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Browse > Home / Strategy / Articles / Against the Odds: Someone's Dying on Turn Two, but Who? (Timeless)

Against the Odds: Someone's Dying on Turn Two, but Who? (Timeless)

Hello, everyone, and welcome to another edition of Against the Odds! If you watched the "Teaching Arena Zoomers about Necro" video a couple of weeks ago, you might already know that I'm sort of addicted to Necropotence in Timeless. Today, we're taking the enchantment out for another spin but in a very different shell. Our goal for Necro today isn't so much to draw cards but to use it to exile our own library and lower our own life total in order to support a very all-in deck that can potentially make someone die on Turn 2. The only problem is that I'm not sure if that someone will be our opponent or us! What non-Storm shenanigans does Necropotence enable in Timeless? Let's find out on today's Against the Odds!

Against the Odds: Rakdos Necro

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The Deck

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As I mentioned in the intro, today's deck is once again built around Necropotence, but what we're doing with the enchantment is pretty unique. You probably know what Necro does already—draw us a ton of cards on our end step at the cost of one life. While we do take advantage of the oodles of cards that Necropotence offers, our deck today is actually abusing some of the non–card advantage hidden tech on the enchantment! With our very best draws, our deck can literally win the game on Turn 2 without actually drawing any extra cards with Necro at all. Here's the plan.

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Our primary combo piece is Laelia, the Blade Reforged, a three-mana 2/2 haster that has a unique ability: whenever a card from our library or graveyard is put into exile, we get to put a +1/+1 counter on it, which is pretty absurd with Necropotence. If you think about how Necro actually works, we exile a card from the top of our library whenever we activate it. Sure, we'll get those cards on our end step, but ideally, there won't even be an end step because every time we activate Necropotence, we'll also be adding a +1/+1 counter to Laelia, the Blade Reforged. This means if we can activate Necropotence 18 times, we'll have a 20-power hasty creature that we can use to kill our opponent with a single attack! While the Turn 2 kill isn't super likely, it is very possible. We need to Dark Ritual out a Necropotence on Turn 1 but choose not to activate it at all, as weird as that sounds. On Turn 2, we play a land and Dark Ritual out Laelia, then activate Necropotence 17 times, likely putting ourselves down to something like two or three life (depending on how many fetch lands we needed to use) to grow Laelia, the Blade Reforged into a one-shot threat! Oh yeah, while this is less important, it's also worth mentioning that if it doesn't just win the game immediately, Laelia, the Blade Reforged works with another hidden mode on Necro: if we discard a card with Necropotence on the battlefield, it will go to exile, which also triggers Laelia! Since we're often discarding to hand size because Necropotence generates so much card advantage, we're able to double-dip, growing Laelia once as we activate Necro to draw cards and again once we discard to hand size and those cards go to exile!

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The other odd aspect of Necropotence we're abusing is its ability to lower our own life total. Usually, having to spend a life to draw a card with Necro is a downside, but it's actually an upside for our deck thanks to Death's Shadow and Shadow of Mortality! We can activate Necro a bunch of times to get our life total low enough to turn either card into a massive threat. Sure, there's some risk that we die to a burn spell or a hasty creature once we put our own life total down near one. But if we don't die, we're rewarded with some massive, undercosted creatures to beat our opponent down quickly!

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But it gets even better! We technically don't even need to beat our opponent down with our massive Laelia, the Blade Reforged or Death's Shadow to win the game because we're actually a Fling deck! We're playing the full playset of Callous Sell-Sword, which can sacrifice a creature for one mana to deal damage equal to its power to any target, so we can throw our massive creatures directly at our opponent's face to close out the game! This is actually pretty important to our deck because while our creatures are massive, they aren't evasive, so they are pretty easy for our opponent to chump block. But this doesn't really matter thanks to Callous Sell-Sword since we can close out the game with direct damage. The other big upside of this plan is that no one seems to expect it. A shocking number of opponents were at 20 life when we attacked them with a 10-ish-power Death's Shadow or Laelia. Rather than blocking, our opponents would choose to take the damage, only to end up immediately dead when we threw our attack at them post-combat!

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And that's basically the deck: play Necro as fast as possible and use it to either grow Laelia, the Blade Reforged into a lethal attacker or set our life total low enough that we can make a massive board of Death's Shadows and Shadow of Mortality. Otherwise, we're got a bunch of nuts-and-bolts type stuff to hold the deck together, like Lightning Bolt and Molten Collapse for removal, Thoughtseize for discard, Orcish Bowmasters because it's the best creature in the format, and, of course, our one-of restricted Demonic Tutor, which is simply too good to pass up since we are in black!

Matchups and Odds

The matchups for Rakdos Necro are pretty funny. We have the power to beat just about any deck in the format, but our plan is also pretty risky since it involves activating Necropotence until our life total is hovering close to one, which means a stiff breeze will finish us off. The hardest matchups are various burn-style decks because it's challenging to know just how much life we can afford to pay to Necro without risking immediate death from a Lightning Bolt or a random haste creature. I wouldn't say these matchups are bad; they just require more thinking than most to not accidentally kill ourselves with Necro greed. 

Overall, we managed to win a massive 67% of the time with the deck, which is really good, although part of this was that opponents simply didn't expect the Callous Sell-Sword Fling kill. We had many, many opponents who could have stayed alive by blocking but didn't, only to end up dead when we threw a Death's Shadow or Laelia at their faces. More importantly, in just over 20 matches with the deck, we managed to pull off the Tu2 two kill (my current fastest in Timeless!) exactly once, making the odds of the Turn 2 combo-kill something like 4%. It turns out that needing to draw two copies of Dark Ritual along with two other specific cards means the perfect opening hand doesn't come along all that often, but it's super sweet when it does!


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

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