If this were the alternate reality of Space: The Convergence, I could go right ahead and improve that pun in the title. However, as things stand now, I prefer this reality, where Magic 2010 is the stuff of articles and combos. No, this isn't a column about a fictional Standard consisting of Magic 2010 and Odyssey block. (That would definitely be cool, though. I'd definitely have to use both versions of Haunting Echoes!) Instead, I'm just going to pick three juicy rares from Magic 2010 and have a massive build-around session. You know, like I usually do when I'm not busy with contests and theme weeks.
Speaking of theme weeks, I just want to quickly acknowledge the sudden spike in emails after last week's contribution to Johnny Week. Many readers have been sending me some very fun-looking decks. This is of course highly appreciated, and although I can't promise they'll all make the column at some point, I applaud your generous Johnnyness (Jonnyrosity?).
OK, onto the meat of the article. I'll start off with three fledging combos surrounded by different deckbuilding paths, and then move on to three actual and different 60-card combo decks.
- M-10 Marriages
When Chris Millar was the charismatic captain of the House of Cards and I was a lowly deckhand, he surely had a blast with Tenth Edition and its delightful opportunities for pairing two cards together to create a simple effect. These easy combos were dubbed "marriages."
Well, it's two years later, and Magic 2010 has a couple of these as well. The first is already quite popular, but definitely worth mentioning.
This combo does technically require more than those two cards, but the core of the combo is there. Besides, Time Sieve requires more than just itself anyway, and for good reason! Pop the Sieve and other artifacts (cantripping ones or not) to take another turn. Open the Vaults can bring them all back, and on your new turn you can advantage of things like Arcbound Crusher and Disciple of the Vault. Jacob Van Lunen wrote about a budgetary version, in which he used Tezzeret the Seeker as the Standard pool's win condition.
Here's another weird marriage. I don't know what the offspring of a Scarecrow and a Vampire is, and I'd like it to remain that way.
If you name black with Painter's Servant, then your Vampires will always have the bonus, even if a Swamp is on top. Another Vampire that works well with the helpful Scarecrow is Repentant Vampire. Since each creature is black, a thresholded Repentant Vampire will always have a target to waste. Amongst other Magic 2010 cards, turning all spells black smells like a swelling boost to Mold Adder, while Lightwielder Paladin and Celestial Purge will be happy to hose down a newly black Snapping Drake.
Our last marriage today is an all–Magic 2010 one.
Harm's Way was a card that immediately caught my eye in the spoiler. I thought, "My, my, it's a white Shock!" Of course, the 2 damage has to be going your way first, but besides that, yep. So proactively creating some self damage seems good here, and Goblin Artillery is a good way to do that. Combine these two and Goblin Artillery has ", : Goblin Artillery deals 4 damage to target creature or player and 1 damage to you" for a turn. Isochron Scepter makes the combo a bit pricier but repeatable as well. Urza's Armor (which has ALWAYS reminded me of the Defend Plus badge from Paper Mario) can even neutralize that singular point of damage. (But seriously now: Not only do they both reduce damage by 1, but the Armor also costs to play, just as the Defend Plus costs 6 Badge Points to wear. Conspiracy? Or does Urza live in Shy Guy's Toybox? We'll never know. Rats.)
- Where Wolf? There Wolf.
All right, onto some juicy decks. Master of the Wild Hunt is a splendid green mythic rare that seems ripe for the building. The Master pumps out Wolf tokens, and when he has enough, he sics them on an unsuspecting target.
This is fine and dandy, but I want to up the Wolf production. A perfect card to add here is Wolf-Skull Shaman. Not only does it also produce Wolf tokens, but it needs either Elves or Shamans to make it work. Fortunately, Master of the Wild Hunt is indeed a Shaman.
Where one master of Wolves is good, two is better. That's why Wren's Run Packmaster got the call. It's an Elf for Wolf-Skull Shaman's kinship purposes, and it makes Wolf tokens like nobody's business. The real kicker, though, is the Packmaster's last line: "Each Wolf you control has deathtouch." So even if you only have one Wolf token out, you can use Master of the Wild Hunt to have it take down a Baneslayer Angel.
Since lots of Wolf tokens is the goal here, two Shadowmoor cards can help out. Howl of the Night Pack (also a Magic 2010 reprint) can make a ton of them at once. Rhys the Redeemed is an Elf for kinship, and in one fell swoop, he can transform four Wolf tokens into eight. Best of all, Master of the Wild Hunt can have them damage something without that pesky summoning sickness getting in the way.
It's a shame there are no actual Wolf creatures in Standard, so I'll have to make do with the annoyingly mind-slipping Changelings. Woodland Changeling and Chameleon Colossus seem good at crying ... er, playing Wolf.
Elvish Archdruid is the latest super mana Elf on the block, and with his help, you can power into a Howl of the Night Pack (even a small one can be good) or a lot of Packmaster or Colossus activations. Elvish Harbinger can find every key creature besides Master of the Wild Hunt. Finally there are some decent champion targets, from a random Elf token (courtesy of Rhys) to Elvish Visionary.
- Ideas Bound
Before my next sentence offends anyone, I'd just like to say that I love having the honor of previewing awesome cards like Hive Mind and Master Transmuter. With that being said, I hate building around someone else's preview card when they've already exhausted much of the potential from it. This conundrum comes up most recently with Lurking Predators, which Kelly Digges analyzed more than sufficiently. Of course, I haven't let this stop me from playing around with Where Ancients Tread and Broodmother Dragon, but I still feel bad claiming ideas that have already been documented.
I'm not going to let it stop me contributing to general combo-nation, though. My big idea (before I realized it was already Kelly's big idea) was to use creatures that counter spells when they hit the battlefield to stop the incoming spell, such as Mystic Snake, for example. Then, a creature such as Sunscape Apprentice or King Crab (for weird points, the latter) could nestle it back on top on my turn for a soft lock.
Of course, I could use something like Congregation at Dawn to get three Snakes on top, in case my opponent plays multiple spells in a turn. But just to be different, I'll use Arcane Laboratory as well. Tightening the bottleneck of spellcasting should make it difficult for an opponent to break out of the lock. Now whenever he or she casts a spell, a Mystic Snake will Lurk from my library and counter it, and then the Lab will prevent him or her from trying again. Even if the spell is countered, it still counts as the one required spell.
There are a lot of corner cases here, though. What if my opponent casts something like Volcanic Fallout? What if my opponent casts an instant on my turn to roast my Sunscape Apprentice? What if my opponent doesn't bother playing a spell at all on his or her turn?
It gets tricky when your opponent wises up and stops playing spells. When that happens, you'll be forced to draw your Mystic Snake. Unless, of course, you have a Words of Wilding in play. Not only does the Onslaught enchantment keep your Snake ready for Lurking, but it steadily creates a winning swarm of Bear tokens.
Besides all the interlocking pieces, the support cards help as well. An instant-speed Brainstorm placing a Mystic Snake on top can become a one-cost Counterspell. Remand challenges your opponent to keep up while drawing you cards. Nulltread Gargantuan has synergy with Mystic Snake and Venser, and I felt like at least trying to live the dream and Lurk into a 5/6 beatstick. Plus, the deck can weirdly go turn-one Noble Hierarch into turn-two Nulltread for a swing for 6 on turn three. At least you've got options!
- Protean Shake
Before my next sentence offends anyone, I'd just like to say that I love having the honor of previewing awesome cards like Hive Mind and Master Transmuter. With that being said, I hate building around someone else's preview card when they've already exhausted much of the potential from it. This conundrum comes up most recently with Protean Hydra, which Doug Beyer analyzed more than sufficiently.
... Okay, yeah, so I'm a little jealous, but more than anything it's a mark of how impressed I am with the Johnnyness of the new core set cards.
Whereas Lurking Predators has a bit of mystery to it, Protean Hydra is flat-out busted. Flame Jab a +1/+1 counter away and two more grow in its place. Flame Javelin away four counters, and eight more replace them. You get the picture.
Now, damaging my own creature is decent, but I've got a better combo. Say hello to Novijen Sages, and watch the card flow explode.
Let's say you played a turn-six Novijen Sages followed by a turn-seven Protean Hydra, setting X as 5. Next turn, activate the Sages' ability twice. At the end of your turn, you'll have four more cards in hand and a 9/9 Hydra.
Sage of Fables says hi from Standard, by the way. Sure, it's not as explosive, but it's cheaper, and I might as well run both. Plaxcaster Frogling (Doug's selection of protection) can shroud the Hydra and the Sages.
Hmm .... drawing cards, protecting growing threats, +1/+1 counters, green and blue ... nope, I got noth-LORESCALE COATL-ing. Nope. Not a thing.
Next week I might encounter a farmer of riots. (What?) Until then, bye!