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By: dragonmage65, Nick Matthews
Feb 02 2007 1:00am
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Think Tank - Combo on a Budget


Welcome back, folks. I’m still in the process of recovering from the drudgery of finals, so please forgive me if you notice any coffee stains on the page. Don’t be surprised if I string off a bland chemistry formula at an inappropriate time either. But hey, let’s get started!

One of the many complaints I hear about combos is that they are often very cost-intensive - understandable, considering that the best ‘Johnny’ cards are usually printed in the rare slot. Since many of us have limited budgets, we might not be able to experience the archtype, even in casual play. But there is no reason at all why combo cannot be built on a budget - in fact, there’s no reason at all why we even have to use rares! I’ll be using this column to go over an extremely affordable combo, with an equally-inexpensive, entirely rare-less deck to go with it as well.

First off, while there are many combo-enablers that are printed at rare, there are also some printed at uncommon, such as (Pemnin’s Aura). These cards are harder to find and are much harder to abuse. Some may not even look like Johnny cards from the surface, such as this one:

While this card certainly makes for some…interesting gameplay, it appears to be a card without a purpose. Well, unless you consider complete chaos a purpose. In which case, you would probably own playsets of Confusion in the Ranks

Sigh. Pass the coffee, please.

Back on topic: this particular card will help give Fractured Loyalty a purpose:


Simic Guildmage is a workhorse. It’s great for combat tricks in decks that utilize +1/+1 counters, but we’re not concerned with that aspect. What we care about is the second ability - the ability to move auras, or, more specifically, Fractured Loyalty. By combining these two, you essentially have an unlimited creature-stealing machine!


Come to Papa!


Lands (22):

15x Island - $0.00

7x Mountain - $0.00

Creatures (12):

4x Neurok Transmuter - $0.20

4x Simic Guildmage - $0.80

4x Whip Sergeant - $0.20

Other (26):

4x Cancel - $0.60

3x Compulsive Research - $0.36

4x Concentrate - $0.20

4x Darksteel Ingot - $0.20

4x Fractured Loyalty - $0.20

4x Muddle the Mixture - $0.12

3x Shock - $0.09

Total: 60 Cards, $2.97 (!)

Sideboard - None

Legal In: Extended, Classic, Freeform


Synopsis: This budget deck utilizes Simic Guildmage and Fractured Loyalty. The idea is to get the Guildmage into play along with either Neurok Transmuter or Whip Sergeant, and then play Fractured Loyalty on an opponent’s creature. That done, you can target that creature and gain control of it, while at the same time using Simic Guildmage to move Loyalty onto another one of your opponent’s creatures. That way, you gain permanent control of the creature you just stole, and your opponent will not be able to get it back. You can do this until you have gained control of all your opponent’s creatures.

Neurok Transmuter and Whip Sergeant can be used to cheaply target a Fractured’ creature. Compulsive Research and Concentrate make for good card advantage, and Muddle the Mixture can be used to transmute for either Simic Guildmage or Fractured Loyalty. Cancel and Shock are mainly for support, and Darksteel Ingot shouldn’t require an explanation.

A few things of note - there’s a lot of rules manipulation occurring here. You’ll have to watch for several things because of that. Firstly, once you gain control of a creature with Fractured Loyalty still on it, you won’t be able to move it onto an opponent’s creature. So to avoid this, you’ll need to use the stack in the following order:

1. Target the enchanted creature. Fractured Loyalty triggers.

2. Use Simic Guildmage’s second ability to move Fractured Loyalty onto another creature your opponent controls. This must be done before the Fractured Loyalty trigger resolves!

So, obviously, if you are unable to spend any more mana to move Fractured Loyalty, you should not trigger it.

A second thing you should note is that in multiplayer, Fractured Loyalty cannot be moved among all your opponents, but rather only one. You can, however, play more than one Fractured Loyalty, and multiple copies can be used on different opponents. (It is redundant to ‘assign’ more than one copy of Fractured Loyalty to a single opponent, so don’t do it!)

Note that the cost of this decklist is less than the price of a single (Haakon, Scrouge of Stromgald) that I used last article. It’s less than a Six-Dollar Burger at Carl’s Junior. Hell, it’s four times as cheap as a Precon! You have absolutely no excuse for not giving this build a try.

So with that, until next time, good luck, and have fun!

- dragonmage65



does that even work? by xenapan (Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 02/23/2007 - 01:34
xenapan (Unregistered)'s picture

fractured loyalty shouldnt even be triggered ever by the guildmage.. the guildmage text says specifically the aura. the only other target for it is the other permanent.
if you do it any other way, the combo breaks down entirely as the aura will have been moved before or after you gain control. if you move it before, the aura doesnt affect the old creature anymore and if you do it after its been moved you can only move it to your own creature

by dragonmage65 at Tue, 02/20/2007 - 22:10
dragonmage65's picture

Yes, I had some trouble getting it to function as well. I may need to do some more testing of the deck and if I cannot get it to function properly I may submit a bug report to Wizards. I am pretty sure it's just something I'm doing wrong, because it is rather complicated, and the rules engine doesn't like complicated :)

The deck by Evans Ward Collins (Unregistered) (not verified) at Tue, 02/20/2007 - 01:09
Evans Ward Collins (Unregistered)'s picture

I tried your deck and followed the exact directions on it, but the last creature that gets Fractured Loyalty is the only creature I get. This was a good idea of a deck, I just can't get it to execute. :(

Why stop at creatures? by AJ_Impy (Unregistered) (not verified) at Thu, 02/15/2007 - 02:15
AJ_Impy (Unregistered)'s picture

That is a beautiful deck. I may well give it a go, and I have a suggestion to make it even more annoying, which also addresses the creatureless issue: Add in a little green and run a few Living Terrain. If your opponent isn't running creatures, then his lands can get up and walk over instead.

creatureless decks by Skews_Me (Unregistered) (not verified) at Mon, 02/12/2007 - 15:58
Skews_Me (Unregistered)'s picture

Other than the 3x Shock and some counters, what else do you have against decks that aren't based on creatures? Specifically, you need a secondary kill condition. Trying to keep with the budget, adding Blaze ($0.25 each) with Extraplanar Lens ($0.60 each) to double your Island power provides more bang for the buck than six damage in pings.

creatureless decks by Anonymous (not verified) at Mon, 02/08/2010 - 13:31
Anonymous's picture

Secondary win condition (for creatureless decks) can be Thopter Foundry+Sword of the Meek, because you already have Muddle the Mixture for them.

P.S. you can use the first Ability of Guildmage to target creatures, so your combo doesn't need the third piece, only +4*Terramorphic Expanse and +1 Forest.

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