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Against the Odds: I Go Over the Top in Brothers' War Standard

Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 355 of Against the Odds. The Brothers' War is here, and today, we're kicking off our exploration of the new format with a special episode of Against the Odds recorded during early-access day last week (thanks for the invite, Wizards!) featuring one of my favorite cards from the set: Over the Top! As soon as I saw Over the Top, it reminded me of one of my favorite Modern combo decks: Warp World. While, sadly, we can't use Over the Top to make our opponent shuffle all of their lands into their library like we can with Warp World, with some careful deck-building, we can use Over the Top to put our entire deck into play in one turn and smash our opponent to death with a huge board of hasty creatures! How can we combo off with Over the Top in Standard? What are the odds of the plan working? 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: Over the Top

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The Deck

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Let's start with the card that makes all the insanity possible: Over the Top. The seven-mana sorcery lets each player reveal cards from their library equal to the number of nonland permanents they control and put all the permanents (including lands) on the battlefield. So, what does Over the Top want from us? Basically as many non-land permanents on the battlefield as possible because the more permanents we have, the more we'll get with Over the Top. It also wants a deck that plays almost exclusively permanents sinc,  if we spin into instants or sorceries when we resolve Over the Top, they will do nothing except fill our graveyard. 

While you might think that being symmetrical is a problem with Over the Top, in reality, it isn't. We don't especially care what our opponent is doing because our deck is built to maximize the potential of Over the Top while our opponent's deck, presumably, is not. As such, because of how we've built our deck, we should naturally get more value from Over the Top when it resolves, no matter what our opponent is playing. (Well, unless we run into someone else crazy enough to build an Over the Top deck, but what are the odds of that?)

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So, how to we maximize the power of Over the Top? Play a deck full of permanents that do two things: add multiple nonland permanents to the battlefield and also ramp us so we can get up to seven mana to cast Over the Top. Nearly ever card in our deck does this. Courier's Briefcase adds two permanents to the battlefield and can be sacrificed for a mana (and, in a pinch, card draw). Gala Greeters can make a Treasure token each turn. Jewel Thief makes a Treasure when it enters the battlefield.

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Further up the curve, we have more of the same. Wedding Announcement doesn't ramp us, but thanks to the tokens it makes, it is a three-drop that can add a massive four nonland permanents to the battlefield (or draw us cards if we are trying to find Over the Top). Fable of the Mirror-Breaker adds two, three, or (if the Goblin token lives to keep making Treasure) even more permanents while also ramping us with a Treasure. Stimulus Package makes two Treasures and also combos with Gala Greeters, letting us sacrifice Treasures to make 1/1 tokens and then triggering Gala Greeters to replace the Treasure. Finally, we have one Bootleggers' Stash, which is slow, but if we can stabilize enough to spend a turn or two making Treasures with all of our lands before we Over the Top, it can add a truly absurd number of nonland permanents to the battlefield.

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We also have one oddball in Titania's Command, which comes with a huge downside: it's a sorcery, not a permanent, so we can't put it into play with Over the Top. Initially, I didn't have Titania's Command in the deck but struggled with graveyard decks that were reanimating, unearthing, or flipping Titania, so I decided to add the Command to the deck, and it was surprisingly strong. The base modes for our deck are to make two 2/2 Bears (adding two nonlands to the battlefield for Over the Top) while searching up a couple of lands (which also helps support Over the Top in a weird way since it lets us cast it without sacrificing as many Treasures, keeping more nonlands on the battlefield), but the graveyard hate and lifegain mode is great for keeping us alive for another turn or two to set us over the top, and the ability to put two +1/+1 counters on each of our creatures is often the last thing we do before winning the game on our big combo turn...

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We've discussed all the support and set up cards, so now let's talk about the fun part: how we actually combo off with Over the Top. The idea is actually pretty simple. We're hoping to get somewhere around 8–10 (or more) nonland permanents on the battlefield and then cast Over the Top, which will dump a bunch of permanents into play from our library. Thanks to all of the Treasure token production in our deck and the fact that Over the Top can put lands into play, the first Over the Top should give us a bunch more permanents and enough mana to cast another Over the Top. This is where Ardent Elementalist comes into play. When it enters the bbattlefiel, it returns an instant or sorcery from our graveyard to our hand, so if we hit it with Over the Top, we can use it to return Over the Top to our hand and immediately cast it again, this time for even more permanents thanks to all the additional non-lands we added to the battlefield with the first copy.

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Ideally, we'll Over the Top three-ish times during our combo turn, which should put literally our entire deck onto the battlefield. (Our opponent will get a bunch of permanents too, but this doesn't really matter.) Along the way, we'll find our one copy of Bitter Reunion, which we can use to give all of our creatures haste. Once we have all of our permanents in ppla, we sacrifice all the extra Treasures we make to Stimulus Package to make more 1/1 tokens, use our last Ardent Elementalist to return Titania's Command from our graveyard to our hand to make 2/2 Bears and put two +1/+1 counters on our creatures, and then finally sacrifice Bitter Reunion for haste to swing for somewhere around 100 damage to win the game! One quick note on Bitter Reunion: the rummaging card-draw mode is fine in the early game, but generally, we don't want to do this during our combo turn because having cards in our deck to put into play with Over the Top is better than having them in hand. Thankfully, the card-draw mode is a "may" ability, so we just choose not to use it. (This is doubly important once we have all of our permanents in play because drawing with Bitter Reunion would make us lose the game by milling out.)

And that's the plan of the deck: add a bunch of permanents to the battlefield, resolve three-ish Over the Tops in one turn with the help of Ardent Elementalist, put our entire deck into play, and win with one massive hasty attack!

The Matchups

I'm hesitant to read too much into matchups from early-access day because a lot of people are trying out new things, but there are two scary-ish matchups for the deck. One is aggro decks with evasive creatures. We're fine against aggro decks built around ground creatures because we can usually chump block for a long, long time thanks to Stimulus Package and friends, but flying aggro gets around our blockers and kills us before we manage to combo off since we don't really play any removal. The other tough matchup is counterspell-based control, which can simply Negate or Make Disappear our Over the Top and ruin our deck. In best-of-three, it is worth having some counterspell answers in the sideboard, whether this be by splashing into blue for counterspells of our own or by running Myrel, Shield of Argive for its static ability to keep our opponent from interacting during our combo turn. (Myrel might even be good enough to consider for the main deck since it is another card that can put multiple nonlands on the battlefield, assuming we can get in some attacks with it to make Soldier tokens.)

The Odds

All in all, we finished with a rougly 50% match win percentage with Over the Top, although again, I would take early-acess results with a grain of salt. The good news is twofold. First, when we lost, it usually happened quickly by getting run over by aggro on the play. Second, the wins we had with the deck were spectacular. The combo isn't really that difficult to pull off, and when it happens, it has to be one of the biggest, flashiest, most amazing ways to win a game in The Brothers' War Standard! Just look at the before and after for our big turn against Grixis...

How it started...

How it's going...

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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What should we play next in Brothers' War Standard? Help decide by voting in next week's Against the Odds poll here!


Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck to decide which spicy The Brothers' War card we built around next! 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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