Monday, November 12, 2012

Card Discussion - Thundermaw Hellkite

Dragons have been a strong theme in just about every fantasy story, game, and world. One of the first dragons I can recall from my childhood was Smaug from the Hobbit. It is from the classically spun tale of adventure by J.R.R. Tolkien that we learn that dragons are ancient, intelligent, destructive, and hoarders of wealth. I could be wrong, but I believe several years after being published, Tolkien revealed the inspiration for elements of his story like Smaug and Mordor came from viewing the industrialization of his home town. There were suddenly smoke stacks everywhere and he could see the hand of greed working to destroy the lovely place he once knew.

Later on in life, I remember watching the movie Dragonheart. In it, an old knight played by Dennis Quaid sought to kill the dragon, voiced by Sean Connery, who he believed had corrupted his King. The two eventually made an unlikely duo, as they ventured out to take down the tyrannical King who was evil of his own accord.

But of all the dragons that have influenced me the most. There is one that has truly inspired what my vision of a dragon could be. He is fierce and mighty. His arm is stronger than any muscle man's. And his fire can burninate the world. He is of course...


Okay, all joking aside. Today I wanted to talk about a certain card that has only recently come to my attention. That card is Thundermaw Hellkite. If there is one thing that Magic has shown me each time I have looked at playing red, it is that the game developers love their dragons. Unfortunately dragons are not always the best option in most decks. Firstly, their cost tends to be prohibitive. With the cheapest dragons being nothing more than decent flyers, and the biggest dragons being so expensive that you would be lucky to ever see it hit the battlefield. But much like the story of Goldie Locks, there are some dragons that hit that nice middle ground which is just right. Thundermaw Hellkite is one such dragon.

I remember pulling this bad boy out of one of my M13 boosters when the set first came out. I didn't think much of it at the time. But in recent history I have seen quite a few decks that successfully employ this card as a mid to late game dominator. First of all we have the flying and haste. This means that your dragon is going to hit your opponent the same turn he comes down. Five damage for five mana is not to shabby, especially when you consider that one of the next closest things is a six mana fireball to do equivalent. But wait, there is more. The next part of this card is what makes Thundermaw Hellkite such a popular card in standard at the moment. He zaps all flying creatures your opponent controls for 1 damage and than taps those creatures. Strategy-wise this means a couple of important things. If your opponent is primarily using flying tokens like Lingering Souls and Entreat the Angels, than you have just negated their blocking for a turn. Furthermore, if those tokens are in fact 1/1 spirits, than  you probably just wiped their side of the board of any potential flying blockers. This may also give you the opportunity to attack with other creatures you already have on the board to his your opponent for a final blow. And because Thundermaw Hellkite is such beefy character by himself. He can be a very effective blocker for you for the rest of the game.

You should expect to see Thundermaw Hellkite at some point in the metagame at your local shops. If you are looking to sideboard against him there are some obvious choices to go with. I'll give you a couple of quick ones to work with.

There are of course other options but these are the top three that came to mind for me. Selesnya Charm lets you exile the guy. Ultimate price will kill him before he swings, and Syncopate will make sure he never reaches the battlefield in the first place.

So what are your thoughts on Thundermaw Hellkite? Do you like to play it, or have you been a victim to this card? What is your favorite way to deal with this beast? Share your thoughts below and if you liked this article than please share the blog with your friends.


1 comment:

  1. I've seen allot of complaining that almost all mythic dragons are over costed flavorless, not exciting creatures. It usually ends up being some form of fire breathing. (Moonveil dragon anyone?)
    It's nice to see Wizards doing creative things with such an Iconic fantasy creature.


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