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Against the Odds: Amalia's Infinite Exploration (Explorer)


Hello, everyone, and welcome to another edition of Against the Odds! Amalia Benavides Aguirre is one of the most interesting cards from Lost Caverns of Ixalan. While it's probably good in Soul Sisters, the most exciting part of the two-drop is its ability to go infinite with Wildgrowth Walker, gaining a ton of life and building a massive Amalia to one-shot the opponent. Seeing Wildgrowth Walker again reminded me of a super-old but super-sweet synergy from last time we visited Ixalan: Wildgrowth Walker with Path of Discovery and Bolas's Citadel, which should let us play our entire deck in one turn! What are the odds of going infinite with [Amalia Benavides Aguirre]] and Wildgrowth Walker? Can the Path of Discovery and Bolas's Citadel combo work in 2023? Let's find out on today's Against the Odds!

Against the Odds: Amalia's Infinite Exploration

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The Deck

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Almost as soon as Lost Caverns of Ixalan was previewed, people started talking about the possibility of comboing Amalia Benavides Aguirre with Wildgrowth Walker. The idea is pretty straightforward. When we gain life, Amalia Benavides Aguirre explores, and when we explore, Wildgrowth Walker gains us three life. As such, if we can get both creatures on the battlefield together and either gain life or explore, we'll start a loop where Amalia Benavides Aguirre will trigger Wildgrowth Walker, which will trigger Amalia Benavides Aguirre, which will trigger Wildgrowth Walker, and so on and so forth. This will keep happening until Amalia Benavides Aguirre hits 20 power and blows up the rest of the creatures on the battlefield, leaving behind a massive Amalia Benavides Aguirre to one-shot the opponent. 

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As I mentioned a moment ago, just having both creatures on the battlefield doesn't really do anything. We need to explore or gain life to start the loop. As such, when I started working on the deck, I started to look for ways to explore. While a bunch of creatures can explore as an enters-the-battlefield ability and we do have some in our deck in Jadelight Spelunker and Jadelight Ranger, I also remembered a janky enchantment from original Ixalan that did some crazy things in explore decks in old Standard...

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Path of Discovery makes it so any creature entering the battlefield explores, which makes it the perfect way to start the Amalia Benavides Aguirre / Wildgrowth Walker combo. With a Path of Discovery on the battlefield, we can play Amalia Benavides Aguirre and then play Wildgrowth Walker and immediately start the infinite-ish loop without needing an additional combo piees. The other upside of Path of Discovery is that it opens up another really sweet combo...

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Combo number two is Path of Discovery with Wildgrowth Walker and Bolas's Citadel, which should let us play most (or even all) of our deck in one turn. Bolas's Citadel lets us cast spells from the top of our deck for life rather than for mana. The way that Bolas's Citadel usually fizzles is hitting multiple lands on the top of the deck since we can only play one land each turn. This is where Path of Discovery comes in. We'll explore whenever we play a creature, and if we have a land on the top of our deck, we can put it into our hand, helping ensure we have a non-land on the top of our deck to cast with Bolas's Citadel. Meanwhile, every time we explore, we'll gain three life thanks to Wildgrowth Walker, which means most of the time when we cast a spell with Bolas's Citadel, we actually end up gaining life rather than losing it, while also growing Wildgrowth Walker into a massive threat. We can then win by beating down with Wildgrowth Walker, playing Amalia Benavides Aguirre to trigger that combo, or draining our opponent a couple of times with Bolas's Citadel.

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Rounding out our deck are a couple of mana dorks to speed into our big combo pieces, like Bolas's Citadel and Path of Discovery, and Get Lost, which is the absolutely perfect removal spell for our deck. Not only can it blow up any artifact, creature, or land for just two mana, but we also often use it on our own creatures! Why would we want to make one of our own dorks Get Lost? Well, for one, in a pinch, we can use a Map to explore and start the Amalia Benavides Aguirre / Wildgrowth Walker combo. Second, Get Lost gives us a way to fizzle the Amalia Benavides Aguirre combo before it blows everything up, if we want to keep the rest of our battlefield. As we combo with Bolas's Citadel and explore through our deck, we'll eventually end up with a Get Lost on the top of our deck. We can wait until we explore 16 or 17 times to gain 50 or 60 life with Wildgrowth Walker and then use Get Lost to stop the loop before Amalia Benavides Aguirre gets to 20 power and blows up the battlefield so we can win with Wildgrowth Walker or Bolas's Citadel

The Matchups

The upside of our Amalia Benavides Aguirre is that it can be super fast and win the game out of nowhere. The downside is that common removal spells all the way down to Fatal Push can fizzle it. As such, our harder matchups are removal-heavy control and midrange decks that can keep our board clear of combo pieces. On the other hand, our deck is hilariously strong against aggro (where Wildgrowth Walker and explore can take over the game even without the infinite combo thanks to all the lifegain it offers) and is fast enough to race other combo decks with our best draws. On the other hand, Bolas's Citadel gives us a shot in the removal-heavy matchups where the Amalia Benavides Aguirre combo is bad by generating an absurd amount of card advantage to fight through our opponent's interaction.

The Odds

All in all, I played a ton of games with the deck and ended up with a very Against the Odds worthy 30% win percentage. While the deck can do some huge, explosive things, our creatures are fairly underpowered without a combo, making it hard to win fairly. Amalia Benavides Aguirre is interesting. We were able to use it to get some fast wins, and it can also pull us back from behind by clearing the board and leaving behind a massive creature. But we also had some games where we went infinite, blew everything up, and made a massive Amalia Benavides Aguirre only to have our opponent kill it with a removal spell and go on to win the game. Basically, Amalia's Infinite Exploration combo is an incredibly fun deck to play, and it can do some wild things, but it's more of a fun, janky combo deck than a truly competitive option.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.



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