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By: Leviathan, Mike Morales
Jun 07 2012 7:04am
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So sometimes I get the itch to do something crazy, use a goofy card and think kind of outside the box.  Typically when trying to come up with a new deck idea I find that just flipping through all the Legendary creatures in my card collection can make one or two jump out.  A while back I came across this guy:

thelon of havenwood

Thelon was originally a Legend that couldn't be used as a Commander, as he had a colored activation cost that had Black, which wasn't included in his casting cost.  But last year when the rules committee came up with the idea of "color identity" that all changed.  Thelon was now a Black/Green legend and could be played as such.  Shortly thereafter games became flooded with Thelon decks, and you couldn't go anywhere without bumping into Thallid lovers.

Oh wait, you mean that didn't happen?  What do you mean "no one played Thelon"?  He is a fungus pumping fool, able to create nothing out of something, pumping all those fungi...  Okay, okay, I just can't do it any more.  Thelon is poop.  There, I said it.  While people took advantage of the new color identity scheme by making decks around Bosh, Iron Golem and Memnarch, absolutely no one jumped up to play Thelon.  Because Thallids are bad.

Let's just take a closer look at Thallid to see how bad he is:


He is a 1 mana, 1/1 creature.  By himself he does practically nothing.  But if he manages to live for 3 turns (no small feat in most games) he has the ability to pump out another 1/1 creature at instant speed, at no additional cost.  That's pretty much it.  Every 3 turns, you can get an additional dude.  Now the original Thallid group didn't all have the ability to create 1/1 guys.  Removing the counters could let the creature regenerate, or do a single point of direct damage, or even Fog.  But generally you could only do these things every 3 turns.  Time Spiral came around, and tried to make things better for Thallids.  Now all of them could create saprolings.  Some of them made saproling creation even easier, while many of them could sacrifice saprolings for useful purposes.  Still, generally you were stuck with the "every 3 turns" problem for the most part.

But here comes Thelon, and what does he do?  He pumps up little old Thallid!  So if you drop Thallid on turn 1, then Thelon on turn 2, you have a 2/2 beater who gets bigger each turn!  That doesn't sound horrible, right?  I mean, they won't get as big as Forgotten Ancient or anything similar, but it's still better than a kick in the nuts, right?

Now, all Thallids are fungi, but not all fungi are Thallids.  Those that aren't Thallids generally don't get spore counters.  But Thelon requires fungi to be played properly, especially those with spore counters.  Do you realize how many fungi there are that can be played in a Thelon deck?  I did the search:  There are 25.  The majority of them are pretty bad.  And, once again, Thelon only pumps the ones that have spore counters.  It turns out that 11 out of those 25 fungi don't create spore counters on their own, not being Thallids.  In addition, as I pointed out spore counters don't just accumulate quickly, and when you do get a few of them on a creature, you want to take them off for beneficial effects.  So you aren't always going to have a stack of spore counters on your fungi to keep them pumped when Thelon is in play.  Thelon's activated ability also kind of cripples you, as the graveyard can easily be abused by Black/Green deck, and removing your creatures from the game is generally not a good idea.  Needless to say, building a Thelon deck isn't for the faint of heart.

However I decided I was up to the challenge of trying to make something like a Thelon deck work.  I started doing some of the mental gymnastics to try and figure out how to do so.  I would have to use all of the useful fungus creatures.  Proliferate recently came out, and can help speed things along by increasing the counters on your fungi.  But what happens if you don't draw any fungi?  After all, only about 15 of them are of any use.  A minor +1/+1 counter theme could be added as well.  Also, since most Thallids are saprolings creators, if not necessarily good ones, and they can use saprolings to their advantage, a little bit of token creation can come in handy.  Finally, I wanted to make sure that Thelon was useful.  After all, he is the Commander of the deck.

Of course, I also had to have some defense in the deck as well.  But once I got it all put together and did some testing, this is what I have come up with.

Thelon of Havenwood
A Commander Deck
1 Craterhoof Behemoth
1 Creakwood Liege
1 Dark Impostor
1 Deathspore Thallid
1 Eternal Witness
1 Feral Thallid
1 Fertilid
1 Forgotten Ancient
1 Genesis
1 Jade Mage
1 Mold Shambler
1 Mycoloth
1 Nemata, Grove Guardian
1 Oracle of Mul Daya
1 Plaguemaw Beast
1 Primeval Titan
1 Psychotrope Thallid
1 Regal Force
1 Savage Thallid
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Seedborn Muse
1 Skullmulcher
1 Spore Flower
1 Sporesower Thallid
1 Sporoloth Ancient
1 Thallid Devourer
1 Thallid Germinator
1 Thelonite Hermit
1 Thorn Thallid
1 Utopia Mycon
1 Verdant Force
1 Vitaspore Thallid
1 Yavimaya Elder
33 cards

Other Spells
1 Batterskull
1 Contagion Clasp
1 Contagion Engine
1 Skullclamp
1 Sol Ring
1 Garruk, Primal Hunter
1 Doubling Season
1 Exquisite Blood
1 Fecundity
1 Necrogenesis
1 Necropotence
1 Parallel Lives
1 Phyrexian Arena
1 Fresh Meat
1 Hunter's Insight
1 Putrefy
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Bramblecrush
1 Cultivate
1 Damnation
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Kodama's Reach
1 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Natural Order
1 Rain of Thorns
1 Saproling Symbiosis
1 Sever the Bloodline
1 Spread the Sickness
28 cards
1 Bayou
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Dust Bowl
1 Gaea's Cradle
1 Maze of Ith
1 Mosswort Bridge
1 Mystifying Maze
1 Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Phyrexian Tower
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Scrying Sheets
12 Snow-Covered Forest
8 Snow-Covered Swamp
1 Thawing Glaciers
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Vesuva
1 Volrath's Stronghold
1 Yavimaya Hollow
38 cards

1 Thelon of Havenwood
1 cards
sporoloth ancient


This deck took a lot of work, and I had to resort to a card that I typically don't use.  But let's do the breakdown first.

sporesower thallid Deathspore ThallidFeral ThallidMold ShamblerMycolothPsychotrope ThallidSavage ThallidSpore FlowerSporesower ThallidSporoloth AncientThallid DevourerThallid GerminatorThorn ThallidUtopia MyconVitaspore Thallid
Deathspore Thallid, Feral Thallid, Mold Shambler, Mycoloth, Psychotrope Thallid, Savage Thallid, Spore Flower, Sporesower Thallid, Sporoloth Ancient, Thallid Devourer, Thallid Germinator, Thorn Thallid, Utopia Mycon, Vitaspore Thallid:  All right, so we have our core fungi here, most of which can accrue spore counters on their own.  The top 2 overall Thallids are Sporesower Thallid and Sporoloth Ancient, since they essentially increase the speed at which the other fungi become more powerful.  Both of these cards also work really well with Doubling Season, although I guess you can say that about all of the Thallids.  Probably the worst of the lot is Feral Thallid.  That guy is not good.  And Spore Flower is surprisingly useful.
plaguemaw beast

Contagion ClaspContagion EnginePlaguemaw BeastSpread the Sickness 
Contagion Clasp, Contagion Engine, Plaguemaw Beast, Spread the Sickness:  There are lots of cards that have counters or give counters in this deck, and proliferate increases the speed that this occurs.  There's only one planeswalker in the deck, but that's fine.  Otherwise you are just adding counters to all your guys.  I thought about adding Grim Affliction, but it just didn't do enough.

Using proliferate brings up the question of whether or not to use infect.  I avoided it, but I was sorely tempted to play Triumph of the Hordes, but decided not to.  If you wanted to cut down on the overall CMC of the deck, you could put it in for Craterhoof Behemoth

saproling symbiosis

Creakwood LiegeJade MageMycolothNemata, Grove GuardianVerdant ForceGarruk, Primal HunterNecrogenesisSaproling Symbiosis 
Creakwood Liege, Jade Mage, Mycoloth, Nemata, Grove Guardian, Verdant Force, Garruk, Primal Hunter, Necrogenesis, Saproling Symbiosis:  Now most of the Thallids can actually create saproling tokens over time, but no one really wants to wait that long.  These guys give you much more bang for the buck.  A premium was placed on guys that could create saproling tokens, since a lot of the Thallids can sacrifice them for beneficial effects.  That's why Jade Mage and Nemata are in the deck, over a card like Ant Queen, which is more efficient but makes insect tokens.  Verdant Force is an old school monster, but he is good at what he does: Create saproling tokens for free.

As a side note, Doubling Season and Parallel Lives are both in the deck, but of course they don't do a whole lot without something to enable them. 

sever the bloodline Dark ImpostorDeathspore ThallidMold ShamblerContagion EnginePutrefyBramblecrushDamnationMaelstrom PulseRain of ThornsSever the BloodlineSpread the SicknessBojuka BogScavenging OozeNecrogenesis 
Dark Impostor, Deathspore Thallid, Mold Shambler, Contagion Engine, Putrefy, Bramblecrush, Damnation, Maelstrom Pulse, Rain of Thorns, Sever the Bloodline, Spread the Sickness, Bojuka Bog, Scavenging Ooze, Necrogenesis:  Green and Black are good at blowing things up, and that's important.  One of the first things I discovered when playing with this deck is that the metagame has changed a little bit mainly due to one card:  Avacyn, Angel of Hope.  Every deck should have an answer that can handle Avacyn.  Duplicant is pretty good, but I wanted cards that I could get multiple uses out of.  That's why Dark Impostor and Sever the Bloodline are in the mix.  Also, the Impostor's ability to steal the abilities of creatures it exiles has come in handy.  Exiling Skithiryx means that the Impostor can regenerate.  The deck also has some good ways of dealing with opposing graveyards.  Scavenging Ooze is always useful.  Don't forget that the Ooze can exile any card from graveyards, not just creatures. 
Card Draw  

Psychotrope ThallidRegal ForceSkullmulcherGarruk, Primal HunterFecundityNecropotencePhyrexian ArenaHunter's Insight  
Psychotrope Thallid, Regal Force, Skullmulcher, Garruk, Primal Hunter, Fecundity, Necropotence, Phyrexian Arena, Hunter's Insight:  This deck really, really needs the card draw.  When you need an answer, drawing into Thorn Thallid isn't always going to get the job.  Fecundity is pretty good at card drawing, but you aren't always going to have a sacrifice outlet.  That's why I had to turn to Necropotence.

Necropotence is a card that I rarely use, and for good reason:  It tends to put a target on your back.  But I thought that by playing with fungi I wasn't going to appear all that threatening, and even if I did, the ability to draw a bunch of cards made Necro worth it.  In order to off-set the life loss, I included Exquisite Blood and Batterskull

The deck has a little bit of recursion, with staples Genesis, Eternal Witness and Volrath's Stronghold and some tutors in Demonic Tutor, Vampiric Tutor and Natural Order.  Keep in mind that Natural Order can't really get an answer cards in this deck, as Mold Shambler is the only "answer" Green creature, and he requires kicker to be useful.  Instead Natural Order is usually used as more of an offensive card to move your position forward, or just as a mana accelerator when grabbing Primeval Titan.

The mana help is your typical mix of Kodama's Reach, Cultivate, Yavimaya Elder, Prime Time and Fertilid.  A nice little combo is getting Fertilid out with Forgotten Ancient.  It's not particularly quick, but it can get you a lot of land out of your deck if left unchecked.  And as you can probably tell, the deck can have a little bit of trouble with fliers.  As such I've included both Maze of Ith and (Mystic Maze), to go along with the various forms of removal the deck packs.  

So the deck never really appears to be that threatening in the early turns.  If you happen to get out a fungus out early, which often doesn't happen, sometimes you can beat down for a little bit.  Really, the biggest threat cards in the deck are Doubling Season and Contagion Engine.  If you get these out all of a sudden people will sit up and take notice.  However you can have these cards out and not be very threatening if there is nothing to get them going.  The same can be true of Seedborn Muse, which really needs Jade Mage or Nemata to really get going full force.  This can actually happen sometimes, and you can amass a bunch of saprolings out of nowhere.  That's when Craterhoof Behemoth comes out of nowhere to drop the hammer on the table.  But this doesn't usually happen.

Otherwise the deck tries to deal with threats as it builds up resources.  Obviously the longer you can have your guys stick around and build up counters, the better things will go.  Of course speeding up your ability to accumulate counters goes a long way to making the most out of your fungi.  The one card that I tried, but finally had to take out, was this one:

fungal bloom

When this card was good, it was really really good.  But more often than not it would sit out there, waiting and hoping for me to play a fungus.  As such it had to go.  The same thing was true for Grave Pact.  I could have Feral Thallid, Psychotrope Thallid and Creakwood Liege in play with a couple wurm tokens, but with no sacrifice outlets the Pact just didn't do anything.  So it didn't make the cut either.  But if you can have the remainder of your cards stick around, you should at least be competitive with other decks.

So in looking over the deck, there are a bunch of cards that I haven't used before, mainly the Thallids.

sever the bloodline craterhoof behemoth jade mage bramblecrush 

The new cards in the deck can be broken down in a couple of groups.  First are the cards in the newest set, which are Craterhoof Behemoth, Dark Impostor, Exquisite Blood and Rain of Thorns.   There are the fungi, which are Deathspore Thallid, Feral Thallid, Mold Shambler, Psychotrope Thallid, Savage Thallid, Spore Flower, Sporesower Thallid, Sporoloth Ancient, Thallid Devourer, Thallid Germinator, Thorn Thallid, Utopia Mycon and Vitaspore Thallid.  New token makers include Jade Mage, Nemata, Thelonite Hermit, Saproling Symbiosis and Parallel Lives.  Proliferate is something I've never tried before, so Plaguemaw Beast, Contagion Engine, Contagion Clasp and Spread the Sickness are all new.   That only leaves Bramblecrush and Sever the Bloodline, which are forms of removal that I had yet to try, but are still fairly recent cards.  I guess since the deck is sort of tribal having a whole bunch of new cards is to be expected.

All right, how did the deck do?  Well, better than expected actually.  However, in my first game with my initial version a few weaknesses became apparent.   Midway through that game was when I first saw Avacyn, Angel of Hope played:

Of course, right after that the Horde of Notions player tutored for Akroma's Vengeance with Mystical Tutor.  Luckily the Gwendolyn player had a counter in Muddle the Mixture and then followed that up by using Slave of Bolas to get rid of Avacyn.  That's when I figured I needed some cards to deal specifically with Avacyn.  The game progressed pretty well, actually.

What you can't see in this picture are my Parallel Lives, Doubling Season, and Necrogenesis.  I'm able to make a crap ton of tokens and use Gisela to crush all my opponents, and sweep up in the end.  The deck performed well, but there were obviously some issues.  On top of that my fungus creature practically had no effect on the game.

All right, let's look at another game.  I'm still tinkering with the deck at this point.  Oona has played Forced Fruition, but luckily I have Reliquary Tower and am able to hold onto my cards.  On turn 5 I have Jade Mage out with Natural Order in hand.

I decide to go for Seedborn Muse with my Natural Order before getting decked.  The Muse is unmolested as Sun Quan gets out Ivory Tower while Experiment Kraj has Venser's Journal.  I make saprolings every chance I get while Oona takes a beating from the other players.  Just before my 8th turn I then cast Saproling Symbiosis at instant speed.  That all leads up to a turn 8 Craterhoof Behemoth ending the game.

Well, I won with saprolings, which is good, but not really any fungi.  And it helped that I was able to draw half my deck.  

In another game it's turn 8 before I draw my first fungi, a Sporoloth Ancient.  That turn I cast Primeval Titan to grab a Bojuka Bog to take out Balthor the Defiled's graveyard.  It's not until turn 11 that I am able to cast the Ancient, and by that point The Mimeoplasm, who had been playing a stock precon deck, has dropped.  An Oblivion Stone wipes the board.  Balthor has some random removal, but no pressure, while Progenitus uses Quicksilver Amulet to drop random threats.  However, with the help of Contagion Engine, when I finally drop Thelon into play my Ancient is big.

I manage to give the Ancient a couple more counters, then take 8 off to make 4 saprolings, feeding them to Skullmulcher so I can draw some cards to continue to put pressure on.  Poor Balthor is stuck in a land flood, but Progenitus uses Increasing Ambition to tutor for Angel of Despair to get rid of my Maze of Ith.  Even though I am enchanted with Curse of Bloodletting I am able to keep things under control.  I manage to add a couple more counters to Sporoloth Ancient, draw Eternal Witness, make a bunch of saprolings, and grab Craterhoof Behemoth from my graveyard to finish things off.

So yeah, there's a game where a fungus actually contributed toward a win.  I'll be honest, when the deck won, it did so in spite of being a fungus deck, and not because it was a fungus.  And Craterhoof Behemoth took part in just about all of the decks wins.  The deck isn't really a hard core deck or very serious, but it has enough removal and the possibility of explosive starts that it can win a decent amount of games.  I ended up winning just under half the games I played with this deck, which isn't bad considering I had 15 crappy fungus creatures in my deck.

The one card that I wanted to try but didn't was this one:


Griselbrand would have helped out with my card draw, and would have helped with life gain.  Card draw really was necessary to get to the answers in the deck, as well as the threats.  Sometimes you really need that Rain of Thorns.  In addition, the life gain is always helpful.  The problem is that he costs 8 mana.  I might have tried taking out Verdant Force for him, since he can help immediately, while you need to wait a little while for the Force to really work his magic.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get my hands on the big demon yet, so it'll be up to you to try him out.

This Thelon deck is pretty much the definition of a "fun" deck.  It's not going to win a whole ton, and you're playing with a lot of cards that you probably wouldn't use otherwise.  But if you don't mind losing a fair share of games, and you enjoy seeing people get really confused when you drop Feral Thallid onto the table, then this deck may be for you.

Before I go, I wanted to share another deck that recently became viable due to the color identity rule.  As a matter of fact, this is another Golgari deck but plays a lot differently.  This deck is also tribal and a lot more streamlined, and a lot more vicious.  I'll just let you take a look.

Rhys the Exiled
A Commander Deck by Neo001992
1 Argothian Elder
1 Birchlore Rangers
1 Elves of Deep Shadow
1 Elvish Archdruid
1 Elvish Champion
1 Elvish Visionary
1 Ezuri, Renegade Leader
1 Farhaven Elf
1 Fyndhorn Elder
1 Fyndhorn Elves
1 Heart Warden
1 Heritage Druid
1 Immaculate Magistrate
1 Imperious Perfect
1 Joraga Treespeaker
1 Joraga Warcaller
1 Llanowar Elves
1 Lys Alana Huntmaster
1 Multani's Acolyte
1 Nomadic Elf
1 Priest of Titania
1 Quirion Elves
1 Quirion Ranger
1 Riftsweeper
1 Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
1 Seeker of Skybreak
1 Silhana Starfletcher
1 Skyshroud Ranger
1 Timberwatch Elf
1 Viridian Corrupter
1 Viridian Joiner
1 Wirewood Channeler
1 Wirewood Symbiote
1 Wood Elves
34 cards

Other Spells
1 Carnage Altar
1 Expedition Map
1 Skullclamp
1 Slate of Ancestry
1 Swiftfoot Boots
1 Wayfarer's Bauble
1 Concordant Crossroads
1 Greed
1 Beast Within
1 Crop Rotation
1 Momentous Fall
1 Noxious Revival
1 Summoner's Pact
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Vitalize
1 Worldly Tutor
1 Ambition's Cost
1 Collective Unconscious
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Diabolic Tutor
1 Elvish Promenade
1 Green Sun's Zenith
1 Grim Tutor
1 Harmonize
1 Imperial Seal
1 Infernal Contract
1 Land Grant
1 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Nostalgic Dreams
1 Patriarch's Bidding
1 Promise of Power
1 Regrowth
1 Rite of Consumption
1 Search for Tomorrow
1 Yawgmoth's Will
35 cards
1 Bayou
1 Bloodstained Mire
12 Forest
1 Gaea's Cradle
1 Marsh Flats
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Polluted Delta
6 Swamp
1 Thawing Glaciers
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wirewood Lodge
1 Wooded Foothills
30 cards

1 Rhys the Exiled
1 cards
rhys the exiled


Ok, it's combo elves!  This deck takes all the elves, and adds black for destruction, card draw, tutors and recursion.  It is brutally efficient and very good at what it does.  As a matter of fact, the deck's creator says that the main issue is he thinks there are too many lands in the deck, which can lead to stalling out.  I'm not going to give you a primer on how to play this deck.  If you like elf decks, you'll already know how to play it.  If you don't, you probably won't ever pick it up.  But it's always nice to see what someone else can do with an unusual Commander.

I hope you enjoyed this week's look at Thelon, a pretty goofy guy.  It was fun not being the number one target almost the entire time I played it.  But that's to be expected with a lower power level Commander.  I think I might try some more off the wall, goofy guys here in the near future.  If you guys don't want goofy decks, let me know and I can go with my more powerful deck building route.

One final note, I want to thank Paul Leicht, aka Winter.Wolf, for interviewing me and BlippyTheSlug.  In case you missed it, you can check it out HERE.  It was definitely an honor to be chosen to respond to give my thoughts and background about the game.  I had a great time answering his questions, and if you read the article over it will give you a little more insight on where I'm coming from when building decks.  Plus you will see my awesome pitching form and pictures of my beautiful wife and kids!  And if anyone else has any questions, feel free to ask!

Until next time!

Leviathan, aka Tarasco on MTGO
mrmorale32 at yahoo dot com



As the Sun Quan player I want by Paul Leicht at Thu, 06/07/2012 - 14:38
Paul Leicht's picture

As the Sun Quan player I want to say that without my Reweave on the fruition the game might have ended slightly differently but that Symbiosis + Craterhoof end game is brutal. Came about very unexpectedly.

I love the goofy decks. It's by themonkey at Thu, 06/07/2012 - 22:00
themonkey's picture

I love the goofy decks. It's awesome when you find out they work better than expected. I recently built an insect theme deck and it's a lot of fun to play. When I look at the cards there's no reason it should work very good, but somehow it plays alright and is a lot of fun.

Kudos for giving the fungi some love. I remember when the thallids first came out in Fallen Empires and I thought they were awesome. I know better now, but they will always have a special place in my heart. One of the first Classic Tribal decks I built used fungi and it's still a lot of fun to play.

WHAT???!!! Fungi are still by Paul Leicht at Thu, 06/07/2012 - 22:57
Paul Leicht's picture

WHAT???!!! Fungi are still awesome. They just have to have the right backers to win.

And they will ever be by themonkey at Fri, 06/08/2012 - 06:54
themonkey's picture

And they will ever be awesome. I don't play tribal any more more because of running into too many elf, goblin, etc... decks in the "Just For Fun" room. I still love my fungi deck even if it does need some updating.

Talk to me in game sometime. by Paul Leicht at Fri, 06/08/2012 - 14:28
Paul Leicht's picture

Talk to me in game sometime. I generally don't play tribal much anymore since my partner in crime started having access issues and then time issues. (AJ I'm looking at you.) I tend to stay away from the typical builds.

I'll have to do that, thanks. by themonkey at Fri, 06/08/2012 - 21:44
themonkey's picture

I'll have to do that, thanks. Actually I don't think it was elves or goblins that did me in, it was the tribal deck that included wastelands. At least elves and goblins kill you quickly so you can move onto the next game. Facing wastelands in the JFF room was demoralizing.

Really your post is really very good by rosemiss at Wed, 06/13/2012 - 20:50
rosemiss's picture

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