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Is Bloodchief’s Thirst Magic’s Newest Fatal Push?

Bloodchief’s Thirst is already drawing comparisons to Fatal Push. Ryan Overturf breaks down its best uses in Zendikar Rising Standard and beyond.

Fatal Push, illustrated by Eric Deschamps

If you caught this morning’s Zendikar Rising preview show, then you know that all kinds of exciting things are coming to Magic over the course of the next year. The most immediate is of course the upcoming release of Zendikar Rising itself, and there were some really juicy cards previewed this morning.

Among these previews is a removal spell that I imagine is going to see a good amount of Constructed play in Bloodchief’s Thirst. Let’s talk about what exactly this card does and where it’s going to matter.

As a baseline you get to destroy a one- or two-mana creature or planeswalker for one mana at sorcery speed. Alternatively, you can destroy any creature or planeswalker for four mana. So out of the gates you can see that this card is at its best trading up on mana to destroy a two-mana permanent and at its worst trading down on mana to destroy a three-mana permanent. Trading even on mana with a one-drop or with something that costs four or more mana will be the sweet spots.

When it comes to hitting the more expensive creatures and planeswalkers, I imagine that Murderous Rider is generally going to be a more attractive option for being more efficient and having some additional value tacked on with Adventure. As such, Bloodchief’s Thirst’s playability will hinge a lot on the need to destroy one- and two-mana creatures. Zendikar Rising‘s release is going to result in a Standard rotation, and I have a couple of creatures in mind that you’re likely to want a one-mana removal spell for.

Cycling and Adventures decks have come and gone in Standard, and these decks are likely to become more powerful as the card pool shrinks. Edgewall Innkeeper is a powerful engine card and Flourishing Fox threatens to quickly run away with games. The ability to trade even on mana with these creatures strikes me as quite valuable.

Mono-Red and Mono-Green Aggro have put up some numbers lately as well, and while the future of these deck is a bit more contingent on how things shake out with rotation, we’ll almost assuredly see aggressive decks exist in some capacity.

Of course, lately we’ve been seeing more of a different kind of threat…

Standard has been completely warped around Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath in recent months, and I can’t imagine we’ve seen the last of the mighty Elder Giant. Teferi, Master of Time does a great job at filling up graveyards and is sure to show up, and Lotus Cobra was just previewed today as a potentially frightening mana boost for these strategies. Conveniently, Bloodchief’s Thirst can deal with all of these things. It’s a great trade with a Turn 2 Lotus Cobra, and an even trade with a Turn 4 Teferi. Admittedly, destroying Uro on the battlefield isn’t the most exciting exchange given the amount of card advantage baked into Uro, but the rest of your deck will likely have to be built with this in mind and two out of three ain’t bad.

I fully expect Bloodchief’s Thirst to see maindeck play in Standard as at least a two-of, and wouldn’t be surprised to end up in an environment where some decks start the full four.

Pioneer

When we start talking about older formats Bloodchief’s Thirst has to compete with Fatal Push, which likely means that you won’t want to maindeck any Thirsts before you have the full four Push. That said, there is some incentive to start a Thirst or two as well as to sideboard some.

The strongest consideration for this is to combat the Mono-Green Devotion deck. Additional answers to a Turn 1 Llanowar Elves are always welcome, and one that can also trade with Vivien, Arkbow Ranger and Nissa, Who Shakes the World is potentially very appealing. The list of other one- and two-mana creatures that see Pioneer play isn’t short either.

And there’s plenty more from there. There’s a heightened desire to interact at instant speed in Pioneer, and again you’ll want to start Fatal Push first, but I expect some amount of Bloodchief’s Thirst to see maindeck play in Pioneer and more copies in sideboards.

Older Formats

When we look at other formats, you start to see more combo decks and deck that have an even stronger desire to interact at instant speed, so I expect to see few Bloodchief’s Thirsts anywhere else. It’s a fine option if you’re trying to grind out opponents in Historic, though my read on the format as it currently exists is that you really want to be doing something proactive.

Amusingly, Bloodchief’s Thirst would be worth considering in Legacy if Wrenn and Six were still legal, as that’s the relevant two-mana planeswalker of choice, but that’s not the world we live in. Much like Pioneer, there’s an incentive to consider some Thirsts in your 75 if you’re already maxed out on Fatal Push, though I’d definitely start with the Pushes.

Bloodchief’s Thirst is powerful enough to see play in multiple formats, and I imagine that we’ll see quite a lot of it in Standard. I would expect the most natural home to be a Sultai Midrange strategy with Uros of its own. We haven’t seen the last of Zagoth Triome and I have to believe that Bloodchief’s Thirst will be part of that equation.