It's Complicated

Posted in From the Lab on June 24, 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, fellow sentient beings! Today I'll be taking a look at some particularly unique combos. Although these are a bit more complicated than my usual fare, I'm certain some aspiring Johnnies among you will get a thrill from trying to pull off something ridiculous. Later on in the article, I'll be showing you the most complex combo I've ever designed. First, however, we have some realms to raze.

Beast Land

Realm Razer can certainly be a game-ending threat in the right deck, but it can also be a great combo card if you're willing to work at it. When it enters the battlefield, it exiles all lands, and when it leaves the battlefield, they all come back. So, there's just one thing you need to do to make this go infinite: Turn Realm Razer into a land.

Realm Razer

Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.

There are quite a few cards that turn lands into creatures, but almost none that go the other way. Life and Limb is just about the only option, and it only works on Saprolings. So what if Realm Razer was a Saproling...

Oh yeah! We can make that happen. Xenograft is an easy way to turn Realm Razer into a Saproling, even when leaves the battlefield and comes back. So, now we have a bunch of lands entering the battlefield an arbitrarily large number of times. There are a number of ways to take advantage of that, but the card I'll be using is Tunnel Ignus. Every time Realm Razer returns all lands to the battlefield, Tunnel Ignus will deal three damage to your opponent for each land entering under his or her control. As a backup plan, Cosi's Ravager deal 1 damage to your opponent each time a land enters the battlefield under your control, resulting in the same eventual outcome: An arbitrarily large amount of damage.

Tunnel Ignus
Cosi's Ravager

Parallel Thoughts can search for the entire combo, although you'll need to grab multiple copies of some of the cards. However, it will drastically shorten the time you'll need to draw all the pieces. Although you can't choose which one, you can guarantee you'll draw one of the cards you need every turn. The fewer cards you need to complete the combo, the better your chances get. If you're only missing Realm Razer and Xenograft, for example, you can search your library for four of one and three of the other, making it fairly likely that you'll draw both within the next three turns.

Chromatic Lantern will make getting the four colors of mana required for this deck much less difficult, and will help you cast the more costly cards like Xenograft and Realm Razer a turn sooner. Mana Leak can help you survive in the meantime, disrupting whatever plan your opponent has going on. AEtherize is also a great way to not die, especially against decks that rely on flooding the board with creatures. Your opponent will usually have to spend several turns putting all of his or her threats back out.


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Overly Complex? Yeah, Sounds About Right.

My next combo requires about a dozen cards to work, so if you like your decks to be nice and neat, look away now. In fact, the original combo was created for a challenge asking people to create a combo that required twenty individual cards. I've trimmed down some of the unnecessary bits so it's actually somewhat feasible.

To make assembling this combo even possible, I decided to take advantage of Diabolic Revelation. With enough mana, this one card can search up every combo piece you need. Of course, with so many pieces, the seven-card hand size limit is going to be a problem, so I'll also toss in one Spellbook.

Diabolic Revelation

Diabolic Tutor can be used to search for Diabolic Revelation if you don't have one, or to grab any other card you're in need of. Damnation and Mutilate help keep you from dying while getting everything set up, wiping all creatures off the map.

Wayfarer's Bauble accelerates your mana a bit, and Extraplanar Lens accelerates it a lot, so long as we stick with mono-black. Gauntlet of Power also works, although it costs a bit more mana. Either immediately double your mana production, making fetching a dozen cards with Diabolic Revelation a bit less impossible. Since the combo itself happens to use every color except black, you'll need to search up a Chromatic Lantern to make all your swamps tap for whatever color you need. Note that while Extraplanar Lens will double your mana no matter what color it is, you'll only get the extra mana from Gauntlet of Power if you're getting black.

Chromatic Lantern
Extraplanar Lens

Now that that's all out of the way, let's take a tour through this giant Rube Goldberg machine of a combo.

We begin with Crackleburr. With the ability to both tap and untap itself, dealing 3 damage to creature or player in the process, it seems like a ripe target for a combo deck. There's just that one problem of the additional costs. For each iteration you'll need four blue or red mana, and you'll have to tap two untapped red creatures and untap two tapped blue creatures. The untapping creatures and the mana can go hand in hand. Ley Druid taps to untap a land, so if that land can make four mana in any combination of red and blue, you can use the druid to fuel the mana part and the untapping part of the combo.


Hold on, though.

Crackleburr says you have to untap blue creatures, and Ley Druid isn't blue. Well, not until we hit it with a Thoughtlace at least. Also, there's that whole tapping one land for four mana thing. The good part is, half of that is already taken care of in the support half of the deck. With Chromatic Lantern and Extraplanar Lens, you can tap a Swamp for two red or blue mana. Enchant that Swamp with Dawn's Reflection, and you've got four. You'll still need one more blue creature to untap, but I'll get to that in a moment.

The last thing Crackleburr needs is two red creatures that can be tapped repeatedly. Deep-Slumber Titan untaps itself whenever it's dealt damage, so if you put two of those on the battlefield with some way to deal damage to them, they can tap for Crackleburr's first ability each time. Fortunately, we still have that other untap a blue creature part form before, and Izzet Staticaster is perfect for the job. It can tap to deal 1 damage to each Titan, untapping them both on each iteration. However, once the Titans reach 7 damage they'll be destroyed, and that's no good at all. Good thing you can use Boros Charm to make all your creatures indestructible until end of turn.

Deep-Slumber Titan
Izzet Staticaster

Crackleburr's second ability requires you to return a creature to its owner's hand. You can't count on your opponent to have enough creatures to allow you to kill them, but if you have a Memnite, you can return it to your hand and cast it again as many times as you want. Also, since we're searching for a million cards anyway, I'll toss in a Mass Hysteria so you don't have to wait a turn to start the machine.

So, now that all the pieces are in place, let's go over it one more time.

First, cast all the stuff, turning Ley Druid blue with Thoughtlace. Then tap the Swamp enchanted with Dawn's Reflection for four red or blue mana. Untap it with Ley Druid, and untap the Deep-Slumber Titans with Izzet Staticaster. Tap the Titans to activate Crackleburr's first ability and deal 3 damage to your opponent. Then use the remaining 2 mana to activate Crackleburr's second ability, untapping Izzet Staticaster and Ley Druid and returning Memnite to your hand. Cast the Memnite again, and now you're back where you started. Repeat as necessary until your opponent dies a crackly death.


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Test Drive

It may not be a very fair fight, but let's take these two decks for a spin anyway, and see if the Crackleburr combo can get its legs under it before Realm Razer knocks it down for the count.

Game 1

Cracklin' led off with a Wayfarer's Bauble, and Razin' played a Seaside Citadel. Wayfarer's Bauble found a Swamp, and Razin' played a land and passed. Extraplanar Lens exiled a land, and Razin' cast Tunnel Ignus. Cracklin' killed it with Damnation, and Razin' played a second one. Cracklin' cast Mutilate to get rid of it, and Razin' played another land and passed the turn.

Cracklin' cast Gauntlet of Power and ended the turn, and Razin' cast Cozi's Ravager. Cracklin' killed it with Damnation, and Razin' simply played another land. Cracklin' played lands and past while Razin' cast Life and Limb, then used Parallel Thoughts to grab seven cards out of the library. Both sides played a land and passed the turn, then Cracklin' cast another Gauntlet of Power.

Gauntlet of Power

Razin' cast Xenograft naming Saproling, and Cracklin' cast Demonic Tutor for Diabolic Revelation, then cast the Revelation for ten, played a Spellbook, and passed the turn. Razin' cast Tunnel Ignus, then played Realm Razer to deal a few million damage.

Game 2

Cracklin' took a mulligan, then both sides started off with lands until Cracklin' played Cabal Coffers and cast Wayfarer's Bauble on turn three. Razin' cast Chromatic Lantern, and Cracklin' sacrificed the Bauble for a Swamp. Razin' cast Parallel Thoughts, and Cracklin' cast Extraplanar Lens, followed by a Diabolic Tutor to search up Diabolic Revelation.

Razin' cast Life and Limb, and Cracklin' cast Mutilate to kill a Forest. Razin' cast Xenograft naming Saproling, and Cracklin' cast and sacrificed a Wayfarer's Bauble to get another Swamp. Razin' played a land and passed the turn, and Cracklin' passed with no play.

Life and Limb

Razin' played another land, and Cracklin' cast Diabolic Revelation for eleven, played a Spellbook, and passed the turn. Unfortunately, Razin' now had the eight mana to cast both Tunnel Ignus and Realm Razer to win the game.

Gearing Up

I hope you enjoyed this little venture into the world of overcomplicated combos. If you loved it, or if you hated it, let me know on Twitter or through the email link at the bottom of this page. Also, make sure to come back next week, when we kick off M14 previews with style. See ya!

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