Bonding Time

Posted in From the Lab on January 5, 2015

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.

What's up, labbies? It's time for more Fate Reforged previews, and I've got a big one for you today. Its name is Arcbond, and it's likely to be a somewhat divisive card in the Magic community. If you're a Johnny, chances are you'll love it for its combo potential. Some Timmys will probably enjoy if for the massive effects it can create. If you're a Spike. . .Well, this card is probably not for you. Arcbond is definitely more at home in a friendly pick-up game than at a Grand Prix. But in the right deck it can be an incredibly powerful card, single-handedly swinging games in your favor or even winning outright. Have I built the suspense enough yet? Perhaps I should ramble on for another paragraph or two.

Okay, okay, I'll stop. Take a look at Arcbond.

If it wasn't completely clear just from reading it, this card is kind of insane. It's also pretty much useless in a "normal" Magic deck, which only makes me love it even more. This is a card that just begs you to break it, and I'm happy to oblige.

Arcbond | Art by Slawomir Maniak

Go-To Hellion

My first thought was using Arcbond on a creature with lifelink. That way your life total will skyrocket when the Arcbond target deals damage to every creature and player in the game. I started off looking at random lifelink creatures that could be cast cheaply. Once I began thinking about ways to damage them, however, I had a better idea.

Instead of using creatures that already have lifelink, I decided to just give lifelink to a creature. Nearheath Pilgrim will do the job quite nicely, as will Mortal's Ardor. True Conviction takes more mana, but it will give the ability to all your creatures so long as it remains on the battlefield. Now, there's a reason I went with this plan instead of using lifelink creatures. That reason is Volcano Hellion. If you're looking to deal a ridiculous amount of damage to a creature, there's no better way than this. In fact, giving Volcano Hellion lifelink is basically an infinite life combo by itself. You choose any number, let's say 500. Volcano Hellion will deal 500 damage to you and 500 to the targeted creature. Since damage dealt by Volcano Hellion has the additional effect of causing you to gain that much life, you'll simultaneously gain back that 500 life and another 500 on top of it.

Of course, you still need a way to win the game. That's where Arcbond comes in. When Volcano Hellion enters the battlefield, target it with its own ability. Then cast Arcbond on it. When the ability resolves, the Hellion will deal 500 damage to you and 500 to itself, then Arcbond's effect will be put on the stack. When it resolves, the Hellion will deal another 500 to you, as well as 500 to your opponent and every other creature on the battlefield. Although Volcano Hellion will be quite dead, you'll still gain life equal to the total amount of damage dealt.

I wanted some other great Arcbond targets, so I added in Boros Reckoner and Spitemare, which already do a miniature version of the effect on their own. For more sources of massive damage, I decided to use Shivan Meteor and Blasphemous Act. Although Blasphemous Act will usually kill the other creatures on the battlefield before you can gain life by dealing damage to them, your opponent will probably be dying anyway.

If you cast Arcbond on Boros Reckoner or Spitemare, then hit it with a Shivan Meteor, you'll get double the damage spreading: one from the creature and one from Arcbond. You can deal 13 damage to your opponent with the former, then another 13 with the latter to win the game. Just make sure that you're above 13 life if the creature doesn't have lifelink, because you'll take damage from Arcbond as well.

Arcbound Hellion

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Death Dealers

Now that I've used Arcbond to turn lifelink up to 11, it's time to go the other direction. Deathtouch also works quite well with Arcbond, even if it doesn't quite allow for the same level of craziness. If you cast Arcbond on a creature with deathtouch before it takes damage, it will deal that much damage to every creature on the battlefield, killing them all.

That's only a one-time board wipe, however. I wanted something that could kill every creature your opponent casts. Warstorm Surge was the card that came to mind, along with its partner in crime, Pandemonium. Cast a deathtouch creature while one of these is on the battlefield and you can kill any creature you like, or even just deal the damage to your opponent. If your opponent has a whole army on the battlefield, you can make the creature target itself and cast Arcbond to wipe the slate clean.

Now the deck just needs some creatures with deathtouch. Ambush Viper is a solid pick, with flash allowing you to surprise an attacker or trigger Warstorm Surge at instant speed. Next up is Vampire Nighthawk, which give you both lifelink and deathtouch to make Arcbond even more enticing. It can also block flying creatures if you don't have Warstorm Surge online yet.

Once you've killed anything on the battlefield, Liliana's Reaver can devastate your opponent's hand while making more creatures for you. It also boasts a reasonable amount of power for its cost, making it a significant threat to your opponent's life total. For an even bigger threat to your opponent's life total, take a look at Raving Dead. If this thing hits, it will snatch away half your opponent's life in one go, potentially taking him or her from 20 to 9 in a single attack.

Between its "enters the battlefield" ability and the deathtouch/Warstorm Surge combo, Acidic Slime can kill almost anything on the battlefield. It can also be used to kill your own Pandemonium if it becomes a liability.

After that it's time to bring out the big guns. Like Vampire Nighthawk, Wurmcoil Engine has both lifelink and deathtouch. Unlike the Nighthawk, Wurmcoil Engine has six power and will make six more when it dies. Soul of Innistrad can also provide some extra value, bringing back three of your previously deceased creatures. I also added in Pharika, God of Affliction, which can turn dead deathtouch creatures into brand new deathtouch creatures, ready to kill more things.

Deathbond Surge

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The Loop of Death

I could never let a preview card like this go without finding a way to create an infinite loop. As it turned out, that was much easier than I expected. The first step is to grab an indestructible creature. Darksteel Myr is a cheap option. Tajic, Blade of the Legion will work as well; or you can bring in good old Stuffy Doll. Step two is to attach either Pariah or Pariah's Shield. Now this is already a combo with Stuffy Doll, redirecting any damage you take back to your opponent. However, this deck goes much further than that.

Now you're effectively immune to damage, but you still need a way to win the game. That's where Arcbond comes in. Cast in on the creature, let's say Darksteel Myr, then deal damage to yourself. Battlefield Forge or one of the other lands in the cycle will do the job without taking up a nonland slot in the deck. The damage will be redirected to the Myr, and Arcbond will trigger. Darksteel Myr will deal 1 damage to you, your opponent, and any other creatures. The damage dealt to you will be redirected to the Myr, triggering Arcbond again. This loops over and over again, dealing 1 damage to your opponent each time. After 20 loops or so you'll win the game, ending the loop.

Arcbond is pretty crucial here, and it's the only card you don't get to play eight copies of. Fortunately, Mystical Tutor can substitute, grabbing it out of your library for just one mana. Speaking of mana, Boros Signet and Coldsteel Heart can make that part a bit easier. With five-mana spells like Pariah's Shield and Stuffy Doll in the deck, you just might need them. Finally, Banishing Light can clean up any problematic cards you run into.

Pariah's Bond

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Your Fate is Sealed

And by Sealed, I mean the format you'll be playing at the Prerelease. Events start January 17, so you might want to preregister at your local store to reserve your spot at what's sure to be an awesome event for Magic players everywhere. I'll be braving the ice and snow to reach the local store in my little town in the Rockies, so you have no excuse for skipping out on this one. Anyway, join me again next week when I start to really dig into Fate Reforged. This set is shaping up to be pretty interesting, and there's plenty of combo potential to discover. See ya!

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