14, Jul, 23

Collection of EDH Cards Breaks Competitive Format in Absurd Combo Deck!

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Article at a Glance

Legacy has been filled with lots of innovation since the release of the Lord of the Rings set. The existence of Orcish Bowmasters has forced people to adapt. The One Ring is an elite addition to various Manifold Key combo decks that allow you to draw a ton of extra cards. Even Sauron’s Ransom has been seeing an increasing amount of play with Expressive Iteration banned.

Interestingly though, a recent 75-player event saw a relatively new deck with two copies in the top eight. This new deck played zero Lord of the Rings cards. In fact, it is built up almost entirely of Lands and Commander cards not from the Lord of the Rings Commander set. Why would this deck go relatively unnoticed until now? Well, the deck definitely has some flaws, but putting multiple copies into the top eight of a big event is surprising and definitely worth monitoring. This deck has a relatively simple gameplan, so let’s take a look at what the deck is trying to do.

The Gameplan

Creative Technique

This deck, known as Mississippi River, has one goal in mind and one goal only: cast and maximize Creative Technique. Creative Technique essentially allows you to cast a non-Land card at random from your deck and cast it for free. However, there’s a catch. The spell also has an ability called Demonstrate, which allows you to copy Creative Technique when you cast it, but this will give the opponent a copy of the card as well. This ability is super useful as it helps you play around cards like Force of Will that would otherwise make this combo very fragile. As we will see, this deck is not only very focused on casting this card, but also usually wins the game the turn the card is resolved.

The rest of the deck is made up entirely of cards with Cascade that cost six or more mana, such as Boarding Party, and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. This means that when you cast a copy of any of the Cascade cards, you are guaranteed to hit Creative Technique. From there, both the original Creative Technique as well as the copy will hit either another Creative Technique, another cascade Card or Emrakul. Casting Emrakul will typically win the game by allowing you to take an extra turn, then attack for 15 and Annihilating six of your opponent’s permanents. If you hit another Cascade card, instead you get a big body that Cascades into yet another copy of Creative Technique.

In addition to Emrakul, the deck also plays Maelstrom Wanderer. Maelstrom Wanderer has Cascade twice, but also gives your Creatures Haste, which makes it easy to win the game with your other Cascade Creatures even if you failed to cast Emrakul after chaining every copy of Creative Technique.

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The Manabase

Dwarven Ruins

With every card in the deck costing five or more mana, being able to combo is not super difficult. The problem is that the mana cost of your cards is super high. To help mitigate part of this issue, this deck has a very unique manabase. Besides running multiple copies of Gemstone Caverns to help execute the combo faster on the draw, almost every Land in the deck has the ability to tap for two mana. Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors are the more typical Lands that are played elsewhere. However, this deck also plays “Depletion” Lands like Hickory Woodlot and cards like Dwarven Ruins that can be sacrificed for extra mana.

The whole point of utilizing this manabase is to help cast these five and six mana spells as quickly as possible. Given that the manabase is made up of mostly Lands that can tap for two mana, this deck is generally a turn three combo deck, which is still relatively fast. The deck is also a bit more resilient than you might expect, which gives it additional staying power.

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Force of Will

The reason for this is that, while a lot of the Lands can tap for two mana, it’s quite reasonable to not sacrifice Lands and “go for the kill” right away if you are not under much pressure. Waiting a bit can be useful at both playing around soft counters like Daze as well as allowing you to potentially cast more Cascade cards or Creative Techniques a turn or two later. Since you didn’t sacrifice a lot of your manabase the first time, you can likely “go again,” especially given the absurdly high number of Lands this deck runs.

What’s nice about the combo as well is that, because Creative Technique can make a copy of itself when you cast it, your opponent will typically have to counter both copies in order to stop you. For many decks, it’s difficult to both execute a lot of early pressure as well as have multiple counters like Force of Will to back up the pressure. Because of the high density of Lands this deck plays, it really does force your opponent to have this early pressure in order to reliably win. Of course, this is where a major weakness of the deck lies too.

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The biggest weakness this deck has by far is its inability to win quickly. While a combo deck winning turn three may sound reasonable, decks like Storm or Reanimator can win quicker. This deck simply has no recourse game one if someone can combo quicker. In games two and three, maybe landing something like Leyline of the Void can buy enough time, but it’s still a longshot. This deck is designed to play through at least some amount of disruption and can adapt accordingly, but speeding up the combo is something this deck is not capable of.

Beyond that, decks like Grixis Delver do have the tools to put on early pressure backed up with disruption. This is especially true with Wasteland involved. Wasteland essentially cuts this deck off of two mana. While the deck does play enough Lands to potentially rebuild, there may not be enough time when getting hit by a Delver of Secrets in the process.

Mississippi River certainly has the tools to fight a lot of decks and utilizes a cool way to win, but it definitely gives off “matchup lottery” vibes, where it has a very hard time beating some specific decks. If you expect players to be on a lot of slower, more Midrange-focused decks, this could still be a very good option going forward, but just know what you are signing up for.

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