7, May, 24

Surging Common Combo Deck Can Deal Over 20 Damage Turn Two!

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Article at a Glance

Since the ban of Monastery Swiftspear in Pauper, many players were hopeful that aggressive red decks would become a little less prevalent. However, this hasn’t really been the case. Goblin Tomb Raider proved to be an elite replacement for Swiftspear in the Kuldotha Rebirth shells. Now, the deck even gets access to another solid aggressive one-drop in the form of Reckless Lackey.

As such, players have been forced to adjust their strategies to deal with the red menace. Cards like Hydroblast and Weather the Storm are priorities out of the sideboard. Meanwhile, Squadron Hawk strategies get a lot of mileage by maximizing the power of Prismatic Strands.

While most Prismatic Strands enjoyers have gravitated towards the Gates archetype, this weekend in a Magic Online Pauper Challenge we saw a rather unique deck take advantage of Strands synergies. Making it all the way to top four of the event was none other than Tireless Tribe combo, a deck that has completely fallen off the map in recent years. However, Tireless Tribe does line up decently well in a field of damage-based removal, so perhaps this is a sign the deck is in for a comeback. This deck can win the game as early as turn two, so let’s start by taking a look at exactly how the combo works.

Finding and Executing the Combo

Tireless Tribe

The main way this deck wins the game as by abusing an underrated two-card combo. The first card you need to find is Tireless Tribe. Tireless Tribe is certainly weak on its own. After all, its activated ability doesn’t provide a power boost whatsoever. Well, that is of course, without the other piece of the puzzle.

The goal here is to cast Inside Out targeting Tireless Tribe. This way, if you have enough cards in your hand to discard, getting Tireless Tribe’s power up to 20+ is trivial. As we will see later, there are a number of ways to ensure you don’t run out of discard fuel.

In previous iterations of the deck, casting Shadow Rift was also an important piece of the puzzle. Otherwise, the opponent could simply throw a blocker in front of Tireless Tribe and mess up your Inside Out plans. While this deck does play one copy of Shadow Rift to tutor up with Merchant Scroll or Dizzy Spell when applicable, the presence of Escape Tunnel does a lot of heavy lifting.

Escape Tunnel accomplishes the same job Evolving Wilds would as a mana fixer, but also doubles as a way to make Tribe unblockable. Just make sure to activate Escape Tunnel before casting Inside Out!

Even though it may seem difficult to find all of the necessary parts in assembling the combo, this deck allows you to churn through your library in rather quickly. Pauper is chock full of incredible cantrips including Brainstorm, Ponder and Preordain, which all show up as four-ofs in this deck.

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Enabling the Combo

Whiteout

Almost every other card in the deck serves one of two purposes. The first group of role-players in the deck are cards that help you maintain a high density of resources to discard. In order to make Tribe lethal on its own, you will need to discard at least five cards in addition to casting Inside Out. This doesn’t even account for any counter magic you may want to keep in hand to help stave off opposing removal spells. Factor in mulligans, and things get even trickier.

Luckily, this deck has some tricks up its sleeve. Likely the most interesting of these is the presence of a full playset of Whiteout. Whiteout is very strange. It has a very minimal effect on the game, but you aren’t meant to cast it. In fact, this deck literally has no green mana! The whole point of the card is to be a resource you can recur repeatedly.

This deck’s manabase is entirely made up of Snow Lands or other Lands that can find them. As such, when you’re going for the kill, you can discard Whiteout to Tribe, sacrifice a Land to bring it back to hand, and repeat this process.

Squadron Hawk also helps provide some extra discard fuel. When you play Squadron Hawk, you can search for the other copies and keep them in hand. You won’t realistically be winning the game with Squadron Hawk beats. Still, the card synergizes with Tribe, Brainstorm as a shuffle enabler, Prismatic Strands’ Flashback ability, and protects Tribe from Tithing Blade effects. I’m a bit surprised to only see three copies in the Pauper Challenge decklist, but the pilot mentioned how poor it is when you draw multiples in this deck.

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Protecting the Combo

Circular Logic

Once you are planning to go for the kill, it’s important to not get blown out by removal. After all, you are exhausting a bunch of resources while getting Tribe’s power up high. We mentioned Prismatic Strands, which you can discard to Tribe at will. This card helps a lot against most red removal spells and buys you time but doesn’t help against Snuff Out and the like.

This is where Dispel and Circular Logic come into play. Both of these cards are extremely efficient in pushing your combo through. In some games, it’s worth waiting until you have enough mana to cast Inside Out and have multiple protection spells as backup. This deck is quite fast, but sometimes patience is key.

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Polarizing Matchups

This deck definitely has legs, and its strong performance cannot be denied. However, this isn’t to say that the deck doesn’t have some extremely poor matchups to be concerned about. According to the player that got fourth place in the Pauper Challenge, Golgari midrange and Dimir Faeries are extremely unfavorable matchups. This makes a ton of sense.

Golgari midrange plays tons of efficient removal. Dispel helps against Cast Down, but Tithing Blade is still a disaster. Even with Squadron Hawk at the ready, the Golgari deck has ample ways to answer Hawk before slamming Blade down. Prismatic Strands does almost nothing in the matchup either. Faeries isn’t quite as attrition focused but plays a ton of disruption. Furthermore, Spellstutter Sprite acts as a Counterspell that Dispel doesn’t fight against, which is extremely problematic.

Where this deck truly shines is against decks without tons of removal. Archetypes like Bogles can struggle to race your combo. Even fast decks like mono-red aggro that have some removal spells don’t line up particularly well. Any Sorcery-speed removal that deals damage like Chain Lightning can be dismissed, since you can just discard a card to Tribe to get a toughness boost as intended. Once you go for the Inside Out kill, Prismatic Strands and your Counterspells can get past the finish line.

If you can dodge the black-based strategies, Tireless Tribe combo is a reasonable place to be in the current metagame. As a one-dimensional combo deck, though, just be prepared for some polarizing matchups along the way. It’s nice to see this deck getting the respect it deserves once again.

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