Collected Company Combos

Posted in Reconstructed on April 14, 2015

By Gavin Verhey

When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he dreamt of a job making Magic cards—and now as a Magic designer, he's living his dream! Gavin has been writing about Magic since 2005.

Last weekend, Dragons of Tarkir debuted at the highest level of play. The pros slung their Dragons back and forth in Standard until only one player remained standing.

But that's not the only format Dragons is poised to have an impact in.

It's one of my favorite times here on ReConstructed: Modern! The decks I find inside my inbox on Modern weeks always surprise and excite me—and this time around is no exception.

To make it doubly interesting, it's also Choose Two Week here on DailyMTG. What does that mean for ReConstructed? Well, I'm embodying that philosophy in more ways than one.

Choose two decks to talk about? Absolutely!

How many new Dragons of Tarkir cards featured between the final versions of them? Why, two of course!

What does the card that both decks share do? Choose two of something!

I somehow managed to make my own complicated Venn Diagram of choosing, just for this article. Not to mention, I'm not even using any of the Commands as you might expect! No, the card I'm using is a little more of a surprising choose two than the Commands.

Ready to dive into exactly what's going on here? Well, perhaps you should choose to continue onward!

Collected Company | Art by Franz Vohwinkel


Collected Persistence

A card that has generated tons of excitement since it was first revealed is a little green instant from Dragons of Tarkir: Collected Company.

Now, in Standard there are a few cool things you can do with this card. However, you really have to build around it to make it work. And really, in Standard there just aren't quite enough efficient, low-mana-cost creatures to play in most of your green decks. And it's very important that Collected Company can hit two creatures when you cast it. While it might very well have a space, I haven't quite seen what I'm looking for in Standard deck with it.

Modern is an entirely different story.

Modern is a format built on a foundation of cheap, efficient creatures! If there was ever a place for a spell that cheats a bunch of cheap creatures onto the battlefield, Modern would certainly be it.

Like, for example, this powerful take on an old favorite:

Jeff van Egmond's Collected Combo

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Many of you might be familiar with the Melira-Persist combo, especially if you played with the Birthing Pod decks (may they rest in peace) of days past. But if you aren't quite sure how it works, the basic premise is this:

Step 1: Have Melira, Sylvok Outcast; a Murderous Redcap or Kitchen Finks; and a way to repeatedly sacrifice creatures on the battlefield.

Step 2: Sacrifice your persist creature to your sacrifice outlet.

Step 3: The persist creature comes back and triggers its "enters the battlefield" effect—and since Melira is in play, no -1/-1 counter is put on the creature. Since persist tracks itself by whether there's a counter or not, you can repeat steps 1-3 as many times as you want and gain millions of life or deal millions of damage to the opponent.

All it takes is three creatures.

Three small creatures.

Three creatures that (Redcap aside) have a converted mana cost of 3 or less.

Sounds like an absolutely perfect fit for Collected Company!

The odds you'll draw one or two of these creatures on your own is very high. Then, a single Collected Company can help you set up the rest of the combo—and all at instant speed. Even if you have nothing else on the battlefield, it's very easy to cast a Collected Company during your opponent's end step, untap, cast the third piece, and immediately win the game.

Now, that's a pretty strong addition in and of itself. However, it isn't the only big tool this deck picked up out of Dragons of Tarkir. Another tremendous card in the set for this deck is Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit:

Now, why is this good? Well, there's a slightly obscure rule in Magic that happens to be extraordinarily relevant here: if you put a +1/+1 counter on a creature that has a -1/-1 counter on it, the two counters equal out and remove each other.

Normally, that doesn't mean much except for that it's easier to see what's happening on the battlefield. However, in the case of persist where it's tracked with a -1/-1 counter, if you can remove that counter then you can persist again!

If you replace Melira with Anafenza in the three-card combo, when you sacrifice your persist creature and it returns Anafenza will trigger to put a counter on the creature with the lowest toughness—which, your infect opponent's Giant Growth's aside, can always be your persist creature since both Finks and Redcap come back with 1 toughness. The +1/+1 counter obliterates the -1/-1 counter of the persist and the process begins anew, letting you "go infinite" and win the game.

Ah, music to my combo-loving ears.

What would I want to tweak out of a deck like this? Well, a lot of the pieces need to be there. However, there are still some modifications I would make.

Congregation at Dawn always sounds great in theory…but is a lot less effectual in practice. You're spending a card and three mana to generate nothing on the board, so it's kind of slow. And then there's all kinds of random downsides, like not being able to use a fetch land until after you've drawn all the cards you want. While it is cute to set up a Collected Company, I'd rather just have four Chord of Callings as an option that puts the creature onto the battlefield immediately.

Additionally, I would look at the one-of Chords targets and tweak them a bit. I don't think you really need Orzhov Pontiff or Ranger of Eos, main deck. However, I would love to have a single Eternal Witness to find. Not only can you Chord for it to pick up a deceased part of your combo, but the Witness is also always a great card to see off of Collected Company, since you can return the same Collected Company that found the Witness!

I'd also certainly play one Cartel Aristocrat as another sacrifice outlet that also happens to be resilient to removal. With those small tweaks made, that brings this deck to:

Gavin Verhey's The Collector

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There's plenty of tinkering you could do here. For example, Voice of Resurgence and Abrupt Decay have traditionally been cards to consider in decks like this one and could be strong. I could also see main-decking a Qasali Pridemage. However, I wanted to make this version as streamlined and combo-focused as possible.

This is definitely a deck I would consider playing in Modern and even some major Modern events. I've even heard that in the relatively short amount of time Dragons has been legal, a Collected Company-Persist deck has already taken down a Dutch PPTQ in the hands of Ricardo van den Bogaard—so I'd keep your eyes on this one. It could be a huge Modern deck of the future.


Collected Beats

In addition to being a card that finds exactly the pieces you're looking for, Collected Company also "cheats" creatures onto the battlefield.

Now, normally this just means some mana savings and a bit of a two-for-one. You ended up ahead on card and tempo advantage, or as we saw with the last deck, ahead on "game advantage" as you kill them with your freshly assembled combo.

But this next deck—well, it takes the idea of cheating creatures onto the battlefield really to heart.

Check this one out:

Nekomata-sensei's Cancelled Cost Collection

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Epochrasite? Myr Superion? Talara's Battalion?!? What's going on here!

Well, like I said—this deck likes to cheat things onto the battlefield.

Thanks to Collected Company (and its partner in crime, Æther Vial) you can entirely skirt the restrictions around all of these otherwise undercosted cards.

Need to use mana from creatures to pay for Myr Superion? Nah, I'm good—I'll just put it onto the battlefield for free with Collected Company.

Epochrasite needs to die and then suspend to come back as a 4/4? Ain't nobody got time for that! How about I just tap my Æther Vial with 2 counters instead?

While almost all of this deck's strong creatures require being cast in a very specific way, this deck eschews those restrictions entirely. If you've ever wanted to just drop a pair of Skaab Ruinators on your opponent at the end of their turn, then this is the deck for you!

The one change I know I want to make is upping the number of mana creatures. Not only does this help you cast Myr Superion and Talara's Battalion if you don't have the Æther Vial for them, it also speeds you up since you really want to cast Collected Company on turn three if you can.

While Illusory Angel isn't quite strong enough to make the cut, Skaab Ruinator is a really powerful card both cheated onto the battlefield early and also as added gas later on. While splashing a double-blue card is a little odd, you aren't actually paying the mana cost of this card very often anyway, and so I'd kind of like a third copy.

Anticipate is a little weak here—while you do really need Company or Vial to have this deck work, you also can't really afford to spend the time trying to find it. It's crucial you draw them naturally and mulligan aggressively for them.

With those changes made, that brings us to:

Gavin Verhey's Not Paying

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I haven't really seen much like this in my entire time playing Modern—and that's what I love about the format so much. Even years into it, the new decks that come into existence which can fight tooth and claw still continue to surprise me!

This deck is a completely wild ride to play with. While it's a bit inconsistent, the games where you lead with a turn one Æther Vial can be absolutely brutal as soon your opponent is facing down an army of oversized creatures far earlier than they anticipated. I mean, who needs Tarmogoyf when you have Myr Superion?

Have fun with this deck!


McArtor's Mentions

Every week on McArtor's Mentions, we take a look at all the great decks you all sent in that didn't quite make it into the rest of the column. I could only choose two this week—but there were many more great options! Take a look!

Takuya Saitou's Smile at Death

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Qoarl's Green Affinity

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Stavros' Mono-red Dragon Snow Moon Control

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Ian Macdonald's Mono-blue Artificers

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Smash10101's Born Again

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Matthew Riggall's Inevitable Enchantments

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Lundizz' Shamans

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Jack Adcock's All That Good Stuff

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Taku Hiraoka's Elf Aggro

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Frogue's Tunnel Vision-Empty the Pits Combo

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Lolo's Growing Up

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Jake Sanders's Defender Assault

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