Born of the Players

Posted in From the Lab on February 5, 2014

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.

Over the last few weeks I asked you all to send me your favorite combo card in Born of the Gods. I received a number of different ideas, some of which I may use in future articles, but there were two clear winners among the pile of submissions.


What's Mine is Yours... Briefly

The number one card you guys wanted to see was Perplexing Chimera. This card has the unique ability of being able to trade for any spell, whether it's a creature, Planeswalker, instant, or anything else. The downside is that your opponent then has the opportunity to trade with any of your spells, and the cycle continues.

Perplexing Chimera

The key to abusing the Chimera, then, is making sure your opponent doesn't get to keep it. The most common idea suggested was to use something like Splinter Twin or Felhide Spiritbinder to give your opponent a token that will disappear at end up turn. However, I decided to go a different route.

The first I thought of when considering ways to abuse the Chimera was Venser, the Sojourner. Venser, the Sojourner's +2 ability exiles a permanent you own and returns it to the battlefield under your control. Although usually used with enters-the-battlefield abilities, the card uses the word "own" rather than "control," specifically, so that you can get back permanents you've given to your opponent.

If you trade Perplexing Chimera for one of your opponent's spells on his or her turn, you can then start your turn off by exiling it with Venser, the Sojourner. At the beginning of your end step, it will return to the battlefield under your control, ready to be traded off again.

Venser, the Sojourner isn't the only card that can repeatedly flicker a creature. In fact, the ability far predates the existence of Planeswalkers, and has led players to win multiple pro tours.

The card I'm talking about, of course, is none other than Astral Slide.

Venser, the Sojourner
Astral Slide

By paying the associated cost, you can discard a card in your hand that has cycling in order to draw a new card. With Astral Slide on the battlefield, you can also exile Perplexing Chimera and return it to the battlefield under your control.

Astral Slide can also be used defensively, exiling attacking creatures until end of turn to protect your life total. The key is to have enough cards with cycling to do the job. You could just include cards with very cheap cycling costs, but I prefer the ones that can be useful when cast as well. That way you're not relying completely on Astral Slide.

Miscalculation is a counterspell that can be used to protect yourself and your combo, but can also be cycled away to trigger Astral Slide. Although easier to play around than Mana Leak, it will still slow down your opponent significantly.

Complicate costs one more mana, but requires one more from your opponent as well. The real advantage, however, is it's cycling trigger. When you cycle Complicate, not only do you draw a card, but you can potentially counter one of your opponent's spells as well. It doesn't always work, but when it does, you get a sweet two-for-one, negating your opponent's card while getting another of your own.


Radiant's Judgment can deal with any large creatures that might get through before you get the Chimera online. You can also use Rescind to return permanents to your opponent's hand, giving you another chance to steal them.

Mage's Guile only costs one mana to cycle, and can protect Perplexing Chimera from removal no matter which side of the battlefield it's on. The final card I'll include is one that has often been used as a win condition in Astral Slide decks: Decree of Justice. When you cycle the Decree, you can pay whatever mana you have available to make that many Soldier tokens. You still get to draw a card, and now you have an army of creatures to attack with. Since you can cycle at the end of your opponent's turn, this can be quite the surprise.

Astral Chimera

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Ruining Tapestries

The second card that I received a lot of email about was Fate Unraveler. Although the effect is by no means new, people seem to love Nekusar, the Mindrazer; Underworld Dreams; and similar cards. The problem is I've made decks like this before, and I'd hate to just throw together the same old thing. Fortunately, some of you gave me the first piece of that puzzle.

Fate Unraveler
Nekusar, the Mindrazer

A card that was suggested a couple times in your emails was Forced Fruition. With Fate Unraveler on the battlefield, your opponent will lose 7 life any time he or she casts a spell. Now, usually I would abandon Forced Fruition in favor of faster and cheaper cards such as Windfall, Wheel and Deal, and Winds of Change. However, I needed to do something different this time. What about winning solely with Forced Fruition?

To do that, you need to get your opponent to cast three spells, or fewer with multiple copies of Fate Unraveler. The card that came to my mind was Wild Evocation. Wild Evocation forces your opponent to cast the spell it reveals if able, making him or her draw seven cards and lose a huge chunk of life. With this combo on the board, you get to just sit back and watch as your opponent loses the game due to his or her own spells.

Forced Fruition
Wild Evocation

I mentioned Nekusar, the Mindrazer earlier. Since the deck already includes all three of his colors, I'll add him in as a backup to Fate Unraveler. His mana cost will be far easier to manage than Underworld Dreams, and he also comes with a free Howling Mine.

Counterspell and Mana Leak help keep you alive while you get the combo set up, and keep the combo alive afterward. When your opponent loses 7 life to cast a spell, you can simply counter it and make it all for naught.

I've also included Damnation to clear away unwanted creatures before you cast Fate Unraveler or Nekusar. If you're playing against a relatively fast creature deck, the ability to start with a clean slate on turn four can be key to victory.


Finally, Ponder, Preordain, and Impulse help you dig through your deck to find the spells you need to establish the combo. They're cheap to cast, leaving you with mana open to counter any problematic spells your opponent might cast. Impulse can even be cast at instant speed, to prevent that two mana from going to waste.

Forces of Fate

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Give and Take

Both of these decks are loaded with false generosity, but which strategy will prove superior? Will the Chimera slide into first, or will the hands of fate ensure that the Unraveler is victorious? Let's head down to the arena to see for ourselves.

Game 1

Forces of Fate won the roll, and both sides started off with land. Forces of Fate cast Preordain on turn two, and Astral Chimera simply played another land and passed the turn. Forces of Fate cast Ponder before ending the turn, and Astral Chimera cycled a card during the end step.

Astral Chimera played a land and passed the turn. Forces of Fate cast Impulse, grabbing a land from the top before ending the turn. Astral Chimera cycled a card during the end step, the played a land and passed.

Forces of Fate cast Nekusar, the Mindrazer, but Astral Chimera countered it with Miscalculation. Fate passed the turn, and Perplexing Chimera hit the board. Forces of Fate cast Damnation to kill the creature, but another came in on the following turn.

Forces of Fate cast Forced Fruition, and the Chimera stayed put. Fate ended the turn, and the Chimera attacked for 3. Astral Chimera cast Venser, the Sojourner, drawing seven cards. Venser, the Sojourner flickered a land to go up to 5 loyalty counters, and the Chimera passed the turn.

Forces of Fate cast Ponder, then ended the turn. Astral Chimera attacked for 3, then cast Perplexing Chimera, drawing seven cards. Forces of Fate cast Counterspell to stop the Chimera. Venser, the Sojourner flickered a land, and Astral Chimera passed the turn.

Forces of Fate cast Fate Unraveler, and Perplexing Chimera traded for it. Fate cast a second Unraveler and passed the turn. Venser, the Sojourner flickered the Chimera, and Astral Chimera passed back. Forces of Fate played a land and ended the turn.

During the end step, Astral Chimera cycled Decree of Justice, making six Soldier tokens. Venser, the Sojourner went ultimate, and a Perplexing Chimera drew seven cards, lost 7 life, and exiled Fate Unraveler. Astral Chimera attacked for lethal with the two creatures and the army of tokens.

Venser, the Sojourner

Game 2

Forces of Fate led with a Ponder, and Astral Chimera played a Temple of Enlightenment to scry 1. Forces of Fate played Preordain and passed the turn. Astral Chimera played another Temple and passed back.

An Impulse from Forces of Fate grabbed another Impulse, and Astral Chimera played a third Temple before ending the turn. Forces of Fate cast Ponder, choosing to shuffle, and passed the turn. Astral Chimera cycled a card during the end step.

An Astral Slide from Astral Chimera met with a Counterspell, and Impulse found only a land the next turn. Perplexing Chimera came down on turn five, and Forces of Fate answered with Wild Evocation.

Wild Evocation revealed a land for Astral Chimera, and Astral Slide hit the battlefield. Astral Chimera attacked for 3, then passed the turn. Wild Evocation revealed Nekusar, the Mindrazer, and Perplexing Chimera traded for it. Fate Unraveler was cast to follow up, and Forces of Fate passed the turn. Astral Chimera cycled a card at the end of the main phase to flicker the Chimera.

Wild Evocation forced Astral Chimera to cast Rescind. Astral Chimera bounced Fate Unraveler, then attacked for 5 and passed the turn. Forces of Fate got a free land from the Evocation, then drew two cards and lost 2 life. Forces of Fate played a land and ended the turn, and Astral Chimera cycled Decree of Justice, making four Soldiers. The attack put Forces of Fate to 1 life, and Nekusar finished the job.

Nekusar, the Mindrazer


You're the Inspiration

If you have a cool combo idea with Born of the Gods you didn't see here, send it in to me through the link below. I always need new ideas, and some of the best ones come from you. Also be sure to join me next week, when I talk about some of the ways I get inspired.

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