Nissa, Resurgent Animist | March of the Machine: The Aftermath
26, Feb, 24

68-Card Convoluted Combo Deck Wins Massive 500+ Player MTG Standard Event!

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Article at a Glance

Pro Tour Murders at Karlov Manor has finally concluded as Seth Manfield emerged victorious once again. He was playing none other than Rakdos Vampires, a deck that had little to no recognition before the tournament. Unsurprisingly, as the best players in the world competed for glory and cash, all eyes have been on the Pioneer format.

Interestingly, though, Pioneer wasn’t the only format to see a unique breakout shell win a massive tournament. See, at MagicCon Chicago, there were other large events going on that didn’t garner quite as much attention. One of them was a massive $75k Standard Open event featuring over 500 players.

In this tournament, it wasn’t a well-established archetype like Boros Convoke or Esper midrange that ended up winning everything. Instead, it was a 68-card masterpiece with a rather convoluted infinite combo available! Before we go over exactly how the combo works, it’s essential to go over the core pieces of the deck and how they fit together.

Synergy and Ramp Work in Tandem

Nissa, Resurgent Animist

On the surface, this deck looks like it has a ton of different things going on. However, most cards in the deck help further this deck’s gameplan in some way. The entire core of the deck revolves around a specific group of Lands from Streets of New Capenna, such as Riveteers Outlook, that allow you to search your library for basic Lands to put into play.

Rather than tapping for mana themselves, these Lands get sacrificed when they enter the battlefield and simply help fix your mana by providing some basic Land selection. For most decks, these Lands are generally worse than other dual Lands available in Standard. After all, not only do you end up with a Land that just taps for a single color of mana, but it also enters the battlefield tapped. This is a big cost, but the fact that these Lands go to the graveyard automatically is extremely important in letting this deck function.

Both Aftermath Analyst and Splendid Reclamation become excellent ramp cards in conjunction with these Lands. Getting to bring back a slew of Lands that naturally go to the graveyard is quite strong. You even gain a bunch of life in the process, which is a nice boon for a deck that is trying to buy enough time to execute the combo.

Additionally, Nissa, Resurgent Animist works perfectly with these Lands. When you play Riveteers Outlook, for instance, you will net a mana from Nissa. You then net another mana when the basic Land you search for with Outlook enters the battlefield. Now, even though you have only played one Land from hand, you have the opportunity to reveal cards from the top of your library until you hit an Elf or Elemental to put into hand.

Add in Aftermath Analyst’s ability to return a bunch of Lands to play at once and you can end up with a boatload of mana to work with. Notably, Aftermath Analyst is an Elf, so finding it during the course of the game isn’t too tricky.

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Value and Interaction

Given the incredible mana advantage this deck is capable of having access to, it’s imperative to address two potential limiting factors that could otherwise hold this deck back. First, you need a strong way to help you stay alive and stabilize. Obviously, the life gain from your Lands helps to some extent, but you still need a way to keep the board clear against aggressive decks like Boros Convoke. As such, this deck makes use of a good mix of cheap removal and board wipes.

Cut Down and Go for the Throat help keep problematic Creatures from taking over the game. Meanwhile, Path of Peril and Terror Tide help immensely against go wide strategies.

The second limiting factor beyond the need to interact is the need to have ways to utilize your massive mana advantage. Right off the bat, no card helps more in this regard than Memory Deluge. Memory Deluge is a decent four-mana card that can help you find your board wipes and ways to return Lands to play, but its Flashback ability is very useful in a deck like this.

In addition to Deluge, Slogurk, the Overslime can completely take over the game. It’s not uncommon to mill a ton of Lands at once with Jace, the Perfected Mind and simply whack the opponent for a ton of damage. Even using Aftermath Analyst to bring back a ton of New Capenna sacrifice Lands can help grow Slogurk immensely. You can even remove three +1/+1 counters from Slogurk to return it along with three Lands from your graveyard to hand, keeping the value flowing and protecting your large Creature. In this deck, though, Slogurk is more than just a value engine.

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From Value to Combo

Jace, the Perfected Mind

In order to execute the combo in full, you need a lot of Lands that will naturally go to the graveyard when you return them to play with Aftermath Analyst. Clearly, this includes the New Capenna sacrifice Lands, but it also includes the legendary Channel Lands, like Takenuma, Abandoned Mire from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, since you can use the legend rule to ensure you only keep one copy in play.

The reason this is so important is that the combo revolves around looping Aftermath Analyst with Nissa in play using Takenuma, so you need a consistent stash of Lands in your graveyard at all times. In order to execute the combo, you will need a copy of Slogurk, Nissa, and Aftermath Analyst in play, as well as a copy of Takenuma in hand.

First, sacrifice Aftermath Analyst to return a bunch of Lands from your graveyard to play. Each time a Land enters the battlefield, you will net one mana from Nissa. Each time a Land goes to your graveyard from the battlefield, Slogurk will get a +1/+1 counter. If you can net enough mana from Nissa this way, going infinite from here is easy.

From there, discard Takenuma via Channel to return Aftermath Analyst to your hand. Then, remove counters from Slogurk to return it to hand. This will trigger Slogurk, letting you bring back Takenuma from your graveyard to your hand. Now, play Slogurk and Aftermath Analyst again, milling three more cards when Aftermath Analyst enters the battlefield. Sacrifice Aftermath Analyst once again, generating more mana off of Nissa, and repeat these steps.

The end result here is that you will have infinite mana to work with and will have milled the entire rest of your deck. Now, you can return Slogurk to your hand again, bringing back three copies of Takenuma. Channel one of them to get back Jace, the Perfected Mind, then maximize its -X ability to mill the opponent. Between Slogurk and the copies of Takenuma, you can simply keep returning Jace and milling the opponent until they have no cards in deck, forcing them to lose via decking when you pass the turn.

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Strengths and Weaknesses

Unlicensed Hearse

The combo is an excellent feature for this deck to have, especially because most players going into the $75k Standard Open had no idea about its existence. Still, this deck can win off of Slogurk beats or resolving Atraxa, Grand Unifier without needing to go through all of the loops described above. The fact is, this deck has so much inevitability in the late game if you have time to do your thing.

However, even against fast archetypes like Boros Convoke, this deck comes equipped with plenty of board wipes to keep the opponent in check. This deck has a solid gameplan against every top tier deck in Standard, making it very threatening. The only matchup that can be a bit concerning would be mono-red aggro given its solid mix of efficient Hasty Creatures and burn spells. Urabrask’s Forge also plays well around board wipes and spot removal.

If this archetype has any weakness beyond that, it could be that it relies on playing lots of cards from its graveyard. As such, Unlicensed Hearse could be worth considering moving forward. It messes with Aftermath Analyst, Slogurk, and even Memory Deluge. That being said, it’s not like the masterful brewer behind this deck didn’t have answers. The sideboard is filled with discard spells and Boseiju, Who Endures. This deck is truly a sight to behold. It’s no wonder it had such a great showing this weekend.

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