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Against the Odds: Dagger Burn (Historic)

Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 265 of Against the Odds. Thanks to Kaladesh Remastered, the greatest card in the history of Magic is on Magic Arena and legal in Historic: Panharmonicon! While Panharmonicon's durdly value potential gets all of the headlines, part of what makes the artifact so great is that it also opens the door to some really weird and janky combos. Take, for example, the infamous Dagger Burn deck that we played in Standard a few years ago. The idea of the deck—stacking up effects like Trespasser's Curse and Rampaging Ferocidon that deal damage or drain the opponent whenever a creature comes into play and then giving the opponent creatures with cards like Dowsing Dagger and Clackbridge Troll to burn the opponent out of the game, with Panharmonicon doubling up all of the triggers—is extremely unique and janky. Can Dagger Burn make the leap from Standard's past to Historic now that Panharmonicon is back and better than ever?  Let's get to the video and find out in today's Against the Odds; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Dagger Burn

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The Deck

Dagger Burn is one of the most unique Panharmonicon decks in existence. Rather than using the artifact to generate extra value from creatures with enters-the-battlefield triggers, in Dagger Burn, Panharmonicon is a combo piece that super-charges some really janky cards. To understand the deck, we probably need to walk through the combo itself, step by step.

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Dagger Burn is basically a three-piece combo deck, although we do have some redundancy with our combo pieces. Step one is a card that drains or damages the opponent whenever they have a creature enter the battlefield under their control. For this, we have Trespasser's Curse and Rampaging Ferocidon. Trespasser's Curse is the better of the two, both because it's an enchantment (making it much harder to kill) and because it gains us life. Rampaging Ferocidon does have the upside of being a creature, which is occasionally relevant for chump-blocking purposes or for sneaking in a bit of combat damage, but being a creature is also a big downside, in that it makes Rampaging Ferocidon much easier for opponents to kill. For our combo to work, we really need to have at least one of these cards on the battlefield, and the more the merrier since the effects stack.

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Step two is a way to give our opponent creatures in order to trigger Trespasser's Curse and Rampaging Ferocidon. While some opponents will help us by playing creatures naturally, counting on our opponent is risky since some decks play few creatures. For this, we turn to our namesake Dowsing Dagger and also Clackbridge Troll. Dowsing Dagger is technically an equipment, but in reality, we almost never want to equip it and flip it into a land. Instead, it's in our deck because it's a two-mana artifact that gives our opponent two 0/2 creatures. Meanwhile, Clackbridge Troll force our opponent to create three 0/1 Goats and can also be a pretty effective attacker, as an 8/8 with trample and haste. Let's say we have a Trespasser's Curse on the battlefield. We play Dowsing Dagger, give our opponent two Plants, and drain them for two. While this doesn't sound all that exciting, things become pretty crazy once Panharmonicon enters the fray...

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The reason why Panharmonicon is so important to Dagger Burn is that it not only doubles up Dowsing Dagger and Clackbridge Troll to give our opponent more tokens but also doubles up the triggers from Trespasser's Curse and Rampaging Ferocidon. Let's go back to the example of playing a Dowsing Dagger with a Trespasser's Curse on the battlefield but add the power of Panharmonicon to the mix. When Dowsing Dagger enters the battlefield, it will now give our opponent four 0/2 Plant tokens thanks to Panharmonicon doubling up its enters-the-battlefield trigger, and then each of those Plants will trigger Trespasser's Curse twice, which means with just a single Trespasser's Curse on the battlefield alongside Panharmonicon, Dowsing Dagger suddenly drains our opponent for eight, which is a pretty insane deal for just two mana. Meanwhile, with that same setup, Clackbridge Troll will give our opponent six 0/1 Goats, which will drain our opponent for a total of 12 thanks to Panharmonicon. If we can get two Trespasser's Curses / Rampaging Ferocidons on the battlefield (or two Panharmonicons), then a single Dowsing Dagger or Clackbridge Troll is usually lethal!

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Rounding out our deck are three pseudo-combo pieces (along with some random removal in Bloodchief's Thirst and Hostage Taker as well as one Nicol Bolas, the Ravager for value). Massacre Wurm is another finisher. If we can't kill our opponent with Trespasser's Curse or Rampaging Ferocidon, we can use Dowsing Dagger and Clackbridge Troll to give our opponent a bunch of tokens and then use Massacre Wurm to whip them all away and deal a ton of damage. Meanwhile, Saheeli Rai and Glasspool Mimic (which comes for free in a land slot) are in the deck to copy our primary combo pieces. Saheeli Rai is especially good since it can copy an artifact or creature with its –2, which means we can copy things like Dowsing Dagger or Panharmonicon to deal more damage, or creatures like Clackbridge Troll to give our opponent more tokens. 

The Matchups

Dagger Burn's biggest enemy is itself (also aggro). The weird, janky combo is actually extremely powerful when everything comes together, which gives us a chance to win in most matchups, although we lack consistency and lose to our own deck semi-often. The biggest issue is that we need three-ish different combo pieces, and most of those combo pieces (Dowsing Dagger, Trespasser's Curse, etc.) aren't really all that good outside of the combo itself, so we have some games where we draw a bunch of ways to give the opponent tokens but no way to drain / damage them when those tokens come into play and some games where we have a bunch of Trespasser's Curses but can't find a Dowsing Dagger or Clackbridge Troll. Outside of inconsistency, dedicated aggro is probably our toughest matchup, mostly because our combo takes a while to get set up, and Rampaging Ferocidon sometimes helps our opponent by preventing us from gaining life with Trespasser's Curse or Clackbridge Troll

The Odds

All in all, I played seven matches with Dagger Burn (including a second matchup against Mono-Red Aggro, which we lost) and finished 4-3, which is pretty solid for a really janky, off-the-wall combo deck. While we did have some games where we did basically nothing, we also had some really spectacular Dagger Burn–style kills! In all honesty, I was expecting the deck to be worse than it was and was thrilled to win slightly more than 50% of the time. While I wouldn't expect to rank up to mythic with Dagger Burn, you can certainly win some games with it and do so in style!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

New week let's build around some more Kaladesh Remastered jank in Historic! But what card should we play? Click here to vote!


Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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