8/17/2012 LD: "The Sealed Cup"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Latest Developments, which goes live Friday morning on magicthegathering.com.
A combo deck is a deck that aims to find a specific combination of cards and then "go off" in one or POSSIBLY two turns, going from zero to sixty with a near-instant kill. The opponent has no time to react.

Krenko's Command, Attended Knight, and Captain's Call do not feature in any combo deck with or without Trumpet Blast. They are cards that have a lot of synergy (repeat after me, SYNERGY) with cards that offer bonuses to all your creatures. There's a difference between a weenie deck with Trumpet Blast as a finisher and a deck like Elfball, and it's that the Trumpet Blast deck is standard aggro with a finisher that happens to have a little more synergy with the creatures played than something like Lava Axe while Elfball is a deck that aims to play an absolute ton of creatures and then not attack with ANY of them barring possibly a Predator Dragon. It uses the combination of Glimpse of Nature with cards like Heritage Druid and Nettle Sentinel to generate cards and mana until it burns through enough of the deck to lay a finisher like Grapeshot or the aforementioned Dragon.

You may not like combo. That's perfectly fine. Not many people do. I think it's cool to see how combo decks are constructed, but I'm not so interested with playing with and against them. But don't go about trying to rebrand the word "combo" to mean "aggro with synergistic finishers" just so that you can handwave your attack on an entire archetype of decks. Come out like a man and say, "I want MtG to only include aggro", instead of lying to us and saying that combo and control are still around.
For a while, there hasn't been a lot of "true combo" decks. Splinter Twin+Deceiver Exarch was the last, and I don't remember a lot before. (I'm not sure how Open the Vaults worked so I don't know where to count it.)

Sovereigns of Lost Alara+Eldrazi Conscription was a just very good deck that could have "oops I win" moments (or tutor for them with Fauna Shaman).

Decks that are based on Invisible Stalker + Equipment are also "a very powerful combination of a few cards". It's just that they are less about finding the pieces and winning on the spot and more about playing regular Magic with a few synergistic cards in there (especially things that are odd and difficult to get rid of).
I will agree, assuming "a while" to mean "since Zendikar rotated out". This is because R&D has, courtesy of Zac Hiller, declared war on combo. You'll have to point out where you're quoting "a very powerful combination of a few cards" from, because Ctrl+F isn't turning it up in the article or anywhere else on this page barring your post.

In any case, aggro decks that rely on single hard-to-answer creatures stacked high with equipment are not combo decks. They are aggro decks. Combo decks go off in one turn (or occasionally two; I'm not one to hate on Empty the Warrens) and win. These aggro decks simply use several cards to set their opponent on a very short, very hard to stop clock. The two are just as different from one another as UW Delver is from Cruel Control.
'True combo' doesn't happen as often because as explained in last week's article www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.a... they have expanded their guidelines of what a combo deck could be. 

'Combo' is now "decks that attack the environment at odd angles," whatever that means. Invisible Stalker + equipment apparently falls under that definition.
So Solar Flare was a combo deck, because it attacked the metagame at the odd angle of not being aggro. Lovely. Oh, wait, it had the interactions between Sun Titan and Phantasmal Image/Ratchet Bomb/Ghost Quarter/whatever else. That makes it COMPLETELY combo.

Bitterness aside, why can't they just be honest about this? They hate combo and are trying to kill it, just like they hate control and are trying to kill it. They're lying to us about that, which makes me even more pissed off than if they'd just outright said "you guys aren't our target audience any longer". They're trying to pretend that these decks that aren't combo and aren't control actually are, and that just leaves a horrible taste in my mouth.
I don't think Solar Flare (or Reanimator decks in general that don't always aim to have a fattie by turn 4 or earlier) is a "true combo" deck.

It's not that they aren't "being honest". They are. They don't want decks that reliably win in a few turns by just casting Ponder in the meantime. But decks that can pull off powerful combinations of cards (again, that's probably, too, hard to get rid of) still exist, and they need to call them something. It's not synergy, because it's not a Stromkirk Captain pumping the rest of your cards. It's specific cards that serve only one purpose (or may have one "If you have seven mana you can just hard cast it" emergency button).

Seriously, if my deck is about finding and casting one specific creature (Invisible Stalker), finding Equipment / Auras to put on it, and protecting it with countermagic, is it aggro? Of course not. It's very non-interactive, even if it doesn't win on the spot and has answers, so it's not that different from assembling Stuffy Doll+Guilty Conscience or whatever.
You appear to be unable to detect sarcasm. Solar Flare is control. It is blatantly control. It is unblushingly control. It is not combo.

They are not being honest. They are trying to rebrand these aggro decks as being "combo" so that they can maintain their image of promoting a balanced metagame, when in fact it's nothing but aggro.

The example you mentioned is still aggro. There is a Merfolk deck floating around... Modern, wasn't it? Or maybe it was Legacy. In any case, it was a bunch of Merfolk lords and some disruption to go along with them. It was still an aggro deck. Aggro means "I am going to take the initiative in playing a series threats that you have to answer or end up losing to." This could be a turn 1 Skirk Prospecter into turn 2 Goblin Warchief into turn 3 triple Goblin Piledriver, or it could be turn 1 Tome Scour into turn 2 Glimpse the Unthinkable into turn 3 Mind Funeral. It could be turn 2 Invisible Stalker into turn 3 Sword of War and Peace. It doesn't matter. For comparison, control means "I am going to sit back and answer any threat you may make, establish a secure position, and cast a spell that will close out the game." Combo means "I am going to try my best to ignore anything you do and collect a few key cards, at which point I will make one explosive play that ends the game." You see the difference here?
A combo deck is a deck that aims to find a specific combination of cards and then "go off" in one or POSSIBLY two turns, going from zero to sixty with a near-instant kill. The opponent has no time to react.

Krenko's Command, Attended Knight, and Captain's Call do not feature in any combo deck with or without Trumpet Blast. They are cards that have a lot of synergy (repeat after me, SYNERGY) with cards that offer bonuses to all your creatures. There's a difference between a weenie deck with Trumpet Blast as a finisher and a deck like Elfball, and it's that the Trumpet Blast deck is standard aggro with a finisher that happens to have a little more synergy with the creatures played than something like Lava Axe while Elfball is a deck that aims to play an absolute ton of creatures and then not attack with ANY of them barring possibly a Predator Dragon. It uses the combination of Glimpse of Nature with cards like Heritage Druid and Nettle Sentinel to generate cards and mana until it burns through enough of the deck to lay a finisher like Grapeshot or the aforementioned Dragon.

You may not like combo. That's perfectly fine. Not many people do. I think it's cool to see how combo decks are constructed, but I'm not so interested with playing with and against them. But don't go about trying to rebrand the word "combo" to mean "aggro with synergistic finishers" just so that you can handwave your attack on an entire archetype of decks. Come out like a man and say, "I want MtG to only include aggro", instead of lying to us and saying that combo and control are still around.

You do realize he's talking about a limited format, right?
A combo deck is a deck that aims to find a specific combination of cards and then "go off" in one or POSSIBLY two turns, going from zero to sixty with a near-instant kill. The opponent has no time to react.

Krenko's Command, Attended Knight, and Captain's Call do not feature in any combo deck with or without Trumpet Blast. They are cards that have a lot of synergy (repeat after me, SYNERGY) with cards that offer bonuses to all your creatures. There's a difference between a weenie deck with Trumpet Blast as a finisher and a deck like Elfball, and it's that the Trumpet Blast deck is standard aggro with a finisher that happens to have a little more synergy with the creatures played than something like Lava Axe while Elfball is a deck that aims to play an absolute ton of creatures and then not attack with ANY of them barring possibly a Predator Dragon. It uses the combination of Glimpse of Nature with cards like Heritage Druid and Nettle Sentinel to generate cards and mana until it burns through enough of the deck to lay a finisher like Grapeshot or the aforementioned Dragon.

You may not like combo. That's perfectly fine. Not many people do. I think it's cool to see how combo decks are constructed, but I'm not so interested with playing with and against them. But don't go about trying to rebrand the word "combo" to mean "aggro with synergistic finishers" just so that you can handwave your attack on an entire archetype of decks. Come out like a man and say, "I want MtG to only include aggro", instead of lying to us and saying that combo and control are still around.

You do realize he's talking about a limited format, right?


Yes. There's no combo in Limited. Limited is almost all aggro.
Why would anyone want to win a "sealed" cup? You'd never be able to put your drinks in it....

~ Tim 
I am Blue/White Reached DCI Rating 1800 on 28/10/11. :D
Sig
56287226 wrote:
190106923 wrote:
Not bad. But what happens flavor wise when one kamahl kills the other one?
Zis iz a sign uf deep psychological troma, buried in zer subconscious mind. By keelink himzelf, Kamahl iz physically expressink hiz feelinks uf self-disgust ova hiz desire for hiz muzzer. [/GermanPsychologistVoice]
56957928 wrote:
57799958 wrote:
That makes no sense to me. If they spelled the ability out on the card in full then it would not be allowed in a mono-black Commander deck, but because they used a keyword to save space it is allowed? ~ Tim
Yup, just like you can have Birds of paradise in a mono green deck but not Noble Hierarch. YAY COLOR IDENTITY
56287226 wrote:
56888618 wrote:
Is algebra really that difficult?
Survey says yes.
56883218 wrote:
57799958 wrote:
You want to make a milky drink. You squeeze a cow.
I love this description. Like the cows are sponges filled with milk. I can see it all Nick Parks claymation-style with the cow's eyes bugging out momentarily as a giant farmer squeezes it like a squeaky dog toy, and milk shoots out of it.
56287226 wrote:
56735468 wrote:
And no judge will ever give you a game loss for playing snow covered lands.
I now have a new goal in life. ;)
Yes. There's no combo in Limited. Limited is almost all aggro.

Limited has combo/synergy decks all the time (Roaring Primadox/Furnace Celebration), and occasionally even has full combo decks that can be drafted.  Spider Spawning was, in my opinion, a genuine combo deck in Limited - although it involved creatures, it played in a way completely alien to normal decks, and did almost nothing for several turns, followed by "going infinite," in the sense that it could cast powerful spells an unlimited number of times until it won.

Thanks to everyone who helped with the design of the plane of Golamo in the Great Designer Search 2!
My Decks
These are the decks I have assembled at the moment:
Tournament Decks (4)
Kicker Aggro (Invasion Block) Sunforger/Izzet Guildmage Midrange (Ravnica/Time Spiral/Xth Standard) Dragonstorm Combo (Time Spiral/Lorwyn/Xth Standard) Bant Midrange (Lorwyn/Shards/M10 Standard)
Casual Multiplayer Decks (50)
Angel Resurrection Casual Soul Sisters Sindbad's Adventures with Djinn of Wishes Sphinx-Bone Wand Buyback Morph (No Instants or Sorceries) Cabal Coffers Control Zombie Aggro Hungry, Hungry Greater Gargadon/War Elemental Flashfires/Boil/Ruination - Boom! Call of the Wild Teysa, Orzhov Scion with Twilight Drover, Sun Titan, and Hivestone Slivers Rebels Cairn Wanderer Knights Only Gold and () Spells Captain Sisay Toolbox Spellweaver Helix Combo Merfolk Wizards Izzet Guildmage/The Unspeakable Arcane Combo Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind and his Wizards Creatureless Wild Research/Reins of Power Madness Creatureless Pyromancer Ascension Anarchist Living Death Anvil of Bogardan Madness Shamen with Goblin Game/Wound Reflection Combo Mass damage Quest for Pure Flame Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle/Clear the Land with 40+ Lands Doubling Season Thallids Juniper Order Ranger Graft/Tokens Elf Archer Druids Equilibrium/Aluren Combo Experiment Kraj Combo Reap Combo False Cure/Kavu Predator Combo Savra, Queen of the Golgari Sacrifice/Dredge Elf Warriors Eight-Post Sneak Attack Where Ancients Tread Zur the Enchanter with Opal creatures Tamanoa/Kavu Predator/Collapsing Borders Esper Aggro Mishra, Artificer Prodigy and his Darksteel Reactor Theft and Control Unearth Aggro Soul's Fire Vampires Devour Tokens Phytohydra with Powerstone Minefield Treefolk Friendly? Questing Phelddagrif Slivers Dragon Arch Fun I'm probably forgetting a few...
Acritter, the 'war against combo' that R&D seem to have introduced starting from lorwyn and intensifying is really only a war against combo in constructed. Combo has never been a deck archetype in Limited because combo decks want consistency and in Limited you're lucky to find one copy of each card you need let alone multiples. It is just the nature of the format and no one that I know of has ever complained about it. So when he calls Trumpet Blast a combo deck, it is a bit tongue in cheek. What he means is it acts as close to a combo deck in the sense of assembling specific pieces to create an effect greater than the sum of their parts as you can get in Limited. Even if it was an admission that 'we will never seed real combos into Limited', it wouldn't matter. By the way, Limited is not 'almost all aggro'. Some formats are faster than others, but overall you get a mix of slow and fast decks. It's just that the slow decks use cards that you would not normally think of as being 'control cards' from a Constructed perspective, like pillarfield ox.
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