We're in Theros Beyond Death prerelease season and guess who's out here trying to break the new toys in Pioneer? You guessed it, folks. It's me. Which card did I start with, you ask? None other than hype train conductor himself, Heliod, Sun-Crowned.
He slices, he dices, and, best of all, leaves your opponents in a crisis. Let's get down to business with an infinite combo deck that can grind well into the late game, too. Big thanks to my buddy Spiderspace for helping out with this brew.
Infinite Combo: The way it works is you need a Walking Ballista that you can remove a counter from without it dying and Heliod, Sun-Crowned to give it lifelink.
You ping something (probably your opponent) and gain a life for it and put a new counter on Ballista. Voila! Infinite damage and infinite life! Normally, you'd need a Heliod in play and six mana to play Ballista for two and give it lifelink to go off, but in this deck the supporting cast can get things going much faster.
Combo Support: First off we've got Idyllic Grange, which lets us curve Heliod into Ballista for a turn-four kill. Those are Splinter Twin numbers! Similarly, Daxos, Blessed by the Sun and Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit allow us to play Ballista for one and put a counter on it for free. That means we still have two mana left over to give it lifelink for more turn-four kills. Add to that Gideon Blackblade that can give it lifelink for free, and we have a consistent four-mana kill any time we get the combo. Oh yeah, and Arcanist's Owl can find both pieces of the combo. Sweet.
Grind 'em Out: Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx is really powerful here if we can stick some permanents. It will often make eight mana a turn in the mid-game. This means a card like Mastery of the Unseen will overrun our opponents in no time and gain us unreasonable amounts of life to boot.
Let's see how it all comes together.
Spoilers past here.
We put the squeeze on some unprepared opponents playing slower decks, but also got the squeeze put on us by a Feather, the Redeemed deck. We beat Five-Color Niv, Artifact combo and Spirits which felt like good matchups, but we lost to Azorius Control and Feather. A 3-2 got us our money back and a Treasure Chest for good measure, but I certainly think I could've played better against our Azorius opponent and walked away with a 4-1.
I forgot Alseid of Life's Bounty could be used to push some damage through our opponent's board of all-white Soldiers. Oops! New cards are hard to parse at first, I guess. Alseid might be better than I thought, though, so that's cool.
General Rules: Take out Knight of the White Orchid when you're on the play except against hyper-aggro decks. Against aggro decks, bring in Silkwrap, Settle the Wreckage and Boros Reckoner.
Vs. Azorius Control: Bring in Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and take out Stasis Snare. You can leave one Snare in for Lyra Dawnbringer if you want, or bring in one Rest in Peace for their Dig Through Time as I did in the video. It's not super high-value, but slowing down their Digs is pretty deece. Mastery of the Unseen is fantastic here, as are both Gideons and the threat of the combo.
Vs. Big Red: Bring in Boros Reckoner, Settle the Wreckage and Silkwrap. Lose the Arcanist's Owls, two Anafenza/Daxos, Gideon Blackblade and one Mastery of the Unseen. We need to slow them down and pressure Chandra, Torch of Defiance to run them out of cards and pull ahead.
Vs. Black Aggro: Bring in Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Settle the Wreckage and Silkwrap. Take out Gideon Blackblade, Anafenza and a mixture of other non-combo pieces depending on play/draw. They have a lot of interaction so grinding them out with Mastery in the later game is pretty great, but just try to keep them off the board.
Vs. Lotus Breach: Bring in Rest in Peace and Deafening Silence. Take out the Stasis Snares. Just combo faster than them and disrupt post-board if possible. Both our sideboard cards are pretty unbeatable if they can't remove them.
Vs. Ramp: There's not much to board in or out. The Knights are actually still good on the play here because they're ramping past you. Just combo fast or get 'em dead before Ugin, the Spirit Dragon comes out to play.
I hope you enjoyed this pioneering of the hottest new combo on the block as much as I did. I think this deck is good enough to compete with the big dogs of the format, but certainly struggles against heavy interaction. I'm sure the shell will evolve over time, but I'm very happy with where it's at so far. The matches were all really fun.
I'll catch y'all next week with another brand new deck that I can't wait to show off!
Kevin Poncelet is a Twitch streamer with a deep, abiding love for Death And Taxes.
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