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Against the Odds: Infinite Ignus (Standard)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 285 of Against the Odds. Strixhaven is here, and we're kicking off our Against the Odds exploration of the format with a special episode. It's pretty rare for there to be infinite combos, especially efficient ones, in Standard. Well, thanks to Strixhaven and the reprinting of Grinning Ignus, it's now possible to gain infinite life, deal infinite damage, and make infinitely big creatures with two three-drops! The idea is that if we can get Birgi, God of Storytelling on the battlefield alongside Grinning Ignus, we can bounce and recast Grinning Ignus an infinite number of times for free, which means if we have Daxos, Blessed by the Sun on the battlefield, we gain infinite life; if we have Terror of the Peaks, we deal infinite damage; and if we have Showdown of the Skalds (on its second or third lore counter), we can make all of our creatures infinitely large with +1/+1 counters! What are the odds of going infinite in Strixhaven Standard with Birgi and Grinning Ignus? 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: Infinite Ignus

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The Deck

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Infinite Ignus is, as its name suggests, a combo deck. The core of our combo is the interaction between Grinning Ignus (one of the weirder creatures in Magic's history) and Birgi, God of Storytelling. Birgi adds a mana whenever we cast a spell, while Grinning Ignus can bounce itself back to our hand for one mana to make three mana, which just happens to be the exact amount of mana it costs to cast Grinning Ignus. Basically, if we can get both of these cards on the battlefield, we can bounce and recast Grinning Ignus an infinite number of times, which gives us infinite enters-the-battlefield, leaves-the-battlefield, and "cast" triggers! While Birgi, God of Storytelling and Grinning Ignus don't really do anything by themselves, if we can add one more piece to our combo, we can use Grinning Ignus's ability to bounce and replay itself repeatedly to win the game!

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Needing one more piece to actually pick up the win means that Infinite Ignus technically is a three-card combo deck, although thankfully, we have a bunch of redundancy as far as finishers. Daxos, Blessed by the Sun gains us a life whenever a creature enters the battlefield, which allows the Birgi / Ignus loop to gain us infinite life, which doesn't technically win us the game, but for all intents and purposes, it usually does since our opponent wouldn't be able to kill us and, if we are careful, should mill out by drawing their entire deck before we do. Showdown of the Skalds does double duty in our deck, drawing us through our deck to help us find Birgi and Grinning Ignus while also being a combo finisher. If we go through the Birgi / Ignus loop while Showdown of the Skalds is at its second or third lore counter, we're able to put a +1/+1 counter on a creature every time we cast Grinning Ignus, which makes our entire board infinitely big! Finally, Terror of the Peaks is our most direct and fastest win: when a creature comes into play, Terror of the Peaks deals damage equal to its power, which means each iteration of the Birgi / Ignus loop gives us a free Shock to throw at our opponent's face until they die.

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One of the drawbacks of our combo is that we usually need to play Birgi, God of Storytelling and have it sit on the battlefield for a turn before we can cast Grinning Ignus, combo off, and win, which opens up a window for our opponent to disrupt our combo with removal. Thankfully, we have a bunch of ways to protect our combo pieces, with Alseid of Life's Bounty and Sejiri Shelter both offering cheap ways to fizzle targeted removal by giving a combo piece protection from a color, while Selfless Savior can make Birgi, God of Storytelling indestructible, which fizzles most targeted removal and wraths like Doomskar as well. Speaking of wraths, the main purpose of Reidane, God of the Worthy is to slow down cards like Extinction Event, Doomskar, and Shadows' Verdict for a couple of turns, which should buy us enough time to combo off. In a perfect world, we'll start off with one of our protection creatures on Turn 1, which allows us to play something like Daxos, Blessed by the Sun on Turn 2, Birgi, God of Storytelling on Turn 3, and Grinning Ignus on Turn 4 to win the game with infinite life.

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Rounding out our deck is some removal. Bonecrusher Giant is just a really strong Magic card, offering removal and an on-curve body. It seems silly not to play it in one of our removal slots since we are in the right colors. It's that good. Otherwise, Soul Sear gives us a main-deck answer to bigger creatures (we have a bunch more removal in the sideboard), and Shatterskull Smashing joins our MDFC package alongside Valakut Awakening to dig for combo pieces and the Sejiri Shelters we talked about before.

The Matchups

Breaking down the matchups for Infinite Ignus is actually really hard. In general, we want to play against decks that aren't super heavy on interaction—we managed to crush both Temur Adventures and Mono-Green Food—although we also beat the very removal-heavy Sultai Ultimatum deck. Aggro can be hard, although we always have the possibility of gaining infinite life, which beats decks like Mono-Red, Boros, and Mono-White. In most of our losses, it didn't really feel like our opponent beat us. Instead, we ended up losing because we couldn't find our combo pieces, which is one of the risks of playing a 2.5- or three-card combo deck. Sometimes, all of our Grinning Ignuses or Birgis are at the bottom of our deck, and we're left trying to piece together a win like a really weird, janky Boros midrange deck, which isn't all that practical.

The Odds

Video-wise, we ended up 3-2, although I played a bunch of matches with the deck as I was testing it and overall ended up just under 50% in terms of match win percentage. The combo is surprisingly powerful, and when it comes together, it's really difficult for most decks to beat. Plus, thanks to both Birgi, God of Storytelling and Grinning Ignus being only three mana, we can technically combo off as early as Turn 4, which is more than fast enough for Standard. 

While the deck is super sweet, before you run out and buy it, I'll warn you that it is pretty clunky to play on Arena. In paper, we could just show an opponent the loop of Birgi, God of Storytelling and Grinning Ignus with a Daxos, Blessed by the Sun on the battlefield and go to a million life. On Arena, we need to click through the loop for every life we want to gain, which takes a lot of time. So even if the deck is competitive, it might not be all that playable on Arena for technical reasons. Digital issues aside, the deck is super sweet and wins more than it should, and it's really sweet to see infinite combo back in Standard!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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Strixhaven is still fresh, so let's try another new card in Standard next week, but which one? Click here to vote!

Conclusion

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 SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.



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