3 Creature Combo Decks in Modern

Dmitriy Butakov

Dmitriy Butakov

(Editor’s Note: this article was written before full Zendikar Rising cardlist was revealed.)

Introduction

Hello Everyone!

Birthing Pod

One of my favorite cards ever is 《Birthing Pod》, the card was insane and Wizards are still trying to release nerfed cards with the similar effect, today I want to pay respects to the Pod and have a look at creature combo decks in Modern.

Search Effect

First of all, let’s consider the search effects:

《Neoform》

Neoform

In the current format blue and red is not the color you want to add to the creature-based deck, all the effects blue or red can provide are either irrelevant for the game plan or replaceable by other colors.

I’m not writing about the 《Neoform》 deck today, it’s just not that kind of creature combo.

《Eldritch Evolution》

Eldritch Evolution

《Eldritch Evolution》 is just perfect for a deck with Undying/Persist creatures or 《Wall of Roots》. it’s cheap, digs deep, and even gets a sacrificed creature back sometimes. Being sorcery it’s kind of vulnerable to 《Force of Negation》, play accordingly and try to bait something relevant at least.

《Chord of Calling》

Chord of Calling

《Wall of Roots》‘ second-best friend. No color restriction, instant speed, and Convoke make Chord a great search outlet.

《Finale of Devastation》

Finale of Devastation

《Finale of Devastation》 shines in the 《Devoted Druid》 combo decks, it could find the missing combo piece or be the finisher spell, the effect is insane with the infinite mana possibility, but not impressive in any other deck.

《Eladamri’s Call》

Eladamri's Call

《Eladamri’s Call》 is a good one if your primary targets are 2-3 mana creatures, basically you have the same 2 + the creature’s mana cost, but you can split the payment and keep the combo piece in your hand until you set things up.

《Collected Company》 (CoCo)

Collected Company

People either love or hate this card, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes consequentially. I, personally, don’t like it because it’s a value spell, not the search one, I mean it was awesome in Pioneer spirits because there are so many value cards and you should be fine with 2 of any creatures from your deck. In combo decks it’s a bit different, you’d rather have 1 exact creature than 2 random ones.

Deck #1: Heliod Devotion CoCo

I’d like to mention 3 archetypes:

Despite all of these decks aren’t very popular now, the most played version at the moment is Heliod Devotion CoCo.

How to Combo

The deck reminds me of good old Melira Pod, it has 2 combo outs.

《Heliod, Sun-Crowned》 + 《Walking Ballista》

Heliod, Sun-CrownedWalking Ballista

Give at least 2/2 《Walking Ballista》 lifelink, shoot something, gain life, 《Heliod》‘s trigger puts the counter back, repeat as much as you like.

《Heliod》 + 《Spike Feeder》

Heliod, Sun-CrownedSpike Feeder

Remove a +1/+1 counter, gain 2 life, trigger the counter back, and gain as many hit points as you want.

Conclave Mentor

If you have a 《Conclave Mentor》, you’ll get an extra counter each time, meaning you can infinitely pump your squad as well. One more tip for 《Spike Feeder》+《Conclave Mentor》, 《Spike Feeder》 can target itself with a move counter ability, so you can add a counter for just two mana.

The cards I don’t play

Protection 1st drops

Giver of RunesSelfless Savior

They’re only good at protecting the combo, but both combos are instant speed, non-animated 《Heliod》 is extremely hard to deal with and 《Ranger-Captain of Eos》 can 《Silence》 your opponent prior to the showtime. That said, I just don’t feel the deck needs bodyguards.

《Hardened Scales》

Hardened Scales

It’s only good when things are already going your way, it’s a horrendous topdeck and you don’t have 《Arcbound Ravager》. Maybe I’ve used this card wrong, but it didn’t seem to fit.

《Thalia, Guardian of Thraben》

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Even though she hits Prowess hard, don’t want more 1 toughness creatures in the 《Lava Dart》 world

《Gavony Township》

Gavony Township

We have a pretty tough manabase, no colorless mana is allowed.

The cards I play

《Auriok Champion》

Auriok Champion

A pure metagame call, with red on the rise, this card becomes better by the day. It didn’t seem right to play both 《Auriok Champion》 and 《Conclave Mentor》 at first, but I’m fine with 4+4 at the moment. 《Champion》 + 《Ranger-Captain of Eos》 is enough to animate 《Heliod》.

《Eladamri’s Call》

Eladamri's Call

It finds the combo, It’s cheap and it’s an instant. It also allows you to play silver bullets such as 《Lurrus of the Dream-Den》. 《Lurrus》 doesn’t appear in its full glory here, but it’s still a good hit off the end of turn 《Collected Company》 and a game-breaker for some grindy matches.

I’m still unsure about 21 lands, feel free to swap 《Lurrus》 for one more.


In general, Heliod Devotion has a potential turn 3 infinite life or turn 4 lethal combos, ways to protect them, and probably the grindiest game of the archetype. Keep in mind “infinite” goes only in paper, on Magic Online even 100 hit points are going to take some time.

Primeval Titan

I had a match in recent PTQ where I had 《Heliod》 + 《Spike Feeder》 against Amulet Titan and they had a 《Primeval Titan》 at the ready, usually, that’d be a sealed game with infinite life, but I had to concede – I won’t be able to stay alive and deck them, I’ll time out way sooner.

There are not many tricks you won’t master in a week or so, just try playing your combo safely, if you have a 《Spike Feeder》 + 《Heliod》 or a 2/2 《Walking Ballista》 + 《Heliod》 and you think the opponent has something-don’t rush, time is on your side now, next turn they’ll need 2 or more removal spells at the ready.

Ranger-Captain of Eos

One more trick is if your animated 《Heliod》 becomes a target of 《Path to Exile》 you can drop your devotion by sacrificing 《Ranger-Captain of Eos》.

Deck #2: GW Devoted Druid

The next stop is GW 《Devoted Druid》, there are 2 versions:

Let’s start with things common for both builds. Devoted Devastation deck is perfect for a metagame consisting of ramp decks or other combos. The deck has only one combo and is focused to assemble and protect it.

Vizier of RemediesDevoted Druid

With 《Vizier of Remedies》 on board, you can tap 《Devoted Druid》 for mana and untap it for free, with infinite mana you have 3 killer spells: 《Walking Ballista》, 《Duskwatch Recruiter》 (to draw all your creatures including 《Walking Ballista》), and 《Finale of Devastation》.

The deck’s greatest advantage is lots of ways to roll on turn 3 with just turn 2 Druid (《Vizier》, 《Eladamri’s Call》 for a 《Vizier》, 《Finale of Devastation》 for a 《Vizier》) and then you have like 9 cards to seal the game.

The combo is very consistent and needs to be disrupted before both creatures hit the board because 《Devoted Druid》‘s mana ability doesn’t stack and the untap one is free, you can activate it in response to something as much as you want, meaning the mana flow cannot be stopped in the middle.

Postmortem Lunge

Most players, myself included, have questions about 《Postmortem Lunge》 at first, but the way from “U even in Modern?” to “This card is a beast” is very short, getting a hasted 《Devoted Druid》 back for 2 mana is awesome(If it gets hit by 《Path to Exile》, sometimes it’s worth killing it with its ability just to have it in the graveyard).

I don’t like 《Giver of Runes》, but if there is one deck it’s actually good, it’s this one, the trick is to play it without fear of losing it to a removal spell, that’s the point, that’ll mean it’d served its purpose.

Lurrus of the Dream-DenMishra's Bauble

Lurrus build is more of a straight arrow, just digging for the parts as fast as possible. The only restriction worth mentioning is 《Ranger-Captain of Eos》, but with the recurring 《Mishra’s Bauble》, it doesn’t seem the deck needs more search effects.

Changes in the midrange build are not big, it’s clear 《Ranger-Captain of Eos》 is a great addition, but thanks to 《Eldritch Evolution》 it’s another 2 cards that deserve a closer look:

Shalai, Voice of Plenty

《Shalai, Voice of Plenty》 shields your entire squad and yourself, it’s an out if you have the combo and the decks it hits hardest cannot deal with it easily.

Back in the day it was almost an instant win against Burn and Ad Nauseam, now Burn isn’t popular and Ad Nauseam got 《Thassa’s Oracle》(but if you see something important was Spoiled away, Shalai still may have an impact). It’s definitely worse now, so it can easily be changed to 《Knight of Autumn》 or some other silver bullet you like.

Magus of the Moon

《Magus of the Moon》 is here to net you some free wins, if the decklists are unknown to your opponents, very few players would expect it from a GW deck. And once they know you play it (either from the decklist or from experience), they will have to play around it(and you can even side it out), the card is a force to be reckoned with.

Deck #3: Golgari Yawgmoth

At the first glance, the Yawgmoth combo is slower(no way you can roll earlier than turn 4), is not infinite most of the time, requires more pieces compared to 《Heliod》, and runs some really weak cards.

But there is one advantage that can outweigh it all – in a certain metagame without many combo decks, it can be very well positioned: Undying guys and 《Wall of Roots》 can fend off the attackers long enough. Removal and discard don’t do much because all your creatures have similar effects and only a few spells can one-shot 《Yawgmoth, Thran Physician》. Sweepers? Hope you have 2 in hand.

Here are the possible showdown boards:

《Yawgmoth》 + 《Geralf’s Messenger》 + any other Undying creature

Yawgmoth, Thran PhysicianGeralf's MessengerStrangleroot Geist

You consecutively sacrifice your Undying creatures to put -1/-1 counter on another one, triggering 《Geralf’s Messenger》‘s -2 life once in 2 activations. With a clear 《Geralf’s Messenger》 at the beginning of the loop, it’ll be lethal if you have at least the same amount of hit points as the opponent.

《Yawgmoth》 + 2 《Geralf’s Messenger》

Yawgmoth, Thran PhysicianGeralf's MessengerGeralf's Messenger

The math is pretty much alike, but here you’re good with ((half the opponent’s life rounded up)+ 1), i.e. if Opp’s at 9 you gonna need 9/2=4.5 triggers, round up to 5 and since you start losing life first you need 1 extra, 5+1=6 is a minimal life for this to work.

《Yawgmoth》 + any 2 Undying creatures + 《Zulaport Cutthroat》/《Blood Artist》

Yawgmoth, Thran PhysicianStrangleroot GeistStrangleroot GeistZulaport Cutthroat

Much easier here, thanks to a cashback, it’s just the infinite damage loop.


Thanks for reading, I hope you’ll find it useful!

Dmitriy Butakov(Twitter)

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Dmitriy Butakov

Dmitriy Butakov A player from Russia who plays mainly on Magic Online. He was champion of the 2012 Magic Online Championship and in the following year, he top 4s the 2013 Magic Online Championship. In 2018, he becomes champion of the 2017 Magic Online Championship for the second time. Also, with his win at the Magic Online Championship, he achieved his prize to become a Platinum Level Pro. Having these tremendous results, in March 2018, he joins the Hareruya Pros. Read more articles by Dmitriy Butakov

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