– Commander 2019
November 26, 2019
Commander [EDH]: 3.50
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Thragtusk has only been in Standard once, where it attracted a variety of nicknames ranging from “Swagtusk” to “Not You Again”. For those in control of it, there’s little to dislike about a creature with a powerful comes-into-play ability that dominates aggro decks and is often useful elsewhere, and leaves behind a token that’s a relevant threat. It surpasses many of the green creatures we’d otherwise describe as highly resilient just because you get that token regardless of how it leaves play – this kept it relevant in a Standard with cards like Vapor Snag and Banishing Light, and some decks decided the best answer was to play their own. It also made for a crazy set of interactions with cards like Restoration Angel, and any sacrifice effect followed up with Unburial Rites. It’s not entirely well aligned with the nature of the Modern format right now, but it has the ideal characteristics for any format where creature decks are popular.
Between the complaints about Thragtusk and the complaints about Autumn’s Veil, it’s becoming clear to me that some people just don’t want green to be good. Don’t be one of those people. Magic has five colors. They are all here to be good and be played.
Another beloved creature, albeit more recently, Thragtusk was a dominant force in Standard for all of the Magic 2013 legality window, thanks to just how efficient his combination of abilities was. For 5 mana, you get 5 life, a creature that beats or trades with most other creatures in combat, and another 3/3 when the first creature is removed, even if exile is its ultimate fate. Couple that with a very flexible mana cost (a single green pip in an environment where multicolor decks were nearly ubiquitous), and you have a format-defining monstrosity. It paired well with flicker effects and bounce effects (thanks to its trigger giving you the beast no matter where it goes), and it gave green decks both an avenue back into a tough game and a way to recover in case they overextended. While it’s susceptible to burn and kill spells, that matters less when it leaves a little present for the opponent that gets rid of it.
Thragtusk hasn’t been nearly as dominant in Modern as it was in Standard, but you still have the case of a creature that resists all removal and gets you further from the grave when it comes in, and that’s sometimes all a midrange deck needs to get going. It’s a cool bit of off-meta tech in that format, though nowhere near the force it was.
Always carry two removal spells for Thragtusk!
Since it’s Thanksgiving Week we are going for a Life Gain theme, since Food = Life, and this guy brings the life for days! Now when this guy was printed there was a large shift in the ways of how WotC was dealing with ‘death triggers’ in that they were moving away from ‘leaves play’ to ‘dies’. Well this guy didn’t get the memo and this 5/3 beast of a creature which had removal slapped everywhere on it, was able to gain life, block and trade, and leave a 3/3 blocker in its wake.
But it was around that time that a Restoration Angel had been printed and allowed for him to gain immense value by flickering him, meaning that you’d get a 3/3 token, and 5 more life when Thragtusk Re-entered play.
This was one of the defining cards during its time in Standard back in the day! (Innistrad/Return to Ravnica) and one of the times that they really pushed Green in the format!
It’s still an immensely powerful card, while it doesn’t show up in Standard (for obvious reasons) or the other constructed formats, mainly because 5 mana is just a bit much. You can still see it in Cube Drafts and Commander Decks because of its sheer value that comes from landing in play.
Constructed – 1/5 No longer viable in most formats.
Limited – 5/5 Super splashable in draft/sealed and a heavy hitter!
Commander – 3/5 Great way for G/x decks to put up a shield and a fatty and buffer life totals.
Cube – 3/5 Being splashable helps, and his resilience is good for Bant or Simic control decks
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