Journey into Nyx gives us a whole new set of tools in Standard. While Born of the Gods refined some existing archetypes and offered additional options to spread color combinations out with a handful of new Temples, Journey into Nyx brings us a bunch of truly new cards that have the potential to alter Standard. In that way, Journey into Nyx feels like Dragon's Maze, which was full of exciting creatures and spells that created novel interactions.
Several cards fit this bill, but one of the highest buzz cards among combo players and wild brewers is this little 2/1.
The ability to reduce costs is always exciting, and Battlefield Thaumaturge's stats are particularly enticing; it's easy to cast, it's not terrible in the red zone, and its low cost means you can get it out quickly or cast it and protect it. No doubt this card can't be ignored, but how do we leverage it? If you're anything like me, you scrambled to find cards that interacted with this reduction, and you were not left wanting. Standard has a bunch of cards that make the Thaumaturge happy. In fact, I found so many, there's a list here today that incorporated blue and every other color.
We'll just move right around the wheel with deck number one, U/W. Bear in mind that the sideboard is nonsense in most of these decks.
- 4 Battlefield Thaumaturge
- 4 Favored Hoplite
- 4 Judge's Familiar
- 4 Phalanx Leader
- 3 Sage of Hours
- 4 Soldier of the Pantheon
Launch the Fleet was the first card that drew me to the Thaumaturge. With Battlefield Thaumaturge in play, you may target any number of creatures you control with Launch the Fleet for free. One white mana buys you an army equal to the number of creatures you control! Similarly, Glimpse the Sun God allows you to target as many creatures on the board as you want for the same mana. You can target your Thaumaturge at the same time to give him hexproof, too!
In the creature field, Soldier of the Pantheon and Favored Hoplite are my right and left fist, hammering away as efficient, hard-to-kill one-drops. Thanks to the amount of targeting present in the deck, especially alongside Phalanx Leader, I wanted to try Sage of Hours, too.
Ajani's Presence is a Gods Willing that lets you survive most sweepers, and for very little mana you can protect your most critical pieces. You might find yourself in a lot of combats where this little instant will help you trade up. Aerial Formation lets you keep bringing the beats even when you're up against the wall. Although Brave the Elements provides a similar effect, it doesn't necessarily kill them, and the power/toughness boost is rarely found in blue. I've equipped a total of four Anthem effects, mostly because of their legendary nature. It'd be fun to give your creatures +2/+2 without having to worry about the legend rule.
As is the case with reducing costs down to just their color, there's no place here for a Mutavault. Only white sources stand alone, as a set of Phalanx Leaders and twelve one-drops demand a heavy tariff.
From here we move onto black, where one of my favorite color combinations from Theros Standard comes back to life.
I was immensely excited about this combination when I first wrote about it in November, but after some playtesting and tweaking, it proved to be too soft. Curse of the Swine was not a method of getting ahead; you had to pay an equivalent amount of mana for the number of creatures you needed to destroy, so you'd rarely edge them out. However, like with Glimpse the Sun God, Curse of the Swine may exile any number of creatures for UU if the Thaumaturge is out. If you're talking about an honest sweeper for two blue mana, I'm interested.
Here's an upgrade to that original list.
This deck gets several major boosts; the first one comes from another neat creature hot off the JOU presses: Disciple of Deceit.
This transmute ability (see Dimir Infiltrator) allows this deck, which is so heavily reliant on Illness in the Ranks, to access it more easily. Fully one quarter of the deck consists of other spells that cost one mana, giving you plenty of fodder to go find Illness in the Ranks. There are only four CMCs represented in the entire deck, so any card can be pitched to search for at least a dozen others. There is also a single Accorder's Shield that, when discarded, gives you Sylvan Scrying for free. Who knows? A Mutavault or an extra black source might be the card you want the most. Thassa, God of the Sea gives the deck a more reliable win condition, and Dictate of Kruphix lets you draw more cards. Who cares if they draw a fistful of creatures when you utterly undo them for just two mana?
Gridlock is, admittedly a worse version of Glimpse the Sun God; I mean, what nonland permanent besides creatures do you really want to tap? Either way, this serves the same function, while also enjoying the ability to tap your Disciple of Deceit for no extra cost, so long as you've got a Thaumaturge.
Just like before, Illness in the Ranks is still relevant against a lot of decks these days by itself, destroying Elspeth, Sun's Champion; Voice of Resurgence; Pack Rat; Brimaz, King of Oreskos; Young Pyromancer; Xathrid Necromancer; and Master of Waves. All of these cards have seen Tier 1 or Tier 2 play, and this undoes their main selling points for the one-time cost of B.
This deck only got stronger from Journey into Nyx, so it might be close enough to be relevant. The key issues were consistency and mana cost, and this deck does its best to answer that problem with these two new creatures.
The next list, which shifts into red, utilizes one of my favorite deck styles that's been a hit with casual crowds when the critical mass of this spell time is high enough.
When you steal one creature for three mana, you're playing Magic. When you steal two creatures for four mana, you're changing the tide of battle. Blue and red are not known for their creatures' efficiency or bulk, so turning your opponents' own brawn against them helps you feel the color combinations' inherent weakness. Battlefield Thaumaturge reduces the cost of each version of this effect by a significant amount, and the redundant effect provided by the in-color Goblin Electromancer provides compounded redundancy and efficiency.
- 4 Battlefield Thaumaturge
- 4 Goblin Electromancer
- 1 Hypersonic Dragon
- 3 Young Pyromancer
- 2 Keranos, God of Storms
Stealing never felt so good!
Harness by Force is one of my favorite cards from the set just because of the impact it can have. As more and more of JOU was revealed, the Thaumaturge kept getting more and more help. Harness by Force was one of them, and there are several different variants that can stack together.
The creature base is fairly straightforward; the spells make for the most interesting discussion. Catch//Release is a great addition to this suite. While I unsuccessfully tried to brew with it many moons ago in a Blast of Genius shell, it's an awesome fit here. The ability to steal anything is thrilling; just look at Zealous Conscripts, which still sees a bit of niche play in Modern Pod decks. I've had my fair share of Planeswalkers with ultimate-ready loyalty counters stolen from my grip and popped to know that this effect can be backbreaking. You can steal a Spear of Heliod to impersonate Zealous Persecution or you can snatch a God or another devotion generator to turn a God off. There's enough to do with the first half of this spell that it's good enough without the very mediocre "Release" half. Use the mana you've saved to activate Barrage of Expendables to ping your opponent and destroy their creature. Later on, you can sacrifice your Young Pyromancer tokens to finish your opponent off.
Because the deck relies on your opponent playing relevant creatures to be successful, you'll have to change your plan if they don't. Sideboarding attempts to answer this with Font of Ire. Now, obviously this just looks like an instant Lava Axe, but it lets you do it flexibly while you hold up mana to do something else. With Dictate of the Twin Gods, this smacks them (or a planeswalker) for ten damage at instant speed, making it much more likely to close out the game. Flames of the Firebrand acts as a one-mana Arc Trail with the Thaumaturge out.
That leaves just one color: green.
Full disclosure: I've been working on a
bad secret G/U aggro deck that plays with a fun, unused card from Born of the Gods: Hero of Leina Tower. The plan was to create an immense amount of +1/+1 counters and Bioshift. Cast Bioshift on the Hero, and then pay X as the heroic trigger resolves. Then, when the Bioshift resolves, move the freshly created counters wherever you want. Battlefield Thaumaturge gives me more meat to fill out the shakier parts of the concept, and now it's looking cleaner than ever.
- 4 Battlefield Thaumaturge
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 1 Gyre Sage
- 4 Hero of Leina Tower
- 4 Sage of Hours
- 4 Setessan Oathsworn
Moving into green gives us a lot of bizarre cards and creates a unique experience. Elvish Mystic is a fairly boring but necessary inclusion for smoothness, allowing you to play a two-drop and keep an extra mana in reserve to cast any number of spells. Sage of Hours, who really has the potential to reach astronomical numbers in this build, slides in multiples. Bioshift offers the potential to grow two creatures for one mana, and Solidarity of Heroes? Yikes! This list is a bit over the top, but
I love some people love decks like that.
Give//Take is a real treasure. If you target one creature with both effects, it costs 3UG (I believe), but if you split it up, you can draw a grip and load up another creature (with whatever heroic implications) for just 2UG. Setessan Tactics helps your stacked creatures battle at will, and Gridlock can also pump your team quickly and cheaply. It's also a great overloaded Blustersquall if that's all you need. Mortal's Resolve is a better version of Mending Touch because it lets you fight better and it keeps your creature untapped for when that's relevant. It's a great way to keep your Thaumaturge around through a Supreme Verdict or a swath of flame. I've added Mutavaults because Elvish Mystic handles some of the colored mana work and they're a safer place to Bioshift +1/+1 counters in case of trouble.
Hidden Strings, a great heroic enabler, sits in the sideboard and comes in against removal-light decks. Deadbridge Goliath, while being a sturdy 5/5 for four mana, also powers up Sage of Hours all by itself, letting you take an extra turn for 4GG. Witchstalker is a great counter holder, too; against the right deck, it might even gain counters without your help. Scavenging Ooze disrupts Reanimator and can produce a large amount of +1/+1 counters all by itself. Vorel of the Hull Clade is a great blocker and, especially in congress with Sage of Hours, can create Time Stretch effects in a cinch. It's for this reason that Sage of Hours removes all its counters; if not, Vorel and a five-countered Sage could provide you infinite turns. Reverent Hunter is an aggressive, counter-laden creature, too, and two copies of Mortal's Resolve brace your key creatures from a sweeper.
These are only the two-color offerings I've found. Add a third color and you can get pretty crazy, and Mana Confluence and all ten Temples can help make that dream a reality. Which combination works for you? How do you see yourself using the Thaumaturge? Is there an infinite combo out there that gets you excited to play this little 2/1?