Thoughtseizing opportunity in Team America

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In the latest episode of Everyday Eternal, a Magic podcast created by some prominent members from The Source, the hosts discuss the obviously bonkers Treasure Cruise, and its impact on the format, what shells are better at supporting it, and so on. Exactly which shell is the best, only time will tell, but the hosts also talked in some length about one of my favourite cards of all time: Hymn to Tourach. Specifically, they stated how it’s not good in the format any longer.

hymntotourach3.hqHymn to Tourach has been a format staple at times, which is no wonder. In essence, the card is extremely broken as it is. Forcing the opponent to discard two cards at random for only two mana is very powerful, but it is perhaps less powerful now than before. There are a few things that hinders Hymn to Tourach in its effectiveness. First of all, it’s slow compared to other single-mana discard spells, and the double-black is often quite awkward in Legacy. Secondly, it’s a really terrible top-deck, compared to re-active spells. This is an issue with all discard and one of the reasons why Sneak and Show is often such a bad match-up – in fact, it’s probably one of the worst combo match-ups Team America has, unless you count Elves and even then, you’ll more often lose to Elves through them grinding you down with card advantage than their pure combo finishes. Hymn to Tourach and other discard spells are by definition pro-active spells, and therefore don’t protect against a deck topdecking threats, like a late Force of Will would.

Hymn to Tourach does have some saving graces, even to this day. It’s just awesome against most fair decks, especially those that don’t have any natural card advantage. Examples include some difficult match-ups like Death and Taxes, or Merfolk. Another very neat quality about Hymn to Tourach is that it creates card advantage in decks that would normally not have access to these things – albeit technically through forcing card disadvantage upon the opponent.

We live in a new age of Legacy, some would argue. Treasure Cruise and, to a lesser extent Dig Through Time, have already put a dent in the format, and if they do become the staples that some of the doomsayers would claim, without getting banned like other doomsayers cries for, Hymn to Tourach will indeed become a much worse card. If the opponent can easily recoup in the mid-game by resolving a spell for a single blue mana, your investment of double-black and a card seems much less satisfying.

thoughtseize.hqThis is perhaps the main reason why many Team America pilots are looking at Thoughtseize instead. Thoughtseize has a number of upsides compared to Hymn to Tourach, most notably the lower casting cost, and also the fact that you will always take your opponent’s most dangerous card rather than just two cards at random – i.e. you will be able to nab that Treasure Cruise before your opponent resolves it. The lower mana-cost helps the tempo strategy of Team America, since you will be able to resolve more spells in the first couple of turns even if you start without a Deathrite Shaman, and it also helps sewing together the manabase a bit better, since now the only double-black card viable in the deck is Liliana of the Veil.

It should be stated that Thoughtseize is easily at its highest peak of power against the non-redundant combo decks of the format, ANT for example, and at its lowest against fair, redundant, creature-based decks – any type of aggro, really. These aren’t that common in today’s metagame, however. It should also be noted that Hymn to Tourach is a real bomb against Burn, which has with the introduction of Eidolon of the Great Revel become something of a bogeyman in the format – able to take down even big tournaments with wide metagames. Incidentally, it’s easily one of the worst match-ups for Team America, and while Thoughtseize isn’t really a dead card, since you can Thoughtseize away dangerous Price of Progresses or similar cards with a high damage output, it’s far from Hymn to Tourach, especially since most burn decks are mono-red and therefore have no way of recovering the card disadvantage from the discard. “Resolve two Hymn to Tourachs as soon as possible and at all costs” was pretty much my plan against the deck before.

What do you think of Hymn to Tourach vs. Thoughtseize today? Leave a comment!

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3 Comments

  1. Wannabepurgatog

     /  October 14, 2014

    I think that in a deck like TA, Hymn to Tourach outshines Thoughtseize in most matchups. Thoughtseize is good in the kombomatchup but horrible in the fair ones. I played Thoughtseize in the side for the matchups they were needed. If a Thoughtseize can kill a fair matchup it’s because your opponent went greedy and kept a scetchy hand.

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    • It’s true, Hymn is better than Thoughtseize againt fair decks, but only those that also won’t run Treasure Cruise.

      Consider the article a “what if?” standpoint, if Treasure Cruise becomes common in the format, there’s no way Hymn is better than Thoughtseize, even against fair decks, since they will run Cruise too.

      Thanks so much for your input! 🙂

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  2. Wannabepurgatog

     /  October 15, 2014

    *what if standpoint taken*
    If treasure cruise gets the playtime some are saying, hymn will leave the format. Other cards will maybe take a beating to, like bob and other strong card engines. The backside of treasure cruise is that the deck will try to utilise it harder and because of that lose power threatwise. Without a clock treasure cruise becomes a bad way to find pressure. From that standpoint i think dig through time is faster to find the card you need. It will be fun to see how legacy evolves in the near future.

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