Welcome to… Magic: The Gathering Cool Casual Combos and Card Interactions for Cool Cats Considering Competitive Kitchen Carnage
Pirates do not share their treasure. It is known (thanks Irri!). I on the other hand, am not a pirate. Which is why I present to you this small chest. Yes it does look rather piratey, but it was on sale!
YARR! It contains a small ensemble of cute card pairings, synergies, cool interactions and even some infinite loop combos. If you are looking for an idea to build a casual deck around, then perhaps some of these shiny trinkets may catch your eye. Please take these ideas with a big lick of salt. Most are only casual playable, are just a bit of fun or are based around the nut draw. My trusty companion Paint returns to help me bring these interactions to life. Some of these you will know (due to them being famously effective), others you may not (most likely due to them being pretty narrow). Let’s crack it open and see what we’ve got!
1. The Aviary
Cloudreach Cavalry was the first thing I thought of when I saw War Falcon. Separated by many years and sets, they can finally be together on a kitchen table. This is not to say that 5 Power of flying turn 2 is to be sniffed at. If only the Cavalry was common, then they’d be great together in Pauper weenie.
2. Scavenge the shadow of death
This has been talked about since Varolz was spoiled. I had initially assumed that you would need a discard outlet like Lotleth Troll so you can discard Death’s Shadow to it. The nifty thing is, you don’t. Assuming you are on 13 or more life, you can cast the Shadow (to which it will immediately die) and then Scavenge away! Lotleth does some work as the Scavenge target though – unlike his striped twin, he actually has Trample to go with being a 15 power regenerator (plus you can use him to get a free +1/+1 counter and save a mana on your combo ). Phyrexian Dreadnought provides the same task as the Shadow, but with the advantage and disadvantage of always dying when you cast it.
3. The Devoted Quillspike
Notice that Quillspike has the power and toughness of INFINITY? That’s is because this one is an infinite loop. You can put a -1/-1 counter on Devoted Druid to untap him, Quillspike can then use that Green mana to remove that -1/-1 counter and give himself +3/+3. Rinse, and repeat!
4. Eternal on a budget
I thought of this the other day as a cheap lock alternative to Eternal Command (which uses Cryptic Command, Eternal Witness and Aether Vial. Once you have access to 6 mana you can counter a spell every turn, forever! i.e Cast Familiar’s Ruse and return either an existing Archaeomancer or some other creature, then cast an Archaeomancer to return Familiar’s Ruse. Back to square one. To get there quicker Somberwald Sage could be used to boost out the Archaeomancer. Also, you would really need a spell/activate-able effect that you can use to gain advantage for when you do not need to counter their spell. Although Cryptic Command is used to counter target spell and bounce the Eternal Witness most of the time, the fact that you can return one of their lands and draw a card when they cast nothing is… insane. This cheap alternative deck would need a card dedicated to this task.
5. Archaeomancer Flicker
I am not sponsored by Archaeomancer‘s R Us! Only I felt it would be strange to mention the lass for a more flimsy synergy when a much stronger one exists. If you play Pauper then you either know all about this, or you will at some point.
Essentially the combo is having an Achaeomancer on the battlefield and casting Ghostly Flicker on her + a creature/artifact/land with an enters-the-battlefield triggered ability (in this case, Wall of Omens). The Mancer’ and her buddy get flickered and their triggers go off. Ghostly Flicker fully resolves and goes to the Graveyard (the final thing a card does upon resolving) and the Mancer + buddy triggers go onto the stack. The triggers now resolve; in this case getting you a ‘draw a card’ from Wall of Omens and Archaeomancer then returns Ghostly Flicker to your hand so you can do it all over again.
This is a surprisingly solid combo. You can afford to cast Archaeomancer to return something else during the early game. Similarly, you can use Ghostly Flicker early on, knowing that once you draw the Mancer you can get the ball rolling. It operates at instant speed once assembled and provides protection for the pieces. Additionally, you can do it multiple times a turn for every 3 mana you have.
6. Multicoloured Ritual
What’s going on here? We’re casting Woolly Thoctar turn 1, that’s what! Domri Rade or Loxodon Smiter would be pleasant turn one plays also. Access to 3 mana of potentially different colours on turn 1 is an intriguing notion to say the least. You may choose which to reveal first, so ensure that you reveal the Chancellor then the Caverns. This way the Chancellor can be the card you tuck underneath Caverns! Whoopee! Ol’ Tangler was going to slob around uselessly in the hand for the next 6 turns or so otherwise!
I have tried ever so hard to make this Chancellor work in decks. The way it skews your deck into playing a lot of 2 drops to take advantage of its first ability weakens things though. You also find that they are unwelcome after that initial one night stand on turn 1. Much like a second Gemstone Caverns, which is why the two couple so well on the first turn.
If you do try this at home, I suggest incorporating Faithless Looting so as to pitch unwanted copies of the two cards later on. And good luck!
7. Mini Hypno
I always thought it was strange that the Morningtide cycle Oona’s Blackguard is from don’t care where you got the +1/+1 counter from. Playing a 2/2 on turn one is not a pretty sight for most opposing decks. When Oona’s Blackguard comes down on turn 2 they will first look at the creature types, be bemused for a second before… BAM! Getting hit for 2 dmg and losing a card! Unleash and undying cards look pretty attractive with ‘discard a card’ stapled on. Consider Mark of Mutiny for decks with early blockers.
8. Informing Futility
It is common knowledge that Lin Sivvi is immensely powerful. She was banned in block! Rebel Informer performs his duty well, being able to hide away opposing Rebel tutors or save your own from imminent death. Assuming you have both these cards out, you can save either of them from removal for 6 mana. If someone foolishly tries to target Lin Sivvi with spot removal, you can respond by activating her first ability for ‘3’ and in response you then activate Rebel Informer‘s second ability targeting Lin Sivvi. His ability resolves first, tucking her away on the bottom. Then her ability resolves allowing you to find a rebel of 3 cmc or less. Hmmm, what are we going to look for? Being able to tutor yourself back to the battlefield deserves some serious respect.
If you can get your hands on some Shardless Agents then you could do a lot worse than cascading into a 5/6. Ancestral Vision is the dream, and is banned in Modern. Grand Architect will also get the job done seeing as the mana produced from his third ability counts as coming from a creature. Grand Architect also boasts an infinite mana combo when paired with Pili-Pala.
10. Knight of the ‘totally-casting-him-on-turn-two’
Knight of the White Orchid is a great card. He provides ramp in a rampless colour, being able to fetch up a dual/shockland untapped no less! If your opponent is ramping themselves it only makes it easier to keep slamming these. Path to Exile and Kor Skyfisher are trusty allies that help ensure you trigger his ability. What frustrated me though, is that you have to wait till they have dropped a third land before you play the Knight.
Weenie no doubt have an abundance of 2 drops to choose from on that turn, so this is not a big problem. Regardless, dropping this card on turn two feels slick and I urge you to try it! i.e, If you are on the draw,
T1: Play a [/card]Plains[/card]
T2: Tap the Plains for mana. Play Dromar’s Cavern and return the Plains to hand. Tap the Cavern for mana and cast the Knight (you have 1 land at this point). Search up a Plains card with the option of it being untapped, handy for Path’ing or going deep with a Tithe.
11. Giving the Battalion confidence
Obviously Talara’s Battalion have some social anxiety. Even though they sport some impressive stats, they insist on having a wingman. Manamorphose and Burning-Tree Emissary allow you to accompany them while losing no tempo whatsoever. Illusory Angel is cut from the same cloth, though means adding blue to the mix. On a sidenote, I love how the art for Talara’s Battalion conveys the stats exactly. I.e 3 bodies = 3 toughness, 4 swords = 4 power! Coincidence? I think not.
12. Hatching Cards
Hatching Plans is the fixed Standstill, though the two are leagues apart in effectiveness. If you are a fan of durdly Izzet decks, then you might just dig this pairing. Dropping the Plans on turn two allows a Perilous Research to be a 2 mana instant speed draw five cards! Admittedly pairings like this a bit floozy due to their uselessness without each other. This is why you would want to include other ways to sacrifice the Plans (Abjure?) and other permanent’s you might want to Perilously Research (Act of Treason their creature perhaps). For magnified synergy run greedy creatures that love card draw ( a la Lorescale Coatl and Psychosis Crawler)!
13. Have some life, I insist
This is very much a joke deck idea, seeing as it gets totally blown out be removal of any kind. Interestingly, naughty infect saw Invigorate get banned in pauper. Nut draw would be a solid 1drop like Nettle Sentinel. Then turn two you cast Kavu Predator, attack with Nettle Sentinel boosted by an Invigorate (cast the gaining life way). This untaps Nettle Sentinel and boosts the Kavu up to a 5/5. After combat cast Skyshroud Cutter (again, the life way) making the Kavu a 10/10 trampler. You also have a 2/2 on the board and should have the opponent on 28-6=22 life. Well, Wraths cost 4, so kill them the next turn I guess!
Epochrasite– everyone’s favourite metalic pest! Why get a 1/1 the first time though? Let’s go straight to 4/4 town. Flickerwisp">Flickerwisp or any Flicker/Blink effects will return your Epoc all juiced up and fat. Flickerwisp is a really versatile card on it’s own. Being able to remove a blocker till end of turn, or flicker a land so you can Path to Exile their creature on their turn. You can use it to reset a planeswalker (and use another ability of theirs) or get jiggy with a Thragtusk. I’ve added a few other reanimating synergies with Epoc, as it’ll come in as a 4/4 with them too.
Portent is portentially* just a poor Ponder. That’s not a very informative sentence, like saying someone is an ugly version of Johnny Depp (I’m told he’s attractive). Add another janky card to the mix and you have quite the tempo maker!
Portent on turn 1 targeting your opponent. Put them back in the order of worse, best, okay.
Turn 2 cast Foreshadow, knowing the card to name! Their best card goes to the graveyard from the top.
Overall you will have used 2 cards but drawn 3, while keeping your opponent on worse draws. *I know how to spell btw. This is just a super pun.
16. Demigod Squad
Essentially once you have a Demigod in hand cast Buried Alive to put the other three in the graveyard. Follow it up with the fourth Demigod and he’ll reanimate his brethren for 20 damage in the air!
Much like an Artisan of Kozilek and the Legendary Eldrazi, Demigod has the advantage of triggering his ability when being cast, regardless of if he gets countered. The disadvantage of this is that you do not get the trigger if you are reanimating him, e.g with Unburial Ritres. If someone was sloppy enough to try and counter the Demigod, you could then return himself with his own ability because that trigger would resolve after the counterspell. If they wait for the trigger to resolve, he can then be countered successfully. If he has brought back the whole unit though, they are in a world of pain regardless of timing their counter-spell correctly.
Pro-Tip: Counter Buried Alive whenever possible if you suspect someone of running this combo.
17. Resto Fail
This is in relation to a running-joke-esque observation my friend and I have had. When analysing a card it is so often that the phrase ‘works well with Resto’ comes up. Any creature with an enters-the-battlefield or leaves-the-battlefield are obvious winners, also creatures with haste and attacking/activated abilities can be abused (Aurelia, the Warleader, Izzet Staticaster). Furthermore, seeing as Resto can ‘save’ a creature, she is good with almost every creature automatically! Not Phage though. Nor Avatar of Discord. See how many more you can find!
18. Infinite Life: The Reckoning
Boros Reckoner: Amazing how Spitemare costing one less and having the option of being quick in a punch up makes for such a super-powerful card! The combo was used in some pro UWR decks, so this will be nothing new to most of you. Give Boros Reckoner or Spitemare Lifelink (in this case by Soulbonding with Nearheath Pilgrim, but is more commonly done with Azorius Charm). Grant him indestructibility (in this case with Boros Charm). You can either shoot him with a Pillar of Flame to get the combo started or assemble this during combat before damage. Upon taking damage, you target himself. He takes that damage and targets himself. He takes that damage and… you get the idea. Over and over he’s masochistically bolts himself, all the while gaining you life.
19. The Broody Mimic
You have cast Swagtusk on the turn before and have that warm fuzzy feeling of comfort that only he can bring. Cast Progenitor Mimic choosing to copy Thragtusk (of course we want more!). You are immediately rewarded with more life, a decent body, and even more of that cosy-beside-a-fire-in-winter-feeling. The following turn though, things take an interesting turn… After seconds of ‘during your upkeep’ labour your Mimic gives birth to it’s first baby Thragtusk (a C section for sure). Your opponent is feeling disheartened at the sight of so many life-bearing tusk faces. However, you had generously allowed them to play the 36 Thragtusk 24 Forest deck, so they don’t feel too far behind at this point. At the end of their turn a mischievous glint sparkles in your eye as you cast Momentry Blink on your Progenitor Mimic. Upon returning to the battlefield you choose to copy the clone-Tusk you had made that turn. Your Mimic gains ‘At the beginning of your upkeep blah blah’, but the copied creature already had that line on it, and so it gains that line twice. Therefore, during your next upkeep you will start giving birth to twins (oh the humanity!). Then you Flashback Momentry Blink targeting the Mimic, and choose to copy one of the twins you made… Next upkeep, BAM! Triplets.
Thragtusk is not essential, but is definitely one of the better cards to copy, and would be expected in a Bant deck capable of blinking.
20. Cherubs and Charity
Thragtusks ears must have been burning. It certainly is a pity that this will never be seen in Standard, due to Rescue from the Underworld coming as the other two are going. This is more of just a sweet synergistic play than a combo (much like eating a Thragtusk with a Disciple of Bolas. Man, that Thragtusk gets around). With a Thragtusk in the bin and a Restoration Angel on the battlefield you can then use Rescue from the Underworld to send Restoration Angel on the noble quest of reanimating Thragtusk. With Thragtusk entering first and Resto second, you get the chance to blink Thragtusk. Netting you a total of 10 life and a 3/3 Beast as well as your team back.
21. Bloom Beater
When Bloom Tender isn’t tending oh so tenderly, it can be attacking for a million. Once you have 4 different colours among permanents (like above) Bloom Tender will tap for 4 mana. You can then use Seedcradle Witch‘s ability to untap Bloom Tender and grant it +3/+3. Repeat till you get bored, and then attack with Bloom Tender! Manaforge Cinder can be replaced by Oona’s Gatewarden for the same effect. An Elvish Spirit Guide, Simian Spirit Guide or Chancellor of the Tangle allow you to play Bloom Tender on turn 1. This means you can go off on turn 2! (assuming you have the other two).
22. Exile’s Return (also a decent Raymond E Feist novel)
There was a hubbub surrounding Misthollow Griffin when it was spoiled. Curious how such a unique effect turned out to be so.. mediocre. They were probably handling the card’s design with big fluffy safety gloves in danger of making a fool of themselves. You can pitch it to Force of Will and then cast it again later! – But why would a deck running Force’s want a Phantom Monster? The Griffin belongs in a whacky casual deck! It plays well with Bane alley Broker, another interesting card with strange applications.
What I’m pitching to you here is an unstoppable finisher for a Dimir deck full of removal and counters. You could counter and kill everything on sight, with access to a creature that can never be dealt with. If they kill it, you Moorland Haunt it into Exile and can recast it again. Path to Exile and Oblivion Ring do not even do anything to it really except put your opponent back a card and cost you 4 mana.
A strange addition to the deck would be Manipulate Fate, which allows you to search up your griffins into exile, and it cycles too. When you draw your second Manipulate Fate you can use it to Exile lands/useless spells depending on the matchup, i.e streamlining the deck. You can also afford to use the more definitive exiling Wraths (Merciless Eviction or Final Judgment).
23. Primal Synergies
The picture above tells it all really! All of the 2 mana creatures have a death trigger, apart from Bloodghast which may as well have. The fact that Primal Growth doesn’t force you to sacrifice a creature is great, as it would not be uncommon to use it has a Rampant growth of a turn 1 Birds of Paradise. The creatures shown in ‘Result’ were based on the worst case scenario in which you do not draw into a 4th land. Apart from Rampaging Baloths who just needed to get mentioned anyway! Landfall creatures have great synergy with a ramp deck as they turn future Primal Growths and flooding lands into advantage.
Vorapede is really just a Strangleroot Geist that’s been juicing, so it works too in the sense that you can use it for another Primal Growth Kicker. The bottom half shows decent 5 mana elves you could search for with Wirewood Herald.
24. Bolas and Friends
I was on a hunt for cards that could be cast for free (with conditions) and came across Angelic Favor. As an ambush spell it’s not a bad one, seeing as you can cast it when tapped out! I have other uses for it however. It makes a decent token, which could then be populated (say, by Rootborn Defenses). The populated token remains, and will hopefully continue to flourish. It makes a 4 power guy which you could Flash in during your combat, to then eat with Disciple of Bolas during the second main phase. 4 cards and 4 life and without eating any of your early drops. Yum!
This brings me to the relationship between Disciple of Bolas and Mimic Vat. Imagine if the Disciple has flash? The card would be totally busted! Using her in response to an opponents removal spell would stack up an immense amount of value. Imprinting a Disciple on to a Mimic Vat creates a repeatable, instant speed disciple effect! Which in turn, brings me back to Rootborn Defenses! Mimic Vat puts tokens into play. These can then be populated! Unlike the Vat tokens, the populated ones will hang around and make themselves useful.
That’s me out of ideas. These are mostly casual playable ideas, though some can be competitive with a bit of tweaking. Perhaps amongst all this waffle you have had a brilliant envision of a rogue deck, inspired by one of these silly interactions! Whether you learnt of combo you did not previous know, or just had fun in general, I’m glad you made it this far! Stay tuned for my next article, which will be aimed at some of the more fun aspects of Magic.
Community Question: Did I miss any cool combos out? What are your favourite MTG combos and card interactions? Please let me know in the comments!
Till next time!