Too-Specific Top 10 - Don't Go Cascading Combos
Or, You Know, Do
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 thatand can give you infinite colored mana and infinite looting, but only during an opponent's turn?)
Combos can be a fun machine to put together at higher-powered tables, but the peskiness of finding them means stacking an entire deck full of tutors.
Or does it?
might not look like your average , but in fact he might be even better at finding combo pieces, with some very interesting deck construction.
3 2 1 Blastoff
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Close observers will note that this "deck" only has 98 cards in it. Less close observers probably still picked up on the fact that almost everything in the deck costs three mana, and nothing costs under three mana. No, I'm not playing(although I would be if I could), I'm abusing Cascade!
You see, if your deck only has one or two spells that costs two mana or less in it, and then you cast a three-mana spell with Cascade, then voila! You go get those specific cards. Obviously, if we do this, we'd want those specific cards to help us end the game.
So, why don't we check out which cards will win us the game this way?
Top 10 Grixis Two-Mana, Two-Card Combos
Criteria: Two-card combos whose constituent parts each cost two mana or less, fall within the Grixis color identity, and work if both cards are cast (sorry, combo!), with only the most popular representative featuring a given card being counted (otherwise the whole list is just variants).
As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score. This week, we'll be going by EDHREC score of the combos, as listed by Commander Spellbook!
Why the non-repetition clause, you ask? Because I have another beef with playing combos: they're boring. Sure, the lead-up to actually getting them to go off can be exciting, but even that lead up gets to be a bit run-of-the-mill at times, with games feeling like the exact same over and over again.
So I figure, why not play a deck that plays ten different combos, just to keep things fresh? You can roll a die before each game to randomly pick which two-card combo you're going to go with this go-around, or you could pick the specific combo out to try and match your deck's power level to the table! You won't ever get down to Battlecruiser level, but there's such a thing as a bad two-card combo, believe it or not!
Let's start with the worst we'll see in the deck, the combo we'll pick out when we want the thing to operate a little more slowly. It's not quite as bad as the featured set ofand , but it essentially does the same thing: gets out, then casts , then copy Reversal while it's on the stack with the Guildmage's ability. You then let the copy resolve and untap all your stuff, then copy the original again with the untapped mana.
The only problem? Everything I just described costs six mana, and the combo only works if you have nonland permanents that can tap for five mana, as those are the only thingsuntaps. In this deck, that's going to be beyond difficult, even playing eight different three-mana rocks. It's not impossible, mind you, but it is going to be extremely difficult without getting down a ton of mana rocks, at least one of which is a kicked . Of course, we could make life easier with a and a few equivalents, but it turns out when you try to make a deck work with ten different combos, you're a little strapped for space!
If you were wondering why the deck was playing bothand when it was already going to be guaranteed to have as one of its win-cons, then look no further than and ! This one is a little simpler to map out, as far as the combo goes, with you only having to have both cards in play, at which point you can tap targeting itself, which triggers . Alchemist's ability then resolves, untapping itself, so you can do it all again, as many times as you'd like!
Again, though, there's a wrinkle here, and it's that you aren't drawing all these cards, you're milling them. In other words, you're likely to mill your win condition, at which point you're going to need to find a way to get it back. I did find room for ayou could Flashback to grab , if you have enough creatures, but otherwise you're in for a rough time until you get all the proper pieces into your hand or onto the battlefield. Don't worry, though: if you pull the trigger and things don't work out, there's also an sitting there in your graveyard as a reset button!
Hey, our first and only all one-mana combo! Sort of. You see, while you can Cascade bothand down to the battlefield, you are still going to need to turn all the way on to make the combo work, which is an extra eight mana. After all that, it also doesn't necessarily win you the game without help, although your typical can aid you with that, along with the more sexy pick of . So, you know, you only need 12 extra mana once you get both pieces of the combo on board. Not bad.
No extra mana needed forto keep on targeting , however! You do need an extra creature in play to switch the Boots back and forth between the two, but given that you're gonna want a out anyhow, that's no problem!
has been one of the best one-mana creatures ever printed since, well, it was printed. Its interaction with is a bit confusing at first, until you realize that the artifact he's sacrificing can be an artifact creature, which would have untap him.
This does put us in the awkward position of having to include quite a number of artifact creatures in our already-full "make this work with 10 different combos" deck, but luckily there's a couple mana dork Myr for three mana, a mana sink win condition in the form of, and a backup plan for when our combo gets countered in the form of .
The two-card combo that had(probably unfairly) banned for a decade, the general gist is that you name a color when it enters, then activate , milling all of a player's deck now that the cards contained therein all now share a color. Ironically, I think the main reason for the banning was actually the bad part of this combo, as well: it only kills one player at a time. This means that, often, the combo player will play this down, take someone out, and pass the turn, only to have the combo removed and the player who they kicked out of the game sitting across the table glaring for the next hour as the game continues without them. But hey, that's what is for, right?
The most expensive combo on the list would be infinitely easier to pull off with, but nonetheless works with its more expensive reserved list cousin, , which is good because we can Cascade into the two-mana version reliably. If it needs to be spelled out, makes the Monolith's untap ability only cost two, and it taps for three mana, making you infinite mana. Just be careful, because enchantment recursion is hard to come by in Grixis, meaning that if gets countered, you're pretty much looking at or to get it back, and that's it!
If you ever played this nonsense pile of a Johnny dream deck, then you may consider blindly selecting the combos before a game. Unfortunately, I would suggest against doing that, and the reason why isand . It's all fun and games Cascading into a random two-card combo until you realize that you have to pay the Kicker on half of it when it gets Cascaded for the combo to work, and have already in play with another three mana available to activate its life loss ability. In other words, mana availability and sequencing are both things you're going to have to keep track of here, with a real possibility of having to play a three mana-spell to Cascade, wait for your coinflip to go wrong and put on the stack, and then play a three-mana instant in response to go get the Guildmage. Just a casual 13 mana you'll need to pull this off, what could go wrong?
Luckily,and is a combo that's a lot easier to pull off. In fact, despite not getting the #1 spot on the list, it's probably easily the best combo that you could play with if you were building this deck for real. It's a true two-card combo with no sequencing issues that can easily be Cascaded into by simply casting two three-mana spells that doesn't require any other cards to kill all of your opponents (okay, okay, you do still have to deal damage, but it's not like a third of the deck isn't already doing that).
Alas, we all knew what the top of this list was going to be. The quintessential Competitive EDH combo,and also provides a true two-card combo that will win you the game immediately. However, sequencing is just abysmal no matter how you look at it: if you get off of your first Cascade, then you're resolving it to either get your in your hand or to possibly exile your win condition while looking for an to be able to cast the at your own speed. If instead you Cascade into , you then probably end up wasting your game-winning trigger because you still have a library.
In other words, the only guaranteed way to sequence this correctly is to always play your first Cascade with a three-mana instant in your hand, so no matter what you get first you can get the other card in response. Which isn't the worst thing in the world, but it does make your two-card combo into a three-card combo.
Combing through the list of combos to find all of the various two-mana, two-card options was more than a little time-consuming, so rather than keep going through to find out if there's anything else out there, I figured looking at what combos didn't get selected for various reasons would be a better use of time.
The classic Dramatic Scepter combo would've been first on this list, if it weren't for the fact that it just plain doesn't work with Cascade.
Three-card combos would've been a bridge too far under many conditions, but there's no doubt that this little ditty is extremely good with the deck. At first, sequencing appears to be an issue, but it turns out thanks tothat's not really a problem. Even if you get first, you can just cast it from your graveyard again once you've acquired and Breach. I even considered adding to the deck for combo redundancy all on its own, but I don't think it's worth it to Cascade into something that isn't your combo, just so you can maybe cast your combo again.
There were actually quite a few combos that featured cards that already made the list, but onlyand were entirely made up of cards that appeared on the list in other more popular versions.
Perhaps even better than the/ combo in this version of , this little three-card combo has pieces that all do excellent things in the deck on their own: provides some badly needed ramp for all of our artifacts, and and both stack our deck for our non-three-mana Cascades. The only huge issue is that the combo itself doesn't win the game, and needs a or some other kind of cast trigger or Storm spell to close things out.
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 Commander Spellbook tenacity! For your enjoyment/research, here is this week’s Commander Spellbook search (please, Commander Spellbook, let us use the "mv"/"cmc" commands someday soon!)
What Do You Think?
I've beat this dead horse before, but I do wonder if minds have changed over the last few years...
Finally, what is your favorite two-card combo? Can you Cascade into it? Have you ever built a Cascade combo deck, or a deck that has multiple combos you switch out to keep things fresh?
Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the couch-coffee table combination I acquired special for a more "casual" feel in my Commander games.