Layer 12: Activating Karn, the Great Creator can turn many artifacts into creatures, and restart the above combo many times.
We can have Karn, the Great Creator, and four Spark Doubles, allowing for five Karn activations. Then, we can kill them all with Drakuseth, and play them all again. So we get 10 activations, enough for more than 3 -> 3 -> 12 -> 13.
Oh, right. We could possibly work around that, if we worked things so that the animated Nyx Lotus could not get haste. There are some ways to deal with problems, for example for Layer 2, Nissa can give the land haste, and for Layer 5, we can use Goblin Smuggler to get tapped tokens. But, I don't see a way to preserve Layer 1, since the idea is to use red mana to give our mana creatures haste. Since we only improved by one layer, it looks like we don't improve with this.
Yeah, I think that goes infinite. We can get a "hasted" blue mana producer, by playing Maraleaf Pixie on turn 2, so that it no longer has summoning sickness and we can just untap it. But, I don't see how to preserve Layer 1 - we need to turn red mana (or white or black could work) into a bunch of blue mana somehow, presumably by untapping or hasting Gyre Engineers or Maraleaf Pixies.
Edit: So, I have an interesting idea. What if we replaced the lands in the stage combo with creatures? The immediate problem seems to be, if creatures can produce mana in the stage, then why can't we just use Quasiduplicate them to get unlimited amounts of mana. But, there's an interesting enchantment called Rhythm of the Wild, which gives all nontoken creatures riot. That means that they come in with either a +1/+1 token or haste. So, we can have the creature cards that we put onto the battlefield during the stage combo come in with haste, but we won't necessarily be able to give any creature tokens haste. So this makes the stage combo seem doable with creatures.
So, here's the proposed setup: We will have Quasiduplicate copy Scholar of the Ages to get our instants and sorceries. We can use Scholar of the Ages to fetch Vivien's Invocation, which we cast to bring two copies of Maraleaf Pixie onto the battlefield. Rhythm of the Wild gives them haste, so we can tap them for two blue mana and a bunch of green mana. Then, we cast Collision // Colossus (also fetched with Scholar of the Ages) to destroy both Pixies, sending them to the graveyard. Resolving a copy of Devious Cover-Up will bring them back to the library, to do the combo again. I think this is a working stage combo?
If this works, then we can go on the the next layers with Samut's Sprint or On Alert, same as before. The difference is, we haven't used up lands, so they can be used for more of the later layers. My first thought was that we could probably make some major change to give the lands the most effective increase, but after looking for a bit, I haven't found anything better than keeping the lands in the same place, being untapped by On Alert and creating red mana to cast many copies of Samut's Sprint.
But, we can still improve the combo by adding copies of Nikya of the Old Ways, allowing the red land to tap for a lot of red mana. That will give us another layer. The only concern I think is, how to get rid of all the Nikyas after we tap them for mana, so that we can start casting noncreature spells again. I'm thinking Aether Gust works? If so, we add a straight one layer to the chain, getting us to more than 3 -> 3 -> 54 -> 13.
True - fortunately, our current chain doesn't have Nyx Lotus, so that's okay.
Hmm, Bond of Revival is interesting. Unfortunately, I guess we would need black mana to cast it? And since we cast it during the stage, we need to have black mana during the stage. Not sure how to fit Godless Shrine in there, unless we put lands in the stage as well, which kind of defeats the purpose of switching from lands to creatures in the stage...
No worries, I should probably be making updates more often, since things change a lot.
Another idea - instead of Silverflame Squire for On Alert, how about Beanstalk Giant for Fertile Footsteps? Fertile Footsteps can fetch a basic Mountain, which we can tap for a lot of red mana. We can then spend a red mana for say Rubble Reading, to destroy it. So, Fertile Footsteps can basically replace On Alert. The advantage is, we can now have nonbasic lands and artifacts later in the chain, without having to worry about getting untapped further down.
So, we can have the same chain leading up to using Smothering Tithe and Unmoored Ego. That gets us to more than 3 -> 3 -> 54 -> 13. Then, we can make lots of copies of Wilderness Reclamation. At the beginning of the end step, we can untap a tapped land that produces black mana many times, which takes us to more than 3 -> 3 -> (3 -> 3 -> 54 -> 13) -> 13.
Layer 12: Making the opponent draw a card will give us a lot of black mana because of Smothering Tithe.
Layer 12: Tapping a black mana land will generate a lot of black mana.
Layer 13: At the beginning of the end step, we can untap many black mana lands thanks to Wilderness Reclamation.
That's pretty good - but it doesn't feel like we're getting the full use out of Wilderness Reclamation, since we're only untapping a few lands each time. Can we somehow get a lot of black mana lands for Wilderness Reclamation to untap? The problem is, I think we would need to turn a land into a creature to do that. But, if we could do that, what's to prevent us from animating the Mountain, and making many copies with Quasiduplicate? So, I haven't quite figured that out yet.
Edit: Hmm, now that we don't untap stuff anymore, it looks like Nyx Lotus can come back in. So we get:
Layer 13: Activating Karn, the Great Creator can turn many artifacts into creatures, and restart the above combo many times.
So this should get us to more than 3 -> 3 -> 12 -> 14.
Edit: Whoops, I missed a pretty obvious flaw. We can cast Masterful Replication in its first mode to create many artifact tokens, then cast it in its second to turn all the new artfacts into nonlegendary versions of Nyx Lotus. Oh well. I don't see a fix for this.
So, going back to the previous version, I believe we can still make use of Nyx Lotus. We can animate it, then attack with many copies of Tenth District Veteran, allowing us to untap it many times. So, this gets another Layer 13 activation. That will take our damage up to 3 -> 3 -> (3 -> 3 -> (3 -> 3 -> 54 -> 13) -> 13) -> 13.
Edit: I'm thinking that we can get back to 14 layers, if we repace Karn, the Great Creator with Rowan, Fearless Sparkmage. We can use proliferates to increase her number of loyalty counters (through combat, I suppose), and then activate her ultimate. Activating her ultimate gets a lot of copies, and resolving one copy can untap a lot of Nyx Lotuss, which we can animate with Animating Faerie. So that should get us to 14 layers.
Edit: It looks like there's a problem again: We can proliferate until Rowan gets precisely 9 counters, then she will kill herself with her ultimate, allowing us to recycle her. Also, we can use the proliferates that we generate from one Rowan to add counters onto the next, so it looks like the last chain goes infinite.
Oof oof oof, yes good point. That means that we can kill off not only planeswalkers, but also Martyr for the Cause, which is no good. So yeah, we definitely want to get rid of Bolas's Citadel. And yeah, that will be very difficult. If we can't, the most painless solution is probably just to get rid of the opponent life layer.
Hmm, I guess we can stick in opponent life after Martyr for the Cause? But then we can't give opponent life in the same way of course. I'll look for other ways to do it.
The idea for Nikya of the Old Ways was to cast Aether Gust, get a bunch of TYS triggers, cast Quasiduplicate, get a bunch of TYS triggers, then cast Nikya of the Old Ways, followed by Spark Double copying Nikya. Resolve all the Quasiduplicate spells, making a bunch of copies of the nonlegendary Nikya, but not too many. At that point, we tap whatever land we want to tap. Then resolve the Aether Gust spells, putting all of the Nikyas into the library.
Hmm, but I guess we don't draw creatures cards anymore. In that case, after casting Quasiduplicate, we cast Vivien's Invocation, and put Nikya and Spark Double on the board, then proceed the same way.
Edit: After some looking, I couldn't find anything better than just removing the opponent life gain layer from our triple nested 13-layer chain. This drops the current best down to 3 -> 3 -> (3 -> 3 -> (3 -> 3 -> 54 -> 12) -> 12) -> 12.
Another possibility is to kill the copies of Martyr for the Cause by using Bolas's Citadel rather than Finale of Eternity, so that it costs opponent's life rather than black mana. We can convert white mana into life by casting Heliod's Intervention. Unfortunately, this means we don't have white mana available to cast Usher to Safety, so that loses a layer. I was hoping that we could get that layer back by the fact that Heliod's Intervention can gain the opponent a lot of life. But, the X life gained by the opponent doesn't give a stacking layer with the layer from all the copies of TYS, and I don't know how to give copies of Angel of Vitality to the opponent, without being able to also give them Teysa Karlov and a bunch of tapped tokens, so that we can give life to the opponent much more cheaply. So this switch seems to drop a layer.
Another possibility is to go without Bolas's Citadel. The immediate problem is that we can't cast Alter Fate from the graveyard anymore. However, we can use Dawn of Hope to get many card draws from a single life gain, to draw Usher to Safety many times. This loses us the Alter Fate layer, so we drop one layer, but at least we keep the opponent life gain layer. So this puts the chain in a tie with the first one at triple nested 12-chain.
Layer 14: Unmoored Ego can force the opponent to draw 53 times.
which would be 14 layers! The one flaw I can spot is that Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner allows us to draw a card whenever a creature of power 4 or greater enters the battlefield, which goes infinite with Quasiduplicate, provided we have a creature card of power 4 or greater. Of the top of my head, we have to get rid of Nikya of the Old Ways which loses 2 layers off that bat. That would already reduce this below the previous best chain. I don't know what to replace Kiora with; Nissa, Who Shakes the World's ability will turn the land into a creature, which will allow us to Quasiduplicate it cheaply; switching out Beanstalk Giant for Silverflame Squire untapping Gyre Engineer would also lose us two layers. And I still can't figure out how to make Rowan work.
Oh right, I missed Aethergust. That does look like it works very neatly.
Removing Bolas's Citadel seems like it may delay us at least a turn, which starts making the deck look a lot slower.
turn 1 is leylines + tapped land
turn 2 is land + mana dork
Those seem pretty locked in while gilded goose is off the table.
Turn 3 Emergency powers is by far the best option to refuel with, though by turn 3 we can have an extra card, it doesn't look like we can do much better than using it as our land drop for a bit of colored mana post redraw.
So we have 1 land and a permanent with cmc 6 or less and 6 cards in hand. It seems like whatever permanent would need to effectively provide a lot of mana, as we do want to cast Dance of the Manse asap.
I just don't see anything in standard (...so far) that gets us there by turn 3.
In better news, I think there might still be hope for a second stage.
Here's the thought: scrap blue mana and run the stage with life with the right number of the come into play tapped lands that gain 1 Planar cleansing to gain life with overgrowth elementals but that kills our enchantments, notably Leyline of anticipation, so we need to resolve down to a TYS trigger for Dance of the Manse.
Now we need UW and how can we get it? My initial thought was firemind vessel + Lazav, the multifarious, but that doesn't actually work.
I spent probably too much time looking at other lines and Faeburrow Elder + Escape velocity
is close but looks like it might go infinite?
I'm not seeing an infinite with [c}Faeburrow Elder[/c] and Escape Velocity.
Do you have an idea for how the second stage should operate? We've used life, and if the first stage is paying life through Bolas's Citadel, that moots using mana to cast spells as the second stage resource. (except I guess for X spells)
Edit: So, I can do a little better without Bolas's Citadel, although not yet enough to justify delaying the combo:
Yeah, my plan definitely doesn't work, and I just created a complicated way to go infinite. I think Escape velocity being an unduplicateable aura is at least interesting as a way to limit haste.
I need to relearn how multiple stages work, but with the current # of layers you are tacking on (seriously I only contributed to like 2-3 of the 10+ stages you have) I'd expect that there's probably some way to get a second stage, even if its not the way I was envisioning it earlier.
I like how we each are good at different areas, we make a good team
With all the card possibilities, I imagine there is probably some way to make a second stage. But, it's a very different thought process than making layers - for example, for layers you make sure everything is going one way, for a stage it has to be self-looping to some extent.
The switch from The Akroan War to Kiora Bests the Sea God seems promising. Instead of life going directly towards casting Fertile Footsteps, we can use life to pay for a black shockland, then use the black mana to cast Alter Fate, which can fetch Fertile Footsteps many times. This gains us two layers; but, this makes us use up all three of red, black, and white mana though, so we have nothing left for the end. We could switch from Martyr for the Cause to Evolution Sage, but that would require giving up Fertile Footsteps, possibly going back to On Alert. Anyway, it seems more profitable to go back from Fertile Footsteps fetching Mountains to fetching Islands, leaving red mana for the end. That loses us just one layer, so we wind up profiting a layer in the process.
So that looks like it gets us to 3 -> 3 -> (3 -> 3 -> 54 -> 14) -> 14, which seems to be the best so far.
Another option is to try to keep Planeswalkers, so we remove Bolas's Citadel. Then, we need a way to go from life gain to destroying Martyr for the Cause. Besides casting a destruction spell using Bolas's Citadel, the other options don't seem to be as good. Bloodsoaked Altar allows us to turn life into creature destrunction on a 2 for 1 basis, but it can only be activated as a sorcery. Vills, Broker of Blood also can destroy creatures at a 0 layer leve, but it also turns loss of life into card draw, which moots Rowen further down the line. Font of Agonies looks quite promising, except that proliferates can give it blood counters in place of life payment, so it goes infinite if it is higher than proliferating. Dawn of Hope and a couple of other cards turn life gain into card drawing, at basically a 1 layer level. The problem is how to turn card draw into creature destruction; we've pretty much used up all types of cards already, except for Planeswalkers, and it seems to early to use them here. Perhaps a nonbasic land? It can't be something that the land taps for, since we untap lands further down. So maybe something upon a land entering the battlefield? So it looks like we have two options: One is to go for Vills, which costs us Layers 8 and 9, and also loses us Rowan, so we loose another layer there switching to Saheeli, Sublime Artificer. So that's down to 13 layers, worse than the above chain. The other option is to switch to Dawn of Hope drawing a land, and putting the land into play (say with Arboreal Grazer) to trigger Evolution Sage. But that still looks like it loses two layers over Deafening Clarion, and we also have to switch from Fertile Footsteps to On Alert, which looks like it loses another two layers. So that's no good either.
So anyway, it loos like a double nested 14-chain is the current best.
Edit: So, for the first chain in the above list (the one with Purphoros's Intervention), we can replace Purphoros's Intervention by Electrodynamics. Each copy of Electrodynamics can allow us to cast Deafening Clarion, and each copy of Deafening Clarion will deal damage to many copies of Martyr for the Cause. So that turns one layer into three, pumping up the final damage to 3 -> 3 -> 13 -> 16.
Concerning multiple stages, each stage basically works the same way, but each stage beyond the first must produce a bunch of the previous stage's resource while executing the stage. So for example, we could have the first stage be based on blue mana, and then the second stage will be based on red mana, but during its operation we have to produce blue mana on the side.
It seems like using life to cast spells through Bolas's Citadel for the first stage is somewhat constraining. It would be better to use some color of mana, then the second stage could be some other color of mana, or life, or even creature tokens.
Edit: Hmm, instead of using Islands to create blue mana directly, or Mountains to cast haste, we can use Plains to untap our mana dorks. The advantage of doing this, is that it allows Usher to Safety to come back in, since we will have mana available to cast it. So I get:
So this is 3 -> 3 -> (3 -> 3 -> 54 -> 14) -> 14, which I think is basically a tie with the current record with Bolas's Citadel.
We can do the same switch into Electrodynamics and Deafening Clarion, if we get rid of Bolas's Citadel. However, we can no longer have Get the Point where it is, since we can't use life to cast it anymore. So, we have the same problem with converting life into creature distruction. It looks like Vills is the best solution I can find, but that loses a layer compared to Get the Point.
So, the non-Bolas's Citadel version gets 3 -> 3 -> (3 -> 3 -> 54 -> 15) -> 15; just a little bit behind the record.
Edit: Hmm, I don't know how I missed this. The current record non-Citadel chain (the one that gets 3 -> 3 -> 13 -> 16) doesn't have Citadel, and it doesn't get general card draws, so Rowan should be safe there. So we can end on Rowan activation, which gets another layer, and we can draw Rowan many times with Happily Ever After.
We can draw Rowan 53 times with Happily Ever After; during combat we can get lots of draws, so we can draw 4 Rowans and 4 Nicol Bolases, for another 8 activations. And perhaps we can start with a few as well. So I will say, at least 3 -> 3 -> 64 -> 17.
The Beanstalk Giant dying at 0/0 seems to be fine, since we have to get him back to our hand to cast Fertile Footsteps. We can give them the white Gate with Clackbridge Troll, then using a [c}Role Reversal[/c] to exchange an animated Mobilized District with a Goat token, then another Role Reversal to exchange a white Gate with Mobilized District. We can donate an animated Nyx Lotus, but does that go infinite?
But yeah, the other two points seem to be problems. I thought that there were more ways to put lands into play, but looking it up again, there aren't that many options. All the ones that put lands into play untapped seem to be too cheap. Chulane, Teller of Tales, seemed like it might be promising, except that it can also bounce creatures back to your hand, which can trigger the triggered ability again and again. So, I don't see an immediate fix there. And yeah, Spark Double is a problem for the planeswalkers, since we can kill them off with damage, and then recycle them since they are creature cards. So even if we find a fix for the land problem, if we just remove planeswalkers, that would drop it down to 3 -> 3 -> (3 -> 3 -> 54 -> 15) -> 15, which would just be a tie for the lead.
So, right now top versions are the two that obtain 3 -> 3 -> (3 -> 3 -> 54 -> 14) -> 14 with Bolas's Citadel, and the two that obtain 3 -> 3 -> (3 -> 3 -> 54 -> 15) -> 15 without it; none of those seem to have either of those two aforementioned problems, at least.
Edit: Oh right, we can donate a Nyx Lotus and untap it. Welp, that kind of screws up all the decks then. But, we can just remove the Nyx Lotus portion of those. So 3 -> 3 -> 54 -> 14 for Bolas's Citadel, 3 -> 3 -> 54 -> 15 for non-Citadel.
Our current stage combo runs itself on life/blue mana, whichever is cheaper, involves shuffling the library and fetching and outputs a lot of creatures. and all the creature ETBs and associated abilities.
Notably we don't have lots of haste and that is how it connects to the next layer.
Haste is not a terrible way for a stage to fuel itself as we can grant haste for R and then tap a now hasty creature to either directly, or more likely, indirectly, make that red again, while also incidentally making blue.
Hmm, some interesting food for thought. I think that the first thing to concentrate on is the stage process itself - we need to have an stack of alternating layers, with a way to spend and return our stage resource (presumably mana of some color, but could also be life maybe). To get a group of abilities, it looks like we need to use instants/sorceries along with Thousand-Year Storm, or perhaps an enter the battlefield effect, along with Yarok, the Desecrated. Enter the battlefield effects look problematic though, if we are trying to put a stage above our current stage. (I suppose we could try to put a stage below the current stage, but that seems difficult as well.) So instants/sorceries seem like the most likely option.
We have cards like Samut's Sprint for haste, and Rally to Battle for untapping, but both of those can affect many creatures, so we would get a lot more mana than we want to. Somehow, we need to need both of the stage abilities in order to produce the required mana. I don't see immediately how to do that - I guess that's our big task for now.
Hmm, then what set of operations do we need to make to have a second stage? (Not a higher order stage, just a second one)
1. Spend UU to cast Quasiduplicate from our hand, getting X copies, and trapping it on the stack.
2. Spend UU to cast Devious cover up from our hand, getting X copies, and trapping it on the stack.
3. Resolve a Quasiduplicate to increase X.
4. Resolve a Quasiduplicate to counter anything we want with Frilled mystic and moving it from the stack to the graveyard.
5. Resolve a Quasiduplicate to return spells to our hand thanks to scholar of the ages.
6. If Blue mana is unlocked, resolve a Quasiduplicate to gain UU and lock blue mana.
7. Resolve a Devious cover up to unlock blue mana.
Which generates roughly X layers where X is the amount of UU we can start with.
The second stage can either go "below" and generate U, or "above" and not be able to generate U.
The second stage basically works the same way as the first. You will have two abilities that you can activate, at the cost of some amount of a resource. You alternate activating the abilities, so that you have a stack of alternating layers. Then you resolve the stack, and each time you resolve one ability followed by the other, you are able to get the appropriate amount of your resource back. The difference is, for the second stage, you will also generate some amount of the first stage resource at some point in the resolution of the stack. So just come up with some way to make a stage just like the one we currently have, except with a different resource; after that, finding a way to produce blue mana shouldn't be too hard.
In the last post, I said that using enter-the-battlefield effects for one of the abilities might be hard, if the new stage is "below" the current stage; but, I guess it's not so bad, if we use the ETB effect of a noncreature permanent?
Since we need a creature to be both hasted and untapped to use it, I suppose we could have the second stage use abilities that give haste to a creature and untap a creature, if the creature (or permanent turned into a creature) came into play tapped. The problem is, once it is hasted, we can just keep untapping it for more uses. So, perhaps a permanent that had to be both tapped and sacrificed to be used? Preferably a noncreature permanent that we had to turn into a creature, so that we couldn't just make a lot of copies of it. But, I don't know of any permanent that fits all of the above requirements.
Ooh, Terrarion would be very nice! Unfortunately, the odds of a particular card being reprinted in the next two sets is probably pretty low...
Instead of using life to pay for Deafening Clarion, we can pay life to Vilis, Broker of Blood, and trigger the drawing of many cards. Then, we can donate many copies of Underworld Dreams to the enemy, triggering a lot of damage instances directed at us, for each card drawn. We can then cast Gideon's Sacrifice, and target a lot of copies of Martyr for the Cause, and kill them all with damage. That should get us two layers from life to creature destruction. I guess that is the same as Deafening Clarion. So, this is just a third deck with Bolas's Citadel that deals more than 3 -> 3 -> 54 -> 14 damage.
We can't do the same trick for the Truefire Captain decks, since we could use the Gideon's Sacrifice to deal damage to the Truefire Captains instead, creating a loop.