22, Jun, 23

MTG Genius Merges Multiple Decks to Create Super-Combo!

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Article at a Glance

Every competitive MTG has a metagame. This isn’t a controversial statement or anything – as players weed out various deck construction ideas against one another, some are bound to come out on top. These decks tend to sit at the top of the pyramid of any given metagame, synonymously sitting on the throne while being the target brewers and innovators aim to take down.

It’s rare for a metagame to consist of just one deck. This is especially true for the current state of MTG, where Modern, Pioneer, and even Standard have multiple decks considered to be among the best in the format. Large card pools lend to a ton of powerful strategies. Depending on what matchups the ‘best deck’ players prepare for, it’s possible to catch them off guard by attacking at a different angle.

The point of discussing the idea of a metagame is that it will heavily affect innovation. A lot of the time, new sideboard tech that aligns well with known strategies is the result of this, but, occasionally, the best decks will be merged to create something new.

A lot of these have been seen in recent times. Some examples are the niche Izzet Scam deck that takes from Izzet Murktide and Rakdos Scam in Modern or the Jeskai Fair Breach deck that attempts to mix the approach of Jeskai Grinding Breach but takes out the combo and plays a fair Murktide-inspired game instead.

Well, one Modern deck went above and beyond in this regard, taking ideas from three different Modern archetypes. Heck, some of the arguments for innovation even came from a completely different format! These have all been combined together to create an incredibly complicated Modern super-combo deck. Forgive us if we miss a few things; a lot is happening here.

Lotus Belcher Combo

What happens if you take Lotus Twiddlestorm, Modern Charbelcher, Amulet Titan and Pioneer Lotus Combo and combine it all together? This.

Matt Nass is one of the better-known MTG players out there. Heavily favoring combo-based strategies, decks created by Nass are generally a masterclass on what MTG combo decks aspire to be. He managed to pilot this creation to a top-four finish in a recent MTGO Modern challenge. For reference, he also managed to pilot his take on Rona Combo to a top-two finish in a recent Pioneer challenge. This has defined a lot of the direction on that archetype since.

Put frankly, Lotus Charbelcher is a take on Charbelcher that is attempting to speed up and make Goblin Charbelcher kills more consistent. That said, this isn’t the only way that the deck can win the game. As mentioned previously, this deck is absurdly complicated, and almost every card plays a critical role in how the deck functions.

According to Nass, when discussing what this deck does better than traditional Modern Charbelcher, the deck has quicker and more versatile kill options:

“Recross plus cycler is a five mana kill, whereas Belcher is a seven mana kill, so it has a cheaper kill, and then it has 12 Dark Rituals if you count Amulet as a Dark Ritual. Sometimes, Amulet is Black Lotus.”

Matt stated that, during his Stream of his Modern Challenge run, his league testing with the deck hasn’t been super strong, but it has lead to multiple list improvements:

“I’ve gone 3-2 in most, 4-1 in a couple. I’ve probably played six leagues, maybe seven, and had like four or five 3-2’s and two 4-1’s so its not like I’ve been crushing it.”

Regardless, the deck had an absolutely incredible run during his stream.

Mana Generators

At its core, this deck is, first and foremost, a Twiddlestorm variant. Modern versions of Twiddlestorm tend to revolve around Lotus Field. At the cost of sacrificing two lands, you get a Hexproof land that taps for three mana of any one color. Lotus Field combo decks are also among the best strategies in the Pioneer format.

Because Lotus Field generates three mana instead of one, there is a lot of value to untapping the land multiple times in one turn. This strategy, therefore, uses Twiddle and Dream’s Grip to generate a ton of mana. For one mana, you’re generating three. This is the blue equivalent of a Dark Ritual.

Following this train of thought is the innovation of Vizier of Tumbling Sands. While core in Pioneer’s Lotus Field Combo deck, this card sees no significant Modern play. Vizier of Tumbling Sands is, essentially, an additional mana at no cost when you have a Lotus Field in play. Thanks to its untap ability being attached to a Cycling ability, it even replaces itself.

This allows Vizier to create incredibly early kills, whether drawn naturally, or when the deck is reordered with Recross the Paths. As mentioned previously, Charbelcher generally cannot kill the same turn that it casts Recross the Paths to organize its library. If you have a Vizier, however, you can kill on the same turn you Recross as long as you have five mana. This is accomplished by stacking a bunch of Viziers on top of one another, which cycle into Ideas Unbound, drawing Some Twiddles and your Charbelcher. If you stack two or more Viziers after your in-hand one, this is enough to cast and activate Charbelcher.

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The last ingenious ‘ritual’ added to the deck is Amulet of Vigor. One of the larger weaknesses of the deck is how inefficient your mana base is. Because you need to run an unusual amount of double-sided lands from Zendikar Rising, a lot of your lands will either enter tapped, or can enter untapped if you pay three life, which is a lot.

Alongside making these lands a lot more consistent, the biggest thing Amulet of Vigor does is allow your Lotus Field to enter untapped. This makes each Amulet of Vigor equivalent to a one-time Black Lotus since you can stack the untaps just like you would playing Amulet Titan, untapping the land multiple times when it enters the battlefield.

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The Win Conditions

Even though this deck is named Lotus Charbelcher, Goblin Charbelcher is not the deck’s only win condition. That said, Goblin Charbelcher is the archetype that this deck is trying to innovate upon, so it is the core win condition.

Goblin Charbelcher decks are not a new thing, but they are a lot more accessible than they used to be. Thanks to the double-sided land cards from Zendikar Rising, Charbelcher decks can run lands without the Charbelcher activation caring about them. This allows Goblin Charbelcher to turn into a four mana artifact that has a three-mana activated ability that reads ‘win the game.’

Seven mana is the magic number that Charbelcher decks are aspiring to generate. Ideally, you don’t want to cast this card and wait to activate it. You want to the motion in one fell swoop to avoid being disrupted by something like Boseiju, Who Endures.

Interestingly, the second win condition is also a utility card. Wish plays a multitude of roles in this deck, capable of finding Lotus Field, various forms of hate in the form of Tormod’s Crypt, Nature’s Claim and more, as well as finding a lethal sequence.

If you want to win the game with a Wish, your goal is to be able to navigate to a point where you can Wish for Underworld Breach and, past that point, Wish for Tome Scour. This, combined with your various Ritual effects, can mill your library into a Thassa’s Oracle win. You can still win via Charbelcher, but you really need to keep an eye on how many cards are left in your library. Notably, you need to keep track of the cards in your graveyard and how many cards are in your graveyard for this to work. We won’t go into the exact method you need to use to win this way since its rather complicated, but you can watch Matt Nass’s games in his Modern Challenge run here.

Do note that, should you find Lotus Field with a Wish, there will still be one in your library. This can affect the amount of damage your Goblin Charbelcher ultimately deals to your opponent.

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Other Cool Interactions

It is very hard to kill in this iteration of Belcher without your Lotus Field. With that in mind, only running one in the main deck may seem strange, especially without Sylvan Scrying in the deck. Interestingly, a few cards play double duty thanks to Nass’s deck construction.

Abundant Harvest is normally a Green cantrip that allows the player to choose whether they want to hit a Land or a nonland card. Since Lotus Field is technically the only land in your deck, Abundant Harvest turns into a one-mana find your Lotus Field. If you already have the Field out of your library, Abundant Harvest turns into a cantrip, which is a much better available alternative compared to cards like Sylvan Scrying.

Recross the Paths also gets to play double-duty in this deck. Not only can you recross to stack your library once you have your Lotus Field, but you also get to use it to find your Lotus Field. If it’s really deep in your library, Recross the Paths gets to do both things, finding your tool to turn on your Rituals and stacking your deck! This, however, is relatively rare, but both functions of Recross the Paths are very valuable.

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How to Beat This Deck

There are a ton of things going on with Nass’s incredible brew, but, unfortunately, all of those things fall to a top-tier meta deck called Rakdos Scam. This matchup is ludicrously bad because it excels at doing the three things that this deck has an issue dealing with.

Firstly, Blood Moon will completely shut off this deck. A lot of the weird flex slots you see Nass playing are solely to bail him out of an uncontended Blood Moon. Because your deck runs no Basic Lands, Blood Moon turns everything into a Mountain. This also shuts off Lotus Field, making it very difficult to win the game without seven natural mana. Also remember that, with an uncontested Ragavan, this deck can lock down the board with Blood Moon on turn two.

Things aren’t totally over if you get mooned, but it is very difficult to win. Wish can find Nature’s Claim to eliminate the Moon, but you need a Basic Forest as well. This is why there is one in Nass’s sideboard. Alternatively, Manamorphose or Chromatic Sphere can be used to generate Green mana. Postboard, you get access to Force of Vigor to remove the Moon as well.

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While Lotus Belcher does have some built-in answers to the Moon, those are rendered ineffective by discard. Scamming a Grief into play is also a nightmare for this deck since the opponent gets to discard two cards out of your hand while representing a win condition. Combine this with Blood Moon and the Scam matchup becomes very difficult to navigate.

Lastly, there are some decks that can simply represent lethal before this deck can on a consistent basis. A turn two Titan, or Hammer kill can easily knock this deck out before its gets rolling. When backed up with discard effects and Blood Moon, a scammed Fury can also be difficult to overcome.

Fortunately, this deck does have recourse against super fast creature kills: Twiddle and Dream Grip. The intended purpose is to use these as Rituals alongside Lotus Field, but you can also use these cards to tap incoming attackers in a pinch. This isn’t quite as effective against Hammer since they can bluff Hammer at instant speed with Sigarda’s Aid in play, but its better than nothing.

Either way, Matt Nass’s newest creation looks competitive, and its a heck of a lot of fun if you can figure out the lines. Sure, if you’re expecting a bunch of Rakdos Scam, playing this deck is probably going to be rather frustrating. That said, in the right metagame, this can attack from an angle that your opponent’s simply were not expecting.

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