If you're back after I rickrolled everyone last week, you're a good sport and I appreciate it. If you're here because you googled "Mardu combos" and ended up here instead of somewhere else, great, you're in the right spot, I'm about to tell you that. First, though, read this article and try and decode the secret message.
This week I'm talking Mardu and before I Mardu that, I want to talk briefly about where I did my research. Commander Spellbook is a community-driven archive of Magic card combos. What started as a project on Discord now has its own website. I used Commander Spellbook to look at the hundreds of Mardu combos in their database to see if I could group any into classes. It seemed daunting at first, but the website is easy to use and has lots of filters so you can or-der the combos based on how many cards they take to work, how many steps - you can even sort by price to find budget-friendly combos.
Jan Jansen Chaos Crafting
Jan Jansen from the plane of Wasconsin does even more work than someone with a similar name who worked in a lumber yard. Jan is capable of creating two tokens with one of his abilities and treasures with the other, which means anything that untaps creatures can go nuts with Jan. As it does is so many other combos, Dross Scorpion makes an appearance in some, while Ashnod's Transmogrifant makes an appearance for the first time outside of an article where I beg the CAG to errata Aladdin into a Legend so I can build what's essentially Rubinia Soulsinger with extra steps.
There are literally dozens (28 is literally dozens) of combos in the database that work with Jan and a few more cards. You could jam all of them in a deck and call it a day - in fact, that's what lots of people have done. You can sort the combos by how often those cards appear together in a deck on EDHREC to see which combos people are actually playing. A lot of people are using Jan, and it looks like fun, honestly, especially since almost any sac outlet will do, apparently.
Mardu was made for Persist combos. While lots of color combinations have ways to recur something like Kitchen Finks, Mardu has access to the best persist creature for combo players: Murderous Redcap. With cards like Solemnity to strip the counter from Redcap, Luminous Broodmoth to essentially double the number of times Redcap comes back after a single death and has cards like Cathars' Crusade and Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit to offset the -1/-1 counter from persist. Mardu is very well set up to build around persist, though it lacks access to the best of the persist creatures in Green. Still, if you can go infinite, what better to do that with than Murderous Redcap?
Tree of Perdition
Mardu is also well equipped to do shenanigans with Tree of Perdition. While Grixis famously uses Tree for Mairsil the Pretender shenanigans as we discussed in that piece, Mardu has the most ways to make use of the fact that Shivan Meteor deals exactly as much damage as Tree's base power and toughness. White helps us out big in a dedicated deck like this because it gives us access to Spitemare, Boros Reckoner and Truefire Captain so you can combo off and delete one player at will.
Mardu also has access to Offspring's Revenge which gives you a teeny tiny liddle 1 toughness Tree of Perdition that we can all agree is an existential threat to anyone who doesn't want their life total to become 1. Like 10% of the combos in Mardu are some variation of a Tree of Perdition insta-kill which is funny for lots of reasons, not the least of which being the fact that you have to assemble a Rube Goldbergian combo to only kill one person. Mardu has some ways to make you win, and some ways to make them all lose, but this isn't one of them and it is still super popular. What can I say, I am a sucker for Tree of Perdition combos and it sounds like the community is, too.
Goblin Sharpshooter nonsense
Goblin Sharpshooter combos are not only fun, they're playable in lots of formats. I have taken down rotisserie drafts with a Deathbringer Thoctar holding a Quietus spike, used a Thornbite Staff to turn a Deathtouching Razorfin Hunter into a board wipe in Commander and used Godhead of Awe to give Goblin Sharpshooter the best field of fire of all time. Kelsien, the Plague is the perfect Tim commander, which is too bad considering Kelsien has 0 Blue in his color identity. Mardu makes up for its lack of Thornwind Fairies with cards like Zagras, Thief of Heartbeats and Baleful Eidolon, and not having to find a second equipment to grant deathtouch when you're using Thornbite Staff to untap the creature is super helpful. Stoneforge Mystic and friends, though, will be able to get you what you need when you need it, making Mardu a perfect color combination to suit up a Deathbringer Thoctar and bring the death.
While a lot of the drivers of these combos could go in any deck with Black and White, Mardu adds a lot with the addition of Red. Goblin Bombardment turns a loop into a death ray, focusing that energy into winning the game, ditto for Impact Tremors. Cards like Karmic Guide, Luminous Broodmoth and Fiend Hunter can facilitate a lot of creatures coming back for a lot of triggers. Crypt Champion alone makes it worth trying these combos in Mardu rather than Abzan, but having a loop just kill them with Purphoros rather than having to set up some Rube Goldberg device to turn your perpetual motion machine into a lifegain combo or something makes Mardu a solid choice for abusing tricks like using Luminous Broodmoth with Solemnity and basically any sac outlet.
As always, this list is by no means exhaustive. There are some combos that don't really play well with the rest of the deck and sort of defy categorization. Would you file the interaction between Felidar Guardian and Liliana, Death's Majesty? How about using Transcendence and Rain of Gore to make the game end in a draw? Putting Elemental Mastery on a Famished Paladin? To track down gems like that, why not give the Mardu page a look on the website? There are plenty of solid one-off combos that don't play well with other combo cards but which sure are fun to pull off. Thanks for reading, and give Mardu a chance, Mardu has some of the best tutoring in the game, a surprising amount of card draw and a way to turn loops into actual damage. What else do you need? Thanks for reading, everyone. Until next time!