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Against the Odds: Ob Will Be One (Standard)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 376 of Against the Odds. Aftermath is here, and today, we're heading to our new(ish...) Standard format to see if we can pull off one of the most discussed new combos from the set: Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin and All Will Be One. If we can get both cards on the battlefield at the same time and either deal exactly one damage to our opponent or put exactly one counter on something, we'll start an infinite loop where All Will Be One will trigger to deal a damage, which will trigger Ob Nixilis to get a counter, which will trigger All Will Be One, which will trigger Ob. And this will keep repeating until our opponent is dead! Essentially, thanks to Aftermath, we have a new 2.5-card combo (with the 0.5 being something that deals a damage or gets a counter to start the loop) in Standard! What are the odds of pulling it off? Do we once again have a Splinter Twin– or Copy Cat–style combo deck in Standard? Let's get to the video and find out on this week's Against the Odds!

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Against the Odds: Ob Will Be One

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The Deck

This was actually one of the hardest Against the Odds decks to build in quite a while. When Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin won the poll, I knew we'd be trying to combo with All Will Be One, but outside of the combo, I wasn't sure exactly which direction to go with the deck. Outside of the challenge of building around a janky-ish 2.5 card combo, building around Ob Nixilis came with an additional challenge: Rakdos is currently dominating Standard, and people are getting sick of the color combination. As such, on top of making the combo work, we'd need to make sure that the deck actually felt like an Against the Odds deck and not just a sub-optimal build of the literal best deck in Standard. Thankfully, I think the end result mostly hit the mark. While we are playing Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, we mostly managed to avoid playing the tier Rakdos shell with Sheoldreds, Invoke Despair]]s, and such, and the deck actually has some really neat synergies that I don't think have been fully explored in Standard, even outside of the combo! Here's the plan:

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On one level, our deck is pretty simple: play Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin, play All Will Be One, deal a damage or add a counter to something to start the loop, and win the game. Easy, right? Well, not exactly. By far the biggest challenge to pulling off the combo is actually getting and keeping both cards on the battlefield in a world where we're playing against the extremely removal-heavy Rakdos shell more than half of the time. We had a lot of games where we'd stick Ob Nixilis or All Will Be One only to have it die immediately to Invoke Despair, Go for the Throat, or something else. Having All Will Be One die to Invoke Despair is especially depressing, but such is life in Standard. The combo's upside, which we also saw in several of our matches, is that it can win the game out of the blue super quickly. Basically, the combo itself lived up to the hype...but it's hard to get our combo pieces to live long enough for it to happen in some matchups.

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So, let's assume we get the combo on the battlefield. How do we actually start the loop to go infinite and win the game? We have a bunch of different ways, but the most exciting plan is Vat of Rebirth and Oni-Cult Anvil. We've seen Oni-Cult Anvil before. It's a good way to make some chump blockers and stay alive while we get the combo set up, and the ability to sac an artifact to ping our opponent for one offers an easy way to start the infinite loop once the combo is on the battlefield, either by sacrificing another artifact or even itself.

On the other hand, Vat of Rebirth is a really interesting card that hasn't really taken off in Standard, but it is perfect support for Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin. It gets a counter when an artifact or creature goes to the graveyard from our battlefield, and then we can remove four counters to reanimate something for three mana! Thanks to cards like Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, Voldaren Epicure, and Bloodtithe Harvester (along with Oni-Cult Anvil's ability to sacrifice other artifacts like Razorlash Transmogrant or Transmogrant's Crown), our deck is pretty good at getting Blood or Treasure tokens on the battlefield, which in turn are easy ways to add counters to Vat of Rebirth. In practice, this means we can play Vat, get a Treasure or Blood on the battlefield, assemble the combo, and simply sacrifice the Treasure / Blood to add a counter to Vat of Rebirth to start the combo loop at instant speed! Also, we just discussed how Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin tends to die a lot. The other huge upside of Vat of Rebirth is that once we build up a few counters (which we can usually do pretty quickly thanks to our tokens and sacrifice subtheme), it offers a way to get Ob Nixilis back from the graveyard and take another shot the infinite combo win.

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Oddly, the other card perfect for starting the infinite loop is actually planeswalker Ob Nixilis, Ob Nixilis, the Adversary. Not only does its +1 add a loyalty counter (which will trigger All Will Be One and start the loop) but the Devil tokens it makes are also a great way to deal exactly one damage. If we can get the combo set up with a Devil on the battlefield, we simply attack our opponent with the Devil. If they don't block, they take exactly one damage, which starts the infinite loop. If they do block, we can use the Devil's death trigger to ping our opponent for one damage, which will also start the loop. Basically, no matter what our opponent does, the Devil will trigger the combo and win us the game. The other upside of Ob Nixilis, the Adversary (outside of flavor) is that it's a solid backup plan in a deck built around sacrificing creatures. Cards like Razorlash Transmogrant and Bloodtithe Harvester are good fuel for its casualty ability, and getting two Ob Nixilis, the Adversarys on Turn 3 is fairly strong. At worst, having multiple planeswalkers from one card is a good way to minimize the devastation of Invoke Despair by giving us sacrifice fodder for the Rakdos gods.

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While most of the rest of the deck is self-explanatory, either being removal or cards that add Blood or Treasures to the battlefield to support the Vat of Rebirth / Oni-Cult Anvil plan, a couple of other cards are worth mentioning individually. Diabolic Intent gives us a way to tutor up whatever combo piece we are missing, and the downside of having to sacrifice a creature isn't a big deal for our deck since we're built around sacrificing stuff anyway. It's a solid way to add some consistency. Transmogrant's Crown can be a really strong card-advantage engine if we can get it going alongside Oni-Cult Anvil and sacrifice its 1/1 Construct token each turn. Worst case, we can stick it on Ob Nixilis to punish our opponent a bit for killing it. Finally, Blast Zone probably looks strange, but since it enters the battlefield with a counter, it's a sneaky way to start the infinite loop once we get the combo set up. We can play Ob Nixilis, play All Will Be One, and simply drop Blast Zone to trigger All Will Be One and start the fun.

The Matchups

All in all, I'm not sure Ob Will Be One has any great matchups. We got run over by aggro decks like Humans and Toxic a couple of times. This was disappointing since I thought we would probably have a decent matchup against aggro thanks to Oni-Cult Anvil and the infinite combo, but apparently, it wasn't enough. Meanwhile, most of our combo kills came against Rakdos and Grixis, although I'm not sure those matchups are actually good. While we can maneuver the game into a position to combo off sometimes, our opponent more often just kills all of our combo pieces with Invoke Despair and friends.

The Odds

All in all, we went 4-6 with Ob Will Be One, giving us a 40% match-win percentage, which isn't super great. The good news is that most of our wins came from the combo itself, which is a hilarious way to catch opponents by surprise and win games out of nowhere. While the deck is fun and the combo is funny, I'm not sure how competitive it will be in current Standard. Decks are just super removal-heavy at the moment, which tends to push people into playing a pile of redundant good cards rather than a couple of specific combo pieces that are necessary to win the game. Maybe after rotation...

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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