This weekend at Pro Tour Aether Revolt, we’ll see what the best and brightest minds unfold in the world of Magic, and I for one can’t wait. The event itself is sure to be exciting, but it will also play a very important role for brewers. Before the PT, there’s always some speculation about the metagame. And while G/B Counters and Saheeli Combo are at the forefront of everyone’s mind right now, that might be different next week. A new metagame will emerge—or the current one will be reinforced—but either way, the PT has a lot of influence on deck building. Remember that brewing is a way to find holes in the metagame and that’s why I’m excited to brew with a target in mind. Before that, it’s still useful to sift through and test various ideas to get a leg up once the real brewing-plus-tuning cycle begins. Today I want to talk about some card combinations I’ve been considering, which could become integral parts of future brews!
Paradox Engine + Inspiring Statuary
Combining these 2 cards means any nonartifact spell you cast will be effectively reduced my 2 generic mana. Of course, once you add more artifacts to the mix, and spells that can chain into more spells, then you start really unlocking this combo’s true potential. Perhaps the coolest engine I’ve thought up is one that lets you draw your entire deck. You read that right—it’s time to draw your entire deck in Standard!
If you have an Emrakul’s Influence in play and enough artifacts or mana creatures that your Lashweed Lurkers are free when you have Paradox Engine and Inspiring Statuary in play, you can draw as many cards as you want. Cast your first Lurker and top any card. With your next Lurker, top your first Lurker and be sure to draw off the Influence after you put the Lurker is on top. You can repeat this cycle as many times as you want to draw as many cards as you want. Maybe you cast some more Eldrazi along the way and then surge a Reckless Bushwhacker? There are plenty of directions to go, but I’m on board for infinite free spells!
Trophy Mage + [Insert 3-mana artifact here]
Okay, so I’m cheating a little on this “card pair,” but I think there’s a lot of potential for Trophy Mage since there are just so many possibilities that it’s reasonably likely one will be good enough at some point. First off, there are two different directions to build with Trophy Mage. The first is to use it as a toolbox and grab key artifacts for specific board situations. Need a beatdown spell? Grab an Aethersphere Harvester. How about some mana? Pilgrim’s Eye and Cultivator’s Caravan are good options. Even card draw from Implement of Examination is a possibility, although under-powered. Even so, you can see how including a mix of cards for any situation can give Trophy Mage enough collective power to serve as a toolbox engine. The more cards printed in Standard that work with it will also increase its versatility over time.
The second method of attack is to use Trophy Mage as copies 5-8 of a key engine card that your deck relies on casting every game. Of those, I see 4 standouts: Inspiring Statuary, Lifecrafter’s Bestiary, Dynavolt Tower, and Electrostatic Pummeler. Each one of these can drastically alter the way the game plays out because they are powerful build-arounds. The problem with going in on such cards normally is that your deck as a whole is much weaker when you don’t draw them. Trophy Mage helps solve that problem as long as you are willing to trade time for consistency. The Bestiary is particularly exciting since it helps scry away redundant copies of cards you don’t want and also turns extra Trophy Mages into cards when you cast them.
Yahenni, Undying Partisan + Kari Zev’s Expertise
This is pretty much a bread-and-butter Limited combo that has been elevated to the big stage of Standard thanks to more powerful versions of Bloodthrone Vampire and Act of Treason. Stealing a creature, attacking, and then sacrificing it already puts you massively ahead, but the fact that you also get to play a 2-drop spell really pushes this over the top. Clearing another blocker with a removal spell, or simply dropping another creature (maybe a Scrapheap Scrounger, which can keep fueling Yahenni?) will really put the hurt on your opponent.
Walking Ballista is pretty good versus this plan since it can sacrifice for value and also counters your Expertise, which prevents the cheap spell kicker. That said, the Expertise still functions as a removal spell here, and if your opponent has a 2/2 Ballista and you have Yahenni, at least you’ll get your counter before the Ballista can kill them.
Speaking of artifact creatures, if there’s a surge of them in Standard, then Ravenous Intruder becomes quite a good card in this deck. It can be a sacrifice outlet for your Expertise, but also will help deal lethal damage out of nowhere thanks to the abundance of artifacts in R/B decks. Smuggler’s Copter is gone, but don’t think that artifact aggro decks are dead in the water.
Confirm Suspicions + Indomitable Creativity
Indomitable Creativity is clearly a powerful card, but it also puts very heavy deck building restrictions on you if you want to be successful with it. One nice way to get around that is with Clues from noncreatures. Thraben Inspector doesn’t work particularly well because if you include Inspectors, you may just flip more Inspectors. Confirm Suspicions is really nice because you get 3 Clues all at once and then that curves perfectly into Creativity for 3. If you only include 3 creatures or artifacts to combo together, you can set up an instant kill out of nowhere! As a simple example you could get Odric, Lunarch Marshal, Decimator of the Provinces, and Kozilek, the Great Distortion. 22 menace, haste, and trample damage isn’t too shabby!
You do have to be careful when designing a deck like this to have a plan B when you draw your creatures that you don’t plan on casting, and you also need a way to survive, but again today’s goal is to show the potential in all the various build-arounds that AER brings. I hope this article got your inner brewer excited, and I’m excited to get to work soon on finding awesome ways to implement these and other ideas into fully built decks!