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The Throne of Eldraine Combos that Kicked My Butt


Last week, the good people at Magic: The Gathering Arena alerted me of a "Play Any Deck" Event, where you could, you know... Play any deck. The aforementioned gave you access to every Standard card for 12 games.

I confess I hadn't logged into Arena in some weeks, but the promise of testing out all the cool new cards in Throne of Eldraine made for a great reason to get back onto the program ahead of my next n Friday Nights. Sadly, I didn't do a lot of winning. But happily, I got my butt kicked by all manner of cool new combinations. Other folks on ye olde Arena brought some exciting new set play patterns and I'm looking forward to sharing anything and everything that planted this face into the virtual sidewalk.

Let's go.

1. Wishclaw Talisman plus Doom Foretold

Wishclaw Talisman is a card I've had my eye on since I first saw it. Wishclaw Talisman is kind of a delayed blast Demonic Tutor that has the upside of a second delayed blast Demonic Tutor... But the downside of giving your opponent a Demonic Tutor also.

Whether you care that you gave your opponent a Demonic Tutor in the abstract will rely heavily on context. If you can grab a card that cancels their whole strategy (like a Circle of Protection: Red against many Red Decks), or you can simply end the game with the first activation (by setting up the last bit of a combo or a lethal burn spell); there is little to no downside risk.

But because we don't plan solely for the best, it makes sense to play with cards that can blunt Wishclaw Talisman's inherent double edge. Teferi, Time Raveler is a good way to do that. You can use the Talisman; switch controllers; and then bounce it back to your hand. This is kind of an expensive way to do it, but if you have other ways to manage the battlefield, it's not like Teferi ever stopped being Teferi. Because Wishclaw Talisman can't generally be activated at instant speed, this Planeswalker works without giving the opponent much of a chance to use it back at you; and because both cards are permanents you can drag the "combo" over multiple turns.

One of the decks that I got my butt kicked by also used Wishclaw Talisman to get Doom Foretold.

Doom Foretold

Doom Foretold is like a fixed, or at least mana base friendlier, Smokestack. While this card can't lock down the opponent's land count, it can create a sticky spot for the Wishclaw Talisman itself. If the opponent is low in cards in hand and has no other non-land / non-token permanents, it might make sense to sacrifice YOUR artifact rather than to use it and lose the precious card they just tutored for.

This card is pretty cool in that it can "destroy" almost anything, given the right prep conditions. Obviously playing next to Teferi, Time Raveler is useful for purposes of an EOT instant speed sweeper, followed by potential Doom Foretold.

It makes sense to play slush permanents to keep Doom Foretold around. You aren't just taxing the opponent... You need it running on your turns, too. The deck that beat me played artifacts Golden Egg and Guild Globe. Both of these cards are like bad Opts, digging half as deep for twice the mana; but they also both leave non-token cardboard to sacrifice to a future Doom Foretold.

2. Robber of the Rich plus... Robber of the Rich?

It's hard to evaluate if I was right about Robber of the Rich last week... Because OF COURSE my opponent went first. Doh!

But going first, he was able to do the classic Red Deck thing... Hasty attack that punished any sort of stumbling. Even when I had cards to manage Robber of the Rich (in this case it was an unfortunate bounce and counter duo), a second Robber of the Rich picked up where the first had left off.

While it might seem facetious to talk about two copies of the same card as any kind of a combo, in this specific case, the patterns became really clear... They're probably important to understand long term. First off, no matter how many Rogues you have setting aside card advantage, none of them are actually affecting hand counts. So if one Robber is going, it's twin will just be doubling down on effectiveness. Imagine these were Ophidians instead... You'd all of a sudden have a ton of cards in hand and you'd just be turning one - then both - Rogues off at double speed. Not so, here.

It goes without saying that a second Robber of the Rich can turn on every card any Robber of the Rich set up on a previous turn, which mitigates the value of whatever you did to contain the first one. Sad face emoji.

Bonecrusher Giant is putting smiles on lots of Red Deck faces these days. It's generally a very good "combo" with Robber of the Rich. You need to get blockers out of the way, and two damage removal can do that. But subtly, anything that gets a card out of your hand can be valuable to the Robber's game plan; and stockpiling card economy somewhere else while dropping the cosmetic card in hand is just dripping with the on-brand.

Brazen Borrower

The deck I played against didn't actually have this combo, but it seems like a perfect pairing. Dropping a card in hand while putting a card into the opponent's hand is like everything a young Robber of the Rich ever dreamed of. It stockpiles like buddy Bonecrusher; and can be an on-demand Rogue for future (and flashy "Surprise!") recoup purposes.

3. Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves plus Garruk, Cursed Huntsman

This is the big one.

This is the one that made me want to put this article together. I played against multiple dedicated Tolsimir decks; all decked out with heavy Wolf synergies... Wicked Wolf is just a decent card on its own, but in a Wolf-heavy schema? With the odd Food token? Wicked Wolf starts looking like an All-Star.

How about Nightpack Ambusher helping out Wicked Wolf? I was kind of shocked I had never seen - and by "seen" I mean "been blown out by" - Nightpack Ambusher and Tolsimir before. I happened to be playing a Mono-Green deck; and any deck without creature removal is going to be hard pressed to stop the assembly of the Wolf engine... And harder still pressed to keep a presence itself.

But the big combo?

Legendary Elf Scout meets Legendary Planeswalker.

If you start with Tolsimir (and presumably have some bodies in general to block), Garruk into [0] will not only gain some life (and probably pick off an enemy creature)... It will ramp big G to Emblem right then and there.

At Emblem the world is your oyster. Sure, you can run an opponent down, Overrun-style. But you can also play a fantastic sit-there game. Make more Wolves. They're going to be 5/5 each. They are going to be that much more effective when they interact with the Friend to Wolves, ripping up bodies... And that's if you don't also have a Nightpack Ambusher lying around.

Personally, I had a Nissa Emblem, was drawing 2+ cards per turn with The Great Henge (almost all live, as a result of Nissa), while making an indestructible attacker and was looping two Feasting Troll Kings. I didn't have a chance. I was looping because my Troll Kings kept getting killed by Wolves! I was big but he had gone far bigger. I got smooshed... But loved every humiliating turn of it!

Doom Foretold

The Wolf deck I played against didn't pack the new take on Smokestack but I think that given its Abzan mana base the card should be considered. All these Wolves are generating material advantage. Nightpack Ambusher and Wicked Wolf are eating bodies. The Ambusher, Tolsimir, Garruk, and for that matter, Gilded Goose, are all making tokens. I realize you can't sacrifice tokens yourself, but they are potentially valuable attackers or support permanents that stick around to mop up after attrition.

This seems like a good catch-all (or sideboard solution for when the Wolf engine sputters), as I suppose you don't want an overwhelming number of 4-drops. All in all, I was most impressed by the Legendary Wolves deck, and think I'm going to jump on from there for my own next foray.

I hope these ideas have also gotten your creative juices flowing; so my own bruises will have helped to accomplish something ;)



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