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I Play One Creature on an Empty Board (and Make 500 Hasty Power)

The other day, I was browsing through the new Shadows Over Innistrad Remastered cards on Magic Arena and stumbled upon a really cool card that I had forgotten about: Second Harvest. Doubling all of your tokens for just four mana at instant speed is a really unique and powerful ability, but, somehow, we've never built a deck around Second Harvest. So, I set out to change this by going all-in on building around Second Harvest, and the end result was pretty spectacular: a deck that manages to add 500 (or more) hasty power to the battlefield all by resolving just a single creature on an empty battlefield. Today, I'm going to show you exactly how I did it!

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The Deck

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So, here's the idea of the deck. We spend the early turns filling our graveyard as aggressively as possible with cards like Grisly Salvage, Vessel of Nascency, Satyr Wayfinder, Champion of Wits, and Jace, the Perfected Mind

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There are three specific cards we are hoping to mill the most, all instants that can make token copies of a creature: Cackling Counterpart, Sublime Epiphany, and Second Harvest itself. We want as many of these cards in our graveyard as possible because the more of them we mill, the more spectacular our combo turn will be.

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Once our graveyard is nice and full, we resolve a single creature: Torrential Gearhulk. We can do this either by casting it from our hand (we can combo off at instant speed thanks to flash, which is a nice bonus against control decks since it helps us play around our opponent's counters) or, if we mill it, by using Unburial Rites to reanimate it on the cheap. 

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Once Torrential Gearhulk hits the battlefield, the real fun begins. We can use its enters-the-battlefield ability to cast an instant from our graveyard for free, so we cast a Cackling Counterpart targeting Torrential Gearhulk to make a token copy of Gearhulk and get its enters-the-battlefield ability again. We keep doing this until we've cast all of our Cackling Counterparts and all of our Sublime Epiphany (which can also bounce some of our opponent's stuff as a bonus). All of our Cackling Counterparts and Sublime Epiphany will give us a bunch of token copies of Torrential Gearhulk, so once they are all gone, we use our last Torrential Gearhulk trigger to cast a Second Harvest for free, which will double the number of token Torrential Gearhulks on the battlefield. We keep doing this until we cast all of our Second Harvests for free from our graveyard, giving us an absurd number of Torrential Gearhulks.

What exactly is an absurd number of Gearhulks? It's hard to say exactly because it depends on how many copies of Cackling Counterpart, Sublime Epiphany, and Second Harvest we mill. Technically, we usually only need five or six Torrential Gearhulks to win the game, but what's the fun in that? The maximum number of Torrential Gearhulks we can make (from casting a single copy) is 129, although this isn't especially likely in practice because it would mean we milled literally every "create a token copy" card in our deck. But in theory, we can cast one Torrential Gearhulk; make eight token copies with Cackling Counterpart and Sublime Epiphany; and double those eight to 16 with the first Second Harvest, 32 with the second, 64 with the third, and 128 with the forth, which, combined with the one non-token copy that started this whole mess, would give us 129 total 5/6 creatures.

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Once we start casting Second Harvests, we'll have more Torrential Gearhulk triggers than we can possibly use, so we'll put the rest of them to work by flashing back our Grisly Salvages to mill the rest of our deck because if we want to win the game right away, we need to get one more card in our graveyard: Lorehold Command. Lorehold Command has a bunch of text, but the important part is that it's an instant that can give all of our creatures +1/+0 and haste until end of turn. Once we mill it, we can spend our last Torrential Gearhulk trigger to cast it for free, give our giant board of Torrential Gearhulks haste, and smash our opponent for somewhere around 500 damage (or technically even more if we get super lucky), all for just resolving a single creature!

That's the plan of the deck, and it's pretty hilarious when it goes off, which oddly happens more than you'd probably expect. I started off playing the deck in unranked because I was at the top of Diamond on Magic Arena and was afraid it would be one of those Against the Odds decks that would lose 20 times before doing something cool and kill our chances at hitting Mythic. But the deck performed well enough that I figured we might as well give it a go at ranked. So, I played a bunch of matches with it at Diamond 1, and while I didn't manage to rank up with it, I also didn't lose rank. The deck managed to tread water, winning almost exactly 50% of the time against pretty high level competition. I'm not saying the deck is great or anything, but the combo is consistent and powerful enough that it actually works more often than it probably should.

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Oh yeah, this is assuming you are playing best-of-one. I wouldn't even want to try this deck in best-of-three because popular sideboard graveyard hate cards like Rest in Peace, Leyline of the Void, and Tormod's Crypt just ruin our day. If our graveyard gets wiped, our backup plan is attacking with Satyr Wayfinders and Champion of Wits, which isn't especially realistic. Because there are several popular graveyard decks running around (like Greasefang combo or even Dredge), pretty much every best-of-three player will have at least some graveyard hate in their sideboard, which will make it really hard for us to win games two or three. On the other hand, you rarely run into graveyard hate in best-of-one, making it the perfect place to pull off our janky combo.

And that's how you can make 500 hasty power by resolving a single creature! Second Harvest is a super-sweet card. If you have other ideas of how we could combo around it, make sure to let me know in the comments! Maybe we'll play another Second Harvest brew in the future. Thanks for watching everyone. I hoped you enjoyed it, and as always, you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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