Top 10 Two-Card Infinite MTG Combos from Modern and Legacy for Your Commander Decks
‘Combo’ is a word that has been a part of Magic: the Gathering since its very beginning. When the very first players in Alpha cast Channel into Fireball, it sparked a passion for the thrill and excitement of combining two cards that work so well together that they can win the game on the spot. Over the years that non-rotating formats have existed, and with more and more cards constantly being released into their card pools, uncountable two-card combos have cropped up everywhere.
Of course, while you will find some Commander decks that have eighty-six combos in their hundred card library (all of them usually featuring combo all-star Deadeye Navigator), in competitive formats the combos have to be more than just synergistic. They also need to be cheap enough to cast before you die, sleek enough that you don’t need too much chaff in your deck, and resilient enough to win through hate cards. This is a lot to ask, especially when the most heinous of combos have been quickly hit by the ban-hammer (Hypergenesis, Blazing Shoal, I’m looking at you.)
So, here I have compiled a list of what I believe to be some of the most fun, crazy, interesting two-card infinite combos that you can assemble in Modern and Legacy. If you don’t yet have these in your Commander deck or haven’t thought about them before, then maybe it’s something you should try! Most of them see a good amount of play, or at least have in the past, and all of them can go infinite for damage, mill, mana, turns or card draw, with just some lands and each other.
Spike Feeder & Archangel of Thune
This is a somewhat underrated combo that rose to prominence quite recently in the wake of the Splinter Twin ban, then fell again when aggressive decks rose to the fore. It’s usually played in the value Chord of Calling decks which flood the board with creatures and survive long enough to find two which win the game.
Spike Feeder’s ability allows you to remove a +1/+1 counter from it to gain two life. When you activate this ability, it triggers Archangel of Thune, which puts a +1/+1 counter on everything you control, including the Spike Feeder. Therefore, you can repeat this process as many times as you’d like to gain infinite life, but more importantly, infinite +1/+1 counters on your Archangel, and indeed any other creatures on your board except the Spike Feeder itself. If any of them can attack unblocked, it’s game over.
The trouble with running this combo is that Spike Feeder on its own is not a very good card, and Archangel is just too expensive to be legitimately playable. Therefore, you are sacrificing space in your deck to put this combo in, which could be taken by more efficient value cards, which is why it’s seeing less play in Modern than it could. However, in singleton formats this is much less of an issue.
Possible Replacements: None
Mindslaver & Academy Ruins
This particularly nasty win condition has been a mainstay of Mono-Blue Tron for years. Though it requires a lot of mana to get going, which is a major downside, once it’s in place it’s – literally – impossible to break up, because you will be taking every single one of your opponent’s turns for the rest of the game.
The premise of the combo is pretty simple. You tap and sacrifice Mindslaver to take your opponent’s next turn, and then during your upkeep, pay and activate Academy Ruins to put it on top of your deck before your draw step. Then you draw it, play it and sacrifice it. Even if your turns consist of nothing but recurring and playing Mindslaver, you will win the game because you control your opponent’s actions. Even if they have no way in which you can sabotage them in their deck, which is highly unlikely, every turn you are drawing the same Mindslaver and they are drawing another card from the top of their library, so eventually they will mill out and you won’t.
Possible Replacements: None
Deceiver Exarch & Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
This combo is the descendant of its forerunner UR Twin, which was the hallmark of Modern for a number of years. Although Splinter Twin has been banned for the sake of competitive diversity, its sister combo lives on, and though it doesn’t make as many waves in Modern as it used to, it’s still a viable win condition for UR decks.
The combo is very simple. Kiki-Jiki taps to copy Exarch, and the new Exarch enters the battlefield, putting a trigger on the stack. It targets Kiki-Jiki. Kiki-Jiki untaps and taps again to make another Exarch copy. This can go on as many times as you’d like it to, and when you have approximately eleven trillion tokens, you can attack your opponent, as all the tokens have haste. What makes this combo especially potent is that it can all be done in the space of one turn, so if your opponent taps out, they could just be dead.
As one of Magic’s best-known and best-loved combos, this one doesn’t need much explaining. It’s easy to use and easy to win with.
Possible Replacements for Kiki-Jiki: Splinter Twin
Possible Replacements for Deceiver Exarch: Pestermite, Zealous Conscripts, Restoration Angel (if used with Kiki-Jiki).
A similar combo utilising the same ‘flicker’ strategy recently emerged in Standard with Felidar Guardian and Saheeli Rai. This is also a very viable option, though these cards are both sorcery speed and only work with each other.
Vizier of Remedies & Devoted Druid
This is a combo which has risen to prominence recently and is currently seeing a lot of play in a number of different Modern decks. Again, the decks which like this combo are the old Melira Pod shells which evolved into Abzan Company and now have become centred around this interaction instead; although, it has also seen some play in the Elves decks as a back door win condition.
Devoted Druid has been in print for a long time, but there was nothing that could combo infinitely with it except Quillspike, which, let’s be honest, isn’t a very playable card. Since Vizier was printed in Amonkhet, though, Druid has begun to see the limelight, because the specific wording on Vizier interacts with it in a way nothing else has.
Druid taps to make a mana, then untaps by putting a -1/-1 counter on itself. With a Vizier of Remedies in play, the replacement effect takes over and prevents the counter being put on the Druid, so it untaps for free. Then it taps again, and untaps again, and continues to do so until you have as much green mana as you need. This can then be used to cast any number of win conditions out of your hand or, indeed, your deck. As far as infinite mana combos go, this one is a very strong one.
Possible Replacements: None
Angel’s Grace/Ad Nauseam
A favourite in Modern since the very beginning, Ad Nauseam is the classic turn four deck. This combo is the centrepiece of it. Just looking at Ad Nauseam, it seems like a card that can very easily be broken; and it has been, in many different ways and in different formats. This particular flavour of broken has it combining with Angel’s Grace.
You tap five mana and cast Ad Nauseam, and sometime in the same turn, either before Ad Nauseam or holding priority after it, you cast Angel’s Grace. When Ad Nauseam resolves, you get to put your entire deck into your hand, because Angel’s Grace says you can’t lose the game this turn no matter how low your life total goes – even if it’s way into the minus numbers. So, you can essentially draw infinite cards. You then proceed pick up your whole library and then choose any number of ways to kill your opponent.
In Modern the normal way is with Lightning Storm, discarding the extra lands you draw, but you can also use Laboratory Maniac and draw a card. Although this isn’t a two-card win condition in the strictest sense because all it does is draw you cards, if picking up your whole deck isn’t enough to get you there, I don’t know what is!
Possible Replacements for Angel’s Grace: Phyrexian Unlife, Platinum Angel, Gideon of the Trials (with an emblem)
Painter’s Servant & Grindstone
Although Painter’s Servant is unfortunately banned in Commander, making this a Canadian or German Highlander only option, this combo is a favourite of mine and, in my opinion, one of the most interesting ways that Magic cards interact. Painter’s Servant changes all cards – not just permanents, but cards – to a colour of your choice.
In Legacy this is excellent, because suddenly every card is blue, to pitch to Force of Will, or to kill with your Pyroblasts and Red Elemental Blasts. Including lands. The pure value aside, though, the little 1/3 scarecrow is actually part of the game-winning combo with Grindstone. Grindstone mills two cards from the top of the opponent’s library for three mana, and if they share a colour, which they always will because of Painter’s Servant, the process is repeated. This mills your opponent’s entire library and they lose on their draw step.
This fantastic combo is very fun to play with, and one of the more unique interactions in Magic‘s history. Sadly, it’s not legal in Commander, but perhaps one day it will be!
Possible Replacements: None
Note that though it’s not an infinite combo, you can also win the game by playing Iona, Shield of Emeria with a Painter’s Servant on the battlefield and naming the chosen colour. Your opponent will not be able to cast spells.
Rest in Peace & Helm of Obedience
This combo has been around for a very long time, and has become a backdoor win condition for many a control deck which happens to run graveyard hate in its sideboard. It’s handy because it’s easy to assemble, moderately difficult to interact with, can be activated on the turn it comes down and is an incidental combo which can be included for very little cost in a deck already running Rest in Peace.
With a Rest in Peace on the field, cards never see the graveyard, they go straight into exile. This prevents ‘dies’ triggers and other things from happening. It also means that when Helm of Obedience is activated, and checks to see when a creature hits the graveyard, because it never does, the player actually ends up milling their entire library into exile. This is a case of a card with old templating interacting with a new card, because nothing like Helm of Obedience would be printed this way nowadays; but nonetheless, the combo exists and is very potent.
If you’re looking for an easy way to beat most decks (even those running Eldrazi Titans, as they never hit the graveyard and trigger) then this is the combo for you. Half of it is very good tech against graveyard decks anyway, and the other half is, at worst a terrible Control Magic and at best a free win condition!
Possible Replacements for Rest in Peace: Leyline of the Void
Animate Dead & Worldgorger Dragon
This is a hilarious combo which has, in the past, been seen in both Legacy and Vintage, and actually been banned in Legacy at one stage. Though today it’s viewed as a much more janky version of the streamlined Reanimator decks we see featuring Griselbrand and co., it’s the original reanimator target and for that, we thank it for its service.
So, the way it works is actually fairly intricate. Animate Dead enters the battlefield and targets a dead Worldgorger Dragon. The dragon enters play and triggers, putting the Animate Dead that reanimated it into exile. With Animate Dead gone, the leaves-the-battlefield ability triggers and the dragon dies again, returning everything it exiled including the Animate Dead. That targets the Worldgorger Dragon and the loop begins again.
This might seem like just a fancy way of wasting time, and in some cases it is, as if there are no other targets in the graveyard for Animate Dead, the infinite combo can’t be stopped because neither trigger is a ‘may’, and the game will end in a draw. If, however, you have an instant-speed win condition or another creature to target to eventually end the loop, you can float mana in between each of the iterations of your lands being exiled and returning, making this a very strange and hilarious infinite mana combo.
Possible Replacements for Animate Dead: Necromancy, Dance of the Dead
This weird and wonderful combo used to have a serious home in Legacy and was known as an off-the-wall graveyard deck with a wacky engine. It has since been surpassed by the more resilient Dredge lists that are around today, but the combo itself is still very powerful without any hate to shut it down.
The main combo piece is Cephalid Illusionist, which is the deck’s namesake. The object is to use any ability that targets it for free, usually a Nomads En-Kor, to trigger it an infinite number of times and mill your entire library. This, in the right deck, will be an instant win condition, as you can put one Narcomoeba and one Dread Return in your deck and immediately bring back any creature you’d like, and there are many that can easily win the game from such a position.
The combo is easy to break up by removing either the graveyard or the Cephalid, however, when it goes off it’s very fun to play with and there are a lot of ways you can build it, even in singleton, to give the breakfast your own personal flavour.
Possible Replacements for Nomads En-Kor: Shuko, Shaman En-Kor
Lion’s Eye Diamond & Auriok Salvagers
This combo hasn’t seen too much play in Legacy for a long time, since it’s very easily hated out and there are just better ways of making infinite mana. It is still very much a known entity though, and in Vintage Auriok Salvagers is a kill-on-sight threat.
The combo is fairly easy to work out. You sacrifice Lion’s Eye Diamond to make three mana, and then bring it back to your hand with the Salvagers for two mana, then cast it for 0, repeating as many times as you need and making infinite white at the same time. Then, once you have twelve billion white in your pool, you can repeat it over and over to make four billion of any other colour of mana you’d like.
You win by either bringing back a blue or red Spellbomb from your graveyard to draw cards or damage your opponent, or by pumping the mana into a sink you have on board. There are many different ways to utilise infinite mana to win, even without any cards in hand!
Possible Replacements for Lion’s Eye Diamond: Black Lotus
While we’re here, I would also like to mention one other two-card combo which utterly captured my imagination and which was, truthfully, the inspiration for my writing this article. Until I discovered it was banned in Commander (probably rightfully so, but that still made me sad.) As such, I’d like to bring it up. Maybe some of you Canadian Highlander players out there would like to brew with it!
Time Vault & Voltaic Key
One of the oldest, most time-honoured decks in the Vintage format revolves around this combo. It’s easy to tutor out with cards like Tezzeret the Seeker, Tinker or Trinket Mage and plays out with very little mana.
The cards read very clearly in this case and it doesn’t take much explaining. You can tap Time Vault to take an extra turn, and then pay one mana and untap it with Voltaic Key to do it again, and again, and again, racking up infinite extra turns (yes, turns do stack). Then you can draw your whole library and use any number of cards in your deck to win. You have no fear of your opponent doing anything after you’ve gone off, because they’ll never get the chance.
Though it’s sadly not possible to run in Commander because the committee hates fun, and there’s no real replacement for Time Vault, it’s a fantastic example of an infinite combo and one that I personally really love.
If I could afford Power, you bet this would be the deck I’d choose.
Whilst researching for this article I came across a number of wacky and insane combos – Duskmantle Guildmage/Mindcrank, Pili-Pala/Grand Architect, Mikaeus the Unhallowed/Triskelion. Of all of them that cropped up, though, this one absolutely blew my mind, and although it’s janky and probably going to lose you the game more often than win it, the pure beauty when it works must be a sight to see. I couldn’t not tell the world.
Academy Rector & Kaervek’s Spite
Academy Rector is a known entity in the combo world as a highly unfair card. You simply have to arrange for her to have an unfortunate accident and you have the world at your fingertips in terms of enchantments that will usually just win the game, or very close to it.
Kaervek’s Spite, on the other hand, is very much an unknown entity, and rightfully so. I think people would judge you more if you HAD heard of it than if you haven’t. For the small cost of three black mana, ALL YOUR PERMANENTS and YOUR WHOLE HAND, you can – wait for it – make your opponent lose five life.
Yeah, I’m not into that.
Not unless I have an Academy Rector in play, which I’ll sacrifice along with everything else to the Spite and tutor out a Barren Glory to win on my next upkeep.
So, there you have it!
Which of these combos do you like the best? Are there any you want to try in your Commander deck, or that you’re already using? Let us know in the comments!
Thanks for reading,