Flores Friday – How to Make a Mashup

Friday, January 7th – Earlier today, I tried to call Steve Sadin and Patrick Chapin, but neither one felt like picking up the phone. It’s not like they’d spent the last 2 months trying to get me to come back to StarCityGames.com or anything…



Okay! Now that you’ve got that out of your system, we can get down to the serious business of How to Make a Mashup.

But first — a story. Yesterday, I called Evan Erwin. I tried to call Steve Sadin and/or Patrick Chapin, but neither one felt like picking up the phone apparently. It’s not like these maniacal Magicians had spent the last two months trying to get me to come back to StarCityGames.com while rubbing their hands together and muttering “Excellent,” or anything. So I ended up with Evan “third pick” Erwin and was asking
him all kinds of questions about how to upload a video to Star City, how to add the branded bumpers, why he put who on

stuff like that. After about half an hour, Evan had a question for


“Wait a minute — why are you asking me all this stuff?”


That is, “How many reasons could one possibly have for asking you how to upload video to Star City Games?”

“Oh my God. Are you trolling me? YOU ARE TROLLING ME. I’ve gotta go.”

At this point, I was weighing the relative value of switching my story from actually coming back to just having a good one-up on Evan. I mean, millionaire playboy Pete Hoefling backing a Star City armored car up to your house and spilling cartons and cartons of Jace, the Mind Sculptors into your foyer is nice and all, but I had the option of a pretty Peppermint swindle story here.

“No, Evan. I’m on the staff again.”

Remember that part about not being able to get ahold of Steve?
Nobody knew


Poor Evan.

“That’s cool. Hey, everybody! We got Flores back!”


(I assume that was someone I didn’t know, and hence, had never offended.)


(I assume that was Pete, soon to be bereft of a truckload of Jaces.)

So now that I got that out of my system:
How to Make a Mashup


Extended is once again rising to be the — or at least “a” — relevant format, and my favorite thing to do in Extended is to brew up (and ideally play) mashups… hybrid decks.

It strikes me that I’ve written about hybrid decks a couple of different times (often using similar examples to even the ones included in this article), but the concept is particularly important as formats get bigger and sideboard cards become necessarily faster and more focused. Plus, this article will expand the canon with some practical applications, walk-throughs on hybridization, and of course, some fun and practical MTGO battles.

So if you already know the basics of what makes a hybrid deck (and can predict the classic and modern examples I’ll probably use to illustrate them), go ahead and

and skip ahead; otherwise, battle on normally.

So… What is a hybrid deck?

Hybrid decks are decks that incorporate two or more different primary plans. For example, you could have a Loop Junktion deck, viz. the one played by Ryuchi Arita to the Top 8 of Pro Tour Columbus (infinite life combo), or you could have a Cephalid Breakfast deck, the breakout reanimator combo from the same tournament.

Come Grand Prix Boston, Lucas Glavin stapled both strategies together and ended up with a deck that incorporated essentially the full value of each deck.

The Loop Junktion deck worked like this:

The version of the deck listed above had a copy of Test of Endurance to close out games “quickly,” but most players just conceded, unable to actually win.

The Cephalid Breakfast deck worked like this:

As you can see, both decks relied on targeting a specialized creature repeatedly with en-Kor prevention shields. In addition to the actual en-Kor cards, both decks had crossover on spells like Living Wish, which could find most of the “parts” for these creature-based combo decks… Plus in the case of the Life combo, Starlit Sanctum as well. Lucas was actually able to create an arguably

consistent deck by stapling the two together (and adding Aether Vial) than either combo deck had been, individually.

What did he get via this hybridization?

The matchup advantages were great! Red Deck Wins was one of the main decks that could break up Cephalid Breakfast (burn the Cephalid Illusionist)… But Daru Spiritualist was like a two-mana lock against basic Mountain in that format.

In the last round of Swiss, Osyp Lebedowicz drew Masahiko Morita (regular Life) into the Top 8 because his Mind’s Desire / Brain Freeze deck could basically never lose to a deck that did nothing but gain infinite life (decking the opponent with Brain Freeze doesn’t care what life the opponent is on). But in the Top 8, Osyp had essentially no play. What was he supposed to do? Set Lucas up for


In addition, you have these amazing opportunities for misdirection. Say you crush your opponent with the reanimator half in game one; he sides in 100 cards to handle your graveyard and then pow! You beat him on turn 3 with the Life combo.

A more recent implementation of the hybridization strategy — and one that most all of you are probably more familiar with — is Thopter Depths (Thepths), popularized by Gerry Thompson. This deck, hands down one of the most inspired and successful in recent memory, encompassed essentially the full value of the regular Dark Depths combo deck (Vampire Hexmage + Dark Depths)

the full value of the Sword of the Meek + Thopter Foundry deck.

So what’s so great about deck hybridization?

Let’s look at the Thepths deck a moment… Many players would be obsessed with defending against the turn 2 kill side of the deck. And with good reason! Thepths could open up with turn 1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and play Thoughtseize (taking your answer). Then it would go Dark Depths (which can tap for B thanks to the Tomb) + Vampire Hexmage. Kick, wham, stunner… That’s the combo. All of a sudden, there’s a 20/20 in play, ready to kill you on turn 3.

So they’d be all with the Repeals and Condemns and so on… All fast answers to dealing with a token 20/20; all-in.

What happens when you switch gears to set up the opposite combo? They have all these cards that are only good against a single zero-cost threat; when what is going to take them down is an army of 1/1 life-gain fliers.

Again, hybridization gives you matchup advantages; not only — in this case — were you playing

of the most powerful options in the format, but they were good against different stuff. For example extremely biased Zoo decks could play Path to Exile and Bant Charm for 20/20s, plus Knight of the Reliquary for Ghost Quarter to take down Dark Depths in response to Vampire Hexmage.

Luckily, Thopter Foundry + Sword of the Meek is great against beatdown!


Okay, enough with the ghosts of Extended hybrids past… How do we

a mashup?

There are two easy ways to build your own hybrid deck; because of space considerations, they’re far from mutually exclusive.