Underdog's Corner - Trostani Discordant
Seasons of Change
Hello everyone, and welcome back to a new Underdog's Corner! In honor of the new Ravnica Allegiance, we're continuing our series on the legends of the plane of Ravnica, this time from Guilds of Ravnica. Coming in as a flyweight competitor is a general that sits not only at the bottom of Guilds of Ravnica, but also at the bottom of all previous Ravnica legendary creatures. Give it up for this week's fighter:!
Just like Emmara Tandris, Trostani Discordant has changed immensely since her first iteration, Trostani, Selesyna's Voice. However, while Emmara changed for the better (as I gushed about in my previous article), Trostani's change has not been met with as much fervor. With 1,600 decks, her original iteration stands at the top of green-white commanders, while Trostani Discordant is in the bottom 25% of possible Selesnyan commanders, with just 27. While that numerical difference is stark, I think Trostani can still hold her own, and I'm going to borrow an idea from fellow writer, Elijah Klein: Anthem Tribal.
Let's take a look at our general.
Other creatures you control get +1/+1.
A classic "anthem" effect. This is what we will build around. Giving creatures +1/+1 doesn't sound like much, but once you start distributing that buff over multiple bodies, it certainly becomes deadly.
When Trostani Discordant enters the battlefield, create two 1/1 white Soldier creature tokens with lifelink.
With anthems, we want to have bodies to benefit from the buffs, and Trostani brings two with her. While 1/1s are about as small as they come, buffing them to immediately be 2/2s is definitely a sizable difference. Don't ignore lifelink as well; there are plenty of "fair" decks out there in the wild that can struggle against inflated totals.
At the beginning of your end step, each player gains control of all creatures they own.
This is the most silver-bullet ability I've seen on a legend in quite a long time, but when it comes up, it'll be money. You'll run into a deck with Control Magic abilities, and this will ruin their day.
How many anthems do we have access to in these colors, and how many are we going to include? This is the biggest question to answer, because striking a balance between anthems and creatures is crucially important. What's the good of having a lot of creatures with no buffs, and vice-versa?
With that said, to represent the tri-headed nature of Trostani, we're going to run anthems across multiple permanent types. We'll begin with the obvious enchantment- and creature-based anthems, but then we can branch out to planeswalkers and artifacts, too. As always, let's look at our options with Scryfall using the following search terms:
id<=gw is:permanent o:/+ o:creature o:"control get"
These search terms are good to find any green and/or white permanent card that says "creatures you control get +X/+X". However, the search also returns 160 results, and just glancing through the page makes it seems bloated. Let's try to cut it down.
id<=gw is:permanent o:/+ o:creature o:"control get" -o:"end of turn"
By removing any effects whose buff only last until end of turn, this search returns almost every permanent anthem green-white has access. There may be a few cards that slip through the cracks. For example, the incredibly powerful Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is excluded from that search, but for the most part this gives us a look at our options. With 95 cards available to us, we're going to need to cut it down.
Luckily for us, using Scryfall's EDHREC filter does a lot of the work for us. As an aside, while using the filter lets us find quick answers, don't be afraid to dig deeper into the searches of Scryfall. You'll occasionally find hidden gems just waiting to be discovered.
For now, let's talk about the usual suspects. While I often overlook the anthem aspect of the card, Mirari's Wake is a slam dunk in this type of deck. We get get the anthem and we get to double our mana? Sign me up. After Mirari's Wake, we start getting into some more personal choices.
I want this deck to go bigger, so we're going to look into Dictate of Heliod and Collective Blessing. While these can leave our board vulnerable in the case of instant speed removal, those are the risk we take. I've had Dictate of Heliod turn games around, and the inner Timmy in my soul has always longed to play Collective Blessing in a deck.
If you're look into the difference between anthems such as Always Watching, Intangible Virtue, and maybe something like Honor of the Pure, I think it'll come down to whatever type of build you're going for. For this build, I'm going to lean heavier into the token side of things, and lean into Intangible Virtue. That might end up being the incorrect choice, but that's what testing is for!
Diversifying Our Army
For me, there are two very specific subtypes of tokens: go-wide and go-tall. For example, Trostani, Selesnya's Voice is very much a go-tall strategy, while Emmara, Soul of the Accord is a go-wide strategy. While going wide yields a greater benefit from our force multipliers, I think we're going to want a mixture of the two for this deck. Rather than focusing on one or the other, I think we should look at the most efficient token generators we can afford. We can take lessons from both of these commanders to learn what we should include.
Let's start with the original Trostani's choice of creatures.
What becomes clear is the sheer size of tokens that Trostani brings to the table. Among her top five Signature Cards are the pair of Wurm-creating cards, Advent of the Wurm and Armada Wurm. Both of these cards bring a 5/5 green Wurm with trample to the field. That is a sizeable token, and that size only becomes more menacing with anthems on the board. However, that's not all Trostani brings. While there are build-specific pieces like Phyrexian Processor and Crested Sunmare, there are a few other pieces that might find a home, such as the ever-reliable Rampaging Baloths or the scourge of Limited, Trostani's Summoner.
One of the best things about Emmara is how explosive she can be. That is thanks to a number of factors, but one of the key pieces is access to a number of instant speed token generators. While Trostani won't want to run all of them, she'll want to pick some of the better ones.
I underappreciated Secure the Wastes when it first released. It wasn't that I thought it was bad, just that I didn't think about it enough. Creating X tokens for only X and a white? That's an incredible rate. There have been cases where I've cast it for X=2, and I haven't felt bad about that. In the same sphere, we have one of my favorite cards of 2018, March of the Multitudes. While it didn't make my Top 10 list, that speaks more to the competition; make no mistake, March is an incredibly powerful card. The mana cost looks daunting at first, but this is one of the best token producers we could ask for. Even with only two creature on board, this matches the fantastic rate of Secure the Wastes, and it only scales from there.
Power in Numbers
If we take a look back at Hour of Devastation, we'll remember there was a rare cycle of cards with Eternalize.
This is one of my favorite cycles in the past two years, but not from a power level perspective. I really loved how Wizards played around with the design space of a possible power increase on the same text box. As we see with Adorned Pouncer, once our 1/1 double striker dies, we can bring it back as a 4/4. This increases its total damage from 2 to 8. Resilient Khenra is the same way. When it first enters, it gives a creature +2/+2, but when we Eternalize it, we can give something +4/+4. While I don't think either of these two make the build, it does give us another angle to attack deckbuilding: abilities that scale with power.
Thus, let's return to my favorite search engine for Magic, Scryfall.
This is a simple enough search, but after doing this search for previous such as my Oviya Pashiri article, trying to edit this search down tends to exclude more cards than is worth the effort. Let's talk about some of the cards we find.
Champion of Lambholt has always been on my radar for any type of green deck, and yet I always make an excuse to exclude it. Not this time! She's a perfect fit. Not only will she grow from creatures we're putting on the battlefield, but her ability will continue to scale even with just the anthems in play. She a global evasion engine for our field, and I think that's enough to warrant consideration. If we think that ability is a little too subtle, let's talk about Ghalta, Primal Hunger. Not only do our anthems let us power out Ghalta faster than your average deck, but presenting a trampler with 12 power (and potentially even more!) can't be ignored.
Lastly, let's add a force multiplier that truly shines in this deck: Fungal Sprouting. Let's say we have two anthems on the board. A single 1/1 becomes a 3/3. If we cast Sprouting in that situation, we add 9 power to the board! That's an incredible rate for four mana. Will there be too much variance for it to be consistently good? Only testing will tell!
Let's move onto a few more cards that care about scaling power. While Greater Good and Rishkar's Expertise don't necessarily synergize more with "Anthem Tribal" than other decks - because they're amazing everywhere - our global buffs do make it a bit harder for these cards to miss. Pushing creatures over the three-power threshold for Greater Good is certainly useful.
Lastly, we have a few cards that can allow us push damage through, or at least make an attack that our opponents can't refuse (to block). Cultivator of Blades and Wild Beastmaster are two sides of the same coin. Both give a buff to other attacking creatures you control when they swing in, but they are each saddled with an undersized body. Since neither buffs themselves, the risk of them dying in combat is something to carefully consider. However, with our slant towards anthems, it makes them not only more potent, but also more resilient.
How can we talk about attack buffs without the king, Pathbreaker Ibex? The Goat needs no introduction. The force multiplier of the Ibex and our theme is potentially the most potent weapon in this decks arsenal. Let's say we have a Pathbreaker and three 1/1s. Attacking with all four will present 18 points of damage. Let's add a single +1/+1 anthem to that math. Suddenly we're presenting 28 points of damage, and those numbers only get worse for opponents. This is a must-answer card, and we should be keen to protect it.
A Harmonious End
That's it for this week everyone! I hope you have enjoyed taking a look at a different approach for Trostani Discordant. Once again, a thank you to Elijah for his inspiration for the article. Below is a decklist that I hope you can use for some inspiration!
An Anthem to Bring Us All Together
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer
Thank you for reading, and I hope that you join me next time in the Underdog's Corner!