Treasured Finds: Thelon of Havenwood

Welcome back to Svogthir’s Study Treasured Finds: a place to appreciate Golgari and Witherbloom in Commander.

Well it certainly has been a while. The last time I wrote one of these I was still 36 and hadn’t yet received my first COVID vaccine. Now I’m another year older and have gotten both jabs. So what took me so long?

I struggle mightily with writing about Commander. I wrote about my Hakim, Loreweaver deck here and included this tidbit:

For me, Commander is intensely personal and documenting my takes on the format feels self-indulgent and embarrassing. If building a Commander deck is making a mixtape for yourself, writing about it is giving that tape to your crush.

This wasn’t made any easier by the fact that the next Commander, chronologically, is one of my all time favorites:

Back when I was attending Pro Tour Qualifiers I went to one at the Ukranian Church. I do not remember the actual name of the venue but it was a mainstay of the NYC late-Aught’s PTQ scene as it was massive and located a far walk from any mass transit.

In Manhattan that translates cheap.

At one Scars of Mirrodin sealed PTQ I stalked the dollar bin between rounds. This event stands out for two reasons. First, is that Pro Tour Champion Osyp Lebedowicz was eliminated from contention by someone who was later DQ’d for cheating (which is a story unto itself involving yelling from the balcony) and second, I picked up three different Commanders: Lyzolda, the Blood Witch, Teysa, Orzhov Scion (in Cyrillic no less!), and Thelon, of Havenwood. I don’t know why I picked up Thelon at the time. I had no intention of building the deck in that moment. Instead I just thought the card was neat.

It is also likely I bought this card before the Commander Color Identity rules changes in December of 2010. Before then, if you wanted to play Thelon you would have to play it as a Mono-Green deck.

Regardless, I eventually built Thelon as you are supposed to: a Thallid tribal deck. As is my way I was using some excessively random jank like Sporogenesis to have a good time with friends. The few times I did play the deck it performed as intended and even won a few games. But then Slimefoot, the Stowaway was printed and there was a better guy for the fun. And so I built Slimefoot and had a blast before taking the deck apart.

But Thelon is still special. He requires work to get going as there are not a ton of Fungi in Magic. Thelon has received a boost from recent design technology. In Ikoria, different counters got their time to shine and can persist with The Ozolith. Rishkar, Peema Renegade turns every creature with a counter on it into a mana dork.

A quick look at Thelon’s EDHREC page shows that the deck tends to play in well worn paths. Saprolings, +1/+1 counters, and Proliferate. You know what?

That rules.

Thelon is not the best Commander for any of those strategies these days. That means if you are playing a Thelon deck you want to be, optimization be damned. The card that I would want to include that has gone unmentioned to this point is Night Dealings. Between Slimefoot and Thorn Thallid, and attacking of course, it is not hard to imagine turning this Enchantment into a repeatable tutor. And considering you’re proliferating anyway, why the heck not?

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Published by Alex Ullman

Alex Ullman has been playing Magic since 1994 (he thinks). Since 2005, he's spent most of his time playing and exploring Pauper. One of his proudest accomplishments was being on the winnings side of the 2009 Community Cup. He makes his home in Brooklyn, New York, where he was born and raised.

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