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Against the Odds: Infinite Turns with Sage of Hours

Hello everyone, and welcome to the first installment of a brand new video series here on MTGGoldfish that we're calling Against the Odds. Unlike Budget Magic, where our goal is to make fun and competitive decks for $100 or less, the goal of Against the Odds isn't necessarily to be competitive. Instead, this is our place to try out fun, exciting, quirky and underplayed cards and see just how difficult it is to get them to work. 

Today's deck, Bant Sage of Hours, probably isn't going to win any GPs, and it might even struggle at Friday Night Magic; but some percentage of games we'll take infinite turns in Standard which is one of the coolest things I can imagine. Our challenge for this week is to figure out just how often we can make this work, in essence answering "what are the odds that we can take infinite turns in Standard with Sage of Hours?"

Because we will likely do a decent amount of losing over the course of the series, the videos are edited a bit heavier than Budget Magic. However all of the games are shown in chronological order, so you get to see exactly how long it takes to achieve our goal. While I make sure to capture all the important plays, we don't watch every phase of every turn of every game of every match. As such, we actually get to watch three matches and have a short discussion in under 20 minutes! Since the editing is a bit experimental, make sure to let me know what you think in the comments. 

The final part of the equation is voting. While I picked the Sage of Hours combo to get the series started, each week we are going to include a poll in the Against the Odds article and it will contain five choices (cards, combos, archetypes etc). Whichever one receives the most votes will be featured in the next episode, while whichever receives the least amount of votes will be dropped from the list. So each week you'll have two fresh options, as well as the 2nd - 4th place options from the previous week. Of course, you are also encouraged to leave suggestions for what should be on the ballot in the comments. Check out the videos and then we'll talk a bit more about the deck. First a quick reminder — if you enjoy the Against the Odds series and the other video content here on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish Youtube Channel to keep up on all the latest and greatest.

Sage of Hours: Intro

Sage of Hours: Matches

The Combo

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The basic idea of the deck is to get a Sage of Hours on the battlefield along with a Dragonscale General and five mana creatures (which are included more for their ability to tap without attacking than for their ability to produce mana). With this assembled, we can tap all of our creatures for mana (even if we don't actually use it) which triggers Dragonscale General's bolster ability to put five counters on a Sage of Hours at the end of our turn. We then immediately remove all the counters from Sage of Hours, take an extra turn, rinse and repeat. The rest of the deck is filled with cards to help protect the combo like Swan Song and Negate along with card draw spells including Ajani, Mentor of Heroes, Dragonlord's Prerogative and Jace's Ingenuity to help us find the cards we need to combo off.

Looking back now, one card that's missing that I really should have included is Chord of Calling. Not only does it search out whatever combo piece we happen to be missing, but it allows us to tap creatures like Dragonscale General or Sage of Hours that are normally difficult to tap. The simple fact that we couldn't tap a Dragonscale General prevented us from comboing off in at least one game. 

The Matchups

Maybe the strangest thing about this week's videos is, when we finally pulled off the combo, it was against our worst possible matchup: Esper Control. I can't imagine infinite turns happening very often against a deck stuffed full of removal and counterspells. In all honesty, I think both very fast decks (like Mono-Red or UR Ensoul Artifact) and very slow/controlling decks (Esper Dragons or UB Control) are relatively difficult matchups. The former are very likely to kill us before we can pull off the combo, which in theory can happen as early as turn four (Elvish Mystic into double Elvish Mystic, into any two mana dorks, into Dragonscale General plus Sage of Hours), but is more realistic on turn six. Control decks just have way too much removal (and too many sweepers) for us to reliably put together our seven card combo.

On the other hand, out best matchups are midrange decks, especially those with less interaction. I was a bit disappointed (and surprised) that we couldn't quite pull off the combo against GR Devotion, a theoretical favored matchup. Some of the various dragon decks are likely reasonable matchups as well, but it really depends just how much removal the specific archetype is playing. 

The Odds

First off, the chances of this deck winning a game without comboing off is close to zero; all of our creatures are inefficient as offensive threats, so we really have no Plan B. As such, calculating how often the deck wins and how often it combos off are one and the same. All in all, we ended up playing seven games with the deck (including the final two against Esper Control, which were summarized but not featured in the videos) and ended up comboing off in just one of them. However, I think the odds of pulling off infinite turns with Sage of Hours is actually slightly better than one out of every seven (14.28 percent) games. We were very close against GR Devotion, and with a few tweaks to the build (especially the inclusion of Chord of Calling, I think we should be able to pull off infinite turns about once every five games (20 percent of the time). 

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for what we should play next. Also, what do you think about the deck? What changes can we make to increase our odds of taking infinite turns? How high can we get the percentage? Leave your thoughts, ideas and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter (or MTGO) @SaffronOlive.

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