October is the month for spookiness, and there's nothing spookier in Magic than a two-card combo that can instantly kill your opponent. This month I set out to try my hand at the Explorer format doing exactly that. My two card combo? Starts here:
Or, more accurately:
I've made no secret of my love for wacky combo decks, and bonus points for anything with a recursion theme. It dates back to my childhood when I grew up on the rural farmlands of Iowa playing Stasis decks of the Turbo variety. I've had a penchant for leaning on those strategies ever since, and while Approach doesn't recur my graveyard into my deck, it DOES scratch the itch for recursion of SOME variety. Which brings us to this absolute beauty in October:
3 Approach of the Second Sun (STA) 1
10 Plains (HBG) 292
4 Professor of Symbology (STX) 24
4 The Restoration of Eiganjo (NEO) 34
4 Devastating Mastery (STX) 14
4 Farewell (NEO) 13
4 Sphinx's Revelation (AKR) 262
1 Island (HBG) 296
1 Approach of the Second Sun (AKR) 4
4 Settle the Wreckage (XLN) 34
4 The Birth of Meletis (THB) 5
4 Glacial Fortress (XLN) 255
4 Deserted Beach (MID) 260
4 Field of Ruin (XLN) 254
1 Island (MIR) 336
4 Plains (AFR) 262
1 Teachings of the Archaics (STX) 57
1 Environmental Sciences (STX) 1
3 Introduction to Prophecy (STX) 4
1 Introduction to Annihilation (STX) 3
1 Mascot Exhibition (STX) 5
Key Play Patterns
The goal of this deck is the same as most control decks: survive what your opponent is doing and then finish them off with your win condition, Approach of the Second Sun followed by re-casting Approach of the Second Sun. The first step in all of that is NEVER MISS YOUR LAND DROPS. Here's the core of how you accomplish this:
- Lots of lands (duh)
- Professor of Symbology (to get Environmental Sciences)
- Birth of Meletis (to get Plains)
- The Restoration of Eiganjo (to get Plains AND accelerate your 6-mana Wraths)
To survive to the late-game, you can rely on the most powerful wrath effects in the game because you NEVER MISS YOUR LAND DROPS. Here are the best wraths to play, as well as why:
- Settle the Wreckage, the best Fog of all time (on Arena) because it's the cheapest Wrath in the deck, manages hasty threats, and exiles problematic graveyard returners.
- Devastating Mastery, because sometimes you need to blow up the whole world (aka Planeswalkers) and not just their creatures. Sure it costs four white mana if you want to cast it on full blast, but you NEVER MISS YOUR LAND DROPS and they "all" produce white, so the fact you can ALSO cast it as 2WW in a pinch gives it the nod over something like Planar Cleansing.
- Farewell, because Okiba Greasefang is a sonuvagun and sometimes you need to wipe out the graveyard too.
In the end-game you've got two major spells you're casting to take things home:
- Approach of the Second Sun to actually win the game.
- Sphinx's Revelation to all but win the game, either by gassing up your hand to get to the action OR by knocking 6 cards off your library to re-draw Approach of the Second Sun.
- It doesn't matter if a control opponent counters your first Approach of the Second Sun; it still counts as "cast" when you play any additional Approaches.
- If you have Restoration and Field of Ruin, you should play the Field of Ruin to cast the Saga and set an upkeep stop. Do this for two reasons: during upkeep you can sac the Field and get it back from Restoration to kill two of your opponent's lands taking out multiple creature-lands/mana-screwing a greedy opponent, or it can let you "sneak" an extra land into play by making sure there's one in your graveyard to discard with the second mode of Restoration and a spell discard from your hand.
- Farewell can mostly be freely cast to blow up everything, including your graveyard, as the only graveyard thing you have that matters is Ritual. Remember: it's not important that you blow up your enchantments 99% of the time, because they've already provided the main value to you which is modes 1 and sometimes 2 for both Birth and Ritual.
- Because you NEVER MISS A LAND DROP you play the full 4 Approaches. It really is a two-card combo, and unlike something like Dream Trawler it just instantly closes the game if you happen to have the second after casting the first. So just go for it.
- There are three Introduction to Prophecy in the sideboard because after you cast Approach it’s the best card to Prof for as it removed three cards from the top of your deck to get closer to Approach.
- Remember, after you cast Approach you can’t use Field of Ruin or cast Birth or Ritual because they will force you to shuffle away the Approach. The one exception to that is if you MUST draw the Approach next turn or you die. It might be reasonable to shuffle at that point because you have an Approach locked away and shuffling can increase your odds of drawing it again, though check the math based on the deck at the time.
I had a blast playing this deck, but I'm a bit of a sucker for something exactly like this. I don't think I'd take it to an Explorer qualifier if such a thing existed, but it was absolutely great at running through Diamond and Platinum to get me to Mythic for this month.