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Against the Odds: Stuffy Doll Combos (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 309 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had an Against the Odds classics poll featuring some of the best Against the Odds cards from the earliest days of the series. In the end, Stuffy Doll]] took home a fairly easy win. As such, we're heading to Modern today to see if we can pick up some wins by comboing off with the artifact. We've played Stuffy Doll once before on Against the Odds, way back in Episode 20 in January 2016, but a ton has changed over the past five years. We now have Brash Taunter as a backup version of Stuffy Doll to increase consistency and Star of Extinction to combo with Sir Stuffs-a-Lot. So while the plan today is similar to what it was back in 2016—play Stuffy Doll and damage it to burn out our opponent—the deck itself looks a lot different! What are the odds of winning with Stuffy Doll in Modern? How much has the deck improved over the past five years?  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: Stuffy Doll Combos

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The Deck

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Stuffy Doll (and our new backup Stuffy Doll, Brash Taunter) is one of my favorite jank creatures in all of Magic. While it doesn't have any power and costs a massive five mana, it can deal a ton of damage in the right deck by redirecting any damage dealt to it to our opponent's face. The main goal is to get one (or more) of our Stuffy Dolls on the battlefield as quickly as possible, start damaging it, and hopefully use it to burn the opponent out of the game. While we do sometimes win with the slow and steady Stuffy Doll plan—by tapping it to ping itself or using Brash Taunter to fight creatures—we've also got two different two-ish-card combos that can win the game immediately once we get a Stuffy Doll on the battlefield.

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The biggest downside to Stuffy Doll is that it's pretty expensive. Five mana is a lot in a fast format like Modern, and doubly so when you consider that some of our other combo pieces cost up to seven mana. As such, having some ramp to speed up the process of getting Stuffy Doll and Brash Taunter on the battlefield is essential. We have two plans for this. First, we have The Celestus, which can come down on Turn 3 and ramp us into Stuffy Doll on Turn 4. While it might look strange to play the mana rock in a deck that doesn't really care about turning day into night or night into day, the ability to loot and gain life is a pretty meaningful upside, especially considering that one of our Stuffy Doll combos cares about us having a higher life total than our opponent does. Our other ramp plan is Cleansing Wildfire blowing up Flagstones of Trokair or Cascading Cataracts. If we can use Cleansing Wildfire to destroy either land, we'll technically end up +1 land on the battlefield (while also drawing a card), which basically turns Cleansing Wildfire into an upgraded, red Rampant Growth that cantrips! While our main plan for Cleansing Wildfire is to use it on our lands as ramp, as a bonus, it also gives us some main deck land hate against Tron and creaturelands.

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Once we get a Stuffy Doll on the battlefield, we have two combos that can win us the game right away. The most straightforward is Star of Extinction, which deals 20 damage to Stuffy Doll (or Brash Taunter), and then Stuffy Doll redirects that 20 damage to our opponent's face, killing them on the spot. It's basically Splinter Twin, if Splinter Twin cost seven mana and involved a five-mana 0/1.

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Combo two involves one of the strangest creatures in Modern: Volcano Hellion. Volcano Hellion's enters-the-battlefield ability deals any amount of damage we choose to a creature, which means we can pick a huge number like 1,000,000 to deal to Stuffy Doll and then use Stuffy Doll to throw that 1,000,000 damage at our opponent's face. The only problem is that Volcano Hellion also deals the same amount of damage to us, which means that without some extra help, if we choose to deal 1,000,000 damage with Volcano Hellion, we'll end up dying before our opponent does to Stuffy Doll

By itself, Volcano Hellion is a two-card combo with Stuffy Doll or Brash Taunter if we have a higher life total than our opponent does. If we're at 20 and our opponent is at 19 because they cracked a fetch land, we can choose to deal 19 with Volcano Hellion, take 19 and drop to one life, deal 19 to Stuffy Doll, which will be redirected to our opponent, and win the game. (This is part of the reason why incidental lifegain like The Celestus and Lightning Helix is important to the deck.)

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If we are at a lower life total than our opponent is, we can use Gideon's Sacrifice to complete the combo kill. For just one mana, Gideon's Sacrifice redirect all damage dealt to us to one of our creatures. We can play a Stuffy Doll and then use Gideon's Sacrifice to redirect all of the damage dealt to us for a turn to Stuffy Doll. We can then play Volcano Hellion and choose a huge number like 1,000,000. The 1,000,00 damage to us will be redirected to Stuffy Doll, which will then pass it along to our opponent to burn them out of the game.

The other hilarious part of Gideon's Sacrifice is that we can just play it fairly by waiting for our opponent to damage us. Let's say we get down a Stuffy Doll but our opponent has a board full of creatures. We can let our opponent attack and then use Gideon's Sacrifice like a weird Fog, not only preventing all of the damage we'd have taken but also passing it along to Stuffy Doll to throw at our opponent. Once we get things set up, we actually want our opponent to attack us for huge amounts of damage because the end result will (hopefully) be our opponent dying, rather than us, thanks to Gideon's Sacrifice

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Otherwise, we have some removal to help keep our opponent's board in check until we can get our Stuffy Doll combo set up. Remember back during Modern Horizons 2 spoiler season, when people (myself included) thought that Fury was pretty medium and would be a lot more powerful if it could damage players along with creatures and planeswalkers? Well, it can in our deck, with the help of Stuffy Doll and Brash Taunter! While we'll use cards like Fury and Shatterskull Smashing most of the time to kill our opponent's creatures, there are times when we will want to use them to target our own Stuffy Doll or Brash Taunter to redirect the damage to our opponent. With a Stuffy Doll on the battlefield, Fury is basically a Fireblast, allowing us to deal four damage to our opponent for free by exiling a red card, while Shatterskull Smashing turns into a weird pseudo-Fireball attached to a land!

The Matchup

In general, our deck is great against creature decks—Stuffy Doll and Brash Taunter are really good at blocking, and our removal is solid—but struggles against control, especially control decks with lots of counterspells, which can usually keep our Stuffy Dolls off the battlefield with Archmage's Charm, Cryptic Command, and Counterspell. Even if we can sneak a Stuffy Doll through, control decks usually have Path to Exile or various Teferis that can answer an indestructible creature. Meanwhile, combo is a bit hit or miss. We have some slide sideboard hate cards, but in general, we're probably not favored against fast combo decks because we're usually not fast enough to race (although we have a shot if we can draw the right sideboard cards).

The Odds

Video-wise, we finished 3-2 with Stuffy Doll Combos, although a win and a loss didn't end up making the video, giving us an overall record of 4-3, which is a lot better than I had expected. Back when we played Stuffy Doll in 2016, we only won 25% of the time, so it seems like the archetype has improved quite a bit over the past five years. Having Brash Taunter as an additional Stuffy Doll is a really huge deal for the deck. With eight Stuffy Dolls, we almost always find one early in the game, which is really important since it's super unlikely that our deck will win without a Stuffy Doll. Throughout our matches, we got to see all of our combos go off, winning games with Star of Extinction and Volcano Hellion and even generating infinite damage with Hellion and Gideon's Sacrifice (although, sadly, it seems like Magic Online caps the damage at 200 if you type in 1,000,000). While I don't think Stuffy Doll Combos is top tier or anything like that, based on our matches today, it did feel oddly competitive, to the point where I think you could play it at the FNM level and win some matches in a really hilarious way that will be certain to have your entire LGS talking about your deck!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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It's been a while since we've had a planeswalker tribal Against the Odds. Let's fix that next week! Which planeswalker should we build around in Modern? Click here to vote!

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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