Thassa, Deep-Dwelling is getting a lot of press in Standard, and even though I mentioned in my Set Review that I don’t think she’s the most compelling Commander, all the rave reviews have convinced me to try building a list for her. If I’m going to be swayed into this, though, I’m going to do things my way. I already built a blink deck that sticks to standard operating procedures pretty well with my recent Ephara deck, so I’ll try branching out a little more this time. Obviously we’ll be sticking with the blink theme, but why not add another layer on top of that with a tribal focus? Thassa, meet your new best friends: a bunch of Wizards.
After all, there are a lot of Wizards with great enters-the-battlefield triggers, and that means we can have a lot of fun with Thassa’s trigger while still having a deck you won’t see every day. Before we talk about those Wizards, though, let’s talk about some other deck construction specifics I focused on when I was making this list.
I got a comment on my Ephara video indicating that, since Ephara is indestructible, playing more ways to cast her on turn 3 would probably make the deck run a little cleaner. I’m taking that advice to heart with Thassa and playing a full eight cards that help my commander land on the third turn. This would obviously be better if there were tons of good 1-drop Wizards (or just 1-drops with good ETB abilities) so we could curve out, but alas, Faerie Seer and Overwhelmed Apprentice just don’t make my list. Still, accelerating out Thassa makes the engine hum much sooner.
Thassa’s trigger returns creatures you control to the battlefield under your control. This seems fairly banal until you realize that effects that give you temporary control of creatures become more powerful with Thassa in play. Steal something, blink it, and never give it back. This is already happening in Standard with cards like Claim the Firstborn and The Akroan War, so why not try it in Commander? (I talked about this a lot in my Commander Newsletter recently when I featured a Yasova Dragonclaw list, so if you’re not already getting that, subscribe now and get it for free every Friday.)
When you search for blue creatures with leaves-the-battlefield abilities, sometimes you find weird cards from the days of yore. Today, that card is Floodgate. Only a card from 1996 would “deal damage equal to half the number of Islands you control, rounded down, to each nonblue creature without flying.” Regardless, this card will make your opponents confused and amused even as it decimates their armies turn after turn.
Sometimes Floodgate doesn’t get it done, and that’s when Scourge of Fleets comes in to bounce your opponents’ boards turn after turn. Your opponents may tire of this. They may attack you. Let them send their puny boats—they’ll just be lost at sea again. If you cast this and it’s not a desperate “don’t kill me yet” play, make sure you can protect it.
Okay, we’ve covered some of the weirder cards and angles in the deck, so let’s switch back over to talking about our Wizards. We’ve already covered one—Sower of Temptation got mentioned a little early—but what about the other 23 Wizards in this deck?
Cheap Wizards that give us cards when blinked are important for getting things started, so I wanted to make sure we had some 2-drops that fit the bill. I initially had Augur of Bolas listed, but after a quick trip to the hypergeometric calculator showed me a dismal 40% hit rate on its trigger, it was immediately ushered to the exit. Watcher for Tomorrow does a better job with card selection out of these two, though Thalakos Seer’s shadow might be relevant once in a blue moon.
More creature-based card draw triggers to power out in the early-to-midgame. Pondering Mage is probably my favorite of these, but costing 5 means we won’t always want it when we have it. Riptide Director is probably the riskiest card I’ve slotted in here, but it can help put a game away when we’re ahead. Cloudkin Seer, at 3 mana for a simple card draw, is on the edge of playability and could be replaced.
We may not have enough instants and sorceries for Augur of Bolas, but we sure can support these two degenerates. Archaeomancer lets us keep regrowing counterspells, draw spells, or even Cyclonic Rift when combined with Thassa, while Scholar of the Ages can return a blink spell in addition—in fact, with a blink spell in hand, we don’t even need Thassa on the battlefield to go wild with this one.
Lords are a lot of fun, and these three are powerful as lords go. All three do a little extra—Docent provides tokens, Naru Meha does some Twincasting, and Sage of Fables helps draw cards. Sage of Fables is pretty hilarious with Thassa—play a Wizard, get a counter, remove it for a card, blink the Wizard, get another counter. Repeat!
Exclusion Mage can be a powerful time-buyer early when blinked, and Venser disrupts the stack as well as the battlefield, but Galecaster Colossus is the standout here. Move over, Tradewind Rider—this Wizard is a Giant threat to the stability of every opponent’s board position.
Okay, these last two aren’t Wizards, but they echo (get it?) Naban’s effect, so I wanted to list them here. With all the blinking and ETB effects going on, these amplifiers are key to pushing the power level of our individual creatures into the stratosphere.
And here are the misfits. Some, like Merfolk Trickster, Mizzium Meddler, Patron Wizard, and Portal Mage, are disruptive. Patron Wizard is particularly obnoxious and may put you in the hot seat when it comes to other players’ combat steps and removal spells, so be ready to lock the game up when you cast it. Archetype of Imagination is a great way to eliminate a player by changing the laws of gravity in your favor, especially after making some tokens with Master of Waves. Stonybrook Banneret enables broken turns by reducing costs, which is incredibly relevant in decks that draw and regrow as many cards as this one. Speaking of drawing, Azami, Lady of Scrolls is a ridiculous draw engine that doesn’t fit with the ETB trigger category. Finally, Thassa’s Oracle is a secondary win condition—you won’t find Laboratory Maniac or Jace, Wielder of Mysteries in this list because that’s not the focus of the deck.
I’ve rounded the list out with some of the usual suspects in the noncreature spell category. Let’s go over some of my favorites:
I haven’t gone too hard on blink spells, as Thassa does such a good job already, but these four are the best of the best when it comes to options in blue.
When you can’t blink, bounce! Sure, you have to pay full retail for your creature again, but sometimes that’s what you need to do. I like Outcome a lot as it plays the role of both draw engine and trigger re-buyer.
Tribal bonuses are one of the reasons to lean into a type like Wizards that isn’t filled with internal synergy, and these are some of the best options. If you want additional cost reduction, I’d suggest Urza’s Incubator, but I think it’s overkill here. All of these cards help you draw more cards, with Kindred Discovery being the most explosive and dangerous of the four.
We’re not going to have a ton of wrath options, so bouncing boards outright seemed like the natural pressure release valve. Inundate may be a sorcery, but the advantage it provides in not bouncing blue creatures is well worth it.
You’ve heard enough from me—take a look at the list and let me know what you think. Send me your Thassa lists, or tribal Wizard lists, or just any Commander list on Twitter at @RagingLevine, and I’ll see you next time!
Commander: Thassa, Deep-Dwelling
20 Island 1 Ancient Tomb 1 Arch of Orazca 1 Castle Vantress 1 Cavern of Souls 1 Desert of the Mindful 1 Isolated Watchtower 1 Lonely Sandbar 1 Memorial to Genius 1 Myriad Landscape 1 Mystic Sanctuary 1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx 1 Path of Ancestry 1 Reliquary Tower 1 Riptide Laboratory 1 Scavenger Grounds 1 Strip Mine 1 Wasteland 1 Archaeomancer 1 Archetype of Imagination 1 Azami, Lady of Scrolls 1 Cloudkin Seer 1 Docent of Perfection/Final Iteration 1 Exclusion Mage 1 Floodgate 1 Galecaster Colossus 1 Master of Waves 1 Merfolk Trickster 1 Mizzium Meddler 1 Naban, Dean of Iteration 1 Naru Meha, Master Wizard 1 Overtaker 1 Patron Wizard 1 Scourge of Fleets 1 Pondering Mage 1 Portal Mage 1 Riptide Director 1 Sage of Fables 1 Scholar of the Ages 1 Sea Gate Oracle 1 Sower of Temptation 1 Stonybrook Banneret 1 Thalakos Seer 1 Thassa's Oracle 1 Venser, Shaper Savant 1 Watcher for Tomorrow 1 Noncreature Spells 1 Arcane Signet - Brawl Deck Exclusive 1 Caged Sun 1 Chamber of Manipulation 1 Conjurer's Closet 1 Counterspell 1 Cryptic Command 1 Crystal Shard 1 Curse of the Swine 1 Cyclonic Rift 1 Disallow 1 Displace 1 Distant Melody 1 Fellwar Stone 1 Ghostly Flicker 1 Herald's Horn 1 Illusionist's Stratagem 1 Imprisoned in the Moon 1 Inundate 1 Kindred Discovery 1 Mind Stone 1 Mystic Confluence 1 Negate 1 Panharmonicon 1 Paradoxical Outcome 1 Reality Shift 1 Rhystic Study 1 Sapphire Medallion 1 Sky Diamond 1 Sol Ring 1 Soul-Guide Lantern 1 Strionic Resonator 1 Thought Vessel 1 Vanquisher's Banner 1 Vedalken Shackles