by Steve ‘DDT’ Giannopoulos
Well, Magic: 2014 is now upon us and you have undoubtedly had your fair share of limited play. The set looks simple enough that one would expect some pretty straightforward play, but that is not always the case. Let’s get our feet wet and start off with a fairly nice combo involving two of the more interesting uncommons of this set.
Here are 20 little card interactions you should keep an eye out if you’re drafting/sealing the Magic 2014 expansion.
I’ll give you a few second to let it sink in…. Yeah, I know right? Seems so simple when it’s staring you right in the face, no?
I was playing a sealed (one of many) last week at a local game store and my deck was so bad that I started looking for combos. Needless to say that I was just thrilled when I noticed this. Of course technically there is a third piece to this combo called ‘Any Creature you control’.
Before you go off trying to find this mystery card simply run a Gatherer search for ‘Creature’ under f’Filter Card Type’. Yes, I’m just trolling you. It’s basically any creature you happen to have in play. Sacrifice it, preferably after blocking an attacker and you will have satisifed Angelic Accord’s ‘end of turn’ trigger.
What’s even cooler is that it triggers at ANY end of turn step, meaning that if you find a way to gain 4 life each turn (yours and your opponent’s) you will be rewarded with a 4/4 flying angel token:
This time we only get the Angel side of the token as opposed to the reversible Angel/Demon ones
Barring that, we also get to mimic some pseudo- Serra Angel/ Baneslayer Angel action. Of course we need to work a tiny bit to get this super creature going. We get to attack with the 4/4 Angel token then sacrifice it before our end of turn to gain 4 life. This will have gained us 4 life as though the Angel token had lifelink. It will also create a new Angel Token as though our Angel Token had ‘vigilance’.
Keep in mind that this is the ‘bare minimum’ here. You can easily sacrifice a ‘lesser’ creature to make a 4/4 Angel Token and just grow your own Angel army, just like you had cast a really really slow Entreat the Angels. You have to also keep in mind that this involves two uncommons, but if we want to ‘spice it up’ a little we can add this to the mix:
Like this card really needed to be part of a combo
Yeah, I ran that Standard card search for you!
You get all the value on this!
This one is basically the usual steal and sac maneuver we often see with Red/Black combinations. Can also be accomplished with Blood Bairn, Altar’s Reap and Gnawing Zombie in this Set.
Yes, I’ll admit it’s rather costly just to tap down a non-flying creature. Air Servant is good on its own though and Zephyr Charge can be pretty nice if you’re short on actual fliers. Another neat trick is to pair off Zephyr Charge with cards like Windstorm and Plummet.
Much like in M13 with Unsummon, this 2 card combo can keep you alive long enough to draw some answers. Plus when you do, you’ll probably have something better to recur than Disperse.
Usually Auramancer is kinda blah, but in Magic 2014 enchantments matter with other cards like Blightcaster. White/Black Auras is not a terrible deck if you have the synergies going. Think of Quag Sickness as a Doom Blade and Auramancer as an Archaeomancer and everything will be ok, I promise.
Pretty similar to the above interaction only it’s usually a 2 for 1. You cast Quag Sickness, Blightcaster triggers and usually takes down a 2 toughness creature then you place Quag Sickness on something bigger and either end up killing it or severely crippling its offensive capabilities.
You can’t just sit around and wait for the egg to hatch on its own can you now? Without the usual sacrifice outlets in Black (as we saw before) and the aforementioned artifacts, we can look to this little gem of an enchantment to help us out. Ideally you don’t want to just sacrifice the Dragon Egg to ping your opponent in the face for 1, you want to get some value out of it (like finishing off a bigger creature or chump blocking with it and forcing a trade somewhere else).
I know you’re thinking that you can also sacrifice the dragon token and deal an additional 1 damage, but no! You don’t want to be doing that just to get the damage output of a Shock (unless you absolutely have to), The fire-breathing dragon token will be valuable to you in the long run (much like they were to Daenerys in Game of Thrones).
I specified Doom Blade here because it is the most efficient one, but of course if your opponent is playing black you can go with Chandra’s Outrage. You can keep dealing 2 while taking down one of their dudes each turn. You don’t even need to attack, how cool is that? Ok, not extremely but it’s pretty respectable in the realm of M14 limited.
First strike and deathtouch work very well together as do trample and deathtouch (since you only need to assign 1 damage to a blocker and can deal the rest to the defending player). Nothing ‘magical’ here but you can take down multiple blockers or as is otherwise known, your creature becomes ‘unblockable’.
It’s often rather tasking to get the Guardian to attack, unless you’re ‘diplomatic‘ about it. Yes, that was rather cheesy. The combo also involves 2 Rare cards so it will be less likely to have in an M14 draft. The Goblins themselves are pretty much removal since they will often force your opponent to attack with smaller creatures they normally would not.
While this is probably the easiest combo to find since Advocate of the Beast is mentioned in the Marauding Maulhorn rules text, it’s rather effective and more importantly common. You can also try fitting in a Mutavault (if you were lucky enough to open one) since you can activate it before your end of turn and give it a +1/+1 counter with Advocate of the Beast.
Of course it also requires you to cast instants/sorceries but now your tokens get to attack for 3 the turn they come into play (or be 3 power blockers if you cast something during an opponent’s turn. Our monored team-up here is very effective. Who would have guessed that a whip-carrying ogre would work well with a goggle-wearing Chandra fanboy?
The combo itself may even become somewhat potent in Standard (probably paired off with some blue card-drawing spells). Even something sub-optimal such as casting a turn 4 Ogre Battledriver followed by turn 5 Young Pyromancer X 2 can be threatening. Another spell that can be pretty potent is Dynacharge or Dragonshift, if we dare to dream a little bit.
Maybe, just maybe
What is a Pyromaster without her pet? Not much actually. With it? Slightly less bad.
Yes, I continue my Chandra, Pyromaster hate here since even recurring a Chandra’s Phoenix (probably from all the chump-blocking required to protect her) does not even make her more playable. Wait what if we attack and stuff? Woah!
I’m willing to give her a chance, but the decklist would have to be something more alluring than the usual ‘Red Deck Wins’ kind.
Maybe even add this combo-riffic piece:
Just think of how ‘insane’ it can get with multiple Gauntlets. Trading Post control anyone?
Wait, what? No creatures in this? It almost seems like a weird enchantress deck and that’s the reason I’m mentioning it. While both cards are OK on their own merits (Bounty being better by far), they might get much better in Theros. You see, enchantments matter in the next block so you’ll need to ‘stock up’ on them now. Just sayin’!
Basically, look at your top card. Land? slam it down and gain 3 life to then draw what is hopefully a nonland and cast that. Creature? Great! gain another creature. Noncreature? cast it and boost one of your existing creatures or if it’s it has flash/is an instant – use it as a combat trick.
Sooner than you think
Yes, it’s 2 rares. Yes, it’s also slow. Keep in mind that this limited format is also rather slow, so you have time to set it up and keep it going. Nothing fancy really, just pump out those goat tokens and recur the Ratchet Bomb when needed. You can also ‘slow cycle’ by sacrificing a making a Goat Token every other turn and getting the Ratchet Bomb back to sacrifice it with Trading Post to draw a card then repeat. Yeah, not fast at all.
Speaking of goats – remember that they were and are still used as bargaining chips in Greece. Theros is based on Greek Mythology. Will we see some more cards that give us value for our Goat Tokens? It only seems fitting, right?
We had to include one of the most sough-after mythics in the set here, right? Soulmender grows our angel and keeps us alive long enough in the meantime. For those of you who have played versus similar cards such as Soul Warden in the past, you know exactly how much of a nuisance Soulmender can be.
Simply getting to attack with the Archangel of Thune and deal damage also grows it, so it’s not like it ‘needs’ Soulmender, but it is a welcome addition. It’s also an infinite life combo in Modern with Spike Feeder (I think how that works is rather obvious).
If you’re going for the mill plan (aka. you opened a Jace, Memory Adept in one of your M14 boosters), try Time Ebb. It has some pretty good synergy with the mill cards. Put a guy on top and then mill him. Simple as that!
Of course you should make it worthwhile and not just target any dork, unless of course you’re milling with Jace and are short on blockers. In such a case you probably just want to activate the +1 ability on Jace and not go for the full 10 mill since you want to recoup the cost of wasting a card on their creature and end up accomplishing pretty much the same thing.
Pretty much any lifegain is also good (Trading Post, Brindle Boar,etc). Preferably, you are sacrificing the boar to gain 4 life in order to drop back a 6/6 blocker. If you have 4 mana, it’s perfectly acceptable to verdant haven one of your lands in order to get a 4/4 creature afterwards.
In the case of Trading Post, it really depends what you’re pitching to it. You don’t want to discard a removal just to get a big creature most of the time. The prime fodder is probably excess lands.
It can be done with any creature really, but gaining a card is very key here. Plus it’s somewhat ‘on curve’. You drop Scroll Thief turn 3 if you think you can sneak in a card (it’s maybe OK to waste a removal on their only blocker here). Otherwise, you play Trained Condor first going for the extra damage output.
That’ll have to be all for today. I tried to keep the card interactions low on Rares/Mythics to simulate more of what you would see in a draft.If you have any other card interactions I missed (I really only tried to cap at 20), please let us know.