14, Jul, 23

Wild Combo Deck Revives Bewildering Mechanic in Major Format!

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Article at a Glance

With the new Lord of the Rings set out for a while now, a lot of new decks and upgrades have been popping up utilizing these cards. Most notably in Modern, The One Ring continues to dominate games of MTG. The card is everywhere, forcing players to either play the card or adapt to it. In addition to the One Ring, Delighted Halfling and Orcish Bowmasters have cemented themselves as format staples. Most decks utilize some Lord of the Rings cards in some capacity in the maindeck, but there are absolutely exceptions.

Recently, a well-established MTG player known for his spicy brews played in a Magic Online Preliminary event with an absolutely wild deck. In fact, this deck has some throwback elements to an old Standard combo deck focused on a unique MTG mechanic: Mutate! Mutate is an interesting mechanic that gives the player the option of either playing a Creature normally or using its Mutate ability. A Creature’s Mutate ability allows you to put the Creature either over or under another non-Human Creature. The Creature that was Mutated onto will now have all of the abilities of the Creature underneath, plus act as a copy of the Creature on top. A lot of these Creatures have triggered abilities that trigger when the Creature Mutates, and this deck takes full advantage of abusing these triggers.

The Mutate Creatures

Vadrok, Apex of Thunder

This deck is centered around three specific Creatures with Mutate that allow for some absolutely crazy shenanigans. The first Creature is Vadrok, Apex of Thunder. Vadrok is a three-mana Creature that can also Mutate for four mana. Importantly, whenever this Creature Mutates, you may cast a noncreature spell from your graveyard with mana value three or less for free. This includes this Creature being Mutated onto another Creature, or another Creature with Mutate being Mutated onto this Creature. This ability doesn’t necessarily just trigger once, however. Every time another you Mutate onto this Creature, this ability will trigger again.

This is super important when utilized alongside the second specific Mutate Creature: Lore Drakkis. Lore Drakkis allows you to return an Instant or Sorcery from your graveyard to your hand when it Mutates. As you can see, this deck is built heavily around Instants and Sorceries with mana value three or less. You can continue to build up this stack of Mutate Creatures for even more value. If you Mutate a second Lore Drakkis onto a Vadrok, for example, you now will get three triggers, one for Vadrok and one for each Lore Drakkis that was mutated over or under Vadrok. Pair that with the third Mutate Creature, Insatiable Hemophage, and you can begin to outright kill your opponent with Mutate triggers.

Of course, this all takes a lot of mana, right? Plus, can’t the opponent then kill a large Mutate Creature to break this strategy up? Don’t worry, this deck has a solid plan to address both these potential problems. Let’s dive further into this strategy by first looking at the Instants and Sorceries that are important for Lore Drakkis and Vadrok.

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Open the Omenpaths and Beyond

Open the Omenpaths

While the Mutate strategy can be very effective, it does require a lot of mana to both continue to Mutate Creatures and also cast the Instants and Sorceries returned with Lore Drakkis. What ties this strategy altogether is none other than Open the Omenpaths. Open the Omenpaths is a very weak card on its own. In this deck, it is being used mostly to add four mana to your mana pool as a “Ritual” of sorts that can only be spent on Creature or Enchantment Spells. Luckily, Mutating a Creature counts as casting a Creature, so this mana can be utilized for Mutate. Additionally, Vadrok can cast Open the Omenpaths for free when it Mutates. This allows you to Mutate a Creature onto Vadrok, cast Open the Omenpaths, and use that mana to Mutate again, cast Open the Omenpaths again, and so on.

Lore Drakkis has a few Instants and Sorceries that can be continuously returned in this process as well. The most important is Eladamri’s Call, which can search for Vadrok to get started, as well as Insatiable Hemophage to try to close the game. This deck also runs Lightning Bolt, which can help close the game as well.

This deck also plays Teferi, Time Raveler, which serves a unique purpose here. After chaining Mutate Creatures with Open the Omenpaths, you can return your own group of Mutated Creatures to your hand and use the floating mana from Open the Omenpaths to keep going. Teferi helps makes sure you can get enough Insatiable Hemophage triggers to end the game, while simultaneously preventing your opponents from interacting. You can even loop Teferis with your Vadrok triggers since it can Cast Planeswalkers with mana value three or less from the graveyard. This allows a repetitive Unsummon effects for your Mutate stack, which was how the deck went infinite in Standard.

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Playing Around Interaction

Sylvan Caryatid

While Teferi is a good way to help play around opposing removal spells, this deck has a few more tricks up its sleeve. Rather than casting a Creature that’s vulnerable to removal, a common play pattern for the deck would be to wait until you resolve a copy of either Sylvan Caryatid or Slippery Bogle, then Mutate onto one of them since they have Hexproof. Sylvan Caryatid even produces mana to cast Open the Omenpaths and Vadrok to get the process started. This deck can win quite quickly with the right combination of cards, but these Hexproof Creatures alongside Teferi give the deck an added layer of resiliency.

Eladamri’s Call is also a key card. Being able to search for any missing combo piece besides Open the Omenpaths is a big deal. Even without Open the Omenpaths, this deck can simply churn out value with Vadrok and Lore Drakkis. Getting to return cards like Lightning Bolt and Eladamri’s Call over and over can be very problematic for the opponent. Oh, and this deck also plays Expressive Iteration, which is a great card to return with Lore Drakkis for value.

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Strengths and Weaknesses

Living End

This deck definitely still has its weaknesses. While this deck is decently insulated against common removal spells, Counterspells can be effective at stopping the Mutate train from getting rolling. This deck is certainly weak to Living End in game one, especially since it requires building a board to function properly. While Open the Omenpaths can speed up this strategy’s clock quite a bit, this deck can be a bit slow without it.

The deck is surprisingly resilient though, especially given that Mutate, unlike Auras, isn’t completely broken up by a removal spell (If a Creature is cast for its Mutate cost but the target is removed, the Creature still enters the battlefield, simply as the normal version). This deck even gets around the Protection given by the One Ring, since Insatiable Hemophage affects “each opponent” with “life loss” rather than damage. Mutate is super unique, and if you want a fun strategy to try out, this is a great place to start.

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