Carrie On – Drafting With Wavecrash Triton

[card]Wavecrash Triton[/card] is one of the more interesting heroic cards in Theros. He requires a more subtle touch than cards like [card]Favored Hoplite[/card] and [card]Wingsteed Rider[/card]. He goes in different (less aggressive) decks and yet, if done well, can truly dominate the table.

I really like the heroic mechanic. You can use it for occasional value, but good decks base their strategy around it, which results in very powerful synergies.

Heroic creatures that get a pump lend themselves to aggressive decks. The UW heroic deck has a low curve, lots of enablers, and is a fairly obvious archetype. It generally ends up looking like this:

[deck]2 Favored Hoplite
1 Hopeful Eidolon
1 Triton Tactics
1 Battlewise Valor
1 Chosen by Heliod
1 Fate Foretold
1 Ordeal of Heliod
1 Artisan of Forms
1 Cavalry Pegasus
1 Omenspeaker
1 Phalanx Leader
1 Battlewise Hoplite
1 Daxos of Meletis
1 Lagonna-Band Elder
1 Meletis Charlatan
1 Nimbus Naiad
1 Observant Alseid
1 Wingsteed Rider
2 Divine Verdict
1 Griptide
1 Celestial Archon
8 Island
9 Plains[/deck]

This is a list I won with recently online (you know, in the bit of MTGO that still works). [card]Favored Hoplite[/card] is probably the best card in this deck. It is just insane with an Ordeal. On the play, turn 1 Favored Hoplite, turn 2 Ordeal is nigh unbeatable as it puts it out of range of many of the conditional removal spells of the set or profitable blocking scenarios—a 3/4 on turn 2 and a 4/5 on turn 3 are way above the curve. You are going to need a [card]Divine Verdict[/card] or one of the two bounce spells ([card]Griptide[/card] or [card]Voyage’s End[/card]) or [card]Hero’s Downfall[/card] to deal with that problem—and some of those may still be too slow.

[card]Favored Hoplite[/card] into Ordeal is far weaker on the draw as there are more tricks available to blow you out—[card]Magma Jet[/card]/[card]Lightning Strike[/card]/[card]Last Breath[/card]/[card]Pharika’s Cure[/card]. There’s a lesson here: if you are in the colors that could have the spells to blow out a turn 2 Ordeal on a [card]Favored Hoplite[/card], but don’t have it, you should represent it by playing out the lands to cast that spell. Play your second Swamp instead of your first Forest.

Because the UW heroic deck likes to run creatures that get +1/+1 counters from targeted spells, it doesn’t care too much about which enablers do the job. Ordeals and cheap bestow creatures are nice, but [card]Battlewise Valor[/card] is perfectly acceptable as it lets you get in bonus damage one turn, makes the creature permanently bigger, and lets you dig for the next effect you need. Additionally, the cantrip enchantments will net you a little bit of value at little to no cost.

While the UW heroic deck is a lot of fun, you have to work very hard in the draft process to get the correct balance of creatures and enablers. Some creatures (such as the aforementioned [card]Favored Hoplite[/card] or [card]Phalanx Leader[/card]) are more valuable than enablers, but good quality enablers get picked over less premium creatures, which in turn are picked over weaker enablers like [card]Fate Foretold[/card].

Aside from needing a good pick order, you need the deck to be open, and it has a number of weaknesses. UW heroic relies on making one super creature—you have to put your targeted effects somewhere. So, if your opponent can shoot that beast down, then they might stabilize.

The exception to this rule is if you have a [card]Phalanx Leader[/card]. This creature should never be run out on turn 2 as it will be killed on sight. You have to wait until you can at least trigger its ability once in response to a removal spell or, better yet, have a [card]Gods Willing[/card] to really make your opponent sad.

Alternatively, as mentioned above, rather than kill the one super creature, your opponent can instead just have enough instant speed removal to pick off your creatures as you try to make them huge by responding to the heroic triggers. Of course, it’s not always correct to wait. If they have [card]Magma Jet[/card], for example, they can’t wait to see if they can get extra value from it when you try to super-size your [card]Favored Hoplite[/card]—if it’s a [card]Battlewise Valor[/card], for instance, you can wait and blow them out in response. It’s all about timing and playing around things, both with and against the deck. You’ve got to think smart to win.

UW heroic also needs an aggressive draw with a mix of enablers and premium heroic creatures. This can result in difficult mulligan decisions, and is why I like scry effects so much in this deck. [card]Battlewise Hoplite[/card] is one of the best 2-drop creatures for this reason, with [card]Voyage’s End[/card] being one of the strongest spells.

Back to [card]Wavecrash Triton[/card].

[card]Wavecrash Triton[/card] does not get bigger from targeted spells. Instead, it generates a powerful tempo effect that can take a creature out of the picture for a number of turns both as a blocker and an attacker. If all you achieve from those turns is getting to beat down with a 1/4, however, you aren’t getting much for your investment. That is why [card]Wavecrash Triton[/card] works really well with bestow creatures. Not only are you tapping a creature but you are creating a seriously annoying threat at the same time.

Bestow is generally an expensive effect—understandable, given how good the creatures are in Limited. Flexible cards are always all-stars in Limited as they give you more options to play with, they can smooth draws, or open up more lines of play. If you need to make a 3-drop, then running [card]Nimbus Naiad[/card] out as a creature is perfectly respectable. Drawing it later or having a different option for turn three means you can use it to give your [card]Vulpine Goliath[/card] wings.

The relative expense of some of the bestow creatures makes including some of the cards purely to enable heroic creatures a poor option in the traditional UW deck, as you want to keep your curve low with maybe a handful of 4-and 5-drops. If instead you want to use lots of bestow effects—particularly the very expensive Emissaries—then you can put them into the green ramp shell.

I love [card]Voyaging Satyr[/card] in a tempo-based format like this one. It can allow you to get further ahead on the play or catch up on the draw. [card]Wavecrash Triton[/card] is also a tempo play, so if you combine these two, glorious things should (and do) happen. The Emissaries are expensive, but the ramp deck allows you to power them out much earlier, and by bestowing onto a Triton you create a very alarming threat (a 4/7 is not easy to deal with in Theros), plus it’ll have trample or net you a card. Pretty sweet.

There are other reasons to play [card]Wavecrash Triton[/card] in UG. A 1/4 is an excellent road block in the early game to stop aggressive strategies from overwhelming you. Once you have your giant forces assembled you can use the [card]Wavecrash Triton[/card] to tap down a blocker or two and suddenly put your opponent in a very uncomfortable position. Green is the best color to have the kind of power to really take advantage of the short-term effect granted by [card]Wavecrash Triton[/card], two turns of monstrous [card]Nemesis of Mortals[/card] beatdown is a very scary thing.

UG is also the best home (in my opinion) for the rudest heroic enabler of the set: [card]Triton Tactics[/card]. Want to attack with [card]Vupline Goliath[/card], but worried about the back swing? No worries with [card]Triton Tactics[/card]! You get to attack and crush your opponent’s hopes and dreams all for the low, low price of a single blue mana. [card]Triton Tactics[/card] is perfect for a deck with giant fatties and, if you target [card]Wavecrash Triton[/card], then you may get to lock down one of the creatures left behind to block, which could simply leave your opponent dead the very next turn.

Example deck list:

[deck]1 Sedge Scorpion
2 Voyaging Satyr
1 Voyage’s End
1 Leafcrown Dryad
1 Omenspeaker
1 Opaline Unicorn
1 Time to Feed
1 Agent of Horizons
1 Nessian Courser
1 Nimbus Naiad
2 Wavecrash Triton
1 Griptide
2 Horizon Chimera
1 Nylea’s Disciple
1 Nylea’s Emissary
1 Thassa’s Emissary
1 Polukranos, World Eater
1 Nessian Asp
1 Pheres-Band Centaurs
1 Prescient Chimera
9 Forest
8 Island[/deck]

Another home for [card]Wavecrash Triton[/card] is UB fliers. This deck is very tempo-focused. You play a bunch of evasive threats, ideally multiple [card]Vaporkin[/card] and [card]Prescient Chimera[/card], backed up with removal and [card]Wavecrash Triton[/card] to remove/tap any opposing blockers. UB is an especially good color set for [card]Wavecrash Triton[/card]—[card]Cavern Lampad[/card] and [card]Nimbus Naiad[/card] both grant it evasion which is exactly what you need, and those creatures are useful even if you don’t have the Triton.

In addition to this, it can stall the ground while you win with evasive creatures. You can also supplement your heroic count with cards like [card]Fate Foretold[/card] and [card]Aqueous Form[/card]. Cantripping in this deck allows you to dig for more removal spells or threats while also tapping down problem creatures for a while. Plus, if you have to chump, at least you net a card too. [card]Aqueous Form[/card] further supplements the evasive strategy and I love the scry effect this card brings to any deck. A good UB Triton deck might look a little like this:

[deck]1 Aqueous Form
1 Pharika’s Cure
1 Fate Foretold
1 Omenspeaker
1 Returned Phalanx
1 Shipwreck Singer
1 Vaporkin
2 Blood-Toll Harpy
1 Nimbus Naiad
2 Wavecrash Triton
1 Griptide
2 Cavern Lampad
1 Disciple of Phenax
1 Insatiable Harpy
1 Lash of the Whip
1 Keepsake Gorgon
2 Prescient Chimera
1 Sip of Hemlock
1 Shipbreaker Kraken
9 Swamp
8 Island[/deck]

The final deck you might consider for [card]Wavecrash Triton[/card] is UW. I know I said that he wasn’t great in the aggressive decks, however, you can’t always get all the cards you want. If you end up with a bunch of bestow creatures and a shortage of cheap aggressive heroic creatures, then you can easily convert into a slightly bigger version of UW that gets aggressive early then uses [card]Wavecrash Triton[/card] to find the reach to finish the game off. I have started drafts looking to build the aggressive UW deck only to end up with this hybrid version, as I don’t see all the pieces I really want, and the deck still works well. It also gives you an edge in the mirror as you can stabilize behind your 1/4 and later use him to push past the creature blockade for victory.

I used to find [card]Wavecrash Triton[/card] very hard to evaluate. Yeah, his effect is useful, but a 1/4 for 3 is a little lackluster. However, I would recommend you try to draft around this little guy, as he can make for some seriously interesting lines of play, and those are the sorts of Magic games that really get me fired up. T

hanks for reading, feel free to say hi @onionpixie and I’ll see you next week.

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