So my last theory article on Power Creep got a lot of attention and sparked some great discussion, but one point was apparent: I should’ve been talking about Tavrod, Auric Broker. The mere existence of this card sparked many comments and threads on the various venues where we discuss Eternal. So what I’m going to try and do here is analyze Tavrod and see why his stats and costs and abilities are the way they are. To do this I’m going to adapt the format from NeonEternal’s article Defending Darude where he goes in-depth to discuss why Sandstorm Titan is the way it is.
And I want to make it clear that I’m not defending Tavrod but merely analyzing Tavrod to try and read what Direwolf Digital intended with his design.
To first understand why people are upset about Tavrod we first must analyze what Tavrod does on a card level. So let’s start at the top of the card:
5 Power Cost, JJSS Influence
As a 5 drop, Tavrod dodges Banish which is becoming more widely played since its buff to being 3TS instead of 4TS. Also he curves nicely from the other Minotaurs that already exist in Argenport, namely Relentless Gorehorn and Streetwise Informant. This gives the potential Minotaur deck a powerhouse turn 5 play. Also the JJSS influence requirements heavily incentivizes you play only Justice and Shadow. It’s definitely possible to play Tavrod in more greedy decks like FJS Armory, but the design intent is clearly to play Tavrod in Argenport. Additionally Tavrod dodges another potential efficient answer in Annihilate.
At 5 he does compete with Inquisitor Makto, but Makto is a very different threat than Tavrod. Makto’s inability to be killed outside of Silence makes him a very resilient threat. Tavrod is also difficult to kill, but has different deckbuilding incentives than Makto.
5 Power, 7 Toughness
With 5 Power Tavrod dodges Suffocate as an efficient answer but is easily answered by Vanquish, which is already widely played in Justice decks due to the prevalence of Sandstorm Titan. Also at 5 Power Tavrod can’t attack through a Sandstorm Titan, allowing for SST to still block Tavrod. Also worth noting is that at 7 Toughness Tavrod can block almost every non-Flying unit. He also survives Obliterate and Predatory Carnosaur as major damage dealers.
This allows Tavrod to play both offense and defense. Since his ability encourages him to attack DWD felt it was important to make sure you weren’t losing out just by swinging in. Plus Endurace has the benefits of being unable to be exhausted or stunned, blocking Permafrost, Crystallize, or Aid of the Hooru to stop the Auric onslaught.
When Tavrod Attacks, draw a Minotaur and weapon from the top 5 cards of your deck. Give them +5 power and discard the rest.
So here’s the meat of Tavrod. As a hard to play 5 cost Endurance 5/7 he wouldn’t be worth it. However Tavrod has a measure of random draw from your deck and incentivizes you to play Weapons and Minotaurs. In Argenport you’d already be playing weapons like Auric Runehammer and potentially Lethrai Falchion or Hammer of Might, so this isn’t a huge ask. The Minotaur bit is one that you can emphasize or not, but adding in value Minotaurs like Auric Sentry, Minotaur Grunt, or Copperhall Bailiff becomes more palatable when they can occasionally gain +5 power. Plus Tavrod is also a Minotaur so drawing an extra Tavrod off of an attacking Tavrod is gravy pushing the new Tavrod to a 10/7!
So what does the whole package entail? Direwolf Digital wants to ensure that you can attack with Tavrod if he survives to your turn. Being immune to Permafrost and being able to draw cards even if you attack into a Deadly unit means he’s going to get value. He’s designed to be the perfect top end for a midrange Minotaur/Weapon focused Argenport deck and printing him signals that Direwolf wanted to try and have that in the meta.
The Metagame Effect
Since The Tale of Horus Traver released Tavrod has run roughshod over the metagame. Let’s go back over the list of spot removal that Tavrod effectively blanks:
- Predatory Carnosaur
And for completeness let’s go over the spot removal that efficiently deals with Tavrod, aka costs less than 5 Power to play and has the potential to deal with him before he attacks:
- Feeding Time
Notice anything weird about this list? Outside of fringe playable Polymorph it’s all Justice and Shadow cards! Even if we consider combat tricks like Rapid Shot or Finest Hour that still wants you to combat Tavrod by playing a deck that could potentially already play Tavrod! Plus Combust is a 2-for-1! No other faction has the tools to deal with Tavrod without either using either 2-for-1’s or some other combination of cards. Due to this Tavrod by himself has pushed Praxis Midrange as it existed out of the format. Sure it has a good matchup against the rest of the field, but it effectively loses once Tavrod arrives. This means that people have had to adapt and play different strategies if they want to defeat Tavrod. Elysian has a fighting chance due to Cirso, the Great Glutton being a huge trump card against other Midrange decks. Combrei and TJP Chalice decks have efficient Silence effects in Valkyrie Enforcer and Archive Curator respectively. Sweepers like Harsh Rule also do a good job of cleaning out Tavrods. The best fire based aggro deck is now Rakano thanks to the aforementioned Vanquish and Valkyrie Enforcer since Skycrag and Stonescar can’t efficiently deal with Tavrod. Although Skycrag/Stonescar can still have a fighting chance if they commit to going wide instead of going tall. Hooru fliers also has a fighting chance since most of the threats from a Tavrod deck are landlocked, and Hooru gets access to the aforementioned Valkyrie Enforcer.
Is Tavrod broken? Should we see him the same way we look at Sandstorm Titan? I’d posit that we need more time with Tavrod in the format. The Tale of Horus Traver hasn’t been out that long so the meta is still adjusting to his presence. Plus there are rumblings that Set 3 is on the horizon which should provide some answers to the current bullseye on the metagame.