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Against the Odds: Trespassing Trolls


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 211 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had our final all–Throne of Eldraine Against the Odds poll, but with a twist: rather than playing the winning card in Standard, we'd be taking it to Modern! In the end, Clackbridge Troll came out as the clear winner. As a result, we're heading to Modern today to see the combined power of Clackbridge Troll and Hunted Troll to give our opponent tokens, only to use those tokens to kill our opponent, either by draining them with Trespasser's Curse and Blood Artist or with one huge Massacre Wurm worth of token-killing damage. Can we Troll our way to some wins in Modern? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Trespassing Trolls

The Deck

There are a few potential ways of building around Clackbridge Troll in Modern. For one, you can just ignore the downside of giving the opponent tokens, play a bunch of big black creatures, and try to stomp the opponent through the Goats. Another is using cards like Hushbringer and Torpor Orb to prevent enters-the-battlefield triggers (and thereby giving the opponent any tokens at all). Or, as we do in Trespassing Trolls, you can embrace the fact that you're giving your opponent tokens and try to use those tokens to kill your opponent!

Trolls

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The plan of our deck is simple: play huge Trolls that happen to give our opponent tokens when they come into play, and then turn those tokens against our opponent. Troll number one was the winner of our last poll: Clackbridge Troll. The upside of Clackbridge Troll (apart from being an 8/8 trample, haste for five) is that even if our opponent taps it down by sacrificing a creature, we get to draw a card and gain some life, which helps us to find our other combo pieces and stay alive long enough to cast them. Meanwhile, Hunted Troll is potentially even more powerful thanks to Clackbridge Troll, giving our opponent four tokens that we can later kill for value, although since those tokens have power (and evasion), it is also much riskier than Clackbridge Troll. Sometimes we, play Hunted Troll, never find a way to kill the 1/1 Faeries, and end up dying to the tokens we were nice enough to give our opponent for free. Still, together, our Trolls offer us some redundancy in giving our opponent creatures, which is a very important part of our deck.

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While not technically a Troll, Forbidden Orchard is an honorary Troll in land form in our deck, not just fixing our mana but also giving us an additional (and free, since it counts as a land) way to give our opponent tokens. Thankfully, while the Forbidden Orchard tokens are 1/1s that can theoretically attack us, they aren't evasive, so our Trolls and other creatures can typically hold them off while we are looking for a payoff that will kill all of our opponent's tokens.

Payoffs

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In Trespassing Trolls, we aren't just giving our opponent tokens out of the goodness of our hearts. Instead, we're trying to turn those tokens against our opponent and use them to our opponent's disadvantage. Our first way of turning our Troll tokens into a very painful give is Trespasser's Curse, which simply drains our opponent for one whenever a creature comes into play under their control. This means that Clackbridge Troll comes with a Sovereign's Bite attached, draining for three when it enters the battlefield and gives our opponent three Goat tokens, while Hunted Troll represents four damage. It's also worth mentioning that Trespasser's Curses stack, so if we have multiples on the battlefield, a single Troll can represent a massive life swing, causing our opponent to lose six or eight life, while we gain the same.

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While draining our opponent when tokens come into play is nice, to really make our Troll plan devastating, we need to get them as they leave the battlefield as well. For this, we have a couple of plans. Blood Artist simply drains for one whenever a creature dies, which means if our opponent sacrifices a creature to tap Clackbridge Troll, they are at least taking one damage, while Plague Engineer gives us a way to sweep away a bunch of Goats or Faeries that we happen to give our opponent, triggering Blood Artist multiple times and potentially allowing us to get in for huge chunks of combat damage with our Trolls.

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While Blood Artists and Trespasser's Curses are fine, our best payoff for giving our opponent a bunch of Troll tokens is Massacre Wurm. Picture this curve: we play Hunted Troll into Clackbridge Troll (giving our opponent a total of seven one-toughness tokens, not counting any bonus tokens from Forbidden Orchard) and then follow that up with Massacre Wurm. Even with just the Troll tokens, this amounts to our opponent losing a massive 14 life, which might be enough to kill our opponent on the spot (and will almost certainly be enough if we started the game with Trespasser's Curse or Blood Artist for a bit of extra damage)! If Massacre Wurm doesn't somehow directly end the game, we should have mostly swept our opponent's board, which will free up huge attacks with Clackbridge Troll and Hunted Troll to close out the game with combat damage. Eldritch Evolution is mostly to help us find Massacre Wurm. While having big Troll bodies on the battlefield is great, the main purpose of both Clackbridge Troll and Hunted Troll is to give our opponent creatures, so we can afford to sacrifice them to Eldritch Evolution to find a potentially game-ending Massacre Wurm.

Other Stuff

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Arbor Elf and Utopia Sprawl help us speed up our deck. Modern is a fast format, and playing Hunted Troll on Turn 4, Clackbridge Troll on Turn 5, into Massacre Wurm on Turn 6 isn't likely to be fast enough in most matchups. With Arbor Elf and Utopia Sprawl, we can theoretically play Hunted Troll as early as Turn 2, which will significantly speed up our combo kills. 

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Thragtusk and Acidic Slime are just one-of tutor targets for Eldritch Evolution. Thragtusk helps against aggro, giving us a good tutor target against decks like Burn. Meanwhile, Acidic Slime is a nice catch-all, getting rid of Tron lands and random artifacts, and in the worst case, offering a deathtouching body to hold the ground.

The Matchups

The matchups are pretty straightforward with Trespassing Trolls. We struggle against faster combo decks, especially ones that are light on creatures. On the other hand, against creature-based decks and slower midrangey-style decks, Trespassing Trolls is solid thanks to our weird sweepers and big creatures. 

The Odds

All in all, we played six matches with Trespassing Trolls and ended up winning three, giving us a 50% match win percentage and making Trespassing Trolls more or less average for an Against the Odds deck. The good news is that we had some spectacular wins out of nowhere. You could almost see our opponents laughing at us as we gave them tokens with our Troll, only to be blown out by a surprise Massacre Wurm to win the game!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

This week, Wizards announced a new format: Pioneer! Since it's already live on Magic Online, let's try something different next week with our first-ever Pioneer Against the Odds episode! Which one of these cards should we build around in Magic's newest format next week? Let us know by voting below!

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Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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