No mechanics in Magic’s history have more potential for brokenness than those that promise free spells. From the Urza block free spells, to storm, to cascade, to Phyrexian mana, being able to get something for nothing has always been dangerous.
So it stands to reason that the Expertise cycle is dangerous. Despite this, they have yet to see significant play in Standard, but unsurprisingly, a larger format, Modern, has the tools to turn the latest iteration of free spells into something overpowered.
As it turns out, you can cast cards with fuse off an Expertise so long as one half of the card fits the mana cost restriction, but you can still cast both halves. This is one of those interactions that you look at a little slack-jawed because it doesn’t feel like it should be possible, but the powers that be have bequeathed combo players a gift and it’s up to us to take advantage.
Several lists aiming to abuse this interaction have been proffered since the release of Aether Revolt, but I like this one due to its simplicity. There are no frills, just mana and combo pieces. The extreme redundancy provides consistency and resilience to disruption although you can’t be afraid to mulligan aggressively for hands that have the requisite pieces.
The other thing this deck has going for it is speed. You can conceivably cast a fuse spell on turn 1 with a hand of Dryad Arbor, three copies of Simian Spirit Guide, Kari Zev’s Expertise, and a fuse spell. Of course, that doesn’t happen very but having a mana creature on turn 1 and an Expertise on turn 2 or 3 is quite easy, as is curving a mana creature into Brain in a Jar plus a charge so you’re ready to match a two-mana fuse spell on turn 3.
With good reanimation targets, you’re about 75% to hit off Breaking//Entering, while casting Beck//Call should set you up for another combo turn very soon and apply significant pressure against most decks.
Combo decks are a different animal from the rest of Magic’s archetypes and it’s important to not succumb to the fear of answers or hate cards. After all, you have a sideboard for a reason. Maindecks are for getting them dead.
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 4 Simian Spirit Guide
- 3 Noble Hierarch
- 4 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
- 2 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
- 3 Griselbrand