|Famished Paladin was never meant to be played in a fair deck. For a while, he was used in an infinite damage combo involving himself, Sorcerer’s Wand, and cards that provided lifelink, like Squire’s Devotion. Because he gained his controller life every time he hit something for damage, he would untap, allowing an infinite loop of damage and lifegain. I don’t know how anyone could expect anything less from a creature that untaps itself. The combo was decent as it was, but consistency was an issue. Without the card restrictions of standard, though, we can work through this flaw and make the deck great!|
Paladin is an obvious inclusion at four, but what about our other combo pieces? We need a way to give him the ability to ping something for damage. Sorcerer’s Wand is nice in that if Paladin dies it can stick around. However, it is very mana-hungry. We want to be as quick as possible in setting up our combo. Psionic Gift has a converted casting cost of two, so it can come down much earlier than the wand.
The next thing we need to do is give him lifelink. The namesake card Lifelink seems like a no-brainer, but there is a better option. At first glance, Spirit Link may seem like it does the same thing, but there is a difference. It does not matter who controls the creature enchanted by Spirit Link. In the end, you will be gaining the life. This means we can use extra copies of Spirit Link as a sort of poor-man’s removal spell. Enchanting an opponent’s attacker means you will gain just as much life as it does in damage, canceling it out as a threat.
Vigilant Martyr is a card I have grown to love in my aura-based combo decks. He can protect any creature we enchant, as well as the enchantments themselves! He does have one flaw, though. A creature becomes tapped after it is regenerated. This is bad because attempts to disrupt our combo could force our vampire to become tapped with no way to fix it until our next untap phase. This would leave us and the Paladin vulnerable. Benevolent Bodyguard is similar to Martyr, and does not have this drawback. However, he cannot protect our enchantments. Which you play and in what numbers comes down to preference.
Heliod’s Pilgrim is the reason we play auras instead of equipment. With her, we can tutor for either of the enchantment combo pieces we need. This adds consistency to a combo that sorely needed it. We have also included some silver bullets for her to search. Kirtar’s Desire can slow down our opponent long enough to set up, and Faith’s Fetters can answer pesky permanents like artifacts or planeswalkers.
Similar to Pilgrim, Forerunner of the Legion helps us find the Vampire part of our combo. Because we are playing blue, we also have access to cantrips like Opt and Shimmer of Possibility, which dig for anything we might need.
Finally, Spell Pierce gives us additional protection from removal while also preventing early discard and counter magic from stopping our combo. The numbers can be toyed with, and I can even see it being replaced with Negate or other counter magic. In the end, though, I like low CMC of the card.
|The Final List
|Playing the Deck|
|Because of the protection they provide, Martyr and Bodyguard should be our first plays. The lack of a mana cost for their abilities means we are free to tap out on our following turns.
From here, we build the combo. Opt and Shimmer are the natural follow ups. Rummage through the top of your deck for what you need, and filter through unwanted draws.
As long as you have been hitting your land drops, turn three opens up the field for our Forerunner and Pilgrim. If you don’t already have the combo, grab the final piece and win on the next turn. Opt has potential here, as you can use it following a Forerunner in order to draw the Vampire you just tutored for, Should you have the mana
As mentioned before, use Pilgrim to tutor for your silver bullets as needed. Kirtar’s Desire can slow down a nasty clock just long enough to allow you to finish constructing your combo. The life gain on Faith’s Fetters can also come in clutch for untapping a Paladin or two.
Don’t forget about the interaction between Tranquil Cove and Famished Paladin, either. With a Cove in hand, you can give the Paladin pseudo vigilance for a turn. You can even allow him to ping for additional damage in cases where you have Psionic Gift but not Lifelink.
Many of the options listed are alternatives to the combo pieces we already have. Felidar Umbra could be interesting to play as a single copy, as it could enchant a paladin early on for protection. Mortal’s Ardor and other instants which grant lifelink are safe from removal, but cannot be searched for as easily as an aura.
Gods Willing and Sheltering Light can protect our vampire while also helping us dig for the rest of the combo. Alternatives are Turn Aside and Faith’s Shield, which also protect our auras. If you like your protection in the form of a creature Siren Stormtamer could be fun, and Mother of Runes is arguably better than the clerics we are already playing. At less than $3, she won’t break the bank too much, either. Dauntless Bodyguard and Resolute Watchdog are also options, but I can’t see them being better than anything else already mentioned.
You also have many options when it comes to cantrips. These are not listed above, as there are just too many of them. Portent, Ponder, Preordain, and Brainstorm are the most common. If you like Modern, you may have copies of Sleight of Hand or Serum Visions laying around. All of these options are much more taxing on your wallet than Opt or Shimmer, though.
Infinite life and damage at the same time!? Magic doesn’t get much better than that. Do you have a sweet combo you love playing? Tell me about it on my facebook page. You can also send me an email at Spooky386@gmail.com. Wondering how my decks have changed since I last wrote about them? Check out all of my updated deck lists here!
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