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Crazy Combos

 

The loss of Force of Will from this format has had quite a significant impact on the metagame. I'm sure many frustrated players believed that it was Force of Will that allowed combination decks like Trix to dominate for the past few seasons, but a quick glance at this weekend's field shows that, no, no, Force of Will didn't allow combo decks to win, it actually kept them at bay.

While most of the field is attempting to score fast wins with reanimated fatties, there are a few innovative souls that are going for the quick *and* flashy wins with a new generation of combo decks.

This first example--"Life" by Dr. Ped Bun--is a miniscule combo built inside a White Weenie deck. Task Force and Angelic Protector both gain extra toughness each time they are targeted, and various en-Kor creatures provide endless targeting ability for 0 mana. So what does an "arbitrarily large" toughness get you? Combined with three main-deck Worthy Cause, you get as much life as you want. But the kicker is the one sideboarded About Face, ready to be fetched with Cunning Wish, that can end the game in one attack, as all that toughness is instantly converted into power.

There are whispers of more "suicide" versions packing Tireless Tribe for potential turn-two kills with About Face.

Life
Pen Bunsongsikul
View a sample hand of this deck

Main Deck

60 cards

Ancient Tomb
Battlefield Forge
Brushland
Cephalid Coliseum
Flooded Strand
Forest
Island
Plains
Remote Farm
Secluded Steppe
Wasteland
Windswept Heath

26 lands


Angelic Protection
Cartographer
Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero
Nomad En-Kor
Shaman En-Kor
Task Force
Warrior En-Kor
Weathered Wayfarer

21 creatures
Cunning Wish
Living Wish
Powder Keg
Worthy Cause

13 other spells

The combo deck that everyone knew about coming in, but hasn't shown up in the numbers most people expected, is the Aluren deck. The deck received a big boost from Onslaught with Wirewood Savage, since the main "engine" component--Cavern Harpy--is a Beast, allowing for the drawing of one's deck for no mana with Aluren in play.

The kill is a bit silly: Put out a Soul Warden and gate the Cavern Harpy 100 times to gain 100 life. Then play and gate Maggot Carrier, paying one life to return the Harpy to your hand each time, until your opponent is dead.

The Savages allow for so much card-drawing that Living Wish isn't even necessary in the deck. Also missing is Eladamri's Vineyard, which some players considered necessary to enable faster wins. The presence of 10 lands that can produce two mana (Hickory Woodlot, Havenwood Battleground, Crystal Vein, and City of Traitors) means Aluren can still come down on turn 2 and end the game with the right draw.

Aluren
Pat Chapin
View a sample hand of this deck

Main Deck

60 cards

City of Brass
City of Traitors
Crystal Vein
Havenwood Battleground
Hickory Woodlot
Llanowar Wastes
Underground River
Yavimaya Coast

24 lands


Cavern Harpy
Maggot Carrier
Raven Familiar
Soul Warden
Wirewood Savage

14 creatures
Aluren
Brainstorm
Duress
Frantic Search
Intuition
Snap
Tainted Pact
Vampiric Tutor

22 other spells

One combo-style deck that does employ both the Vineyard and Living Wish is the Enchantress deck. Onslaught's new Enchantress's Presence combines with Argothian Enchantress to provide upwords of seven Enchantress effects that can't be killed with traditional targeted creature removal. Most of the rest of the deck is mana-generating enchantments: Fertile Ground, Wild Growth, Exploration, and the Vineyards. Serra's Sanctum plays the role of Tolarian Academy, and Frantic Search allows for untapping mana-generating insanity. Living Wish gets the engine piece Palinchron, which provides enough mana with the Sanctum to enable a game-ending Stroke of Genius. If Misdirection worries you, you can win with a Wished-for Reckless Embermage.

Here is the version Canada's Steve Cassell is running:

Enchantress
Steve Cassell
View a sample hand of this deck

Main Deck

60 cards

10  Forest
Island
Serra's Sanctum
Yavimaya Coast

19 lands


Argothian Enchantress

3 creatures
Eladamri's Vineyard
Enchantress's Presence
Exploration
Fertile Ground
Frantic Search
Krosan Reclamation
Living Wish
Oath of Druid
Seal of Removal
Stroke of Genius
Wild Growth
Worship

38 other spells

Onslaught's Nantuko Husk gives necessary redundancy to the "Pattern of Rebirth" deck as Phyrexian Ghouls #5-8. This little number, not seen since Worlds 2000, employs Symbiotic Wurm to enable turn-three kills. How? Turn-1 Birds of Paradise, turn-2 Nantuko Husk. On turn three, play Pattern of Rebirth of the Bird, then sacrifice it to the Husk. Pattern fetches the Wurm, which--along with all seven of its Insect offspring--go into the Husk, making it a 20/20 monstrosity.

Four Academy Rectors allow the combo to go off in a different way, using Saproling Burst for a large number of Husk-feeding tokens. Pandemonium is thrown in for potential "21" kills.

Ghoul Burst
Peter Szigeti
View a sample hand of this deck

Main Deck

60 cards

Brushland
Caves of Koilos
City of Brass
Forest
Llanowar Wates
Phyrexian Tower
Swamp

23 lands


Academy Rector
Birds of Paradise
Llanowar Elves
Nantuko Husk
Phyrexian Ghoul
Phyrexian Plaguelord
Symbiotic Wurm
Wall of Blossoms

26 creatures
Confiscate
Pandemonium
Pattern of Rebirth
Saporling Burst
Seal of Cleansing
Vampiric Tutor

11 other spells

The deck generating the most buzz may be the "Angry Hermit Part 2" played by Noah Boeken and Kamiel Cornelissen. No, the deck doesn't involve Deranged Hermit or Arc Lightning (which is a shame, really), but instead packs Hermit Druid and the incarnation Anger.

The deck may have the worst mana base seen by mankind, including four Forsaken City, a Tarnished Citadel, and two Darigaaz's Caldera. But such antics allow the running of a single basic land--a Mountain, obviously, for Anger. The combo involves playing a turn-one Hermit Druid via Mox Diamond, dumping a huge chunk of the deck into the graveyard, and then Exhuming a hasty Sutured Ghoul for a mammoth turn-3 attack. Huge monsters like Verdant Force, Avatar of Woe, and Krosan COlossus (!), beef up the Ghoul's stats. And if all the reanimator spells are milled into the yard? One Krosan Reclamation can be flashed back to put them into the library.

The plan against Sligh is to play the more traditional "reanimator" role with Entomb/ExhumeVerdant Force. But that isn't nearly as cool.

Angry Ghoul
Noah Boeken
View a sample hand of this deck

Main Deck

61 cards

City of Brass
Darigaaz's Caldera
Forsaken City
Llanowar Wastes
Mountain
Reflecting Pool
Tarnished Citadel
Underground River
Wooded Foothills

23 lands


Anger
Avatar of Woe
Hermit Druid
Krosan Colossus
Sutured Ghoul
Verdant Force

12 creatures
Cabal Therapy
Cabal Therapy
Duress
Entomb
Exhume
Krosan Reclamation
Mox Diamond
Reanimate
Vampiric Tutor
Wordly Tutor

26 other spells

Other nifty combo-ish decks showing up include Rancor-Auratog, Solitary Confinement-Squee, and Awakening-Mirari, but none of those have the potential to end the game in one turn like the above decks do.



Aaron Forsythe was a professional Magic player and Internet columnist prior to leaving Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to join Wizards of the Coast. His first duty here was Content Manager of this very website, a job that required him to do actual work as opposed to playing games all the time. So when a position opened in R&D, he jumped at the chance. He is now director of Magic R&D, and still plays Magic in his free time when he's not busy playing Magic.



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