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Against the Odds: Vadrok Combo (Standard)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 2443 of Against the Odds. This week, we're heading to Ikoria Standard 2.0 to catch back up to the Against the Odds poll with the combo of Vadrok, Apex of Thunder and Chance for Glory! As you might know, technically, we were supposed to play this combo last week, but we ended up pushing it back a week to wait for Wizards to implement the banned-and-restricted update. Thankfully, this is a case of better late than never because the combo itself is super-sweet. How does the combo work? What are the odds of not just winning but going infinite with Vadrok, Apex of Thunder and Chance for Glory in Standard? 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: Vadrok Combo 

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The Deck

When Vadrok, Apex of Thunder and Chance for Glory won the poll, I had a pretty good idea of the direction we were going to head with the deck. The main combo is to try to get Vadrok, Apex of Thunder and Lore Drakkis mutated together, keep mutating onto them each turn to use Vadrok, Apex of Thunder to recast Chance for Glory from our graveyard to take an extra turn, and then use Lore Drakkis to return Tale's End so we can Stifle Chance for Glory's "you lose the game" trigger at the end of the extra turn. In theory, if we can keep mutating onto our Vadrok / Drakkis mutate pile each turn, we can keep taking extra turns until we eventually win by beating our opponent down with our random mutate creatures.

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The core of our combo is two mutate creatures and two spells. As for mutate cards, what our deck is really trying to do is to get a Vadrok, Apex of Thunder mutated with a Lore Drakkis, which means whenever we mutate onto these creatures, we get to cast a non-creature spell with converted mana cost three or less from our graveyard and return another instant or sorcery spell from our graveyard to our hand. It's also worth mentioning that as the game goes along, we often get multiple Vadroks or Lore Drakkis mutated together, which makes things even more insane. Eventually, we can get to the point where every time we mutate, we are casting up to four cheap noncreature spells for free from our graveyard and returning up to four instants or sorceries back from our graveyard to our hand, which is an absurd amount of value. Oh yeah, it's also important to point out that Vadrok, Apex of Thunder's unique wording (it doesn't exile the spell it casts from the graveyard) allows our combo to work since we can keep casting the same Chance for Glory over and over again, rather than needing to draw additional copies.

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As for spells, Chance for Glory and Tale's End are our two combo pieces. Our end goal is to cast Chance for Glory every turn with Vadrok, Apex of Thunder's ability in order to take an extra turn and then return Tale's End to our hand with the help of Lore Drakkis's ability so that we can counter the "you lose the game" trigger on the end step of our extra turn. Assuming we can keep drawing into mutate creatures, this allows us to take infinite turns in a really janky way. Eventually, we win the game by beating down with our random mutate creatures. 

It's also worth mentioning that Chance for Glory has the additional upside of making our creatures indestructible forever, which is especially valuable in a deck trying to mutate a bunch of creatures together. This makes it harder for our opponent to stop our combo with removal, although it is worth mentioning that bounce spells like Brazen Borrower or exile-based effects like Elspeth Conquers Death can still ruin our day (although many of these spells can be avoided if we don't let our opponent take extra turns).

Mutate Stuff

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Of course, for our combo to work, we also need to have a mutate creature every turn. For this, we have a handful of mutate creatures in Sea-Dasher Octopus, Regal Leosaur, and Pouncing Shoreshark. While each of these creatures offers some amount of upside, in reality, the reason all of these creatures are in our deck is to trigger the mutate ability of Vadrok, Apex of Thunder and Lore Drakkis. Sea-Dasher Octopus and Pouncing Shoreshark offer some additional upside thanks to flash, which means in a pinch, we can flash them in on our end step to cast a Tale's End with Vadrok, Apex of Thunder to avoid killing ourselves with Chance for Glory

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Meanwhile, Pollywog Symbiote is one of our best mutate targets. Not only does it work as a ramp spell by reducing the cost of our mutate creatures, but looting also helps to support our combo by allowing us to filter away extra lands and other unnecessary cards in search of more mutaters to make sure we can keep taking extra turns. Pollywog Symbiote also works incredibly well with Vadrok, Apex of Thunder. If we cast Symbiote on Turn 2, we can mutate Vadrok, Apex of Thunder on Turn 3, loot away a cheap non-creature spell with Pollywog Symbiote's ability, and immediately cast it for free with Vadrok, Apex of Thunder.

Other Stuff

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Rounding out our deck are Teferi, Time Raveler and Thirst for Meaning, both of which happen to be noncreature spells that cost three mana, so we can cast them from our graveyard for free with Vadrok, Apex of Thunder. Thirst for Meaning helps us dig through our deck to find our combo pieces while also stocking our graveyard for Lore Drakkis and Vadrok, Apex of Thunder. Meanwhile, Teferi, Time Raveler does two things in our deck. First, it protects our infinite-turn combo from our opponent's interaction, making sure that instant-speed removal doesn't kill or bounce our mutate pile and ruin our deck. The second thing Teferi, Time Raveler does is allow us to bounce our mutate pile during our infinite-turn loop. As we talked about before, for our combo to work, we need to find a mutate creature every turn. If we happen to miss, we can bounce our entire mutate pile and recast our combo pieces to keep the loop going for several more turns. 

The Matchups

The matchups for Vadrok Combo are a bit tricky to break down because we played all control and Temur Rec decks, except for a single match against Mono-Red, which we lost. In general, it seems like our deck should have a relatively poor matchup with aggro (mostly because we don't have much real removal in the main deck), but it seems to work really well against control and combo-control like Temur Reclamation.

The Odds

All in all, we finished 4-1 with Vadrok Combo, with our one loss coming against Mono-Red, while we took down the best deck in the format—Temur Reclamation—twice! This gives us an 80% match win percentage and makes Vadrok Combo significantly above average for an Against the Odds deck. While the combo looks janky on paper, it's actually surprisingly effective, especially with Teferi, Time Raveler offering protection for our extra-turn loop. While we had several games where we went infinite (or at least infinite enough to win the game during our extra turns), even just taking several turns in a row while we develop our mana and board is really powerful. While the sample size is fairly small, Vadrok Combo actually felt like it could keep up with the best and most played decks in Standard, which is pretty surprising for a deck that looks super-janky on paper. Even discounting the combo, people really should play more Vadrok, Apex of Thunders with Pollywog Symbiotes. Mutating on Turn 3 and looting something like Teferi, Time Raveler into the graveyard to cast for free is an incredibly powerful start to a game!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

The Against the Odds poll has moved to Youtube! Head here now to vote for next week's deck!

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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