From the instant that Heliod, Sun-Crowned was previewed, the internet was abuzz with the new “Splinter Twin” combo in Pioneer and Modern. The combo is Heliod plus Walking Ballista, and takes just a few easy steps:
- Give Walking Ballista lifelink.
- Remove a counter to deal 1 damage (note that Ballista needs to be a 2/2)
- Gain 1 life, triggering Heliod, and put a +1/+1 counter back on Ballista.
- Rinse and repeat.
This list is my first crack at the combo in Pioneer, and is quite focused on assembling the combo. I’m sure there is a more grindy version out there, but I like to start with a linear version to begin with.
Pioneer Heliod-Ballista Combo – by LSV
4 Heliod, Sun-Crowned 4 Walking Ballista 4 Commune with the Gods 4 Elvish Mystic 4 Llanowar Elves 4 Gilded Goose 1 Knight of Autumn 1 Lyra Dawnbringer 4 Teferi, Time Raveler 3 Spell Pierce 2 Banishing Light 3 Shared Summons 4 Temple Garden 2 Radiant Fountain 4 Breeding Pool 2 Sunpetal Grove 3 Hallowed Fountain 7 Forest (347) Sideboard 1 Spell Pierce 2 Blossoming Defense 2 Reclamation Sage 1 Negate 2 Disdainful Stroke 3 Rest in Peace 1 Banishing Light 3 Lovestruck Beast/Heart's Desire - Showcase
Gameplan: Assemble the Ballista-Heliod combo and ping the opponent to death.
Heliod, the Sun-Crowned / Walking Ballista – Unsurprisingly, the two combo pieces are key to the deck’s success. This deck will struggle to win without the combo, though it can win as early as turn three with it.
Tips and Tricks
- Teferi is there to protect your combo from removal while also slowing the opponent down. If you can, waiting a turn for Teferi protection is usually worth it.
- You don’t need a 2/2 Ballista in a couple situations. One is if the Ballista started the turn in play, and can attack to trigger lifelink. The other is if you gain life via another source, like Radiant Fountain or sacrificing a Food token.
- In general, Heliod is harder to kill, so you want to lead with Heliod and play Ballista on the following turn.
- If you have a lot of mana and suspect the opponent has removal, you can play Ballista and don’t go for the kill. Make them do something first, then go for the combo in response.
This deck may be scary or maybe just a flash in the pan, but it’s definitely worth trying. A two-card combo that wins the game is enticing, and it only requires white mana, making the shell it goes into quite flexible. I’m excited to see where it goes, and will be trying various iterations of this as we see more Theros cards.