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Against the Odds: Tyvar's Trisky Tree Combo (Explorer)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 370 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had a Shadows over Innistrad Remastered Against the Odds poll, and Tree of Perdition took home a pretty easy win, although, in reality, we're playing a double–Against the Odds deck today because one of the runners-up on the poll—Triskaidekaphobia—is the perfect combo piece to win the game with Tree of Perdition! While the combo of Tree and Triskaidekaphobia has been around forever, it's new to Magic Arena and Explorer, and it also gets a huge new addition in the Phyrexia planeswalker Tyvar, Jubilant Brawler, which lets us activate Tree of Perdition's ability right away without waiting a turn for it to lose summoning sickness, greatly speeding up the combo! What are the odds of winning with Tree of Perdition, Triskaidekaphobia, and Tyvar in Explorer? 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: Tyvar's Trisky Tree Combo

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The Deck

When Tree of Perdition won the poll, I was pretty sure we'd be going in one of two directions with the deck since there are two ways to take advantage of Tree of Perdition's ability to exchange its toughness with the opponent's life total. One possibility is to try to lower Tree of Perdition's toughness. For example, if you use something like Diminish to make Tree of Perdition a 1/1 until end of turn, tapping it will put the opponent all the way down to one life. But this plan didn't seem great with the cards legal in Explorer, mostly because many of the cards that can lower Tree of Perditions toughness also make it lose all abilities. While it theoretically would be possible to find a way to give something like Witness Protection flash, activate Tree of Perdition, and then flash in Witness Protection to make it a 1/1 with its trigger on the stack, this didn't really seem super realistic. Thankfully, plan B—Triskaidekaphobia—is the perfect combo piece for Tree!

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As such, the main plan is to get Tree of Perdition onto the battlefield alongside Triskaidekaphobia. On our opponent's end step, we can tap Tree to set our opponent to 13 life; then, during our upkeep, Triskaidekaphobia will trigger to make our opponent lose the game!

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By far the biggest new addition to our deck is Tyvar, Jubilant Brawler, which has a bunch of sweet synergies that we'll talk about momentarily. Its main superpower is letting us activate Tree of Perdition's ability as if it had haste. One of the biggest problems with Tree of Perdition is that we need to play it, wait a turn for it to lose summoning sickness, and then activate it, which gives our opponent at least one turn (or two turns if we're planning to activate Tree on our opponent's end step, which is the best time to do it) to kill Tree of Perdition and fizzle our combo. Tyvar eliminates this problem altogether. With our best draws, we can play Tyvar on Turn 2, Triskaidekaphobia on Turn 3, and then a hasty Tree of Perdition on Turn 4 to win the game on our next upkeep!

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Of course, for any of this to work, we need to be able to find Tree of Perdition and Triskaidekaphobia consistently. So, we've got a ton of cards in our deck dedicated to finding our two combo pieces. Fauna Shaman can tutor up Tree or a Moon-Blessed Cleric, which can tutor up Triskaidekaphobia, and it also interacts really well with Tyvar, Jubilant Brawler's static ability giving its ability haste. Much like with Tree of Perdition, the main drawback of [[Fauna Shaman] is that it normally needs to sit on the battlefield for a turn before we can use its Survival of the Fittest ability. But with Tyvar on the battlefield, it is much closer to a real Survival of the Fittest. We also get some sweet synergy with Tyvar's –2 ability, which can help us find Fauna Shaman and put it into play from the graveyard. We also have another new-to-Arena Shadows over Innistrad Remastered addition in Eldritch Evolution, which is one of the best ways in Magic to find a specific creature. Thanks to saccable two-drops in Spirited Companion and Raffine's Informant, we can use Eldritch Evolution to find Tree of Perdition directly; or, if we already have a Tree, we can find Moon-Blessed Cleric to find Triskaidekaphobia. Speaking of sacrifice fodder, we also have one Diabolic Intent, which can find either combo piece for just two mana as long as we have a creature to sacrifice. 

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Rounding out the deck are some mana dorks to speed things up and Spirited Companion and Raffine's Informant to keep us churning through our deck to find our combo pieces while also giving us bodies to sacrifice to Eldritch Evolution or reanimate with Tyvar, Jubilant Brawler

The Matchups

The good news about Tyvar's Trisky Tree Combo is that it's actually surprisingly consistent since we only need two combo pieces to win the game and we have a ton of ways to tutor them up. The bad news about Tyvar's Trisky Tree Combo is that it's not all that reliable. By far the biggest issue with the combo—and our biggest matchup concern—is that they can fizzle the Tree of Perdition / Triskaidekaphobia kill if our opponent has a way to lose life at instant speed. Thankfully, we're playing Explorer so we don't have to deal with fetch lands (which are basically unbeatable since our opponent can just leave one sitting on the battlefield, wait until Triskaidekaphobia's trigger goes on the stack, and then crack it to go down to 12 life and stay alive). But some decks randomly have pain lands, which can do essentially the same thing. We also ran into decks playing cards like Castle Locthwain or Ramunap Ruins, which can also put our opponent under 13 life at instant speed to keep them alive. We're fine when we play against decks running a top-tier mana base of fetch lands, fast lands, and such, but things get really difficult when we run into decks with lands that can lose our opponent life. Other than our opponent's mana base, we're mostly interested in how easily our opponent can deal with an enchantments. Decks with lots of ways to blow up Triskaidekaphobia are tricky since we really need the enchantment to stick our on the battlefield for a turn or two to win the game. On the other hand, creature removal isn't as big of a concern since we can use Tyvar to give Tree of Perdition haste, so even if our opponent has a way to kill Tree, we should be able to set our opponent's life total down to 13 before it dies.

The Odds

Record-wise, Tyvar's Trisky Tree Combo wasn't great. All in all, we went something like 2-8 with the deck, although it is worth mentioning that even in matches that we lost, we often managed to combo off at least once and win a game, even if putting together two game wins to steal the match was challenging. In general, I felt like the deck did what we wanted it to do, but Tree of Perdition and Triskaidekaphobia are just tricky cards to win with thanks to the instant-speed life-loss combo we were talking about before. 

While the record might not have been great, I have to say that the deck is oddly fun to play. Tree of Perdition blocks all day against aggro decks, which is hilarious. Sometimes, opponents just can't beat a 0/13, even without its ability comboing off to win the game. Meanwhile, Triskaidekaphobia leads to some interesting subgames because, remember, any player at 13 life on our upkeep dies. This means if we get a bit unlucky (or take too many risks), our opponent could use burn spells or combat damage to get us down to 13 and make us die to our own cards! Basically, while Tyvar's Trisky Tree Combo is unlikely ever to be a top-tier competitive deck, it is a really unique deck that leads to super-interesting games and situations, which makes all the losses along the way more than worth it, and doubly so since the wins are so hilarious!

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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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