As a brewer, there are some cards in every set that just catch your eye. While these cards might occasionally be powerful, more often than not the reason I am drawn to them is some unique element that they possess. Abyssal Persecutor is a great example of one such card. The upside is clear: an enormous flyer at a great rate, but the real intrigue comes with that drawback.
The drawback on Abyssal Persecutor, the inability to win the game, is actually what kept me interested in it. How could I get around this?
Luckily for me, Abyssal Persecutor is a rather easy puzzle to solve and I was able to play it in many different shells and lists before it rotated out of Standard. Other times, however, that unique quality, that thing that sets a card apart from all of the others, is actually a difficult puzzle to solve, so difficult in fact that some of the time a brewer simply has to walk away rather than potentially invest too much time into a dead-end card.
The natural process for a card is that it receives a lot of attention right away, and if nothing pans out that card tends to blend in with the rest of the unplayables. Unless something powerful and obvious gets printed to breathe some new life into it, no one looks at the card again.
Battlefield Thaumaturge was one of the cards that took this trajectory from Journey into Nyx. I loved the idea of the card but could never find enough ways to make it worthwhile. Then, before I know it, three sets have gone by and I have not taken the proper time to look for new and potentially awesome synergy with the Thaumaturge. I decided to change that with a refreshed list of the instants and sorceries that might work well with the blue 2-drop.
There are some nice payoffs in here, such as red having quite a few multi-target burn spells that get reduced multiple times via Thaumaturge. Remember that Battlefield Thaumaturge only cares that you are targeting creatures for it to work, meaning your opponent’s creatures are fair game.
Your Lightning Strikes turning into Lightning Bolts is already pretty cool, but once we start looking at the bigger effects like Sea God’s Revenge or Cone of Flame, things get really interesting.Both of those spells are Constructed-playable at 3 and 2 mana, but we can go even bigger.
Remember that X spells and anything similar costs no additional mana with Thaumaturge down. Icy Blast, Curse of the Swine, and Launch the Fleet only cost you 1 or 2 mana and you get to target every single creature that you want to with them. If you can go wide with your creatures, you can scale these X spells accordingly.
Hour of Need is the card that always had the most potential with Thaumaturge though, as three mana for a pair of 4/4 fliers seemed amazing (and only one additional mana per additional 4/4 from there). The issue with Hour of Need is that it is a pretty unique effect and making a consistent deck that relied on it was a challenge. Dragons of Tarkir does have something that replicates it reasonably well though: Descent of the Dragons.
Thaumaturge still reduces its cost per target, meaning that four Dragons makes the spell cost a total of 2 mana—even more efficient than Hour of Need. Let’s try a solid token-producing base with a burn + Thaumaturge package.
This list probably looks too similar to Jeskai Tokens unfortunately. Even though the game plan for this is to utilize tokens alongside Thaumaturge, its weaknesses mostly lie in the same places. You do gain access to some awesome lines of play, such as EOT Raise the Alarm, untap and play Thaumaturge into Descent of the Dragons on turn 4. That line is going to beat most of the midrange and aggro decks by itself.
One potential solution to move this “combo” away from Jeskai tokens is to enable your Hour of Need/Descent play out of the graveyard. Both Return to the Ranks and Rally the Ancestors allow you to get back Thaumaturge and other creatures on the cheap. If you immediately follow that up with Descent or Hour of Need, you get around the exile portion of Rally, allowing for an explosion of board presence out of nowhere.
Imagine having just 4 mana available and getting back a pair of Humble Defectors, a Battlefield Thaumaturge, and maybe an Akroan Crusader. For just 2 more mana, you can turn that field of creatures into 4/4 fliers. Unfortunately, Rally the Ancestors sets up an exile trigger at the beginning of your next upkeep, which is much harder to work around than end step, so for now, I would focus on Return to the Ranks.
This list is much more interested in setting up a sky full of 4/4s as it is realistically not going to win many other ways. Sidisi’s Faithful is interesting in that it deals with any token you might give your opponent, has synergy with Return to the Ranks, and plays some early defense along with Nyx-Fleece Ram to help you buy time to find some synergies.