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Against the Odds: Wizard Class Combo (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 301 of Against the Odds. Last week, [[Wizard Class] took home a huge win in our Against the Odds poll, with 43% of the vote, beating out the next highest option (Hellcarver Demon) by nearly 20%! As such, we're heading to Modern today to see if we can not just win with Wizard Class but also go infinite with Wizard Class. The idea is that if we can fully level up Wizard Class and then play a creature like Benthic Biomancer or Fathom Mage that draws us a card whenever it gets a +1/+1 counter, we can draw our entire deck while building a massive threat along the way. Once we draw it all, we've got a couple of ways to finish the game! What are the odds of winning with Wizard Class in Modern? Can the combo work? 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: Wizard Class Combo

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The Deck

When Wizard Class won the poll, I was pretty sure about what we'd be trying to do with the card—go infinite with Benthic Biomancer or Fathom Mage. The hard part was figuring out the best way to support the combo and make it as consistent as possible. It took a few builds and some tuning, but eventually, I think we ended up in a pretty good place.

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Wizard Class is an interesting enchantment. Its first level doesn't really do much of anything. The second level is a Divination, which is nice but not especially exciting in a format like Modern. It's the third level—putting a +1/+1 counter on a creature whenever we draw a card—that makes Wizard Class exciting. This level gives the card its combo potential. The good news about Wizard Class is that it only costs a single mana, which makes it easy to get onto the battlefield early before our opponent has their defenses set up. The bad news is that the third level costs five mana, which is a lot in a format as fast and powerful as Modern. To have a realistic chance of getting to the third level and going infinite before we die, we need a plan to speed things up. For this, we turn to some mana dorks.

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Birds of Paradise and Noble Hierarch are in our deck for one reason: getting Wizard Class to level three as quickly as possible. With a couple of mana dorks, we potentially can combo off around Turn 5, which isn't fast for Modern but is fast enough that we should have a chance to pull off the combo kill.

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So, let's assume we get Wizard Class fully leveled up. The next step in our combo is to play either Benthic Biomancer or Fathom Mage and then draw a card. Since either creature draws us a card whenever a +1/+1 counter is put onto it, this starts an infinite loop: we draw a card, which triggers Wizard Class to put a +1/+1 counter on a creature, and the +1/+1 counter going on the creature draws us a card. Rinse and repeat. The upsides of Benthic Biomancer are that it only costs a single mana and we can draw a card to start the combo by adapting it if we need to. The downside is that it loots, rather than just straight-up drawing us a card. (In reality, this usually doesn't matter, although it could if we start the combo with zero other cards in hand.) Benthic Biomancer also isn't a "may" ability, so we need at least one other creature on the battlefield, or else our combo will force us to draw our entire deck and lose the game. (Again, this usually isn't an issue since our deck is overflowing with creatures, but it is worth being aware of.) As for Fathom Mage, the drawbacks are that it costs four mana and we need a way to draw a card to start the loop, although the upside is that it draws us a card rather than looting and is a "may" ability, so there's no chance that we accidentally mill ourselves out with our combo. In reality, it doesn't really matter which combo piece we have. If we can draw a card with either one on the battlefield alongside a leveled-up Wizard Class, the end result should be us drawing our deck, making a huge creature, and then winning the game.

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So, how do we actually kill our opponent after drawing our deck with the combo? We have three ways. My favorite is Thud, which we'll inevitably draw as we combo off and draw our entire deck. For just a single mana, we can throw our massive Fathom Mage or Benthic Biomancer at our opponent's face to win the game on the spot. If we can't win with Thud for some reason, we have Thassa's Oracle as a backup. We can combo off, draw our deck, and either immediately (if we have two extra mana) or on the next turn cast Thassa's Oracle to win the game with its enters-the-battlefield trigger. We also have one copy of Cavern of Souls to put on Wizard, to make sure that Thassa's Oracle can resolve, (Cavern of Souls on Wizard also makes Benthic Biomancer or Fathom Mage uncounterable, which is a nice bonus.) Finally, we have Simic Ascendancy, which probably is our funniest way to win the game but also the clunkiest because we need to have it on the battlefield before we combo for it to work. 

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While we have some other boring stuff in the deck, like Prismatic Ending and Skyclave Apparition for removal and Void Grafter and Shalai, Voice of Plenty to protect our combo pieces, two other cards are important enough to mention individually. First, we have Snakeskin Veil. On level one, Snakeskin Veil offers a one-mana way to protect a combo piece from a targeted removal spell by giving it hexproof. But Snakeskin Veil actually does much, much more in our deck. Because it also puts a +1/+1 counter on the creature it targets and Benthic Biomancer and Fathom Mage draw us a card whenever they have a +1/+1 counter put on them, Snakeskin Veil also gives us a one-mana way to draw the first card we need to start our combo once we have things set up. Finally, we have Dizzy Spell, which isn't very good as a spell but is a surprisingly strong tutor in our deck, thanks to transmute. For three mana, it can tutor up any one-mana spell, which means it can snag our entire combo (Wizard Class and Benthic Biomancer), protection for the combo (Snakeskin Veil), or removal (Prismatic Ending), making it incredibly strong and flexible in our deck.

The Matchups

There are two big challenges for winning with the Wizard Class combo. First, spending five mana to get to the last level of Wizard Class can be tricky, especially against aggressive decks, where, if we spend our entire turn leveling up, there's a decent chance our opponent can kill us before we can untap and combo off. This makes super-fast aggro and combo decks a challenge. The second is removal. Some decks have answers to Wizard Class itself (like Assassin's Trophy, for example), and spending five mana to try to hit level three of Wizard Class only to have it get blown up in response is pretty brutal. Creature removal is also good against us since if our opponent can kill our Benthic Biomancer or Fathom Mage, it fizzles the combo, although having cards like Snakeskin Veil and Shalai, Voice of Plenty for protection helps quite a bit. 

The Odds

All in all, we played five matches with Wizard Class Combo and ended up going 2-3, giving us a 40% win rate, which is a bit below average for an Against the Odds deck. As we talked about a minute ago, spending five mana to level up Wizard Class is tough, and a lot of our losses were near-misses where we probably would have been able to win the game if we had just one more turn. The good news is that the combo itself is hilarious and—assuming we manage to fully level up Wizard Class—pretty easy to pull off. While the cost of leveling up Wizard Class likely will keep the combo from being a top-tier strategy, despite our middling record, the deck worked a lot better than I expected, considering our jank level is pretty high. Plus, the good games are pretty awesome! There's nothing like drawing your entire deck and then throwing a huge creature at your opponent's face to finish off the game with a Thud!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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As we wait for Standard to rotate and Historic Horizons to release, next week let's head back to Modern for some sweet, sweet jank. What card should we build around? 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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