7, Mar, 24

Problematic MTG Discover Combo Returns in New Format

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Article at a Glance

Remember when Geological Appraiser got banned? The Lost Caverns of Ixalan uncommon may have seemed innocuous, but it was a lot stronger than it first looked. When built around properly, this card could consistently pull off wins on turn three, with no other cards needed in hand to execute the combo. This was deemed to be incredibly problematic for Pioneer, and was banned as a result.

Just because Geological Appraiser was banned doesn’t mean Discover combo disappeared from Pioneer. Quintorius Kand offers a slower variation on the combo, consistently killing on turn four instead. This deck is still kicking in Pioneer and, while it’s not considered among the top decks, it is still a decent choice.

Recently Geological Appraiser also got nerfed on MTG Arena. Even though Pioneer had some Discover problems, the deck was even deadlier in Historic thanks to the inclusion of Pantlaza, Sun-Favored. This Dinosaur Commander from MTG Ixalan made it so Discover combo players could not only execute the combo more consistently, but the fail rate of the combo was significantly reduced thanks to the extra redundancy provided by these creatures.

It appears that a similar Discover combo is also viable in the Standard format. While the deck is still up-and-coming, it did win a small RCQ. If you want to play a combo deck in the current Standard format, this could be a good place to start!

Standard’s Discover Combo

Tweeted above is the winning decklist for a small Dreamhack RCQ event. While we may not recommend trying this exact 75 for yourself, the idea has a lot of potential. Like many of the other Discover combos, just resolving one spell can spell doom for your opponent. In this case, however, you generally will not win the game on the spot. The trade-off is that if your opponent disrupts the combo, your individual cards can keep up a lot more easily.

This time, the combo revolves around Trumpeting Carnosaur. While this Dino has been a part of all the other Discover combo decks, the best way to start those combos was typically something cheaper. This time around, the Carnosaur is the only true way to start the combo. This already makes the Standard version of the Discover combo a lot less offensive than its Pioneer counterparts.

The combo is simple. Resolve Carnosaur and Discover into one of your copying Clones. You have six of them in the main deck in the forms of Undercover Operative and Mirrorhall Mimic. These Clones copy the Carnosaur and Discover again. Keep Discovering until you have an army of Dinos! If there’s a way to turn this into an instant win without endangering the combo, it has not been discovered yet.

Somewhere along the way, you should Discover Quintorius Kand, who will continue your chain of Discover effects, draining your opponent for two in the meantime. Kand cannot start the combo in this deck, but can play double duty in certain matchups post-board. You can take your combo out of your deck and replace them with Temporary Lockdowns, ensuring that you can get consistent board wipes against Boros Convoke!

Strengths

As we mentioned earlier, while this Discover combo cannot win the game on the spot, it can play the game normally as a control deck. In order to make sure the combo works, this deck cannot run cards with a mana value of five or less that do not continue the combo. Temporary Lockdown changes your gameplan when brought in, making you unreliable on the combo and instead reliable on getting this card as consistently as possible.

This means that the deck gets to run a ton of cards that, in a Standard environment, are perfectly fine being used as intended. Like it is in the Domain decks, Herd Migration is an all-star here, capable of fixing your mana and becoming a win condition. Virtue of Persistence can play a similar role, removing an opposing threat and reanimating your Carnosaurs that fall to opposing removal and countermagic.

Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of this deck, however, is that your clones can copy opposing creatures. This means that your various Mirrorhall Mimics and Undercover Operatives can copy opposing Atraxa, Grand Unifiers. You can even take this a step further and enchant an opposing Atraxa with the flip side of Mirrorhall Mimic. While Spark Double allows more degenerate combos to exist in older formats, being able to copy opposing creatures does allow these cards to do something if drawn. Spark Double, on the other hand, is usually dead when drawn.

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Upgrades?

Cavern of Souls

After playing this deck a bit ourselves, we believe that the sideboard could use some more copies of Cavern of Souls. Now, notably, this will not stop your opponent from countering your combo most of the time. Your Trumpeting Carnosaur will be uncounterable, but the card it Discovers is still fair game. That said, a 7/6 Trampler goes a lot further in Standard than it does in the other formats where this combo was viable.

We also recommend adding an extra Plains to your deck. You really need to be able to hit two Plains against Convoke in order to get Temporary Lockdown out as consistently as possible. If you draw your first Plains, your Herd Migrations cannot find a second one, which can lose you the game.

If you’re feeling cheeky, you could side in a single copy of Imodane’s Recruiter. This would be an inconsistent way to make the combo lethal the turn you execute it, which will be important in some matchups. You can maximize the number of threats in your deck to ensure that your chances of hitting the Recruiter first is as small as possible, but there is always the chance that your Discover chain ends prematurely.

All in all, the sideboard to this deck felt like it needed some work. The question is moreso what cards are even viable in the sideboard, as the deckbuilding restriction is rather harsh in the Standard format.

Weaknesses

Sunfall

Besides the deckbuilding restriction being more severe in Standard than other formats, this deck’s biggest weakness is effects like Sunfall. This bypasses all of your Shield Counters on your Undercover Operatives, and wipes your entire combo off the face of the planet. Sure, you drained your opponent a bit with Quintorius Kand, but even if you side in all of your copy effects, which may not exist in an optimized variant of this, you will rarely kill the opponent on the turn you execute the combo. That said, the chances are there.

Your best bet to hedge this threat is to take some risks and see if you can consistently make your Discover combo kill on the spot. Siding in all of your copy effects does theoretically make this possible, but it is very difficult to pull this off consistently. Imodane’s Recruiter is a risky solution to this.

Constant countermagic can also be a pain, but all of your cards will eventually become threats that the opponent has to deal with. Given enough time, throwing out a must-answer threat every turn is usually enough to outpace control strategies.

One deck that this does not seem equipped to answer properly, at the moment, is Mono Red. While Temporary Lockdown can be of use there, its not a game-ending spell like it is against Boros Convoke. Board wipes are less effective against this strategy regardless, since all of the damage coming at your is immediate.

All-in-all, while gimmicky, this does seem like an interesting consideration for the current Standard format. Most decks cannot deal with a legion of Carnosaurs suddenly appearing at their doorstep. As long as the other cards can keep up well enough to allow you to assemble your combo, this deck may be worth a try.

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