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Against the Odds: Saffi Combo (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 335 of Against the Odds. We didn't have an Against the Odds poll last week because I was away at CommandFest Richmond, which means today, we get a chance to try out a combo that I've been wanting to play ever since Streets of New Capenna spoiler season: Saffi Eriksdotter Combo for Modern! While Saffi Combo has been around forever, the printing of Extraction Specialist in Streets of New Capenna really helps power up the deck. While it technically takes four pieces to go infinite with Saffi Combo, our deck is pretty good at finding the pieces we need since all of our combo pieces are creatures and we have the full four copies of Collected Company and Chord of Calling. Does Extraction Specialist mean that it's time for Saffi Eriksdotter to combo off in Modern? 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: Saffi Combo

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The Deck

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Saffi Combo is interesting. It technically takes four different combo pieces to go infinite, which immediately makes you think that the deck won't be very competitive. But the deck also has a ton of redundant combo pieces and the ability to find whatever creatures it needs, thanks to Chord of Calling and Collected Company. The most important (and unique) piece of the combo is Saffi Eriksdotter itself, which can sacrifice itself to give a target creature the ability to come back into play the next time it goes to the graveyard this turn, making it essentially a Malakir Rebirth on a stick. 

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Our second combo piece is Extraction Specialist or Renegade Rallier, both of which are creatures that can reanimate Saffi Eriksdotter with their enters-the-battlefield triggers. Which of the two is better really depends on the matchup. Extraction Specialist is better on the battlefield since lifelink is actually a huge upgrade against aggro and burn, although Renegade Rallier has a more flexible enters-the-battlefield trigger—reanimating any permanent with mana value two or less, including lands—assuming we can trigger revolt, which means we can use it as a ramp spell in conjunction with fetch lands in a pinch. But really, we don't care which of these creatures we have—they do the exact same thing in the combo.

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Next up, we need a sacrifice outlet like Viscera Seer, Woe Strider, or Yawgmoth, Thran Physician to sacrifice Extraction Specialist. Here's how the combo actually works. We sacrifice Saffi Eriksdotter targeting Extraction Specialist and then sacrifice Extraction Specialist to one of our free sac outlets. When Extraction Specialist dies, it will come back to the battlefield thanks to Saffi Eriksdotter's ability, and then its enters-the-battlefield trigger will return Saffi Eriksdotter to the battlefield, which puts us back to the place we started. We can do this as many times as we want, giving us infinite enters-the-battlefield and death triggers along the way...

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This means if we can add a Blood Artist or Cruel Celebrant to the mix, we can win the game on the spot by draining away our opponent's life. This might sound intimidating—we need a lot of different combo pieces to go infinite—but as you can see, each combo piece except for Saffi itself has at least one redundant backup that can replace it in the combo.

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We've also got two ways to help find our combo pieces in Collected Company and Chord of Calling. Chord of Calling can snag any combo piece we're missing, assuming we have enough mana and creatures to convoke it out, making it the perfect way to find the last piece we need to combo off. Collected Company is worse as finding the exact combo piece we need because it only lets us look at our top six creatures rather than our entire deck, but being able to snag two creatures is huge. If we get lucky, we can go from not being especially close to comboing to going infinite with a single copy of Collected Company.

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Rounding out the non-land cards in our main deck are Grist, the Hunger Tide and Skyclave Apparition, as removal spells that we can find with Collected Company and Chord of Calling, and Birds of Paradise and Noble Hierarch to speed things up a bit by giving us some extra mana.

The Matchups

Across our matches, we played aggro, midrange, and control, and it felt like we had a chance against all of them. We didn't play against combo, although I expect combo is probably a tough matchup considering that we normally don't combo until around Turn 4 or 5 (although if we run really well, it is possible to combo on Turn 3). That said, I don't think that Saffi Combo really cares all that much about matchups; what it does care about is sideboard cards. If you think about what disrupts our combo, our main worry is graveyard hate. Since we need to be able to loop Saffi and Extraction Specialist from our graveyard to go infinite, cards like Leyline of the Void, Rest in Peace, and even just Relic of Progenitus can keep us from comboing off as long as they are on the battlefield. The good news is that Skyclave Apparition is a great catch-all answer to the popular graveyard hate in the format, and Knight of Autumn can help fight through artifact- and enchantment-based hate after sideboarding, so we do have answers for our opponent's hate cards.

The Odds

All in all, we finished 4-0 with Saffi Combo (only four matches this week because a couple were long, and I was recording while I was feeling pretty COVID-y, so if you noticed any punts, I'm blaming it on brain fog), which was much better than I expected. This wasn't a case where our opponents just ran poorly or mulliganed into oblivion. Most of our opponents executed their game plans, and we managed to combo out anyway, including an absurd win against Tron where our opponent had Karn Liberated for multiple turns and cast a Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, and we still managed to combo off. We also beat both Leyline of the Void and Relic of Progenitus, so apparently, we can win when our opponent has a hate card that is really good against our deck. It might be that Saffi Combo is actually a pretty legitimate option in Modern at the moment. The combo is a good way to end games, and the deck is pretty good at grinding out fair wins in a pinch thanks to our graveyard recursion and Blood Artists! The only problem with the deck that I found is that it might actually be too good for Against the Odds!

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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