Digital Deckbuilding - How To Find EDH Combos On EDHREC And Commander Spellbook

Wizard's Spellbook | Art by Iris Compiet

Friendly greetings and welcome to Digital Deckbuilding, the series shining a spotlight on tools for building decks. Each Digital Deckbuilding article focuses on different features of EDHREC, Archidekt and Commander Spellbook. I'm John Sherwood, amateur combo playwright. Last time, I focused on search tools to find cards. This week's production is a combo spectacle. Powered by Commander Spellbook's combo database, EDHREC allows you to browse known combos by color identity. Plus, Commander Spellbook is a potent tool for finding exactly the combo you want. This dynamic duo has the connections you need to support any aspiring EDH combo player.

Casting the Lead

One boon to combo players in the EDH format is reliable access to a combo piece in the command zone. This week's article is about leveraging that advantage using one of the commanders with the most combo credits. Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker appears in 385 combos catalogued by Commander Spellbook, more than any other legendary creature. Ashaya, Soul of the Wild follows with 330 combos. Emiel the Blessed prances into third with 310 combos.

The lead role in this week's deck is written for Emiel the Blessed. Three generic mana is an easy cost to pay for Emiel's activated ability, and there are no limits on the number of activations per turn. These traits make our legendary unicorn a combo super star!

The Company Players

In combo there are no small roles, only small cardboard rectangles. I start the search for supporting cast members in this week's deck by jumping to Emiel's page on EDHREC. Every commander's EDHREC page shows the most common combo inclusions. Click on the Combos button to expand the box.

Screenshot from the page for Emiel the Blessed on EDHREC. The option box is expanded to the the top three combos in Emiel the Blessed decks.

Top Combos in Emiel the Blessed decks on EDHREC

The three most common combos in Emiel the Blessed decks are two-card combos with Emiel. The other cards in Emiel's Top Combos are Brood Monitor, Workhorse and Village Bell-Ringer. Follow the hyperlinks to see the EDHREC page for an explanation of each combo.

Emiel the Blessed + Brood Monitor Combo as seen on EDHREC

EDHREC and Commander Spellbook explain combos in three parts: Requirements, Steps and Results. First, the Requirements are conditions that must be met in order for the combo to function. Second, the Steps include actions and abilities that must resolve in order to complete the combo. Third, the Results section lists potential payoffs for resolving all the steps.

Unfortunately, the combo page for Emiel the Blessed + Brood Monitor neglects to mention one important detail. This combo is not a game-winning solo act; there is no net gain in value, no harm done to opponents, nothing to break parity. Fortunately, the Results section gives clues to other effects capable of breaking parity. More on that later when I discuss syntax searches on Commander Spellbook.

The commander's page offers links to see More Combos on EDHREC or Commander Spellbook. The EDHREC link scouts a lot of combo talent: 495 combos used in Emiel the Blessed decks. Thankfully, there are ten Additional Filters to help thin the crowd. One card is a true standout in this round of auditions:

Eldrazi Displacer's activated ability makes it a perfect understudy in case Emiel becomes inaccessible due to commander tax or an effect like Darksteel Mutation.


Without question, Commander Spellbook is the best casting agency in the combo show business. Following the link from EDHREC to Commander Spellbook is a fast track to completing combo auditions for an Emiel the Blessed deck.

Linking from a commander or card page on EDHREC automatically searches Spellbook for Commander-legal combos with that card. This default search parameter makes sense for non-legendary cards, because they are not inherently tied to just one color identity. On the other hand, you can't always use the results from this default search when considering combos for a commander.

Just like in the performing arts, our combo callbacks focus on the best candidates. To that end, using Commander Spellbook's Advanced Search is the most intuitive way find more combos for a deck. Also, the suggestive text search boxes to help users remember their queues.

A screenshot of Advanced Search options on Comander Spellbook.

Commander Spellbook Advanced Search page

While there are too many options on the Advanced Search page for a single screenshot, the variety does not disappoint. You can also use the "+" signs to add additional lines in a category. For my next search, I enter the card name, "Emiel the Blessed," and color identity "Selesnya" to make sure I don't miss any legal combos with my commander.

Search results on Commander Spellbook for Selesnya combos with Emiel the Blessed.

Commander Spellbook Search Results for Selesnya combos with Emiel the Blessed

Because Commander Spellbook is EDHREC's source for combo data, the search results will be nearly identical. However, the results appear in a different order on each site because of how the data is organized. Sometimes this shift in perspective is enough to find a previously overlooked gem.

Notice the search bar at the top of the search results page contains the syntax used in the search parameters: card:"Emiel the Blessed" ci:"wg". Combos can be searched with syntax directly in the search bar without going through the Advanced Search page. Similar to the syntax searches I used in the first issue of Digital Deckbuilding, using syntax search on Spellbook is a skill worth learning. Practicing syntax searches pays off with the ability to quickly customize searches.

Commander Spellbook Syntax Guide

Although there are differences between the syntax searches on Archidekt and Spellbook, much of the language is the same. Commander Spellbook uses quotation marks, and separates conditions by a space without any parenthesis. Because the Spellbook syntax is made to search a combo database, particularly useful scripts include Prerequisites, Steps, and Results. Specifically calling out the parts of a combo increases the accuracy of a search.

Recruiting Extras

At this point in the build process, I need to find more combos. Typical of A-list performers, combo cards are often typecast. They show up all the time in similar combos and decks. For example, one of the results in my early searches included Felidar Guardian.

As you can see in the next screenshot, Felidar Guardian appears in several combos. Some of these some were not in the results for Emiel the Blessed. A few more searches like this quickly fill the 99.

Commander Spellbook results for Felidar Guardian.

Commander Spellbook Search Results for Felidar Guardian

Dress Rehearsal

Earlier I mentioned that the combo with Emiel the Blessed and Brood Monitor could not win the game by itself. Using the syntax search is a targeted method to find combos that synergize with the rest of the deck and help to build an advantage or immediately win the game. I'm aiming for this deck to win games as Richard Garfield intended: with damage. Searching for Selesnya combos that deal infinite damage is one way to give this deck a big climax and some closure before curtain call.

The text for a results syntax search must be exact, or the query will return zero results. To my shame, I tried to find infinite damage combos with syntax multiple times before I realized the "I" in Infinite is case sensitive. So the syntax i should have started with is: ci:selesnya results:"Infinite damage"

After getting the syntax right, the site shows combos with Famished Paladin and either Viridian Longbow or Sorcerer's Wand. Famished Paladin triggers on life gain, which does not directly synergize with Emiel the Blessed. However, two other white creatures untap when a creature enters the battlefield. Enter Midnight Guard and Sunstrike Legionnaire.

Because the deck will infinitely blink creatures, each of these soldiers will infinitely untap like an individual Intruder Alarm. Equipping these soldiers with Viridian Longbow or Sorcerer's wand results in infinite damage. These combos are not yet in the script, but Commander Spellbook has writers on standby.

Community Theatre

In the age of Digital Deckbuilding, Magic the Gathering players are a globally connected community. The backstage crew at Commander Spellbook invite community involvement. You are welcome to join the public Spellbook Discord Server, provide feedback on existing combos and share new ones. Joining the Discord server gives you access to the combo submission form.

Screenshot of the combo submission form for Commander Spellbook.

Submit a Combo to Commander Spellbook

Before you submit a new combo, please review Commander Spellbook's Style Guide and the Discord server's #definition channel. Following these guidelines helps the developers ensure combos are legal, functional and easy to understand.

Building on the Emiel the Blessed + Brood Monitor combo, I submitted a new combo using Sunstrike Legionnaire and Viridian Longbow. This combo calls for an encore as a game-winning infinite damage engine. The steps with Emiel and Brood Monitor are the same as before; targeting Brood Monitor with Emiel's activated ability and resulting in enough mana to repeat the process. The Longbow-equipped Sunstrike Legionnaire joins the fray, tapping to deal one damage to any target before Brood Monitor exiles, then untapping when Brood Monitor and its scions enter the battlefield.

Including Midnight Guard as backup for Sunstrike Legionnaire and Sorcerer's Wand as a limited substitute for Viridian Longbow, Emiel is outfitted to win the game. It's curtains for Emiel's opponents.

Curtain Call

The Emiel deck takes a bow with one last feature on Commander Spellbook. From the front page of the site, select the Find My Combos button to see some Digital Deckbuilding special effects. This feature requires a text input of your deck list. With that entered properly, you can click the next Find My Combos! button and the program will compare the cards in your deck to all the known combos in Commander Spellbook.

FInd My Combos results from Commander Spellbook

Results from Find My Combos on Commander Spellbook

Beyond those 39 combos in the deck, Commander Spellbook gave me a list of 165 more combos that could be achieved with an additional card, plus hundreds more suggestions with different colors and commanders. I reviewed the results and took one more look at the deck before closing night.

Breaking a Leg

Let's have a round of applause for the Commander Spellbook crew for their labor of love, and for helping me write this article. All of them answered my questions and helped me work through operator errors. For more combo-centric content, please check out the Wombo Combo series by Commander Spellbook's own Gordon, AKA Ethan Coover.

Are you a combo enthusiast, or maybe just combo curious? I know not everyone in the Commander community is a combo fan. Don't knock it until you try it. Check out the Emiel the Blessed deck and tell us how you really feel in the comments below.


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Read more:

Digital Deckbuilding - Card Searches on EDHREC and Archidekt

Wombo Combo - Mono-White Edition

John Sherwood loves interaction, turning creatures sideways and interacting with sideways creatures. His deck building mantra is, "Run more lands." He has been a devoted Commander player since Zendikar Rising.

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