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Posted in From the Lab on July 16, 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.

Hello laboratorians! This week I started digging a bit deeper into Magic 2015 in an attempt to discover some combo cards that weren't quite as obvious at first glance. It was surprisingly easy to gather ideas, confirming my belief that M15 is the best core set in several years. In fact, I didn't even make it through white before I had enough ideas for my article today. The other colors will have to wait for now, because it's time to put the W in WUBRG.

We Strike at Midnight

Midnight Guard isn't a new card, but it is one I haven't used before. It basically has its own little built-in Intruder Alarm, and that's a card I've abused plenty. Presence of Gond was the first combo card that came to mind, as it was the Intruder Alarm combo I used the most. The next card I thought of was also from Shadowmoor: Elemental Mastery. Strangely, it was only later on that Splinter Twin surfaced from the maelstrom of my consciousness, and with two solid red Auras to use, I decided to ditch green and go with the hasty tokens.

There's also another creature with Midnight Guard's ability we can use, although most players aren't aware of it. Sunstrike Legionnaire wasn't exactly the cream of the crop even in Legions. In fact, much of the time its role was better filled by Whipcorder, an uncommon from the previous set.

In this deck, however, its ability to tap creatures doesn't really matter. Neither does the fact that it doesn't untap normally. What matters is that if you stick Elemental Mastery on it, you get to have a party, and everyone's invited. Seriously, like an arbitrarily large number of people are coming.

Torchling doesn't go completely crazy like the other two, but it can make a very large number of tokens all at once. Putting 3 power on the board with haste for every red mana you spend certainly isn't a bad deal.

M15 also gives this deck a brand-new card to work with. Heliod's Pilgrim can search for Elemental Mastery or Splinter Twin to help you combo off more consistently. I've also included Faith's Fetters and Chained to the Rocks as removal spells that can be searched for in a pinch.

Swords to Plowshares is a more traditional removal spell that often has no drawback for this deck due to its propensity for going infinite. I've also included Silence and Rebuff the Wicked to stop your opponent from killing your creature with removal when you try to enchant it.

Midnight Mastery

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Haunted Altar

Spirit Bonds was another card that seemed to have some amount of combo potential. The first idea that came to mind was Nether Traitor. When Nether Traitor enters the battlefield, you can pay to make a Spirit token. Then sacrifice Nether Traitor, followed by the token, to trigger the Traitor's ability, returning it to the battlefield and allowing you to make a new Spirit. With Phyrexian Altar to sacrifice the creatures for mana, you can perform the loop indefinitely.

Now, this combo isn't exactly new. It can also be done with two copies of Nether Traitor, but Spirit Bonds makes it so you don't have to rely on getting two out of your four copies. I'll also include Genesis Chamber as an additional backup that doesn't require any mana to work.

Blood Artist and Falkenrath Noble provide an easy way to win the game once you get the loop going. The fact that they both kill your opponent and give you life means that, even if your opponent has something like Platinum Angel to survive, you won't be at risk of dying to a subsequent attack.

Since this combo requires four pieces to work, I'll include a number of ways to search your library for the pieces. Enlightened Tutor can get Phyrexian Altar, Genesis Chamber, and Spirit Bonds. Meanwhile, Rhystic Tutor and Diabolic Tutor can get anything, although Rhystic Tutor requires you to wait until your opponent has tapped all his or her lands for a spell.

Hero's Downfall and Ulcerate give the deck some removal to stay alive until the pieces can be put together, killing off most creatures for very little mana.

Nether Bonds

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Gotta Love the Hate

Hushwing Gryff was designed as a safety valve that players can use if decks abusing certain interactions become a problem. However, it can also be made into a problem of its own with the right team behind it. To add to the fun, we also have access to Torpor Orb for redundancy as well as Sundial of the Infinite, which can secretly perform a similar function by ending the turn with the triggered ability on the stack.

Now comes the choice of what creatures to abuse, now that their detrimental enters-the-battlefield abilities no longer trigger. Phyrexian Dreadnought is an obvious choice. A 12/12 for just one mana is a bit above the normal curve, after all. At two mana, Hunted Horror is a tempting target, giving you a 7/7 without giving your opponent anything at all. Treacherous Pit-Dweller also works, with Hushwing Gryff preventing the ability that donates the creature to your opponent and leaving you with a 5/4 after it dies.

Eater of Days is absolutely massive, and flying and trample make it very hard for your opponent to stop. Its drawback is normally prohibitively costly, requiring you to give up your next two turns in exchange for your oversized creature. With Hushwing Gryff, you suddenly have a 9/8 for four mana, with no other costs.

Dust Elemental isn't as big, but flash can help you play around counterspells and catch your opponent off guard. Finally, Demonlord of Ashmouth is the weakest of the bunch as far as power for cost goes, but it does have undying to allow it to dodge removal spells. Unlike most of the other creatures, it can also be cast normally in a pinch if you don't have a way to get rid of its drawback. I've also added Path to Exile to defend you from any particularly problematic creatures.

Hushwing Grift

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Cutting Costs

There are plenty more ideas to explore in Magic 2015. After all, I haven't even gotten out of the first color. However, the other colors will have to be put on hold for a bit, as next week I'll be taking a look at M15's returning mechanic: convoke. While not traditionally considered a Johnny mechanic, you'd be surprised what shenanigans you can pull off if you put your mind to it. Remember to keep sending in those deck ideas to MTGCannon@gmail.com, and until next time, may you always find more than you were looking for. See ya!

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