Do you want to get into Legacy, but you’re put off by the exorbitant price of lands? With duals costing upwards of $300, I don’t blame you. But what if I told you there’s a Legacy deck that not only runs zero lands, but can average a turn 1 kill? Fasten your seat belts, because this week we’re diving into the world of Oops, All Spells!
Oops, All Spells is an archetype focused on using Balustrade Spy or Undercity Informer to mill your entire deck to reanimate a combo. This strategy has existed since the old Hermit Druid days of yore, but since Hermit Druid is banned, we have the next best thing in these Gatecrash terrors. Essentially, the combo works through stages. Through a combination of free mana from Lotus Petal, Chrome Mox, and Spirit Guides, you cast your rituals which in turn get you up to the four mana necessary to cast a Spy or Informer and activate it. From there, you mill your deck, triggering Narcomoebas which enter the battlefield and allow you to flashback Dread Return. What you target with Dread Return depends on which build you opt for, but either one gives you the means to put Laboratory Maniac into play and trigger it immediately for the win. There are two main Dread Return targets, Angel of Glory’s Rise and Underworld Cerberus, and how they work is unique from one another.
With this build, the end goal is to Dread Return Angel of Glory’s Rise. This returns all Humans to the battlefield, which conveniently enough includes both Laboratory Maniac and Azami, Lady of Scrolls. Since they’re both Wizards, you can then tap them to draw a card. Because you have no cards in your deck, you’ll win. What makes this version particularly strong is that it gets around targeted removal by simply tapping a second Wizard with the removal on the stack.
The main drawback to Angel Oops is that because there are so many different cards that you need to put in the graveyard into order to combo (Angel, Azami, Dread Return, Narcomoeba, Lab Maniac), drawing one can often be a death sentence. With a full suite of Probes and Street Wraiths, it’s very easy to cantrip into combo pieces you don’t want to draw. Granted, you can Cabal Therapy a piece or two out of your hand, but your Therapies are taxed enough, and having to use them on yourself means they’re not aimed at the opponent’s hand to strip away disruption.
With the introduction of Theros, Oops, All Spells received a brand new combo piece in the form of Underworld Cerberus. Cerberus Oops opts to reanimate Underworld Cerberus, then sacrifice it to flashback Cabal Therapy. This causes Cerberus to trigger and return all your creatures from your graveyard to your hand. This gives you all of your unused Spirit Guides, as well as Wild Cantor, Laboratory Maniac, and Street Wraith. You then use a Spirit Guide to cast the Cantor, sacrifice it for a Blue mana, then pitch two more to cast the Laboratory Maniac. All you have to do is cycle Street Wraith and you win.
This version of Oops, All Spells is particularly nasty to fight because it runs a set of Pact of Negation in the maindeck to protect itself. Pact gives Underworld Oops the ability to fight through countermagic and stop spells like Surgical Extraction from raining on their parade. The other benefit of Underworld Oops over Angel Oops is that the deck requires fewer cards to actually combo off, which lessens the odds of drawing one of them. By lowering the odds of drawing into a combo piece, you eliminate the need to jump through the extra hoop of Therapizing yourself to discard it. This is especially useful because one of your Cabal Therapies is automatically tied up since you need it to sacrifice the Cerberus.
Conversely, while Underworld Oops requires fewer actual combo pieces to go off, it does need to jump through more hoops to actually win. Not only do you have to resolve a Balustrade Spy or Undercity Informer, you have to resolve Dread Return and the Laboratory Maniac. And even if all of those spells resolve, a single Lightning Bolt or Swords to Plowshares in response to your Street Wraith is game over. With Angel Oops, spot removal is less viable because of the second Wizard in play, but Underworld Oops offers no such backup plan.
SO WHAT SHOULD MY SIDEBOARD LOOK LIKE?
With Oops, All Spells, there are two schools of thought. The first is to eschew the graveyard shenanigans of the maindeck for a transformative sideboard. The logic is that the easiest way to hate out the combo is by playing graveyard hate cards like Surgical Extraction, Rest in Peace, and Tormod’s Crypt. By completely changing the win condition you keep the opponent on their toes. As they will most likely mulligan into their hate cards, their hand will be suboptimal and more vulnerable to a different combo. But what other combo can operate with no lands in the deck? Why, Charbelcher, of course!
With this plan the goal is to power out a Goblin Charbelcher with your rituals and Spirit Guides, then activate it revealing your entire deck to blast them for 50+ damage. This strategy lets you laugh in the face of graveyard hate, but it does come with a drawback. Force of Will is a card that preys on all-in combo decks like Oops, All Spells and Charbelcher, and boarding into Charbelcher does little to alleviate this weakness. As well, Oops, All Spells excels in that it only requires 3B to go off, whereas Charbelcher requires a whopping seven mana to get a kill. Provided you haven’t drawn a Lion’s Eye Diamond, this often requires a turn to drop the Charbelcher and a second to activate it. This makes comboing especially tricky as your Pact of Negations are rendered nearly useless should you need that second turn.
The second school of thought is to maintain the traditional Oops, All Spells combos and to sideboard to fight countermagic and graveyard hate. This often revolves around cards like Xantid Swarm and Nature’s Claim to fight off the cards that ruin the deck and ensure that we get to combo. One other fun card that some friends and I have been toying with is Leyline of Anticipation. Having this card in your opening hand allows you to combo off at instant speed. This is great for beating decks that rely on graveyard hate rather than counters, and against the counterspell decks you can even power out a Xantid Swarm on their end step. This way you can attack with it on your turn and stop them from countering anything you do in your second main phase. I often include extra copies of Cabal Therapy in this sideboard to help pick away problem counterspells as well as Surgical Extractions, and I also advocate a single card like Worldspine Wurm or Blightsteel Colossus that shuffles itself back into your deck, just in case they disrupt the combo and you have to try killing them on the following turn with Bridge from Below tokens.
HOW ARE MY MATCHUPS?
Generally, with a decent hand you have the capacity to combo off on turn 1 roughly 80% of the time. The majority of your matches are pretty favourable if you can go off before the opponent can mount a defense. Because of the general speed of the deck, archetypes like Death and Taxes, Shardless BUG, and Jund are pretty one-sided, as they rely on cards like Rest in Peace and Deathrite Shaman that require a second turn to impact your graveyard. Decks like UR Delver, Sneak and Show, and MUD are much harder to fight on the draw, as they can all interact with you on their first turn. Delver decks and Show and Tell decks not only pack full sets of Force of Wills, but often back it up with Daze and Flusterstorms, which can be significant road blocks should you not be on the Xantid Swarm plan. MUD and Stompy, conversely, can play prison cards like Chalice of the Void and Trinisphere on turn 1, effectively locking you out of the game on the first turn.
SO WHY SHOULD I BUILD OOPS, ALL SPELLS?
Oops, All Spells is a Legacy deck that routinely kills the opponent before they can play a single spell. For roughly $100 you can troll the opponent into submission and play entire matches in the time it takes most people to resolve a Brainstorm. This is a deck that rewards knowing your own deck and practicing your lines of play above all else, and the power and speed is such that in the hands of a skilled player it can be devastating to play against. If you like blistering fast combo decks at a reasonable price, Oops, All Spells is the deck for you.
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