Last updated on January 20, 2023
Psychotrope Thallid | Illustration by Dave Kendall
Saprolings are Magic’s classic 1/1 green creature token. They’ve been used for years as chump blockers, Skullclamp targets, and easy convokers.
Before all that they were the by-product of a cycle of green fungus creatures from Fallen Empires. They’ve since become ubiquitous, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a set without mention of our favorite 1/1 creature token.
Are you a true Sap-head? Does the thought of going wide indefinitely excite you? How about meticulously counting different instances of spore counters per turn? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, pull up a log and lemme plant some seeds in your head!
Thallid Omnivore | Illustration by Mathias Kollros
The Thallids are a cycle of mostly fungus-type creatures originally from 1994’s Fallen Empires. Most are linked by a unique un-keyworded ability that imitates the propagation of fungus spores.
At the beginning of your upkeep, each Thallid you control gains a spore counter. At any point you can remove three spore counters from a Thallid to create a 1/1 Saproling creature token. Most Thallids, outside of the standard Thallid, have an additional activated ability that involves sacrificing a Saproling as part of the cost.
Each Thallid is its own self-sufficient ecosystem. A few honorary Thallids aren’t entirely self-sufficient like the old ones, but they could be slotted into a fungus deck with no trouble.
If this ability feels slow and, well, bad, that’s because it might be! Three turns to build up for a 1/1 won’t be winning you any Vintage tournaments, but it’s a challenging ability to build around in a casual format like Commander.
- First I look at the spore counter ability. Do they make good use of the spore counter ability? Can they speed up the clock on propagation, or can they hit the field early to get a head start on spore counting? Do they synergize with the other Thallids’ spore counters?
- Next, how powerful is their sacrifice ability? Is it going to win you the game, or just generate some light card advantage?
- Finally, how does all that figure into the mana cost? You can’t have your fungal friends bankrupting you for what is an ostensibly slow ability.
Six fungal Thallid-adjacent cards didn’t make the cut since they aren’t “true” Thallids with the spore counter ability.
Deathbloom Thallid + Tukatongue Thallid
Thallid Soothsayer + Thallid Omnivore
Thallid Soothsayer and Thallid Omnivore are both fair sacrifice outlets for your Saprolings, but they fall short on flavor. And Psychotrope Thallid is just plain better than Soothsayer in a Saproling deck.
Sporecrown Thallid + Thelon of Havenwood
I’m also omitting Sporecrown Thallid and Thelon of Havenwood. It’s a great choice for a Saproling and fungus deck, but Sporecrown is still just a lord effect and doesn’t fit within the criteria. Thelon is the only legendary creature referencing spore counters, so it’s a great commander.
Still, it doesn’t technically count for our purposes.
Deathspore Thallid is the only mono-black “true” Thallid with a spore counter ability. Its sacrifice ability fills a removal slot that Thallids desperately need to be filled, and -1/-1 per Saproling is a pretty even trade.
It’s also only two mana, so it can hit the field early and start pumping out tokens quickly.
Despite its decidedly common rarity power level, I love this one. Thallid Shell-Dweller is an 0/5 defender with the generation half of the spore counter ability, but no sacrifice outlet. That’s all well and good because an 0/5 for two mana is a pretty good defender in slower formats.
Thallid Germinator’s sacrifice ability gives any target creature +1/+1 until the end of the turn, and that’s about it. In a deck built around fungi, Pallid Mycoderm buffs your board better for just one more mana, so I wouldn’t bother with this one unless you’re reaching for filler.
The fungus-and-Saproling anthem effect that Pallid Mycoderm brings to the table is valuable in a deck built around going wide with creature tokens. Anthems are most effective when you control a ton of creatures, and a Saproling deck should do just that.
Haste was color-shifted in green in Planar Chaos, resulting in the release of Vitaspore Thallid among others. Saccing a Saproling to give creature haste is, well, okay. It’s nothing to write home about, that’s for sure.
I’m sure there are situations when this is very useful, but your fungus deck isn’t looking to swing with your comparatively weak Thallids. Its greatest upside is the lack of a mana cost in that activation, so you can drop your big Feral Thallid and hit the ground running for no additional mana.
For three mana you get to swing with a 3/4 creature three turns later, so watch out!
A single damage for every three spore counters is too steep a cost to make this very viable without some extra support from proliferate effects. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to win with a barrage of thorns to the face. It’ll just be very, very hard.
Also, please divert your attention to Heather Hudson’s artwork. I love him.
Regular ol’ Thallid is a 1/1 for one green mana with only the Saproling-generation half of the spore counters ability, no sacrifice outlet. It’s the most basic form this ability takes, and one of only two at one mana.
The standard Thallid makes a great four-of 1-drop for a constructed fungus deck.
Green fogs are a dime a dozen, but this is the only fungus-themed one.
One of the bog-standard Fallen Empires Thallids, Elvish Farmer’s sacrifice outlet grants you a two life bonus. A few life here and there are always appreciated, and the lack of a mana cost on this ability means you can theoretically activate infinitely if you’ve got enough Saprolings on the board.
Mycologist is the color-shifted Elvish Farmer and ranks very similarly to it. The only stand-out about it is that its lifegain ability probably has the slightest bit more use in a white deck, so it gets to outrank the Farmer by the slimmest margin.
Its activated ability lets you put a spore counter on a fungus for two green. That’s one of the only ways to grow your Fungi artificially, and its two mana value means it’ll see play the early game.
The biggest, strongest Thallid around. Feral Thallid is six powers worth of rippling, uh, muscle? (Do mushrooms have muscles?)
Feral Thallid’s spore counter ability doesn’t create Saprolings. Instead it removes three spore counters from itself to regenerate, a useful effect considering its measly three toughness. Six mana for a 6/3 that can’t even protect itself for a few turns is costly.
On the other hand, this card could make a great spell for the top end of the curve in your fungus deck.
Psychotrope Thallid is one of the best around. Three mana for a 1/1 isn’t cheap, but Psychotrope’s sacrifice ability might as well read “: draw a card” with how easy it’ll be to create fodder in a fungus deck.
Amazing design on this one, no notes.
Savage Thallid is the “timeshifted” Feral Thallid, this time one mana cheaper, a little weaker, and with the missing Saproling-creation ability. As a bonus it can regenerate any target fungus, making it the best protection available in your Saproling deck.
Sporesower Thallid is a 4/4 for four and can exchange three spore counters for a Saproling. What makes Sporesower really good is that its triggered ability puts a counter on each fungus you control, not just itself. This doubles your Saproling output per turn and is basically an auto-include in any deck built around the spore counters.
Sporoloth Ancient goes hand-in-hand with Sporesower Thallid. The Sporesower ups the number of spore counters you generate each turn, and the Ancient reduces the cost for a Saproling down to two counters.
With both on the field each Thallid creates enough spores to pump out a Saproling each turn!
In a deck built entirely around fungi and Saprolings, Utopia Mycon is effectively a Phyrexian Altar. It suffers from the same slow build-up that all spore counter creatures do, but at one mana it gets a head start on ticking those spores up.
Plus it ramps you into more Thallids when the time finally comes. This is a top-tier Thallid and even sees play in decks without fungi tribal themes.
My personal favorites are Sporemound and Life and Limb. Life and Limb solves the problem of never having enough Saprolings to sacrifice, letting you Zuran Orb your way out of a jam. Sporemound makes a Saproling each time a land enters the battlefield under your control. Combined these cards are an unstoppable infinite loop that creates infinite Saprolings, ending the game immediately in a draw. What fun!
Finally, you can use the proliferate mechanic to speed up your spore counter generation. Contagion Clasp and Contagion Engine are the best ways to achieve that, but Bloom Hulk and Pollenbright Druid are on-theme proliferators.
A Saproling creature token is neither a plant- nor a fungus-type creature. This is understandably confusing considering the Saproling token art makes them look like animated versions of various twigs, branches, bushes, trees, shrubs, roots, and, of course, fungi.
Thallid Germinator | Illustration by Marco Nelor
While the Thallids aren’t the strongest Saproling-generators by far, they’re a unique cycle of cards with a very thematic ability that makes for an interesting deck-building challenge. They’re the sort of creature that shines in low-power formats and are just begging to be built around. Even if you don’t go full-fungus mode, they’re still useful when slipped into any other deck that makes use of lots of Saproling creature tokens.
What do you think? Is Utopia Mycon really the best Thallid? What would you like to see in new Thallid cards? What sorts of payoffs are you using in your Fungus decks? Let me know in the comments below or over on Draftsim’s Twitter.
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