I love Combos. I think this near-unhealthy affection started back in the Ninth Grade, when my local variety store “Hi Neighbor!” Convenience, started carrying the plastic-wrapped taste treats by the bushel. I was especially partial to the tangy Cheddar flavor, and each delicious morsel I ingested, back in those dog days of 1997, was more likely than not to send my taste buds into a sort of euphoric trance.
Not just a “Mmmm…that’s pretty good!” type deal, you understand – that’s all well and good for Peking Duck and the backs of toads, but too mundane a reaction here. I’m talking palette-punishing perfection, the type of bliss usually reserved for epiphanies and those times where find a potato chip that looks like the virgin Mary.
Yes, Combos. I ask, has there ever been a more perfect snack food? I think not.
Oh. Well, forget I said anything.
I’ll start over.
I love combos. I think this near-unhealthy affection started back in the Seventh Grade, when I learned that you could leave your opponent a helpless, quivering mass of Jell-O just by crossing him up with a jumping Fierce and buffering straight into a Dragon Punch. Of course, further iterations of the Street Fighter series would introduce more devilish tactics, but in the infant days of the arcade experience, when button-smashery with E. Honda was all the rage and Guile was banned from major tournaments for being”too cheap” (what else do you call a bugged jab that, if blocked, would allow an automatic throw?) in the hands of professionals, it was all I needed to get a fair use out of my quarter.
Yes, combos. I ask, has there ever been…
Okay, I’ll start over, but this is the last time. I swear Ted, the next time you request an article, you really need to be more specific.
I love combos. I think this near-unhealthy affect started back in the Twelfth grade, when I first cast Winter Orb and then played Tabernacle of Pendrell Vale.
You know, I’ve written this same thing so many times, it’s lost all meaning. Let’s just get to the combos before I crack just decide to quit and spend the afternoon checking for signs of tooth decay. These are all nifty little pairings and groupings that you can easily grab in MD5 draft. Along the way, I expect some bad jokes to appear, and then sorta disappear again without much fanfare. You also might learn something as we wind our way through the treacherous road ahead, but I’m not making any promises.
I’m coming up. So let’s get this party started. All of these combos are going to contain cards that you will generally see in draft on a regular basis- I’m not going to list any combos containing two first-pick rares (Arc-Slogger + Sword Of Fire and Ice OMG I Broke The Format, Somebody Call The Exorcist), those are no-brainers. All of these are built from commons, late-pick rares, and uncommons.
Combo #1:Spikeshot Goblin + Fractured Loyalty + Tooth of Chiss-Goria (any two of three)
The Triangle offense. Zvi used to say about the old, old version of Turboland that”any two of Thawing Glaciers, Exploration, and Horn of Green is great, all three is amazing.” That quote comes to mind when I think about these cards. The Spikeshot you will have to first pick more often than not, but once you do, it’s easy to get the other two, and then you just have to settle in and count the winnings. If you draw and cast any two of these cards, you’re in great shape. Three, and you’re infringing on any number of God’s most celestially perfect copyrights- only on Cloud Nine do you get to beat down this hard. You’re like those geneticists who are creating test-tube sheep and horning in on the providence of the almighty, except you’re doing it with Magic cards.
Spikeshot + Loyalty = YOINK!
Spikeshot + Tooth = KAPOW!
Tooth + Loyalty = YOINK!
All three = YOINK! KAPOW! *shuffle…shuffle*
What cheats. So many times, I’ve played out the Spikeshot and waited for the concession – but no! The seat-ninja across the table won’t go down so easy, and he unrepentantly fires out a Fangren Hunter and tries to lodge it twelve inches deep in a place I usually keep reserved for other things. [Must. Not. Finish. Joke. – Knut, restrained] Well, Fractured Loyalty takes the wind out of those sails, let me tell you. Give it a try today, and see how those green mages like dealing with their own fatties. What are they going to do to get it back? Cast Predator’s Strike?
Combo #2:Voltaic Construct + Viridian Longbow
*pop pop pop pop pop*!
Just get the Construct in play and equip the Longbow to any artifact creature. If you get this up and running, it’s like having a Vanguard card in play with a big middle finger on it.
“Starting and maximum hand size: 5. Starting life: 20. Opponent may not have any creatures in play, ever.”
Awww, complaining about my lucky draw, huh? You’re breaking my heart.
I know, it’s a shame, you didn’t draw your Shatter. What I want to ask is… are you thirsty? How about a nice steaming cup of”gee gee, shuffle ’em up?”
As the Japanese might say, this too good is. One damage for two mana is the realm of the Masticore. If you can cobble one together out of old pinball machine parts and discarded beer cans (like Doc Brown from Back to the Future), you’re well on your way to victory.
Combo #3:Rustmouth Ogre + Leonin Bola
If you’re at creature parity, there is no way he can stop the Ogre from hitting. Every situation where I’ve seen Rustmouth Ogre dominate an otherwise even game, it’s been because of Leonin Bola. If you’re running the big Rusty, there is no piece of Equipment you’d rather see. I guess you can make a case that Whispersilk Cloak is better, but guess what – sometimes you don’t draw the Ogre, so it might be nice to have a useful card instead of Whispersilk Cloak, which is a big bottle of slowness with a snazzy label slapped on the front.
How does it work, exactly? Quick example. Your opponent has three creatures. You have Rustmouth Ogre, Bola, and two other creatures. EOT you tap one of his creatures. You untap, equip Bola, tap his second creature, switch Bola to your second creature, tap his third creature, and swing with the Rustmouth to take out any artifact you wish. This Bola strategy works to get any creature through, actually, but it leaves you open to massive counterattacks. With Rustmouth Ogre, you can usually take out whatever artifact is going to be doing the counterattacking – and what deck can afford to trade hits with Rustmouth Ogre anyhow?
Best in R/W decks. You’ll get the Ogre fairly late, so don’t go nuts.
Combo #4:Disciple of the Vault + Spawning Pit/Krark-Clan Grunt/Atog
Thankfully, you can’t forget to make your opponent lose life on Magic Online. The Grunt/Disciple combo was one of the main weapons of the old R/B decks, but now I use Disciple more often with Spawning Pit in my U/B decks. Great for getting through the last few points of damage.
Say you have a couple of creatures – maybe a Cobalt Golem and a Silver Myr, plus the Disciple. If they die, you sac them to the Pit and create an artifact creature. If that dies, it goes back into the Pit to creature another half creature. That’s a total of three damage. Your next dead creature (if an artifact) makes it four, and then you can create another Pit token, which, if it dies, is five damage. It’s impossible for any opponent to win a war of attrition in that situation.
With the Grunt, the Disciple kill is more sudden. You just drop it and drain the guy out. Cha-ching! I’ve done it from as high as eight life before (and once did it from thirteen with double Disciple!), and that’s in Limited, so don’t say it isn’t possible! Reach for that rainbow!
Combo #5:Pyrite Spellbomb + Auriok Salvagers
More machine-gun action. There are plenty of nifty things you can do with the Salvagers, but this is the best trick he can pull. Of course, if you have to settle for Wayfarer’s Bauble or Aether Spellbomb instead, it’s not exactly cause for a suicide run. It’s actually more expensive to pull this off than you think, but White is very well set up to buy time. With Anchorites, Stalwarts, Transfixers and Mystics holding the fort, you’ll have the turns you need to start popping off and recycling Spellbombs, and once that happens, you should have a hard time losing.
Two damage to any creature, or draw an extra card! Just pop the Spellbomb and return and cast it with the Salvagers, if I haven’t been clear enough thus far. Look, do I have to walk you through it? Just get to work!
Combo #6:One Dozen Eyes + Echoing Courage
I’ve seen this exact two-card combo win seven or eight games, and considering the relatively small sample size we’re talking (something like 150-200 MMD drafts) that’s a lot. The fact that both cards are excellent on their own is a plus. I used this fine combo to beat Tim Aten at a PTQ. If it’s powerful enough to overcome the massive gap in playskill that was in evidence during that match, it must be good!
Combo #7:Myr Quadropod + Slagwurm Armor
Heh. Okay, I’m half joking here. Both cards are as mediocre as can be on their own, so this is the trashiest combo around. Throw in Whispersilk Cloak to really have your opponent pulling his hair out. Take ten. Take ten. Good game. Someone, somewhere, beat a Pro with this online and send me the screenshot.
Just to reiterate, use only if desperate. Ideally you don’t want either card in your deck at all.
Combo #8:Fireball + Mana Geyser
Great synergy here- the Fireball wins the game, and the Mana Geyser sits in the sideboard.
Combo #9:Tangle Asp + Nemesis Mask
Just checking to see if you were paying attention. A sideboard option if you really know what you’re doing, this serves the same stalemate breaking function as Incite War… or, really, Nemesis Mask by itself, without the Asp. In fact, this so-called combo is awful, as Asp is mediocre by itself and so is Nemesis Mask. Still, a good player can beat you with anything. Add Shield of Kaldra on the Tangle Asp for the full lock! And it only takes three cards and a billion mana!
(P.S.: This combo sucks.)
Combo #10:Pristine Angel + Hum of the Radix
More great synergy. Hum of the Radix is great to discard to Thirst for Knowledge in your three color deck, as you need to make sure you draw and cast Pristine Angel on turn 6 in every game ever in the history of Magic. Yeah, some guy busted this out on me on Magic Online recently. Did I lose? You’d better believe it. Even though he cast spells before his combat phase every turn and then didn’t attack with his Angel even when I couldn’t possibly kill it, I eventually lost.
And yeah, the Hum got discarded in the grand search for that sixth turn win. I suggest you try it sometime.
Combo #11:Vedalken Mastermind/Crystal Shard/Synod Sanctum + Viridian Shaman/Eternal Witness/Duplicant/Looming Hoverguard
Any of the first three is great with any of the second three. All six are great on their own. The best sort of combo. You’ll get the Sanctum and the Mastermind later than any of the others, but keep your eyes open. A smart player will try to kill off your combo creature in response to you returning it to your hand/removing it from the game, but a) not everyone is a smart player and b) not every smart player even has the capability in hand.
As for the bad players, they are punching bags for combos like this. They just sit there and take it, playing out their artifacts for you to smash. If they do draw an E-Bolt, they’ll probably aim it at the Shaman when you have the Crystal Shard untapped.
Combo #12:Lumengrid Sentinel + Nuisance Engine
Sentinel has always been underrated, but in this situation, it’s ridiculous. If you have this up and running, it’s very hard to lose. I can see W/U control decks featuring these two cards, Pearl Shard, and an Anchorite or two, that form a virtually impenetrable defense.
How does it work? The Sentinel lets you tap a permanent every time an artifact comes into play under your control. So whenever you creature a Nuisance (oh fine, it’s a Pest), it’s like Icy Manipulator with a bonus creature. Sentinel is excellent with Spawning Pit, as well. Actually, so is Nuisance Engine. This is another triangle offense. Any two of the three is terrific, and all three? Gravy. Like mama’s biscuits, hot and fresh from the oven.
Combo #13:Pteron Ghost + Talon of Pain
These two cards are the perfect compliment for each other. If they destroy the Talon, you regenerate it. If they don’t, you swing in and start piling up counters. Not really a”combo” per se, but a strong opening. I’m always on the lookout for Pteron Ghosts when I have a Talon in my pile. This pairing is like PB & J, like turn 5 Pewter Golem and Welding Jar (which is actually a very similar concept).
Once the Ghost has protected the Talon, start swinging in. It won’t take long for Talon of Pain to give you control of the game.
Combo #14:Vulshok Gauntlets + Goblin War Wagon, Goblin Dirigible, Loxodon Stalwart, Skyhunter Prowler, Razor Golem, Leonin Den-Guard, Leonin Battlemage or Yotian Soldier
There it is, the full list. Vulshok Gauntlets is slightly undercosted, but only if you can ignore the drawback. These creatures let you do just that. The best targets are the ones that are fine without the Gauntlets, with Razor Golem and the Stalwart leading the charge. No combo in MD5 Limited is as trashily effective as Gauntlets + non-tapping guy.
Many of the creatures above are just fine without the Gauntlets, which is a plus.
Combo #15:Whispersilk Cloak/Lightning Greaves/Neurok Stealthsuit + Eater of Days
Eater of Days is rare, but you get it late enough that this opportunity pops up a good deal. Just fire it out and Cloak it up. That’s good enough to win a lot of games in Limited if your opponent doesn’t have a ton of action. W/U is actually the perfect color for Eater of Days, since you have access to Welding Jar, Pteron Ghost, Stealthsuit, Greaves, Cloak, and even Leonin Abunas (pretty ridiculous with Eater), plus you get damage prevention. An early Eater with Awe Strike in hand is a potent weapon.
Combo #16:Fatespinner + Specter’s Shroud
Not really the full combo, as you also need an evasion creature, it still deserves a mention. Fatespinner is impossible to play against if your opponent has a way to force a creature through that has Specter’s Shroud on it. Impossible. There is no way you are winning the game. If you pick up a Fatespinner (which you can do fairly late), keep an eye out for Specter’s Shroud (already an excellent card) and shift it up in your pick order.
How does it work? Simple. If they skip their combat phase, they can’t attack. Fine, mission accomplished. If they skip their main phase in order to attack and they draw a spell, odds are it’s getting knocked out of their hand by Specter’s Shroud. One of the only weaknesses of Specter’s Shroud is how irrelevant it can become in the late game. Not so here.
And if they skip their draw? Well, that’s just like hitting them with the Shroud, +1 card for you.
Combo #17:Coretapper + Baton of Courage, Infused Arrows, Sun Droplet, Talon of Pain, Spawning Pit, etc etc…
Good ol’ Coretapper. He can add counters to all of the above. More shots, more boosts, more like, more creatures. Who doesn’t want all those things?
Combo #18:Spincrusher + Ekundu Cyclops
There is no way to sugarcoat this, so I’ll just come out with it. Spincrusher is a giant metal penis, complete with testes. The addition of two”Mr. Potato Head” -style arms on the sides does nothing to distract from this sordid truth. Get in there, knob on wheels!
The hardest part about this combo is that you have to sneak the Ekundu Cyclops in there. (I recommend using a Portuguese copy). Just keep it in your pocket and whip it out during deck construction. With these two cards on the table, you can’t lose. What, I ask, is your hapless foe going to do when you’ve got more double-shliznong action than”Jenna’s Revenge?”
Yeah, I know. A little indelicate of me to point the whole”hey, this card looks like Optimus Prime’s shwanz” thing…but
Now I guess we know what was meant when they said”Tranformers: more than meets the eye” amirite?!?
So that’s it for our MD5 combos. If you have any combos of your own to add, or if you want to comment on anything written here, chime in on the forums or drop me an email. I read ’em all and even reply to some! As for me, I’ll see you next week with a big, steaming helping of something or other. Until then, as they say at WOB: “Don’t get any on ya’.”
Still drafting with a wide strike zone,