Every writer gets stuck on ideas sometimes. When this happens, one thing that can help is introducing a random element to get you thinking about things you might not have previously considered. Back in May, I decided to do an entire article using this technique.
elcome to the Lab, my precocious pupils. Today, I'll be doing something a bit different than the usual laboratory fare. For those who weren't aware, the Gatherer has a Random button that shows you a card chosen at random from the entirety of Magic. So, I've laid out a challenge. I'll hit the Random button until I hit a card that's not a land or a vanilla or French vanilla creature. Then I have to build a deck around that card. So, let's get things started.
And the first card is... High Tide. Well, that's an auspicious start. High Tide has a long history of Legacy play, being powered up by cards like Mind Over Matter and Turnabout to make enough mana to funnel into a lethal Blue Sun's Zenith.
I'm not sure there's a better win condition than Blue Sun's Zenith when you're making a ton of blue mana, but we can certainly do better on the setup. This is From the Lab after all. Why make a large amount of mana when we can make an arbitrarily large amount of mana?
Magus of the Candelabra is already a great way to make a bunch of extra mana after casting High Tide, letting you untap all your lands at once. Since they all produce two mana, the Magus will double your investment, giving you back twice as much mana as you put into it.
Freed from the Real and Pemmin's Aura both let you untap the creature they enchant for just one blue mana. Since Magus of the Candelabra is effectively producing several blue mana each time you tap it, enchanting it with one of these will give you access to unlimited mana. Funnel that into a Blue Sun's Zenith and your opponent will draw his or her entire library and lose the game.
Fatestitcher can substitute for Magus of the Candelabra. It untaps one land for free, giving you two mana. You can then use one of those to untap it with one of the Auras and get more mana, repeating the loop as necessary.
Merchant Scroll is an excellent way to tutor for High Tide or Blue Sun's Zenith, and Ponder can help you find the creatures and Auras. Counterspell will help keep you alive while you get everything set up.
All right, card number two. And the winner is... Darigaaz, the Igniter. All right, I can work with that. Darigaaz wants your opponent to have a lot of cards in his or her hand of the same color. Now, I see two ways you could go with this. You could fill up your opponent's hand with cards like Howling Mine and Font of Mythos and then deal a bunch of damage with cards like Runeflare Trap and Ebony Owl Netsuke, or you could use Painter's Servant to make whatever cards your opponent already has all the same color. The second option seems more unique, so I'll go with that.
There are some other cards we can include that want all your opponent's cards to be the same color. Darigaaz's bro Crosis also likes a hand full of similarly-colored cards, and although the two don't really play nice together, they do work off the same setup. Persecute is Crosis's ability on a four-mana sorcery, letting you get rid of most high-impact cards before they get the chance to do their work.
Diabolic Tutor and Increasing Ambition let you search up a Painter's Servant, and Head Games can serve as a temporary substitute. Rather than making the cards your opponent already has all the same color, it lets you get rid of them and search his or her library for a new hand of your choice. That leaves you free to choose all cards of one color.
Wayfarer's Bauble gets you to the six mana you need for your Dragons a turn sooner, and Doom Blade will help keep you alive. After you find a Painter's Servant, Deathmark can kill any creature for only one mana. Just remember to always choose green or white with the Servant, unless you have a very good reason not to.
Another click of the Random button presents me with... Snap. Well, this just got a bit more difficult. Snap does untap two lands, however, and things that untap lands can often be broken in some way. The first step to potentially going infinite with Snap is finding a way to cast it repeatedly. Archaeomancer seems like a good fit. You can return it to your hand with Snap, then recast it to get Snap back from your graveyard. However, this requires at least six mana each time. Two Lotus Vales could make that happen. In fact, one Lotus Vale and one Scorched Ruins would give you the mana you need to cast both spells, plus an extra colorless. This gives you infinite colorless mana. We could use Blue Sun's Zenith again, but the triple blue might be a problem, so I'll go with Increasing Confusion instead. It's a little more dangerous that Blue Sun's Zenith in that it can be foiled by creatures like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, but that's a chance I'm willing to take.
Eternal Witness can sub for Archaeomancer, giving you infinite colored mana with two Lotus Vales as well as infinite colorless with the Lotus Vale/Scorched Ruins combination. The latter is more complex, requiring you to periodically switch between tapping the Vale for green mana and for blue, but it does work once you get going.
Merchant Scroll can search for Snap, and Mystical Tutor can find either Snap or Increasing Confusion. Expedition Map and Sylvan Scrying make sure you get the Lotus Vales and Scorched Ruins you need. Finally, Dispel prevents your opponent from disrupting your combo with a removal spell.
Card number four is... Tsunami. This one should be a bit easier to work with. Thankfully, there are a lot of cards you can use to turn your opponent's lands into Islands. Not only will these set you up for a one-sided Armageddon with Tsunami, they will deprive your opponent of colored mana other than blue in the meantime, making it difficult for him or her to cast spells.
Sea's Claim is the cheapest of the bunch at one mana, letting you Islandify your opponent's first land even if you're on the draw. After that, Spreading Seas will give you the nice bonus of an extra card, while Convincing Mirage, Phantasmal Terrain, and Lingering Mirage will give you the volume you need to enchant every land.
Choke backs up Tsunami as a way to effectively remove all of your opponent's lands, and Evacuation lets you get rid of any creatures your opponent was able to cast before you locked him or her down. Lastly, Stormtide Leviathan seems like it was made for this deck. It locks down most other creatures, it's unblockable almost all the time, and it turns every land into an Island. Unfortunately, this includes yours, but using Tsunami or Choke to make sure no one can cast spells doesn't seem like the worst thing to do when you have an 8/8 on the battlefield.
You'll want to make sure none of your lands are affected by Tsunami and Choke unless you have the Leviathan in play, so there are no Islands in this deck. Instead, various dual lands will provide the blue mana you need.
All right, let's spin the wheel one last time. The final card is... Goblin Caves. Uh oh.
Ok, I was worried there for a second, but then I remembered a Legendary creature from Kamigawa that can make this work. Mannichi, the Fevered Dream switched the power and toughness of all creatures, turning your 1/3 Goblins into 3/1s. That's much more effective. In fact, we can do even better. With Mannichi, Tower Defense can give all your creatures +5/+0 at instant speed. That seems like more than enough to kill your opponent.
Before all that happens, though, you'll need some Goblins to pump up. Krenko's Command and Dragon Fodder each give you a pair of tokens for two mana, and Mogg War Marshal effectively does the same thing, although you have the option of keeping it around and getting the second token when it dies. Beetleback Chief costs two more mana but throws in a 2/2 for your trouble, and Siege-Gang Commander provides one more token for one more mana, giving you a total of four Goblins. The Commander also lets you sacrifice excess Goblins to kill off annoying creatures or deal damage directly to your opponent.
Krenko, Mob Boss can really pump out the Goblins if he survives until your next turn. He'll immediately double the number of Goblins you control, leaving you with a horde that should be plenty big enough to take down your opponent with the help of Mannichi. We'll also include Time of Need, which helps ensure you won't be stranded with a bunch of 1/3 Goblins and no Mannichi. If you already have the Spirit, getting Krenko doesn't seem too bad either.
Charting a Course
Well, that's enough chaos for one day. I hope you enjoyed this wandering exploration of random decks. Don't forget to send in your combo deck built around your favorite Dragon's Maze card. The deadline is May 20, and I'll be highlighting my favorites sometime in the following weeks. Also, make sure to come back next week, when I'll be conscripting cards from every guild in Ravnica. Until next time, may you be unafraid to be a bit random. 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.