Learning to Play Combo

I’ve played plenty of aggro in standard, as well as some midrange, and I’ve also played a lot of control in EDH and in limited, but I’ve never really played combo. I guess I’d like to learn, although I’m probably doing this the wrong format.

I talked about this deck previously. I’m going to try it out in standard with pretty much no changes. Granted, it would be much better if I would take out the Nykthos, Temple to Nyxes, and replace them with Mutavaults, but I’m trying this partly to test for constructed, so I’m not going to do that. Also, I only have four Mutavaults and I don’t want to break up my monoblack aggro right now.

The only change to the previous list: Mainboard Voyage’s End was changed to Curse of the Swine. Also, now I have a sideboard.

One reason you should be playing different kinds of decks is this: Even if you are only going to be playing a certain kind of deck in big tournaments or just prefer one archetype to all others, its still good to get some insight into how to play other decks by playing them yourself. You are not only going to be better overall player, but you are going to be better against those decks, if you know how they function.

And playing combo is very different from other archetypes. You are not that interested in what you opponent is doing. You are mostly just playing solitaire until they kill you or you kill them. Against aggressive decks you are probably going to win, because you are able to go off faster then they can beat you down, against control decks you are going to lose, because they can disrupt your gameplan.

Sadly, most decks have enough control elements to screw us over. Thoughtseize is pretty ubiquitous and the UWx decks now play plenty of counterspells. Also, Supreme Verdict is pretty devastating. Basically, I’m walking into the worst possible situation and not really knowing what I’m doing.

The general gameplan of the deck is this: we have plenty of cheap creatures we can use to defend ourselves against aggro decks while setting up a situation where we can go off and hopefully destroy our enemy in one big swing (or morely likely two) with 4/4 sphinxes or perhaps copies of opponents Stormbreath Dragon (and I’m hoping to kill my opponent at least once with copies of his own [cardAetherling[/card]).

I’m not very optimistic with my chances. Standard just isn’t a place where you can play combo. The tools just aren’t there. Then again, I have all the Planeswalker Points I need for this season (not really, but I’ll make up for it in Grand Prix Manchester), so I can take it a bit more loosely than usual. Also, the new set is out, ’tis a time for experimenting.

Goldfishing the deck can have the boardstate needed pretty consistently on turn five or six (sometimes on turn four), which is too slow, but gladly I can slow down the fastest decks by putting blocking. On the other hand, if the control decks will have set up their board, I’m out.

So, I’m basically aiming for a 1-3 record on the next FNM. We’ll see. Maybe I can pull of a couple of wins. Not likely.

Sideboarding is also another problem. Sure, I have powerful options, but how many parts of my engine can I lose before just destroying my own chances of winning? I don’t really know. I probably can’t lose much more than the Vortex Elementals in most cases. That’s not very much. Probably most of the cards in the sideboard won’t get any play.

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  1. Pingback: Getting Ready for Rotation (2014), part 3 | Guild Blog

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