It’s no surprise at this point that Wilds of Eldraine has had a massive impact on multiple formats as a premier set. We’ve seen Beseech the Mirror show up even in Eternal formats like Legacy, while upgrades for specific decks like Sleight of Hand and Monstrous Rage in Pioneer shifted the overall metagame. Perhaps no card has had a bigger influence across different formats than Agatha’s Soul Cauldron, though.
It’s incredible just how many different combos Cauldron helped open the door for. In Standard, some players have utilized the infinite mana combo utilizing Cauldron alongside Sleep-Cursed Faerie and Kami of Whispered Hopes. In Modern, Cauldron has made its presence felt in Yawgmoth, Thran Physician combo decks.
Today, we are going to focus on an innovative decklist that makes use of Cauldron in Legacy. This deck combines a well-established “Bomberman” combo using Auriok Salvagers with a relatively new Cauldron combo using Phyrexian Devourer. Let’s start by briefly going over the traditional Auriok Salvagers combo.
Classic Bomberman Combo
Bomberman strategies use a combo that has been around for a long time in order to create infinite mana. The two pieces necessary to do so are Auriok Salvagers and Lion’s Eye Diamond. Notably, Lion’s Eye Diamond doesn’t have to be in your hand for this combo to work; it can also be in your graveyard from the start. This makes Goblin Engineer a strong card for the deck, helping you find one of the combo pieces for cheap.
From there, Salvagers allows you to pay two mana to return an Artifact with mana value one or less from your graveyard to your hand. So, you bring back Lion’s Eye Diamond[/tooltips] and use Lion’s Eye Diamond to add three mana to your mana pool, discarding your hand in the process. You can use two of that mana to bring Lion’s Eye Diamond back to your hand and repeat this process to net infinite mana.
Of course, you won’t have any cards in hand at this point. However, Salvagers can also bring back Walking Ballista from your graveyard to your hand, which is the main infinite mana payoff for the deck. While it may seem a bit difficult to assemble all the pieces of the combo, Goblin Engineer can also put Ballista in your graveyard instead of Lion’s Eye Diamond, depending on what piece you are missing. In addition, the deck plays Karn, the Great Creator and copies of Lion’s Eye Diamond and Ballista in the sideboard to tutor for. This helps make executing the combo easier and more consistent than it might look at first, so long as you can find a copy of Auriok Salvagers.
Adding Yet Another Combo
Where this deck differs from pure Bomberman shells of the past is with the inclusion of yet another combo using Cauldron. Cauldron lets you exile Creature cards from graveyards to put +1/+1 counters on Creatures you control. Creatures you control with counters on them also have activated abilities of cards exiled with Cauldron. In order, to make this particular Cauldron combo work, you need a copy of Phyrexian Devourer in the graveyard, as well as a copy of Walking Ballista in play alongside Cauldron.
By exiling Phyrexian Devourer from your graveyard with Cauldron, Ballista will have the activated abilities of Phyrexian Devourer. This means that you can exile cards from your library for free, each time adding counters to Ballista equal to the mana value of the exiled card. Then, you can simply ping your opponent for a bunch of damage.
What’s nice about these combos is that many cards in the deck work well with both, allowing you to sculpt your gameplan accordingly. Goblin Engineer, for example, can find Lion’s Eye Diamond or Ballista if you have Salvagers in hand, but can also find Devourer if you have Cauldron in hand instead. Similarly, Karn can search for Lion’s Eye Diamond, Ballista, or Cauldron, depending on the situation.
Beyond the two combos, this deck is mostly comprised of ways to produce extra mana and keep your opponent off balance. In the manabase, Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors provide you with extra mana to work with, and Cavern of Souls can help guarantee your ability to resolve Salvagers or Ballista through Force of Will. Playing a ton of Artifacts naturally also allows this deck to play Urza’s Saga, which can not only potentially win the game on its own by making Constructs but can also search for Lion’s Eye Diamond as necessary.
Both Chalice of the Void and Ethersworn Canonist do great work at slowing down the opponent. These cards are especially effective against opposing combo decks. Part of what makes Chalice so strong in this deck is that, between the Lands that produce two mana and Lotus Petal, playing Chalice for X equals one on turn one is a real possibility, which can completely shut down Brainstorm players from casting a large percentage of their spells.
Funnily enough, this deck also gets to play Gyruda, Doom of Depths. Gyurda can win games on its own, especially in a deck that can generate lots of mana. In some games, if you can produce infinite mana with Salvagers and Lion’s Eye Diamond but don’t have access to Ballista, grabbing the powerful Companion and playing it can be enough to win. This is yet another example of just how strong having access to a Companion every game can be.
Strengths and Weaknesses
This deck seems like a decent choice overall, especially if you expect a large number of midrange decks. Cavern of Souls and Urza’s Saga are extremely strong against opposing Counterspells, and getting to make use of Chalice of the Void is a huge boon in a format dominated by efficient cards. Where the deck can struggle a bit is against faster combo decks.
Outside of Chalice and Canonist, this deck has limited interaction for decks like Reanimator. This likely explains why many of the sideboard slots not dedicated to Karn targets are used for cards like Leyline of the Void and Containment Priest. Still, these sideboard cards help a lot, and this deck is capable of winning rather quickly in its own right. If you enjoy unique combo decks, definitely consider trying this deck out.