Name That Combo

Posted in Learning Curve on June 4, 2003

By Brian David-Marshall

Brian David-Marshall is a New York–based game designer who has been involved with Magic since 1994, when he started organizing tournaments and ran a Manhattan game store. Since then, he has been a judge, a player, and one of the longest-tenured columnists on, as he enters his second decade writing for the site. He is also the Pro Tour Historian and one of the commentators for the Pro Tour.

The Old Blue-Green Combo

I have been thinking about one of my favorite Extended decks quite a bit this week. The deck can win on turn four, at which point it generates infinite mana, draws your entire deck into your hand, makes infinite Squirrels, returns all of your opponent's permanents and kills him with an arbitrarily large Stroke of Genius. The deck revolves around Tradewind Rider and Intruder Alarm—two of my all-time favorite cards. For reference I have included the deck list. Note the “clever” deck name; I am definitely open to any suggestions for a better one.

Tradewind-Intruder Alarm

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Intruder Alarm allows you to exploit the mana generating abilities of the Priest of Titania and the bounce effect of the Tradewind. An example of a fourth turn kill would involve getting a Llanowar Elves and Priest of Titania into play and casting a turn three Tradewind. On the fourth turn you can play Intruder Alarm and a Multani's Acolyte and barring some untimely burn you should win. You need to tap the Priest for two mana to play the Acolyte and when it comes into play you draw a card and the Intruder Alarm goes on the stack. In response you tap your Llanowar, Tradewind and the Acolyte to return the Acolyte to your hand. You are now up one card. You can continue doing this until you find another Llanowar Elves and play it. Your Priest will now produce three mana for each iteration. Every time you find an elf you play it fueling the Priest to make more mana. Once you find a Deranged Hermit you can put five triggers of Intruder Alarm on the stack—once for the Hermit himself and another time for each of the tokens. That means you can get five activations out of the Priest and the Tradewind. With the fifth activation of the Tradewind you return the Deranged Hermit and repeat the process. You now are capable of drawing every card in your deck, making infinite Squirrels, returning all of your opponent's permanents AND making infinite mana to Stroke of Genius your opponent for enough card that he should be forced to lose two games.

I have loved this deck since it was Type 2 legal and continue to play it in Extended tournaments with varying degrees of success. I am not claiming it is a top-level tournament deck. It is surprisingly good but cards like Pernicious Deed and Engineered Plague will make you very sad. But let's move this conversation into the present day…

The New Blue-Green Combo

The reason I have been thinking about the deck is because of the Pemmin's Aura combo in Onslaught Block Constructed that has been buzzing about the Internet for the past week or so. After mentioning the power of Pemmin's Aura in Limited formats in last week's column, I have received a virtual bag of email on the subject with decklists and requests for decklists that abuse the combo.

Scott Jones writes:

I was reading your column and I realized... Pemmin's Aura + Wirewood Channeler + any other Elf = infinite mana combo. I looked over the message boards to see if anyone else pointed it out (forgive me if I missed someone) but I didn't see it listed.

Anonymous writes:

I don't know how many of these same emails you will get, but your article called to my attention Pemmin's Aura's untap ability for tap abilities. Anyway, I was thinking of the Timberwatch idea, and then thought of an infinite mana engine - Pemmin's Aura on Wirewood Channeler!

As it happens, Mike Flores and I had been working on a list for the upcoming block PTQ season. There has been a lot of discussion about various builds for the deck and the kill mechanism Mike and I opted to use—as far as I know—originated with Mike Stein on his Casual Corner column on He is also the first person that I saw actually write about the deck online although it was clearly part of the Magic group mind with people all over the world trying to break the combo. One of the reasons I like the deck Mike and I built is that it has some resistance to burn and can win in a few other ways if all the combo pieces don't fall into place. Like the previous deck I listed it too can win as early as turn four. Also like the previous deck it is desperately in search of a name.

Channeler Aura

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The deck is a pretty simple combo. You play a turn-three Wirewood Channeler—thanks to a Wirewood Elf—and enchant it with Pemmin's Aura on the next turn. You are now the proud owner of infinite mana. Tap the Channeler for two blue mana, use one to activate the Pemmin's Aura and untap your Channeler. You can repeat the process as many times as you want and you will net an extra blue mana each time you do it. In a fair and just world you are holding a Read the Runes in your hand. You cast it to pick up your entire deck; the only card you want is Kamahl, Fist of Krosa unless you see a Wing Shards in your future, then you will want all of the Complicates as well. You can use some of your infinite blue mana to repeat the process with the Channeler and add some ridiculously large amount of green mana into your pool. Cast Kamahl and sink the rest of your mana into activating him a few hundred times. You should save two mana to untap your Channeler and give it flying. You can now attack with your flying trampling 3002/3002 Wirewood Channeler and a similarly large Wirewood Elf.

The deck can also win if you draw a lot of Elves and enchant your Timberwatch Elf with Pemmin's Aura. You can either attack with all of your Elves and use the Timberwatch ability multiple times on each Elf or you can simply use the Timberwatch on itself multiple times, give itself flying and fly across for the win. The Timberwatch Elf is mainly in the deck to give you some resistance to a red deck. Either the Timberwatch will draw the burn himself or if he lives make it difficult to kill the Channeler in response to the Aura. Some builds Mike and I had for the deck early on included Rush of Knowledge. Rush served as an ersatz Impulse when going off but in the end I chose not to include it in favor of the Complicates.

Hopefully you will tinker around with the deck yourself—if you haven't already—and make some suggestions and more importantly give the darned thing a name.

Brian may be reached at

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