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Against the Odds: Infinite Navigator (Standard)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 124 of Against the Odds. Last week, our final all-Rivals of Ixalan Against the Odds poll once again focused on Standard, and in the end. Timestream Navigator pulled off a fairly easy win over Golden Guardian and Induced Amnesia. As such, we are heading to Standard this week to not just try to take a few extra turns but take all of the turns! In a very Against the Odd-ish twist, apart from Timestream Navigator itself, the key combo piece in our deck was the Planeswalker Deck version of Ajani, Ajani, Valiant Protector, so in some ways, this is a double episode of Against the Odds, since we're not just trying to take infinite turns but also trying to make a Planeswalker Deck planeswalker playable for the first time ever. Can it work? Let's get to the videos and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Infinite Navigator (Standard)

The Deck

As soon as I realized that Timestream Navigator won the voting, I knew that we needed to try to go infinite, rather than just taking a few extra turns here or there. After digging around for a bit, I discovered that there's one single card in Standard that, with a bit of work, can allow us to take infinite turns with Timestream Navigator: Ajani, Valiant Protector. With the combo in place, the only challenge left was figuring out how to stay alive long enough to turn on ascend and to find our combo pieces. The end result is sort of a Bant Ramp Control shell, with the infinite turn combo of Timestream Navigator and Ajani, Valiant Protector to finish off the game.

The Combo

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The main combo of our deck is actually pretty simple: Timestream Navigator allows us to take an extra turn for just four mana (assuming we have ascend, which is actually super easy for our deck to turn on, but more on this in a minute), but after we activate Timestream Navigator, rather than exiling itself like most modern extra-turns spells, it goes to the bottom of our library. As such, if we can find a way to keep getting Timestream Navigator from the bottom of our deck to our hand (and then battlefield), we can activate it again during our extra turn, which allows us to take infinite turns!

Ajani, Valiant Protector is the best (and maybe only) way to go infinite with Timestream Navigator in Standard. While it comes with a bit of a deckbuilding restriction (Timestream Navigator has to be the only creature in our deck), assuming we don't play any non-Timestream Navigator creatures, we can guarantee that Ajani, Valiant Protectors +1 ability will find us a Timestream Navigator every time we activate it.

As such, to take infinite turns, we need at least six mana (four to activate Timestream Navigator and then two to recast the Timestream Navigator we find with Ajani, Valiant Protector). The nice thing about the combo is that it not only gives us infinite turns but also a way to win as we are taking infinite turns. As we take our extra turns, sooner or later, we'll eventually draw extra copies of Ajani, Valiant Protector and Timestream Navigator, which allows us to ultimate the Ajani, Valiant Protector we have on the battlefield, cast another one from our hand to keep the infinite turns going, and kill our opponent by attacking with a massive Timestream Navigator with a bunch of +1/+1 counters on it every extra turn until our opponent is dead!

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Commit // Memory is just a one-of, but it's pretty important to our combo. One of the challenges with going infinite with Timestream Navigator is that Timestream Navigator itself dies to everything, and it can be hard to win the game if our opponent can kill all three copies. Commit // Memory gives us a way to shuffle dead Timestream Navigators back into our deck from our library to make sure that even when everything goes wrong, we still have the opportunity to take infinite turns.

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Search for Azcanta gives us an extra way to find Ajani, Valiant Protector (which, in turn, finds Timestream Navigator and allows us to go infinite) while also adding another permanent to the battlefield for ascend to turn on Timestream Navigator. Plus, since Timestream Navigator is the only creature in our deck, we have a ton of non-creatures to hit with Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin once we manage to flip our Search for Azcanta. In the early game, Search for Azcanta filters our draws; in the mid-game, it finds us our sweepers and removal to stay alive; and in the late game, it tutors up Ajani, Valiant Protector for our combo finish!

Ascending

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Getting enough permanents for ascend is actually the easiest aspect of our combo. Hour of Promise is the best card in Standard for turning on ascend; assuming we have at least one Desert on the battlefield when we cast it, we end up with four extra permanents on the battlefield (two 2/2 Zombie tokens and two more lands), which is usually enough to get us the city's blessing. The other upside of Hour of Promise is that it helps to make sure we have the six mana we need to combo off while also allowing us to tutor up some powerful one-of lands like Scavenger Grounds or Field of Ruin. Plus, the Zombie tokens give us some chump blockers or, in the worst-case scenario (where our opponent stops our combo), a backup plan for closing out the game in conjunction with counters from Ajani, Valiant Protector. Spring // Mind and Gift of Paradise are also solid with ascend, giving us an extra land to get toward 10 permanents while also ramping us into Ajani, Valiant Protector mana. 

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Otherwise, we don't really need to warp our deck to turn on ascend—we just play good cards that also happen to add a permanent to the battlefield. For example, most of our removal is enchantment based, and while cards like Cast Out and Ixalan's Binding are good even in non-ascend decks, in our decks, they have the additional upside of increasing the number of permanents we have on the battlefield to turn on ascend. Baffling End works similarly but for early-game creatures like Glint-Sleeve Siphoner and Earthshaker Khenra, while Gideon of the Trials gives us another non-creature way to win the game if we can't win with the infinite-turn combo.

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Thaumatic Compass is surprisingly good in our deck, helping to make sure we hit our land drops in the early game and then being a two-mana version of Maze of Ith in the late game, which helps us stabilize against our opponent's board while we are looking for a window to go infinite. 

Sweepers

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Fumigate and Settle the Wreckage are key to the deck because our primary plan is to stall out the game until we are able to set up Timestream Navigator and Ajani, Valiant Protector, preferably while our opponent is tapped out so they can't kill our Timestream Navigator while it is summoning sick. Fumigate and Settle the Wreckage give us the ability to wipe away an entire board full of creatures, which not only buys us a lot of time to get our combo going but forces our opponent to tap mana to refill their board. This often opens up a window to go infinite without worrying about our opponent's removal.

The Matchups

From a meta perspective, probably our most challenging matchup is fast aggro. While we have the ability to beat these decks if we ramp into Fumigate, it's also just as possible that we get run over if our hand isn't great. On the other hand, we have a lot of good tools to fight midrange creature decks and even plow through control decks, thanks to our card draw, removal, and wraths. 

As far as our combo, the biggest challenge is instant-speed removal, but pretty much every popular Standard deck has some amount, so rather than looking for matchups without any instant-speed removal, we're mostly hoping to play against decks that only have some rather than a ton. Thankfully, we can still beat decks that can kill Timestream Navigator at instant speed; we just need to do a bit more work to get our opponent to tap down (or out) before we try to combo off.

The Odds

After losing our first match to RW Aggro 1-2, not only did Infinite Navigator win five matches in a row, but it didn't even drop a single game in the process! As such, our overall record was 11-2 (84.6%) in games and 5-1 in matches (83.3%). This makes Infinite Navigator one of the most successful Against the Odds decks of all time! Not only did we win a ton of games by going infinite with Timestream Navigator (and potentially make some opponents quit Magic in the process), but we made a Planeswalker Deck planeswalker work in Standard as well! 

Vote for Next Week's Deck

No Against the Odds poll this week, which means we'll have a special episode up next. Don't worry, the poll will return next week!

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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