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This Combo took 13 Years to come together | Brewer's Kitchen

Well, hello there! Brewer’s Kitchen here, with another quick and spicy gameplay video and decktech article. If you haven’t yet, I strongly suggest checking out the video first. Even though I show most of the deck in the video, this article will go a little bit deeper into the lines of play and synergies of the deck. 

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The Gameplan 

You’ve seen the title, this is a combo deck (big surprise in a Brewer’s Kitchen video, I know). And not just one of these highly synergistic interactions that are printed in the same set like Witch's Oven and Cauldron Familiar. These two combo pieces waited 14 years to find each other. One card comes all the way back from Saviors of Kamigawa (2005), the third set of the original Kamigawa block. The other piece of the puzzle got printed 13 years later in Dominaria (2018). 

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Torgaar, Famine Incarnate and Hidetsugu's Second Rite. One card sets a player’s life total to exactly 10. The other one deals 10 damage to a player with exactly 10 life. It almost seems too on the nose when you put the cards next to each other and to be fair, the original Heartless Hidetsugu already did something similar (although way less consistent, slower, and more mana intensive). 
Now that we know the combo, we just need a shell to play it in. Since we have to sacrifice creatures to reduce Torgaar’s casting cost, aristocrats is the way to go. We mostly run creatures that want do die and payoffs for when they do. Full playsets of Eyetwitch and Shambling Ghast make sure we can start setting up our gameplan on turn one. 

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Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia and Sedgemoor Witch will supply us with an additional supply of disposable bodies. Besides sacrificing them to cheapen the cost of our combo, we also run a full playset of Village Rites and Deadly Dispute to dig deeper into our deck. 

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If all this value isn’t enough, Morbid Opportunist will draw us a card whenever the first creature dies each turn. Curving Jadar into an Opportunist will work as a very solid engine, creating and decaying a zombie token and drawing a card for it every turn. Lolth, Spider Queen pretty much does it all in this deck: She creates spider token to sacrifice, gains loyalty whenever our creatures die, and draws cards when we’re looking for action. With our treasure production from Shambling Ghast and Deadly Dispute, we can usually play her before turn five. (Liliana, Dreadhorde General is a solid replacement in case you’re missing the wildcards for Lolth). 

We also play two copies of Kalain, Reclusive Painter. Her only purpose is to create a treasure while being a body to sacrifice. Earlier versions of this deck (I’ve been brewing with this list since the first Historic Anthology) played Wily Goblin which was harder to cast with worse stats. While Kalain is an improvement, I’d love to have something along the lines of Prosperous Innkeeper here. Once a new one/two-drop in Rakdos colors gets printed, it will replace the reclusive painter right away. But for now, she does her job of speeding up the combo for one turn well enough. 

The deck basically plays a classic aristocrats game until it gets an opportunity to pull off the combo. Even though Hidetsugu's Second Rite is an instant, the opponent has a window to react to it. If they can gain or lose life at instant speed, the spell will just fizzle. We have to be mindful of how we sequence the combo. If we are sure that the opponent’s deck has no way to manipulate their life total, we can play Torgaar, pass the turn and blast them for 10 the next turn. If we expect them to have interaction, it’s wise to wait for the right moment to pull it all off in one turn. 
Theoretically, the deck has a reasonable chance to pull off a turn four/five win if we have both combo pieces. For these, we need a mix of cheap creatures and card advantage to find our pieces. Just like in Standard, Shambling Ghast on turn one to sacrifice it with Deadly Dispute on turn two is a good way to get ahead on resources. Ghast into Jadar into sacrifice everything to play Torgaar on three into Second Rite on turn four is as fast as we can go. While there are several combinations of cards in this deck to pull this off, you have to keep in mind that your opponent could always burn themselves in response to the Rite, so don’t get too focused on being as fast as possible and try to wait for the right moment.  

 Plan B

Besides being able to play a relatively solid grindy game with our aristocrat gameplan by itself, our combo pieces both have a secondary use by themselves. 
Torgaar, Famine Incarnate can cost the opponent inane amounts of life if they play the popular lifegain archetype. If they spent their resources on gaining a lot of life, it will negate all of this in one swoop. The real plan B of the card is targeting ourselves, though. It might sound counter intuitive at first but setting the life total to 10 can be a real life saver. If a burn deck has spent most their resources lowering it close to zero, Torgaar will provide a chunky blocker and buffers our life total. 
Playing a whole playset of Hidetsugu's Second Rite will lead to us having it in hand in situations where we are far off from pulling off the combo. This basically means we are only racing our opponent to 10 instead of 0 life, though. With our numerous low powered creatures, we can beat them down to exactly 10 pretty easily and then hit them with the Rite while they are least expecting it. 
The Mana Base
While I usually don’t spend much time on my mana bases in my articles, this one has some interesting inclusions worth talking about. We play 23 lands and 2 modal double-faced land/spells in Agadeem's Awakening. We usually play this on the spell side to reanimate the creatures we sacrificed. While being amazing in every deck, we can make especially good use of the new Channel lands from Neon Dynasty. Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance creates disposable creatures to sacrifice, Takenuma, Abandoned Mire can return sacrificed creatures or find Torgaar in our top three cards of the deck. Phyrexian Tower is a sacrifice outlet on a land that ramps. It’s almost perfect in this deck. The fact that it only taps for colorless on its own can be punishing, though. We only run one Tower, but it really helps us combo as quickly as possible. 

Wrap Up

As usual: This deck is not meant for top-tier competitive play. It has the potential to combo off on turn four but can be stopped very easily in various ways. That being said, it’s very fun to play. You’ll probably be surprised about how many opponents get got by a Hidetsugu's Second Rite out of nowhere.
If you have questions or ideas for this or any other deck, you can reach me on Twitter @Brewers_Kitchen or at

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