ello, and welcome to From the Lab! We're coming off Prerelease weekend this fine Monday, and I hope you all had a blast getting your first taste of this interesting Limited format. Whenever a new set is released, I start by looking through all the cards in the set for potential combos. Although I don't always catch everything (I missed the combo with Scapeshift and Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle due to one misplaced word), I can generally dig up a few gems out of any set. I took a long look at Strionic Resonator last week, and today I have two more cards to take advantage of. Each of them has the potential to create a never-ending stream of creature tokens, and neither requires very many cards to accomplish the feat.
The first card I'll be looking at is Xathrid Necromancer. This card is an update of Rotlung Reanimator from Onslaught, giving you a 2/2 Zombie token whenever a creature of a certain type dies. With a card like Conspiracy or Xenograft on the battlefield, you can turn the Zombies into Humans or Clerics. After that, whenever any of your creatures die, including the Zombie tokens, you'll get a new token. With a sacrifice outlet like Blasting Station or Altar of Dementia, you can sacrifice a token over and over again, dealing infinite damage to your opponent, or putting his or her entire library into the graveyard.
To get the chain started, you'll need to have another creature on the battlefield. It doesn't really matter what it is, so I'll use this slot to include a bit of removal. Shriekmaw and Bone Shredder can kill an opposing creature, then sacrifice themselves or be sacrificed to get that first Zombie token. To protect the combo or stall your opponent, I'll also include a few copies of Mana Leak, taking advantage of the fact that we're already playing blue for Xenograft.
It's a Saproling Thing
At first glance, Sporemound is an interesting, if not overly exciting, common creature. To those with knowledge of a peculiar little enchantment from Planar Chaos, however, the combo practically jumps out at you. Sporemound gives you a Saproling token whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control. Life and Limb turns all your Saprolings into Forests as well. This means that the Saproling token created by Sporemound will trigger the creature's ability again, giving you another Saproling Forest, which gives you another, and so on. There's only one problem: There's no way to stop it. Since Sporemound's ability is mandatory, and the combo doesn't kill your opponent outright, the endless, unbreakable loop will end the game in a draw. There is a way out, however. If you have an instant that will get rid of either Sporemound or Life and Limb, you can stop the combo once you have, say, a few trillion Saproling tokens on the battlefield. The best part is, all you have to do is play some good instant-speed removal. Four copies each of Path to Exile and Swords to Plowshares should make it easy to stop the loop after you finish making your army of Saprolings. I'll also throw in a play set of High Market with the lands, giving you another way to end the chain. And just in case you don't have any of those, I'll throw in a silver bullet in Whitemane Lion, which can be tutored up if you need it.
Eladamri's Call and Worldly Tutor can search for Sporemound, while Idyllic Tutor and Enlightened Tutor can find Life and Limb. I also include Concordant Crossroads so you don't have to wait to attack with your arbitrarily large army. Against faster decks, four copies of Day of Judgment, supplemented by the removal, should provide a solid defense.
The Token Battle
Only one deck can be crowned king of infinite tokens, but which will it be? Will the Saproling Forests prove too vast for the Zombies to navigate, or will the Zombies feast on succulent vegetative flesh? Let's take this party to the arena and find out.
The Saprolings started off by using Enlightened Tutor to find Life and Limb, and the Zombies played a land and passed. The Saprolings cast Eladamri's Call, searching up Whitemane Lion, and the Zombies cast Altar of Dementia.
The Saprolings played a land and passed the turn, and the Zombies cast Rotlung Reanimator. Life and Limb hit the field for the Saprolings, and the Zombies merely played a land. The Saprolings cast Sporemound and passed the turn, and the Zombies killed Sporemound with Bone Shredder.
The Saprolings cast Day of Judgment to clear the field save the token made by Rotlung Reanimator, and the Zombies cast Xenograft, naming Cleric. The Saprolings cast Eladamri's Call to search up Sporemound, and the Zombies cast Rotlung Reanimator. They sacrificed the Zombie token, triggering the Reanimator's ability, but the Saprolings exiled Rotlung Reanimator with Path to Exile in response. The Zombies got their token, but passed the turn with no way to continue the chain.
The Saprolings cast Sporemound, then played High Market to trigger the ability. After getting a few million Saprolings, High Market sacrificed Sporemound to end the chain. Unable to find an answer, the Zombies died to the verdant army on the following turn.
The Zombies played a land and passed the turn, and the Saprolings cast Concordant Crossroads. Altar of Dementia hit the board on turn two, and the Saprolings cast Eladamri's Call, searching up Sporemound. The Zombies cast Rotlung Reanimator, and the Saprolings played a land and passed. The Zombies followed suit, and the Saprolings cast Life and Limb.
The Zombies cast Conspiracy, naming Cleric, and passed the turn. The Saprolings ended the turn with no play, and the Zombies evoked Shriekmaw to trigger Rotlung Reanimator. The Saprolings cast Path to Exile in response, getting rid of Rotlung Reanimator. The Zombies got their token, then cast Xathrid Necromancer and passed the turn.
The Saprolings played a land and cast Sporemound, then passed back. The Zombies cast Xenograft, naming Human, and sacrificed Zombie tokens until the Saprolings' entire library was in the graveyard.
Both sides started off with lands, and the Saprolings cast Eladamri's Call on turn two, searching up a Whitemane Lion. The Zombies played another land and passed, and the Saprolings cast Idyllic Tutor for Concordant Crossroads. The Zombies cast Blasting Station and ended the turn.
The Saprolings played High Market and cast Life and Limb, and the Zombies cast Xathrid Necromancer. The Saprolings played another land and cast Sporemound before passing the turn. The Zombies cast Bone Shredder, killing Sporemound, and the Saprolings cast another copy before passing the turn.
The Zombies sacrificed Bone Shredder to Blasting Station rather than paying the echo cost, dealing 1 damage to Sporemound. They cast another copy of Xathrid Necromancer, untapping Blasting Station, then sacrificed it to deal another damage to Sporemound. Both Necromancers triggered, putting two Zombies onto the battlefield, one of which was sacrificed to Blasting Station to finish off Sporemound.
The Saprolings cast Eladamri's Call for another copy of Sporemound, then cast Concordant Crossroads and passed the turn. The Zombies cast Conspiracy, naming Human, and sacrificed the Zombie token, triggering Xathrid Necromancer. The Saprolings were ready with a Path to Exile, however, stopping the combo before it started. The Saprolings passed the turn with no play, and the Zombies cast Rotlung Reanimator.
The Saprolings passed with no play again, and the Zombies cast another copy of Conspiracy, naming Cleric this time. The Zombie was sacrificed for 1 damage, but a Swords to Plowshares exiled Rotlung Reanimator. The Saprolings played a land and passed the turn again. The Zombies cast another Blasting Station and passed the turn, and the Saprolings cast Sporemound, playing a land to trigger the chain and sacrificing it to High Market once the board was filled with Saprolings. Thanks to Concordant Crossroads, the tokens attacked for the win immediately.
The Countdown Begins
Magic 2014 hits shelves on Friday, just in time for FNM. I know my local store will be running several Limited events over the weekend, so be sure to ask your tournament organizer about any special release-day events. In the meantime, if you have any cool combo ideas you're itching to share, shoot me an email by clicking the link at the bottom of the page. Until next time, keep searching for new cards that make you smile. See ya!
Mike Cannon signed on to write From the Lab at the end of 2012. An ardent casual player and lover of bizarre synergies, he'll be bringing you a selection of crazy combo decks every Monday.