Battlebond hit the shelves of stores all over the world on Friday. With a healthy serving of reprints and new multiplayer mechanics it’s being heralded as “Commander Masters”, a moniker that I tend to agree with. I haven’t had a chance to draft the set yet, but I have been theory-crafting decks and looking for awesome combos! Today we’ll spend some time savoring the combo offerings of Battlebond!
Here’s what you can expect from this article. We’ll be looking a powerful card interactions that can “go infinite” or end the game in some way. Keep in mind that technically no combo is “infinite”, you have to pick a number. For the purposes of this article, when I say “infinite” I mean “an arbitrarily large number”. All of the combos in this article will be based on one (or more) new cards from Battlebond. I will not be talking about the combo potential of reprinted cards but there are some gems in there. With the obligatory introduction paragraph out the way, let’s get the train rolling.
Blaring Recruiter + Intruder Alarm + Cryptolith Rite
Result: Hordes of Warriors ready to do thy bidding!
Key Rules Text:
Setup and Execution
Blaring Recruiter dons the new “Partner’s with . . . ” mechanic, which allows you to tutor up another creature (Blaring Captain in this case). I find this mechanic interesting, but for the purposes of this article we’ll leave the Blaring Captain at home and stick to Bant colors (Green, White, Blue). The key to setting this up is to have three creatures on the battlefield who are not summoning sick. You can then cast Cryptolith Rite which allows you to tap these creatures for mana. Once these requirements are met, play the Intruder Alarm and Blaring Recruiter. Any combination of these three permanents can be in play the turn before you combo, but you can get some extra value if the Cryptolith Rite and Intruder Alarm are in play before you play the Recruiter, because this allows you tap the three creatures to play the Recruiter and then untap them when the Recruiter enters the battlefield. Giving you a little bit of extra mana to work with.
Once Blaring Recruiter is in play, you can make infinite creatures by tapping the three non-summoning sick creatures to active Blaring Recruiter's ability. Once you have this engine going it’s not a far leap to win the game. The easiest method being, play a Concordant Crossroads to give all the Warriors you’re making haste. If you like to complicate things like me, you can add a card like this:
Adding a Training Grounds to the mix actually allows you net mana, assuming you have the three non-summoning sick creatures to tap. Concordant Crossroads does a similar thing since you can tap the new Warrior tokens for mana. With infinite mana, Blue Sun's Zenith can draw our deck and end the game. Unless you don’t have win condition in your deck. Which would be kind of funny. I guess if that’s you, maybe consider putting in a Helix Pinnacle.
Together Forever + Arcbound Worker + Ashnod’s Altar
Result: Choose one: Draw your deck, infinite damage, or amaze your friends.
Key Rules Text:
Setup and Execution
Together Forever seems like a cool card in its own rite. Providing pseudo card draw or “virtual value” with the ability to re-buy creatures is something I would consider in a Mono-White Commander deck. Of course, in this article we don’t merely want value out of the card, we want to break it! Let’s start with a creature that already enters the battlefield with a counter on it. Something to note is that it doesn't have to be a +1/+1 counter for Together Forever’s ability to work. You could return Icatian Javelineers because it has a “javelin counter”. In our case a +1/+1 counter just happens to work best. There are many creatures that meet the +1/+1 counter criteria, but only one that fits our unique requirements, Arcbound Worker.
Arcbound Worker is perfect because it fits in a Mono-White deck, and being one-mana (a colorless mana at that) allows us to use Ashnod's Altar to recast it and have a mana left over! To start the loop you’ll need Together Forever and Ashnod's Altar on the battlefield. You’ll also need two mana; one to play the Arcbound Worker and one to activate Together Forever’s ability. Once you’ve played the Worker and activated the ability, you’ll need to sacrifice Arcbound Worker to the Ashnod's Altar. This will give you two mana. You can then use that two mana to repeat the process, over and over again! Ok, so now you have this do-nothing loop what’s next? Well, that depends on the colors that you’re in.
If you want to keep it Mono-White, you can use Walking Ballista to end the game. This is a neat thing about the Modular keyword, as you sacrifice the Arcbound Worker to the Ashnod's Altar for mana, you also have the ability to move its +1/+1 counter to an artifact creature — Walking Ballista in this case. You can then spread those counters out as damage to the faces of your opponents.
Another path in Mono-White is Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle. Since Arcbound Worker is an artifact (Historic spell) it will trigger Teshar’s ability. You can then use Teshar’s ability to bring back something like Ticking Gnomes or even Wall of Omens then sacrifice them between Teshar triggers to either deal damage or draw your deck. That’s pretty neat right?
While we’re on the topic of the Historic mechanic, there are a few other great options outside of the Mono-White shell. Diligent Excavator is one way to utilize the Historic mechanic to mill-out your opponents, or if you like drawing cards, you can use Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain to draw your entire deck! The Historic interaction that I’m most excited about is; Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage. Raff grants you the element of surprise by allowing you to deploy, and execute this combo at instant speed! Adding a Jhoira's Familiar to the board beforehand can even net you a mana with each loop. I don’t even want to get into the crazy artifact combos you can do with infinite mana and the ability to play everything at instant speed, we’ll just go back to a Walking Ballista win-condition for simplicity sake.
Najeela, the Blade-Blossom + Druids’ Repository
Result: Attack, Attack, Attack! (You can do this as many times as you like).
Key Rules Text
Setup and Execution
Meet my new Commander crush, Najeela, the Blade-Blossom. There are a lot of ways to do this combo, including things like Nature's Will, Sword of Feast and Famine, and Derevi, Empyrial Tactician. I won't plumb the depths of these options right now, but I do hope to write about this deck in-depth in the coming weeks.
For now let’s just say that Druids' Repository is the best of the these options. The first thing you need to setup the combo is five creatures who are ready to attack. This seem like a lot, but it’s surprisingly easy to amass this many creature very quickly with Najeela, as long as you’re running a lot of Warriors. One of the often missed details about the card is that the tokens that you create with Najeela also create tokens when they attack. For the rest of the combo, you need Najeela and Druids' Repository in play. Once you declare attackers with the five creatures, the Druids' Repository will get five counters. You can then use those counters to make mana and gain another attack step. You would have also created five Warrior tokens. After your first combat, you’ll declare your second combat step, then add a bunch of counters to Druids' Repository and create a slew of Warrior tokens. Rinse and repeat until you’ve become victorious!
I would typically go on about this combo, but I really just want to whet your whistle for my article about building the deck as whole. If you need your Najeela fix before then, check out Jason’s article which has the unbeatable title of “Come Out To Playeeaay”.
Bramble Sovereign + Palinchron
Result: It’s an illusion Michael! . . . but still where did the mana come from?
Key Rules Text:
Setup and Execution
Bramble Sovereign is poised to make an impact on Commander tables everywhere. It’s a great value generator with immense political power. Today, I want to talk about Bramble Sovereign’s interaction with the with the infinite-mana-machine that is Palinchron. This is a pretty cut-and-dry combo, you need Bramble Sovereign in play and seven lands untapped. Tap the seven lands to cast Palinchron. You’ll need to stack the two triggers appropriately: Palinchron’s untap trigger, and Bramble’s clone trigger. Untapping the lands first, then using the lands to produce the mana to clone your Palinchron via Bramble’s ability. This should leave five mana untapped, you’ll want to float that mana.
With five mana floating, the clone Palinchron will enter the battlefield — untapping seven more lands. Use four mana to return the non-clone Palinchron, then tap seven lands to cast Palinchron again. Now we’re off to the races! Each iteration will net you one mana, and if you’ve learned anything from reading these articles it’s that we can do broken things with infinite mana and an infinite amount of enter the battlefield triggers. Actually, if we have infinite mana, and infinite ETB triggers then we’ve already done broken things, but you get what I’m saying. Instead of using the boring ways to end the game, let’s look at something a little bit more creative.
Okay, so we now have our deck in our graveyard thanks to the power of Mesmeric Orb, what’s next? There’s only one guy for the job, Laboratory Maniac! Hey, we have a bunch of Palinchron tokens sitting around, why not sacrifice a few for the cause. We’ll sacrifice three of the tokens to Dread Return to bring back our Laboratory Maniac. Now we only need to draw a card to with the game! Let’s think about how to do that, hmmm, let’s think again: Think Twice — we did it!
I hope you all have enjoyed this trip through the combos of Battlebond. I certainly have! I think I talked myself into building two different decks after writing this! RIP my wallet. Anyways, I hope this article inspired some creativity on your end. I’d love to hear from you in the comments about combos that I may have missed, or ways to improve on the combos that I presented. Until next time have a great week and thank you for reading.