Too-Specific Top 10 - Combo of Law

(Rule of Law | Art by Scott M. Fischer)

Rule of Combo?

Welcome to Too-Specific Top 10, where if there isn’t a category to rank our pet card at the top of, we’ll just make one up! (Did you know that Heliod, Sun-Crowned and Triskelion are the only two-creature combo that can win outright by themselves through a Rule of Law that you can play in a deck with Jegantha as a Companion?)

When it comes to stopping combo decks in their tracks, there's one effect that stands above all others: Rule of Law.

Or does it? In the wider and ever-more-diverse pool of high-power and competitive EDH decks, Rule of Law decks are prevalent, but they have to win too, don't they?

To win through a Rule of Law, the go-to for a long time now has been Birthing Pod or Protean Hulk lines. Either will let you search up a convoluted mess of creatures that will eventually win you the game, but both have a down-side: taking up a bunch of room in the deck. Let's take a look at the most popular Birthing Pod line to see what I'm talking about.

How to Win With a Birthing Pod

  1. Play Birthing Pod.
  2. Sacrifice a one-drop most likely mana dork to Birthing Pod, tutoring Corridor Monitor onto the battlefield.
  3. Untap Birthing Pod with Corridor Monitor's enter-the-battlefield trigger.
  4. Sacrifice Corridor Monitor to Birthing Pod, tutoring Renegade Rallier onto the battlefield.
  5. Return Corridor Monitor to the battlefield with Renegade Rallier's Revolt trigger.
  6. Untap Birthing Pod with Corridor Monitor's enter-the-battlefield trigger.
  7. Sacrifice Renegade Rallier to Birthing Pod, tutoring Felidar Guardian onto the battlefield.
  8. Blink Corridor Monitor with Felidar Guardian's enter-the-battlefield trigger.
  9. Untap Birthing Pod with Corridor Monitor's enter-the-battlefield trigger.
  10. Sacrifice Felidar Guardian to Birthing Pod, tutoring Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker onto the battlefield.
  11. Activate Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker to make a copy of Corridor Monitor with haste.
  12. Untap Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker with Corridor Monitor's enter-the-battlefield ability.
  13. Repeat steps 11 and 12 for infinite creature tokens with haste.

There are a ton of variations on these lines, but believe it or not, they're all about this complex, and take about this many cards.

So, if you're not looking to dedicate five to ten slots of your deck on a combo and redundant pieces for it, what are your options?

Top 10 Two-Card Combos that Can Win Through Rule of Law

If you're light on card slots, but still want to win the game through Rule of Law, you still have a ton of options that can be easily tutored for. The question is, which of these various combos are best and can actually win you the game?

Criteria: Two-card combos that can win the game outright (rather than just making infinite mana, drawing infinite cards, or killing a single player) on the turn you cast at least one card of the two required that can do so without casting more than one spell in a turn, and do not feature the same card as another combo on the list. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.

10. Najeela, the Blade-Blossom & Derevi, Empyrial Tactician

(7,851 Inclusions)

This combo very narrowly snuck by the criteria; there's an argument that it's not a two-card combo since you need either excess mana or a couple more creatures to pull it off.

All in all though, it's a two-card combo if you cast Derevi, Empyrial Tactician and immediately proceed to swing in with four creatures, at least one of which is a Warrior. In all reality, if you're not playing Najeela, the Blade-Blossom as your commander, this combo probably isn't worth pursuing whether you're playing Rule of Law or not. There's just too much required, all of which is extremely interruptible with pretty much any piece of interaction.

9. Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator & Glint-Horn Buccaneer

(7,851 Inclusions)

Many are surprised when they first delve into cEDH to find that there's a Pirate deck in the meta. Truth be told, they're right to be dubious, because as much as we usually equate Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator with Pirate decks, in high-powered play he's instead almost always included for both his ramp and this combo. For those not familiar, here's how it works: you attack with Glint-Horn Buccaneer, activate it, and ping each opponent for one. This in turn triggers Malcolm, most likely creating three Treasure tokens. You're now up one on mana, creating an extra Treasure every time you activate Glint-Horn Buccaneer, at least until you kill your first opponent. This means you can occasionally find yourself in a few different sticky situations as you try and execute the combo:

  1. You have less cards in your library than an opponent's life total, meaning you'll draw yourself out before killing all opponents.
  2. You don't have any cards in hand, meaning you cannot pay the discard portion of Glint-Horn Buccaneer's cost.
  3. Two of your opponents have significantly less life than the third, meaning you're unable to get enough Treasure to continue to ping the last opponent out.

As for whether or not this is a good combo to run with Arcane Laboratory, I would tentatively say yes, it is. While the combo itself has some flaws, it does kill outright in most circumstances with a Rule of Law in play, and even lets you go a bit faster with Deafening Silence specifically since both halves of the combo are on creatures. Given the timing restrictions, it can be a bit interruptible if you immediately play the second creature and try to win, as you won't be able to protect yourself from removal, but it does win the game if you manage to not die to Doom Blade.

8. Demonic Consultation & Laboratory Maniac

(8,591 Inclusions)

This combo stretches our criteria a bit, as to "win outright" you need to cast Demonic Consultation during your own upkeep so you can win with Laboratory Maniac on your draw step. To be clear, that's not actually the way I would suggest carrying this out; if you're going to try and pull it off, you're probably better off to do so during an opponent's end step, after they've cast their one spell for the turn. In either case, though, you're likely to get your Laboratory Maniac removed in response, a big disadvantage when compared to the more typical Thassa's Oracle version of this combo.

7. Chain of Smog & Witherbloom Apprentice

(8,990 Inclusions)

While I'm sure some of you are thinking I've made an error by letting this show up on the list, I would encourage you to re-read Chain of Smog. Nowhere on the card does it say "cast", merely "copy". You're not technically casting copies, meaning they can get through a Rule of Law. It's worth stating that the combo has similar issues to Laboratory Maniac, although to a lesser extent, as you haven't technically lost the game if you discard your whole hand... it's just extremely unlikely that you're going to pull off a win from that point. Not only that, but given how neither Professor Onyx nor Witherbloom Apprentice synergize well with a Rule of Law deck in general, I think it's safe to say this isn't one of the better options out there.

6. Bloodchief Ascension & Mindcrank

(11,082 Inclusions)

It's hard to see the immediate issues with Bloodchief Ascension and Mindcrank, but there are a few. Mainly, it's that Bloodchief Ascension takes some time (or another card) to come online, and Mindcrank can be a huge boon to your opponents in the meantime.

It may not seem like a huge deal to mill your opponents, but given just how many decks out there rely on mill to fuel their combo, turning an Ancient Tomb into a sort of "add two mana, take 2 damage, draw two cards" for graveyard decks is a huge problem. It's not uncommon at higher levels of play for decks to be dealing nearly 10 damage a turn to themselves, to say nothing of how a deck playing Ad Nauseam and Thassa's Oracle will react upon seeing you play a card that is more or less guaranteed to win them the game.

All that said, there's a ton of upside here, too. Cheap two-card combos that aren't easily interruptible don't grow on trees, especially ones that win through Rule of Law, and this one can have you fully set up to win the game on turn two without any help. That's nothing to scoff at, although it is something to be cautious with.

5. Godo, Bandit Warlord & Helm of the Host

(12,786 Inclusions)

Godo Helm, AKA "I can count to eleven", is one of the most straightforward combos out there. You play your commander for six, your commander fetches Helm, you equip Helm for five, and you go to combat, creating a nonlegendary copy of Godo, which makes another combat step, which makes another token, which makes another combat step....

All that only works reliably if Godo is in your command zone, not to mention rituals being useless with Rule of Law in play, so let's just move on.

4. Niv-Mizzet, Parun & Curiosity

(18,722 Inclusions)

In a similar vein, Niv-Mizzet, Parun is the most popular Niv-Mizzet to be paired with Curiosity because it's the best version of Niv-Mizzet that goes infinite with it.

With four ways to go infinite and an ability that's going to draw you several cards each turn cycle, you barely need tutors to try to combo out. Just load the rest of the deck up with interaction and ramp to try and get and keep out your commander, and you're home free... though I suppose none of that interaction would actually be great with Rule of Law in your deck. Hm.

3. Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker & Zealous Conscripts

(19,317 Inclusions)

We covered Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker a bit in our breakdown of Birthing Pod piles, but suffice it to say that if you're looking at winning through Rule of Law, Kiki-Jiki is at least an option you've considered. That said, this particular combo with Kiki, despite being the most popular, is actually one of Kiki's worst. Its reason for being the most popular is simple: it's mono-red. Being that we're talking about Rule of Law decks, we by definition don't care about that, so let's instead look at all of the other cards that Kiki-Jiki goes infinite with.

Top 10 Non-Mono-Red Kiki-Jiki Combos With That Can Win Through Rule of Law

  1. Felidar Guardian
  2. Village Bell-Ringer
  3. Hyrax Tower Scout
  4. Deceiver Exarch
  5. Pestermite
  6. Restoration Angel
  7. Spark Double
  8. Fatestitcher
  9. Corridor Monitor
  10. Necrotic Ooze

The fact that this isn't even half of the full list of two-card combos with Kiki-Jiki should start to give you some idea of just how broken this card is.

Put simply, you don't need to be playing Birthing Pod to win with Kiki-Jiki, and you can't swing a stick without finding a way to do so, even through Rule of Law. The downside? Five mana is a lot if you're actually paying for it, as is three red pips.

2. Heliod, Sun-Crowned & Walking Ballista

(19,907 Inclusions)

This deck exists, as confirmed by the cEDH database. It's quite good, despite the combo being mana-hungry.

1. Exquisite Blood & Sanguine Bond

(39,418 Inclusions)

Honestly, I thought about inserting more criteria to try and eliminate this combo from the list, as it's not really played as a high-powered combo at all. Instead, what we have here is two cards that often get independently added to lifegain decks without even realizing how they interact with one another (which in itself isn't a rare phenomenon). Especially with three- and four-card combos, there are extensive lists of combos included on Commander Spellbook that more or less boil down to "cards with synergy in a certain strategy that no one realized went infinite when combined." Exquisite Blood and its various other halves may be the most famous examples of this phenomenon, but there's no doubt that there are many more complex "combos" out there also being played simply because they're a bunch of staples in a certain strategy. Lookin' at you, Reassembling Skeleton, Ashnod's Altar, Pitiless Plunderer, & Zulaport Cutthroat!

Honorable Mentions

Being a dirty, dirty Stax player at high-powered tables, I actually have a Rule of Law deck as part of my "Can you make a viable cEDH deck by just having access to all five colors and ten cards in your 'hand'" challenge:

Jegantha 5c10c

View on Archidekt

Commander (2)
Companion (1)
Creatures (32)
Instants (21)
Artifacts (8)
Sorceries (2)
Enchantments (7)
Planeswalkers (2)
Lands (26)

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View this decklist on Archidekt

This deck is a bit of an odd duck, given that it rarely wants to play its commanders or Companion unless things haven't gone according to plan, but then again, things often don't go to plan when you take a cEDH game that was expecting to last three turns and make it last ten. If you do find yourself in that situation, Mike will keep your creature Stax pieces on the board or win the game for you, Eleven will keep you with more answers than your opponents have threats, and Jegantha will both provide mana for your multicolor spells and swing in for five routinely. It wins with Laboratory Maniac and either Demonic Consultation, Tainted Pact, or a combo of Staff of Domination and a big mana dork, as you can't play Thassa's Oracle with Jegantha's restriction.

Nuts and Bolts

There always seems to be a bit of interest in how these lists are made (this seems like a good time to stress once again that they are based on EDHREC score, NOT my personal opinion), and people are often surprised that I’m not using any special data or .json from EDHREC, but rather just muddling my way through with some Scryfall knowledge! For your enjoyment/research, here is this week’s Scryfall Commander Spellbook search.

What Do You Think?

Outside of Winota, dedicated Stax decks have taken a bit of a backseat lately. Sure, there's the odd Drannith Magistrate out there, but overall, decks that are just trying to force the entire table to play fair Magic (or deprive them entirely of resources) are starting to be really thin, even at high-powered tables. All that brings me to my questions today:

Finally, what is your favorite combo that can win through a Rule of Law? Is there one that I missed here today, either in general or specifically with Jegantha's restrictions?

Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the regular table, once you've filled out the forms in triplicate, of course.

Doug has been an avid Magic player since Fallen Empires, when his older brother traded him some epic blue Homarids for all of his Islands. As for Commander, he's been playing since 2010, when he started off by making a two-player oriented G/R Land Destruction deck. Nailed it. In his spare time when he's not playing Magic, writing about Magic or doing his day job, he runs a YouTube channel or two, keeps up a College Football Computer Poll, and is attempting to gif every scene of the Star Wars prequels.

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