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Against the Odds: Spore Life (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode seventy-eight of Against the Odds. Last week, we had a second-chance poll to give options that came in second or third place on previous Against the Odds polls another chance at glory. In the end, it was the combo of Sporemound and Life and Limb sneaking out a victory over Planar Bridge by just 19 votes (out of about 6,000). As such, this week we are heading to Modern to see if we can make an infinite number of Saproling-Forests.

Our goal this week is actually twofold. First, we want to try to win some games with Sporemound / Life and Limb. Second, we want to see what happens when you put together a truly infinite loop on Magic Online. In the paper world, the combo—assuming neither us nor our opponent has a way to stop it—will spiral out of control and make an infinite number of tokens, which will draw the game. On Magic Online, who knows what will happen. I envision Saproling-Forests cluttering my screen, increasing exponentially until my computer finally explodes, but there could be a less dramatic outcome as well. 

Let's get to the videos, and then we'll talk a bit more about the deck, but first a quick reminder. If you enjoy the Against the Odds series and the other video content here on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube Channel.

Against the Odds: Spore Life (Deck Tech)

Against the Odds: Spore Life (Games)

The Deck

Our Spore Life deck is actually pretty straightforward. Our main goal is to get Sporemound and Life and Limb on the battlefield together, make a land drop, and go infinite with Saproling-Forests. The challenge of the combo is that it's both slow (usually a Turn 5 or 6 combo) and fragile (many common creature-removal spells can end the loop), so apart from the combo, the rest of the deck is dedicated to speeding up the combo with mana acceleration, slowing down the opponent, and having some ways to end the loop so we don't just draw the game when we combo off.

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If we can get a Sporemound and Life and Limb on the battlefield together, when we play a land, it basically causes Sporemound to trigger itself. It makes a 1/1 token that happens to be a land as well as a Saproling (thanks to Life and Limb), which means that Sporemound triggers again, and again, and again. The challenge is living long enough to actually assemble the combo (we'd prefer to play the five-mana Sporemound first, because Life and Limb makes all of our lands vulnerable to creature removal, turning Lightning Bolt into Sinkhole and Pyroclasm into Armageddon), while also dodging creature removal, because Lightning Bolt, Path to Exile, and friends all easily answer our combo. When it works, we'll flood the board with Saproling-Forests and either win by beating down or with the help of some of our loop-enders. 

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Heading into the games, I wasn't really sure how the combo would work in Magic Online. I knew that in paper, the game would draw if we couldn't end the loop, so because of this, we have a couple of cards designed to end the combo. Blasting Station actually just ends the game, since it untaps every time a Saproling-Forest enters the battlefield, so we can immediately sacrifice the token to ping our opponent for a damage. Then, we can do it again when the next Saproling-Forest enters the battlefield until eventually we kill our opponent one damage at a time. Meanwhile, a suspended Greater Gargadon lets us sacrifice our Sporemound after we have made a google of tokens to make sure the game doesn't draw, and we can win by beating down with our Saproling-Forests.

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Lightning Bolt and Beast Within do double-duty in our deck. On level one, they help us disrupt our opponent. Lightning Bolt is great against creatures in the early- to mid-game, while Beast Within can hit lands as well, which gives us some small chance against decks like Tron. On level two, both of these cards can kill our own Sporemound, giving us additional ways to end our loop and avoid drawing the game.

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Birds of Paradise and Llanowar Elves help us speed up our combo. Since we want to play Sporemound first, they help us play the Fungus as early as Turn 3, which in turn lets us play Life and Limb (plus a land drop) on Turn 4 to go infinite. 

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Blood Moon and Ensnaring Bridge help us disrupt and slow down our opponent, hopefully buying us enough time to combo off. Blood Moon does this by messing with our opponent's land, which not only just generally slows down our opponent but can also help protect our opponent from removal by cutting off splash colors. Meanwhile, Ensnaring Bridge keeps our opponent from beating us down with creatures and also works well with our Saproling-Forests, since we only need one card in hand (like the one we draw each turn) to allow our 1/1s to attack and kill our opponent.

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Finally, we have Faithless Looting, which is another double-duty card. Its main purpose is to help us filter through our hand to find combo pieces, but it also can help us get empty handed (by discarding high-CMC cards) to power up our Ensnaring Bridge. While it isn't exciting, it is one of the most important cards in our deck because otherwise we simply wouldn't put together our combo consistently enough. 

The Matchups

The matchups really depend on a couple of things. First, how good are Blood Moon and Ensnaring Bridge at slowing down our opponent? Against some decks, they are great and easily buy us enough time to win the game. Against other decks, they do next to nothing. Second, how much removal does our opponent have? If the answer is a lot, it's going to be really difficult to combo off, even with the help of our protective cards. On a broader level, we want to play against midrange, creature-heavy decks, since these decks usually aren't super-fast and often struggle against our hate cards. On the other hand, we want to avoid combo decks, because we simply don't have cards that interact with decks like Baral Storm or TitanShift. 

The Odds

Heading into the matches, I expected that Spore Life would be one of the least competitive decks we've played on Against the Odds in a while, but I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. All in all, we played five matches and somehow won three of them, giving us a 60% match win percentage. Meanwhile, we played a total of 13 games and won seven, making our game win percentage 53.8%. That said, it's hard to imagine that these results would hold up over the long term. For one thing, we beat Baral Storm, which should happen about once every 1,000 games. Second, many of our wins seemed to come because our opponents simply didn't understand how our combo worked, which gave us a major advantage that probably wouldn't be there in the future. Regardless, for a deck I expected to win with about 15% of the time, the outcome was much better than I ever could have hoped for!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

No poll this week. We'll have a special episode next week, but not to worry—the poll will be back next week!

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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