Wednesday, 5 June 2013
This is a rare example of the hybrid archetype of combo control. In the way that midrange decks are a halfway house between agro and control decks this is part combo deck and part control (there is also agro combo in things like Foodchain Goblins, elves or even some affinity builds). It is fairly rare for these archetypes to work but when they do they are one of my favourite kinds of deck. You get to dictate the flow of the game but always are able to threaten the win out of nowhere. This particular list was inspired by the deck "Lucky Charms" which was featured in one of the deck techs from the PT before last (PT Gatecrash I assume). It was a fairly standard three colour control build however it went heavily overboard on the Charms to give it a reasonable chance of hitting a four card infinite life combo. While any four card combo is pretty bad as a pure combo, when all the cards are excellent in their own right within the deck you can get away with it, especially when it is not your main plan. The idea is to get a Boros Reckoner out, give it lifelink and make it indestructible with Boros and Azorius Charms then shoot it and continually redirect the damage to itself until you have infinite life. With only one copy of each card and it being a shaky combo to being with I needed more ways to win and things to be doing. A more standard control deck wouldn't really benefit a huge amount from the various effects on the Charms and so I decided to pair it with a heavy miracle theme as there is good overlap in the card quality effects and Entreat the Angels gives you lots of dorks to be lifelinking to great effect. Already being in UWR and having an abundance of card quality and two or less costing instants I couldn't resist the Isochron Scepter as well giving me plenty of stuff to be getting on with. Here is the final list I ended up running:
Swords to Plowshares
Sensei's Divining Top
Fire / Ice
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Entreat the Angels
Bonfire of the Damned
While fairly atypical as control decks go it performed better than expected. The vast degree of card quality in there to support the combo and miracle aspects more than makes up for the thin filling of control cards. Usually a control list will have around four counterspells and about two fat top end dorks which this deck rather lacks in. As I previously mentioned though, this is a combo control deck, the midrange equivalent between combo and control. You sacrifice some of you control meat for the combo fluff, things like Mystical Tutor become worth the card disadvantage while cards like Fact or Fiction are a little to unwieldy.
After my first attempt at a miracle theme deck I learned that the top end power spells were really good and that the cheaper more disruption style cards were not worth the effort. I didn't even include Entreat the Angels in my first go as I thought it was over the top and clunky. After seeing how good Bonfire of the Damned was I concluded Entreat was likely very good as well but had not got around to getting one and testing it until now. Suffice it to say it was the best card in the list acting as the main win condition and also working very nicely with the Charms. You can win out of nowhere much earlier than normal control decks, setting up an end of their turn Entreat for just three angels and then attacking them is generally game over in two turns and is hard to race if you lifelink them up. In a deck as dedicated to card quality and miracle support as this Entreat is an incredibly reliable win mechanism and is hard to stop, with cards like Divining Top making it very easy to play at the end of an opponents turn.
The deck easily holds out against agro or control strategies in the early and mid portions of the game as it has highly flexible and very cheap disruption. It is the later portion of the game against any matchup where things can start to slip away from you if you have not managed to do something powerful such as imprinting something good on a Scepter or summoning a flock of angels. As such you have to perfectly time your moment to erupt out of being a control deck and change gears to a combo deck and just race for the finish pouring your resources away like it was going out of fashion. This is usually the moment you don't have an efficient answer card in hand, if you are losing card advantage or tempo in your answers you need to be doing something else, seems obvious really.
Decks like this are surprisingly powerful and do consistently well in all cube meta games. They are also tremendous fun to play, the only downside is that they are rarely intuitive to play and never even close to easy.