22, Apr, 24

Hidden Gem Combo Card Creates Broken Multi-Format Strategy!

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Article at a Glance

Every once in a while, a deck that no one saw coming pops up in the top cut for a tournament. No, this isn’t just a good run at an Friday Night Magic event, this strategy tops a decently sized tournament and has some effects on the overall metagame for a format.

Rakdos Vampires is an extreme example of this. The deck came out of nowhere and won a Pro Tour. Of course, considering that the Pro Tour is one of the biggest tournaments out there, this completely shook up the metagame as well as the secondary market.

This deck just top 4’d a Pioneer Challenge on Magic Online, but it’s so wildly different from anything that we’ve seen before. A ton of powerful cards with strict drawbacks find a home here, allowing Pioneer players to utilize the equivalent of a Sol Ring in their deck. Activated ability cards have finally found a home, and it’s in a crazy deck utilizing Proft’s Eidetic Memory.

Mono Blue Activated Ability Combo

The Enigma Jewel

Coined Mono Blue Devotion due to the inclusion of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx in the manabase, this is a bizarre combo deck that leverages Training Grounds combined with a bunch of cards that can create mana that can only be used for activated abilities. Both The Enigma Jewel and Omen Hawker act as Sol Rings with summoning sickness that can absolutely supercharge how many times you can use activated abilities.

The rest of the deck is filled with small creatures that can draw a ton of cards with reduced activated abilities. Hypnotic Grifter, an uncommon from Streets of New Capenna, is a great example of this. You can Connive for one mana with Training Grounds online, and The Enigma Jewel and Grifter allow you to get through cards at a startling pace.

Where this starts to get really messy is when you include Proft’s Eidetic Memory. This enchantment can put +1/+1 counters on a creature for each extra card you’ve drawn this turn. With the ability to loot, draw and Connive through your deck at great speeds, Proft’s Eidetic Memory can generally present lethal swings in the opening turns. This all culminates to a blazing fast combo deck with a ton of redundancy.

Activated ability creatures are rounded out by Spectral Sailor, The Reality Chip, Prophet of Distortion and the new common Harrier Strix from Outlaws of Thunder Junction. Not only can Harrier Strix tap down a potential blocker, but the card can also loot through your deck with its activated ability.

Sideboard Strengths

One major benefit for this deck in the Pioneer format is the rate at which it can resolve The Stone Brain. This is one of the best combo hosers in the format. The card can end the game for Lotus Field Combo if resolved early enough by targeting the deck’s namesake. The same can be said for Amalia Combo. While that deck could still win via beatdown and Aetherflux Reservoir, it will be very difficult for them to do anything without the core combo.

This deck can cast and utilize The Stone Brain as early as turn two. If you open with an Omen Hawker or an Enigma Jewel, you can cast The Stone Brain and use the activated ability mana to sacrifice it. This is generally too fast for Lotus Field Combo or Amalia to assemble their core parts, which should you win the game outright.

This deck utilizes the new card Assimilation Aegis from Outlaws of Thunder Junction in the sideboard. This deck does not have any white cards in the main deck, but it does splash white in its mana base for the sideboard.

Assimilation Aegis is capable of wiping out problematic permanents that could put the kybosh on this deck, like Sheoldred, the Apocalypse. You can then make one of your creatures Sheoldred, and gain a ton of life by doing your shenanigans.

Read More: Is Thunder Junction Legend A New Up The Beanstalk For Modern?

Porting to Standard?

One interesting thing to consider with this new brew is that all of the core parts of it are Standard legal. While some of the more efficient draw outlets like Spectral Sailor and Prophet of Distortion, for example, are not Standard legal, but Triskaidekaphile can replace the cards and perform a similar role.

In Standard, it may make more sense to utilize Agatha’s Soul Cauldron. Combined with Training Grounds, Omen Hawker and Sleep-Cursed Faerie, you can create infinite activated ability mana. This allows you to Connive infinitely, and can grow your creatures to disastrously big proportions.

The deck is definitely better positioned for Pioneer, especially when considering the current sideboard applications. That said, this is a powerful engine that could be utilized in the Standard format.


Training Grounds is the most important card in this deck. Much like the Lucky Clover decks from the past in Standard, this deck functions on a totally different level when it resolves Training Grounds. This means that removing Training Grounds before it gets too much value is a great way to slow this deck down. Conniving for one mana, especially when you have a ton of extra mana for activated abilities, is problematically powerful. Doing that for three mana is a lot worse.

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse is also a big issue for this deck. Since your entire gameplan revolves around drawing cards, Sheoldred can just stop you in your tracks. Witness Protection and Assimilation Aegis can stop it, but the card is an answer-on-demand threat unless you have them dead on board.

All in all, this completely new engine is an exciting one for Standard and Pioneer players looking to give it a try. Who knows? We could even see a Standard variation of this pop up at the Pro Tour this weekend! Considering how Rakdos Vampires broke out and completely changed the metagame in the last one, I wouldn’t be surprised if something similar happened again.

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