3, Apr, 23

New Two-Card MTG Combo Can Cast Your Opponent's Deck!?

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Article at a Glance

It’s been almost a week since March of the Machine spoiler season kicked off, and many new cards have been revealed! A concerning amount of silly two-card combos have already been discovered among Magic’s latest additions, but there is still more to discuss. This particular combo isn’t guaranteed but has a pretty low fail rate in a game of Commander. Do you want to cast your opponent’s entire deck? Well, this two-card combo should be able to cast a majority of it!

Etali Returns!

Etali, one of the elder dinosaurs from Ixalan, has been a budget Commander staple since the set released. Etali’s newer counterpart is an even more powerful version of the original card, but costs a bit more mana to cast in exchange. For seven mana, Etali enters the battlefield and starts exiling cards from each player’s library until they exile a nonland card. These cards can be cast for free.

Since each player is affected by this ability, it’s pretty easy to recognize that Etali’s ability is much more potent in Commander than in 1v1 formats. The same was true for Etali’s original printing. Why cast two spells for free when you can cast four per activation?

For reference, Etali’s original printing only flipped the top card of the library when its effect triggered. This means that the card is capable of whiffing since it could hit land cards which could not be cast. Interestingly enough, the most important change to Etali’s effect is not the guaranteed hit of a spell, but instead the way that the ability is activated. Attack triggers aren’t the easiest thing to take advantage of, but enter the battlefield triggers are a whole other story.

Taking Advantage of Enter the Battlefield Triggers

elesh norn

Flickering a permanent is a very common strategy applied in Magic. Likely named after the card Ghostly Flicker, this refers to the act of exiling a creature (generally one you control) before immediately returning it to the battlefield. This flicker, or ‘blink,’ can retrigger any effects that are caused by the creature entering the battlefield. A typical example that recently plagued many competitive formats is Yorion, Sky Nomad. The card is now banned in Modern, but, in exchange for running 20 more cards in your maindeck, Yorion, Sky Nomad offered a Companion that can flicker all other nonland permanents on your board upon entry.

As such, there are many powerful ways to get Etali’s enter the battlefield trigger to happen repetitively. Flicker cards are the primary way to do this, but other cards have straight-up copy abilities that copy other enter the battlefield triggered effects. Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines from Phyrexia: All Will Be One is one of the most powerful examples of this. Not only will the card trigger your enter the battlefield abilities twice, but it will also shut your opponent’s triggers down.


Panharmonicon is the classic method for doubling up on triggers like Etali’s. Other unique support cards help this, like a flicker payoff from Preston, the Vanisher, or a recurring flicker effect like Thassa, Deep-Dwelling. That said, the card that takes Etali to the next level is one that triggers a flicker off of Etali’s own ability.

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The Cat is Broken… Again

displacer kitten

Displacer Kitten was one of the most hyped up cards amongst an otherwise mundane release of the Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate set. The contents of this set ended up aging exceptionally well, but many players were initially very underwhelmed with the set. Displacer Kitten was the exception.

It did not take players long to realize that Displacer Kitten could be responsible for an alarmingly long list of infinite combos. Many of these are bizarrely intricate, but an example of a combo that quickly gained popularity can be as follows:

The combo involves Teferi, Time Raveler – a three mana Planeswalker that many players refer to as the ‘fun police’ for the absurd amount of interactions his passive ability shuts down. Combine this with Displacer Kitten and any zero mana noncreature artifact – let’s use Mox Amber for the sake of demonstration – and you get infinite draws as well as infinite blue and white mana. Here’s how it works:

  • With all three cards on the battlefield, use Teferi’s minus ability to bounce the Mox Amber to your hand and draw a card.
  • Cast the Mox Amber from your hand. This will trigger Displacer Kitten
  • Use Displacer Kitten to flicker your Teferi. This will reset his Loyalty and allow him to activate his Planeswalker ability once again.
  • Float a mana from the Mox Amber and use Teferi’s effect to bounce the Amber, creating the loop.

When used alongside Etali, Primal Conqueror, Etali’s enter the battlefield trigger can easily lead to the casting of a noncreature spell; this can trigger Displacer Kitten, flickering Etali and triggering its ability once again. This will, likely, cast another noncreature spell, flickering Etali over and over. There is a chance that you hit four creature spells off of each player’s library, and while you will likely do so eventually, that chance is pretty low. As such, you should get a disgusting amount of spells out of this combo.

Do note that in the likely scenario of casting multiple noncreature spells in one Etali trigger, you can only flicker Etali, Primal Conqueror once. This is because all of the spells being cast off one Etali trigger are cast at the same time. This means all of the Displacer Kitten triggers would also enter the stack at the same time. If you use more than one of these to flicker Etali, the first flicker will work, but the other ones will lose their targets since Etali left the battlefield.

You can instead use these to flicker other things, like a Restoration Angel that can flicker Etali again when it enters the battlefield. Just make sure to stack your kitten triggers so the one flickering Etali resolves first. Otherwise, the Restoration Angel trigger will make the other trigger lose its target.

Notably, Displacer Kitten is currently seeing an increase in price on the secondary market. The card has seen a slight increase since the middle of February from about $7.50 to the $10-11 mark. This could increase further if this Etali interaction proves to be popular. If you want to try this, consider finding a Displacer Kitten sooner than later.

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What about the Other Side of Etali?

etali, primal sickness

Transforming Etali takes a ton of mana, but makes sure that Etali can fulfill another purpose if your flicker support is lacking. This, basically, turns Etali into a Blightsteel Colossus; incredibly difficult to remove, and one direct hit can end a game of Commander regardless of a player’s life total.

Commander Candidates

Unfortunately, if you want to take The Etali, Primal Conqueror and Displacer Kitten combo for a spin, you won’t be able to run Etali as a Commander. Temur is the smallest amount of colors you can run to make this combo a reality since Etali is technically a Gruul card. You’ll probably want white in your Commander’s identity as well since most flicker support can be found in that color. With that in mind, what would a good 4-5 color Flicker Commander look like?

Niv-Mizzet Reborn and Omnath, Locus of Creation seem to be the two best Commanders that fulfill this space. These both have fantastic interactions with flicker cards and fulfill the colors needed to play Etali and Displacer Kitten. The Prismatic Bridge and Garth, One-Eyed are some other options that can synergize well with the flicker strategy.

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