Magic was intended to be fair. That being said, to make it fair some cards with powerful abilities are printed with weaknesses, and some of those weaknesses make them unplayable. An unfortunate side effect to leveling the playing field, but nonetheless those weaknesses created what most people would call a “Bulk rare”. A rare that doesn’t have a place in the meta of competitive play. A rare that if printed with a better toughness, or was a little bit cheaper could possibly make a stand against the otherwise good cards.
Hi, my name is Gage. I’m the type of player who tries to abuse these cards. Tries to prove that they have potential, or would under the right circumstances. Through my years of playing Magic I’ve made good decks, a few bad ones, and a few terrible ones in the attempt to defy the meta. A few were somewhat successful; Winning a few Game Days here and there and dominating FNMs; And some just crashed and burned. Today we are looking at one that did fine, but still needs a little bit of work before I could call it really good.
Standard usually doesn’t have too many infinite combos to work with. The release of Theros brought us a cycle of cards that target up to two target creatures, and with them Triton Tactics was introduced to standard.
The Main Combo:
The combo works when both creatures are able to activate their abilities. Elite Arcanist enters the battlefield and you need to exile Triton Tactics. Whenever you tap Zhur-Taa Druid for mana, you add 1 green mana to your mana pool. You would then use that green mana to activate Elite Arcanist ability paying for it with that 1 green, and casting the copy of Triton Tactics. Targeting both creatures with the spell, they would then be untapped and ready to repeat the process. Every cast is one damage, and an additional +0/+3 to each creature. Infinite damage, potentially on turn 4. Sounds good right? I thought so. The only problem is that both of these creatures are somewhat weak. Both have a power and toughness of 1, so they die to almost any type of removal out there. Even Spark Jolt would do the job. So in order for this combo to work I needed some protection for them.
Giving my opponent an entire turn to ruin my plans seemed to be the biggest issue. A lot of times you’ll find yourself casting the Arcanist on a turn that they are tapped out on, or close to it. To combat that and to make the combo seemingly faster I added Racecourse Fury. This one drop enchantment gives any creature you control haste, technically for one extra mana. This is helpful when you cast Elite Arcanist with the Racecourse Fury ready, and the ability to go off that turn. Just give the Human haste, and the game is over. Sometimes you can also go off in response to them trying to kill it. Another form of protection comes in the form of Simic Charm. Useful as a tool for many things, Simic Charm is very important for this deck. With the ability to not only serve as protection for your own creatures, it gives us an advantage when your opponent is running short on removal spells. Sometimes that incorrectly timed Hero’s Downfall might fall short to everything gaining hexproof. Also, being able to bounce your opponents threats is huge too. We do need to stay alive long enough for the combo to go off.
The Alternative Plan:
Just in case the main goal can’t be achieved, I added a little bit of a backup plan. Rakdos’s Return has proven to be a powerful card time in time again. In this case it’s no different. The combo works basically the same way. Here is the basic setup: Elite Arcanist exiling a Triton Tactics, and Axebane Guardian with another defender on the battlefield. You’re going to be doing the Elite Arcanist / Zhur-Taa Druid combo, only instead of targeting the Druid you’ll target the Guardian. With another defender on the field it will have an end result of infinite mana of any color, which you can then use to cast a huge Rakdos’s Return to end the game. Also, to save yourself some time to stall you can use just Axebane and a few other defenders to cast a smaller Return, to empty their hand and give you a little bit of breathing room.
I didn’t have a specific sideboard set up for the deck. But there are a few cards I would consider putting in it if I had made one.
Defend the Hearth – Defend is a card I would include because of how slow this deck can seem compared to aggro decks. They are wanting to kill us by turn 4 or 5, and that is when we are looking to go off. It protects us from hasty creatures, and can also stop a Fanatic of Mogis from beating us in the face.
Cyclonic Rift is a great card, and the possibility to wipe a board out on their turn is something that could help stall long enough to get the combo off. With the amount of mana you can potentially create helps us overload it a lot sooner.
Ratchet Bomb is another good card. Sometimes against the right deck is can count as a pseudo-board-wipe.
Like almost every deck in the game, we have out good match-ups and bad ones.
Mono Black – To start things off, mono black is obviously a really bad match-up. The reason for that is all of the removal they have at their disposal. Doom Blade, Devour Flesh, Hero’s Downfall, Ultimate Price, and tons more. Thoughtseize is also a troublesome card, because it can just tear your combo apart from the start.
Esper / UWX – Really any deck running Supreme Verdict is a bad match-up. We are looking to go off on turn 4-5, and that is when they would have the mana to cast their board-wipes. Also, the counter-spells most run can be a problem too since this deck doesn’t run any of our own to fight the counter war.
Mono Red – While sometimes we can get there, a lot of times when we play a red deck they have access to Magma Jet or Lightning Strike since the two most important creatures in our deck are 1/1s. Unless we hold up for Simic Charm later in the game, more than likely they would almost instantly die.
Like I said before, this deck isn’t fully done. I feel like it is missing something important, but so far it hasn’t been introduced to standard yet. I believe it’s true potential could be unleashed when M15 is released, and we still have M14 around too. Born of the Gods has a few cards I’m going to test with in this build, because I believe I can expand on the combo a little bit more. Alternatively, I’ll be looking to try this out in modern too. Maybe it can be even faster there. Aside from the lands, this deck is super cheap. If you want to give it a try out at your next FNM give it a try! Lemme know how you did and if you have any suggestions for replacements.
I’m always looking to abuse underdog cards to their fullest, so if you have an interaction that isn’t getting any love send it over to me through one of the social media sites listed below. I love to work on new brews and always accept a challenge. Until next time, this is Gage signing out!
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