The Top 10 Cards To Blink With Thassa, Deep-Dwelling

Thassa, Deep-Dwelling swept Bryan Gottlieb away! He has so many ideas and Standard brews, if you blink, you’ll miss one!

Thassa, Deep-Dwelling, illustrated by Zack Stella

When it comes to Magic: The Gathering content creation, it is my duty to operate as an unfeeling analytical automaton. I come here week in and week out with one purpose: to help my readers win more games of Magic. If I allow bias or sentimentality to cloud my judgement, I’m doing us all a disservice.

But the heart wants what the heart wants. And to paraphrase Savage Garden, I knew I loved the new Thassa before I met her.

Thassa, Deep-Dwelling Thassa, God of the Sea

The original Thassa, God of the Sea was by far my favorite card in original Theros block. And before you write me off as just another Mono-Blue Devotion fanatic (which I was), I feel compelled to share that I also cashed a Legacy GP with Thassa, God of the Sea.

In Miracles. Yes, the obsession went deep. No, it was not a good idea.

Thassa, God of the Sea was a beautiful combination of abilities on a single card, and while the ceiling was jaw-dropping, the floor of free, repeatable scry 1 was also acceptable. That floor also helped ensure that with proper decision-making you’d find a way to turn on your Thassa and take full advantage of her kit. She felt legendary, powerful, fair, and clever—an extreme success from a design perspective.

Thassa, Deep-Dwelling is a worthy follow-up, even if the power level has been slightly reduced. Again, we find a synergistic package that, given proper deck construction, should always almost provide an acceptable floor. Indestructible repeating blink is an effect you can build around, and if you leverage that advantage appropriately, your mana can be freed up for Thassa’s activated ability, preventing opponents from even entering combat and eventually clearing the way for the deathblow. Thassa, Deep-Dwelling is the dream card for folks who love to assemble an engine, generate an incredible amount of resources, and eventually bury opponents under their snowball.

So now the question becomes: What do we want to blink? Without further ado, I give you the definitive list of creatures I am excited to blink with Thassa, Deep-Dwelling.

Honorable Mention: Master of Waves

Master of Waves

While my article is ostensibly only about Standard, I couldn’t ignore the fact that these two old friends have the opportunity to get back together in Pioneer. Did you know that if you blink a Master of Waves with Thassa, Deep-Dwelling, the original 1/0 Elemental tokens don’t die? Me neither, but the internet said it was true, so I have 100% bought in. I believe the explanation has something to do with Ogres. Or onions? Doesn’t matter, I’m probably not going to win with these two cards in my Pioneer deck anyway.

10. Lazav, the Multifarious

Lazav, the Multifarious

I think we all know what’s better than one Thassa, Deep-Dwelling: two Thassa, Deep-Dwellings. While surveil 1 isn’t the type of payoff we’re really shooting for when we put Thassa in our deck, Lazav, the Multifarious can be an important stepping stone for us that assures our late-game scaling will keep up with the absurd and compact engines that Standard is presently built around.

I want to take this opportunity to talk for a bit about how Magic has changed recently. Slow, cumulative value was the hallmark of the best decks from ten years ago. Accrue enough advantages over time, and you’ll eventually pull yourself ahead. These days, a strategy like that runs headfirst into a Cauldron Familiar / Witch’s Oven / Trail of Crumbs / Mayhem Devil team-up or a Nissa, Who Shakes the World and… well, anything. Nissa is one of the best examples of how any gameplan can now present an overwhelming late-game despite an ability to play early. Nissa doesn’t care if she kills you by doing eighteen damage across Turns 3-5 or by casting a Hydroid Krasis with X=100. Accordingly, value engines can’t rely on middling incremental advantage to pull ahead. Cards are too facially powerful and will blow you out of the water if you’re playing small ball.

If you want to get up to old-school shenanigans like Thassa, Deep-Dwelling blinks, it’s a priority to make sure your engine scales appropriately. In short, make two Thassas.

9. Dream Eater

Dream Eater

Remember this card? I always felt Dream Eater had some secret it wasn’t telling me. At mythic rare, surely this card was destined to do more than just float in the bottom of the bulk bin. When a deck literally called Simic Flash didn’t even stop to consider Dream Eater, I felt like I could finally and definitively write off the card. But now, Thassa is ready to pull me back in.

Flash plays particularly well with Thassa’s blinks, as an opponent who sees a Dream Eater flashed in on their turn is sure to have a dramatically different battlefield by the time they next untap. Two bounces, a search that goes eight cards deep, and a flying threat that will be ready to close the game in short order let decks built around Thassa consider a path besides the expected devotion curve-out.

I root for all Magic cards to matter at some point in their existence. The game is just richer when there are more available experiences. Thassa probably represents Dream Eater’s last chance. Here’s hoping.

8. Archway Angel

Archway Angel

If we’re straying outside of blue for our Thassa targets, we need to ask for a dramatic pay off. Surprisingly, Archway Angel might be the one effect that can singlehandedly close out your opponent’s hope of ever winning the game. My first sketch:

We’re making a bet that our lifegain and battlefield presence can outscale anything our opponents attempt to do. We have little interaction outside of Thassa’s activated ability but with all our mana, we do leverage that ability exceptionally well. I don’t know if it’s worth thinking about Thassa in decks that will almost certainly never make her a creature, but I’m willing to be the guinea pig and find out. This is the type of deck that might just bore my opponent to death, and I am here for it.

7. Niv-Mizzet Reborn

Niv-Mizzet Reborn

Do I need to blink a Niv-Mizzet Reborn after I cast it? Almost certainly not. Am I going to? Absolutely.

6. Golos, Tireless Pilgrim

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim has been desperate for a home since Field of the Dead left the Standard format. One of the big hurdles that deckbuilders are going to face when attempting to build devotion lists is a lack of suitable options in the color they are priced into. Viable colorless options can go a long way towards rounding out our deck. While Golos no longer provides the inevitability of a Field of the Dead late-game, it can assure access to strong card selection via your manabase, even in a monocolored deck. A Mono-Blue Devotion manabase like the one contained below is completely reasonable.

Arcanist’s Owl is a slam dunk with Thassa (more to come later) but the deckbuilding cost is high. Finding appropriately powered artifacts and enchantments besides Thassa has me digging deep, but at least things like Eidolon of Philosophy serve as another home for large amounts of mana. Obviously, the largest payoff is Gadwick, the Wizened and in a deck with 32 other blue spells, its ability to tap opposing permanents makes playing defense near-impossible for opponents while enabling plenty of natural curve-outs into Thassa, Deep-Dwelling.

5. Cavalier of Gales

Cavalier of Gales

I don’t think anyone needs me to tell them that a repeatable Brainstorm is apt to be strong. What I haven’t seen anyone talk about is how well Thassa plays in the already-existing Fires of Invention shells.

I’ve seen a lot of what noted Fires of Invention aficionado Jeff Pyka has had to say about his experience with the deck over the past few months. I may not agree with his overall assessment of how strong the deck is, but I certainly respect his conclusions on card choices within the archetype, and his desperation to escape the tyranny of Shimmer of Possibility has been palpable. You certainly understand why the card is there though. You need your engine for your deck to live up to its potential. But maybe you can just pick up a nice little sub-engine instead of desperately searching for the primary one.

I’m into this deck but would really love to see some type of setup creature that could meaningfully contribute to our plan in the early turns while still benefitting from a Thassa blink. I considered Fblthp, the Lost, but ultimately dismissed it as too low-impact. I’ll be watching the rest of preview season closely.

Having another home for your mana is just more upside stapled onto an already powerful engine, and we’ve got the blue pips to make Thassa a beater reliably. Maybe Thassa is the card that finally sells me on the archetype.

4. Agent of Treachery

Agent of Treachery

I mentioned Archway Angel as potentially the most singlehandedly game-winning blink effect, but it’s definitely fighting with Agent of Treachery for the throne. Agent also has the benefit of existing in the correct color. Not every deck will be able to scale to Agent of Treachery, but if you’re ramping at all, there’s a good chance you want some number of Agent as your top-end. I want to see how hard we can push on this idea early on.

Is there any way Simic Ramp has gotten to a place where there are better things to do than Hydroid Krasis? Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath certainly feels like a step in that direction. Recursive Agent of Treachery effects should be able to go bigger than just about anything. This deck is scary.

3. Ox of Agonas

Ox of Agonas

Thassa being indestructible means it is totally reasonable to plan your whole gameplan around the engine she will create. This deck wants Thassa plus Ox of Agonas, and it’s going to assemble it very regularly without much hassle.

When this deck hums, I believe it will be able to keep pace with the craziest of late-games. You simply see so many cards and have so many recursive threats that it’s hard for anyone to hold you down.

The question is whether you can successfully navigate early-games while your engine is coming online. As of now, I’ve kept interaction to a minimum, relying on the bounce effects of Petty Theft and Unsummon. In a world that seems destined to produce a lot of Cavalier of Thorns, you must assure your air force can attack freely, and red removal simply will not get the job done. However, this will leave you very vulnerable to folks who are smart enough to spend the early days of the format just attacking. Maybe Merfolk Secretkeeper and Wall of Lost Thoughts do enough to hold the ground. If so, I like our chances.

2. Risen Reef

Risen Reef

You’ve seen me lean on this card a couple of times now in other decklists, and it is another one that seems to speak for itself. It scales so well with Thassa in multiples that it seems destined to be the default mode of ramp once more. I don’t think that’s the only potential use for Risen Reef though.

Omnath, Locus of the Roil

Remember midrange Elementals decks? It’s been a while but Omnath briefly terrorized Standard after its printing. Unfortunately, shaky mana has held the deck down since that time. We’re probably in need of a manabase buff before Omnath rises to the top of the heap once more, but there’s no question the card plays very well with Thassa.

Actual removal?!? In this economy? The 26-land/twelve-tapped manabase in an aggro deck is a laughable concession, but you can see the potential for power should all of this come together. This particular Risen Reef / Thassa deck is probably a few prints away, but I think Risen Reef will be just fine.

1. Arcanist’s Owl

Arcanist's Owl

This card was so obviously planted in contemplation of Thassa, Deep-Dwelling. Owl singlehandedly turns on devotion, finds Thassa, and loves being repeatedly blinked. As my previous draft of Mono-Blue Devotion made clear, finding strong enough artifact and enchantment support can be a struggle. But as the card pool grows deeper, the task will get easier. If there is a secondary payoff for devotion to blue in Theros Beyond Death, expect Arcanist’s Owl to enable a Tier 1 deck.

Who thought that would be the way we’d kick off 2020?