One Way Aura 'Nother

Posted in From the Lab on January 21, 2013

Welcome back, students of science! My memory of last week is still a bit hazy, but I'm sure you all had some fun and learned a few things along the way. Probably. Anyway, on with today's activities. This week, we'll be taking a look at Auras. Auras are purely magical constructs that exist around a single object, often a creature. An Aura can provide one of any number of different benefits, depending on the spell used to construct it. Some Auras increase size and strength, others give a creature magical wings or a glowing suit of armor. Some of the most exotic and powerful Auras, however, have more unique effects.

    Not Dead Yet

Fool's Demise was created as an homage to False Demise from Alliances, with one big difference: Fool's Demise returns to your hand every time you use it. Things that never die often make great pieces for infinite combos, and Fool's Demise is no different. When combined with Aurelia, the Warleader and a few other bits and bobs, you have a recipe for an arbitrarily large amount of damage.

Here's how it works. You'll need Aurelia, the Warleader enchanted with Fool's Demise, as well as a sacrifice outlet (we'll use Goblin Bombardment), and any number of creatures that can produce altogether (for example, two Palladium Myrs and an Alloy Myr). Attack with Aurelia. Her ability gives you an extra combat phase, and, after that, it doesn't matter what happens to her. If your opponent doesn't kill her with a larger creature, do it yourself with Goblin Bombardment. Fool's Demise will return Aurelia to the battlefield, and the Aura itself will return to your hand. Then you use the mana-producing creatures to cast Fool's Demise on Aurelia again. Attack for your second combat phase, and Aurelia's ability will trigger again. Since she left the battlefield and returned, the game treats her as a new object, and the ability will trigger despite your previous attack. Your mana-producing creatures will untap, and you'll get another additional combat phase. You can repeat this as many times as you need to in order to kill your opponent. Since Aurelia can die any number of times during this process, it doesn't matter what creatures your opponent has. Even if he or she has a 12/12 on the board, Aurelia's combat damage will keep piling up across combat phases until the creature has a total of 12 damage on it. And if that 12/12 is also indestructible, you can just sacrifice Aurelia to Goblin Bombardment after she attacks in order to deal 1 damage directly to your opponent.

Although Fool's Demise might have more style, there's also an easier way to pull this off, thanks to a card from Avacyn Restored. Deadeye Navigator can replace both Fool's Demise and Goblin Bombardment. Although it only requires enough mana Myrs to make , it doesn't provide protection or an alternative source of damage for Aurelia, so if your opponent has any flying creatures large enough to kill her, you'll be in a bit of trouble.

As an additional backup plan, Aggravated Assault can circumvent Aurelia, Fool's Demise, and Goblin Bombardment. The downside here is that you have to be able to get through with the creatures you have, so you'll need to wait until your opponent doesn't have any blockers available.

Idyllic Tutor can search up Fool's Demise, Goblin Bombardment, or Aggravated Assault for you, and Ponder and Preordain assist in getting you the other things you need. This combo has a lot of pieces, so you'll need all the help you can get to assemble it. Fortunately, you have a bit of redundancy to work with in some areas, making it easier to draw a card for each function.

Aurelia, the Infinite Beater

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Alms Beast is the kind of card that always piques my interest. It's an oversized creature for its cost, and it comes with a unique drawback. Or at least it seems that way. In my experience, drawbacks are often opportunities in disguise. If you're willing to put in the work, you can turn even the most devastating drawbacks into advantages.

Alms Beast gives lifelink to any creatures that block or become blocked by it. This allows your opponent to regain some of the life he or she might lose to your four-mana 6/6. Upon further thought, however, I realized that it doesn't just allow your opponent to gain life. It forces your opponent to gain life. There are two cards that turn lifegain around on your opponent: Rain of Gore and False Cure. Rain of Gore often doesn't work due to the fact that it only hurts your opponent if the life gain was cause by something he or she controls. In this case, however... it still doesn't work, but for an entirely different reason: an odd little twist within the rules that I won't go into at the moment. That left False Cure. Unfortunately, False Cure is a one-shot effect, so you'll need your opponent to attack you with 20 power of creatures in one go. And you'll need to block all of them with Alms Beast. And you'll need to not die before that. Looks like we've got some work to do.

    What's the Catch?

Sometimes your opponent won't have creatures, or at least not enough of them. You'll need to be able to throw some extra power on the other side of the board. Varchild's War-Riders is a staple of this kind of deck. It gives your opponent more and more creature tokens every turn, and it can start as soon as turn three. Forbidden Orchard also helps, fixing your mana while giving away free Spirit tokens. Of course, it would take far too long to reach 20 power with just 1/1 creature tokens, so Aku Djinn is here to speed up the process. An obscure rare from Visions, the Djinn lets you put a +1/+1 counter on each creature your opponents control every upkeep. With a Varchild's War-Riders on turn two and an Aku Djinn on turn five, you can finish giving your opponent a full 20 power on turn six, ready to win the game with False Cure.

All these creatures don't do anything if you can't block them with a single Alms Beast. Fortunately, another Aura is here to save the day: Entangler. With Entangler, Alms Beast can block every creature at once, ensuring that your opponent gains as much life as possible.

In case your opponent is feeling a bit skittish, Curse of the Nightly Hunt gives him or her no choice but to attack you with everything. Most of the time this will happen without the Curse, but if your opponent has seen the deck before, the trap won't be so easily set off.

You'll need to stay alive while building up your opponent's army, so I've added in a pair of Fog effects to help out. Holy Day is the basic version of the effect, while Batwing Brume tacks on a bonus that's particularly well-suited to this strategy. A well-timed Batwing Brume can take away half of your opponent's life total, making it easy for False Cure to finish the job.

Diabolic Tutor and Increasing Ambition help you find all the pieces you need, and Three Dreams can find both Entangler and Curse of the Nightly Hunt. I've also included a single Faith's Fetters as a third Aura to find, just in case there's a permanent that's preventing you from winning.

Altered Altruism

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    Winner Aura Loser?

The unstoppable attacker or the do-gooder with a hidden agenda? Which deck will prevail? Let's take it to the arena to find out.

Game 1

Altered Altruism started things off with a Godless Shrine, and Aurelia laid down a Steam Vents. Forbidden Orchard entered the battlefield on the Altered Altruism side, and gave Aurelia a Spirit token to cast Varchild's War-Riders. Aurelia played a tapped Sacred Foundry and cast Preordain. Varchild's War-Riders gave Aurelia a Soldier, and Altered Altruism kindly passed the turn. An Alloy Myr hit the battlefield, and Altered Altruism gave the opposing team another Spirit. The War Riders made two more Soldiers, and Altered Altruism played another Forbidden Orchard and cast Alms Beast, giving Aurelia two more Spirits.

Aurelia cast another Alloy Myr and attacked with the seven 1/1 tokens. Altered Altruism took the damage. The War-Riders made three more tokens on the other side of the board, and two more Spirits joined up as the Forbidden Orchards paid for Entangler on Alms Beast. Aurelia, the Warleader entered the fray herself, and led her army of tokens to victory thanks to the extra combat phase.

Game 2

A Godless Shrine came down for Altered Altruism, and Aurelia led with a Sacred Foundry. Altered Altruism played a Foundry as well, and Aurelia had a second one to match. Forbidden Orchard was the third land for Altered Altruism, and Aurelia played a Mountain and cast Alloy Myr, getting a Forbidden Orchard token at the end of the turn. Altered Altruism paid 2 life for an untapped Blood Crypt and cast Alms Beast, giving Aurelia another Spirit. Aurelia played Evolving Wilds, sacrificing it for an Island, and cast Ponder off of Alloy Myr. She summoned a Palladium Myr and passed the turn. Another Forbidden Orchard came down, and Aurelia received two tokens as Altered Altruism cast Three Dreams to fetch its trio of Auras. Aurelia cast Idyllic Tutor, searching up a Goblin Bombardment and casting that as well. She ended with a Preordain. Altered Altruism put Entangler on Alms Beast, giving Aurelia another token.

Aurelia summoned a Scuttlemutt before entering the battlefield herself. Aurelia, the Warleader attacked twice, dropping Altered Altruism to 12. Never one to hold a grudge, however, Altered Altruism gave her another Spirit at the end of the turn. Altered Altruism passed without a play, and Aurelia attacked with her entire army. Alms Beast blocked everything save Aurelia herself, and a False Cure turned 12 extra life into -12 life. With Aurelia at 8, Altered Altruism cast a Batwing Brume to finish the job.

Game 3

Aurelia started off by paying 2 life for a Steam Vents and casting Preordain, and Altered Altruism led with a Sacred Foundry. Aurelia cast Ponder, and Altered Altruism got off to a fast start with a Forbidden Orchard into Varchild's War-Riders. Aurelia cast Palladium Myr, and Varchild's War-Riders tossed out a token. Aurelia cast two more Myr: Palladium and Alloy. Forbidden Orchard gave Aurelia one token, and the War Riders presented two more. Forbidden Orchard gave Aurelia another token to pay for a Diabolic Tutor, and Aurelia cast Deadeye Navigator. Varchild's War-Riders made three more tokens, and Altered Altruism passed the turn with no play.

Aurelia, the Warleader came down and attacked with the first of a potentially infinite number of combat phases, but a Batwing Brume bought Altered Altruism a turn. Altered Altruism played Alms Beast and passed, then used Holy Day to buy time again. Alms Beast was enchanted with Entangler, but without a Curse of the Nightly Hunt to make the tokens attack, Aurelia flew over the top of the Alms Beast over and over again until the job was done.

    Until Next Time

Farewell, young students! I hope you enjoyed this exploration of some of the more intricate combos of Gatecrash, and be sure to stop by next week, when we'll be gearing up for the set's long-awaited release.

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