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By: kelvinmai, Kelvin Mai
Apr 08 2015 11:00am
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Mark Rosewater often talks about the three player psychographic profiles; Johnny, Timmy and Spike. It's obvious that I'm a Johnny, I love brews and deckbuilding as well as interactions between cards. But I am also part Timmy, I love going big and doing absurd things. Being the combination of the two I typically gravitate towards some interesting build around me type cards that have huge rewards. Cards like Wild Beastmaster, Villainous Wealth and Guild Feud come to mind. But lately I have become more and more spike and the desire to win has become greater. I still enjoy weird and crazy interactions but now I want to do it competitively. Travis Woo, whom I look up to as a brewer, explained the psychographics the best in a concise tweet. 

Most spikes look for a winning deck, put it together and take it to tournaments. I still live by the notion of never netdecking but that doesn't mean I can't look at some. So of all the lists to hit tournament tables, which one is the most absurd? Obviously the one that is able to create infinite mana, so let's take a look.

Temur Ascendancy Combo

Voyaging Satyr Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx Temur Ascendancy 

Temur Ascendancy surprised everyone when it first debut at SCG Washington DC. Green devotion has always been known for making gratuitous amounts of mana but it never quite reached infinity, but with the newly spoiled Temur Sabertooth from Fate Reforged it finally got there. Now there's some confusion in how that makes infinite mana so here's a quick explanation. Assuming you have 7 devotion you activate Nykthos giving you seven green mana. Two is reserved for activating Temur Sabertooth, Two is reserved for casting Voyaging Satyr, who has haste so it can untap Nykthos, and finally the last two mana is used to activate Nykthos again. This process leaves you one extra mana. Repeat this cycle and each time it nets you one extra mana until you have an "infinite" amount. With so much mana what could you possibly do with all of that? Originally the deck's win condition was to Genesis Hydra for enough to look through the entire deck and find the single copy of Nylea, God of the Hunt and use the remaining mana to activate her and pump all your creatures and swing in for trampling overkill amount of damage. Eventually the deck evolved beyond Nylea. Genesis Hydra is still the key card in these newer versions of the combo deck, but instead of looking for one specific card the hydra can be cast repeatedly to put into play all creatures in your deck and have them swing with haste. 


Hammer of Purphoros 

There are two main issues with going all in on the combo. First of all, it is a 5 card combo, the first 4 to make infinite mana and finally a win condition that makes use of that mana. Compare this to other combo decks; Splinter Twin only needs 2 cards and Jeskai Ascendancy combo requires at least 3 pieces. On top of the difficulty to assemble all 5 pieces together, it must be played in a deck with mainly green permanents, playing other colors dilutes the mana made from Nykthos. The need for green permanents means that digging for combo pieces is even harder. Eidolon of Blossoms and Genesis Hydra do the job pretty well but it also means that we have to have playsets a lot of cards just to make the deck function. What does all of that mean? It means that if there is a game where the right cards aren't seen, you're just a sitting duck. I want to be able to win without relying too heavily on infinite mana. The second issue is that blue isn't really necessary. It may have been an oversight but going off with the combo only requires haste. Temur Ascendancy does grant haste but so does Hammer of Purphoros. Taking out blue strengthens the mana base or grant the option of splashing a different color. 

Green White Devotion is pretty popular these days, splashing red gives the deck the ability to go absolutely insane. If I were to pilot Mastery, I'd include a Nylea and Hammer so that the deck doesn't have to be a long grind-fest that ends in a draw. The inclusion of the combo gives an out against the mirror match so both players don't have to just stare at each other for an hour. Above is an example of said deck. As you can tell, the original shell is intact with Mastery and Whisperwood being the key cards, only a few changes to the numbers so it can include both Hammer and Nylea. Also Shaman of the Great Hunt is added for some much needed card draw. However I'm not a big fan of the long drawn out grind fest that is Mastery of the Unseen so this isn't what I would play.

 What to do With All That Mana

 Genesis Hydra 

What would I play instead? Well knowing the combo all I had to do was look at the mana sinks in these colors. I didn't have to look far, as I said earlier Shaman of the Great Hunt is the one card this deck needed most. The orc provides much needed card draw to look for combo pieces or just dig deep into the deck. Even if the shaman is by himself he can draw one card at instant speed. Genesis Hydra was already in the Temur Ascendancy deck and it has no reason to leave as it does immense amounts of work. But the biggest card that I haven't seen in one of these decks is Crater's Claws. It is surprising how this card hasn't been included in any of these combo decks. A fireball fueled by infinite mana seems like a no brainer and it's easily the best way to end a game with this combo, at least in my opinion.

This is the pure red green devotion deck with the extra kick of an infinite combo that I was talking about. It provides the beatdown that most red green decks are known for with great threats like the Polukranos, Thunderbreak Regent, and even the Dragonlord Atarka. There's not much to explain here, bring the hurt on your opponents and if they're not dead yet combo off.

If instead you want the extra card draw off Temur Ascendancy and want to keep your hammer at home I made almost the exact same deck list but with some blue goodies in it.

The manabase here is a bit tighter on colors and tapped lands so it got bumped up to 24 instead of 23. The casualty is an extra copy of Crater's Claws in the mainboard. And Elvish Mystic grew up to be a Rattleclaw Mystic as it helps better with colors and plays better with tapped lands. And finally Xenagos got replaced by Sarkhan. Initially when brewing Sarkhan was a Kiora, but I couldn't resist playing around with the new planeswalker. Both planeswalkers first two abilities are similar enough that the decks are almost interchangeable. But the addition of blue gives the deck extra card advantage that isn't present in the pure red green version. To conclude on both of these decks, Red Green has more power, but the addition of blue gives you more cards and therefore more options so take whichever version you like better into battle.


Interesting! by CalmLittleBuddy at Wed, 04/08/2015 - 13:01
CalmLittleBuddy's picture

I wonder why no one tried running the Hammer in the combo before? When I first saw the Temur Ascendancy lists and figured out what it did, I was impressed. Then I played against it and saw how super fragile the combo was and how clunky the deck became without drawing the Temur Ascendancy.

Playing only 2 colors definitely makes the deck faster and meaner. Just playing 1 less land is huge. Not relying on tap lands as much is big too. This format is so slow that the Hammer list is bound to grab some wins off of opponent's bad draws or incorrect mulligans. Plus, it's got the misinformation thing going for it. If I saw the mana I'd think RG Monsters for sure.

Let us know how it works out.