Les combos de Sombrelande

Posted in Feature on May 26, 2008

By Mark L. Gottlieb

Day 1

Dear Diary:

Birth. Creation. Life. I exist today, and yesterday I did not... but is that really true? I'm new but old. My birthday is August 30, but I set foot into this universe today, May 6. I'm not unique. I don't get a chance to develop from a single point of origin, shaping the world as it shapes me. Or do I? Can a grown man be a point of origin? Can it be my point of origin?

Even the meaning of "I" is fraught with ambiguity. Was there an "I" on May 5? Could that "I" be a different "I" than I am now? Does that even make sense?

I suppose I should get to work. There will be plenty of time for introspection later, but a guy can drive himself nuts spiraling around inside his own brain. It's not like anyone else understands existence; I certainly don't need to solve the puzzle in a day. According to his note, I'm here to think up combos for his web site article. He can't be bothered anymore, I guess. Seems like an anticlimactic answer to "Why am I here?" but I suppose I owe him at least that much.

Combo: Cemetery Puca & Phyrexian Dreadnought

Cemetery Puca
Phyrexian Dreadnought

Ironic? Self-referential? Maybe just apropos. Play Cemetery Puca on turn three. On turn four, play Phyrexian Dreadnought (which costs just ). You clearly don't have 12 power worth of creatures to sacrifice, so you sacrifice the Dreadnought itself. When it hits the graveyard, the Puca's ability triggers. Pay and turn it into a copy of the Dreadnought. Since the Puca is already in play, you don't need to worry about the comes-into-play ability it just picked up. Nope, all you have to worry about is attacking with your 12/12 trampler!

Day 2

Dear Diary:

I saw him today. Just a glimpse. Just the sound of his voice. He doesn't have to hide from me; he doesn't have to ease me into this existence. I already understand. How could I not?

I dreamt last night. But were they my dreams or his? Is there a difference? There will be, someday. Yesterday was a divergence point, and our existences will now follow different paths. But today... it's fuzzy.

I don't have conscious memories. I can't recall names, or pictures, or sounds. But I can feel all this life knowledge, all this first-hand experience locked away, like a chain-bound encyclopedia. Do I even want to access it? If I could, wouldn't that make me him, not me? Better to leave it buried, I think. It's a ruins of the mind, and a new civilization will be built on top of it. That's progress. That's the way of the world.

Combo: Dream Salvage & Magus of the Jar

Dream Salvage
Magus of the Jar

Memories beget dreams. Sacrifice Magus of the Jar (or its namesake, Memory Jar) at an opportune time—specifically, when your opponent won't be able to play much, when you'll be able to play plenty, and when you have a Dream Salvage in your hand. You'll each put your hand aside, draw seven cards, and make as much use of them as you can. At the end of the turn, you'll each discard whatever's left over from your Jar hands—and that's when you play Dream Salvage! For a single mana, there's a good chance you'll draw seven cards for the second time in the turn!

Day 3

Dear Diary:

I met him today. It wasn't weird, but it wasn't comfortable either. The encounter was just the slightest bit off-putting, as if you woke up one morning to find that the sky was tinted green. It's a gorgeous day, everything's fine, but... not.

I tried to detect any notes of approval in his eyes, his voice, his demeanor. But he holds his cards close to the vest. I probably do too; he was probably looking for the same thing in me and wound up just as frustrated.

I don't know how I feel about him. I don't even know what he is to me. Brother? Twin? Father? God? The illshapen steel-and-plexiglass monstrosity in the lab is every bit my parent as he is. Mother's Day is coming up soon. I wonder if I should send the cloning machine a card?

Combo: Mirrorweave & Hulking Cyclops

Hulking Cyclops

Speaking of cloning . . . Mirrorweave is a card after my (his?) own heart. There are lots of tricks you can pull off with it; after all, there are lots of Cytoshape combos, and Mirrorweave is very similar to a global Cytoshape. You can target a graft creature or a Spike, meaning each other creature will become a 0/0 and (unless it has +1/+1 counters or some other toughness booster) die. Zombie Warchief (or a similar creature, like Elvish Champion) makes everything go large instead of small. Having four Zombie Warchiefs means that each one is a 9/5 creature! Be careful—your opponent's creatures could get big as well. And I'm sure there are plenty of combos involving creatures with tap abilities. But sometimes simplicity carries the day. If you turn all creatures into Hulking Cyclops and attack, you'll have a horde of 5/5 creatures, and your opponent will have a horde of creatures that can't block. Fancy is fancy, but sometimes you just want to win the game!

Day 4

Dear Diary:

He's evil.

We're evil.

I'm evil.

Mark is a supervillain! I guess that explains why he'd build a cloning machine. Or an industrial frogulator. Or the city of Los Angeles.

He laid it all out for me today. I saw the maps, the charts, the secret control rooms. Plans underway, and ideas for the future. (Self-reminder: The thing with the zeppelins is never going to work. Try to talk him out of it.) Henchmen org charts. The Vault of Incriminating Photos. He even added me as a MyEvilSpace fiend.

If I can prove myself with the Magic combos thing, my next assignment may involve torture, mayhem, and global domination. But first things first, I guess.

Combo: Grim Poppet & Torture

Grim Poppet

This is what I'm made of, so I might as well embrace it. Enchant your own Grim Poppet with Torture. For , you put a -1/-1 counter on Grim Poppet, then you can move that counter to any creature in play. You basically have : Put a -1/-1 counter on anything. And all it costs is the constant torture of your own hapless minion. That's a small price to pay, right?

Day 5

Dear Diary:

I made my first major contribution to the organization today. In the middle of the Brainwashing, Mind Control, and Reality Television committee meeting, I suggested lacing pro-susceptibility tone pulses into the text messaging system for next season. All eyes turned to me—with a "Holy cow, he's the real deal" vibe—then all eyes turned to Mark—with a "Holy cow, the cloning machine really works" vibe. It was like the ceiling of the sky rose 50 feet.

After the meeting, Mark put his arm around me and said "You've got what it takes, kid." I've got what it takes. Yeah. I've got what it takes to manipulate millions of innocents. But they're weak, and we're not. We're smarter, we're stronger, we're more determined. We're supposed to prey on them. It's Darwinism. It's nature. Right?

Combo: Inkfathom Witch & Goblin Sharpshooter

Inkfathom Witch
Goblin Sharpshooter

If there aren't any weaklings to prey on, first turn your enemies into weaklings, then prey on them. The fact that they can be weakened is itself a sign of weakness! With these two cards on the table, your opponent probably won't attack you. If he does, declare no blockers—then use Inkfathom Witch to make each unblocked creature a 4/1, and use Goblin Sharpshooter to mow them all down. It's easy as pie, a piece of cake, and all manner of other dessert-themed metaphors.

Day 6

Dear Diary:

I think I killed people today. Not directly, of course. I didn't do anything so crass as light the DisintegraTorch or send an incompetent henchman down the Super Happy Lava Fun Slide. But I did suggest during the Crazy Things in Outer Space team meeting that extorting vast sums of money from the global superpowers would go a lot smoother if our threatening test-run of the Orbital Rebar Molecularizer collapsed an exclusive club for the snooty rich rather than a hospital for underprivileged tow-headed waifs. Someone else programmed the guidance system, bypassed the failsafes, and hit the big red button that molecularized all those rebars, but I can't help but feel responsible.

I don't even know why I said anything. What do I care which building's rebars get molecularized? But something must have compelled me to make the suggestion.

Life is fleeting. I should know. I work in an industry with a ridiculously high mortality rate, and even if I live out a normal lifespan, I'll still have had the first 33 years lopped off of it. The sad thing is that I don't think I'm in control of the time I have allotted to me. I'm a clone. My destiny was willed to me. I have to walk in my own footsteps.

Combo: Curse of Chains & Knacksaw Clique

Curse of Chains
Knacksaw Clique

Feeling bound by fate? Slap a Curse of Chains on your Knacksaw Clique. Every upkeep, it's the same thing: Tap down Knacksaw Clique. The great thing about the Clique is that they can bust out of their torpor. For just two mana, you can untap them to remove the top card of your opponent's library from the game, then you can play that card any time over the course of that turn. Heck, then you can attack with the Clique (and remove another card) or block with them! You can whittle down your opponent's library this way, or you can use his own weapons against him. Talk about living someone else's life.

Day 7

Dear Diary:

This time there's no doubt about it—I killed someone today. It was in ninja class. I had just completed a 50-foot ceiling walk capped by a reverse Flecter maneuver (employing the optional three-point soundless landing) when my classmate Xavier Pendable lunged at me. Reflexes took over and I flipped him. I could have thrown him at the wall, but I instinctively threw him at the window—the cliffside window. He went clean through. You could barely hear the splash that came 30 seconds later.

What made me go for the kill flip? A heightened sense of self-preservation? The need to establish alpha status? Sadism? Evil?

I can't believe what I just wrote. "What made me do it?" As if it was an external force. As if it wasn't my fault. I went for the kill flip. I made me do it.

Combo: Turn to Mist & Shriekmaw

Turn to Mist

Turn to Mist is a versatile tool that can give new life to just about any creature. It combos with Akroma, Angel of Fury (or any morph creature): Play a face-down Akroma. Turn it to Mist, and it'll return to play face up. It combos with Grim Poppet, Triskelion, or any other creature that comes into play with counters: Turn the creature to Mist and it'll return with a fresh batch of counters on it. It combos with Kokusho, the Evening Star, Keiga, the Tide Star, or any other creature that has a sick leaves-play ability. It also combos with any creature that has a sick comes-into-play ability. Take Woodfall Primus. When it comes into play, it destroys a permanent; when it dies, persist returns it to play with a -1/-1 counter on it, and it destroys another permanent. Turn it to Mist and it'll return to play without the -1/-1 counter... meaning it'll destroy yet another permanent and be ready to re-persist!

But the sickest—and deadliest—combo might be with Shriekmaw (though any Lorwyn evoke creature will do). Evoke Shriekmaw. It'll come into play and destroy a creature. Before you sacrifice it, Turn it to Mist. At end of turn, it'll return to play and destroy another creature. This time, since you put Shriekmaw into play without paying its evoke cost, it'll stick around permanently—and all this costs only four mana, which is less than it would cost to play Shriekmaw the normal way!

Day 8

Dear Diary:

I can't get Pendable out of my head. The way he flew through the air. The way the shattered fragments of window danced about his body in the last second that I—or anyone—saw him alive. His last, lonely descent. There was no funeral. Ninja class wasn't even canceled today.

I'm trapped. Not in any physical sense—the more supervillainous contributions I make around here, the more respect and access I'm given. But I'm in a metaphysical cage barely large enough to hold my soul. The walls are chance, the floor is fate, the ceiling is destiny, and the lock is melodramatic whining.

Three more people confused me with Mark today. It doesn't help that my name is also Mark and that I look exactly like him. But surely my identity is in some way unique! Does cloning end at the cloning machine, or is my life predetermined to be a clone of his as well?

Combo: Knollspine Invocation & Squee, Goblin Nabob

Knollspine Invocation
Squee, Goblin Nabob

A repetitive life, decided by fate. That's what poor Squee, Goblin Nabob is in for with this combo, since you can continually discard him to Knollspine Invocation then return him to your hand at the start of your next turn. That gives the Invocation a guaranteed 3 damage for three mana every turn at no loss of cards, which is a mighty efficient fountain of burn.

Day 9

Dear Diary:




It seems so obvious now. Of course I'm not him. He's him. There'd be no reason to create me to fill the role of Mark Gottlieb, because that role is already being filled perfectly, by the only man suitable for the job. I may have the same DNA, the same bone structure, the same belief that Quick Change is a woefully underrated movie. But I'm missing the first three decades of life that molded, shaped, and twisted Mark into the megalomaniacal madman he is today. I'm a blank slate with a full palette.

I'm giddy with excitement, alive with possibility. If I'm not him, then who am I? Do I get to decide? Will I know it when I find it?

Something's felt wrong for most of my life (y'know, for about a week). I've been living for Mark's approval, following his footsteps, conforming my life to his. But just because he created me doesn't mean my life belongs to him. I'm experiencing a soaring new feeling as I write this. It's bursting out of my chest, and I never want it to end.

It's hope.

Combo: Twilight Shepherd & Pattern of Rebirth

Twilight Shepherd
Pattern of Rebirth

Pop Pattern of Rebirth onto one of your creatures. The best option is one you can sacrifice for some benefit, like Sakura-Tribe Elder or Cinder Elemental. When the enchanted creature dies, fetch Twilight Shepherd out of your deck and put it into play. Not only will you wind up with a 5/5 creature with flying, vigilance, and persist, but you'll return both the Pattern of Rebirth and the dead creature to your hand so you can do the same thing all over again! Twilight Shepherd forms a similar combo with Defense of the Heart, which is particularly brutal in multiplayer games.

Day 10

Dear Diary:

I blew off work today. I may have a natural gift for supervillainy, but my heart's just not in it. I don't like ransacking museums. I get queasy in outer space. Holding civilization hostage is an awful lot of responsibility.

Isn't Mark ever concerned that one of his cockamamie schemes to destroy the earth will, one of these days, actually destroy the earth? I'd personally prefer that not happen! It's not as if he's got perfect control over his doomsday scenarios. His organizational infrastructure is teeming with incompetent malcontents who'd otherwise be unemployable and/or psychotic. The natural forces he's monkeying with are unstable at best. And he's constantly being raided by covert ops groups. The stakes are high, but the security is lax.

I'm starting to have real doubts that he's as omniscient as he claims to be.

What if anarchy and amorality aren't the glorious ideals Mark makes them out to be? What if there really is a difference between right and wrong? I've been researching guilt on Wikipedia, and I think I can feel it. I have a sneaking suspicion there's some remorse mixed in there too.

I'm having a lot of questions about my moral identity. I think I might be... good.

Combo: Harbinger of Night & Heartmender

Harbinger of Night

Here's an evil twin/good twin pair that really complement each other. At the beginning of your upkeep, Harbinger of Night's ability and Heartmender's ability will both trigger. Stack them so that Harbinger of Night puts a -1/-1 counter on each creature, then Heartmender removes a -1/-1 counter from each of your creatures. Your creatures remain hale and hearty, while your enemy's forces dwindle away.

Day 11

Dear Diary:

I came out of the closet to Mark today. It was so liberating! The look on his face when I told him I was good was pitiful to see. But who cares what he thinks? He's evil! I thought he was gonna cry or throw up or something. He even demanded that I change my name, because it would be too confusing to have a superhero and a supervillain with the same name. I just laughed. If he didn't want a second Mark Gottlieb running around, he shouldn't have cloned himself.

But Mark was right about one thing: superhero. I hadn't even considered that before he said it! It seems his egomania and hyperbole extend beyond him to people who are genetically identical to him. It makes sense, though. My marketable skills are immense genius, egomania, and hyperbole. What other job am I suited for?

I immediately set to work creating my own secret HQ, my own secret lab, and my own secret contraptions. So far I've built a mechanical parrot that senses changes in barometric pressure and a helmet that enhances my sense of moral outrage. Pretty good for my first day.

Combo: Pili-Pala & Power of Fire

Power of Fire

Pili-Pala might not be a righteous avenger sworn to vanquish evil, villainy, and stubborn clogs (unlike a certain helmeted paragon of justice I happen to know), but it can pick up a superpower or two. Enchant it with Power of Fire and you've got a Shadowmoor Limited machine gun. Tap it to deal 1 damage to any target. Pay two mana and untap it to produce one mana of any color. Tap it again for 1 more damage. Pay two mana (including the one mana it just generated) to untap it again, and so on. The math on this is a little wonky as you're going through it, but let's say you have N untapped lands and you're not going to use them for anything except pumping mana into Pili-Pala. You'll wind up having Pili-Pala deal a total of N damage, and you'll mana burn for 1.

Day 12

Dear Diary:

I defeated my first villain today. He had been holding up convenience stores, and he was apparently a low priority for the police. But evil must be stopped. And that's what I do.

I give myself marks for cleverness on this one. I have two advantages over evildoers: I'm smarter than they are, and I'm on the side of right. I realized that I couldn't find this guy by myself, so I infiltrated Mark's lair and "recruited" some of his henchmen by impersonating him. When you think about it, I was helping those guys out too! Even though they'd been tricked into doing a good deed against their will, they still wound up doing a good deed. That's gotta be worth some karma points.

The good news is that the robber was captured, most of the henchmen survived, and very few bystanders were hurt in the fire. Personally, I'm too ethical to have used arson as a crime-fighting tool, but that's the thing about evil henchmen. They're goal-oriented, unbound by morality, and kinda dumb. So while I don't approve of their methods, I can't argue with results. It was a good thing I brought them along.

Combo: Kulrath Knight & Sheltering Ancient

Kulrath Knight
Sheltering Ancient

Good is good, but a little evil can help get the job done. Sheltering Ancient is a 2-mana 5/5 trampler. The catch is that it has a cumulative upkeep cost that requires you to put more and more +1/+1 counters on your opponent's creatures. Sharing gets a big thumbs-up from me, but there are limits! That's where Kulrath Knight comes in. It says that creatures your opponents control with counters on them—any counters, of any kind—can't attack or block. Suddenly Sheltering Ancient is a free Pacifism dispenser!

Day 13

Dear Diary:

I have found my calling.

I love being a superhero. I make a difference in the world. I make life better for my neighbors in this global community. I protect innocent lives, reduce the levels of fear and paranoia in society, and prevent madmen from setting off chain-reaction seismobombs within the earth's core. It's a good feeling.

But the best part is that I have the potential to be the single greatest superhero there is. I've been talking to my superbrethren, and they do not understand the criminal mind. Well, I have a leg up on them there. The other do-gooders mean well, but they're a collection of self-destructive freaks, radioactive mama's boys, and musclebound wimps. I've lived with supervillainy. I was made by, and from, supervillainy. I know that there's no line supervillains are unwilling to cross, and unless superheroes can buck up and show some backbone, we're always going to be fighting the same battles over and over.

That's why I replicated the Gorgon Goggles that Mark had built—and which he intended to use purely for nefarious purposes, no doubt. In a bit of ironic justice, I used them to stop a gang of art thieves in their tracks. I then lugged the gang back to my lair and positioned them as a delightfully lifelike sculpture garden.

You know what I discovered an hour later? There are no laws against smashing your own sculpture garden to smithereens.

Combo: Enchanted Evening & Fracturing Gust

Enchanted Evening
Fracturing Gust

This is about as devastatingly straightforward as you can get. Step 1: Turn everything into an enchantment with Enchanted Evening. Step 2: Destroy all permanents with Fracturing Gust. It's a completely board-clearing reset that gains you a bazillion life in the process.

Back when Mark and I were on speaking terms, he told me that he actually opened these two rares and played this combo while gunslinging at the Shadowmoor Prerelease. Enchanted Evening was completely useless in his deck except as part of this combo. He pulled it off twice: The first time he gained 56 life and went on to win the game. The second time he supplemented this combo by having Twilight Shepherd in play (one of his other rares). The board was completely stalled, but his opponent had started churning out Elf tokens by putting Presence of Gond and Umbral Mantle on the same creature. When his opponent went for the alpha strike with about twenty Elves and a pack of other creatures, Mark lowered the boom. This time he gained 112 life, wiped his opponent's board, and wound up with the Angel back in play and a hand full of cards. Supervillain or no, that's how to gunsling!

Day 14

Dear Diary:

I had a breakthrough today: Fight fervor with fervor.

Supervillains are power-mad narcissists. That's an immense weakness. And it's astoundingly easy to use it against them!

I was inspired in my latest campaign against evil by Mark himself. He's got an adorable little cult that worships him. Well, two can play at that game. Evil and cults go together like noble heroism and me. Villains have that whole anti-society kick that they're on, so they love playing dress-up and performing dark rituals that tamper with unnatural forces. Plus, anything that hints at giving them unbounded power is sure to be a draw. When I set up my fake cult, bad guys showed up in droves.

This got them in one place at one time. Easy to keep tabs on, easy to influence, easy to capture if need be. But that's the kind of thing an old-school superhero would do, if he even had the cojones to set up a demonic cult in the first place. This is when my genius reasserted itself: Let's get some human sacrifice going!

As a moral crusader, I naturally find human sacrifice repellant beyond belief. And I could certainly never bring myself to cut the heart out of anyone. But I wouldn't have to, because the evil cult members would do it themselves! They'd commit criminal acts (which I have on tape), reduce their own numbers, and (hopefully) get really grossed out. Bloody justice!

Combo: Godhead of Awe & Night of Souls' Betrayal

Godhead of Awe
Night of Souls' Betrayal

Demigods and betrayal gets 'em every time. With these two permanents in play, Godhead of Awe is a 3/3, and every other creature is a 1/1 with -1/-1... which makes it 0/0... which makes it dead. This'll wipe out the creatures already in play, and instantly kill any new creature that shows up after the combo is on the table. It's not foolproof: +1/+1 counters and static abilities (such as those on Yavimaya Enchantress or Pride of the Clouds) can keep their creatures alive, but the things that'll live through this are few and far between.

Day 15

Dear Diary:

I've been going about my work all wrong. I've been fighting the criminals. I should be fighting the criminal mind.

The criminal mind is plagued with evil, twisted with amorality. It's a mutation, an error, a crime against nature. It needs to be fixed. I should know—I started life evil, and was cured. Now, as a blinding light of justice, it's my quest to help the morally challenged in the same way that I helped myself.

Overwriting their minds might be seen as a little invasive, but they'll feel so much better after I've helped them! Their old personalities wouldn't like it, of course, but it's clear that those personalities are defective. Their new selves will thank me. If all goes well, they might even join me!

The goofy part of all of this is that the Mindscrubber was originally built by a supervillain! If Mark's people were willing to use this device on innocent people, it's the very definition of justice that they have it used on them. See, they've started helping to fight evil already!

I have a few more tweaks before I'm ready to go. The first couple of test runs turned my interns into... well, they're currently watching cartoons and drooling, so let's call them typical college students and leave it at that. It wasn't really a fair test because it's set to scrub out evil brain patterns, but Nancy and Roger were good to begin with. I'm sure things will go much better tonight.

It just feels so darn good to help people.

Combo: Hollowsage & Freed from the Real

Freed from the Real

Sometimes you've just gotta empty out your enemy's mind. Whenever Hollowsage becomes untapped, you may have target player discard a card. Freed from the Real lets you pay to tap Hollowsage, then pay to untap it. Do this dance a few times, and your opponent will have no more cards in hand. But the mind purge doesn't stop there. You can do this during every one of your opponent's draw steps for the rest of the game. Unless your opponent draws an instant that she can play immediately, she'll never play another card again.

Day 16

Dear Diary:

I can hear it. I can hear it whistling in through the cracks in the window. I can hear it in the dead of night. I can hear it in my dreams.

I can hear evil.

It's injured. I've injured it. It thrashes like a wounded animal. It seethes, it howls, it plots revenge.

No one is safe.

What have I done? How can I have started a campaign against evil that I wasn't prepared to end in one swift blow? I've put everyone in jeopardy. Evil won't stand for a hero of my caliber, of my abilities. Evil has never had to face such a formidable foe.

Evil is scared.

It's coming for me. I can see it in the scowls of my enemies. I can see it on the blank faces of my Mindscrubbed comrades. Worst of all, I can see it in the eyes of the ordinary people who unassumingly walk the streets. This person cheated on his diet. That person insulted her friend behind her back. Everyone contains some level of evil within them. Everyone.

This is going to be harder than I thought.

Combo: Dire Undercurrents & Shrieking Drake

Dire Undercurrents
Shrieking Drake

Just when things look their worst is when true heroes come up with brilliant ideas. With Dire Undercurrents in play, you can have target player (such as yourself) draw a card each time a blue creature comes into play under your control. Shrieking Drake is the poster child for the creature you can play over and over and over. For just , you can play Shrieking Drake, draw a card, and return Shrieking Drake to your hand. Repeat as necessary!

Day 17

Dear Diary:

Once again, my supervillain training comes in handy in the war against supervillains. I hope they know that I owe my success to them, and I hope it eats them up inside.

To vanquish villains, I need to speak their language. They're crazy. They can't comprehend reason. They don't feel empathy. But they're well versed in fear, threats, and death. That's why I'm building a doomsday device.

Those things never work for supervillains because they're employing them for evil. It's in everyone's best interests to stop them, and that much force aligned towards a single goal can't be overcome. But my megaweapon will serve the interests of good. The world governments are sure to support me; they'll know that my threats of ultimate annihilation will help make the world a better place.

The reason the supervillains will capitulate won't be because they dislike annihilation—it'll be because they don't like anyone else's annihilation except their own. Control freaks.

Combo: Swans of Bryn Argoll & Seismic Assault & Dakmor Salvage

Swans of Bryn Argoll
Seismic Assault
Dakmor Salvage

Perfect: An overly complex contraption that results in your opponent's destruction. Discard Dakmor Salvage to activate Seismic Assault targeting Swans of Bryn Argoll. Seismic Assault tries to deal 2 damage to the Swans, but it's prevented and you draw two cards. For one draw, dredge back Dakmor Salvage. For the other draw, draw a card. You're now back where you started, except that you've drawn a card and you've put two cards from your library into your graveyard. Keep going until you've drawn enough land to Seismic Assault your opponent out.

If you find a second Dakmor Salvage along the way, you can throw one at your opponent, then throw the other one at the Swans and dredge them both back. That should speed things up!

Day 18

Dear Diary:

I'm amazed by the stupidity and shortsightedness of the common man. Don't they realize I'm trying to help them? They see any crusader waving around a doomsday device as their enemy. They don't take the time to consider the motives, the underlying goals, the glorious outcome that will reshape the world into a moral and righteous paradise!

So now I'm being condemned. I'm being hunted. I've had to go underground with my legions of mentally clean assistants. It's demeaning.

Wait... as I write this, it occurs to me that there's a more insidious possibility at play. It's not stupidity that's causing the populace to resist me—it's evilidity! No one (except me) is pure good or pure evil; normal people are a mix of both. The trace amounts of evil in them must be rising up, terrified that I'll eradicate evil once and for all. It's the only thing that makes sense; why else would they oppose me? It's a self-defense mechanism the poor, deluded saps have no control over. Well, I forgive them. And I'm more duty-bound than ever to help them. My mission is clear: I have to save the people from themselves!

Time to build another doomsday weapon.

Combo: Morselhoarder & Sinking Feeling & Power of Fire

Sinking Feeling
Power of Fire

This combo popped up in the Grand Prix–Brussels coverage and in Chris Millar's recent combos article (in which no one even tried to take over a planet... whatever). But how could I leave it out? This is an infinite damage combo made of three commons from the same set!

Enchant your own Morselhoarder with both Sinking Feeling and Power of Fire. Tap Morselhoarder to deal 1 damage to your opponent. Pay and put a -1/-1 counter on Morselhoarder to untap it. Remove that -1/-1 counter from Morselhoarder to generate one mana of any color. Repeat until fiery destruction rains down upon all who oppose you! If you prefer hordes of Elves to rains of fire, you can swap in Presence of Gond (another common!) for Power of Fire.

Day 19

Dear Diary:

How can both ultimate victory and total defeat be within my grasp? The more evil I eradicate, the more I'm helping the world become a safer, happier, better place—yet the world fights back against me that much harder.

I'm being globally decried as a supervillain for using my doomsday devices. It's ludicrous. Real supervillains never set those things off! I'm not dissuaded, though. I can recognize a smear campaign when I see one. It just shows how desperate my enemies are now.

I'm really taking a beating in the press over the collateral damage. As if I could have created a doomsday device that would eradicate the supervillains, their infrastructure, and their technology, but left everyone else with a 50-mile radius safe and sound. What am I, a miracle worker? And it's not as if those people were innocent. No one is. Even I have some blood on my hands, and I'm the righteous bringer of glorious justice.

All this vitriol really makes a guy feel unappreciated. But that's OK—I have the strength of my convictions to keep me warm. It just motivates me that much more to vanquish evil in everyone, everywhere, so the happy survivors can break through their prejudices and understand the great works I've accomplished. I'll drag those lousy ingrates to paradise kicking and screaming.

If defeating evil was easy, someone else would have done it by now. Time to go back to the weapons lab.

Combo: Juniper Order Ranger & Nantuko Husk & Murderous Redcap

Juniper Order Ranger
Nantuko Husk
Murderous Redcap

Have all three permanents in play. Sacrifice the Redcap to the Nantuko Husk. The Redcap's persist ability returns it to play with a -1/-1 counter on it. The Ranger's ability and the Redcap's ability both trigger. Stack them so the Ranger's ability resolves first. You'll put a +1/+1 counter on the Redcap and a +1/+1 counter on the Ranger. The two counters on the Redcap then annihilate one another, leaving it counter-free. Finally, the Redcap's ability resolves, and it deals 2 damage to your opponent. Since the Redcap no longer has a -1/-1 counter on it, its persist ability will work again (and again, and again)... and I think that Nantuko Husk is still hungry....

Day 20

Dear Diary:

He's gone.

Do I still exist without him? Is half of me now gone? Am I untethered?

No... no. I still have focus. I still have a quest to fulfill. It's not over yet. It would never have been over as long as he remained alive. In fact, I had to kill him.

It's his own fault. If he hadn't trained me, if he hadn't predisposed me, I'd never have been able to do it. If he just hadn't been evil, he wouldn't even have been my enemy! He could have seen this coming. He could have stepped aside. He could still be alive today.

I can't get lost in myself, in him. This is an opportunity! I have to look beyond my own grief, guilt, remorse. I can turn his death, his life, into a glorious sacrifice for the greater good. I can use what he's bequeathed me. It's as much mine as it ever was his.

A global network that allows me to reach anyone, anywhere, anytime. A legion of eager, willing underlings who will gladly help me bring about my vision. The bizarre technology that neatly sidesteps the pesky laws of nature. With Mark's organization under my benevolent control, the world will fall in line. They'll have no choice. I'll rip the evil from their souls and stamp it out! I'll impose my ideals of peace and brotherhood! I'll weed out the malcontents who would dare cause unhappiness in anyone else! It'll take work, but I know where mankind needs to be and I'm willing to make the sacrifices necessary to shepherd them there.

Next stop: Utopia.

Combo: Painter's Servant & Grindstone

Painter's Servant

One last exercise in domination. Play Painter's Servant and choose a color. It doesn't even matter what color. Then activate Grindstone. A single activation is now guaranteed to dump your opponent's entire library into his graveyard, because all the cards in his library—even the lands—are the same color.

This feels like a metaphor for something, but I can't pinpoint what.

Special thanks to Aaron Forsythe for introducing me to combos #9 and #20 by smashing me (and everyone else) with them in EDH games.

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