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Against the Odds: I Amass the Biggest Orc Army Ever (and Throw it at My Opponent) | Historic

Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 383 of Against the Odds. This week, we're heading back to Historic on Magic Arena to see if we can win by not just amassing the biggest Orc Army of all time, with the help of the combo of Fall of Cair Andros and Star of Extinction, but also by throwing the biggest Orc ever directly at our opponent's face with Kazuul's Fury! Can some new Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth additions support a strange, new, combo-y version of Mono-Red Devotion in Historic? How big of an army can we amass with our combo? Let's try to build the most excessive devotion deck ever and find out on this week's Against the Odds!

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Against the Odds: Excessive Devotion

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The Deck

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At its base level, our deck today is Mono-Red Devotion—one of my favorite janky archetypes. While not nearly as powerful as Mono-Green Devotion, Mono-Red Devotion does have some super-cool tricks up its sleeve. They all start with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and the absurd amount of mana the land can generate in a deck focused on flooding the board with mana-symbol-heavy permanents. 

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Let's get the boring part of the deck out of the way first, and then we'll talk about the fun stuff. Cards like Burning-Tree Emissary, Wily Goblin, and Goblin Chainwhirler are in our deck for one reason: they add a lot of red mana symbols to the battlefield to help power up Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. For our combo to work, we really need Nykthos to tap for at least eight mana and, ideally, even more, so cheap permanents that add multiple red mana symbols to the battlefield are essential to our deck.

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While we technically can win just by flooding the board with random red creatures, we're really trying to assemble a three-ish card combo of Star of Extinction, Fall of Cair Andros, and Kazuul's Fury (along with Nykthos to have the mana to cast all of our combo pieces). As such, card draw and filtering are super important. For this, we have three options. Seasoned Pyromancer and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker let us rummage through our deck, to dump extra lands and unnecessary creatures to try to find Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and our other combo pieces, while also adding red mana symbols to the battlefield. Meanwhile, the fact that our Mono-Red Devotion deck is playing a playset of a colorless artifact that doesn't add any red pips for Nykthos is a testament to just how busted The One Ring is. It doesn't do anything specific to support our plan; it just draws an absurd amount of cards while also Fogging our opponent for a turn, which makes it an easy inclusion, even if it does lack some synergy. 

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With the boring support cards out of the way, let's get to the good stuff, starting with the reason we are playing the deck: Fall of Cair Andros. The enchantment has two modes: first, a static ability making it so when we deal excess noncombat damage to an opposing creature, we amass an Orc army equal to that damage, and second, an activated ability that can deal seven damage to a creature for eight mana. Our deck takes advantage of both modes. Since Nykthos can make so much mana, the eight-mana, seven-damage ability can actually be very relevant in our deck. Once we get it going alongside Nykthos, we can snipe down every creature our opponent plays while also amassing a big Orc Army along the way, thanks to the static ability. Speaking of the static ability, that's the mode of Fall of Cair Andros that can turn it into a game-ending combo piece...

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The idea is surprisingly simple: play Fall of Cair Andros and then play a spell that deals a huge amount of damage to all creatures. Our best option here is Star of Extinction, which deals 20 damage to everything for seven mana. But Spiteful Banditry can also get the job done with the help of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx mana (while also being a solid early-game support piece for Nykthos, to the point where we sometimes run it out for two mana just to up our devotion and hopefully make some Treasures). 

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Let's say our opponent has a fairly typical board state for Historic, with a 1/1 mana dork along with a 3/3 and a 4/5. If we can get down Fall of Cair Andros and resolve Star of Extinction to deal 20 damage to everything, the end result is that we'll deal a ton of excess damage—19 to the 1/1, 17 to the 3/3, and 15 to the 4/5. This will amass us a 51/51 Orc Army thanks to Fall of Cair Andros, which is an absurdly massive creature. And this is a fairly tame example. Some Historic decks like Elves or Goblins go super wide with small creatures. So it's very possible that our Fall / Star of Extinction combo can make a 100- or even 200-power creature!

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In theory, we can amass a huge Orc Army and win by attacking, but this is harder than it looks in practice because the amass token doesn't have any evasion, which means it can be chump blocked for days. It also dies to popular removal like Fatal Push, which is where our final combo piece comes in: Kazuul's Fury. The MDFC is basically Fling on a land, allowing us to sacrifice a creature and deal that much damage to any target. So, rather than trying to attack with our massive amass token or worrying that our opponent will kill it with removal or a wrath, we can immediately just throw it at our opponent's face to deal an excessively lethal amount of damage! 

The Matchups

Our deck needs a couple of things to actually win. First, we need our opponent to be playing creatures, or else there's nothing to deal excess damage to, which fizzles our combo plan. Second, we need to be able to keep our red-mana-symbol permanents on the battlefield to power up Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, or else our combo plan is simply too expensive. As such, control is by far our worst matchup since they are typically overloaded with removal and sweepers to keep our Burning-Tree Emissarys and friends off the battlefield and typically play few creatures for Fall of Cair Andros. On the other hand, go-wide creature decks are our best matchups. We have eight sweepers in the main deck thanks to Spiteful Banditry and Star of Extinction, and go-wide creature decks usually don't play that much removal, making it much easier to make oodles of mana with Nykthos.

While not technically a matchup concern, it's also worth mentioning that our deck is really, really reliant on Nykthos to work. Games where we can't find a Nykthos tend to go poorly because we playing a bunch of underpowered creatures and won't have the mana to combo off, but we can do some pretty absurd things in games where we find Nykthos. If you decide to play the deck, keep this in mind: mulliganing and digging aggressively for Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx are super important because we're not especially likely to win without it.

The Odds

Record-wise, the deck wasn't great, going 4-8 overall, good for a 33% match-win percentage. The good news is that the combo itself is hilarious, and we managed to pull it off a few times, with our best finish being amassing a 108/108 Orc Army and throwing it at our opponent's face for the win! We also had that absurd game where we somehow managed to beat our opponent playing three Ugin, the Spirit Dragons, with the first one coming down on Turn 4! Basically, while the deck isn't consistent enough to be super competitive, the good games with the deck are really, really good, which makes up for all the losses in between! 

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Oh yeah, one last quick note on Fall of Cair Andros. While it might be a janky Against the Odds constructed card, I think it might be legitimately good in Commander, where Blasphemous Act and other mass-damage sweepers are staples in various red decks. With three opponents, the amass tokens should get super massive super fast, and cards like Chandra's Ignition can do the Kazuul's Fury Fling trick but kill all of your opponents at once! So, keep the enchantment in mind next time when adding a Blasphemous Act to one of your decks—it could be the perfect way to close out the game by surprise!


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

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