By The Commander Panda

EDHPandaHey, folks!  Welcome to Hatching Plans, the article series where I take really stupid deck ideas, and try to make them a reality!  On Wednesdays at my store, we have open play. From casual magic, to playtesting, to  EDH, we have all sorts of fun games going on. Now, the store closes down at 11, so me and a few buddies  have actually taken to loitering outside the Parking lot and just chatting. One week a local Prison player and unofficial sixth Psychographic profile Josh proposed a silly challenge which is the basis of this installment’s deck: Combo off and kill three opponents with perhaps one of the worst Magic cards ever printed.

Wait… huh?

Now for those of you that can’t read The Dark, this is what it does:  You can choose two blocking creatures an opponent controls that are blocking different creatures.  If both can block all the creatures the other is blocking, you switch which one is blocking which.  On top of that, whenever it becomes tapped for any reason it deals two damage not only to you but to each creature you control.

 

 

Okay, so how do we combo with this card?  The first answer is obvious: Stuffy Doll.  You play a Stuffy Doll, point it at an opponent, then whenever you tap your Sorrow’s Path not only will it shock you it’ll shock one of your opponents.  Sure we could use Boros Reckoner or Spitemare here, but it adds an extra step to make sure they don’t die to Sorrow’s Path’s damage.  Stuffy Doll skips that step.

Step 1: Done.

 

Now we have to find a way to infinitely tap and untap our Sorrow’s Path to put a ton of damage triggers on the stack to have Stuffy Doll kill an opponent.  I remembered a card a friend of mine played a while back in Green-based Ramp decks that untaps lands: A sweet dude named Argothian Elder.  But he untaps TWO lands, so we add his normal partner in crime: Wirewood Lodge.

The one to untap the lands and the land to untap it

The one to untap the lands and the land to untap it

So, now we have a way to infinitely tap and untap Sorrow’s Path…  if we have a ton of green mana.  Since Sorrow’s Path doesn’t care about how it became tapped we’ll add Prismatic Omen and Chromatic Lantern to allow our Path to tap for the Green we need to uptap our Elder…  to untap our Lodge and Path.  Over and over and over and over and over.

Step 2: Complete

Wait… What’s this thing do?

So, now we have our Five-card combo that can deal infinite damage to the Stuffy Doll, and so infinite damage to… one opponent.  Alright, so we need a few more cards in here to kill everyone else.  Well, we’re already in green so let’s add Blue to start getting Clone effects.  Things like Phyrexian Metamorph, Clone, Vesuvan Doppelganger, Sculpting Steel and Copy Artifact.  Phantasmal Image, Cryptoplasm, and Progenitor Mimic.  Heck, we can be super cute and play Body Double, just in case they somehow kill it.  Cackling Counterpart, Dual Nature, Followed Footsteps, Mirrorworks, Soul Foundry, Rite of Replication and Prototype Portal all let us make tokens of our Stuffy Dolls to point at all the extra players.  It may seem a little overboard, but it also lets us move into a “Copy the Best things on the board and win through value” plan if we absolutely can’t get our combo off.

Step 3: Check

Thou shalt not harm thyself (on thy own turn)

We have a way to deal infinite damage to multiple Dolls to deal Infinite damage to our opponents.  Sweet.  But there’s still a problem.  Sorrow’s Path also hits us.  So while we’re killing everyone else with our Dolls we’ll also be killing us.  We have to fix that.  There are two ways we can go about this:  Protecting ourselves, or simply giving a Stuffy Doll lifelink.  Now we add our third color: White.

White gives us access to the easiest way to protect us during this Combo: Personal Sanctuary.

Between Green and White we also have access to a bunch of Auras that grant lifelink.  So we grab Armadillo Cloak, Unflinching Courage and Spirit Loop.  We can also add a few Equipment that fill the role: Basilisk Collar, Loxodon Warhammer and Behemoth Sledge.

Lastly we’ll add a silly little utility creature that can randomly give us the Lifelink we need (and functions well when we’re on the train to ‘Opponent’s Value Cards Town’): Angelic Skirmisher.

Step 4: EXPLODED

Alright, so that brings us up to the thirty cards that contribute to our Core Combo of the deck.  All that’s left is to put together the other sixty-nine cards to fill up the shell and the choice of a General to lead it.  For this build I decided to take it into a “Bant Mid-Range” shell.  Not at Aggro, but not at Control, we’ll add things to accelerate us in to our combo such as Mana Rocks and tutors.

We’ll start with looking at Tutors for the lands in our combo.  The five easiest cards to use for this also fall in our colors: Knight of the Reliquary, Crop Rotation, Expedition Map, Sylvan Scrying and Weathered Wayfarer.

Next, we’ll find ways to tutor for the Various creatures.  Sylvan Tutor and Worldly Tutor can find us any of the creatures we need, like our Elder and Stuffy Doll, as well as a ton of our Clones.  Elvish Harbinger, Skyshroud Poacher and Wirewood Herald can all directly find our Argothian Elder.

Next-to-lastly we’ll look at the Artifact and Enchantment tutors we’ll need to clench the last pieces of the combo.  Enlightened Tutor is the most versatile, finding both our protection, dolls and clone abilities.  Idyllic Tutor grabs us the protection and Clone effects.  Now we look at the insanely powerful Artifact Tutors which will find everything from Mana Rocks to Stuffy Dolls to at least two of our straight-up Clones, multiple token-producing artifacts and some Lifelink sources.  We grab Fabricate, Reshape and Tezzeret the Seeker, all able to find almost any card we need for our combo.

Lastly we add the most versatile permanent tutor in the game which falls nicely in to our colors: Wargate.

And there’s the forty-six cards that are either a part of the core combo and ways to find it.

Step 5: Killed it.

Now, we can begin to talk about which General we want at the helm.  In Bant, we have a few that can function as utility for our deck: Angus Mackenzie is an obvious choice, being able to protect us while we assemble our Combo.  Phelddagrif has a stigma of being group hug and, depending on the group, might be able to buy us enough time to pull things together.  Ragnar is an odd one from legends that can help us protect our Argothian Elder through Regeneration.  Rubinia Soulsinger can steal our opponent’s creatures and act as a rattlesnake to keep us alive.  Finally, Treva, the Renewer, is in an awkward spot, since she wants us to get into the Red Zone to provide incidental lifegain.

From a purely utility standpoint, I’ll narrow it down to Angus, Ragnar and Rubinia.  Now although I’ll mostly be testing this on Cockatrice, I do want to keep some semblance of Budget in mind.  Being good utility (and being a fan of Skyrim), we’ll go with Ragnar, since no one you sit down with will actually know what he does anyways.  You’ll probably be pretty safe.

Sir Ragnar

 

Wait, this is a thing?

Alright, now we start filling out the rest of the deck with classic Bant Midrange things.  We’ll add ourselves some mana rocks.  Sol Ring, Talismans and Signets.  Seven Rocks are probably plenty.  Add a few classic ramp spells: Kodama’s Reach, Cultivate, Farseek and Skyshroud Claim.  Stick in our three Shocks lands, since they’re cheap right now, Vesuva and Thespian’s Stage for redundancy, and nine or so of each Basic in our colors to bring us to 34 lands.  And Eighty-nine cards.

Just ten slots to go.

Here’s where things get interesting.  We can basically add anything we want into these spots.  My thoughts are to put a few Draw spells and some things to try and make sure things run smoothly.  First things first, we add one of the best creatures in the game: Eternal Witness.  She’ll make sure that the most useful things don’t just fall to counterspells or Mill.  Next, we’ll add a few options to bring our Stuffy Doll back from Exile, if we stick it under a Soul Foundry or Prototype Portal.  Green-White gives us pretty much the only two options for it: Riftsweeper and Pull from Eternity.

Smash Bottle, get Cards

Seven slots left.

Let’s add in a few draw spells.  Harmonize, Opportunity, Tidings, Ponder and Preordain seem good.  The first three actually just draw us cards, while the last two help us assemble combo parts.

Down to two spots.

Now we can add the last two cards that can make sure we don’t just randomly die in combat: Holy Day and Fog.

Step 7: Smashed.

So, now we have our first list!

Now comes the time that we test the deck out.  I’ll play it both on Cockatrice a few times, then proxy it out to play at my shop a few times, just to see how it works.

Cockatrice Testing

Game 1: We ended up in a four-player game with myself, a friend playing Child of Alara Super-Friends, Animar and…  well, we didn’t actually see the fourth general because the guy just left before he presented.  Anyways, the deck ramped correctly, except the Superfriends player found his Humility extremely quickly, which kind of hoses both Animar and our little janky combo.  The Animar player conceded two turns later, taking with it any hope of us getting rid of the Humility.  In the realization that we may actually need some removal, we made these changes:

– Opportunity
– Cackling Counterpart
+ Oblivion Ring
+ Detention Sphere

Game 2:

Ragnar, Child of Alara, Shirei, Rakdos, Lord of Riots

This game ended up being miserable.  Between trying to keep Rakdos off of cheap guys (and a turn 4 Sheoldred) and various sacrificing effects, I wasn’t able to actually keep a Stuffy Doll on the board.  The Shirei player ended up taking a few ten-minute turns and finally killed everyone.  It took them way too long.  Next game!

Game 3:

Ragnar, Intent the Dreamer, Bosh, Iron Golem, Shirei

The Iron Catapult

This one should have been fairly easy.  Opening hand consisted of Stuffy Doll, a clone, Elvish Harbinger, some ramp and Mirrorworks.  Everything that looked great to get started. And it was good, until the Bosh player played a turn 2 Wheel of Fortune.  Thankfully, I drew in to Body Double and started assembling Stuffy Dolls.  Stuffy Doll, Idyllic Tutor into Copy Artifact, and Reshape into Metamorph.  So, we had our three Dolls.  Then another problem arose: Bosh played an Aladdin.  After the initial onset of “Wait, people play that card?” wore off, things just went downhill.  After Bosh picked off the other two players, my face was promptly wrecked.

So, after that I called it a night.  Basically, the deck was a bust, and the rest of the decks at the table were generally too aggressive.  Which is totally fine, I like it.  It just didn’t work for me.  Not to mention the draws were pretty terrible.  We’ll make a few more changes before the Paper testing, changing out straight-up Draw spells for a few well-known artifacts that will help us just smooth out our draws and try to find out pieces:

Harmonize
Tidings
+ Sensei’s Divining Top
+ Scroll Rack

After our testing in paper, things were not too much better.  Over the course of three more games, we ran into mostly the same problems.  Decks at the table were just too good or efficient to be able to piece things together.  Or perhaps I was just too vocal about bringing pieces of the combo together.  I was under the impression that at least most of the table was wanting to see something hilarious happen.  I was wrong.  Several times I was killed a turn or two before I could have finally brought things together.

The largest problem was actually just getting enough Stuffy Dolls on to the table to be able to go off.  It takes time to get multiple dolls on to the table, and there can actually be political repercussions to the order of which you point dolls at players.  I’m finding the combo might actually fit into a Group Hug shell, where you can use political leverage to keep yourself alive while you assemble your combo.

Anyways, as we built this deck, it was a bust.  But at least we tried!  And Josh got to see enough of the combo come together over the course of our three games that he knew what we were doing.  And approved greatly.  So that’s a win.

Overall conclusion: Sorrow’s Path combo is doable, but incredibly hard to pull together without getting mowed down first.  I’ll log it away in my database of crazy win-cons, alongside comboing off with Acorn Catapult.  Death By Squirrels.  That’s a deck for another time.

I’ll see you guys next time!  Comment, tweet or message me zany deck ideas that you want to see attempted, and maybe I’ll pick them for an article!

Commander Panda, Signing Off

The Commander Panda can be reached on Facebook (The Commander Panda) and Twitter as @EDHPanda.