With Force of Will gone, combo decks have come out to play
The loss of Force of Will from this format has had quite a significant impact on the metagame. I'm sure many frustrated players believed that it was Force of Will that allowed combination decks like Trix to dominate for the past few seasons, but a quick glance at this weekend's field shows that, no, no, Force of Will didn't allow
combo decks to win, it actually kept them at bay.
While most of the field is attempting to score fast wins with reanimated fatties, there are a few innovative souls that are going for the quick *and* flashy wins with a new generation of combo decks.
This first example--"Life" by Dr. Ped Bun--is a miniscule combo built inside a White Weenie deck. Task Force and Angelic Protector both gain extra toughness each time they are targeted, and various en-Kor creatures provide endless targeting ability for 0 mana. So what does an "arbitrarily large" toughness get you? Combined with three main-deck Worthy Cause, you get as much life as you want. But the kicker is the one sideboarded About Face, ready to be fetched with Cunning Wish, that can end the game in one attack, as all that toughness is instantly converted into power.
There are whispers of more "suicide" versions packing Tireless Tribe for potential turn-two kills with About Face.
The combo deck that everyone knew about coming in, but hasn't shown up in the numbers most people expected, is the Aluren deck. The deck received a big boost from Onslaught with Wirewood Savage, since the main "engine" component--Cavern Harpy--is a Beast, allowing for the drawing of one's deck for no mana with Aluren in play.
The kill is a bit silly: Put out a Soul Warden and gate the Cavern Harpy 100 times to gain 100 life. Then play and gate Maggot Carrier, paying one life to return the Harpy to your hand each time, until your opponent is dead.
The Savages allow for so much card-drawing that Living Wish isn't even necessary in the deck. Also missing is Eladamri's Vineyard, which some players considered necessary to enable faster wins. The presence of 10 lands that can produce two mana (Hickory Woodlot, Havenwood Battleground, Crystal Vein, and City of Traitors) means Aluren can still come down on turn 2 and end the game with the right draw.
One combo-style deck that does employ both the Vineyard and Living Wish is the Enchantress deck. Onslaught's new Enchantress's Presence combines with Argothian Enchantress to provide upwords of seven Enchantress effects that can't be killed with traditional targeted creature removal. Most of the rest of the deck is mana-generating enchantments: Fertile Ground, Wild Growth, Exploration, and the Vineyards. Serra's Sanctum plays the role of Tolarian Academy, and Frantic Search allows for untapping mana-generating insanity. Living Wish gets the engine piece Palinchron, which provides enough mana with the Sanctum to enable a game-ending Stroke of Genius. If Misdirection worries you, you can win with a Wished-for Reckless Embermage.
Here is the version Canada's Steve Cassell is running:
Onslaught's Nantuko Husk gives necessary redundancy to the "Pattern of Rebirth" deck as Phyrexian Ghouls #5-8. This little number, not seen since Worlds 2000, employs Symbiotic Wurm to enable turn-three kills. How? Turn-1 Birds of Paradise, turn-2 Nantuko Husk. On turn three, play Pattern of Rebirth of the Bird, then sacrifice it to the Husk. Pattern fetches the Wurm, which--along with all seven of its Insect offspring--go into the Husk, making it a 20/20 monstrosity.
Four Academy Rectors allow the combo to go off in a different way, using Saproling Burst for a large number of Husk-feeding tokens. Pandemonium is thrown in for potential "21" kills.
The deck generating the most buzz may be the "Angry Hermit Part 2" played by Noah Boeken and Kamiel Cornelissen. No, the deck doesn't involve Deranged Hermit or Arc Lightning (which is a shame, really), but instead packs Hermit Druid and the incarnation Anger.
The deck may have the worst mana base seen by mankind, including four Forsaken City, a Tarnished Citadel, and two Darigaaz's Caldera. But such antics allow the running of a single basic land--a Mountain, obviously, for Anger. The combo involves playing a turn-one Hermit Druid via Mox Diamond, dumping a huge chunk of the deck into the graveyard, and then Exhuming a hasty Sutured Ghoul for a mammoth turn-3 attack. Huge monsters like Verdant Force, Avatar of Woe, and Krosan COlossus (!), beef up the Ghoul's stats. And if all the reanimator spells are milled into the yard? One Krosan Reclamation can be flashed back to put them into the library.
The plan against Sligh is to play the more traditional "reanimator" role with Entomb/ExhumeVerdant Force. But that isn't nearly as cool.
Other nifty combo-ish decks showing up include Rancor-Auratog, Solitary Confinement-Squee, and Awakening-Mirari, but none of those have the potential to end the game in one turn like the above decks do.