Odyssey: Trounce-O-Matic Review (Part 1 of 2)
The last deck of our Odyssey review could lay plausible claim to having the worst name ever given to a preconstructed deck. Groanworthy moniker aside, Trounce-O-Matic is a worthy addition to the stable of Simic (Blue/Green) beaters decks, combining elements that we don’t always naturally associate as going along together. Red/Green combinations tend to be a bit more common, using Red burn to clear the way for Green beaters, but Blue’s ability to remove creatures from the battlefield- albeit usually temporarily- gives it something to bring to the table. For Trounce-O-Matic, a deck which relies upon the threshold mechanic, this expends to the ability to get cards into the graveyard as well.
With Odyssey being the predecessor set of Innistrad, it’s not unexpected that we see some familiar themes here. The idea of Blue being the colour that best fills up the graveyard is no exception, with cards like Dream Twist, Stitched Drake, Deranged Assistant, and even Laboratory Maniac heavily tied to that objective. The Innistrad deck Eldritch Onslaught leaned heavily on such tactics as a way to get take advantage of the flashback mechanic, under the idea that milling cards into your graveyard offers a virtual hand size increase. Flashback, of course, originated in Odyssey, and we saw Eldritch Onslaught’s ancestor in One-Two Punch. Trounce-O-Matic takes a different tack, looking to fill its graveyard to turn on threshold. We saw something similar in Liftoff, which centered around the Mystics- White weenie creatures that became airborne when you had seven or more card in the graveyard. Now we’ll be taking a different look at the mechanic. Instead of small creatures being granted evasion, howabout they just get bigger instead?
Strong as a Centaur’s Will
Like any nicely-focused deck, Trounce-O-Matic is easily divisible into its component parts. With regards to the creatures, they can be slotted into three different groups. The first and largest of these are your threshold beaters. Generally solid if uninspiring creatures, often slightly behind the curve, they become truly dealy once you manage to throw seven cards in to your graveyard. The good news here too is that they’re distributed all along the mana curve, so by the time you do manage to turn on threshold you should reasonably expect to have at least one creature standing to benefit- and hopefully more.
First up is a pair of Nimble Mongooses. A simple one-mana 1/1 with shroud, once threshold is up they become a much more impressive 3/3. Next we have the Werebear, which boasts some of the worst flavour text ever written for a Magic card. As far as creatures go, he’s also fairly solid. Like a Llanowar Elves he can help ramp you up while you’re getting to seven cards in the graveyard, and once you’ve hit it he goes from a 1/1 to a 4/4. The deck also gives you a pair.
The Krosan Avenger is a step further along the curve. She’s a 3/1 trampler- not especially impressive for three mana- but has the option to gain regeneration, making her 1-toughness far less painful. You have two of her in the deck, as well as a pair of Springing Tigers. The Tigers are nothing fancy, just a 3/3 that can become a 5/5 bruiser for four mana. Beyond that we enter the truly brutal territory of your Metamorphic Wurms– 3/3’s that can become intimidating 7/7’s- and topping it all off is the Stone-Tongue Basilisk. Although clocking in at a painful seven mana, the Basilisk can kill anything it touches. Once threshold is up, it comes equipped with a Lure. Although it sounds like deathtouch, the “at end to combat” clause is actually quite a step down, as you won’t be able to sweep your opponent’s board quite as easily. You’ll still have to deal full, lethal damage to each creature you choose from its blockers, with anything left over at least helping to finish one more off.
Naturally, you’d rather not wait for seven cards to just naturally fall into your graveyard through casting and attrition, since the deck lays its hopes so heavily with your ability to reach threshold. Towards that end, you have a number of enablers which will accelerate the process. Your Diligent Farmhands are lowest on the curve but a very solid inclusion here. A one-mana 1/1 that comes readymade with a Rampant Growth, they will help ramp you up as well as populate your scrapheap at the same time- the Muscle Burst bonus is just a nice bit of garnish.
Wild Mongrels are a natural choice here as well, given how easily they let you fill your graveyard up. Of course, this comes at the expense of cards in hand, so you’ll want to use the ability carefully. The lone Twigwalker is a combat trick on a stick, giving you another bonus for killing off your own critters. Finally, Blue weighs in with a pair of Cephalid Looters, which can improve your hand and stock your graveyard to the tune of one card per turn.
Our final- and smallest- category is miscellany. Here we include a pair of Crashing Centaurs, expensive but solid bodies that actually straddle both previous categories. They’re certainly a threshold beater, going from a 3/4 to a 5/6 shrouded creature, but they also have a discard ability similar to the Wild Mongrel to give them trample. If you haven’t managed to turn threshold on by the time you play them, they should get you over the top. The deck’s final creature is a straight-up beater, the Ivy Elemental. While nowhere near as strong as the modern-day Mikaeus, the Lunarch, the Ivy Elemental is a beater for all seasons. While best deployed later in the game when you have more mana open to you, you begin to enter “good deal” territory when you have five mana to spend on it.
Read Between the Minds
To support your army on its way to dominance in the field of battle, you have a number of support cards in both colours- Green to augment your creatures, and Blue to both disrupt your opponent as well as accelerate your graveyard building. Towards the latter end, you have a suite of six Blue cards which can ramp you into threshold. In the absence of ways to look at the top card of your library (such as scry), Predict seems a bit suboptimal here, but it essentially cycles for two mana, adds two cards to your graveyard, and can occasionally net you an extra card (hint: name “Forest” if you don’t know what the top card of your library is). A pair of Peeks give you a glimpse at what your opponent is up to and then replaces itself in your hand. Effects that let you look at your opponent’s hand are usually best paired with countermagic, giving you advance notice of what you should deny. Trounce-O-Matic is a more proactive construction, and there’s not a counter to be had here. Nevertheless, it’s a cheap way to add a card to your graveyard, and can give you some idea of what your opponent is capable of.
Finally, we come to one of the deck’s all-stars, Careful Study. A double-strength loot, it’s about as situational a card as you’ll find. Spending a card to draw two and discard two generally isn’t worth it- it doesn’t even replace itself in your hand, regardless of how cheap its casting cost. But there are certain mechanics that can take advantage of it, and threshold is certainly one. One of these and you’re well on your way to landing the magic seven in the scrapheap.
Trounce-O-Matic also supplies you with some creature bonuses beyond the Twigwalker. There are a pair of Muscle Bursts here- and don’t forget that the Diligent Farmhands contribute to the strength of them if they’re languishing in the graveyard. There’s also a Sylvan Might which, thanks to its flashback, can give you two doses of pump. Finally, an Overrun is always a reliable way to turn a board stall into a breakthrough attack.
Finally, you have your deck’s only source of removal in a pair of Repels, and a Deluge to tap out the board against any non-flying deck. Remember that it taps yours as well, so cast it at the end of your opponent’s turn to clear their defenses. A Seton’s Desire gives one of your beaters +2/+2, and once you hit threshold it also packs in a Lure-like effect. Finally, in case you’re running a bit shy on top-of-curve beaters, you also get a Roar of the Wurm. A bit of overkill, perhaps, but there you go.
That’s it for Trounce-O-Matic. We’ll be taking this deck into battle and reporting back our findings in two days. See you then!