Ages ago, when I first started this blog, I was just about to leave The Deck and explore other archetypes in 93/94. My first interest was the combo decks. I had a plan: to outline what I was going to call the Combo School of Magic through a series of articles. First, I was going to try out every combo deck in the format, and then consolidate the learnings.
Things didn’t work out that way. Now, it’s time to explain why.
The theory was that the Combo School of Magic was absent from the classic Schools of Magic, and a piece of theory not really applicable to modern-day formats. The basic was as follows:
- fast mana in excess to the moxes (Fastbond, Mana Vault, maybe even Mana Flare)
- abusing restricted cards (Fork, multiple Recalls, Timetwister + Regrowth loops)
- breaking the symmetry of weak or situational draw engines (Howling Mine, Lich, Verduran Enchantress)
This would then translate into different decks, something like this list:
I was going to first outline this general theory, then describe some packages working together: straight combos like Basalt Monolith + Power Artifact, but also things like Sylvan Library + Mirror Universe, or Sylvan Library + Transmute Artifact which slots well into a Candelabra combo, as well as Fastbond working with Dark Heart of the Wood and Mirror and Mana Flare as well as Lich, and the cheap enchantments working with Enchantress, and so on. And seeing how the various combo decks can be related, possibly with some mind maps and diagrams. So it was about this specific strain of combo decks, mostly divided by whether they used Howling Mine or not, I think; and not Reanimator or Eureka.
I tried some things, like Powerball, Candleflare hybrid, Mirrorball and Lich Mirrorball, to various degrees of success.
But then first Recall was unrestricted, and then Time Vault too.
And Twiddlevault, while not being broken, became a actual good deck, not just good for being combo, as Danny Friedman has repeatedly proved, winning the recent N00bCoM2 as well as the Lockdown Christmas online tournament. No other combo deck can really stand up to it, nothing is remotely on the same level, except possibly Mirrorball in some heavy aggro metagames (although people play way more Shatters now than when it started to become a thing, and possibly more Disenchants as well). The whole idea about trying out different combo decks lost a lot of its attraction to me, and I’m also much less of a brewer these days (and less of a writer, too).
Maybe that’s sad, I don’t know. But I get my combo fix from taking Twiddlevault for a spin, once a year or so, and that’s where we are. The Combo School of Magic doesn’t get any further than this.