ou know what's better than one? Two.
Dual Casting | Art by Johannes Voss
The idea of the combo is as old as Magic itself:
While combinations of cards aren't limited to just two—there's some truly convoluted chains out there that would make Rube Goldberg proud—the most essential version is; taking two cards that work in harmony to dominate a situation is the poster child for deck synergy: A plus B equals cool.
And when I asked you for your favorite two-card contraptions you answered in droves. Of course, not all combos are born alike, and your answers showed the range of what combos really mean. If you want to supercharge your Commander decks with the biggest and best in the game, you'll find plenty of fodder to use today.
Win and In
Of all the combos in Magic, one is the fiercest above all others: the instant win.
Two cards, either innocuous or powerful on their own, combine into victory for the controller. These are the flashiest of combos and highlight the divide between players who play to win and those who play to win.
They were also among the fewest, categorically speaking, of combo types sent in. I'll let you speak for how they work.
My favorite deck features Gisela as my commander, and tries to one-shot people. The most effective combo I can do with this involves Gisela as the commander swinging in for damage, and a bloodrush Wrecking Ogre. If she goes unblocked, 32 commander damage is pretty fantastic.
And if she is blocked, it will take more than 11 points of toughness to stop her.
My favorite two-card combo is straight out of my Radha, Heir to Keld ramp deck. Hellkite Charger either enchanted with Bear Umbra or equipped with Sword of Feast and Famine for infinite attack steps (assuming sufficient lands). I know infinite combos are frowned upon in some Commander groups but my mine tends to feature a lot of mass board wipes and other players able to combo out, so being able to take out the person who's recurring Child of Alara or who has thirty cards in hand is a handy trick. Generally only after a couple of hours' play, though.
Nature's Will is another way to turn on the devastation.
My favorite two-card Commander combo is Mikaeus, the Unhallowed + Triskelion. Why? You can use Mikaeus as the commander, ensuring you always have access to one of the pieces, and it can dominate any number of players in a single game. Short of something like Rest in Peace, Tormod's Crypt, Stony Silence, or Damping Matrix, you win.
Mikaeus and Triskelion is a more modern riff on Mephidross Vampire.
My Favorite two-card combo is Helm of Obedience and Leyline of the Void or Rest in Peace. Why? Because I love making opponents mad (in a Vorthos way). Exiling their library from the game is the perfect way.
My favorite two-card combo has to be Duskmantle Guildmage and Mindcrank. In a way, it turns into a cheaper Door to Nothingness. The Guildmage also works well with Jace, Memory Adept: 10 life down the drain for three mana! Defeat a player for just seven! I love Duskmantle Guildmage.
My favorite two-card combo is to counter a creature to the bottom of the library with Hinder and to then cast Tunnel Vision naming that card. No one suspects it!
Chris wasn't the only one with a Tunnel Vision mill combo. Spell Crumple, Vendilion Clique, Proteus Staff, Conundrum Sphinx, Spin into Myth, Vessel of Endless Rest, and plenty of other spells do the trick too. Apparently, milling entire libraries is a thing many of you want to do!
My favorite two-card Commander combo is the much-dreaded Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind + Curiosity. I add some redundancy to the combo by using Scion of the Ur-Dragon as a commander and use it to copy Niv-Mizzet when I'm going for the kill, and by using also Keen Sense as a second copy of Curiosity. It's not infinite, since I need a card in deck for each point of damage I will deal, but it almost always at least kills one opponent.
Drawing your library while pinging away at players (or their creatures) is something I remember fearing when I learned about Commander years ago. Some combos never change.
Some combos don't win the game on the spot, but they still feel powerful.
Two cards can lift a player up and provide a platform to build out dominance in a game. These may not be as snazzy as one-shot wins, but left alone they will lead one to victory nonetheless.
There were plenty to choose from among the submissions you shared.
My GW Pauper Commander deck (Sir Shandlar of Eberyn) has a two-card infinite Elf combo, by enchanting Midnight Guard with Presence of Gond. It's slow and easily disrupted, but no one outside of my play group sees it coming! I always get interesting looks when it happens, too!
Just making any amount of something you want is a good way to go for a win, but it still takes the next step of adding another card (or turn) to do it.
Without a doubt: Phyrexia's Core and Spine of Ish Sah. I hear destroying permanents is pretty good. I heard it's even better when you can do it again and again and again. The best part is that both cards are colorless and thus can be put into any deck.
When in doubt, blow things up until the message is clear. (Analogies of poor game politics to poor foreign policy is not accidental.)
Leonin Shikari and Lightning Greaves. I play Isamaru, Hound of Konda as my Commander, and I naturally run a ton of Equipment. Being able to move Greaves at instant speed ensures nothing on my side dies an untimely death, and things get completely out of hand if I also manage to land Puresteel Paladin with Metalcraft.
When you add in Sword of Feast and Famine or Fireshrieker, combat math gets really rough for opponents.
I'm not sure if it's really considered a combo, but my favorite interaction is Repercussion and Blasphemous Act. It's really the only win-con in my Norin the Wary deck.
If you want a combo that's as likely to take you out with it as everyone else, Repercussion is always a good place to start. It also turns cards like Starstorm and Chain Reaction into deadly all stars.
My favorite two-card Commander combo is Memnarch (as my commander), and Mycosynth Lattice. I steal all the things... Plus, as recently discovered, the added bonus of Mycosynth Lattice allows me to use any of my blue-colorless mana sources to spend mana as any color (without breaking Commander color source rules). So I get to steal your stuff and use it without restriction!!!
If that isn't enough treachery, I then put down a Darksteel Forge and it's all over, if not already!
Coming this fall, the new game from Wizards, Grand Theft Battlefield: Commander.
My favorite by far from a game discovered by accident: I have a Deadbridge Chant in play. My grave gets exiled. I play and sacrifice a Mindslaver. Oops.
Recurring Mindslaver is a "feature" typically seen in Sharuum the Hegemon decks. Nobody would expect it in a Golgari showdown.
I'm a fan of social and political play, so shenanigans involving Temple Bell and Mind Over Matter are always amusing to me. The combo itself is pretty versatile, if tricky. If the game has slowed to a glacial crawl, filling your opponent's hands with a few goodies can speed things up. If the math is in your favor, the combo can also provide a win con by making everyone draw their decks; at the very least you'll knock out one or two players. Digging for other combo pieces is also helpful.
Runner up: Deadeye Navigator and Thought Gorger.
I could devote an entire article to the whimsy of shenanigans around Deadeye Navigator, but Mind Over Matter is the classic tool of the "repeatedly untap things" combo.
My favorite two-card Commander combo would have to Phyrexian Processor and Trostani, Selesnya's Voice. The ability to dump 30 or more life and then gain it all back while making the biggest creature at the table is pure awesomeness. It does a lot you want in Commander, providing life to survive and dudes to punch faces.
This exact combo is the stuff of nightmares for my recent Kaervek the Merciless deck. It's also solid against any deck.
My favorite combo is undoubtedly Seedborn Muse and Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir (Teferi can be replaced with Yeva, Nature's Herald or Alchemist's Refuge). It turns everyone else's turn into your turn too, effectively quadrupling your mana in a four-player game.
In my particular example, it's a Momir Vig, Simic Visionary deck, so each creature tutors for yet another creature. I intentionally don't include infinite combos, but by the time my next combat phase comes around, everyone's usually staring at Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur; Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger; and every other big nasty creature in the deck, probably with a Mystic Snake ready as well.
The drawback of the combo is that it draws tremendous hate; people fear it, yes, but they're also supremely irritated by it.
Seedborn Muse is a longtime standout in multiplayer. Combined with Leyline of Anticipation and other flash-inducing effects, the green Muse easily ranks among the most terrifying cards to face down.
My favorite two-card combo for my Ghost Council deck is Pestilence and Lashknife Barrier. Together, your ability to control the board while not losing a single creature of your own is incredible. Plus, with black and white's lifegain, you can eventually kill all your opponents en masse!
Urza's Armor is the other piece of the Pestilence combo, although I'd prefer to use Pestilence Demon instead of the old enchantment if only for the ability to attack efficiently too.
Though I prefer synergies above combos, mine would be Perilous Forays and Roil Elemental in my Horde of Notions Elemental tribal deck. It's a powerful combo, though not overpowered, unanswerable, or infinite. You need to kick it off with playing a land or sacrificing one of your own creatures. But once that's done it's easy enough to steal a creature and throw it away for another land. Clear the board and ramp up to a ridiculous amount of lands.
There are two things I always love to do in Commander: clear the battlefield of creatures, and add even more land to my control. This is a combo that does both at once. (In so many words, I'm going to be adding this to something soon!)
My favorite two-card Commander combo is Glissa, the Traitor + Executioner's Capsule. This simple combo plays off Glissa's strengths in a very effective, and often devastating, way. Sac the capsule, something dies, Glissa returns the capsule; repeat for as many times as you have mana, and it's ready to go again next turn.
If your opponent isn't playing black, this can often clear his or her board, removing resources/threats and allowing you, and/or other opponents, to attacks freely. Not the most powerful combo in the game, but very effective nonetheless. Having it ready to go can be a good "rattlesnake" tactic, too, encouraging opponents to attack somewhere else.
"Machine-gun combos" like this aren't as common as you might think, but their effect on games is dramatic. These rarely win the game on their own, but the de facto win against decks without ways to break the combo is one good reason to add normally unexciting cards like Krosan Grip or Tormod's Crypt to decks.
Here's my favorite two-card combo—Strionic Resonator and Sands of Time.
I love this combo because it taps/untaps everything infinitely, including everyone else's permanents. The catch is it only works during upkeep. It's great to help people and easy to use to combo off with things like Eye of Ugin. The pieces alone are also great: Resonator is nuts and Sands is an obscure card that messes with combat but is like a Seedborn Muse for everyone. I use it in my Glissa, the Traitor deck and it's been great.
I think Rings of Brighthearth and Basalt Monolith is the best to card combo. Being able to go infinite with your colorless manager opens up many extreme ways to kill your opponent.
Playing black? Exsanguinate. Playing blue? Blue Sun's Zenith and watch their libraries dissolve into their hands. It works when you can piece it together. My personal favorite is Orochi Hatchery.
If you can find a way to use any amount of mana you want, these are combos for you. Comet Storm is my favorite way to blow everything away.
My favorite two-card combo in my Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer deck is Moltensteel Dragon and Soul Conduit. I attack with Moltensteel Dragon, spend all but my last one or two life points on its firebreathing ability, then swap my life total with whomever has the most life. This will deal a huge chunk of damage to two opponents at once. And then I can do it again next turn.
It's not quite an instant-win, but this combo has the potential to wipe out an entire table very quickly if someone doesn't have an answer for it.
Soul Conduit also partners well with any of the Souleaters. Funny that.
My favorite two-card combo in Commander would have to be Sunforger and Mistveil Plains allowing you to repeatedly cast any white or red instant with a converted mana cost of four or less. I feature this combo in my Kaalia of the Vast deck and use it on cards like Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile to clear the way for my commander to attack safely.
I've used this combo myself, and my preferred targets were Tithe and Boros Charm. More land or indestructible creatures were definitely handy, too.
Lurking Predators + Cream of the Crop: Every time an enemy plays a spell (which is a lot in Commander), I get a free creature and then search the top for the next creature to play. With "enter the battlefield" effects, this gets extra silly.
This is the prime example of how monocolored decks can hit well above their limited color weight.
Easily the Sun Titan + Saffi Eriksdotter combo. People usually get so stuck on trying to remove them that it blinds them to whatever else I'm doing.
Looping recursion is solid in the world of repeatedly razing all creatures. And from personal experience, seeing the combo is definitely distracting.
Cute Like Kittens
Combos need not win games or dominate the board to be sweet.
Two cards can make the game easier or demonstrate a neat trick that makes things interesting. Just because they won't win the game or create a potent position doesn't mean they should be ignored.
These are the bread and butter of decks, and the combinations of this type were far too numerous to list, but some of the neatest synergies are below.
Reassembling Skeleton and Viscera Seer are a fantastic duo in my blue-black Vela the Night-Clad deck. It's an instant-speed "1B: Scry 1" engine that's resilient to graveyard hate, and with Vela herself (or Blood Artist) it'll drain everyone else in the process too!
Tenacious Dead and Nether Traitor work similarly, and partner well with Dark Prophecy or Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter. You could even build an entire deck around a sacrifice theme if you wanted.
I've recently really enjoyed the unforeseen combo of Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Lightning Crafter in my Wort, Boggart Auntie deck, which revealed a great spot-removal defense and a way for red to flicker "enters the battlefield" creatures!
Siege-Gang Commander, Mogg War Marshal, and Goblin Ringleader are all reasonable things to bounce again and again.
My favorite two-card combo is Sakura-Tribe Elder + Nim Deathmantle. This is not a game-breaking, earth-shattering combo. It just gives you a free blocker a turn, and lets you cast Rampant Growth for four as many times as you want.
There's also the benefit that the look of child-like glee on my face when I pull this combo off leads to people leaving me alone until I have a pile of mana big enough to do truly ridiculous things.
I'm a big fan of mana from lands in Commander, and I can vouch for this combo myself. It's worth noting that, like Deadeye Navigator, Nim Deathmantle is a tool that works with any creature that you can sacrifice repeatedly.
My favorite two-card combo for Commander is Deadeye Navigator and Coiling Oracle. I run the combo in any deck that runs blue and green for that extra boost of ramp slash card draw. Plus the Deadeye Navigator can bounce around to be used with other "enter the battlefield" effects.
See previous comment. (This is another favorite combo I've used myself.)
In answer to your question about a two-card combo in Commander, I would like to tell you about my favorite Commander deck: It's Zirilan of the Claw mono-red from Mirage.
I've been throwing Dragons at people for years now, and it's super fun. The combo is technically more than two cards, but the third card doesn't matter. Using Zirilan and Sundial of the Infinite makes me smile every time. What's better than tutoring for an answer to a difficult board state, right into play, with haste, and keeping it after your turn's done? Not much!
Sundial of the Infinite has some strange interactions with things on the stack at the end of the turn, although anyone who's been around Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker long enough is bound to see it at work.
My favorite two-card combo is Nath of the Gilt-Leaf (commander) with Sadistic Hypnotist. It's a pseudo-infinite combo that empties each of your opponents' hands without automatically winning the game. It creates some cool topdeck moments and gives your opponents a story to tell for the times when they're able to claw their way back for a win.
Nobody really likes their entire hand to be discarded (exception: dredge players), so expect this combo to create a little friction. However, that's all it does. Limiting options isn't a surefire win, especially in Commander.
Ooze Flux + Cathars' Crusade. With these enchantments in play it's easy to make and grow an army. Any creature will enter with a +1/+1 counter, then pay to make a 1/1 Ooze and put counters on both creatures. Repeat as mana allows.
I like the fact that you can scale the effect by taking each counter that the Crusade adds to make the Ooze tokens bigger or you can keep making 1/1 Ooze tokens and pump each other creature +1/+1, making them all bigger. For added synergy, include Protean Hydra and/or Doubling Season in your deck.
"Army in a can" refers to creatures like Cloudgoat Ranger and Captain of the Watch: You get several creatures when you cast just one. Ooze Flux and Cathars' Crusade won't scream combo when you first cast them, but this type of engine is more durable (and stronger) than Jade Mage, Ant Queen, or any other army in a can alone.
This is Theros
There was one more two-card combo shared, and it's another cute one:
Is it too early to say Anax and Cymede + Rally the Righteous? So excited...
No, it isn't too early at all. Next week, we'll have a few decks built around both Anax and Cymede as well as Polukranos, World Eater, as shared by you (just in time for the Duel Decks: Heroes vs. Monsters release on Friday). We'll also have a kickass Theros preview we'll be devoted to using soon.
As for the week after, you can guess wildly from this week's feedback prompt: Which five creature cards would you include in an Orzhov (white-black) Commander deck?
- Feedback via email
- 150-word limit to answer the question
- One paragraph explanation for all the picks
- Name and email required (non-personal information to be used in column)
See you knee-deep in Theros action next week! And if you're ready for more, keep your eyes open on Twitter throughout this weekend. If previous years are any indication, there will be plenty of details from Theros courtesy of PAX and the exclusive party Saturday night. I know I'm excited to see what comes next!
Adam "Stybs" Styborski joined DailyMTG.com in 2009 to take over Serious Fun, before switching over to begin Command Tower in 2013. With his passion for Commander and community inclusion, you'll find plenty of opportunity each week to share your thoughts about everyone's favorite casual format.