Spread the Sickness – Modern Part 3 – Combo Decks by Grant Hislop

UB Mystical Teachings – A Pauper Video Article by Grant Hislop


This article leads from Part one and Part two.

Previously, we’ve discussed some of the Aggro and Mid-Range archetypes that could be viable in the upcoming Modern format. For this article, I’ll take a look at some of the viable Combo decks that people will be looking at.

The ban-list has nerfed some of the more degenerate combo decks, like [Card]Hypergenesis[/Card], [Card]Dredge[/Card], Thopter Depths etc, but there’s still enough for plenty of combo decks to be played. Elves is still viable for example, even without [Card]Glimpse of Nature[/Card], though it slows them down a bit, and makes them play a lot fairer.

Essentially, Wizards have said that if it kills consistently on Turn 3, they don’t want it in Modern. If it’s slower than that, it’s fine. This is a reasonable time-frame to work to.

Again, I’m not tiering these decks by any means, they’re not in any particular order.

Project Melira.

4 [Card]Birds of Paradise[/Card]
4 [Card]Dark Confidant[/Card]
4 [Card]Kitchen Finks[/Card]
1 [Card]Murderous Redcap[/Card]
1 [Card]Scarland Thrinax[/Card]
4 [Card]Viscera Seer[/Card]
4 [Card]Melira, Sylvok Outcast[/Card]

4 [Card]Green Suns Zenith[/Card]
4 [Card]Thoughtseize[/Card]
4 [Card]Punishing Fire[/Card]
2 [Card]Maelstrom Pulse[/Card]

4 [Card]Forest[/Card]
2 [Card]Swamp[/Card]
1 [Card]Blood Crypt[/Card]
4 [Card]Grove of the Burnwillows[/Card]
3 [Card]Marsh Flats[/Card]
4 [Card]Overgrown Tomb[/Card]
1 [Card]Stomping Ground[/Card]
4 [Card]Verdant Catacombs[/Card]
1 [Card]Dryad Arbor[/Card]


4 [Card]Deathmark[/Card]
1 [Card]Duress[/Card]
2 [Card]Murderous Redcap[/Card]
4 [Card]Tarmogoyf[/Card]
4 [Card]Nature’s Claim[/Card]

How does it work?

Well, it’s a pretty spicy number. When [Card]Melira, Sylvok Outcast[/Card] is in play, your creatures can’t get counters placed on them. This includes your Persist creatures. A sacrifice outlet, plus a Persist guy and Melira creates an infinite loop. In this version, we can loop infinite life and infinite damage, though it’s possible to customise based on whatever Persist critter takes your fancy.

What’s important to look at with this deck is that barring the infinite damage combo ([Card]Murderous Redcap[/Card]), each cog in the combo is [Card]Green Sun’s Zenith[/Card]-able.

We’ve got [Card]Dark Confidant[/Card] to add some draw power to our deck, to take advantage of our super-low curve. [Card]Thoughtseize[/Card] helps us to protect the combo, and it is possible to have infinite life on Turn 3. Seems good.


The banning of [Card]Glimpse of Nature[/Card] hasn’t killed this deck, it’s just slowed it down. The goal is still to make a mass of little green men, and turn them sideways. We’re using [Card]Cloudstone Curio[/Card] as our degenerate combo enabler.

Sample list.

4 [Card]Arbor Elf[/Card]
4 [Card]Elvish Archdruid[/Card]
4 [Card]Elvish Visionary[/Card]
3 [Card]Essence Warden[/Card]
4 [Card]Heritage Druid[/Card]
4 [Card]Llanowar Elves[/Card]
4 [Card]Nettle Sentinel[/Card]
2 [Card]Regal Force[/Card]
1 [Card]Ezuri, Renegade Leader[/Card]
1 [Card]Emrakul, the Aeon’s Torn[/Card]

2 [Card]Summoner’s Pact[/Card]
4 [Card]Cloudstone Curio[/Card]
4 [Card]Green Sun’s Zenith[/Card]

16 [Card]Forest[/Card]
1 [Card]Dryad Arbor[/Card]
2 [Card]Pendelhaven[/Card]


2 [Card]Fauna Shaman[/Card]
1 [Card]Pendelhaven[/Card]
4 [Card]Thorn of Amethyst[/Card]
4 [Card]Vengevine[/Card]
3 [Card]Vexing Shusher[/Card]
1 [Card]Viridian Zealot[/Card]

How does it work?

For all cases, assume [Card]Cloudstone Curio[/Card] is in play.

With [Card]Essence Warden[/Card], [Card]Heritage Druid[/Card], and any one mana elf, we can gain infinite life. Play one Elf, return another, replay that one, return another, replay it, tap all three for a mana with the Curio trigger on the stack, and then repeat the process over and over for as much life as you want. Considering you have an Emrakul in your deck, you won’t deck yourself, and if they don’t have a way to stop the engine you can’t lose.

[Card]Nettle Sentinel[/Card], [Card]Heritage Druid[/Card] plus a 1 mana elf equates to infinite mana, using the same line of play. Return the [Card]Heritage Druid[/Card], play again, bounce the other Elf, play the other Elf, tap for three mana with the Curio trigger on the stack and net one mana each loop since the Nettle Sentinel untaps itself on each pass.

You can recur Elvish Visionaries to draw (most of) your deck, and you should be good to go.

This is probably the cheapest deck in the format to build, so it’ll end up being more popular than it has any right to be, due to both Tribal affiliation and budgetary concerns. At least [Card]Mental Misstep[/Card] is good against this deck. Wait…..


3 [Card]Bogardan Hellkite[/Card]
1 [Card]Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund[/Card]

4 [Card]Lotus Bloom[/Card]
4 [Card]Condescend[/Card]
3 [Card]Gigadrowse[/Card]
4 [Card]Peer Through Depths[/Card]
4 [Card]Seething Song[/Card]
4 [Card]Dragonstorm[/Card]
4 [Card]Ponder[/Card]
4 [Card]Preordain[/Card]
4 [Card]Rite of Flame[/Card]

3 [Card]Island[/Card]
2 [Card]Mountain[/Card]
2 [Card]Cascade Bluffs[/Card]
4 [Card]Dreadship Reef[/Card]
4 [Card]Scalding Tarn[/Card]
3 [Card]Shivan Reef[/Card]
3 [Card]Steam Vents[/Card]


1 [Card]Bogardan Hellkite[/Card]
4 [Card]Repeal[/Card]
4 [Card]Firespout[/Card]
4 [Card]Nix[/Card]
2 [Card]Pact of Negation[/Card]

How does it work?

This one should be relatively straightforward.

You dig through your deck using a bunch of library manipulation spells, chain a bunch of rituals together, create a reasonable storm count, and cast [Card]Dragonstorm[/Card].

Karrthus is the big improvement of previous versions, in that you now only need to Storm for 3, and Karrthus will make your Hellkite hasty, and smash face. You’re now using the combat step, which weakens the deck somewhat, but it’s still reasonably consistent.

Again, this deck is very cheap to build, as the only money card in the deck is the lands, which you should already have been stock-piling…

The sideboard in this deck is a joke. Sort it out if you’re planning on playing it.

I think that this deck is a bad version of the next deck I’m going to look at, so couldn’t, in good faith recommend it.

[Card]Hive Mind[/Card].

2 [Card]Ethereal Usher[/Card]

4 [Card]Lotus Bloom[/Card]
4 [Card]Hive Mind[/Card]
4 [Card]Pact of Negation[/Card]
4 [Card]Pact of the Titan[/Card]
4 [Card]Remand[/Card]
3 [Card]Seething Song[/Card]
1 [Card]Summoner’s Pact[/Card]
4 [Card]Ponder[/Card]
4 [Card]Preordain[/Card]
4 [Card]Rite of Flame[/Card]

4 [Card]Island[/Card]
2 [Card]Mountain[/Card]
2 [Card]Cascade Bluffs[/Card]
4 [Card]Scalding Tarn[/Card]
4 [Card]Steam Vents[/Card]
4 [Card]Shivan Reef[/Card]
2 [Card]Tolaria West[/Card]


2 [Card]Firespout[/Card]
2 [Card]Chalice of the Void[/Card]
3 [Card]Gigadrowse[/Card]
2 [Card]Negate[/Card]
2 [Card]Echoing Truth[/Card]
2 [Card]Magus of the Moon[/Card]
1 [Card]Engineered Explosives[/Card]

How does it work?

Really well.

Dig through your deck, play some rituals, put a [Card]Hive Mind[/Card] down. Cast a Pact or two, and your opponent copies it. Their turn comes first, so they lose due to being unable to pay for their copy of the pact. Piece of piss.

This deck is the real deal, though the above version isn’t close to optimized. Be warned.

There are heaps of other viable combo strategies, including [Card]Living End[/Card], [Card]Splinter Twin[/Card], [Card]Pyromancer Ascension[/Card], and a host of others.

This is the Modern World.



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