Hello folks! I hope your day is going swell. Are you ready for Throne of Eldraine? I hope so!
As more cards have been spoiled, I often think about cool combos and ways to harness the power of that card. There are a few cards that pop into my head, and the combo strikes me as pretty cool.
Today I want to take a look see at some of the cards that were already spoiled and some nifty combos you can unfurl with them once the set comes out.
Are you ready? Great, then let's get this list kicked off for you.
10a. Keeper of Fables and Fireshrieker
This was originally a combo with Keeper of Fables and Firecat Blitz that would draw a bunch of cards. However, as my editor pointed out, that doesn't work. It only triggers once for all combat damage dealt. I missed that "or more" word. This occurs a lot in the writing field. You are writing about cards that were spoiled yesterday, and you haven't seen them or played with them, and thus lots of mistakes get made as people think a card may work similarly to another effect. I missed those two words and compared it in my mind to recently released Ohran Frostfang, which does draw a card for each of your dorks that smashes.
However, there are still ways to milk the Keeper. Double Strike. If you deal damage in the first strike phase and the normal damage phase, then you will draw two cards, which is pretty saucy too. Thus the double strike fun times of Fireshrieker. Note that you can also just swing with multiple dorks, where some have normal first strike, and others don't. Are they Humans? Nope? Draw two cards!
Now that means that two cards are the most you can draw in a combat phase though with the Keeper.
10b. Keeper of Fables and Three-Headed Goblin
...you are willing to dip into the silver-bordered world with triple strike. A Three-Headed Goblin will deal combat damage a remarkable three times. Thus, you'll net three cards, because it's not anywhere near a Human. (You could also add more combat phases with cards like Relentless Assault and such to draw more and more cards).
9. SyrCarah, the Bold and Card Drawing
Want to draw some cards from Syr Carah? Sure thing! You could dip into Blue for Curiosity or Green for Keen Sense and Snake Umbra! Card drawing matters, and since Syr Carah is likely to be targeting foes not their dorks in order to get that trigger going, getting a free card from your damage at the same time you get a free card from the smash-ery is pretty cool. Her damage dealing trigger also works with instants/sorceries that you might find in Commander builds around leaders like Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind or Firesong and Sunspeaker.
8. Shimmer Dragon and Key to the City
Normally, in order to draw a card with Key to the City, you need to have discarded a card earlier on. Thus, you can churn a discard now into a future card later, and can get a free slip past some dorks. Here? You can tap the Key and another artifact in order to draw a card and then untap your Key later and use mana to draw another card.
Special shout out to Scaretiller! It's from the most recent Commander 2019 and it's in most of the builds. You can tap it with your Dragon to draw a card, and then you can churn out a land. Note that the tap trigger goes on top and has to resolve first, so if you draw a land, you won't be able to drop it immediately with that trigger. But it's still good!
Also note the synergy here with artifacts like Clues or Treasure or Gold or Food that won't otherwise matter if they are tapped or untapped. Tap for cards, all day long my friend. All. Day. Long.
Now let's turn to a Commander specific combo for a moment.
7. Opportunistic Dragon and Your Opponent's Commander
In Commander, a lot of folks run powerful Commanders that will work even when they are taken by another. Something like Pramikon, Sky Rampart or Anowen, the Ruin Sage comes to mind. Our good Dragon friend steals it so it can't be used to swing/block and then also removes all abilities from it too, so it's basically like Red's take on Song of the Dryads or Imprisoned in the Moon. It's a powerful tool in the anti-Commander suite of options you often are looking for.
Normally, you don't want to run removal that forces someone's leader to shift zones, as removal such as these will allow the owner to toss them into the Command Zone then recast it. But Song and the Moon are different as they'll keep it the annoying Commander on the battlefield, just turn it into a land. Opportunistic Dragon plays into a similar space.
All right, back to normal Magic formats.
6. Doom Foretold and Squadron Hawk
Doom Foretold is a useful and powerful card. You force your foes to sacrifice goods until no one can, and then that person is punished, you are rewarded. The one issue? You are sacrificing them too! Note that Doom Foretold only allows you to sacrifice cards, and non-lands, so you cannot load up your battlefield with a number of tokens to sacrifice to it. You need actual, proper, stuff to sacrifice.
Enter Squadron Hawk. Squadron Hawk put the Caw into Caw-Blade. Squadron Hawk fits, as you get three more cards after the first arrives. For bonus points, cheap artifact things like the Ichor Wellspring, Mycosynth Wellspring, Myr Sire, and Servo Schematic among others will love to die for the cause. I'm sure you can find loads more to consider if you began to hew down the path.
All right....top five time!
5. Wishclaw Talisman and Homeward Path
The Talisman is arguably one of the more broken cards from Throne of Eldraine. Without any other synergies, you spend three mana to cast and use, and then give it to your foe, so they won't feel left out. They use it once, and then you get it on the backend. However, there are a few tricks here. Notice that you only use it on your turn, rather than the normal "as a sorcery" restriction, so you can use it in response to another effect. There are a crap-ton of ways to break it.
Here are a few:
- Bounce and recast it.
- Have an effect like Aven Mindcensor or Ashiok, Dream Render from searching their library.
- Flicker it and return it to your side.
But I love Homeward Path here. You can cast the Talisman, use it, search for the Path, drop it, tap it, and then bring the Talisman back. Because it's a land, it's harder to cross-answer. For example, normally, when someone goes to Tutor, and you have a single hard counter, such as Counterspell, you wait to see what they get with their Tutor and then counter it if you want to. By countering the Tutor'ed choice, you also remove their chance of drawing what they really want later, so it works double there. Anyone used to that will be surprised but the Path, and the Path works even if you don't have any mana left. You could drop the Talisman on turn four, tap it, fetch a land, drop it, bring it back, and now you are in a dominant position moving forward! The Homeward Path is awesome with this card and all Commander cards like these are also legal in formats like Legacy. (FYI).
4. Clackbridge Troll and Aether Flash
The cool thing about Clackbridge Troll is that it's a cool way to load your foes up with creatures in case you want to use an Oath of Druids or something. However, normally, you are going to want to use it with other effects. Want to get your five mana 8/8 trample, haste Troll without giving away three turns of Goat feeding? No problem, enter Aether Flash. Two damage will be dealt, and they will die. It'll also keep down other dorks that have a small butt. You could also drop something like Path of Mettle to kill them all. Also look at Tainted Aether. While you may be willing to sacrifice a land for your 8/8 facesmasher to punch this turn, your foes are unlikely to sacrifice three lands to keep some 0/1 Goats! Dingus Staff will actively punish them for feeding the Troll goats by dealing 2 damage to them as well as anything that could be fed later, and it tag teams with the Aether Flash and/or Tainted Aether too, by the by.
Or you could just use something like Torpor Orb to prevent them from getting your dorks, but is that as much fun as the others? Nope!
3. Ayara, First of Locthwain, Priest of Gix, Mortuary, and Thornbite Staff
Ayara is amazing. Do you see her? Consider the power of a (not-so) humble Priest of Gix. You cast it. It arrives. Everyone else loses a life. You gain a life. You get three mana. Tap and sacrifice the Priest. Draw a card. Since Ayara is both the trigger and the sacrifice outlet, you need one fewer card to win the game from a traditional combo that makes free dorks or gets them on top of your library and such. Like...say... Mortuary. Now your sacrificed Priest heads to the top of the libary, and guess what? The triggers will resolve before the "draw a card" effect does, so you can draw your Priest, recast it with its three Black mana on arrival, and keep going. At that point, all you'd need is an untap effect, like, say, Thornbite Staff, and you can win the game with Ayara triggers.
There are many ways you can build this engine. I kept it mono-Black for you in case you want to try it out in Commander.
2a. Emry, Lurker of the Loch and Goblin Engineer
Dang. This is just nasty sauce for older formats and kitchen table brewing. The Goblin Engineer is great early to feed the perfect artifact for the occasion into your graveyard. Then you can tap Emry to cast it from your 'yard. The Engineer can still get free artifacts out if they are cheap enough, and Emry could mill some into your graveyard for consideration.
2b Emry. Lurker of the Loch and Karn, the Great Creator and Mystic Force
Here's a fun bonus combo for y'all. Does it feel like a weird time in Standard for this with The Great Creator? Mystic Forge? In back to back sets? It can't just be me right?
Consider something simple like Witching Well.
You can go:
1st turn - Drop Island. Well. Scry 2. Hopefully do a little deck sculpting. Put an amazing artifact 2nd down from the top if you have it.
2nd Turn - Drop Island. Cast Emry with her affinity for artifacts. Mill four to your graveyard, including the artifact on top of your library.
By the end of the second turn, the Well and Emry are out, and can be used. You already can tap her on the next turn to cast your artifact, you can cast a strong three-drop spell, and more. You can drop Golden Egg or similar cards to cycle for cards and life to keep you alive until the next turn, when your 4-drop can be Karn or Mystic Forge. By turn four, with one Egg, one Well, you will have had 17 chances to find a Forge from the milling, scrying, and one Egg, plus the three cards you drew naturally after your starting grip. You'll probably have it, and you can drop into Karn as well, although the four you milled won't have been Karn options, only the 13 you scryed or drew - which is still a great shot at getting a Karn out on the 4th turn. Again, with a resolved Karn or Forge you have a strong chance of winning with artifacts and the card flow.
Emry is great for the kitchen table.
1. Once Upon a Time and 1-drop Mana Accelerants
This article was originally entitled Top Ten Ways to Once Upon a Time and I came up with....three cards that were worth an article, so instead I'll give you my favorite one here at the top.
For those of you who may not have played during the Mercadian Masques era, no card changed mana bases more from the initial set with dual lands and mana rocks until Onslaught gave us the first iteration of pain fetchlands.
Take another look. As long as you have no lands in your hand, you can reveal your hand and cast it for free. For your pleasure, you can grab any Forest, not just a basic Forest, or a basic land. Thus, you can get a dual land to smooth two colors of mana. You also didn't need to play Green to run it, you could add it to a deck or something to get a Taiga or a Savannah as needed for that color. This card singlehandedly encouraged the player to play as few lands as possible in order to Land Grant from a no- or one-land opening hand. (In a one-land hand, you'd drop it, and then cast the Grant.)
The Land Grant was an epic card that had a huge impact on deck-building beyond just being included as a four of. It's still played heavily in Legacy today, such as in one-land Charbelcher Combo, getting the one land (a Taiga naturally) out.
Land Grant decks let you drop your land count by a lot, and then enable a number of cheap cards. Land Grant decks have won Pro Tours. It's one of the best and most definitive game changers for mana bases until the fetch lands, because it encouraged you to run a much smaller number of lands than the simple four you swapped over.
Now, Land Grant allowed you to search your library for a land for free. That alone will never be equaled by Once Upon a Time, because even though it can be first-turn free much more easily, it just digs five. It's more like a free Ancient Stirrings, which one of the most powerful cards in Modern to my mind. And this is cheaper as long as you haven't cast anything else in the game thus far. Unlike that, you don't need to make any deck-building concessions. Outside of things like Eldrazi, Tron, and artifact decks, the Stirrings won't usually get anything other than land. Once Upon a Time will always secure a land or a dork, without anything else needed.
Also note that it's free. You don't need to have Green mana to cast it. You should cast it, see what's there, take the best card, and then drop that sexy land and then if you have a first turn, play it. If you grabbed a one-drop dork like Birds of Paradise or Llanowar Elves from the top of your deck, then your first turn could easily look like this:
That's a strong turn. Also, you can play it this way:
- Draw card
- Cast Once Upon a Time.
- Reveal 5 cards. Take Forest so you can use it.
- Play Forest you just got.
- Cast Birds of Paradise.
You can get the land for the 1-drop, or get the 1-drop for the land. It's great either way. And that's the value of it.
Much like Land Grant, later in the game you certainly can cast it. The more you run, the more likely you are to get it in your opening hand, and the more likely you are to sculpt an amazing first turn. And it's not bad later if you just need to dig for a dork or land. It's basically a two-mana Impulse, because it remains an Instant. You can still dig later for the right dork to deal with a problematic permanent, or after a mass-removal effect. It's always good, because you won't have to go down any rabbit holes to unlock its pure potential.
And there we go! There are my top ten favorite combos from cards spoiled in the set thus far. See anything you want to discuss? What synergy or combo are you looking to unearth from the set?