The World of Combos

Posted in From the Lab on July 29, 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.

Hello, and welcome to the Lab. The Magic World Championship is this week, and in a few days all eyes will be turned to the big stage as the best players in the world battle it out for the title. In honor of this tournament, I'll be putting together some fun combo decks based on cards from past World Championship decks.

In 2000, the world champion was none other than the great Jon Finkel. He fought his way to victory with the help of Metalworker, which produced plenty of mana to power up cards like Masticore and Phyrexian Processor, while tapping down his opponents' lands with Tangle Wire and Mishra's Helix.

Metalworker
 

Jon Finkel's Tinker

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Cards that can repeatedly produce large amounts of mana generally aren't too difficult to go infinite with, and Metalworker is no exception. Sword of the Paruns and Umbral Mantle will both allow you to produce infinite mana, so long as you have at least two artifacts in your hand. Umbral Mantle will also make Metalworker enormous, but that won't win you the game so long as your opponent has just one creature to block with.

Sword of the Paruns
Umbral Mantle

Sands of Delirium is a great win condition, especially when producing an unlimited amount of colorless mana. If you feel like winning with some Future Sight style, Whetwheel will do the same thing here. To provide a diversity of win conditions, I've also included Goblin Cannon. Although most of the time either a trillion damage or milling a trillion cards will work, there may be occasions where you need one rather than the other.

I wanted a second mana-producing creature to provide backup for Metalworker, and Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary seemed to fit the bill. If you have four Forests on the battlefield, he'll produce infinite mana just like Metalworker. Since the rest of the deck is colorless, that should be easy enough to accommodate.

Sands of Delirium
Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary

The rest of the deck needs to be filled with artifacts to make sure you always have two in hand for Metalworker, so I searched for some that would provide support for the combo. Thousand-Year Elixir seemed like an excellent choice, allowing you to activate Metalworker and Rofellos immediately rather than having to wait for summoning sickness to wear off. You can also use it to untap the creature for just one mana, giving you more mana to work with when getting the combo started. If you have a Metalworker, Sword of the Paruns, and two other artifacts in hand, Thousand-Year Elixir allows you to cast Metalworker, tap it for six mana, untap it and tap it again for another six, then cast Sword of the Paruns, equip it, and untap Metalworker to get the combo rolling.

Conjurer's Bauble and Æther Spellbomb can both sacrifice themselves to draw a card, allowing you to dig through your deck a bit to find the combo pieces. Æther Spellbomb can also be sacrificed to temporarily get rid of a problem creature. Sensei's Divining Top is one of the most powerful card-selection tools ever printed. You can look at and rearrange the top three cards of your library at any time for just one mana, and if there's a card you need immediately, you can trade in the Top to draw it. I'll also include several fetch lands in the mana base to allow you to shuffle your library if you don't like what you see with the top. The fetches can also grab a Breeding Pool to allow you to activate Æther Spellbomb if necessary.

Thousand-Year Elixir
Sensei's Divining Top

Steel Mill

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In 2004, Julien Nuijten, a fifteen-year-old player from the Netherlands, took down the World Championship, making him the youngest player to ever win a Pro Tour. He played a green and white deck designed to abuse Eternal Witness and Astral Slide, which allowed him to cycle Decree of Justice every turn and cast Wrath of God repeatedly while the Witness was safely in exile.

Eternal Witness
Astral Slide

Julien Nuijten's Eternal Slide

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Flickering Eternal Witness once per turn is fine, but I think we might be able to do a bit better than that. The first card that came to mind was Cloudshift. If you cast it targeting Eternal Witness, the Witness will flicker out and back in, and when its enters-the-battlefield ability goes on the stack, you can target Cloudshift and return it to your hand. All you need to do this an infinite number of times is a way to produce one white mana each time.

Cloudshift
 

I considered using something like Carnival of Souls or Mana Echoes, but that would also require a Skyshroud Elf to filter the mana into white. In the end, I decided to use the old combo staple, Earthcraft. Each time Eternal Witness leaves the battlefield, it will return untapped, allowing you to tap it to Earthcraft, untapping a Plains to give you the mana to cast Cloudshift again.

All we have so far, however, is an Eternal Witness flickering in and out, with no real effect on the game. That's easily fixed, however. Having a Soul's Attendant on the board will allow you to gain infinite life, making it almost impossible for most decks to kill you. There's still the matter of winning the game, however. If you enchant a basic Forest with Utopia Sprawl, or a Plains with Wild Growth, you'll net one green mana each time you flicker Eternal Witness. You can then cast Helix Pinnacle and put 100 counters on it, winning the game on your next upkeep. Since the Pinnacle has shroud, it's unlikely your opponent will be able to remove it before that happens.

2601
Helix Pinnacle

With lands potentially producing more than one mana, Momentary Blink becomes another option for flickering Eternal Witness infinitely. You can also still produce infinite mana by putting two copies in any combination of Utopia Sprawl and Wild Growth on a land, or just one Dawn's Reflection.

Eladamri's Call and Worldly Tutor can search up Eternal Witness and Soul's Attendant, and Enlightened Tutor and Idyllic Tutor can find Helix Pinnacle, Earthcraft, or one of the land enchantments. Combined, they make this fairly complicated combo much easier to put together.

Momentary Blink
Dawn's Reflection

Eternal Flickering

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In 2006, Makihito Mihara took the world champion title, piloting a red and blue Dragonstorm deck which, while not as fast as some of the other Dragonstorm decks we've seen over the years, did a marvelous job of protecting its combo from control decks with Gigadrowse and Remand.

Dragonstorm
 

Makihito Mihara's Dragonstorm

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These days, we have access to a threat far better than Hunted Dragon for this deck: Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund. Not only is it larger than Hunted Dragon, it gives all your other Dragons haste as well, allowing you to win immediately with only three Dragons rather than four. Magic 2014 also gives the deck another potential tool in Scourge of Valkas. With three Dragons, the Scourges only deal 1 less damage total than Bogardan Hellkite—still more than enough to win the game. Once you reach four, however, The many triggers will nail your opponent for 30 damage overall, or allow you to deal 26 before attacking for 19. Perhaps that's overkill, but if you're facing down a deck that gains life, like the Martyr of Sands/Urzatron deck Mihara overcame in the semifinals, you might need it.

Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund
Scourge of Valkas

With Dragonstorm now requiring you to cast only two spells before it to win the game, getting to nine mana becomes the important part. Grim Monolith works wonders here. It can give you one extra mana immediately, or you can invest two mana early on to get an extra three later on. Pentad Prism serves a similar function, producing one less mana, but with the ability to make mana of any color. Lotus Bloom, Seething Song, and Rite of Flame were the key pieces of acceleration in Mihara's deck, and I see no reason to change that. All of them help ensure that explosive turn-four win.

Remand is also still here, as an amazing way to protect your combo. If your opponent tries to counter one of your spells, you can counter the counter with Remand if you can still combo off after paying the extra mana. If you can't, you can counter your own spell, returning it to your hand and drawing a card to help you go off next turn.

Grim Monolith
Remand

Mystical Tutor and Peer Through Depths allow you to easily find Dragonstorm, Seething Song, or whatever instant or sorcery you need. I'll also include one Gigadrowse to tutor up, since the ability to tap down a control player's lands at end of turn can be incredibly valuable.

Valkastorm

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Back to Back in Time

As many of you already know, this year celebrates Magic's 20th anniversary. In honor of this occasion, next week will be a special edition of From the Lab, featuring cards from throughout the game's long history. Be sure to check back next Monday and, until then, keep trying to take over the world (of Magic). See ya!

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