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Much Abrew: Ashiok Combo (Historic Brawl)

Hello, everyone, and welcome to another edition of Much Abrew About Nothing! This week, we're doing some Historic Brawling with one of the most unique and most fun combo decks I've ever built for the format: Ashiok, Wicked Manipulator Combo! The deck's goal is to play Ashiok, which we'll always have access to since it can be our commander, and then pay a ton of life to exile a ton of cards and hopefully ultimate Ashiok to exile our opponent's entire deck, ideally all in one big combo turn! What absurd things can Ashiok, Wicked Manipulator do in Historic Brawl? How best can we combo with the planeswalker and abuse its unique static ability? Let's get to the video and find out on today's Much Abrew About Nothing!

Much Abrew: Ashiok Combo

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The Deck

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I'm not going to try to discuss every card in our deck—100 singleton cards are just way too much to get through; plus, many of them are generic answers, ramp, and card draw. But I do want to walk through our combo and some of the key synergies of our deck. Our deck is built to try to win the game with Ashiok, Wicked Manipulator, which has a ton of text. It's +1 draw us a card and puts something in exile and it's -2 makes tokens (although this is the mode we use the least, it's mostly for when we are about to die and desperate for some chump blockers), but the two main abilities for our deck are the static and ultimate. The static ability makes it so if we would pay life for something instead we exile that many cards from our library, which is shockingly powerful in conjunction with some other cards we'll talk about in a minute. Meanwhle the ultimate forces our opponent to exile cards equal to the total mana value of cards we own in exile. As such, our primary goal is to play Ashiok, pay a bunch of life (to exile a bunch of cards from our library) and get enough mana value worth of cards in exile that we can ultimate Ashiok to exile our opponents entire deck to win the game by milling them out!

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Since we always have access to Ashiok as our commander, our deck has a few one-card combos that should win us the game if we have Ashiok on the battlefield. The best and most explosive is Bolas's Citadel. It lets us play cards from the top of our library by paying life equal to their mana cost, which is absurd with Ashiok's static ability. Rather than paying life, we simply exile some cards from our deck, which means we can play as many cards as possible with Citadel without worrying about dying. This alone can win us the game by letting us build a massive board for free. But it's even better than that. All of the cards we exile fuel Ashiok, Wicked Manipulator's static ability as well. To win the game with Ashiok's ultimate, we usually need around 80 mana value worth of cards in exile. A single turn of chaining together spells with Bolas's Citadel usually gets us their all by itself.

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Considering that life loss is no longer a concern because of Ashiok's static ability, the only way our Bolas's Citadel fizzles is if we have multiple lands on the top of our library. But we have a bunch of ways to get around this by changing the top card of our library. Cards like Woe Strider and Yawgmoth can sac a creature to either scry away a land or draw it, while Treasure Map, Mazemind Tome, Sunset Pyramid, and friends can also scry away extra lands to help make sure that on the turn we assemble the Ashiok Bolas's Citadel combo, we should be able to play most or even all of our deck!

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To actually win the game, we need to be able to ultimate Ashiok, Wicked Manipulator once we pay a bunch of life and exile a bunch of cards. While we can potentially do this over the course of a couple of turns by ticking up Ashiok, ideally, we'll be able to do it the very turn we play Ashiok with proliferate. Ashiok enters the battlefield with five loyalty, and we need seven for the ultimate. So, if we can proliferate twice, we can –7 Ashiok the turn we play it. Our best proliferate effect is Yawgmoth. We can pay four mana and discard two cards to proliferate Ashiok up to seven in order to ultimate for the win, although Staff of Compleation and Karn's Bastion can also get the job done if we have enough mana.

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As far as backup plans, we can also win in a super-janky way with Catapult Fodder and Phyrexian Processor. With an Ashiok on the battlefield, we can pay all of our life to Phyrexian Processor, which will let us make a 25/25 (assuming we are at our starting life total) each turn. We can then win by either beating down with massive Minions or flipping a Catapult Fodder and throwing the token at our opponent's face for lethal!

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Our deck is overloaded with tutors so we can find our combo pieces. Most of the time, we are tutoring up Bolas's Citadel to combo with Ashiok. But two other cards are worth mentioning because of how they synergize with our commander: Necropotence and Doom Whisperer. Discounting Ashiok, Necro is an absurdly powerful card-advantage engine, and Doom Whisperer is a massive flier that offers some card selection. But the real reason they are in our deck is to combo with Ashiok, Wicked Manipulator. Both cards have activated abilities that cost zero mana and have us pay a life, which means with an Ashiok on the battlefield, we can activate either card a bunch of times to exile our entire deck. If we can get Ashiok, Wicked Manipulator up to seven loyalty so we can ultimate it, either Necropotence or Doom Whisperer is an auto-win, exiling our library to make sure we have more than enough mana value of cards in exile for Ashiok's –7 to exile our opponent's entire deck!


As you probably noticed in the video, the deck is pretty busted. We didn't drop a single match, and I've played a bunch more games with it for fun and only lost a couple of times. It turns out that it's super easy to find Bolas's Citadel (or Necro or Doom Whisperer or whatever else we need to combo) thanks to black's endless tutors. And since we always have access to Ashiok, Wicked Manipulator, we only need to find a single card to start the combo and theoretically win the game. Plus, all of our combo pieces are good cards. Bolas's Citadel and Necropotence are some of the best card-advantage engines black has in Historic Brawl, and even Doom Whisperer is a fine creature, so it's not like we even have to pay a cost by playing a bunch of janky cards to access the combo.

Personally I find the deck super fun to play - it turns out that being able to play your entire deck in one turn is pretty intoxicating - but by the end I started to wonder if the deck is actually too strong, to the point where maybe Ashiok, Wicked Manipulator needs to be put in the "busted commander" bracket alongside things like Golos, Tireless Pilgrim. The other options is to simply power down the deck a bit. I tried to built the most powerful and optimal version possible. If you feel like the deck is too good at comboing off the easiest way to make it fair is simply dropping some (or all) of the tutors. You'll still have the potential for the big combo turns, but you won't be comboing every game (which is essentially how the deck works now since have so many ways to tutor up Bolas's Citadel).

If you are looking for something unique, love Ashiok, or just want to play your entire deck and win in spectacular fashion, give Ashiok, Wicked Manipulator a shot in Historic Brawl! The deck is both super fun and super strong!


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

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