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Against the Odds: Mystic Forge Combo (Modern, Magic Online)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 200 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had our final Core Set 2020 poll, but this time with a twist: rather than playing the winning card in Standard, we'd be taking it out for a spin in Modern! In the end, it was Mystic Forge coming out on top. As such, today we're heading to Modern for a deck that's looking to use Mystic Forge to play through its entire deck in a single turn, hopefully finishing off the opponent with a pseudo-storm kill from Aetherflux Reservoir or, in a pinch, Grapeshot. How can we turn Mystic Forge into a devastating combo piece? What are the odds of winning with Mystic Forge in Modern? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Mystic Forge Combo

The Deck

When Mystic Forge won the poll, I was pretty certain that our goal would be to use the artifact to play our entire deck in a single turn, so rather than deciding on the theme of the deck, the main challenge of building around Mystic Forge was finding the right support pieces to play as many cards off of the top of our deck as possible. 

The Engine

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Building around Mystic Forge requires three things. In many ways, the artifact is similar to Experimental Frenzy, with the downside of only allowing us to cast colorless and artifact cards from the top of our deck, but the upside of still being able to cast cards from our hand. Step one to building around Mystic Frenzy is simple: minimize the numbers of non-artifact, non-colorless cards in our deck. In the end, we have a single Grapeshot that can't be cast from the top of our deck with Mystic Forge, so this mark was pretty easy to hit. Secondly, much like Experimental Frenzy, hitting two lands in the same turn can fizzle our combo (we can get the first one out of the way with Mystic Forge's ability to exile a card off the top of our deck), so finding ways to change the top card of our deck is essential. Third, we need mana to be able to continue casting our cards. If we can meet these three requirements, Mystic Forge can be very broken, potentially allowing us to cast (quite literally) our entire deck in a single turn, before finishing off our opponent with a Storm-style kill.

The Mana

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When it comes to producing mana, our most important card is Semblance Anvil, which is essentially the second piece of a two-card combo with Mystic Forge. If we can get a Semblance Anvil on the battlefield imprinting an artifact, all of the artifacts we cast off of the top of our deck with Mystic Forge cost two less mana, which means any artifact that costs two or less are free and even more expensive artifacts get a major discount. The end result is that Semblance Anvil often produces 50 or even closer to 100 mana for free during our big combo turns! Cloud Key is our backup cost reducer. While reducing the cost of our artifacts by one is far less powerful than Semblance Anvil's two mana reduction, it is still helpful. More importantly, as an artifact, we can play Cloud Key off the top of our deck mid-combo, so eventually, we'll have multiple cost reducers stacked up on the battlefield, making basically every card in our deck free.

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Everflowing Chalice and Mind Stone do double duty in our deck. On turn two we can cast them to ramp us into Mystic Forge on turn three, which helps speed up the deck. Then, once we have Mystic Forge and Semblance Anvil, both Everflowing Chalice and Mind Stone turn into weird, colorless rituals. Semblance Anvil's cost reduction means we can cast them for free, but also immediately tap them for mana, so we can play through our entire deck. Mind Stone and Everflowing Chalice help make sure we have enough mana to cast our more expensive artifacts (like additional copies of Mystic Forge and Aetherflux Reservoir) without fizzling our combo turn. Mind Stone has some extra upside in that if we have enough mana, we can sacrifice it to draw a card, which allows us to get a land out of the way to keep our combo going. As for Mox Opal, it just adds an extra mana for free, either early in the game to ramp into our combo pieces, or mid-combo when we can cast it from the top of our deck for free with Mystic Forge.

Changing the Top of Our Deck

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The final step to going infinite with Mystic Forge is changing the top card of our deck to get extra lands (or other uncastable cards) out of the way. Chromatic Star and Chromatic Sphere take advantage of the fact that, unlike with Experimental Frenzy, Mystic Forge still allows us to cast cards from our hand, so when we run into extra lands (or other uncastables), we can simply crack a Star or Sphere to draw it, changing the top card of our deck and hopefully revealing something that we can cast with Mystic Forge. Both are free to cast with either Cloud Key or Semblance Anvil, and since they produce a mana when we sacrifice them, they are essentially free to draw a card with as well (while also fixing our mana, which is helpful for some of our sideboard cards).

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Finally, we have a bunch of cards that can simply tap to mill the top card of our library to get lands and other uncastables out of the way. Codex Shredder and Ghoulcaller's Bell mill a card, while Lantern of Insight can shuffle our library. Apart from supporting our combo once we have Mystic Forge, these cards also help us find our Mystic Forge. We have several lands that can return an artifact from our graveyard to our hand (or the top of our deck), so in the early game, we often just blindly mill ourselves to dig for Mystic Forge. If we happen to have Lantern of Insight on the battlefield, it becomes even easier since we can aggressively mill cards until we have something we want (like Semblance Anvil or Mystic Forge) on the top of our deck to draw for our turn. We can even play a pseudo-Lantern Control game by milling impactful cards on the top of our opponent's deck in hopes of making them draw less powerful cards (or even useless lands). Basically, our mill artifacts help support our combo once it is in place, while also helping set up our combo in the early game.

Finishing the Game

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When we assemble our combo, the end result is typically that we can play our entire deck with the help of Mystic Forge, which allows us to use a Storm-style kill to finish the game. Our best finisher is Aetherflux Reservoir, which we can cast from the top of our deck with Mystic Forge, then cast a few more spells to gain life, and then deal 50 damage to our opponent. Meanwhile, Grapeshot is a worse version since we can't cast it from the top of our deck (but we can draw it with Chromatic Sphere or Chromatic Star), but having two different finishers is important. Since we often mill ourselves blindly in the early game, if we played just one finisher, there would be a risk that we'd mill our only way to win the game and our opponent would be able to use Surgical Extraction to take away all of our finishers. Having a 1-1 split of Aetherflux Reservoir helps us play around some of the potential hate in the format. After sideboarding, Grapeshot gives us a finisher that isn't disrupted by Stony Silence or Pithing Needle.

The Matchups

In general, Mystic Forge Combo is pretty good at goldfishing to a kill on turn three or four, which is fast enough that we have a chance to beat just about any deck in the format. Our worse matchups are decks which have specific cards that hose our combo, primarily Karn, the Great Creator or Stony Silence, which lock down all of our ways to change the top of our deck and thereby fizzle our combo. We have answers to these cards after sideboarding, but they can get us in game one. On the other hand, since many Modern decks are light on interaction, we can simply race our opponent by assembling our combo before they assemble their combo. 

The Odds

All in all, we played five matches with Mystic Forge Combo, and ended up winning three, giving us a 60% match win percentage and making Mystic Forge somewhat above average for an Against the Odds card, although in reality, the deck was close to going 4-1 or even 5-0. Of our two losses, one was to Hogaak where we comboed off in game one, and then assembled our combo in games two and three, but our opponent managed to have a sideboarded Assassin's Trophy both times to kill Semblance Anvil or Mystic Forge. The other was to Blue-White Control where we successfully comboed through a bunch of counters and hate cards, but had to use Grapeshot early to kill a Narset, Parter of Veils and found that our Aetherflux Reservoir was the fourth card from the bottom of our deck, so by the time we managed to cast it, we were a couple of spells short of gaining enough life to get the Aetherflux Reservoir kill. If our Aetherflux Reservoir was even just two or three cards closer to the top of our library, we almost certainly would have won the game and the match. Mystic Forge felt great, and while there are cards that can disrupt it, the combo was surprisingly effective and super fun to play!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

No poll this week. Next week we're having a special episode! Don't worry, the poll will return next week and be overflowing with fun and janky options!

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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