Amalia Benavides Aguirre
17, Mar, 24

Broken MTG Combo Deck Gains Foothold in Alternative Format!

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Article at a Glance

In some cases, when a combo becomes extremely powerful and popular in one particular Constructed format, players will go out of their way to give it a shot in other environments. Take the classic Temur Crashing Footfalls shell, for example. This deck has been elite in Modern for quite some time now.

However, Modern isn’t the only format you’ll see players Cascading and making Rhinos. While not quite as impactful, Temur Cascade is a real deck in Legacy that players need to respect. The core gameplan of the deck is very similar to its Modern counterpart, but it features strong upgrades like Elvish Spirit Guide and Force of Will.

In a similar vein, Abzan Amalia Benavides Aguirre combo has been a staple archetype in Pioneer since The Lost Caverns of Ixalan was released. Now, the deck seems to be making its presence felt in Modern. Once again, the deck features a lot of the same powerhouses as in Pioneer, but with a plethora of potent changes. With a recent top eight performance in a Magic Online Modern Challenge, perhaps it deserves more respect and exploration in Modern.

Two Incredible Combos

Amalia Benavides Aguirre

The main goal of this deck is to execute one of two major combos that can win the game on the spot. The first and most important combo revolves around Amalia Benavides Aguirre and Wildgrowth Walker. Just like in Pioneer, these cards can create a back-and-forth loop once you either gain life or Explore.

With both cards on the battlefield, let’s say you cast Cenote Scout to Explore. This will trigger Wildgrowth Walker, and you will gain three life. This, in turn, will trigger Amalia to Explore. Now, you have created a chain reaction, allowing you to gain a ton of life and Explore until Amalia reaches 20 power.

From there, you effectively end up with a massive Creature while wiping the rest of the board and can usually attack for lethal the following turn. Notably, if you’re concerned that the opponent may be able to answer Amalia and win the game even through your massive life buffer, it may be worth tutoring for Dina, Soul Steeper before executing the combo. With Dina out, you get to drain the opponent for a ton of life in the combo process and not have to worry about attacking with Amalia.

In addition to the Amalia combo itself, Dina plays an important role in another combo line. See, this deck plays a single copy of both Spike Feeder and Heliod, Sun-Crowned that you can tutor for when applicable. With Heliod and Spike Feeder in play, you can easily gain infinite life. Each time you remove a counter from Spike Feeder to gain two life, Heliod triggers and can put a counter right back on Spike Feeder. Add Dina into the mix, and you have a way to infinitely drain the opponent.

Read More: Bizarre Infinite Combo takes Over MTG Format

Massive Modern Upgrades

Eladamri's Call

Much like how Legacy Cascade shells get to utilize some notable inclusions that aren’t Modern legal, Abzan Amalia combo in Modern boasts some strong upgrades over traditional Pioneer decklists.

First, we had mentioned that tutoring for Dina as well as the Spike Feeder+Heliod combo can be important when attempting to close the game. Unsurprisingly, a playset of Chord of Calling makes an appearance, but that’s not all. Four copies of Eladamri’s Call helps make the deck more consistent.

The only downside with a card like Eladamri’s Call is that, unlike with Chord, the Creature you search for goes into your hand, not onto the battlefield. This means that using Eladamri’s Call isn’t the most mana efficient play. Luckily, this deck gets to make perfect use of a way to cheat your powerful Creatures into play: Aether Vial. Not only does Aether Vial help speed up your combo process, but it also helps make sure your important combo pieces resolve. Sometimes, you can even put in the last piece of the Amalia combo on your opponent’s end step, dodging Sorcery-speed removal and surprising the opponent.

The last essential difference between the Pioneer and Modern decklists is the inclusion of Auriok Champion in Modern. Auriok Champion avoids a lot of the most common removal spells in the format while providing an easy way to get the Amalia combo train rolling. You even get to gain life off of your opponent’s Creatures entering play, which is a nice bonus if you have Heliod or Amalia in play.

Read More: MTG Designer Discusses Potentially Returning Blocks Feature

Navigating Different Matchups

Solitude

As strong as a lot of these improvements to the Modern version are, though, pulling off the Amalia combo isn’t necessarily easy in the format. Typical removal is significantly more efficient in Modern. For instance, it can be tough to combo reliably in the face of Solitude. In this sense, even if the opponent is tapped out of mana, that doesn’t necessarily mean the coast is clear.

Furthermore, Golgari Yawgmoth, Thran Physician combo is still the premier Creature combo deck in the format, so it’s tough to imagine Abzan Amalia combo running rampant in Modern in the near future. That being said, the Amalia deck does have some edges over Yawgmoth combo. For instance, some popular hate cards that are very strong against Yawgmoth combo do very little against Amalia. Most importantly, Cursed Totem. In fact, Abzan Amalia decks in Modern get to make use of Cursed Totem themselves in the sideboard!

The consistent flow of life gain and presence of Auriok Champion also helps a lot against Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer decks and burn strategies. This deck can assemble the combo relatively quickly, so if you don’t come equipped with a decent amount of disruption, you may be in for a bad time. There’s no denying the elite performance this archetype put up in Modern, so it’s certainly worth monitoring if the deck picks up steam in the coming weeks.

Read More: MTG Bans May Have Failed to Kill Problematic Archetype

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