Assembling Contraptions

Posted in From the Lab on June 17, 2013

By Mike Cannon

Mike Cannon started writing From the Lab at the end of 2012 after two years with GatheringMagic. He is an ardent casual player and loves finding uses for bad cards.

Welcome to the Lab! It's Modern Week here on DailyMTG, so I decided to take some inspiration from the first block of the Modern format: Mirrodin. Mirrodin was a gold mine of interesting rares, brimming with cool artifacts fit for any number of awesome combos. Today I'll be taking a number of cards from throughout the block and combining them into some great combo decks.

Brain Damage

The first card I wanted to take advantage of was Psychogenic Probe. I've always had a soft spot for odd, narrow cards like this, and I was sure I could find some way of making your opponent shuffle his or her library an infinite number of times. As it turns out, the first step in making that happen is Lantern of Insight. It costs only a single mana to cast and can then sacrifice itself to make your opponent shuffle. There are a number of cards in Mirrodin block that return artifacts with converted mana cost 1 or less from your graveyard. With Modern Masters fresh in my mind, Auriok Salvagers was the first thing I thought of. However, after playing around with that for a while, I found an easier way.

Psychogenic Probe
Auriok Salvagers

Salvaging Station can tap to return Lantern of Insight to the battlefield and untaps itself whenever a creature dies. The key to making a creature die on every loop was simple: March of the Machines. When you sacrifice your 1/1 Lantern of Insight, it will untap Salvaging Station. Since March of the Machines only affects what's on the battlefield, Lantern of Insight is a noncreature artifact in the graveyard and can be returned by the untapped Salvaging Station. March of the Machines did create one problem, however: summoning sickness. Since Lantern of Insight is a creature, it can't tap to activate its ability right away. Fortunately, yet another artifact can solve this problem. Thousand-Year Elixir allows you to activate your creatures' abilities as though they had haste, meaning you can tap and sacrifice Lantern of Insight right away, even though it just entered the battlefield.

March of the Machines
Thousand-Year Elixir

There are a lot of artifacts that need to be searched for here, so I've included both Fabricate and Tezzeret the Seeker to help you assemble this massive contraption. Note that you should usually use Fabricate to search for Salvaging Station if you don't already have it, since that's the only one Tezzeret can't get right away. I've also included Serum Visions to help you filter through your library and Counterspell to put a roadblock in front of your opponent.

Shufflin' Time

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What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger

Another one of my favorite cards from Mirrodin block is Rite of Passage. It turns all your creatures into Fungusaurs, giving them a +1/+1 counter whenever they take damage. Fifth Dawn also has Mephidross Vampire, which gives your creatures a +1/+1 counter whenever they deal damage to a creature. With both of these out, if your creature can deal damage to itself, it will get two +1/+1 counters. Power of Fire seems like the easiest way to make this happen, allowing your creature to tap to deal 1 damage to itself. Viridian Longbow and Arcane Teachings serve as backups. Although they cost a bit more mana, each has its own advantages. Arcane Teachings makes your creature a bit harder to kill, and Viridian Longbow will stick around if your opponent does manage to kill your creature.

Rite of Passage
Mephidross Vampire

So, we have the ability to make a creature tap to give itself one or more +1/+1 counters. Now to find a way to abuse that. The first creature that popped into my head is Devoted Druid. It allows you to untap it if you put a -1/-1 counter on it. Since the -1/-1 counter and the +1/+1 counter cancel each other out, you'll be right back where you started. If Rite of Passage is giving the counters, you can't accomplish anything more than giving it one counter per turn, however. If you're using Mephidross Vampire, on the other hand, you can at least kill off all of your opponent's creatures, and if you have two copies in any combination of the two, you can put an infinite number of +1/+1 counters on Devoted Druid, allowing you to untap it infinite times and deal infinite damage with Power of Fire. However, note that the Druid will have a bunch of damage marked on it from hitting itself with Power of Fire, so you'll need to wait until your opponent's upkeep to start putting -1/-1 counters on it.

Devoted Druid
Power of Fire

Since we're already playing black, I've also included Cinderhaze Wretch. Although it costs more mana than Devoted Druid, it does combo off the same way. Kodama's Reach and Search for Tomorrow help you get the mana you need faster, and Flame Slash is an easy way to kill most creatures without using a lot of mana.

Rite of Fire

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A Painful Death

Our challengers have entered the arena, and they're itching to start dealing some damage. The time has come to see who is top dog, so grab a seat and let's watch the carnage unfold.

Game 1

Rite of Fire started things off with a land, and Shufflin' Time cast a turn-one Serum Visions. Rite of Fire cast Viridian Longbow and Shufflin' Time simply played a land and passed the turn. Rite of Fire passed back with no play, and Shufflin' Time used Fabricate to search up a Salvaging Station. Rite of Fire played a land and cast Rite of Passage, and Shufflin' Time merely passed the turn.

Viridian Longbow

Rite of Fire played Savage Lands and passed back. Tezzeret the Seeker hit the board, searching up a Lantern of Insight. Rite of Fire cast Cinderhaze Wretch, and Shufflin' Time cast Salvaging Station and searched up Psychogenic Probe with Tezzeret. Rite of Fire enchanted Cinderhaze Wretch with Arcane Teachings and killed Tezzeret. Cinderhaze Wretch untapped itself twice with -1/-1 counters, forcing Shufflin' Time to discard two cards. Shufflin' Time Sacrificed Lantern of Insight to deal 2 damage with Psychogenic Probe, then returned it with Salvaging Station.

Tezzeret the Seeker
Arcane Teachings

Rite of Fire passed the turn, and Shufflin' Time drew a March of Machines from on top and passed back with no play. Rite of Fire cast Mephidross Vampire, but Shufflin' Time hit it with a Counterspell. Rite of Fire ended the turn, and Shufflin' Time sacrificed Lantern of Insight and brought it back during the end step to deal 2 damage. Shufflin' Time drew and played a land, and Lantern of Insight revealed the final combo piece on the top of the library. Rite of Fire had only a Kodama's Reach on top, and conceded.

Game 2

Rite of Fire started thing off with Savage Lands, and Shufflin' Time cast Lantern of Insight. Rite of Fire played a land and passed, and Shufflin' Time played a second Lantern. Rite of Fire cast Devoted Druid, and Shufflin' Time cast a Thousand-Year Elixir. Rite of Passage hit the board, and Shufflin' Time cast Psychogenic Probe, sacrificing a Lantern to deal 2 damage and shuffle away Mephidross Vampire.

Savage Lands
Lantern of Insight

Rite of Fire cast Cinderhaze Wretch and passed the turn. Shufflin' Time passed back after just playing a land. Rite of Fire cast Viridian Longbow and equipped it to Devoted Druid, then tapped the Druid to put a +1/+1 counter on Cinderhaze Wretch. The Wretch tapped to force Shufflin' Time to discard a card, then untapped itself and tapped again, snagging a critical Salvaging Station. Shufflin' Time played a land and cast March of the Machines. The second Lantern of Insight had to be sacrificed to stop Rite of Fire from drawing Mephidross Vampire, and Rite of Fire killed Psychogenic Probe with Flame Slash.

Shufflin' Time passed the turn with no play, and Devoted Druid put a +1/+1 counter on itself with the Longbow. Rite of Fire tapped Cinderhaze Wretch to force Shufflin' Time to discard Counterspell, then enchanted Cinderhaze Wretch with Power of Fire and passed the turn. Shufflin' Time cast Salvaging Station, and Devoted Druid and Cinderhaze Wretch tapped to give themselves counters.

Cinderhaze Wretch

Rite of Fire cast another Devoted Druid, then tapped Cinderhaze Wretch and Devoted Druid to deal 2 damage to Thousand-Year Elixir, untapping the Druid with a -1/-1 counter to deal the last point of damage. Shufflin' Time tapped Salvaging Station to bring back Lantern of Insight in response, but with that ability on the stack, Cinderhaze Wretch untapped itself and dealt the final point of damage before it entered the battlefield. Lantern of Insight revealed Rite of Passage on the top of the deck, and Shufflin' Time shuffled it away on its turn.

Salvaging Station
Devoted Druid

Cinderhaze Wretch tapped to make Shufflin' Time discard a Counterspell, then enchanted the second Devoted Druid with Arcane Teachings. Salvaging Station returned Lantern of Insight, and Shufflin' Time cast a second Lantern. The Druids put +1/+1 counters on themselves at end of turn, and Lantern of Insight shuffled away the Flame Slash before being brought back by Salvaging Station. Unfortunately, that put a Mephidross Vampire on top, which allowed Rite of Fire to deal infinite damage during Shufflin' Time's upkeep.

Game 3

Shufflin' Time started off with Serum Visions, and Rite of Fire suspended Search for Tomorrow. Shufflin' Time cast Psychogenic Probe, and Rite of Fire cast Viridian Longbow. A Lantern of Insight revealed the top cards, and Search for Tomorrow searched up a Forest. A Mephidross Vampire was on top after the shuffle, and Shufflin' Time sacrificed Lantern of Insight to shuffle it away and deal 2 damage.

Serum Visions
Search for Tomorrow

Rite of Passage hit the board, and Shufflin' Time cast Thousand-Year Elixir. Rite of Fire cast Cinderhaze Wretch and passed the turn. Shufflin' Time cast Serum Visions, then passed the turn. Rite of Fire cast a second copy of Rite of Passage, then equipped Viridian Longbow to Cinderhaze Wretch to win the game.

More Cards!

I hope you all enjoyed this look back in time. If you want to create some fun combos on your own, the Mirrodin block really does have a lot of great places to start. Make sure to join me next week, when I'll be doing something that, as far as I know, is completely unprecedented and utterly ridiculous. See ya!

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