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Unpopular Opinion: Thriss Budget Commander Deck

Here’s my Unpopular Opinion: Thriss, Nantuko Primus can be a fun Commander.

We’re far enough into this series that we’re at mono-Green. I guess that means the next installment is colorless – yikes! Regardless, the time has come to choose a Green Commander, and I’ve chosen an unusual insect to helm this deck. It’s pretty clear that Thriss is underappreciated – with only 17 decks listed on EDHRec, Thriss ranks a dismal #874 among all Commanders. Let’s see if we can help him gain some traction.

As always, I’d like to remind you of a couple of things regarding my budget articles:

  • $50 has a different impact on different people, but given that it’s less than the price of a triple-A console game release, I think it’s a price many will be willing to pay for hours of entertainment, which a Commander deck should provide.
  • I’ll be using prices from right here on ChannelFireball.com to track our costs. All prices were accurate when I wrote this – apologies if prices have changed or cards have gone out of stock since, but that’s just part and parcel of a budget article.

Let’s take a look at Thriss, who costs a whopping 35 cents, and see what we can learn.

Thriss, Nantuko Primus

Thriss is unusual – a 7-mana 5/5 that is focused on an activated ability that makes other creatures more powerful. Would it surprise you to know that Thriss is the character that trained Kamahl in the druidic ways after the whole barbarian pit fighter brand didn’t work out so great? I figured it would. Honestly, I had forgotten that until writing this article.

So how can we leverage Thriss? Well, big tramplers could be helpful, as they’re most readily able to benefit from Thriss’s Very Giant Growth ability. (I assume this will be an Un-card name in two years.) Effects that want us to have one particularly big creatures could also be useful, as could creatures that reference their own power to create a particular effect.

Creatures

Thriss can’t necessarily work alone, though – let’s take a look at some of his friends.

Nantuko Mentor ($0.35)

Creeperhulk ($0.35)

Gigantomancer ($0.35)

Creeperhulk and Gigantomancer can set any creature to a larger base size, which has variable utility depending on the target’s original stature. Nantuko Mentor is more focused on doubling up a creature’s power, which means it favors targeting the creatures that Creeperhulk and Gigantomancer can’t help as much.

Thriss and Nantuko Mentor share another issue – they tap. I brought in a pair of specialists to assist with that particular issue and provide pseudo-Vigilance to other creatures:

Scryb Ranger ($0.85)

Seeker of Skybreak ($0.35)

Scryb Ranger is a better target for growth effects since it flies, but Seeker of Skybreak won’t set you back a land drop when you want to use it. Both have their place in a healthy Thriss deck. At least, I think so – as I mentioned earlier, there’s not a ton of data to lean on here. Isn’t that what makes this series fun, though?

We’ve talked a lot about our supportive creatures already, so let’s get to the main event – who are we buffing?

Marwyn, the Nurturer ($0.65)

Viridian Joiner ($0.25)

For as good as Green is at mana ramp, we’re taking a pretty long journey to a Dark Ritual-style effect here. Regardless, either of these creatures can enable some seriously explosive turns once powered up by Thriss or other effects.

Living Hive ($0.35)

Geode Golem ($0.79)

Giant Adephage ($0.99)

These creatures do a little extra when they get through, which means a pump from Thriss is welcome. Pumps from other sources are more welcome for Geode Golem, as its function is mainly to bring our expensive Commander out to play.

Cultivator of Blades ($0.35)

Wild Beastmaster ($0.35)

Pumping one creature won’t be enough sometimes, so finding ways to pump the whole team can be advantageous. Both of these creatures would be proud to carry the banner for an attacking team and pump everyone up to ridiculous sizes.

Scourge of Skola Vale ($0.35)

You can pump up Scourge of Skola Vale, or you can pump one of your other creatures, attack with it, and then sacrifice it to this hungry hungry hydra for a lot of counters. More like Scourge of Swole-a Vale, right? Please don’t close this browser tab.

Taunting Elf ($0.15)

What’s better than a big creature? A big creature that eats your opponent’s entire board. Pump up Taunting Elf and clear out a wide swath of enemy forces. Alternatively, pump up other creatures and send Taunting Elf in there to hit the sacrifice fly. For a one mana elf, this card seems to contain multitudes.

Vorapede ($0.79)

Woodfall Primus ($2.75)

Moldgraf Monstrosity ($0.35)

Pelakka Wurm ($0.25)

Terra Stomper ($0.25)

When all else fails, take a big trampler and make it bigger. Each of these has a separate upside and is appropriate to a different situation – if you’re a tutor person, you can take the deck that way and really customize your threat setup for different board states. That’s neither my style nor in budget, though, so we’ll veer away from that.

The creature base doesn’t end here, though – we have a few more supportive creatures.

Brawn ($0.49)

Bellowing Tanglewurm ($0.25)

For the creatures who don’t already have trample, Brawn is ready to die and improve their combat capabilities. Bellowing Tanglewurm provides intimidate, which means that anyone without a green blocker is going to be run over pretty quickly.

Ulvenwald Tracker ($0.99)

Big creatures want to go to Fight Club, and Ulvenwald Tracker is happy to oblige.

Reclamation Sage ($0.29)

Not everything can be a seven mana trampling monstrosity. Reclamation Sage is a Naturalize that leaves behind a creature that we can pump up later.

Sakura-Tribe Elder ($0.89)

Elvish Mystic ($0.49)

Llanowar Elves ($0.25)

Arbor Elf ($0.45)

Mana ramp in the early game, pumpable creatures in the late game. Sometimes it will be Llanowar Elves that sneaks across the finish line and gets the win in a deck like this.

Non-Creatures

That’s all of our creatures – 27 plus Thriss should be plenty. Let’s get into the noncreatures, starting with the cards that will help us pump up our creatures even more:

Rhonas’s Monument ($0.55)

The cost reduction is already great, but adding in the pump effect really puts this one over the top. It’s no Emerald Medallion, but it’s what we have to work with here.

Dragon Throne of Tarkir ($0.35)

Another way to pump your whole team, similar to Wild Beastmaster or Cultivator of Blades.

Blanchwood Armor ($0.25)

Prodigious Growth ($0.35)

Colossification ($0.45)

Three auras to take a creature from zero to hero. Blanchwood Armor is the best at taking you back to those childhood days of slamming unsleeved Urza block cards on the floor at summer camp, while the others are newer takes on the classic formula. Colossification may not be an incredible card, but I simply couldn’t resist.

Magewright’s Stone ($3.49)

Nature’s Chosen ($0.89)

Instill Energy ($0.25)

Some additional ways to untap Thriss are very much welcome. Nature’s Chosen gets bonus points for “never seen that before” equity.

Now that we have these huge creatures, let’s find some ways to further leverage them:

Monstrous Onslaught ($0.25)

Miming Slime ($0.15)

Overwhelming Stampede ($0.99)

Death’s Presence ($0.59)

Ooze Garden ($0.35)

These cards all key off the power of one of our enormous creatures. Monstrous Onslaught can deal a ton of damage, while Ooze Garden and Miming Slime provide some additional creature support. Ooze Garden is particularly adept at turning a small creature that has been Thriss’d into the stratosphere into a permanently larger Ooze. Overwhelming Stampede is a great “I win” button, while Death’s Presence provides incremental advantage instead and happens to go very well with Ooze Garden.

Ring of Kalonia ($0.25)

Rancor ($0.99)

Primal Rage ($1.99)

Giving your most enormous creatures trample (and a little bit of a buff, in some cases) is very much welcome. Ring of Kalonia helps a creature grow over time, while the enchantments are a little differently applicable. Rancor is just as obnoxious as you remember it being, so enjoy bringing it back over and over again.

Fireshrieker ($0.49)

Huge creatures with trample never get to have double strike. Let’s fix that.

Surestrike Trident ($0.49)

Sometimes you just can’t get your big creature through – maybe you don’t have trample, or maybe you’ve been locked out of the combat phase. No problem – Surestrike Trident can knock out a player all in one go. Play Colossification on a creature with Surestrike Trident attached, then activate it in response… that’s probably the end of someone’s time at the table.

Soul’s Majesty ($1.99)

Hunter’s Prowess ($0.35)

Hunter’s Insight ($0.99)

Momentous Fall ($0.79)

Garruk, Primal Hunter ($1.99)

Green’s strength in card draw can often be found in effects like these that key off creature power and, sometimes, damage dealt in combat. I couldn’t quite find room for Greater Good, but if you have a copy lying around, it’s incredible in this type of deck. Hopefully these five can suffice for budget matchups.

As always, now that we’ve gone hard on theme, it’s time to include some of the types of cards that we’re sort of obligated to play.

Vines of Vastwood ($0.99)

Swiftfoot Boots ($2.75)

With all of this big creatures just hanging around, we’ll need some way to protect them. I was a little short on slots and budget at this point, but I managed to shoehorn a pair of boots in as well as a single instant speed trick to make opponents think twice. Heroic Intervention isn’t quite in the budget…

Return to Nature ($0.25)

Scour from Existence ($0.15)

Beast Within ($1.79)

Some removal to cover various categories. Scour and Beast Within are wide angle, and Return to Nature’s additional flexibility makes it a lot more palatable than Naturalize.

Cultivate ($0.75)

Rampant Growth ($0.19)

Ranger’s Path ($0.15)

Skyshroud Claim ($1.25)

Let’s put more Forests on the battlefield!

Mind Stone ($1.25)

Everflowing Chalice ($1.49)

I really like Everflowing Chalice in this deck as it’s a great place to put a little extra mana. Mind Stone is always solid, as it’s great on turn 2 and not the worst topdeck on turn 10.

Lands

Time to move on to land – with only a little room left in the budget, we’re mostly Forests.

Tranquil Thicket ($0.15)

Desert of the Indomitable ($0.25)

Slippery Karst ($0.15)

Classic cycling lands to help smooth out draws later in the game.

Arch of Orazca ($0.69)

It’s so easy to slot this into a mono-colored deck and reap the rewards in the midgame. Sure, the draw is expensive, but it’s a land!

Rogue’s Passage ($0.49)

Sneak that big creature through this hidden doorway and into the red zone. Let’s deal damage!

Mosswort Bridge ($0.59)

You can really power out a Mosswort Bridge activation quickly with a deck like this. Even if you just have Thriss, he can pump himself and let you access this hideaway.

Scavenger Grounds ($0.99)

This deck is extremely light on graveyard hate – slot in a Loaming Shaman if you need one.

Ghost Quarter ($0.99)

Similarly, not a ton of nonbasic hate in this one – maybe a Mwonvuli Acid-Moss would be welcome.

Mix in a whopping 30 Forests and you’ve got yourself a deck! At this point, I’ve spent a total of $49.96 – if you find some way to spend that extra $0.04 to make this deck better, you tell me, OK? Now it’s time to steel myself for the colorless deck – for now, here’s the full Thriss list! Let me know what you think – for better or for worse, I do have Twitter, so you can tweet at @RagingLevine with any suggestions for future installments or comments about this decklist. See you next time!

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