Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Snap Judgments #4 - Mirrodin Besieged: Thrun, the Last Troll

Hello everyone and welcome back to a special supplementary edition of The Cardboard Witch.  As many of you are aware it's currently Mirrodin Besieged preview time and like the rest of you I've been glued to my computer watching all the pretty new cards emerge from the fog.  Naturally of course I've developed some opinions on the cards as they've been previewed and selected a few I'd like to write about on the blog.  In honor of MBS preview season let's continue along with our Snap Judgements series and take a look at another very exciting card previewed in the past couple days; Thrun, the Last Troll:

Pros:  Well lets start with the fact that Thrun is almost impossible to kill in the current Standard environment; somewhat befitting of "the Last Troll".  Your opponents can't target him so that pretty much wipes out most of the obvious answers; Doom Blade, Flame Slash, Journey to Nowhere, Condemn, Burst Lighnting w/ Kicker, etc.  He regenerates through a Day of Judgement; although that requires waiting until you have 6 mana available to cast him.  Amusingly enough at 4CC he's also immune to Consume the Meek; making him a serious nemesis for either of the 2 current popular control builds.  Did I mention that he can't be countered?  I suppose you could always Mindbreak Trap him; although the answer would be expensive, clunky and fairly narrow.  Quite literally getting rid of a Thrun is going to be an incredibly difficult task for most control decks unless the card base changes significantly with Mirrodin Besieged.  Of course even outside of the control match Thrun is also a 4/4 regenerating beatstick; casting him on turn 3 or 4 will definitely put pressure on your opponent whether he's aggro, control or combo.  In terms of beatdowns I've always felt that 4/4 is a sort of dividing line between good mid range beater and legitimate game winning threat; a 4 power creature puts your opponent on a 5 turn clock by itself while 4 toughness tends to take it past the mystical "Bolt" range.  While Lightning Bolt is not an issue here because of Thrun's "Troll Shroud" it's still hard to find a blocker who can effectively trade with him even without regeneration mana available.  Perhaps more importantly 4 power means that Thrun can wear down opponents hiding behind 0/4 walls; a common strategy for U/W Control and G based Mana Ramp decks in the current format.  As far as Limited play goes I'm pretty sure that against non-Infect decks Thrun is game winning monstrosity; regenerate and shroud are actually WAY more powerful abilities in Limited formats than they are in constructed.

Cons: While in my personal opinion it's difficult to find something legitimately "wrong" with a card as strong as Thrun there *are* a few minor issues that are likely to keep him from running away with the post MBS format.  For example as a Legendary creature Thrun is going to be an awkward include in most aggro decks; you won't be able to run 4 copies but he's good enough that you won't even consider running only 1 either.  I expect that most G decks will find a happy comfort zone at 2-3 copies; sort of like how G players incorporate Garruk Wildspeaker into their decks now.  This of course brings up the additional problem of the mirror match; if both players are running Thrun than the easiest way to contain an enemy Thrun is going to be casting your copy.  Remember folks the so-called "Legends" rule places both copies in their respective graveyards, they aren't being destroyed and therefore you cannot regenerate them.  On a completely different note while I'm personally very fond of 4/4 for 4 beaters the simple truth is that we are currently playing in a Titan dominated environment; while Troll Shroud and regenerate are crazy powerful abilities they do little to help Thrun answer 6/6 Titans and Wurmcoil Engines.  This is truely an all time zenith for big fat monsters and in a world of Giants sometimes a nigh-unkillable Troll simply won't be a good enough answer.  From a Limited perspective it should be mentioned that Thrun isn't very good against an Infect opponent; while it's true you can't kill him with damage or target him with removal spells nothing is going to save Thrun from dying to -1/-1 counters.  I suppose if one were looking for a final quibble it should be mentioned that Thrun has 2 Green mana symbols in his casting cost; meaning both that he requires a heavy comittment to Green and that he's competing for deck space against monsters with the best power to mana cost ratios in the game.  While I'm sure most players will find the slots somehow Thrun will have to work his way into a lineup that includes Leatherback Baloth, Garruk Wildspeaker, Vengevine, Wolfbriar Elemental, Primeval Titan and Avenger of Zendikar; certainly no easy feat. 

Final Destination?:  While those of you building on a budget aren't going to want to hear this I think it's fair to say that Thrun is going to work his way into most of the Green decks in the format; either in the main deck or as a Sideboard option.  Simply put there are too many decks in Standard that as of right now have no legitmate answer to this guy.  Ask yourself this question: "If you're playing RDW, Boros, U/W Control, U/B Control, Valakut, B/R Vampires or pretty much anything that doesn't run All is Dust how do you effectively answer an enemy Thrun with open regeneration mana?"  Shockingly enough there are VERY few answers to this question that don't involve playing your own copy of Thrun and that alone is going to mean he'll be in a lot of post MBS Standard decks.  Plus lets be honest; buddy is a crazy whacked out Troll Shaman who kinda looks like a mutant frog.  The art alone is worth the price of admission.

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