Old School Casual Combos
By Ron Vitale on July 4th, 2005 · Filed in Casual · Comments not available just now
I remember days long gone by when my friends and I would sit around the table and play Magic until the sun rose. Now we all have jobs and families and don’t have the time to play as much as we used to. Many of my friends don’t even play Magic anymore. But I started reminiscing about the good old days and wanted to share some fond memories of annoying, crazy combos that were played on me or by me. Now before you go rambling off about how "these aren’t killer combos,” let me set the record straight. The combos that I’m going to discuss were unique, unusual, or just downright annoying and most all of them were played in group games that took place over 7 or 8 years ago. I’m writing this article to help players recapture the fun in the game. If you’re sick and tired of “Regionals this…” or “Hall of Fame that…,” then you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and remember where combinations began. And a note to the power player out there: Channel/Fireball was considered cheese in my day. My Magic group just didn’t do it. And before I begin, if you’re saying: “I’d like to play these combos but I don’t own the cards,” well, I want to point you in the right direction. Be sure to read my "Ways to Play Magic Online." I think that article will help you.
Combo One: Cyclopean Tomb and Demonic Hordes
With that said, let’s jump right in! After I learned how to play Magic about 11½ years ago, I taught my younger brother how to play. He and I would have monster games that would last until the wee hours of the morning. Our epic struggles were a blast. My brother preferred playing a Black/Blue deck and I played White/Green/Blue. Our decks were 100 card monsters. The games were chaotic, but lots of fun. I recall one match in which my brother played a Cyclopean Tomb and followed that up the next round with Demonic Hordes. We were at a match with creatures and I couldn’t get through his defense, but he couldn’t break through mine either. Instead of just sitting there, my brother systematically used the Hordes to destroy one of my land on the right-hand side of my playing area and then follow that up with changing one of my lands to a swamp on the left-hand side. Round by round, I watched as my land turned to swamps or was simply destroyed. Needless to say that I had my hat handed to me that game. I couldn’t pull a Disenchant or Swords to Plowshares to save the day. Although I lost, I definitely remember how effective my brother’s plan was on me. Try this move out on someone in a game and watch their face drop as they realize that they either need to come up with an answer quickly or their mana resources will be going the way of the spotted owl.
Combo 2: Rubinia Soulsinger and City of Shadows
Our next combo brings a sweet smile to my face. A friend of mine had just purchased an Ice Age Seraph|Ice Age that was autographed by Christopher Rush. He was extremely proud of adding the Seraph to his angel deck. During a multiplayer game, I opted to use Rubinia Soulsinger|Legends to steal his Seraph and then sack my opponent’s stolen creature to the City of Shadows. Let’s just say that my friend wasn’t too happy that I removed his Seraph from the game. But I didn’t stop there! I systematically removed the rest of his creatures each turn, holding back from the kill until I had enough mana built into the City to cast a Colossus of Sardia|Antiquities. Talk about adding insult to injury. Back in those days, my White/Blue/Green deck consisted of Preachers, Seasinger|Fallen Empiress, Rubinia Soulsinger, and Control Magics. My defense consisted of Icy Manipulator|Unlimiteds, Serra Angel|Unlimiteds, Swords to Plowshares|Unlimited, and a few White Knight|Unlimiteds. Stealing an opponent’s creatures can be fun, but if you can sack them and remove them from the game—each turn—well, that’s just something I had to pull off. With a good defense and some allies in a group game, you can pull off some amazing stunts and wipe the board clear of enemy creatures.
Combo 3: Colossus of Sardia, Giant Growth, and Berserk
When Antiquities came out, all the members of my group flipped over seeing a 9/9 trampler. With Jandor’s Saddlebags|Arabian Nights able to untap a creature, we all tried to devise a way of putting the big 9/9 into a deck. I tweaked my White/Blue/Green deck a bit and added Transmute Artifacts. I’d have out an Icy Manipulator, cast Transmute Artifacts, and then put the Colossus into play. Next turn, I’d attack, Giant Growth him, and then Berserk. If I were lucky, some of my friends would use their Giant Growths or Berserks on my Colossus. Whack! I crushed many an opponent with this combo. Not that it was overly powerful or easy to pull off, but all of us in our group thought that this kill was legitimate and a fun way to get knocked out of a game. Sure in today’s set of cards there are bigger creatures, but the pure shock and amazement of sending an actual Antiquities card (not a reprint) at your opponent will make them blink twice in amazement. Try it out and I bet you’ll get a reaction out of your opponent.
Combo 4: Siren’s Call and Festival
Okay, I have to admit. I can be a poor sport at times (that’s slang for: “I can be a baby when I’m losing"). If there’s any combo in this entire list that really ticks me off, I would have to say that hands down, Siren’s Call and Festival takes the top spot. My friend used to roll a die and randomly pick the person who he was going to pull this combo off on. He’d wave his hands in the air and start singing a little ditty: “Da-da-DA-Dadada-Da-da-DA-Dadada…” Well, as soon as heard him singing like that, we knew one of us was doomed. (In the future, this combo made me always leave two Blue open for a counter or I’d hold onto a Force of Will.) Once my friend would pick his target, he’d cast the Siren’s Call forcing all of the player's creatures to attack, and then cast Festival. In a group game, this meant open season on the targeted player. Without a defense, he’d be smacked into kingdom come faster than you could imagine. Ponder this for a moment: You’re to the right of my friend and he casts this combo on you. In a six player game, everyone around the table would get a chance to attack you before you got the opportunity to take your next turn. Normally, after an opponent was picked, that was the game for them. An easy target is too hard to ignore. And if any players attempted to kill off my friend with the Siren’s Call/Festival combo, he’d always be prepared with Fogs in his hand or an Angus Mackenzie. I still shiver when I think of how evil this combo is in a group game.
Combo 5: Tawnos’s Coffin and Wrath of God
Here is another of my little combos. Most of my decks had small combos building up on other combos so that when you linked them together, you’d have an effective means of winning games. In my White/Blue/Green deck, I had one Tawnos’s Coffin and two Wrath of Gods. When my strategy of stealing people’s creatures wasn’t working, I would put my Serra Angel into the Coffin at the end of my opponent’s turn and then I’d Wrath on my turn. Sure, I had to wait a turn to let my Angel out of the Coffin and another turn to untap her, but if I were lucky I had a Jandor’s Saddlebags in play and could recover one turn faster. Granted, there are better combos with today’s stock of Magic cards, but this old school combo can bring you a lot of fun. Why waste all your creatures when you can save your best one?
Combo 6: War Barge and Disenchant
I never pulled this combo off, but I knew a friend who loved doing this. With lots of mana, you have an effective way of wiping out all the creatures on the board that you just don’t believe should be there. For my taste, the War Barge combo was too straightforward and didn’t have enough depth to it. Sure it was fun to pull off once or twice when War Barge first came out, but after that the combo became stale. Why do I bring it up now? When’s the last time you saw someone play a War Barge? Give the combo a try and you’re sure to get a few players to moan in frustration at your play. Or, if you wish to play conservatively, use the Merfolk Assassin to keep the War Barge around and you'll be able to destroy and opponent's creature once every turn.
Combo 7: Shahrazad, Fork, and another Fork
I used to go to a comic book mini-convention every Thursday night. Vendors would be there to sell comics, baseball cards, and Magic. In the back corner of the room, thirty or forty players would be trading, talking, and playing. One night this guy with glasses came into the group, carrying a briefcase. He kept asking people to play with him. I paid him no attention until I heard a general buzz going through the crowd. The guy was playing a Shahrazad/Fork|Unlimited deck and he basically forced you to concede because you’d be playing game after game, after game, after game….
I never did get a chance to play that guy, but I do remember how he ticked off a lot of people that night. No one wanted to waste hours trying to just complete one duel so they would throw their hands up in frustration and concede. I can honestly say that I never played this type of deck, but I have included Shahrazad in my White/Blue/Green deck. Just imagine it being 1:00 a.m. and you’re in the middle of a 6 player group game. I play Shahrazad and—people would start throwing dice at me! The situation became so intense that the group instituted a ban on my playing Shahrazad after midnight. Too bad. I used to have a lot of fun with that card! Now with Twincast, I wonder if I should sneak Shahrazad back into my group deck...
Combo 8: Pestilence and White Knight
Not the most effective combo, but if you throw in a Zuran Orb, that could help you stay alive. Maybe a few Spirit Links to boot and you’d be fine. I didn’t play this deck that often, but a friend of mine did. It’s a great way to wipe out the board and gain control of the playing area. A White Knight might not seem like a lot, but add his damage to that of the Pestilence and players will soon drop like flies.
Combo 9: Ring of Ma’ruf plus any card to win you the game
The Ring of Ma'ruf existed way before the Wishes and let me tell you: activating the Ring and winning the game is just pure magic (pun intended). If you can smack this card down on the table and pull it off, chances are that you’ll be able to pull out a card to help you win you the game. It’s funny but sometimes I needed something as simple as an extra swamp, a Disenchant, but I did use it for power cards such as Time Walk or Balance. The Ring used to be a staple in my White/Green/Blue deck. I loved the card. The Wishes of the Judgment set are much more effective cards, but playing an old school card like the Ring just makes me smile.
Combo 10: Karma and Magical Hack
Here’s a combo that friends would call straight cheese. If my brother were playing the game, he’d use language a bit stronger than “cheese.” He’d tell you what to do with that Magical Hack. I think I may have played this combo once or twice. It can be extremely effective. In learning how to play Magic, I tended to play most colors except Black. When I’d play Karma, Black mages would run to the hills. But with the Magical Hack, you could cripple your opponent using Mountains with ease. It’s not an elegant means of winning, but if they were playing a straight Red deck and had no means to destroy the Karma, well, let’s just say that the game was over rather quickly.
Remembering the Past to Have a Blast
It’s summertime and we’re about to see the 9th Edition set. The next full set of Magic won’t be released until the fall. If you have time to play some games, dig out some of your old cards or build some decks online with some of these combos. No, you’re not going to win in one turn, but you might bring some smiles to the group as they rediscover old gems or educated new players on the fun of the past. Enjoy!
*Thank you to Iloveatogs for his excellent artwork.
By Ron Vitale on July 4th, 2005 · Filed in Casual · Comments not available just now
About Ron Vitale
Ron has been playing Magic: The Gathering since Unlimited, writing articles over the years for StarCityGames, MTGOntario, the now defunct Grimmoire.com, and most recently MTGSalvation.com. His short fiction has appears on Ultraverse.com and Alienskinmagazine.com. One of Ron's most memorable Magic memories concerns being beaten to a pulp by Richard Garfield.