Yawgmoth’s Whimsy #27: Updating Classic Combos For Multiplayer

Plagiarize and Teferi’s Puzzlebox was too clunky… But it put me in mind of taking several classic combos and adding Faceless Butcher and Upheaval to them. Yow! Instakill!

Last time, I wrote about Plagiarize and Teferi’s Puzzlebox.  That’s a truly annoying little combo – just the kind of thing I love to put in multiplayer decks.  It got me thinking about the other combinations that I have built off of Puzzlebox – and how Odyssey block fits into multiplayer combinations in general.  So here are a few combinations from days of old, and their new and improved versions.

First, kudos to”Strangely not Alex” and others who sent me emails about Type 1 Plagiarize combos.  Plagiarize does work pretty well with Wheel of Fortune, Windfall, and Memory Jar.  The best suggestion for multiplayer was Wheel, Plagiarize, Radiate – which Gijsbert Hoogendijk added to his Mana Flare deck.  In that deck, you could have the mana to pull it off.  It might also work with Nightscape Familiars as well – it costs only 6RRU with a Familiar in play.  Steep, but what do you expect to pay for a chance to Mind Twist everyone and draw about half your deck?  

Okay, back to Puzzlebox.  Churning Eddy is a combo with Puzzlebox, since unless it can be played as an instant during upkeep, whatever you bounced is going to wind up on the bottom of the opponent’s library.  This is particularly useful with legendary lands and tough creatures.  Sunken Hope is also kind of sweet in some cases.  The opponent sees more cards, but creatures keep moving to the bottom of the library.  You can get around the problem yourself using Xanthic Statue, Chimeric Staff, and Chimeric Idol, which are not creatures until you activate them – which you don’t do until after Sunken Hope has resolved.  The combo doesn’t work quite as well if your opponents have creatures with good comes-into-play abilities, of course.  


Teferi’s Puzzlebox helps Booby Trap (Tempest artifact – name a card; if opponent draws that, Booby Trap deals 10 damage to that opponent), since everyone draws a lot more cards.  However, cards like Aven Windreader are even better.  You can even build a multiplayer deck around Booby Trap, Windreader, Drafna’s Restoration, plus some counters and card drawing  (Predict and Windreader are sort of fun together).  Throw in some Misdirections, Stinging Barriers for defense, and maybe a few Control Magic type cards and you are good to go.  The politics involved are always interesting with this type of deck, so be careful to avoid getting anyone too pissed at you – or make sure they are both pissed and dead.  If you are not planning to play many games with the same deck, use Copper Gnomes as a stealth weapon (end of turn, look at the top card of that player’s library, sacrifice Cu gnomes to put Booby Trap into play – so, do you have a Disenchant in hand or no?).

Speaking of Control Magic effects, Chamber of Manipulation may have some uses.  First, since the land has the ability, it doesn’t worry about protection from colors and it survives creature removal.  However, since it does not give the creature haste, you are generally only using the stolen creature as a blocker or in making political gestures (like stealing would-be attackers to save another player who is on the ropes).   To make sure the stolen creature does double duty, you can add something to sacrifice the creatures to.  Animal Boneyard is Wizard’s prepackaged answer.  Altar of Dementia is more annoying.  Greater Good (sacrifice a creature, draw cards equal to its power, then discard three cards) is both board control and a way to get to threshold fast – but just don’t play it against opponents with nothing but weenies.  Diabolic Intent is a nice way to find other combo parts, but it is a sorcery.  Hell’s Caretaker can put creatures from your graveyard into play, but only during your upkeep.  Phyrexian Plaguelord and Malevolent Awakening are good, but Infernal Tribute can be even better.

Speaking of Malevolent Awakening, it combines well with all the traditional cards that like seeing your creatures die.   You can build a deck around Malevolent Awakening, Grave PactSengir Autocrat, and Phyrexian Plaguelord – that’s called board control.   You can also add cute tricks like Highway Robber (drain life) and Bone Shredder (which is probably overkill) or Gate to Phyrexia to kill artifacts.  Delraich is also nice as a finisher.  Faceless Butcher is an obvious combo with Malevolent Awakening, but it doesn’t work with Grave Pact – even if you stack it correctly, the opponent will sacrifice the targeted creature to Grave Pact, rather than lose it to the Butcher.

Faceless Butcher does combo well with Lifeline and  a means of sacrificing it, but I wrote a magnum opus on Lifeline for the Dojo and I really don’t want to redo that.  Suffice it to say that Lifeline is broken, with or without the Butcher. (Tru dat – The Ferrett)

Staying in black, you can have some fun with MindslicerMindslicer is a pretty nice way of saying,”hey attackers, go elsewhere.”  If you are worried about fliers, Mindslicer and Flying Carpet are funny.  As a way of winning, as opposed to just stalling, try comboing Mindslicer with Innocent Blood and Storm World (everyone takes damage for having less than four cards in hand.)  Add Megrim for extra damage, and Syphon Soul to keep you ahead in the damage race.  You can also add Bottomless Pit or Howling Mines and Chains of Mephistopheles to the Megrim for extra damage.  Be forewarned, however, that the combination will annoy everyone in the game and you will become target number one.  Get some defenses in play first, and fast.

Incidentally, Corpse Dance, a creature that forces discards (like Ravenous Rats) and a way to sacrifice it is one of the few ways to force your opponent to discard the cards they drew before their main phase every turn – but it does not work with Mindslicer.  Well, technically, it does, once, but buying back the Corpse Dance is pretty pointless.  On the other hand, Corpse Dance/Mesmeric Fiend/Altar of Dementia does work pretty well.  Once they draw, you bring in the Fiend via Corpse Dance, put its comes into play ability on the stack (to remove a card from the game) and sacrifice the Fiend to the Altar to mill them a card.  The Fiend’s”leaves play” ability then triggers and will go on the stack.  When this all resolves, the leaves play ability does nothing and the comes into play ability resolves, removing a card from an opponents hand from the game, essentially for good.    The result – instead of having a card in hand, your opponent has his card removed from the game and mills his next card into his graveyard.  Note: This doesn’t work as well in multiplayer games, unless you can produce huge amounts of mana.

Okay, it’s time to change colors.  In the past, I built some decks around Sunder – returning all lands to hand – then pitched them to Seismic Assault for a kill, or used some other methods of abusing that mechanic.  However, Upheaval costs just one more mana, and has a much better effect, since it resets the whole board.   The most common T2 combination – Upheaval and Zombie Infestation – is probably not that great in multiplayer.  After all, after you cast Upheaval, drop Infestation and make six tokens, can you really kill a half-dozen opponents before they get their Wall of Roots back in place, or Bolt the Zombies, or even get upset enough to cast Show and Tell? “Okay folks, you know who cast the reset, and who’s Santa Claus.  Show and Tell.  Drop your stuff and get him!”

Show and Tell is even better than Hunted Wumpus for those of you who like to live dangerously.   (Hey- funniest Show and Tell ever: Cards played around the table – Confiscate on a Morphling, Masticore, Abyss, Phyrexian Colossus, Moat, Titania’s Song, Serenity.  Then the caster tried Time Warp, which the Morphling’s former owner Misdirected to the owner of Serenity, and everything – except the Morphling, of course – died.)

So, what can you do with Upheaval?   Seismic Assault obviously isn’t an answer: If you have five opponents, you need to discard about forty land to kill them all – and if you have forty land in play, you should be able to do something better than Upheaval/AssaultMultani is a first choice, if you could get him back down that turn.  It isn’t that hard, and cards like Wall of Roots would fit pretty well in an Upheaval deck.  Or try lots of elves, Birds, Priests of Titania, Multani, and Concordant CrossroadsConcordant Crossroads means that all the Birds and Elves get replayed immediately.  Just float the mana for Crossroads, Multani, Upheaval, and one more green mana.  Cast Upheaval, cast Crossroads, cast Multani, attack for a ton, then replay all the elves and birds.  That just leaves you all the spare land in hand to do something with.  Fastbond is one option, but Nantuko Cultivator might be a better one. 

You can cast Upheaval, then penalize everyone for the cards in their hands.  Storm Seeker and Black Vise work in duels, but Iron Maiden is a better answer in multiplayer.   After Upheaval/Iron Maiden, you can cast Ivory Tower  for life gain (if your opponents like direct damage) or Arcane Laboratory (to mess with people’s ability to empty their hands).  Howling Mine is a nasty addition to the Labs/Maiden combo – provided that your opponents don’t draw into cards that can kill the Maiden or Arcane Labs. 

You can have some fun with Faceless Butcher and Upheaval.  The trick is to Butcher your own creature beforehand, saving it until you can clear the board with Upheaval.  This is also a nice way of suggesting that your opponent’s not play Wrath of God.  (Would you cast Wrath, knowing that when it resolves, a Mortivore suddenly appears?)  The Butcher trick doesn’t work with the creatures you would most want in play – Multani or Mystic Enforcer – but it isn’t bad.  If you are going to use that trick, beware of really cheap removal cards, like Terror, Bolt, and Swords.  Ihsan’s Shade  is pro-white.  Spirit of the Night has haste, so it can attack immediately, and it won’t die to Bolt.  Deranged Hermit may die, but it usually takes five instants to get rid of the whole nut collection. 

If you don’t have the Nantuko Cultivator, you can use the lands you pick up with Upheaval to cast Mox DiamondsMox Diamonds give you color options and flexibility – they belong in any Upheaval deck.   The other card I would almost always play in a multiplayer deck with Upheaval is Firestorm.  Discarding the extra cards to deal damage to all opponents is better than discarding to get back to seven cards at end of turn.

Okay, let’s apply what we have learned today.  It’s about to be your turn 7 or 8 in a multiplayer game.  You’re everyone’s friend, because they are all benefiting from your two Howling Mines.  You are sitting behind a couple of Shield Spheres and a Dancing Scimitar, plus a Faceless Butcher that removed your own Mortivore last turn.  (Of course, that was accompanied by some misleading comments about making that red player think twice about casting his Wildfire) and a big wall named Karn that killed everyone else’s Moxen.  

During the end of the last turn before yours, you cast Crop Rotate and fetch Academy.

If necessary, you would Abeyance or Duress at the players likely to play counterspells or Repulse here, but we’ll assume that counters are not a problem.  After all, you can sit until after a big counterspell battle over something important, like Multani, a Vampiric Angel or Morphling, leaves everyone depleted, then you act.

On your first main phase, you tap Academy, float some mana, and cast Upheaval.  Actually, with Academy, two Howling Mines, six or so other lands, Mox Diamonds, Dancing Scimitar and Shield Spheres in play, you float a lot, and all of the Mox Diamond mana is black.  Then you cast Megrim, Mox Diamond, Mox Diamond, Academy.  Then you cast Mindslicer.  If you have more than eight cards in hand at this point, you can cast the Dancing Scimitar and Shield Spheres, as necessary.  Once you’re down to eight cards, you tap a Mox Diamond for one red mana and cast Firestorm for seven, discarding your hand and targeting each opponent and the Mindslicer

Everyone takes seven.

Mindslicer dies.

Everyone discards their hands (including every permanent that was on the table) and takes Megrim damage.

If anyone is still alive, you have the Mortivore next turn.

4 Howling Mines

4 Dancing Scimitar / Wall of Blossoms / Jungle Barrier / Shield Sphere

3 Upheaval

3 Firestorm

4 Repulse /Accumulated Knowledge

4 Mindslicer

3 Faceless Butcher

2 Mortivore

2 Dregs of Sorrow

1 Spirit of the Night

1 Ihsan’s Shade

1 Karn, Silver Golem (my friends have the Moxen)

R Crop Rotation

R Demonic Tutor

R Vampiric Tutor

R Yawgmoth’s Will

Mox Diamond

4-5 Moxen if you have some, Dark Ritual if you don’t

Tolarian Academy

Sol Ring

Mana Vault

Lands, with appropriate duals -even Invasion duals.

It’s fifty to sixty cards, not counting lands.  It needs to be cut down.  The exact cuts will depend on how fast and vicious your group is.  (Hey – that’s as cheap as the”your sideboard will depend on your metagame” line – which is actually French for,”I’m to lazy to give you a sideboard.”)  In this case, though, you will know whether you group will kill you with fliers by turn 5 if you don’t have Fog Bank or Dancing Scimitar, or if the Spirit of the Night would be too much of a red flag, or if you have that one player that always has Counterspells so you must have Abeyance or Duress to stop him.  Likewise, you know better than I do whether you have the duals to run Wall of Blossoms and Jungle Barrier in a U/B deck – and whether you need to.  The mix of card drawing and removal is also your call, but I like cantrips like Repulse in a what is – in essence – a combo deck.    Repulse just delays the inevitable, but it draws a card.  That is pretty good when you are just stalling until you can combo them out.

Speaking of stalling until you can finish – I’m done now.


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