apping and untapping creatures is the number one way to go infinite in Magic. With tons of ways to tap creatures to do things, and ways to do things to untap creatures, some of them are bound to sync up and form an infinite loop. Therefore, I'm always looking out for new tap and untap abilities, and Born of the Gods has a pretty interesting one.
Eater of the Deck
Phenax, God of Deception gives all your creatures the ability to tap and mill cards equal to their toughness. As luck would have it, there's a creature that can use this to untap itself: Eater of the Dead. This card's name is almost as disgusting as the combo it enables. With Phenax on the battlefield, you can tap Eater of the Dead to mill four cards. If one of those cards is a creature, you can exile it to untap the Eater and do it again. Provided your opponent's deck has enough creatures in it, you should be able to keep this going until he or she has no cards left.
Since the combo only requires two creatures and is already in black and blue, this seems like the perfect opportunity to use Gifts Ungiven. By searching for Eater of the Dead and Phenax, along with Exhume and Reanimate, you ensure that you'll have the creatures you want no matter what your opponent chooses.
To help make sure you mill a creature each time to tap Eater of the Dead, Triton Tactics can give it +0/+3 until end of turn, making it good for seven cards per tap instead of four. It also untaps it, letting you mill four cards to start things off and hopefully snag a creature or two as insurance in case you miss later.
Now the core of the deck is in place, but there's a problem. If your opponent isn't playing very many creatures, you can't reliably untap Eater of the deck. Sounds like a backup plan is in order.
If your opponent's deck doesn't have enough creatures, why not make sure yours does? By including a large number of creatures in your own deck, you can make sure you're able to put your entire library into your graveyard. But wait, the idea was to do this to your opponent. Don't you usually lose the game when you have no cards left in your library?
That's where Laboratory Maniac comes in. With this guy on the battlefield, you'll win the game instead of lose it when you try to draw from an empty library. The Maniac can be put into the battlefield by sacrificing three creatures to Dread Return, and as usual, Narcomoeba can provide the three creatures to sacrifice, entering the battlefield from the graveyard at no cost. Once the Maniac is on board, you can cast Think Twice to draw a card and win the game.
Merfolk Looter provides some card draw to ensure you have what you need, and also allows you to discard creatures in order to power up Eater of the Dead later. Fog Bank and Vortex Elemental buy you time while increasing the deck's creature count. Vortex Elemental even shuffles itself back into your library, ready to be put into the graveyard and exiled by Eater of the Dead.
Landfalling for You
One of the cards that's received the most attention in Born of the Gods is Courser of Kruphix. While neither of the card's abilities are new, with predecessors in Grazing Gladehart and Oracle of Mul Daya, the Courser combines a little of each to make something new.
While looking at this card, I realized that its two abilities lined up perfectly with a certain (admittedly broken) old enchantment: Fastbond. Not only does Courser of Kruphix give you back the 1 life Fastbond takes from you each time you play an extra land, it allows you to play lands from the top of your library.
The first thought that came to mind was that if your entire library was lands, you could simply play all of them right off the top, giving you an absurd amount of mana. This would probably require something like Selective Memory, however. On the other hand, a single Gruul Turf could be played and then returned to your hand with its own ability, allowing you to play it over and over again as many times as you want.
With a second Courser of Kruphix or a Grazing Gladehart on the battlefield, this gives you an arbitrarily large amount of life, but you'll still need to kill your opponent. Using Seed the Land gives you a huge army of 1/1 Snake tokens as well. I'll even throw in a pair of Concordant Crossroads so you can attack without waiting a turn.
Sensei's Divining Top can help you keep playing lands off the top until you have the mana you need to do everything you need to. By rearranging the top three cards of your library, you can get any lands hidden there. Then you can either do it again to see what the new card is, or simply activate a fetch lands like Windswept Heath to shuffle your library and get a new set of three to look at.
Oracle of Mul Daya and Exploration help you power through your deck, putting lands onto the battlefield quickly and helping you find your combo pieces. In fact, with the high land count in the deck these cards can allow you to win even without the infinite combo, simply by churning out three or four Snakes a turn with Seed the Land.
Battle in the Library
Both of these decks like to mess around with the library, putting cards into play that have no right to be there. Unfortunately, only one of them can emerge victorious in this fight. Between you and me, I hope it's the Courser. That other guy creeps me out.
Deck Eater started things off with a Watery Grave, and Crash Courser cast Exploration followed by Gruul Turf. Deck Eater played a land and passed the turn, and Crash Courser played two more lands to cast Oracle of Mul Daya before ending the turn.
Deck Eater cast Merfolk Looter and passed the turn. Crash Courser played Seed the Land before passing back. Deck Eater drew a card with Merfolk Looter, discarding Triton Tactics. An Island made a Snake token thanks to Seed the Land, and Gifts Ungiven searched for Phenax, God of Deception; Eater of the Dead; Reanimate; and Drowned Catacomb. Phenax and Reanimate were put in the graveyard, and Deck Eater ended the turn.
Crash Courser played another Seed the Land and passed the turn. Deck Eater played Drowned Catacomb, getting two Snakes, then cast Eater of the Dead and passed the turn. Crash Courser cast Exploration and Grazing Gladehart before passing back.
Deck Eater cast Exhume, bringing back Phenax. Eater of the Dead milled four cards, putting a Narcomoeba onto the battlefield. Triton Tactics untapped the Eater and gave it an extra 3 toughness. Eater of the Dead easily put the entire library into the graveyard, and after sacrificing three Narcomoebas to flash back Dread Return on Laboratory Maniac, a Think Twice ended the game.
Crash Courser started things off with Exploration, followed by a second Forest and Sensei's Divining Top. Deck Eater played a land and passed the turn. Crash Courser played Gruul Turf, then replayed the Forest it bounced and activated the Top.
Deck Eater cast Merfolk Looter and passed the turn. Crash Courser cast Oracle of Mul Daya and played two fetch lands, one from on top of the library and another from in hand. One fetch searched out a Forest, shuffling the library and putting another fetch land on top. That was played as well, and the Courser ended the turn.
Deck Eater activated Merfolk Looter, discarding Narcomoeba, then cast Fog Bank and passed the turn. Crash Courser activated Sensei's Divining Top at end of turn. Crash Courser cast Seed the Land, then played a Forest off the top to get a Snake token. A fetch land searched up a Forest, getting another token. Another Forest off the top made a Snake, and sacrificing another fetch land made a fourth. Crash Courser cast a second Oracle of Mul Daya, then used the third and fourth land drops to play a Gruul Turf, which bounced itself twice.
Deck Eater activated Merfolk Looter again, discarding another Narcomoeba. Deck Eater cast Laboratory Maniac, then played a land to get a Snake token and passed the turn. Crash Courser activated the Top at end of turn. A Forest came off the top, and a Sensei's Top activation found a second Forest. With Fastbond revealed on top of the library, Sensei's Divining Top put itself back on the library to draw a card. Courser of Kruphix and Fastbond came down, and a bouncing Gruul Turf made a few thousand Snake tokens.
Deck Eater activated Merfolk Looter, untapped it with Triton Tactics, and activated it again, but couldn't go off that turn and lost to the army of Snakes.
Both sides started off with lands, then on turn two Crash Courser cast Fastbond. Crash Courser played another Forest and a fetch land, sacrificing it to get a Forest and cast Courser of Kruphix. Three Forests and a fetch land came off the top before another Courser hit the battlefield. Two more fetch lands came off the top, and one came from hand.
A fetch land grabbed a Forest and shuffled the library, revealing another Forest on top. Crash Courser sacrificed two more fetch lands for Forests to cast Seed the Land. A Gruul Turf off the top bounced itself to gain a million life from the two Coursers and a million Snake tokens from Seed the Land. Deck Eater had no answers so early in the game and lost on the following turn.
Following my Destiny
That's it for this week, but fear not! From the Lab will return next Wednesday with a new article for a theme week that has long been foreseen by the oracles of Theros. I'll be exploring new decks with new combinations of cards that are obviously meant for each other. Unless you have the gift of foresight, you'll have to wait and see what destiny has in store. 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 Wednesday.