Wednesday, 22 January 2020 10:31

Going infinite with 'Theros Beyond Death'

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Going infinite with 'Theros Beyond Death' WOTC/MAGIC UNTAPPED

With Magic: The Gathering's next Standard-legal set, Theros Beyond Death, now past its prerelease weekend and with the set's pending release now just days away, it's time to take a look at some of the new card combos that come along with the new set.

One thing that is striking is that there are a few infinite combos that are standing out.  What's even more striking is how easy these combos can be to pull off.  Some were instantly obvious, while others weren't quite as apparent.  Either way, below are the infinite combos that we noticed (or were brought to our attention) that Theros Beyond Death brings to the overall Magic scene.

The two-card infinite creature combo

 Siona, Captain of the Pyleas // WOTCShielded by Faith // WOTC

These two very affordable cards, Siona, Captain of the Pyleas (10¢) and Shielded by Faith ($2.10) can make for a very easy-to-execute infinite creature combo.  Legal only in Legacy, Vintage, and (most importantly) EDH, the interactions between these two give you an near-instant army that will have your opponents shaking in terror.

The way this works is simple and runs almost on auto-pilot.  With Siona on the board, you cast Shielded by Faith on any of your creatures (Siona included if you so choose).  Once the enchantment attaches to that creature, Siona will automatically create a 1/1 human soldier token for you.  When that happens, Shielded by Faith gives you the option to move the aura from the creature it's currently attached to and attach it to the newly created creature.  Should you opt to do that (and you really should), Siona will see that an aura you control has been attached to a creature and will automatically create a 1/1 human soldier token for you.  When that happens... well... you've already read this part.

In short, it's a stoppable infinite combo that creates infinite 1/1 human soldier creature tokens (one of which is indestructible thanks to Shielded by Faith's primary ability).  So you pick a number, say 17.5 million, and create that many creature tokens.  Pair it with something else that cares about ETB (hello Ajani's Welcome, Altar of the BroodImpact Tremors and "O.G." Purphoros), and it can be as good as an instant win.

One nice little bonus if you don't have Shielded by Faith in hand?  When Siona enters the battlefield, she'll allow you to micro-tutor.  If Shielded by Faith is amongst the top seven cards of your library, boom goes the dynamite!

The two-card infinite damage combo

 Heliod, Sun-Crowned / WOTCWalking Ballista // WOTC

Raise your hand if you've seen or heard of this one before.  All but one of you?  Have you been living under a rock?

Seriously, though, this is a SERIOUS two-card combo.  So serious, in fact, that Wizards of the Coast is already keeping an eye on it and is ready with its ban hammer should it prove too powerful in any one format.  And what formats is the combo legal in?  Not many.  Just Pioneer, Modern, Legacy, Vintage, EDH, and Oathbreaker.  While WotC doesn't control the ban list for those last two, you know that those format's respective commanding bodies (MTGCommander and WeirdCards, respectively) are ready to follow suit for theirs as well.

Now, how does this combo work?  Honestly, it's pretty much as straight forward as you'd expect.

Heliod, Sun-Crowned states that whenever you gain life you get to put a +1/+1 counter on a creature or enchantment you control.  Conveniently enough, the god can also grant a creature temporary lifelink for the low cost of 1W.  Walking Ballista, an artifact creature, is entirely comprised of +1/+1 counters and lets you remove them one at a time in order to deal one damage per instance to a target creature or player.  Have Heliod on the board, then cast the Walking Ballista for enough to make it a minimum 2/2 (meaning at least two +1/+1 counters are on it).  After that, use Heliod's lifelink-granting ability and ping something for one using the Walking Ballista.  Heliod will automatically replace the removed +1/+1 counter from Walking Ballista, allowing you to do it all over again.

And for you EDH players out there who want options, other (albeit much less efficient) options that provide the same result include pairing Heliod, Sun-Crowned with the likes of Triskelion and Deathbringer Thoctar.

The two-card infinite life combo

 Heliod, Sun-Crowned / WOTCSpike Feeder // WOTC

Hey, look!  It's our pal Heliod, Sun-Crowned again!  This time, however, he has a new friend with him who is quite "peachy."  You know, 'cause it looks like a peach?

You know what?  You don't have to laugh.  That joke is terrible.  The combo, however, is not.

Functioning similar to the aforementioned infinite damage combo, this two-card combo will grant you infinite life.  One nice thing is that you can do it without the need for Heliod to grant the creature in question (in this case, Spike Feeder) and there's absolutely no need to get damage in for it to work.  Spike Feeder comes into play with two +1/+1 counter already on it, which gives it amazing synergy with the new Heliod.  All you need do for this combo to work is to use Spike Feeder's second ability, trading a gain of two life at the cost of removing a +1/+1 counter from it.  That gain of life will trigger Heliod's +1/+1 counter granting ability, which replaces the one that Spike Feeder lost in the process.  All of a sudden, BOOM.  Spike Feeder is back up to two +1/+1 counters and ready to do the whole thing over again.

So, pick a number (17.5 trillion sounds good) and live forever.  Pair this with an Ageless Entity or an Ajani's Pridemate and you'll create one hell of a threat.  Of course, you can also just as easily use your newfound life total to fuel an Aetherflux Reservoir for the win.  Whichever's clever.

This one's legal in Modern (Spike Feeder was reprinted in Time Spiral), Legacy, Vintage, EDH, and Oathbreaker.

Oh, and as an added bonus, you can bring both parts of the combo out at the same time for the low-low cost of 3G thanks to Collected Company.

Might as well be infinite because OMFG they went off

And finally, a reminder that an infinite combo doesn't have to technically be infinite if it's enough to win the game.

Whereas the above combos were all of the simple two-to-three card variety, others are far more convoluted and involve amazing card synergies throughout an entire deck.  Reddit user Aranthar found such a situation in the current Standard environment using the Theros Beyond Death cards Woe Strider, Nightmare Shepherd, Hyrax Tower Scout, and (of course) Grey Merchant of Asphodel.  In addition to those, you'll also need the Throne of Eldraine cards Gilded Goose, Corridor Monitor, and Deathless Knight.  Finally, the catalyst that makes it all work: The Ravnica Allegiance legend Prime Speaker Vannifar.

With the above cards, you can combo out for somewhere between 20 and 64 damage if everything goes well as outlined by Imgur user Jayceja.

Rather than us explain it all, it'd probably be better (and easier) for you just to watch it all go down in real time courtesy of Reddit:

Courtesy: Aranthar (via Reddit)Sure, it can be argued that this is more just very good card synergies than a combo, but it does take a specific combination of cards to pull it off so we're including it on our list (gray area and all).

So, what infinite (or near-infinite) combos have you noticed or already exploited with cards from Theros Beyond Death?  Do you have a deck that can win in one fell swoop using the new cards?  Whether broken or janky, leave us a comment and let the world know!