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Thrull Devourers

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Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder
In this experiment, we jack up our thrull count through breeding—and then devour them all.

Modern Masters 2015 Edition is on the horizon, and previews have begun. In Ben Hayes’s article “Developing and Designing Modern Masters 2015 Edition,” he revealed Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder’s inclusion in the set as a powerful cornerstone for B/G token-sacrifice strategies. It doesn’t offer the sacrifice, but boy does it offer the tokens.

Playing with Endrek Sahr is living on a precipice: We want to generate as many Thrulls as we can, but we don’t want to lose our Thrull breeder, so we have to be careful with how many we make. Alternatively, we can have a fine-toothed sacrifice outlet, such as Bloodthrone Vampire, which will also be appearing in the forthcoming Modern set.

Today, however, we’re going to be sacrificing all the Thrulls just as quickly as they come, in batches of five or six, to avoid risking Endrek’s life. They’ll eat him alive you know.

Jund

The idea that immediately came to mind when I saw the preview—despite having played with Endrek Sahr and being familiar with him for many years—was devour. Devour always seemed terrible. If I had a bunch of creatures, why would I want to funnel them all into one creature. There were a few devourers that gave worthwhile upside, but I just felt that I didn’t want to expose myself to spot removal when given the option. The worst part of devouring is giving up the cards and mana we’ve already spent to generate the creatures we’re sacrificing. If the devourer is killed, we’ve essentially offered up card advantage on a silver platter. However, with Endrek Sahr, we’re sacrificing creatures that required neither cards nor mana, so it’s all upside. (Sure, Endrek Sahr cost a card and 5 mana, but we’re planning to keep him around afterward.)

Let’s start with Predator Dragon. If we cast Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder on turn five (or on turn four with acceleration), we can follow up with Predator Dragon with 6 mana. Casting the Dragon triggers Endrek Sahr, giving us six Thrulls. As the Dragon resolves immediately afterward, we’ll have six Thrulls to sacrifice to devour 2, making the Dragon a 16/16. And since the Dragon has haste, we can immediately swing in for all that damage.

If we also sacrifice Endrek Sahr to the Dragon, we can hit for 18, but that’s probably not lethal either, so we may as well keep him around. That would be so much more satisfying if it were a one-hit kill, but hey, 16 ain’t bad.

Predator Dragon
Thromok the Insatiable
Skullmulcher

Thromok the Insatiable is the biggest. His size is the number of creatures he devoured squared, so when we sacrifice five Thrulls when following up Endrek Sahr, Thromok will be a 25/25 pretty much every time. This time, there’s pretty much no point to also sacrificing Endrek Sahr (for the 36/36) . . . except maybe in the mirror match. This one doesn’t come with haste or flying, but make way for the beef.

Skullmulcher only has devour 1. So it’ll only be an 8/8 (I suppose that’s not the worst), but the upside is that we’ll be drawing five cards. That’s generally a respectable outcome for spending 5 mana. If we don’t have the Predator Dragon we want—or some other key card—Skullmulcher can help us find it.

Our final devourer is Mycoloth. Mycoloth is a very cute card. It doesn’t gear us up like Skullmulcher does. It doesn’t hastily slice into our opponent’s life total the way a Predator Dragon will. And it doesn’t one-shot people the way Thromok the Insatiable can. But what it can do is, unanswered, take over the game. If we resolve this after Endrek Sahr, it’ll be a 14/14, though it can be chump-blocked. That’s better than Skullmulcher, but it doesn’t offer the same Promise of Power. However, if we’re able to untap with it, we’ll make ten 1/1 Saproling creature tokens. In this deck, that very well may spell doom for our opponent, as we just might have some follow-up devourers coming. The Saprolings won’t be able to attack that turn, but it won’t be long before we have plenty to swarm with.

Doubling

Devour 2—as found on Predator Dragon and Mycoloth—turns Thrulls into twice that many +1/+1 counters, but I certainly wouldn’t mind doubling just a bit more.

Doubling Season is the go-to answer, but it costs 5, which takes up the same slot as Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder. Ideally, I’d like to curve out with the combo when fortune favors me. To that end, I’d prefer to find a 4-drop with a similar effect. Fortunately, Mark Rosewater is on our side.

Parallel Lives will only double the tokens, but that means we’ll end up with twice as much (as opposed to the four time as much we would have had with Doubling Season . . . but who needs that much?). Making twelve Thrulls instead of six with Predator Dragon certainly sounds nice—we’ll be able to immediately attack for 28. That works, right?

The problem is that we won’t always have Predator Dragon, and when we start doubling Thrulls, we start sacrificing our Breeder. Sure, we’d win the game with the Dragon, but when I use Skullmulcher to draw ten cards, I’d really like to have Endrek Sahr around afterward.

Doubling Season
Parallel Lives
Corpsejack Menace

And so I decided on Corpsejack Menace. This comes with some pros and cons. The first pro is that it’s a creature, and it even has respectable stats. As a 4/4 for 4, it can hold the ground and even get in some solid beats in preparation for a devour-powered Predator Dragon. Being a creature also means it makes Thrulls if it’s resolved after Endrek. That sounds like a pro, but it can also be a con—when we cast a follow-up creature, we may not prefer to have nine or ten Thrulls on the battlefield. Sure, we can devour them, but it’ll be too late for Endrek Sahr.

Another con is that it doesn’t work nearly as well with Skullmulcher. While Mycoloth counts the number of +1/+1 counters on it for Saproling production, fully enhanced by the Menace’s superpower, Skullmulcher specifically counts the number of creatures it devoured. So while it will be gaining ten +1/+1 counters, we’ll only be drawing five cards. Nonetheless, the fact that it doesn’t make us sacrifice Endrek Sahr, coupled with the fact that it can come down on our curve, sealed the deal for me. Your mileage may vary.

And Some More

Explore and Rampant Growth bring us from turn two to turn four smoothly, allowing us to skip turn three entirely. We can cast Corpsejack Menace into Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder into Predator Dragon for a turn-five kill with just three cards.

A couple copies of Time of Need help us find Endrek Sahr, and in the event that he’s defeated, whether by our opponents or by his Thrull swarm, we can go find another copy. Thromok the Insatiable also happens to be legendary, so when we’re missing a big finisher, we have that option as well.

Explore
Time of Need
Life // Death

Life // Death gives us a few weird options. If we have a Predator Dragon but no Breeder, Life can let us sacrifice all our lands for a killing blow—or we can just swing in with a few 1/1s. The Death half can be useful for reviving dead Breeders. It’s no good for making Thrulls, but if we already have sacrifice fodder, using Death on a devourer can do the job as well. Fuse on this would be great, allowing us to use both the Life and Death halves, turning our lands into creatures while reanimating a Dragon, but alas, we’ll have to just pick one side to cast at a time.

Finally, I included a single copy of Burnt Offering. I thought it would be an interesting way to chain Skullmulchers into other things, such as big Dragons, but drawing only five cards at a time means we won’t be able to do a lot of chaining of big creatures. With Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder on the battlefield, however, and with seven lands, we can cast Skullmulcher, maker five Thrulls, devour them, draw five cards (one of which is Predator Dragon and one of which is Burnt Offering), Offer the Skullmulcher for rrrrr, pay the last mana from our last land, cast the Dragon, make six Thrulls, devour them, and do the usual attacking for 16. Having Burnt Offering in the deck gives us that slight out when all we have are the Breeder and the Skullmulcher.

If you want to prepare for drafting B/G in Modern Masters 2015 Edition, if you love devouring, or if you just haven’t bred your Thrulls in a while, give this deck a try.

Andrew Wilson

@Silent7Seven

fissionessence at hotmail dot com


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