- 1x Ancient Tomb
- 1x Bayou
- 1x Bloodstained Mire
- 1x Boseiju, Who Shelters All
- 1x Breeding Pool
- 1x Cavern of Souls
- 1x Cephalid Coliseum
- 1x Command Tower
- 1x Drowned Catacomb
- 1x Dryad Arbor
- 1x Flooded Strand
- 1x Forbidden Orchard
- 1x Hinterland Harbor
- 1x Marsh Flats
- 1x Misty Rainforest
- 1x Overgrown Tomb
- 1x Polluted Delta
- 1x Reflecting Pool
- 1x Reliquary Tower
- 1x Riptide Laboratory
- 1x Scalding Tarn
- 2x Snow-Covered Forest
- 2x Snow-Covered Island
- 1x Snow-Covered Swamp
- 1x Strip Mine
- 1x Tolaria West
- 1x Tropical Island
- 1x Underground Sea
- 1x Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
- 1x Verdant Catacombs
- 1x Volrath's Stronghold
- 1x Wasteland
- 1x Watery Grave
- 1x Windswept Heath
- 1x Wooded Foothills
- 1x Blue Sun's Zenith
- 1x Consecrated Sphinx
- 1x Crucible of Worlds
- 1x Deathrite Shaman
- 1x Demonic Tutor
- 1x Eternal Witness
- 1x Green Sun's Zenith
- 1x Imperial Seal
- 1x Intuition
- 1x Jace, the Mind Sculptor
- 1x Leyline of Anticipation
- 1x Lim-Dul's Vault
- 1x Mystic Remora
- 1x Mystical Teachings
- 1x Mystical Tutor
- 1x Necropotence
- 1x Phantasmal Image
- 1x Sensei's Divining Top
- 1x Snapcaster Mage
- 1x Sylvan Library
- 1x Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
- 1x Vampiric Tutor
- 1x Yawgmoth's Will
- 1x Arbor Elf
- 1x Azusa, Lost but Seeking
- 1x Birds of Paradise
- 1x Burgeoning
- 1x Carpet of Flowers
- 1x Dark Ritual
- 1x Deathrite Shaman
- 1x Exploration
- 1x Grim Monolith
- 1x Lotus Cobra
- 1x Mana Crypt
- 1x Mana Vault
- 1x Mox Diamond
- 1x Nature's Lore
- 1x Oracle of Mul Daya
- 1x Skyshroud Claim
- 1x Sol Ring
- 1x Three Visits
- 1x Arcane Denial
- 1x Counterspell
- 1x Cyclonic Rift
- 1x Damnation
- 1x Dispel
- 1x Flusterstorm
- 1x Force of Will
- 1x Mana Drain
- 1x Memory Lapse
- 1x Misdirection
- 1x Nature's Claim
- 1x Pact of Negation
- 1x Remand
- 1x Spell Pierce
- 1x Stifle
- 1x Swan Song
- 1x Venser, Shaper Savant
- 1x Voidslime
This is a tournament-level combo control deck. It is designed to win in high-pressure environments by withstanding incoming disruption, suppressing opponents, and using efficient and powerful combos.
This deck is built around a network of synergies; the combos have interchangeable pieces, and the cards that support them can be used outside of the combo as general utility cards. Because the number of combo-only cards is minimized, the deck's resilience is increased, and the odds of drawing dead cards are decreased.
Reading this decklist
Reading this decklist
This decklist is organized, by default, into my custom categories. Cards intended at the high level to have cross-category functionality will appear in multiple categories.
- Land: Self-explanatory.
- Utility: The tutor, draw, and recursion effects that improve the deck's function and support its fast, efficient style.
- Control: The counterspells and removal spells that allow me to respond to opponents' plays and control the game.
- Ramp: The ramp spells and permanents that allow me to accelerate mana production and outpace my opponents. Ramp is critical to winning before my opponents do, and it fuels the control elements in the deck so tempo isn't lost when responding to threats.
- WinCons: The win conditions used to achieve victory.
The sideboard is a working list of cards that are in the deck, but are being considered for elimination based on performance and developing theory.
The maybeboard is a working list of cards that are not in the deck, but are being considered for inclusion pending testing and developing theory.
I chose BUG because it offers what I believe to be the best mix of the essential elements of a combo-control deck: mana acceleration, draw power, responsive power (removal, counterspells), tutor power, and synergy. While some color combinations may excel more at one or the other, BUG is a solid performer across all of them.
Vorosh, the Hunter doesn't suit the combo goals of this deck because it doesn't offer much utility and it needs to attack to be useful. It was immediately excluded from the decision.
The Mimeoplasm can be used for combos, but its approach is more graveyard-based. It relies on Entomb effects and a reanimator strategy to work. I decided against this kind of strategy because traditional combo-control is more stable; you have more control over your flow of resources, and you risk less overall.
Damia, Sage of Stone is much of a Goldilocks solution: it's good in its own right, but it's the best because the other options are clearly worse. Damia, Sage of Stone brings strong utility to the deck, and it plays a critical role in stabilizing the deck after it spends its Stage I resources ramping ahead of opponents.
Sidisi, Brood Tyrant doesn't offer anything to the deck in terms of utility or viability, so it isn't worth considering here.
Tasigur, the Golden Fang does allow me to return any nonland card to my hand with infinite mana, but it doesn't provide the draw power that's so critical for sustaining the deck in the midgame.
This deck excels at executing resilient, powerful ramp and control strategies and at maintaining a steady tempo throughout the game. Because it relies on efficient, powerful cards in addition to a fast ramp package, the deck is capable of explosive opening turns that quickly accelerate it beyond the reach of all but the most tenacious control.
The deck's primary weakness is fast control decks. Zur the Enchanter, Arcum Dagsson, and five-color Hermit Druid are examples of decks that have the potential to outrace this list and combo out before I get stabilized. This deck is optimized for multiplayer, so dedicated 1v1 decks tend to have a natural advantage against it in the 1v1 environment.
Anti-control cards like Stranglehold and Aven Mindcensor prove to be problematic if they resolve, but there are answers to such cards in the deck. Getting around these effects is a matter of drawing the answer the traditional way, which makes them harder to deal with. Draw power and countermagic are essential to stopping these cards once they hit (and ideally before).
Card Choices Explained
The land base in this deck combines optimized color fixing with strong utility effects.
- The 3-3-9 split
This is the optimal starting point for any three-color EDH deck. "3-3-9" refers to the set of three shock lands, three ABUR duals, and nine fetch lands playable in a tricolor deck. This setup guarantees (to the extent that anything can be guaranteed in EDH) that the deck will have access to the proper colors at the proper times. Furthermore, it allows the deck to play highly-saturated spells like Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir and Necropotence without losing tempo to go find more sources of another color.
- Drowned Catacomb and Hinterland Harbor
These cards should almost always enter the battlefield untapped (given that the deck plays the 3-3-9 split and has other ways to guarantee basic land types), and they provide /X with no real downside.
- Snow basics
Although the snow basics aren't strictly necessary, they help against monocolor decks that run snow lands and Extraplanar Lens to avoid accelerating their opponents. In a vacuum, the snow lands don't make a functional difference to this deck. You could easily run non-snow basics instead.
- Ancient Tomb
This card is basically the upgraded version of Temple of the False God, another EDH staple. It can tap for mana at any time, and the investment of life is a low price for the extra mana production. The only real downside is that this land won't allow you to combo off if you are forced to rely on it; it will kill you rather quickly.
- Boseiju, Who Shelters All
This card helps guarantee the combo against control decks. An uncounterable Tooth and Nail into Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir (see the section below on combos) shuts your opponents out of your turn and allows you to win the game unhindered.
The downside is that this land comes in tapped, and it can only produce colorless mana and only at the expense of life. It's definitely a late-game play to set up for your combo.
- Cavern of Souls
This card is in the deck for a few reasons. First, it's a powerful way to guarantee that your Wizards resolve. You can protect Damia, Sage of Stone, Snapcaster Mage, Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, and Venser, Shaper Savant in this way. Second, you can name Illusion in order to protect Phantasmal Image and Palinchon for the combo.
- Cephalid Coliseum
This card makes the cut because it taps for and comes with a decent utility ability. This deck doesn't have any issues reaching threshold by Stage II or Stage III (see the section below on strategy), and the filtering can allow you to draw something you tutored to the top of your library or just help dig for an answer.
- Command Tower
The EDH classic, Command Tower is a staple in every multicolored EDH deck.
- Dryad Arbor
This card has definite upsides and downsides. It can be a turn-one find with Green Sun's Zenith to help ramp when there aren't many other options. It also serves as another fetchable land for the Forest-specific effects. Additionally, it can chump block a combat-oriented commander or utility creature if necessary.
The downsides include its vulnerability as a creature (losing lands to board wipes is suboptimal) and the fact that it has summoning sickness on its first turn (which means it can't be an immediate asset as a mana source).
- Forbidden Orchard
This card functions as an additional Command Tower with virtually no downside. The tokens it makes won't lose you the game, and they can be used politically to help temporary allies survive.
- Reflecting Pool
This card functions as an additional Command Tower. Because this deck runs the 3-3-9 lineup and the most powerful dual-fetching ramp spells, you're basically guaranteed to have the color fixing to assure that Reflecting Pool is never anything less than a dual land. It'll almost always be a Command Tower by turn two or three.
- Reliquary Tower
This card is extremely useful in conjunction with the deck's draw engines. Although it doesn't directly synergize with Damia, Sage of Stone, it's still very useful in breaking Necropotence and its ilk even further.
- Riptide Laboratory
This card enables a combo with Venser, Shaper Savant (see the section below on combos), and it also allows you to recur Snapcaster Mage. In a pinch, it can be used to keep Damia, Sage of Stone from costing an extra if a board wipe is about to resolve.
- Strip Mine and Wasteland
These cards have the benefit of both producing mana and serving as low-investment solutions to opponents' utility lands. They're very capable of dealing with an opponent's Boseiju, Who Shelters All or Cavern of Souls and clearing the way for the deck's counterspells.
- Tolaria West
This card functions as a tutor for Pact of Negation, Mana Crypt, or Mox Diamond, depending on the situation. It's slow as a regular land play, but sometimes it's needed as an additional land. Exploration effects help mitigate the ETB-tapped downside by allowing you to play other lands for immediate use.
- Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
This card allows me to focus even more heavily on / lands (which are the most important in the deck) and helps make Necropotence more playable. Although it can also help opponents with color fixing, it should usually provide enough utility to mitigate that downside.
- Volrath's Stronghold
This deck capitalizes on efficient ramp effects in order to outpace opponents, accelerate its win, and maintain pressure.
- Azusa, Lost but Seeking, Burgeoning, Exploration, and Oracle of Mul Daya
- Nature's Lore, Skyshroud Claim, and Three Visits
These cards are powerful ramp spells that are capable of finding shocks and ABUR duals. The ramp and color fixing they provide is invaluable.
- Grim Monolith and Mana Vault
These cards are low-cost ramp rocks that allow the deck to produce the extra mana it needs for its two high-cost staples: Damia, Sage of Stone and Tooth and Nail. Don't worry about paying to untap them; they're typically used as single-shot mana sources.
- Mana Crypt and Mox Diamond
These cards enable explosive opening turns because they require no mana investment, and they're still viable plays later in the game. Although each one has a downside, neither downside is ultimately significant in most games.
- Sol Ring
The EDH classic, Sol Ring is an auto-include in all decks.
- Arbor Elf
This card costs only and interacts well with the optimized land base because it untaps duals.
- Birds of Paradise
This card costs only and helps make highly saturated payments easier in the early game.
- Carpet of Flowers
This card excels in competitive EDH metas, where most players play some form of blue deck. It's a very cheap, very powerful ramp card that only increases in power as the game progresses. It provides the kind of acceleration that control decks desperately hate to fight.
- Deathrite Shaman
This card excels in competitive EDH metas, where most players play fetch lands. Even if I am forced to exile my own fetches, the ramp is worthwhile. The fact that Deathrite Shaman can also shut down graveyard strategies and effects is an added benefit.
- Lotus Cobra
This card is extraordinarily powerful in a deck that plays nine fetch lands and plenty of Exploration effects. It's a favored find with Green Sun's Zenith, and it makes even regular land plays more valuable.
This deck uses powerful and efficient control cards to disrupt opponents and protect its combo.
- Counterspell and Mana Drain
These cards are classic counterspells. They hit every kind of target, and they cost only each. Mana Drain comes with the added benefit of also ramping on the following turn.
- Force of Will, Misdirection, and Pact of Negation
These cards are all free counterspells, and they're extremely important for that reason. Although they all have some kind of downside, they're fantastic for protecting plays that consume all of the deck's resources or for protecting the combo when it goes off.
- Dispel, Flusterstorm, Spell Pierce, and Swan Song
These cards are powerful in counter wars because they're cheap, efficient, and hit opponents' counterspells with ease. Although two of them aren't technically hard counters, it's likely that they'll effectively be hard counters in the situations in which they're needed.
- Arcane Denial, Memory Lapse, and Remand
These cards all come with downsides, but their costs make them cheap and efficient control spells. The tempo shift is often worth the consolation advantage it gives to the opponent.
- Cyclonic Rift
This card helps blow opponents out if they get too far ahead in the game. It can sometimes cause opponents to concede if it resolves in the late game, as there's no time to recover before I combo out.
This card is one of the only creature removal spells in the deck, and it's powerful against heavily creature-oriented strategies (for obvious reasons).
- Nature's Claim
This card is a cheap, efficient solution to early-game advantage generators like Sol Ring and Sylvan Library, and it remains just as effective when used against other threats in the late game. The lifegain it permits is irrelevant overall because this deck wins the game in one turn through combos.
This card is a cheap, efficient solution to ability-based combos, and it can often provide advantage at a critical moment in the game. It also has the advantage of being relatively unanticipated; only a few cards can counter abilities, and very few players use them.
- Venser, Shaper Savant
This card is effective at answering both permanents and spells, and it also serves as a combo piece (see the section below on combos) to help secure the win.
- Consecrated Sphinx, Mystic Remora, Necropotence, and Sylvan Library
These cards all provide powerful, persistent card advantage.
- Demonic Tutor, Green Sun's Zenith, Imperial Seal, Intuition, Mystical Teachings, Mystical Tutor, and Vampiric Tutor
These cards are vital to finding combo pieces and other critical cards. Tutors greatly improve the consistency of the deck, and they are indispensible assets.
- Eternal Witness, Yawgmoth's Will, and Snapcaster Mage
These cards allow me to recur or reuse cards from my graveyard as necessary. They're most useful during the combo turn, when they allow for the recasting of Tooth and Nail or a counterspell. However, they can be used as general utility spells as well.
- Lim-Dul's Vault and Sensei's Divining Top
These cards manipulate the topdeck to help set up important plays and filter less relevant cards away from draw range.
- Blue Sun's Zenith
This card is a decent utility spell, especially because it's an instant, but its primary purpose is to serve as a win condition (see the section below on combos).
- Crucible of Worlds
- Deathrite Shaman
This card, apart from being an effective ramp creature, is a strong utility creature because it can disrupt reanimator and other recursion effects for little cost.
- Leyline of Anticipation
This card enables a more aggressive control game if it happens to start on the field. It's not the best card to draw into, but it can still be used to fuel Force of Will or Misdirection later in the game.
- Phantasmal Image
This card serves double duty as a combo piece (see the section below on combos) and as a general utility creature, depending on which is most advantageous. Sometimes, it's best saved for the combo. Other times, it's best used to copy a ramp or utility creature.
- Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
This card helps to secure a win by locking opponents out of the combo turn either as an EOT cast or as a Tooth and Nail drop (see the section below on combos).
The win conditions in this deck were chosen for their synergy and general usefulness outside of combos. See the section below on combos for more information about these cards.
- Blue Sun's Zenith
This card is the primary win condition because it instantly forces opponents to lose by causing them to draw more cards than are in their libraries. It also functions as a utility spell, which is vital because it means the card isn't necessarily a dead draw before the combo.
- Deadeye Navigator
This card is a powerful combo enabler because it provides ETB abuse without the risk associated with recasting spells (it's harder to counter an ability than it is to counter a spell).
- Phantasmal Image
This card provides a backup infinite mana combo if Deadeye Navigator is unavailable due to resource constraints or disruption.
- Rune-Scarred Demon
This card is used to tutor for other win conditions, and it can be abused with Deadeye Navigator to tutor the entire deck.
- Tooth and Nail
This card is the primary combo enabler because it assembles two-card combos at once, and the creatures it puts onto the battlefield cannot be countered.
- Venser, Shaper Savant
This card can be repeatedly bounced to remove each opponent's permanents from the board, and it doubles as a general utility creature.
The following cards are commonly used in BUG decks, but they have been excluded from this list for one reason or another.
- Mikaeus, the Unhallowed and Triskelion
These cards are often played in combo decks because they form a two-card combo that needs no additional support in order to win the game. However, both of these cards are completely useless outside of their one combo, so including them means creating dead draws and reducing the number of viable utility cards in Stage I and Stage II. That's too big a risk.
- Acidic Slime
This card appears in most goodstuff decks and even in some semicompetitive combo lists, but it's just inefficient and unnecessary in the deck. And while it's possible to use it with Deadeye Navigator to blow up the board, I wouldn't play Deadeye Navigator as a utility creature outside of the combo, and I wouldn't need to nuke the board once I have my combo online. This card is just extraneous; there are myriad other more efficient and relevant answers to artifacts, enchantments, and even lands.
- Defense of the Heart
This card is sort of like a mini Tooth and Nail, but it's more vulnerable, more obvious, and less reliable. The timing is awkward because getting it to go off and win means having an opponent that controls three or more creatures and having the cards in hand to protect whatever the ability finds (and then win from it). That's a lot of effort and chance, and it's not worthwhile when there are much more effective ways of accomplishing the same task.
This card may be a decent finisher, but that's all it really is. It can't be relied upon to be a useful utility spell if it's drawn before it's needed. In order to reduce the number of dead, single-use cards in the deck, this card has been excluded.
- Insidious Dreams
This card doesn't really offer desirable advantage to the deck. It's only economical when multiple cards are discarded, and only then if Damia is in play. But it creates a window for an opponent to counter the spell and force me to lose those cards for nothing (the discard is an additional cost) or remove Damia to keep me at a disadvantage. Besides that, the mana cost is high, which makes it somewhat difficult to incorporate into the deck's strategy.
- Lion's Eye Diamond
This card doesn't offer anything worthwhile to Damia decks. On paper, the disadvantage you would encounter when casting Damia is "justifiable" in the context of the hand refill you'll get on your next turn, but the risk is far too extreme. If Damia is countered or removed prior to that turn, you're left with an empty hand and one fewer mana source. That's game over for you.
- Plasm Capture
This card promises to be a more expensive and more productive Mana Drain, but it's too expensive to be practical in a competitive environment. The high and completely saturated mana cost makes it very difficult to budget into turns when you're trying to use as many of your resources as you can to establish a position for yourself.
- Progenitor Mimic
This card is strong in semi-competitive metas, but it doesn't serve a purpose at the competitive level. It's slow, expensive, and awkward to cast and protect. Additionally, it would only be useful for copying utility creatures or opponents' creatures. That's not a strong enough warrant for its inclusion.
- Seedborn Muse and Prophet of Kruphix
These cards are often played because they help generate a good deal of advantage, especially in control decks. However, they are expensive to cast. They've been omitted from this decklist because they aren't practical and often require quite some effort to play and protect.
- Tainted Pact
This card is too much of a gamble. Exiling cards isn't, on its own, an issue for this deck. But Tainted Pact is inefficient. If I hit one of my combo pieces before I want it, then I have to either take it when I don't need it or exile it and switch to a backup strategy. Neither of those is optimal, and I don't really have a way to guarantee that this situation won't happen. I'd rather not waste tutors to exile potentially useful cards and find a card that I don't need at the moment.
- Tasigur, the Golden Fang
This card has two main issues. As a utility card in the 99, it doesn't offer much in terms of efficiency. The ability is expensive to use, and it would be simpler to just play Eternal Witness or Snapcaster Mage and choose the one card that would help me most rather than allow an opponent to choose the one card that's least relevant at the moment. As a commander, it doesn't offer remotely the same kind of tempo recovery that Damia does. Damia can refill your hand after you invest heavily in ramp and control in the early game. Tasigur is more of a slow advantage commander, and running it would require a restructuring of the deck with more emphasis on draw effects (to help mitigate the loss of tempo from resource investment) and would be generally less explosive in nature. Lastly, as a tool for recovering cards after the combo, Tasigur, the Golden Fang is extraneous. I can already bounce Eternal Witness to get my graveyard back.
- Villainous Wealth
This card suffers from the same awkwardness and general irrelevance that plagues Exsanguinate. It's not relevant outside of the combo, and it's just a win-more card once the combo is initiated. There are other finishers (e.g., Blue Sun's Zenith) that serve practical purposes as utility cards outside of the combo. Further, it's generally inadvisable to rely on an opponent's resources to win the game. A good combo deck should be able to rely on only itself to guarantee victory.
This deck was built for heavy control and high consistency. It is played most efficiently using a three-stage approach:
- Early game - Ramp, control, set up draw engines
- Mid game - Control, set up utility engines
- Late game - Control, execute combo
These stages are discussed at length in the sections below.
Stage I - Early Game
Stage I - Early Game
- Establish early draw engines
The main point of Stage I is to set up enough advantage to guarantee a steady lead for the coming turns. The extra resources you gather now will be what fuel your countermagic and on-turn plays in Stage II; you will need to maintain tempo and still have the ability to shut down threats.
The first two to three turns should be spent casting ramp spells and mana rocks like Nature's Lore and Mana Crypt to accelerate your mana production. When you can afford to, cast draw engines like Mystic Remora. Setting these up early means you have longer to reap their rewards and aren't spending your mana on them in the midgame when you need to have countermagic up. Green Sun's Zenith can provide additional ramp in this portion of the game.
Stage II - Mid Game
Stage II - Mid Game
- Control the flow of the game
- Cast Damia, Sage of Stone or capitalize on other draw engines
- Tutor for combo pieces
The main point of Stage II is to suppress opponents and dig for your win conditions in preparation for your final turn.
This deck transitions to the mid game when its ramp begins to wind down. Although ramp and control are important elements of both Stage I and Stage II, the emphasis in Stage II is on control and tutoring (or digging with Damia, Sage of Stone) for a win condition. Stage II typically lasts from turn three to turn four or five, depending on the board state and on draws.
Stage III - Late Game
Stage III - Late Game
- Maintain control of boardstate
- Combo off
The main point of Stage III is to win the game. It's that simple.
Stage III begins when you have a win condition in your hand and are at or rapidly approaching the turn during which you will be able to combo off.
Don't begin casting into your combo until you have sufficient resources (mana, counterspells) to play and protect it in one turn. Spreading out combo pieces and putting them into play over several turns leaves the strategy vulnerable to removal and lets your opponent know you're gearing up for the endgame. The combo should be assembled and executed in one turn. At the same time, don't wait too long to go off. Every turn you take means more opportunities for your opponents to break through your control setup and take the game; this deck's resources are vast but they are not unlimited. Use your discretion. The perfect opportunity will not always arise and you will occasionally need to take a calculated risk to win. Just make sure to keep countermagic up and think everything through at least twice and preferably three times before executing the combo.
This deck is typically played in games that use a Partial Paris mulligan with a free first mulligan.
The first and foremost rule when taking mulligans with this deck is that you must not be afraid to take aggressive mulligans. If a card is dead in the first two turns of the game, you probably don't want it in your opening hand. If you see a spell with CMC 3 and no way to play it on turn two, consider pitching it.
Generally speaking, you want to see three or four lands in your opening hand. This gives you security for the first few turns. Ideally, you'll start with fetches or duals of some kind. If you have two or more colorless-only lands, consider pitching some (try to keep at least one) to try for color-producing lands.
Additionally, you want to see at least one ramp artifact or Exploration effect playable on turn one (turn two is acceptable, but not as good). A counterspell or tutor is also a welcome sight.
Always mulligan win conditions and high-CMC utility cards. Remember, you start in Stage I, and your main goal out of the gate is to ramp into a stable lead. Don't let late-game cards tempt you into bad openers.
Introduction to the combos
Introduction to the combos
This section will detail the combos and how to use and support them.
- Blue Sun's Zenith using infinite mana
- Venser, Shaper Savant + Deadeye Navigator + Palinchron to bounce all permanents I don't control
- Venser, Shaper Savant + Phantasmal Image + Palinchron + Riptide Laboratory to bounce all permanents I don't control
- Crucible of Worlds + Azusa, Lost but Seeking + Strip Mine to wear opponents down through attrition
See the following sections for more detail about the nuances of using these combos.
Preparing to combo
Preparing to Combo
Not counting the setup in Stage II (see the section above on strategy), there are three basic steps to comboing with this deck:
- Step 1: Assess your options. This deck has many subtle nuances that allow you to micromanage your combo to minimize the risk of disruption. Consider the following:
- Opponents' colors and untapped lands, which could indicate possible responses like counterspells or removal spells.
- What permanents you already have on the battlefield (in particular, do you control Snapcaster Mage or Eternal Witness?).
- What cards you have in your hand (in particular, do you have a way to recur Tooth and Nail, a way to tutor a win condition into your hand, Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, Rune-Scarred Demon, Venser, Shaper Savant, Phantasmal Image, Deadeye Navigator, or Palinchron?).
- What cards are in your graveyard (in particular, do you have any tutors or win conditions in your graveyard?)
- Step 2: Plan your combo. How exactly will you play around possible threats (such as countermagic) and execute your win? It's often not as simple as Tooth and Nailing into Deadeye Navigator and Palinchron; you need to actually win the game with your infinite mana. Consider the following:
- What do you need to do to minimize the risk of incoming disruption?
- What will you find with Tooth and Nail?
- How will you find a win condition?
- Step 3: Execute the combo. Hopefully, you properly planned your moves during Step 1 and Step 2. If you find at some point during the combo that you overlooked something and might need to take a different approach, pause whatever move you're currently making and think through your options again. Don't panic.
Using the combo cards
Using the combo cards
The infinite mana combos use the following cards in the specified manners.
- Deadeye Navigator
Use this card to blink Palinchron to produce infinite mana. If you're relying on a creature-based win instead of on Blue Sun's Zenith, blink Deadeye Navigator after the infinite mana combo and repair it with the other creature you need to blink.
Use this card's ETB ability to untap lands, then blink it repeatedly with Deadeye Navigator or use Phantasmal Image to produce infinite mana. You can also use Palinchron to set up for the combo by providing the land untaps to hardcast the second combo piece.
- Phantasmal Image
Use this card to copy Palinchron, then use its copied activated ability to return it to your hand. Continue to recopy Palinchron to produce infinite mana. You can then recast it to copy Eternal Witness, Snapcaster Mage, or Rune-Scared Demon to enable your win.
The following cards all support the infinite mana combos in one way or another.
- Blue Sun's Zenith
Use this card with infinite mana first to draw your deck. Then cast Rune-Scarred Demon or use another means to draw it again. Cast it on an opponent for X=101. Redraw it and repeat for each opponent until you win.
- Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
Use this card at the end of the pre-combo turn, or put it onto the battlefield with Tooth and Nail in order to make the rest of your turn unanswerable.
- Rune-Scarred Demon
Use this card with Deadeye Navigator and infinite mana to put your entire deck into your hand, then win from there. You can also cast this card prior to the combo in order to find Tooth and Nail (if you're in a situation that demands that you do so).
- Snapcaster Mage
Use this card to recast Tooth and Nail or a tutor spell in order to find a win condition. You can also use it preemptively to guarantee a counterspell in order to better protect your combo. Just don't forget about flashback's replacement effect.
- Yawgmoth's Will
Use this card to recast Tooth and Nail or a tutor spell in order to find a win condition. You can also use it early in the turn to guarantee access to countermagic from your graveyard. Just don't forget about its replacement effect.
- Eternal Witness
Use this card to recast Tooth and Nail or a tutor spell in order to find a win condition. You can also use it to return a counterspell to your hand in order to better protect your combo.
Using Tooth and Nail
Using Tooth and Nail
These are the most common Tooth and Nail picks and when to use them. These pairs are what you'll be putting onto the battlefield with Tooth and Nail (most of the time). Make the necessary fetches depending on what you have in your hand.
- Deadeye Navigator + Palinchron
This is the most basic pair. Find these two when you have a tutor or win condition in your hand already. It's safer to use the Deadeye Navigator combo instead of the Phantasmal Image combo because it's based only on activated abilities rather than on recasting a creature ad nauseam.
- Palinchron + Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
This is a more advanced pair. Find Palinchron and Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir when you already hold either Deadeye Navigator or Phantasmal Image in your hand and need to guarantee that opponents can't interfere with the rest of your combo. Once Tooth and Nail begins resolving, your opponents are locked out of the rest of your turn because there's no point at which they can respond to the Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir. Put Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir and Palinchron onto the battlefield using Tooth and Nail, then hardcast your other combo creature.
- Palinchron + Rune-Scarred Demon
This is a more advanced pair. Find Palinchron and Rune-Scarred Demon when you have no tutor options available and no way to recast Tooth and Nail. Put both Palinchron and Rune-Scarred Demon onto the battlefield using Tooth and Nail, then use Rune-Scarred Demon's ability to find Deadeye Navigator or Phantasmal Image to combo off.
Want to Build This Deck?
Understanding the deck
Understanding the deck
Aside from monetary investment (and perhaps the difficulty of finding some of these cards), the largest challenge you'll face when building this deck is understanding all of its subtleties. There are hidden synergies and interactions everywhere, and some of them can only really be learned through experience with the decklist (since I'm not exhaustively listing all of them in this primer). Combo-control tends to be among the hardest archetypes to learn because it's a mix of correct plays and raw deck and format knowledge. I highly suggest playtesting the deck many times before committing to building it. Feel free to ask for clarification on any aspect you don't understand.
Also, keep in mind that this deck has been optimized for a competitive multiplayer environment. If you're playing in a different environment, the deck may need to change. For example, I don't include some of the slower staples like Seedborn Muse because they don't really add much to the deck at the tournament level. A player taking this list into a semicompetitive meta might find such cards useful, though.
Lastly, make sure that you play this deck in a sporting way. Don't take a combo-control deck to a casual pod where players are still learning the format or looking for a different kind of experience. You'll win, but it won't be enjoyable for anyone else.
On a budget?
On a budget?
As you may have guessed, this deck isn't the easiest to build on a budget. You'll run into issues preserving the consistency and power of the list if you have to make too many changes. In general, try to make replacements that maintain the deck's functionality (for example, swap an expensive tutor for a less expensive tutor, or swap a dual land for a less expensive land that taps for the same colors of mana).
A large part of the deck's cost comes from the mana base. I run an optimized land base, and the three ABUR duals and nine fetch lands cost quite a bit. You could cut them to make the deck easier on the wallet, but doing so will reduce the deck's ability to color fix. You'll also reduce the effectiveness of some cards (such as Lotus Cobra) if you lose the fetch lands. Mana Crypt can also go. Try to at least keep the other ramp rocks and the Exploration effects.
For replacements, consider reliable staples like the check lands, pain lands, and filter lands. They aren't as powerful as the ABUR duals and fetches, but they at least provide fast color fixing. You should also include cards like Coalition Relic and Chromatic Lantern to help with fixing and acceleration.
Some of the less efficient tutors (e.g. Diabolic Tutor) cost much less than Imperial Seal and Vampiric Tutor. Substitute these lower-power tutors to maintain some of the deck's functionality while reducing the price tag.
Thankfully, the combos themselves involve relatively inexpensive pieces. You can preserve them if you reconfigure the deck to run on cheaper ramp and utility cards.
Some cards can't be replaced. For example, there's no cheaper version of Azusa, Lost but Seeking. If you cut these cards, think about other ways to strengthen the deck that may not directly correlate to the cards you lost.
The following cards are being considered for removal from the deck.
- Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Although JTMS is a powerful card and can generate advantage for its investment, its mana cost places it in an awkward position in this deck. CMC 4 cards are somewhat restrictive in that they consume a large amount of mana and leave me with less to protect myself and my strategy. I might move this card out of the mainboard and side it in as necessary.
The saturated mana cost of this card makes it somewhat difficult to cast. It is an unwelcome sight in the opening hand because it's a dead card for at least two turns (it's unrealistic to leave three mana up until Stage II of the game). It is also difficult to use properly in Stage III of the game because it requires me to leave more mana open outside of my combo. The CMC 1 and 2 counterspells are better suited to protecting combos and other plays.
The following cards are being considered for inclusion in the deck.
- Diabolic Intent
This card is an effective low-cost tutor that allows me to find a combo piece or utility card by sacrificing a utility or ramp creature. This is a small price to pay for the effect.
- Gitaxian Probe
This card allows me to anticipate responses to my combo or to check whether a play is safe. It can be cast for free (the life cost is negligible), and it replaces itself. The downside is that, in a multiplayer game, it may not be powerful enough to justify a slot.
- Muddle the Mixture
This card serves double duty as a counterspell and a tutor, but it is also less efficient in both respects because of this added functionality.
- Pongify/Rapid Hybridization
These cards would help to mitigate the issues posed by the lack of permanent removal spells in the deck. They are cheap, efficient, and without targeting restrictions.
- Toxic Deluge
This card is a cheaper board wipe that hits indestructible creatures and can be used selectively to clear certain ranges of threats.
This deck has been entered into only one official Commander tournament. The other events are single-pod matches.
- May 30, 2012: 1st place - Icon's Comics & Games EDH Tournament (pod record 1st/1st/2nd)
- (Date unknown): 1st place - Commander Pod #2, The Days of Knights
- August 05, 2012: 1st place - Commander Pod #7, SCG Open D.C.
I spent about half an hour creating this game state out of nothing. It's loosely based on some scenarios I've faced before, but I figured I'd give you all a challenge. If you backtrack from the current state, you can actually simulate the previous turns in the game. Don't assume that you can win. I may well have spent this time to construct a devious game state that will force you to think for ten minutes before realizing it can't be won.
It's been a close, but decent game so far. You're in a multiplayer (4-person) pod competing in an SCG side event for some credit. You're up against Arcum Dagsson, Riku of Two Reflections, and Sharuum the Hegemon. The bad news is that all of your opponents are playing blue. The worse news is that you haven't been drawing creatures, and the Riku player likes to punish exposed, fleshy faces because he plays RUG and his creatures have nonzero power. Luckily, you went first and have been getting otherwise decent draws.
Oh, and you're at 4 life.
None of your opponents control any creatures except for the Sharuum player, who Damnationed one turn ago and now controls Sharuum the Hegemon. Arcum has an Island untapped. Riku has Volcanic Island and Breeding Pool untapped. Sharuum has a Plains, Hallowed Fountain, and Underground Sea untapped. All three players have between 2-5 cards in hand.
You suspect that Arcum and Sharuum are approaching combo, and you're at 4 life anyway. It's your first main phase. If you can win, you have to do it this turn.
Explain whether you can win the game this turn (and, if so, give a play-by-play) or not (and, if so, why not).
- Play Cephalid Coliseum and Riptide Laboratory.
- Cast Tooth and Nail entwined using Boseiju, Who Shelters All.
- Resolve Tooth and Nail, fetching and putting onto the battlefield Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir and Palinchron. This will protect the rest of your turn because your opponents can't respond to Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir before it enters the battlefield. Declare the targets for Palinchron's ability to be the six lands that don't cause you to lose life when you activate their mana abilities.
- Float the two mana from your remaining mana sources, then resolve Palinchron's ability.
- Cast and resolve Mana Vault.
- Cast and resolve Demonic Tutor, fetching Deadeye Navigator.
- Cast and resolve Deadeye Navigator.
- Resolve Deadeye Navigator's soulbond ability, pairing Deadeye Navigator and Palinchron.
- Initiate the Deadeye Navigator + Palinchron combo.
- Flash back and resolve Mystical Teachings, fetching Snapcaster Mage.
- Cast and resolve Snapcaster Mage. Target Tooth and Nail using Snapcaster Mage's ability.
- Flash back Tooth and Nail and entwine it. Resolve Tooth and Nail, fetching and putting onto the battlefield Rune-Scarred Demon and Venser, Shaper Savant.
- Target with Venser, Shaper Savant's ability any permanent an opponent controls. Then put Rune-Scarred Demon's ability onto the stack.
- Resolve Rune-Scarred Demon's ability, fetching Blue Sun's Zenith.
- Blink Deadeye Navigator.
- Resolve Deadeye Navigator's soulbond ability, pairing Deadeye Navigator and Rune-Scarred Demon.
- Initiate the Deadeye Navigator + Rune-Scarred Demon loop to tutor your entire deck.
- Cast and resolve Blue Sun's Zenith targeting any opponent for =100.
- Blink Rune-Scarred Demon.
- Resolve Rune-Scarred Demon's ability, tutoring Blue Sun's Zenith.
- Repeat steps #18-20 for the remaining two opponents.
Comments, suggestions, criticisms, and ratings are all welcome!
When recommending cards, please remember that this deck is tournament-oriented and must only contain the most efficient and powerful cards available. Please do not suggest casual or otherwise nonviable cards for inclusion. Also, please keep in mind that the deck is based around a network of synergies; combo-related cards should be useful outside of their combos.
I finally got around to updating the barebones description. I say updating, but it was more of a total overhaul.
This deck now has a worthy primer that will walk you through everything from the card choices to the combos, and it even offers advice on recreating and adapting the deck.
Feel free to explore the new material and offer comments for the deck or primer as you see fit.
This deck is performing well, but I still feel that it should be faster and more consistent. Maybe I'm just greedy.
Speaking of greed, I have a list of cards to acquire.
I had the opportunity today to play a couple games with this deck, and I also spent a good deal of time speaking with its codesigner. He has opted to drop many of the expensive counterspells and ramp cards in favor of their faster counterparts. He also runs a few mana dorks - a choice with which I don't necessarily agree. However, I more frequently play in multiplayer pods, so I face a higher risk of playing against sweepers.
I cut the filter lands for basics because, after talking with my friend, I realized they weren't always optimal. Running two of each basic allows me to squeeze a few extra uses out of my fetches. I also upgraded the basics into snow-covered basics in case I run into anyone using snow lands any Extraplanar Lens.
Finally, I dropped Survival of the Fittest for Lotus Cobra. I don't run enough creatures for Survival of the Fittest to really do what I need it to do, and Lotus Cobra is stupid with nine fetches, Nature's Lore, Skyshoud Claim, and three Exploration effects.
I'm considering dropping
- Mana Web - It's limited in application, and completely irrelevant in some games.
- Bribery - It's great when it works, but there have been many games where I didn't even cast it.
- Mystic Snake - It has a good interaction with Deadeye Navigator, but I rarely play Deadeye Navigator outside of my combo, and Mystic Snake itself ends up being little more than an expensive counterspell.
- Cryptic Command - Although I like Cryptic Command as a card, it's prohibitively expensive for a deck that wants to ramp and control as much as possible.
- Fact or Fiction - I like the instant-speed card advantage, but I often find the mana cost inconvenient.
- Leyline of Anticipation - I'm on the fence about this one. It's great to have on the field from turn 0, but it's inconvenient to cast if I ever draw it.
In the wake of the RC's horrendous decision to ban Primeval Titan, I have made the following changes to the deck:
- Primeval Titan
- Cabal Coffers (it isn't good enough without Primeval Titan to find it)
- Mindbreak Trap (it hasn't impressed me in the time I've been testing it)
Reset the discussion.
I haven't been watching the spoilers, so let me know if anything good pops up.
March 4, 2015 2:23 p.m.
Thank you god for resetting this lol.
So many comments.
I'll try to keep you posted. Looks like there's a command cycle for color pairs.
You are looking at a / command.
March 4, 2015 2:25 p.m.
You mentioned Frontier Siege earlier. Have you given it more consideration?
March 4, 2015 3:51 p.m.
Is the new sidisi a possibility?http://mythicspoiler.com/dtk/cards/sidisiundeadvizier.html
March 7, 2015 7:03 p.m.
Pretty sure you've seen Silumgar's Command, seems like too much on the CMC scale for you.
The new Sidisi, Undead Vizier seems decent but you don't really have sacrifice fodder to make her work.
Does Den Protector have a slot? You can't really flicker it but....
That's all that seems like it would be remotely interesting for you.
March 7, 2015 7:12 p.m.
All of those cards are FAR too expensive at what they do. Silumgar's Command costs more than Cryptic Command, which was cut for being too expensive (and color saturated, if I remember right). Sidisi is a 5 mana Diabolic Intent and Den Protector is a 5 mana E-wit.
March 7, 2015 7:15 p.m.
@atgarnett & Ohthenoises: I was moderately interested in the new Sidisi, Undead Vizier when it was first spoiled. I thought of using it like a backup Rune-Scarred Demon that happened to be castable if absolutely necessary. But the cost is still pretty high, and it would need to be recurred with Eternal Witness as part of the combo if I were to need to use it multiple times. I suppose the last concern is less relevant because I'll be able to combo off after one tutor in most cases, but I guess the question then becomes "Is redundancy with Rune-Scarred Demon necessary?" I think the answer is no.
March 7, 2015 7:36 p.m.
Gspot Found you!
Jokes aside, I said pretty much what you did. I told Epoch that I'd try to keep him appraised of spoils that might be relevant.
March 7, 2015 7:42 p.m.
Yeah, I'm not terribly impressed with the competitive EDH viability of any of the new cards. At least, not for this deck.
March 7, 2015 7:44 p.m.
Ohthenoises Ha! I remebered you saying that before the comment reset. I was just pointing out the inadequacies of those cards in this deck.
Epochalyptik Backburner for that 5c Hermit druid deck? Or something else?
March 7, 2015 8:16 p.m.
I just have other things going on. I haven't actually played Magic in about a year (apart from maybe a game or two), so test-based decisions just aren't a priority for me.
March 7, 2015 8:19 p.m.
Memory Lapse is now on the chopping block because of the RC's garbage decision about tuck effects.
March 23, 2015 8:40 p.m.
I am so salty about this, the wanderer player in my group just got a huge boost.
March 23, 2015 8:57 p.m.
Sucks this is happening, it's gunna hurt some of my edh decks. Now Epochalyptik What are you going to replace it for. My suggestions being one of the counter spells on the maybe board list (they all seem good options) or Diabolic Intent, maybe even Pongify. I really don't like the RCA and some of there disicions man.
March 24, 2015 10:05 p.m.
I'm not so sure if Memory Lapse should be cut from the deck. It is still a cheap, efficient counterspell. From my experience it still does its job even with the new tucking ruling (which is honestly a big pile of shit).
Of course, if you feel that you don't need that many counterpells, Memory Lapse is definitely first in the cutting line.
Also, a quick question which probably has been asked before: what do you think of Chain of Vapor? I just recently added it into my deck for testing purposes, and I'd like to hear your thoughts on it.
March 25, 2015 5:01 p.m.
I love the deck. I was hoping you could possibly look at my Damia build and tell me what you think? I'm not necessarily on a budget, but I can't go spending $300 on a single card.
March 27, 2015 3:24 a.m.
How often do you use rune-scarred with deadeye? If it's not often you could swap it for the new sidisi to make it quicker
March 27, 2015 7:26 a.m.
March 27, 2015 12:26 p.m.
Rune Scarred also doesn't rely on having another creature in play. Sidisi is good, but the extra mana for Rune Scarred is worth the exchange for the sac effect
March 27, 2015 12:35 p.m.
Chain of Vapor doesn't immediately impress me, but I haven't tested with it. It might be fine as last-ditch combo disruption or something, but it's not extraordinarily valuable for any other reason I can immediately think of.
It's also significant that I don't generally cast Rune-Scarred Demon unless I've already initiated the combo; in almost all other situations, I put it onto the battlefield through Tooth and Nail. Therefore, the cost isn't much cause for concern (although it does certainly limit the card's viability in other situations).
@vishnarg: You can sacrifice Sidisi, Undead Vizier to itself, which is fine if you only need to tutor once and get Blue Sun's Zenith (at which point you'd draw your deck using Blue Sun's Zenith and initiate the combo by using Eternal Witness to recur tutor spells to grab Blue Sun's Zenith), but the option ultimately isn't better than what I currently have.
March 27, 2015 12:57 p.m.
Ah, I forgot about Tooth and Nail. That's a pretty important card.
March 27, 2015 1:25 p.m.
I tried to look, and forgive me if this has been asked before, but what are some Intuition piles that you would often get? I'm slowly making a slightly more budget version of this deck at the moment, and I just added intuition. What do I normally get? 3 combo pieces? 3 counterspells?
March 27, 2015 4:35 p.m.
@mrshadow: I have always struggled to give "good" answers to the Intuition question because the card is so flexible. I suppose that if you want an answer based on experience, I should tell you that I often use it to find free counterspells (Force of Will, Misdirection, Pact of Negation). I have sometimes used it to find three tutor spells. You can also find Eternal Witness, Crucible of Worlds, and Volrath's Stronghold if you're going for a slow utility game. Snapcaster Mage, Eternal Witness, and Tooth and Nail is another possibility.
I tend to avoid getting combo pieces because that exposes those pieces to unnecessary risk. It would be better to get cards to set up for your combo instead.
March 27, 2015 6:12 p.m.
Does this deck ever get blown out by Blood Moon? There are only 5 basics and a select few other answers I see. It seems like you might get totally screwed if you get caught off guard by one.
March 27, 2015 6:21 p.m.
Have you tried Life from the Loam and/or Crop Rotation? Loam allows for faster strip lock and works nicely with fetchlands + exploration effects. Crop Rotation helps find strip as well as any of the other utility lands and worst case scenario does fixing. Lastly, what are your thoughts on null rod? The artifacts in the deck are meh after the first few turns and can just randomly win vs some decks? Overall awesome list.
March 30, 2015 7:07 p.m.
@vishnarg: I've never actually had Blood Moon resolve against me, mostly because I acknowledge that it would blow me out. Part of playing this deck is always trying to have an answer for the few cards that could wreck you.
Crop Rotation isn't appealing because the land sac is an additional cost. It would only really be useful for getting Boseiju, Who Shelters All out on the pre-combo turn. Or maybe for finding Cavern of Souls.
I use the ramp rocks up until and even during my combo (to get it started, anyway), so Null Rod isn't great. Against an artifact-heavy deck it might be alright, but it's definitely not something I'd mainboard.
March 30, 2015 7:34 p.m.
Have you considered Kiora's Follower? I always found this to be an amazing utility/ramp card. Since it can just untap your Mana Crypt, Mana Vault and Grim Monolith, the card could boost your ramp even further.
April 2, 2015 5:15 p.m.
The issue that I have with Kiora's Follower is that it's a 2-drop. If it were a 1-drop, it would replace Arbor Elf (and it would also be exponentially more powerful in a vacuum). However, I don't really want to invest two mana (both of which must be colored) in something that has summoning sickness and isn't extraordinarily useful. The ramp effect would be much better if it could be achieved on turn one (such that it would be available on turn two).
Cards in this deck have to be evaluated according to where they fall on the curve because that greatly influences playability in the early game.
April 2, 2015 5:22 p.m.
If I'm not playing the duals are the bounce lands a viable replacement? I was thinking the extra land per turn effects and lotus cobra would negate the risk of getting two for oned. Also what are your opinions on Lion's Eye Diamond, Somberwald Sage, Alchemist's Refuge and Winding Canyons? I feel like I need more ramp as I'm only dropping Damia turn 4-6 on average with your list minus Mana Crypt, Duallands, FoW and Mana Drain.
April 3, 2015 11:31 a.m.
No, the two for one of the karoo lands, in addition to the slowing down they do, are what make them inherently terrible in EDH. Definitely stick with shocks, fetches, and I usually use the Glacial Fortress check lands or Adarkar Wastes pain lands as replacements. Your call though.
April 3, 2015 11:36 a.m.
Not listed on the primer, annother tooth and nail might be for eternal witness/snapcaster and teferi, then using the second tooth and nail for the two combo pieces.
April 4, 2015 9:19 p.m.
I wouldn't take a risk like that considering how heavily the deck relies on Tooth and Nail.
April 4, 2015 9:27 p.m.
Mystical Teachings seem like an expensive and selective tutor for a deck like this, any reasoning for this?
Plus, do you have any advice for testing specific cards?
April 4, 2015 9:30 p.m.
@Fly927: I would shy away from the bounce lands. Generally speaking, they're bad in competitive metas because you get two-for-oned by common LD like Strip Mine and Wasteland. You don't entirely negate that by playing Exploration effects, even if you do somewhat mitigate it. Also, you want to avoid ETB-tapped lands; tempo is important for this deck.
Lion's Eye Diamond is terrible. People have, in the past, proposed it as a way of getting Damia out and justified the proposition by saying that Damia refills your hand, but the issue is that you have no hand left and you're banking on Damia surviving a turn cycle without protection. It's simply a bad play.
Somberwald Sage is ineffective. It would only be useful for casting Damia or one of the combo creatures, but a summoning-sick three-drop isn't the best acceleration for either, and I rarely cast the combo pieces.
Alchemist's Refuge isn't critical, but you can add it if you're building a lower-level version of the deck. Winding Canyons isn't particularly useful because the creatures can be cast on your turn without the extra ", " investment. It might be alright for EOTing Damia, but that's about it. And even then, you'd still need to have counterspell protection.
@biggestmtgnerd: Although that's a possible approach, it's extremely mana intensive because it requires you to entwine Tooth and Nail twice before you can initiate the combo. For that reason, it's rarely ever relevant.
@NateJH: Mystical Teachings is one of those cards that could be cut if something better or testworthy came along. The instant speed and flashback makes it useful because you can EOT it to find Vampiric Tutor or Mystical Tutor, then get Tooth and Nail, and then use it again after the combo to find Blue Sun's Zenith or Snapcaster Mage. It can also fetch Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, and when Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir is out, it can fetch any creature in the deck.
As for test advice, I guess you'll have to be more specific. Like what do I look for, how do evaluate, what do I cut, or what?
April 4, 2015 10:27 p.m.
April 10, 2015 7:19 a.m.
Again, it's a possible play, but it doesn't make more sense than the currently-preferred approaches. With your play, Palinchron is sitting on the board without much help. Also, the reason you get Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir is to prevent people from doing anything for the rest of your turn; it doesn't make as much sense to get it after you've assembled the rest of the combo. You'd want it out ASAP.
It's also difficult to discuss these situations because they depend largely on the board state and what you have in hand. There may be a case in which an alternate T&N fetch is more appropriate.
April 10, 2015 9:02 a.m.
I'm quite satisfied with your well reasoned responses to my card suggestions so I'm pulling my trump card Crop Rotation.
April 11, 2015 3:15 p.m.
The two real fetches here are Boseiju, Who Shelters All and Cavern of Souls because they both help to protect the combo. But because the sacrifice is an additional cost to cast Crop Rotation, and because those lands aren't irreplaceable elements of the game plan, the risk to reward ratio is a bit less favorable than would be optimal.
I see it as more of a meta-response pick than a mainboard inclusion. If it's something that helps you survive a high-control meta, then it's probably worth at least testing. But it doesn't offer enough for me to consider it a general-use card in the 99.
April 11, 2015 3:38 p.m.
Yea i thought it would work amazing with those two cards in particular or for Homeward Path against Merieke Ri Berit and Bribery or to search for Dryad Arbor when you need to sac a creature to stax effects. Is there any way to utilize Cursed Totem and things like Trinisphere to stop or slow down Hermit Druid? Also how about Autumn's Veil?
April 11, 2015 4:32 p.m.
Cursed Totem is a bad idea because my combo is based on creatures' activated abilities.
Trinisphere is a possible board option, but I have no testing experience with it.
Autumn's Veil may warrant testing, but I remain skeptical until I see how it performs.
April 11, 2015 4:41 p.m.
I think Green Sun's Zenith has a pitiful amount of targets there may be a better straight to the battlefield tutor.Chord of Calling might prove more useful in this list considering all your low cost dorks and its instant speed capabilities.
April 14, 2015 7:11 p.m.
Green Sun's Zenith is far, far cheaper than Chord of Calling. Most of the creatures I'd have out when I cast either would be mana dorks anyway, so the convoke isn't going to provide enough of a boost to offset the extra .
I do sometimes wish that Green Sun's Zenith could find any creature card, but I wouldn't be using it to initiate a combo anyway.
April 14, 2015 7:15 p.m.
You've had Living Wish on your sideboard for a while now, have you thought about the possibility of a wishboard?
Cunning Wish might also be a card worth considering - it means you can run things like Shadow of Doubt / other niche cards without having to make mainboard space for them. The other benefit is that you can run backup pieces to your combos (like Stroke of Genius as a backup for Blue Sun's Zenith, Turnabout as a backup for Palinchron) or gives you access to cards like Snuff Out or Murderous Cut for when you need more removal.
April 16, 2015 11:57 p.m.
I can't determine whether Tibbles has been waiting for that.
@enpc: I'm not sure which update has eaten it, but there was a fairly developed discussion of wishboards earlier in the deck's history. I really haven't given any further thought to it, though. I'm no longer actively developing this deck.
I like the potential that the wishes have in expanding the deck's flexibility, but I don't really know what I would drop to run them (probably Mystical Tutor and Memory Lapse; I don't remember whether I already dropped Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Voidslime). I also don't have the opportunity to test them.
April 19, 2015 1:02 p.m.
just a thought - also sorry for the stupid post on Chromat - if you have infinite mana up for blinking anyway why wouldnt you run Wall of Blossoms, Elvish Visionary, Baleful Strix or a combination of the three+ over Rune-Scarred Demon to dig up USZ - I really dont see the point of spending 7 mana for no reason (even if you have inf)
April 27, 2015 2:06 a.m.
Rune-Scarred Demon allows me to tutor regardless of whether I have infinite mana or not. I sometimes pick Palinchron and Rune-Scarred Demon, find Deadeye Navigator, and combo out. I can't do that with a regular draw effect.
April 27, 2015 7:02 a.m.
May 4, 2015 3:35 a.m.
I've been running a deck a lot like this, and have been pondering the spot for Memory Lapse and whether I should replace it with Delay. In your opinion, why does Lapse make the cut Above the other? Is it just personal choice, or is the shift in difference big enough to make it understandable?
May 16, 2015 12:22 a.m.
As for whether it's now better than Delay, the answer is situational. Memory Lapse is good against expensive spells because it forces the caster to pay for the spell again. It also screws the opponent's next draw because they're just getting something that they used to have. Delay is better if you need to keep something off the field for a few turns so you can combo out or at least establish greater advantage. Your choice between them should be informed by your meta and needs.
I'm currently looking to cut Memory Lapse if I need space for other cards.
May 16, 2015 6:38 p.m.
May 16, 2015 7:45 p.m.
I haven't tested it yet. I don't know if I ever will; I don't play anymore. I keep this list up as a community reference and to promote discussion about BUG combo-control in general. I'm more of a theorist than a player at this point.
May 16, 2015 7:47 p.m.
This is the link to the deck i am currently building. http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/bug-edh-control/ (when i started building it i got yourand this one screwed up when i started proxying. But it is based off of yours i know you dont critique decks but i just wanted to know which cards would be better left out to allow switching between pod and 1v1. I usually play 1v1 against esper. And the deck is mostly proxied as i am buying the deck card by card
May 21, 2015 6:54 p.m.
That's a link to someone else's deck. I don't know if you intended to do that.
May 21, 2015 7:55 p.m.
Heck, if its no holds barred, nobody has ever mentioned the total advantage you get with the card Telepathy. Maybe they have... idk?
The Diabolic Intent has been trying to make it's way into your deck for a long while. If you don't mind changing color. I'm sure you have already considered these cards, but its always fun to hear your reasoning.
May 25, 2015 9:22 p.m.
Negate is certainly a possibility, but it would be a meta call, I think. If you're up against lots of creature-based decks (e.g., Animar, Hermit Druid) or cheat-into-play decks (e.g., Zur, Sharuum), then it's pretty bad.
There have been various other counterspells printed in Khans block that I haven't fully assessed, but I suspect it'll just be more balancing the shortcomings and picking what's tailored to the meta.
Telepathy never really struck me as great in competitive EDH. There's certainly something to be said for that kind of advantage, but it costs you a card and you still need to play around what they could possibly get, not just what they have. You end up being in about the same position; if you're playing properly, then you're prepared for almost anything your opponents could have. All Telepathy does is remove some doubt; it doesn't usually change how you play all that much.
It's been so long since I played this deck that I'm not sure I ever will test many of the cards in the maybeboard. I guess at this point that's something I'll leave to anyone building the deck.
May 25, 2015 9:41 p.m.
The other thing is that Telepathy pulls a stupid amount of hate. People don't like playing with their hands revealed, especially in combo heavy metas. And they will punish you for running the card.
May 25, 2015 9:44 p.m.
What do you usually name with Cavern of Souls? Is it the same every time or does it depend?
May 26, 2015 12:06 p.m.
I was finally able to complete this deck (minus Imperial Seal, maybe in a couple of months I'll get one). I know that this isn't a easy deck that you can just play so I did a little testing last night. Getting land out is a complete joke. 3 games by turn 3 I have like 6-7 lands out with my commander out to refresh my hand the next turn. 2 of those I was able to combo out, but the third game I thought was the best. Turn 4 had the following out Commander, Crucible of Worlds, Burgeoning, Exploration, and Azusa, Lost but Seeking. With 2 fetches in the graveyard. Turn 5 drew Intuition, was thinking okay what to pull and how can I get the combo going, then I smiled and laughed pick another fetch, Strip Mine, and Wasteland. Granted I couldn't combo out, but on each of my turns I could destroy 4 lands. Once all lands were destroyed I could fetch the rest of mine, attack with commander and wait for combo. Plus I had like 4 counters in my hand.
June 1, 2015 9:37 a.m.
Well, I went ahead - and against my better judgement - did a few rounds of playtesting. I constantly ran into a problem. Out of the five times I play-tested it into a "resonable" kill or combo finish, I got Azsua twice, once she netted me a grand total of one extra land drop, and the other time I got four extra land drops.
Consider replacing with Urban Evolution; or just Explore. I find Azusa to normally not be worth it in decks that run less then 40 lands. And when you're cutting your land count down with Fetches (though the effect is minimal) she becomes even less useful.
Now, this is just through observation of the Tappedout testing enginge, and maybe your actual real world results have varied.
Just my 2.c.
June 2, 2015 11:56 a.m.
@Joz I know what you mean about Azusa, Lost but Seeking, same goes for counterspells. Some tests I had like 6 of them in starting hand. I think where she shines is when you have Damia, Sage of Stone out with 1-2 cards in your hand. Next turn drawing 5-6 cards there is a good chance to get 2+ lands in that draw. She is just another means to play more then 1 land a turn. She is good at the start of the game but towards the end not so much, but at least you can use her as a blocker. This deck is so crazy on what you can do and what I wrote might not even be why Epochalyptik included her in the deck.
June 2, 2015 12:39 p.m.
Although it's true that Azusa, Lost but Seeking becomes less effective in decks that run fewer lands, the aggressive ramp package is what allows this deck to accelerate as hard as it does. Azusa becomes an all-star with either Crucible of Worlds or Damia out, and it's not outrageously expensive to cast.
My paper testing generally proves Azusa to be useful; the TappedOut tester can be finicky at times.
I definitely appreciate the testing, though! If you have any other observations, let me know.
June 2, 2015 1 p.m.
Other then suggesting High Market, and/or Bojuka Bog, I've got nothing. I'm a casual battlecruiser player; and competitive things make my skin blister ;D
June 2, 2015 2:20 p.m.
I have been using Rites of Refusal as a counterspell and it works very well. Most of the time discarding one card works, sometimes two, never had to go three.
June 7, 2015 5:18 p.m.
@Joz: High Market doesn't offer a ton to the deck. It's a card that's only really useful for beating theft and exile effects, and I would need to have it out already in order to counteract those threats. Because it doesn't tap for color, and because those threats are uncommon and easily mitigated by countermagic, I don't think it's necessary to include High Market.
Same for Bojuka Bog. The fact that it enters tapped is a detriment. Combined with the fact that it can't be fetched, this means that it's a dangerous choice to include in a competitive environment. The loss in tempo isn't really worth a sorcery-speed, tempo-eating solution to the limited number of graveyard strategies (of which there are few that countermagic doesn't address).
@EDHLOVE: Rites of Refusal isn't something I want to include. It's in the same vein as Forbid. Given that you have to both discard and pay , it's a risky play that doesn't offer enough advantage for its investment.
June 7, 2015 7:54 p.m.
After play-testing Frontier Siege I can say there is absolutely nothing anyone can say or do that will make me remove it from the deck. The longer the game drags out the more value u get from it, the card is amazing.
Also, Palinchron is terrible and I've removed it.
June 9, 2015 2:08 a.m.
June 9, 2015 7:24 a.m.
Fly927: I suggest reading the primer. It's a great way to understand the deck and to understand that Palinchron is extremely important to this deck, without it the chances of you winning is almost none, because this is competitive edh.
June 9, 2015 8:30 a.m.
Part of me wonders if there was a hint of sarcasm to said comment. Palinchron + Deadeye Navigator has to be one of the most well known infinite mana combos in the format. At least I'm hoping it was sarcasm....
June 9, 2015 9:10 a.m.
The only real advantage to Disrupt is the cantrip. Granted, that's a strong advantage, and even Force Spike can win a counter war now and then, but Spell Pierce and hard counters are better at being counterspells. If you can tie up your opponent's , you're basically forcing him or her to spend another counterspell's worth of mana.
That said, though, I encourage those who play a variant of this deck to test Disrupt for themselves.
June 20, 2015 7:49 p.m.
June 22, 2015 7:06 p.m.
@EDHLOVE: I generally prefer the more flexible tutors because I'm typically looking for noncreature cards, but I suppose Worldly Tutor warrants testing in the deck (for those who run a variant, anyway; I don't play anymore).
@MTGMachine: That's covered in the primer, but, to summarize here, those cards only really function in conjunction with one another. Outside of their singular combo, they don't offer very much to the deck, they're expensive, and they're dead draws. I would first try to incorporate an alternate win con that at least shares pieces with the deck's current combos, as that would better improve the deck's flexibility and resilience.
June 22, 2015 7:49 p.m.
What do you think of the new origins card "alhammarret's archive", "If you would gain life, you gain twice that much life instead. If you would draw a card except the first one you draw in each of your draw steps, draw two cards instead."
June 26, 2015 10 a.m.
It's very expensive, and it doesn't really do much for me, to be honest. It's only really functional if I have my general or Sylvan Library out, which means it's plus the cost of either of those cards.
CMC 5 is a pretty awkward spot on the curve for a combo control deck. It limits you to the midgame because you won't have that much on turn one or turn two (most of the time), and you'd need to invest a majority of your resources to cast it, meaning there's little left over for countermagic or acceleration. Given that it doesn't do anything on its own, this is an unwise investment.
June 26, 2015 12:08 p.m.
@ Epochalyptik, you know what I just re-read it and thought it was anytime you draw a card besides the first one, but now i see that you can only use it on your turn. I was thinking Consecrated Sphinx with this card. I forgot about Sylvan Library, that is just crazy card draw. I do see were you are coming from with the mana cost. I thought it was cheaper, I didn't pay too much attention to the cost just the ability. If something was made with just the second ability, what do you think would be a good cost to be considered to be put into the deck or would it still not be cosidered.
June 26, 2015 12:44 p.m.
It functions on all turns, meaning that it functions with Consecrated Sphinx as well, but it's still just very expensive.
As for what would be an acceptable cost, I'm not sure. It all depends on the design of the card itself: colors, cost, effect, etc. This particular effect isn't super valuable, though, because it merely enhances one of a very small number of other cards. It serves no function on its own.
June 26, 2015 12:48 p.m.
What do you think of this card? Stinks that it is a sorcery and it is a chance card. Spell Mastery shouldn't be that hard to get though
June 30, 2015 11:28 a.m.
Why don't you run Nephalia Drownyard to have another way to win with palinchron deadeye combo?
July 3, 2015 2:40 p.m.
That's not a guaranteed win (Eldrazi). Besides it's not useful in any other situation.
July 3, 2015 11:11 p.m.
July 5, 2015 4:16 p.m.
@Leopleradon: Mill is an unreliable win condition in EDH, and Nephalia Drownyard means I'd need to run another land that can't produce colored mana. It doesn't really do anything necessary for the deck's success.
@Antonius_Cleus: As a sorcery that doesn't make itself reusable (compared to the instant speed and reshuffle effect of Blue Sun's Zenith), Damnable Pact comes up pretty short on value. It doesn't do anything that isn't already done more effectively and efficiently by other cards in the deck.
July 5, 2015 4:26 p.m.
I hope you do not mind, in writing a primer for my deck I used your summary on the workings of Tooth and Nail, as we run it about the same way. I included proper linking to your user account as well. It's not quite finished yet, I'm currently finishing the last few odds and ends, but if you disagree with your writing being there, please notify me and I will take it down.
July 8, 2015 5:07 p.m.
Feel free to use the info! And if you have any questions, ask.
July 8, 2015 6:54 p.m.
You know thinking about it, I do have a thought to send your way; how would you deal with combo decks going off faster than yours?
Outside of counters, I tried to think of other ways to stop a combo deck that gets pieces together first, or at least something to give me time to catch up. In my meta, there's a lot of Deadeye centered comboing out, so I've been playing with Overburden at the moment since I can just use venser to bounce it when I'm ready at the cost of one land while screwing them on lands to bounce Palinchron with, but I'm curious to see whether you'd have a better idea to try out.
July 9, 2015 2:18 p.m.
To give you better perspective on my choices, I'm running Simic to your BUG.
July 9, 2015 2:19 p.m.
@Silverf1sh: I generally rely on countermagic to outplay faster decks; I tend not to be the kind of player who sides in or mainboards answers for specific threats. Then again, I also haven't played in a very long time, and maybe that option is realistic in your meta.
Overburden isn't bad. It's a cheap answer, but it's also relatively easy to answer in its own right considering it needs to be played preemptively and it just sits on the field afterward.
@anvindr: Tainted Pact is just too much of a gamble. I don't mind exiling cards for a good cause, but Tainted Pact is just worse than a tutor. If I hit one of my combo pieces before I want it, then I have to either take it when I don't need it or exile it and switch to a backup strategy. Neither of those is optimal, and I don't really have a way to guarantee that this situation won't happen.
July 10, 2015 4:31 p.m.
Fair enough, I suppose I could use trickbind over overburden for now and see where it goes.
July 11, 2015 1:02 a.m.
I remember you mentioning a while ago how you were looking for good removal. Reality Shift is pulling some serious weight for me, in that regard. I like it much more than Pongify, for example, even with the +1 CMC because of the importance of exile vs. recursion/avacyn/things like that.
Anyway, this deck is legendary. Keep thinking about it.
July 13, 2015 7:15 a.m.
What are your thoughts on Jace, Vryn's Prodigy? Paramount was praising it a lot in his review of origins, though I think his damia list is a lot different than yours is.
Here's his review powerpoint:
July 25, 2015 6:19 p.m.
If you want to copy and paste or summarize the arguments made in favor of it, I'll address them specifically, but I don't really feel like downloading and digging through a PowerPoint for them.
July 25, 2015 6:26 p.m.
I've been a naga/gorgon type fan for a while, so when I saw Damia, I wanted to build a deck, but I could never get it fast enough... I decided to try out my own version of this deck, and I thought I'd get some input on certain cards.
Abundance I think this is a good mid game card. Once you have your mana base, you can make sure the seven cards you draw are free of lands (or have just as many lands as you would want).
See the Unwritten up to two free creatures?
Villainous Wealth I'm just in love with this card... Exile an opponents deck, then cast any spells in that deck.. If that player is also playing with a combo, you can use his combo to possibly win
Rhystic Study Draw cards early, can combo with burgeoning (draw lands during opponents turn, and play them)
July 28, 2015 4:58 a.m.
Abundance is ok in a more casual environment, but I don't think it's significant in any way. It's honestly quite good to draw a few lands because your Exploration effects allow you to turn that into immediate advantage.
See the Unwritten is underwhelming. It's a 6-drop that you have to toolbox to make useful. Else you have no control over how impactful it is.
Great Whale is fine if you need the redundancy,but I think Peregrine Drake is more economical as a backup. I suppose it depends. Great Whale is analogous to Palinchron and allows you enough mana to cast Deadeye Navigator if you Tooth and Nail another creature like Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir.
Villainous Wealth has been suggested numerous times since it came out, and I've dismissed it each time. It doesn't win on the spot, it doesn't guarantee a win, it only deals with one opponent, and it doesn't give you meaningful advantage if used as a noncombo utility spell.
Echo Mage and it's ill are poor investments. Sure, you can copy your game-winning spells, but your inner Timmy is getting the better of you. If the spells win the game on their own when used correctly, why include mechanisms to copy them? Especially if those mechanisms are uneconomical and require lots of setup.
Rhystic Study was cut a very long time ago. CMC 3 is an awkward place in the curve for this deck, and you could be playing better things at that point. I also think Mystic Remora happens to be more powerful as well as more economical.
You could certainly include reanimate on effects. I didn't go that route with this deck, though. If you were to include those spells, you'd probably want to shift to a graveyard strategy; those cards aren't really useful without a dedicated engine to capitalize on how cheaply they can get you your stuff. And one of the reasons I avoided that entirely is that I think Tooth and Nail, though expensive, is a much more dependable enabler.
You could include more removal. That is one of the deck's weak spots; it relies more on countermagic as a way to protect its combos and interfere with goings on in the meantime. Anything j don't counter is usually still inconsequential by the time I combo off. But if you find that threats tend to resolve and can't be overcome prior to your combo, then feel free to add more removal. Just keep in mind how much you're spending. 3 is a lot to drop just to kill something.
July 28, 2015 7:46 a.m.
I'll vouch for Putrefy as a card. Personally, my favourite is Beast Within but both do a good job. Although 3 is a bit to spend, usually its either counter or kill something. And being able to dissuade a player from attacking you because they know you run after the fact removal is always great, especially when they swing someone else.
That being said, removal is better if you find your games going a bit longer. For the short 7 turn games, counterspells should be enough for the most part.
July 28, 2015 9:53 a.m.
I used to run both is earlier iterations of this deck, but I found them uneconomical. It's simply too hard to hold 3 up without disrupting other components of your game plan, and it's difficult to justify doing so if you can already outpace most of the threats you'd need to answer.
That said, I again agree that those cards have their place in less competitive versions of this deck. If speed is not an issue, you have more room to play the slow control route.
July 28, 2015 10:55 a.m.
After rereading through Paramount's assessment basically he's just on some sort of extra turns build so that's why he likes the new Jace.
Additionally, what are your thoughts on Grim Tutor as a budget substitute for Imp. Seal (I'm currently running personal tutor and it sucks)? Or should I just save up and eventually bite the bullet?
July 28, 2015 12:01 p.m.
Even with extra turns, the new Jace is pretty underwhelming. I just don't believe that it adds valuable utility to a Commander deck.
Grim Tutor is good, but the high mana cost (compared to the deck's other tutors) means it's rather slow to play. Whether it's worth saving for Imperial Seal is a personal call. The latter is much better and is a staple in the optimized list, but you need to decide whether the extra power is worth the extra hundreds of dollars to you.
July 28, 2015 12:32 p.m.
I know I mentioned it a little while ago, but I can't remember what your thoughts were on Ghostly Flicker. I've been seriously impressed by it, both inside and outside of combo. It gives you extra value from both Eternal Witness and Snapcaster Mage, it doubles as a counterspell with Venser, Shaper Savant and it protects Damia, Sage of Stone from targetted removal. It's also good in combo when you don't have any of your wincon pieces in hand since you need 10 mana to TaN for all 3, but with ghostly flicker you can do it with 9. Get Palinchron and Rune-Scarred Demon who in turn gets flicker, and get back 7 mana. Cast flicker targetting both RSD and Palinchron, going to 11 mana total (from the ETB) and getting Deadeye.
August 3, 2015 11:50 p.m.
Have you thought about adding ad nauseam as an alternative draw engine and maybe retooling some things? The cmc of the deck is fairly low. I'm just saying this because I saw a zur ad nauseam deck that was pretty good and 40 life makes it pretty broken.
August 8, 2015 1:12 p.m.
@mrshadow: Zur relies on no high-cost pieces. All of my combo pieces are extremely expensive. Ad Nauseam is basically : Draw 3-4 cards and lose 3-18 life, depending on how lucky you are. I can't see it being effective here because the deck already requires you to pay a fair amount of life (6-15 on average just for lands and tutors). Necropotence is a better version that requires less mana and less life. Although you typically don't get killed by combat in competitive multiplayer, you do risk quite a bit by chunking yourself down on one spell that doesn't necessarily promise proportional returns.
August 8, 2015 2:33 p.m.
Hey Epoch, there is a primer hub if you wanted to add it to your deck.
August 10, 2015 11:11 p.m.
curious if you give me some suggestions for my damia deck i play in a very competitive meta and i am having problems with consistency. im up against azami, zeganna, and nin decks.
August 16, 2015 1:07 a.m.
Also, it has been mentioned before though never addressed as far as I can tell, Reality Shift.
August 16, 2015 4:15 a.m.
What're your thoughts on Jace's Sanctum? The utility is nice and the spell cost reduction seems good, but I'm not sure if the initial outlay makes it to prohibitive to actually use.
August 16, 2015 10:10 p.m.
@miracle: I dismissed Reality Shift when it was spoiled. Since then, various people have recommended it or reported success with it. However, I still view it as an expensive solution to a not-so-pressing problem. I would pick Pongify over Reality Shift; the lower cost is more useful than the exile effect, in my opinion.
@enpc: Jace's Sanctum is too expensive; it comes down after it would be most useful. Casting Nature's Lore or Demonic Tutor or Remand at discount would be great, but I'm likely to cast them in the turns before Jace's Sanctum becomes viable. And it doesn't really help the endgame because Tooth and Nail costs quite a bit regardless, and the effect is rendered useless once I combo off (it doesn't really do much for the combo itself, either). The scry is also only moderately useful because so many of my instants and sorceries require a shuffle.
August 17, 2015 7:43 p.m.
You may have said it before and I just havent seen it, but what are your thoughts on Sylvan Scrying?
August 27, 2015 4:29 p.m.
Sylvan Scrying doesn't really do much for me. There's no one land that's really worth paying and a card for unless it's going to the field untapped a la Three Visits. I guess Boseiju, Who Shelters All and Cavern of Souls are situationally fetchworthy, but I could just spend a more playable tutor on them if I really needed them.
August 27, 2015 7:47 p.m.
Hey Epoch, one other card worth getting your two cents on (and I know this one is very meta specific) - what do you think about Abrupt Decay?
August 27, 2015 8:09 p.m.
Like you said, Abrupt Decay is, to a certain extent, meta specific. It's also fairly limited in what it can hit, although the uncounterability means it's virtually unanswerable.
If you find that you go up against low-cost combo decks like Hermit Druid or fast voltron decks, then it could be a worthy add. As a general removal spell, though, I think it falls short. It doesn't hit many of the larger threats, and it's useless against many popular combo engines (for example, the combo engine in this deck is entirely immune to it). It can kill many important ramp and utility cards, but you have to ask yourself whether paying for uncounterability is worth more to you than just paying for Nature's Claim, for example. Every time you increment a card's CMC, you drastically change its effectiveness and role in the competitive environment.
The saturated cost is another thing to consider; having to leave up in the early game is detrimental because you'd ideally be ramping as much as possible. You're also forced to get to pay for this card, so it may throw off your game plan a bit; I normally like to get both duals out and then worry about black unless I have a Vampiric Tutor or something to play early. That's more of a preference thing, but it does mean that if you're saving your spell as a hail mary against a quick threat, you'll need to unbalance your tempo and consciously make otherwise detrimental decisions just so a removal spell becomes accessible.
August 27, 2015 8:28 p.m.
Keep in mind, too, that I personally like to respond to threats while they're spells because I find that easier and more versatile an approach in this shell. I'm sure that factors into my decision to some degree.
August 27, 2015 8:29 p.m.
Which would explain why you run such a high counterspell count and such a not high removal count :P But yeah, that's fair. The uncounterableness is kind of offset by the limitations. I've seen a bit of back and forth aroudn this card's viability in Commander. But I think it's still better suited to the 60 card formats.
As for the thing, I can relate. Probably a bit slow for your build but I have been super impressed with Simic Signet as far as fixing goes.
Also, I remember in a thread a while ago you mentioned that most of your deck was foiled out / had signed cards / foreign language cards / all of the above. Is there a reason you don't show them in the decklist?
August 27, 2015 8:47 p.m.
Well, the fixing itself is not really an issue. The 3-3-9 takes care of the fixing, as do the multis like Command Tower. The issue is really just maximum mana production overall. If you spend on a removal spell (or hold it up for one), that's you aren't spending on ramp or something else.
I just think that Abrupt Decay is a very forceful answer to a relatively small threat in the format, generally speaking. The CMC 0-3 range is not really permanent-centric in competitive, mana rocks and ramp dorks notwithstanding. And you don't spend and a card to kill a mana rock or a ramp dork.
In semicompetitive or casual, it could be slightly more viable. But it still suffers from the "big stick, little foe" dilemma; there just aren't many omnipresent threats. Mirrodin swords and stuff like Sylvan Library or Rhystic Study are probably the likeliest targets in those environments, but they're just as easily answered by more efficient removal, so it's a meta call whether you want the uncounterability. I suppose it's worthwhile in semicompetitive.
As for the foils and whatnot, I don't show them in any of my decklists. I think that stuff just distracts/detracts from the deck itself. I'm here to look at the quality of the theoretical list, not the quality of the physical cards you own. I suppose I could put a section in the primer for that stuff, but it would really only be a "check this out" kind of thing.
August 27, 2015 9:09 p.m.
I run the signet because it's good opening hand fixing. In the community I play in, we don't partial paris mulligan. So I find the colourless aspect of cards like Simic Signet / Chromatic Lantern to be super crucial, even though the deck has good fixing (still need 3 fetches / Underground Sea though T_T).
August 27, 2015 9:20 p.m.
I suppose that's a fair way to compensate, but I've long been unimpressed by the signets as a ramp or color fixing solution.
My issue with them is that you have to pay as an initial investment and they never produce mana on their own. You need to leave another mana source up. This means that they're not optimal for decks with high color saturation because you'll either not be able to cast something (you can't cast Counterspell with only a Simic Signet activation) or be forced to use the signet on your turn to pay for some other stuff.
Now, the latter bit isn't terrible on its own, but I noticed that most of the time, signets don't really fulfill their role as a color fixer when used in this capacity. Instead, you often end up getting one useful colored mana and spending the other mana on some miscellaneous colorless component. In my experience, I only routinely use one of the colors per game, and I don't think the variance both within games and across games is so significant that you must run a signet to fill the role. So really you're getting ramp from it (the color fixing itself isn't justifiable cause to run something in a deck that already has a very consistent mana base), and the ramp isn't worth the initial cost and the fact that you have to continually pay into the activations.
But that's just my take on it. I'm in the pleasant position of not being fazed by card availability issues; if I want something in the deck, it's in the deck. But if you're in a position that forces you to compromise, whether temporarily or indefinitely, then yes, signets and their ilk may be a good second choice.
It may also be that you find the color fixing valuable if you run a more saturated lineup or one that forces you to jump between and costs rapidly.
I'd be interested to hear whether Chrome Mox does anything for you. Might be worth testing.
August 27, 2015 10:09 p.m.
Epoch, I have a question since you are fairly active here tonight.
Why not run Tasigur, the Golden Fang as the commander over Damia? I know you rarely cast her and she has her issues but considering that Banana Boy can act as Rune-Scarred Demon from the command zone with infinite mana it makes me wonder.
(Since you can just keep activating his ability with 0 cards in your library to just put everything in your grave that isn't a land in your hand.)
Thoughts? Considerations? I mean, someone could attempt to kill you with a "target player draws cards" spell but the chances of them actually succeeding are so slim since you can keep putting counters back in your hand an infinite number of times.
Seems like a worthy contribution especially if your demon gets nailed with a well timed exile effect
August 27, 2015 10:18 p.m.
Tasigur, the Golden Fang doesn't really offer a whole lot to the deck. Value calculations ultimately have to be based on the utility provided by Tasigur's activated ability, but that ability doesn't really change the game. You'll often just get a ramp spell back, as it's unlikely that your opponent will give you a counterspell or tutor. And the ability is very expensive considering it will always give you the worst of the available options.
And while you can use the ability ad nauseam to return all nonland cards to your hand, you'd need infinite mana in order to do that, and when you make infinite mana in this deck, you already have a win. The other cards provide recursion and draw as well as actual win conditions, so the only reason to include Tasigur would be to offer redundancy with the recursion and draw effects that already supplement the combo.
And I thought of the talisman cycle as well, but I then realized that there's no talisman (yet); there are only allied pairs. That means you have to choose one or two weaker options here. and are easily the most important colors for the deck's general function; is here largely as tutor utility. Fellwar Stone could be good, though (as a replacement for signets). It's generally likely that at least one opponent is playing either or (if not, enjoy your free win), and not really any less likely that you'll be across from both of those colors.
August 27, 2015 10:31 p.m.
I was just thinking that Tasigur makes more sense as the commander due to how little you praise Damia, it makes me wonder if she is just there for color, if you cast her a bunch that's fine but I was just thinking that if someone gets rid of your rune scarred demon it would allow you to not be out of the game.
He just seems to support the deck/combo more than Damia does. For example, if you naturally draw into Palinchron/Deadeye and have no tutors but you have infinite mana then it stands to reason that you could go off on that turn with Tasigur since its like having a rune scarred demon in your command zone.
The Talismans are only one of a few cycles of lands/rocks I wish WotC would finish. River of Tears and Horizon Canopy are some cycles I would like to see complete but that's another discussion for another thread.
August 27, 2015 10:58 p.m.
Damia isn't a necessary component of the deck 100% of the time, but it helps refill your hand after heavy early game play. It serves as a bridge between the first and second halves of the game, really.
As for Rune-Scarred Demon, there are workarounds. As long as it hits the field once, I should be good to go. And it's possible to combo off without it; it just provides a few extra Tooth and Nail permutations to help improve the deck's flexibility and resilience.
Hardcasting Palinchron and Deadeye Navigator is generally undesirable; even if I had both in hand, I'd probably still Tooth and Nail them in if I could (and get two more cards in the process). If I didn't have any tutors, it's more likely that I would wait until a safer opportunity arose. In that sense, Tasigur does offer an out, but at the cost of the midgame hand refill that often keeps the deck going.
A switch to Tasigur would likely require the addition of more draw engines to help the deck sustain on its own. Either that or a modification to strategy to prevent yourself from running out of steam to quickly.
August 27, 2015 11:21 p.m.
@Ohthenoises: as for the talismans, basically what Epoch said holds true - though I will go into a bit more detail for my logic. As mention, there is not yet a U/G talisman and my issue with Fellwar Stone is that 1) I have to rely on my opponents playing my colours and 2) I have to rely on them being in a good mana fixing state themselves. The point of Simic Signet is that it gets me both blue and green without any external reliance on my opponents.
The other reason I like it over a talisman style solution is that my deck runs Kiora's Follower and I can (and have) made plays along the lines of T1 - Land, Mana Vault, Simic Signet, Kiora's Follower. Hello 5/6 mana turn 2.
Not to mention, while the life loss is marginal it's nice to not have to spend it if I don't have to. I can use it for fueling other cards instead.
@ Epochalyptik:I have seen Tasigur, the Golden Fang decks play before, a highly tuned one does very well. It also means you can run cards like Fact or Fiction more freely. And while it's true that you would need to increase the draw capabilities of the deck, you can remove some of the more "Damia enabling" cards like Mana Vault and Grim Monolith since you're able to delve Tasigur in.
August 27, 2015 11:38 p.m.
Hey, I've just done your scenario with the deck and I did the exact same as you up to the point of when you got the Snapcaster Mage into play and gave Tooth and Nail flashback. I gave Demonic Tutor flashback and tutored for Blue Sun's Zenith to win that way. Is there any reason why you did it your way rather than mine?
August 28, 2015 7:52 a.m.
More options, mostly. Both options work, but having Venser and the tutor is preferable to having only the tutor. You might also have to account for abilities that could interfere with your combo (Teferi shuts down spells, but not abilities).
August 28, 2015 8:14 a.m.
I know Teferi doesn't shut abilities down but the only thing on the board is a Sharuum the Hegemon who has no activated abilities. Im sure there are other ways to win. Either way I enjoyed the scenario and the deck is insane!
August 28, 2015 9:06 a.m.
The battlefield is not the only zone from which abilities can be activated. Because you can't be sure what else opponents could have in hand, it's worth exercising caution.
And yes, there are other permutations that could result in victory. But I tend to favor the safest identifiable approach in any scenario like this.
August 28, 2015 1:41 p.m.
So I'm hoping that the second set of BFZ brings enemy fetchable check lands. I would run the one as a third Tropical Island that I could fetch EOT to leave Breeding Pool available for an untapped play if needed.
August 30, 2015 1 a.m.
Is the UG check the only one you would play, or would you consider the other two as well? I'm not entirely certain I want to play them in my deck at only 4 basics, but I might be underestimating them.
August 30, 2015 1:09 a.m.
I singled that one out intentionally, although I could have made it clearer why.
Blue and green are the most important colors in the deck. I'd want to be able to run a third Tropical Island, but the other two duals are not as important. Between Underground Sea, Bayou, Watery Grave, and Overgrown Tomb, any demand for /X duals is satisfied. I wouldn't need to run additional /X duals if they're likely to come in tapped, even if they're fetchable. is the only pair of the three that I'd make an exception for, and only for the niche purpose I described above (although playing it tapped isn't terrible if I have an Exploration effect and another land to make up for using a land play on a tap land).
August 30, 2015 1:15 a.m.
You mentioned in the Spoiler thread the Forest finders you run. Does this make the BG check at all tempting?
August 30, 2015 1:19 a.m.
Not really. The Forest finders are in the deck because they get lands untapped. The fetchable checks are almost guaranteed to never enter untapped in this deck except as a late-game play when I've exhausted all other fetch options and gotten my basics out (and even then, I'd probably have to be dropping basics to even include them because the other lands are too important).
The only reason I'm even considering the one (again, assuming it's on WOTC's list for the next set) is to provide slightly more padding for that color pair.
I view the and tentative/speculative fetchable checks as fancier tap lands that don't really fit with the deck's tempo. They aren't necessary for the color fixing; the ABURs and shocks, along with the non-land fixing, are sufficient in that regard.
August 30, 2015 1:30 a.m.
First i have to say i love your deck. i am crafting my own damia deck using yours for inspiration. I am curious what made you consider Arbor Elf as part of the deck? i am considering it for mine but i cant figure out what to cut. any suggestions would be awesome http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/14-08-15-damia-sage-of-stone-help/
August 30, 2015 2:47 a.m.
Arbor Elf can untap dual lands, which means I can typically produce another mana of whatever color I need. It's like a second Birds of Paradise, and the ramp and color fixing are both invaluable at that cost.
August 30, 2015 8:43 a.m.
the real question is, and slap me if you heard this before, how would you build a budget/multiplayer oriented BUG?
also, you already went over Kiora's Follower, correct?
August 30, 2015 11:55 a.m.
This deck is multiplayer oriented.
As for budget, it's hard to translate this deck to a budget list without giving some things up. The combo pieces themselves are fairly inexpensive, so it's really about the shell you build for them.
Imperial Seal is the first cut for a budget list.
The land base will have to become worse; that much is inevitable. If you cut the ABUR duals and the six off-color fetches, then you can save a significant amount of money. The downside is that you lose a lot of consistency and speed, and some of the saturated costs like that of Necropotence become more troublesome.
August 30, 2015 12:02 p.m.
fair enough. i asked because i always thought this was a 1v1 BUG deck. i failed at my attempt at a mimeoplasm so ive hit a rough patch for deck ideas.
Sylvan Scrying used to be in the deck, no? or was it too restrictive and slow for what you were doing?
August 30, 2015 12:17 p.m.
This deck doesn't do as well in competitive 1v1 matchups, which tend to be faster.
August 30, 2015 12:30 p.m.
For budget, one could still run the five KTK fetches which are somewhat inexpensive right now. It would still grant a decent landbase, even without Crucible. And the new latelands (is that what we're calling them?) should make three color budget lists more accessible still.
August 30, 2015 12:44 p.m.
https://m.reddit.com/r/CompetitiveEDH had a competitive edh tournament. The winning deck was identical to yours with three exceptions. Dig Through Time, Diabolic Intent, and Pongify replaced Voidslime, Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Venser, Shaper Savant. Venser would seem to be a glaring ommission. The other two by your own designation are close to being cut. What is your opinion of the changes?