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Combo Decks and Why???
By BJ Miller
Why is it that combo decks don't work? I have been playing Magic now for about 5 years and I have built alot of decks and some of them revolved around combos to win the game. I tried the old Donate, Illusions combo and that didn't work out so well. I also tried some casual tech with Mirari and time stretch but just couldn't generate the mana fast enough but still it was a fun deck to play. Then I moved on to extended and started playing U/G Madness when it was in type 2. I went 4-2 playing at some tourny in Boston Mass. Only after playing the deck for a month. I figured that was pretty good considering the time I had to learn it. Then as the extended decks rotated out and type 2 got a new face madness was out. I started to probe the internet looking for decks to play and I found some pretty decent builds but nothing seemed to fit my type of play. I found alot of decks relied on too many cards to win you the game like wake heavily relied on Wake none the less for the mana acceleration.

So I decided to ask a buddy of mine to throw some pile togehter for type 2. Thats where I ended up learning M/B Zombies AKA "Nuts in da Blender" which I picked up and played it quite well. I decided that's what I was going to use in states. I decided to make Zombie Bidding, just because bidding was such a good card. But again I did not want to make my deck based around just bidding. So I decided to use cards like Gempalm Poluter, Rotlung Reanimator, Cabal Archon, Witherd Wretch and Vengfulldead. I saw many builds of the deck online and tried many versions but some of them relied on combos again to win the game. With the introduction of Mirrodin to the board, extended has come along way, especially with the card which I call "The Stick" imprinting card - it can be a big problem. Decks like Tog love that card. Putting your counterspell or ak or even Fire/Ice in fact is just good. But again tog is another combo deck that requires pitching cards to your graveyard so your tog gets big. I always hear Planer Void just says scoop to the guy playing tog.

I also tried playing Angry Hermit in extended ptq and did horrible with it, just because it again was another combo deck relying on Hermit Druid to win the game the fastest. So I talked to a good friend of mine Jeremy Muir who is a terrific magic player who I owe big time for the learning experience. We sat down and looked at some ideas for extended and what I should play. We tweaked my madness deck and I thought I had a great shot in the next ptq. Well I was dead wrong, everyone there was net decked and built there decks to beat U/G Madness, Red Deck Wins, and tog. But a majority of the players there were playing a deck called "Dump Truck" which in my opinion is just dumb. Its only real win condition is Exalted Angel and Whip Corders. I figured I would have a substantial advantage because my deck was fast and could generate big creatures with little mana and Wild Mongrel and Basking Rootwalla as beat sticks. But the deck does not rely on combos for the win.

But the only problem with the deck is that it can come out fast and hard but just get mana housed after. I've run into some problems with inconsistent draws with drawing like 3 creatures and 4 land, which isn't bad but drawing 10 more turns and just drawing land isn't that great. So I decided to throw in some sack lands to improve the mana curve but still that didnt work. For instance, I played against a braids deck and hosed him 1st round, but second round I didn't do so hot only drawing 3 lands in 4 turnes while the other guy drops braids on turn 4 and I have no counter magic and no creatures in play. I did though have compost in play so him sacking stuff was good for me but alter reality isn;t that good. So I;m not drawing on compost and I'm drawing no lands and braids is swinging for 2 on every turn. So the deck definitly needs some mana work either way. But it's still a good deck!

Another deck I've noticed in extended was a new version of Angry Hermit. This version though is just a bit slower than the other one. But again it's a combo deck needing Sutured Ghoul for the win.

Let's look at a real strong deck in extended "Rock": it runs a lot of strong cards like Deed, Baloth, and it packs some pretty good removal such as duress, cabal therapy, and Haunting Echos in the side. So I have to say that deck is pretty non combo.

I might have different opinions than alot of people around the world on combo decks, I mean some people like them alot and will continue to use them but for me I don't favor them too well. If you have any questions please feel free to give me a shout.

Read More Articles by BJ Miller!

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