point, we all know how powerful and frustrating playing against Thragtusk can be. Its mere existence causes the metagame to develop around it. Though it would never happen, I would not be upset to see the card banned in Standard because I think a format without him would prove a lot more fun and interesting. Since that is not really a possibility, we need to find ways to deal with it. Here are your choices as I see them.

1. Play a Thragtusk deck

There are many options in this category. The card is so good that he has made a few strategies viable. The best option in my opinion would be Bant Control. What’s better than playing Thragtusk? Drawing them more often with Jace, Architect of Thought. In this deck, not only do you get to play Thragtusk, but you get additional value from Restoration Angel. Here’s an example list for reference.

Bant Midrange by Reed Hartman
14th at SCG Indianapolis

The only part I don’t like about this deck is the way Call of the Conclave clashes with your control-the-board strategy. It may be better to play something like Azorius Charm in that spot or remove Terminus and Supreme Verdict for something more aggressive. Overall, I like this deck and what it is trying to do. It may be the best Thragtusk deck right now.

If you want to play a deck from this category, some other options include Jund Midrange/Control, Reanimator or straight GW Midrange. Each of these decks is a viable option with powerful support suites.

2. Play a deck that tries to beat Thragtusk

Initially, everyone thought that Zombies was the deck to beat and Thragtusk was a way to do that. Now, I think it is the opposite. Zombies is one way to try to beat the Thragtusk decks. After being hated out of the metagame, Zombie decks adapted by including Crippling Blight but that did not last long. With Restoration Angel making a comeback, that strategy is no longer as good.

The problem with Thragtusk is that it is difficult to interact with it. It honestly reminds me of Bloodbraid Elf. Both of those cards are difficult to play against because they have so much built-in value that they are worth much more than the one card you used to play them. For a control deck, trying to match a Thragtusk strategy with removal spells is nearly impossible. There are options, but they are slim.

Most Thragtusk decks can be fought with Tamiyo, the Moon Sage. Her ability to keep a permanent locked down will allow the control deck to put up a good fight. Then when they play another threat, Supreme Verdict can clear the board and let [card Tamiyo, the Moon Sage]Tamiyo[/card] lock down the 3/3 left behind. It’s possible that control decks want to explore Martial Law in addition to Tamiyo for more of this effect. The planeswalker plan does not always work because if you play against Jund, they typically have Dreadbore to clear the way.

My strategy is to play counterspells. They are basically the only removal spell that can answer Thragtusk, as well as many other threats, one-for-one.

In addition to racing with Zombies and countering all of their spells with UWR Midrange, there are other ways to combat this menace. Take a look.

G/W Humans by Brad Le Boeuf
1st place at SCG New Orleans

This G/W Humans deck does a great job of beating your opponent before they cast Thragtusk. Even though this strategy is similar to that of Zombies, being in green and white gives you more options right now to fight the metagame. One definite strength of this deck is Oblivion Ring. This removal spell will help in a lot of matchups but is especially good at removing planeswalkers.

I am not fond of the strange numbers for the cards included in the deck and I would work to minimize that. Champion of the Parish is great in this deck because most of the time it will be a one mana 3/3 due to Mayor of Avabruck // Howlpack Alpha and Gather the Townsfolk. More of both of those cards seems good to me as well. I really like the inclusion of Cavern of Souls for multiple reasons. Counters are are a real thing in the metagame and the additional fixing for your mana base is always helpful.

G/W Humans seems like a great way to attack the metagame right now but I think it could be even better than this version. The two cards I am working with offer similar effects. Both Wild Beastmaster and Champion of Lambholt punish an opponent who is relying on blocking to stabilize. I think both of these creatures do this much better than Riders of Gavony. Wild Beastmaster makes it so your opponent will have no profitable blocks while Champion of Lambholt just doesn’t allow your opponent to block at all. Either way, when you combine these creatures with the explosive power of Champion of the Parish and Silverblade Paladin, you get a very fast clock.

I will be working on the G/W Humans deck myself and trying to incorporate the two powerful three-drops. When you combine either of them with Wolfir Silverheart, your opponent is in for some bad beats.

Until Next Time,

Unleash whatever force will beat Thragtusk!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter
(I'm active on twitter again, so send me a message sometime.)

5 thoughts on “Thragtusk: Beat ‘Em or Join ‘Em?

  1. This is true but often since they do not effect the board, you can still easily lose the game after casting one of them. They are options though. I like Slaughter Games against Reanimator and Control so it is definitely a good card. I’m just not sure I would side it in against every Thragtusk deck.

  2. I’ve been running G/W a lot lately and been tweeking it as I go. I initially thought champion of lambholt was going to be just what the deck needed. It isn’t. Its hard to pump the guy since I’d rather just rancor my champ of the parish and drop silverblade on turn 3. Also I don’t find myself playing that many creatures on turns 4 and 5 to pump CoL so it doesn’t create the unblockable situation I’m looking for that often. The 3 drop I’ve found most successful is Fiend Hunter. Especially on the draw against other agressive decks its the nuts and if you hold it until turn 4 or 5 against Jund you win. It also allows you to use O Ring more freely. Things I’ve cut from the main list above is is Odric, Sublime Angel, SIlverhearts, Primal Hunter and Faith’s Shield and I’ve topped up on Townsfolk and Mayor, added 2 Fiend Hunter, 1 Sigarda, and 2 Riders of Gavony. I wouldn’t fault anyone for leaveing in an Odric for one of the Riders. The rest is just helpful situationally and you want your main deck to be as streamlined as possible for the majority of the meta. Bring in the situational cards from your board.

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