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Against the Odds: Psychogenic Probe Combo (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 344 of Against the Odds. Two weeks ago, we had a really sweet Modern Against the Odds poll, which Coalition Victory won, but a lot of comments called for the other cards on the poll to get another shot. So last week, we ran back the same poll minus Coalition Victory (which we played last week), and this time, Psychogenic Probe took home the victory. As such, we're heading to Modern today to see if we can shuffle our wins to some wins! How can we turn Psychogenic Probe into a game-winning combo piece? 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: Psychogenic Probe Combo

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The Deck

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Psychogenic Probe is a weird card to build around. At a glance, it's pretty straightforward—whenever someone shuffles their library, they take two damage. The problem is that making your opponent shuffle their library isn't really a supported mechanic in Magic. A few cards can do it, like Surgical Extraction effects or Necromentia effects, but these are few and far between. Sure, we'll probably get some incidental damage from opponents cracking fetch lands or having their Urza's Saga go off, but this likely won't be enough to win us the game. To win with Psychogenic Probe, we need to make our opponent shuffle their library. After a bunch of brewing, I finally stumbled on a card that lets us not only win with Psychogenic Probe but also combo off with the artifact! Here's the plan.

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The main combo of our deck involves getting one or two copies of Psychogenic Probe onto the battlefield and then using Bitter Ordeal to force our opponent to shuffle their library enough times to kill them, all in one big combo turn. Bitter Ordeal is a unique card—the only card in Magic with the gravestorm mechanic, which is basically just storm, but, rather than caring about the number of spells cast, it cares about the number of permanents that went to the graveyard from the battlefield during the turn. Bitter Ordeal lets us search our opponent's library for a card and exile it and then, most importantly, makes our opponent shuffle their library. Here, it's important to note that each copy of Bitter Ordeal resolves separately. In paper, if you end up with five copies of Bitter Ordeal, you'll probably just exile five cards and then make your opponent shuffle once for the sake of convenience, but this technically isn't how Bitter Ordeal works. What actually happens is you search for a card, exile it, make your opponent shuffle their library, and then repeat the process for each copy of Bitter Ordeal. What this means for our deck is that with a single Psychogenic Probe on the battlefield, if we can get 10 copies of Bitter Ordeal, we'll 20 our opponent and win the game. With two copies of Psychogenic Probe, we'll only need five copies of Bitter Ordeal for lethal!

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The final piece of our combo is figuring out a way to up our gravestorm count enough to make Bitter Ordeal lethal. For this, we have two plans. The first is our mana base, which plays a ton of fetch lands and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, with the idea being that we can play Urborg so our fetch lands tap for a black mana and not crack our fetch lands until we are ready to combo off since each fetch land we crack is a permanent going to the graveyard from the battlefield, to up our gravestorm count. While the fetch land trick helps, considering we need a gravestorm count of at least five and maybe up to 10 to actually win the game, it's not likely to be enough by itself.

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The second plan for upping our gravestorm count is a risky, forgotten old ritual: Mana Seism. For just two mana, Mana Seism lets us sacrifice any number of lands and adds a colorless mana for each land we sacrifice. This means that if we can get to somewhere around five lands on the battlefield, we should be able to generate enough gravestorm to win the game. We crack all of our fetch lands, float all of our mana, sacrifice all of our lands to Mana Seism, use the mana it makes to cast our Psychogenic Probes and Bitter Ordeal, and burn our opponent out of the game with Psychogenic Probe damage!

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Because we need three or even four combo pieces to win the game, we have a ton of tutors to help find them, including Profane Tutor, Wishclaw Talisman, and Grim Tutor

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The final piece of our puzzle is a bunch of discard spells. Because our combo requires us to sacrifice all of our lands, we only get one shot at it. If our opponent can do something at instant speed to survive (like kill Psychogenic Probe), we're more or less guaranteed to lose the game since we won't have any mana left to try to reassemble the combo. Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek, and Grief can pull answers from our opponent's hand proactively to make sure that nothing goes horribly wrong when we do combo off. While all of our discard spells are good, Grief has a bit of extra upside because it ups our gravestorm count if we evoke it during our combo turn, which sometimes does matter if we are a little short on fetch lands to crack.

The Matchups

The biggest challenge for Psychogenic Probe Combo is staying alive long enough to combo off. While it is technically possible to combo off on Turn 4, Turn 5 is much more common. This means that aggro often can run us over before we get things set up. We also lost a couple of times to cards like Leyline of Sanctity, which are really good against our combo since they keep us from targeting our opponent with Bitter Ordeal, meaning our only way of winning the game is to try to beat down with Grief. Finally, we lose to ourselves a decent amount of the time. Even with 10 tutors in the deck, finding three or four combo pieces can be difficult. We had a few games where we ended up one combo piece short of winning when we died.

The Odds

Record-wise, we finished 2-4 with Psychogenic Probe Combo, although we did manage to win at least one game in almost all of our matches. The combo is a bit too janky and inconsistent to be truly competitive, but it is hilarious when it goes off, and it manages to go off more often than you'd think. The combo itself worked exactly as planned, and it's pretty funny that our winning board state is almost always just one or two copies of Psychogenic Probe since we sacrifice everything else!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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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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