14, Apr, 24

New Outlaws of Thunder Junction Card Creates Two-Card Standard Death Combo!

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Article at a Glance

As Outlaws of Thunder Junction finally gets into players’ hands, more and more interactions with existing cards are being found. Two-card combos that generate a lot of value, or even blow opponents out completely, can be incredibly powerful in any format.

Take Limited, for example. Thanks to The Big Score appearing as a Bonus Sheet, there is a two-card lock in Sealed and Limited for Outlaws of Thunder Junction. You do need two Mythics – one from The Big Score and one from the Breaking News Bonus Sheet – to create a Mindslaver lock. Esoteric Duplicator replaces your Mindslaver and locks down the board.

Another new card creates a two-card combo in the Standard format! Both cards are black, meaning that they can fit well in a deck with one another. Let’s take a look at the new two-card death combo with Bloodletter of Aclazotz and Rush of Dread!

Rush of Dread

Rush of Dread is a new Spree card from Outlaws of Thunder Junction. As a reminder, Spree is a new mechanic that offers a spin on modal MTG spells.

Basically, Spree cards will have a base cost (1BB in this case) and some additional effects that function like Kicker. If you pay the cost for the effect, you add it to the spell. You need to add at least one effect onto the card to cast it, but you can cast it with as many effects as you want.

Rush of Dread’s three modes are all pretty powerful. Taking care of the board state, hand and life, Rush of Dread is capable of quite a swing when played in the right circumstances. Of course, if you’re after a specific one of these abilities for your deck, there may be a better alternative elsewhere. Rush of Dread’s utility is a big plus in favor of it.

For this particular two-card combo, we’re interested in the final ability that Rush of Dread offers. Losing half a player’s life is rather easy to combo with. All you need to do is find something that double damage or life loss! While there are some alternatives to the Standard combo, like using Archfiend of Despair, the card we are interested in featuring is the Bloodletter of Aclazotz.

Bloodletter of Aclazotz

Bloodletter of Aclazotz

For four mana, appearing as a mythic rare in The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, Bloodletter of Aclazotz turns Rush of Dread’s third ability into an instant lights out effect. Since the Flying Vampire Demon offers a replacement effect that effectively doubles life loss, Rush of Dread turns into a card that simply ends your opponent’s life. Doesn’t matter if they have 5 or 500 life. They will die.

While this combo could easily have a spot in a black Standard midrange deck, the mana values of the cards involved make it a bit difficult for these to appear outside of it and EDH. Pioneer can constantly have its games end before turn 5, and interaction that can break up this combo becomes hyper efficient in the Modern format. As a result, if this two-card combo does have a home, it’s likely Standard.

Combo Weaknesses

This combo, while easily accessible, is very easy to break up. All kinds of interaction stops this combo from killing your outright. All you need to do is either deal with the Bloodletter of Aclazotz before Rush of Dread resolves, or counter Rush of Dread. Considering it costs five mana to cast Rush of Dread, countering it with something like Disdainful Stroke likely ends the turn for your opponent.

Otherwise, cards like Leyline Binding, Go for the Throat, and the new Shoot the Sheriff can all deal with the Bloodletter of Aclazotz for a fraction of its mana value. Since the Bloodletter doesn’t have any sort of protective elements like Ward, dealing with it is rather trivial.

On the plus side, both Rush of Dread and Bloodletter of Aclazotz are capable cards outside of the combo. Playing a Bloodletter on curve is particularly deadly in an aggressive strategy since it is effectively able to double any damage that gets through to your opponent. Rush of Dread won’t be quite as effective, but even sacrificing a couple creatures with this card can be strong enough to make it worth playing for four mana.

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Is this Combo the Real Deal?

Outside of Standard and the realm of Commander where anything can work, Bloodletter of Aclazotz and Rush of Dread is likely too expensive to become a real combo. Compare this to the much more efficient Altar of dementia and Lamplight Phoenix combo in Modern, and they’re in completely different leagues. Not only is that combo much more difficult to disrupt, the cards also have cheaper mana values.

When it comes to Standard, the Bloodletter of Aclazotz and Rush of Dread combo could be a possibility. If a black-based aggressive or midrange deck becomes popular, this could slot into it rather well. the big question in regards to whether this combo is good enough or not is if Rush of Dread is good enough without a Bloodletter of Aclazotz on board. While the Flying Vampire can definitely pull its weight, the other card is questionable.

It will be interesting to see if this new Standard two-card combo will become popular. What is undeniable, however, is that a lot of passionate MTG players are going to try and make this work.

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