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Thread: [Discussion] Combo Summer- Coming Soon?

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    [Discussion] Combo Summer- Coming Soon?

    History
    When the format first had a separate list from Vintage everyone feared the dreaded "Combo Winter of 2004" that never came. Deck lists were untuned and just not strong enough to compete in the metagame; many of which ran four Diminishing Returns, Helm of Awakening, and Goblin Charbelcher which were terrible in the metagame. This lead combo to sit on the backburners of the format with its prized deck Nausea created by Evil Roopey in the open forums. Nausea was an alright combo deck for its time but was never broken or strong enough to break through the barriers of tier two.
    About a year later a deck that was based on Ill-Gotten Gains came out called "Iggy Pop" created by Michael Bomholt (Bomholmm), this deck with the addition of the newly printed Infernal tutor was strong enough to take down those barriers. "Iggy Pop" did very well at large events such as GP Philly and Worlds. "Iggy Pop" rained champion of Tendrils based combo for a long while, there was other combo around but wasn't very tuned. About six to eight months later the sets Coldsnap and Timespiral were printed.
    Coldsnap and Timespiral gave combo cards necessary to handle control and give combo the edge it had been waiting for all along. The card Rite of Flame was printed it was the second best 'Ritual' effect in the game since Dark Ritual. This card allowed combo to "combo off" more reliably and quickly in the opening turns of the game. The next card to help combo dramatically is a card called Empty the Warrens, this card is was put combo over the edge. Combo could now run multiple win conditions that killed in a timely manner, dodge hate cards like Meddling Mage, and kill with opposite cards to avoid hate for the other win condition.
    A deck called "The EPIC Storm" created by Bryant Cook (Wastedlife) would soon break the surface using cards from these new sets. "The EPIC Storm" and "Iggy Pop" would soon start competing to be "the combo deck" of the format. Soon after this "The EPIC Storm" took first place at The Mana Leak Open in Stratford Connecticut piloted by its creator. "The EPIC Storm" would soon break another barrier of being the first ritual based combo deck to break the LMF in over two years.
    With the release of the next set Planar Chaos combo gained another powerful tool in the card Simian Spirit Guide, all combo decks alike could abuse it but very few did. With Simian Spirit Guides addition to combo, Belcher lists flourished out of nowhere and a team from Canada would make a list called "CRET Belcher". This list was piloted to a second place finish at Kadilak's Dual Land Draft Three in Baldwinsville New York by Brian Diefendorf (Ewokslayer).
    Then Flash Happened.

    The Decks
    Iggy Pop
    The EPIC Storm (TES)
    CRET Belcher
    Spanish Inquisition (SI)

    Combo Summer

    Many people believe that these combo decks will dominate the metagame in the summer of 2007, much like the hype of "Combo Winter in 2004". But is this hype? Combo has been performing the best it has ever been in the format currently, for the first time we have a format that somewhat resembles a rock, paper, scissors format. Is combo summer healthy? Many believe that combo being this powerful is bad for the format and will make players withdraw from Legacy. I believe this is the healthiest Legacy has ever been. I said it, "Combo is healthy for the format." With combo in the format, it brings the best deck in the format (Goblins) down to reality and shoves it on its ass. While combo is for the first time at its peak, it's not overly powerful. The "Aggrocontrol" deck of the format still goes near 50/50 with each and every one of these combo decks.

    The Big Question
    Will "Combo Summer of 2007" happen? Combo now has all the right tools to be successful for the first time in the format. Many people believe that combo is unhealthy for the format and should have certain pieces such as Empty the Warrens or Lion's Eye Diamond banned. While I disagree to this due to the fact that it allows the format to evolve and make changes much like a healthy format should, many other people believe the opposite. The format has dealt with many powerful things and has adapted to deal with them such as Goblin Lackey and Flash. It's not like either card mentioned is unstoppable or utterly broken to the point a large part of the metagame is unplayable. Lets face it, little Timmy's elf deck wasn't competitive before Empty the Warrens; why would it be now? Combo is still a small portion of the metagame, and will always remain a decent but small portion of it.

    Thank you for reading, and please discuss.

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    Re: [Discussion] Combo Summer- Coming Soon?

    Quote Originally Posted by wastedlife View Post
    History
    Combo has been performing the best it has ever been in the format currently, for the first time we have a format that somewhat resembles a rock, paper, scissors format. Is combo summer healthy? Many believe that combo being this powerful is bad for the format and will make players withdraw from Legacy.
    The problem with the rock, paper, scissors analogy is that Combo can still beat decks designed to hate on it, and a lot more effectively than Goblins ever could. Combo can go first and have 16 Goblins on the board, a lethal Belcher shot, or a 11 Tendrils of Agony on the stack before you can get a move, and there isn't a consistent way to stop any of this. Even really good hands can bully their way through Force of Will.

    Even if you get a turn, what then? A lot of the storm decks, especially TES, tend to shrug off Duress and Cabal Therapy like they aren't even there. Cards like Hymn to Tourach and Meddling Mage have become too slow, which I think is very bad for the format. Decks are relying on narrow cards like Chalice of the Void simply because it can be played for 0 mana, and 0 mana disruption cards are quickly becoming the only way decks can counteract combo. Four of the biggest anti-combo cards in recent times have been Force of Will, Leyline of the Void, Engineered Explosives, and Chalice of the Void, and Tormod's Crypt isn't far behind. All of which can be played for 0 mana.

    I believe that combo is too fast and will drive players out of this format very quickly. The possibility of dying before getting a turn fills a lot of players with a sense of futility and resentment towards the format. Everyone I know around in Birmingham would rather face Goblins than any combo deck because with Goblins, decks have a shot without dedicating 12-20 maindeck slots to fighting it.

    Combo being as powerful as it is now is bad for the format.

    Will "Combo Summer of 2007" happen? Combo now has all the right tools to be successful for the first time in the format. Many people believe that combo is unhealthy for the format and should have certain pieces such as Empty the Warrens or Lion's Eye Diamond banned. While I disagree to this due to the fact that it allows the format to evolve and make changes much like a healthy format should, many other people believe the opposite. The format has dealt with many powerful things and has adapted to deal with them such as Goblin Lackey and Flash. It's not like either card mentioned is unstoppable or utterly broken to the point a large part of the metagame is unplayable.
    Flash was banned. Because it made the game unfun and very often people didn't even get a turn. It hit that "Nothing I could do about it" nerve that a lot of people get, correct or not.

    Lackey is a 1/1. Lackey can be dealt with by countless cards. Lackey can also be completely ignored by most combo decks, as well as decks packing anti-aggro locks like Solitary Confinement, or decks packing board sweepers by Pyroclasm. Lackey doesn't win the game if he succeeds. Combo decks win the game if they succeed.

    Comparing the two for any reason beyond them being the two cards that made the most impact on Legacy is absurd.

    Lion's Eye Diamond has had the third heaviest impact of any card in Legacy. It's fueled Gamekeeper Salvagers, Iggy Pop, Epic Storm, and countless other decks including modern Dredge decks. But it's arguable that it's not the culprit, and I don't think it is. Like all the other accelerants, it can cause severe problems, but none of the accelerants on their own are the problem. The problem is when they all get piled together.

    The culprits are Empty the Warrens and to a lesser degree, Burning Wish.

    Empty the Warrens is the single strongest Storm card ever printed. It's also the single strongest kill condition legal in Legacy right now. Tendrils may kill you instantly, but it takes double black and needs a storm count of 9 to do it. Brain Freeze decks you, but needs multiple copies or a storm count of 15-17. Empty the Warrens can put you in a game state most decks can't recover from with a storm count of only 4-6, which is ridiculous. This means it can do it without any tutoring or drawing, off only the opening hand. Whereas Lackey can be dealt with by fast and good cards like Swords to Plowshares, Lightning Bolt, and so forth, a quick Empty the Warrens requires you have a 1-2 mana boardsweeper, and very few of those exist. Engineered Explosives, Punishment, Powder Keg, Sandstorm, and Rain of Blades are the big guns here, but none short of possibly EE has comparable strength to the Lackey answers.

    Burning Wish is the strongest tutor in Legacy, and in large part it's Burning Wish's fault (And slightly less so for Infernal Tutor) that Lion's Eye Diamond gets such a bad rep. Burning Wish gives combo decks insane resiliency and consistency, though this is not as large of a problem as the sheer speed of the combo decks.

    Combo Summer 2007 will probably happen to a minor degree, but it'll get worse in the Fall. Empty the Warrens will be the chief culprit with Burning Wish as its partner-in-crime, but it's ETW who will ultimately be the most responsible for the downfall of the metagame.

    Quote Originally Posted by majikal View Post
    Damn it, Taco, that exactly sums up my opinion on the matter. I need to buy you a beer for that post.

  3. #3

    Re: [Discussion] Combo Summer- Coming Soon?

    none of those decks shrug off duress like it wasn't there. Occasionally, they will topdeck right back into the card they needed to combo off, but often it can buy you a turn or two, which may be all you need to get more vital disruption online.

    Although I did duress an iggy player turn 1 on the play once, and he did have a duress proof hand. That was gay, but there's nothing you can do about it.


    As far as a combo summer, I wouldn't be at all surprised. Goblins will still always be a dominant deck, although it may have trouble with the combo matchups, if the format shifts heavily towards combo and anti-combo, goblins will be a solid choice to wreck the anti-combo decks.

    Realistically, empty the warrens may be too powerful for the format, but it's way too early to tell.
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  4. #4

    Re: [Discussion] Combo Summer- Coming Soon?

    I feel like many people have a preoccupation with hating combo. People dont like combo because it means that aggro decks without disruption are pretty much useless but I didnt hear much crying when goblins pretty much forced out blue based control. I think it all comes down to people not wanting to change with thier environment. People get comfortable with a certain style of deck being playable and when that is disrupted they get upset. I think combo getting better is good for the metagame because as stated earlier it pushs goblins back to just being a good deck and it means that control can play. With combo getting better it also means that legacy is going to start looking more like vintage and will become more so as more sets arrive. I think its ok as long as it doesnt speed up the format too much and every so often it happens but I think having combo decks that can win consistently on turn 3 is not bad afterall combo wouldnt be any good if it couldnt at least outrace aggressive decks in the format.
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    Re: [Discussion] Combo Summer- Coming Soon?

    Combo is becoming more consistent, and now has stronger tools to fight aggro-control, control, and even the combo mirror.

    Bryant, that's a great piece. Now that I think about it, every player, whether they're playing aggro, tempo, stax, or any other combo deck, expect to hate on it. I cant think of very much to hate on combo when they have so much flexibility in the form of Burning Wish (or Living Wish if you're playing Golden Grahams). Being able to answer cards like Null Rod, while forcing them to answer so many must-counters is deadly, but in a deck with a faster goldfish is basically saying "Hi, I'm Combo. I'm Vial Goblins with a faster goldfish and a hot fallback girilfriend (Empty the Warrens, not really, but since it wins, it's hot).

    Goblins was able to employ this strategy of answering certain cards while forcing them to be on the edge of the fence. Siding in Tranquil Domain while still playing crap like Matron to find Goblin King(s) and Ringleaders to slowly leverage itself until it can find Domain is quite deadly, considering the fact you have to answer the threats more often than the answers to your answers. In short, reflect that with decks like TES.
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    Re: [Discussion] Combo Summer- Coming Soon?

    I don't think Combo is too good at this point in time.

    I agree with the statement that Combo is alot like Goblins- it makes people play good cards, and competitive decks.

    Hell, most of the hate against Combo isn't that narrow or is good against other decks such as Stifle, Pyroclasm, Engineered Explosives, Chalice of the Void, Tormod's Crypt, Pithing Needle, etc. And the one card I don't want to see when I'm playing Combo is Stifle. God that card is so fucking nuts right now.

    What I see happening with the increase of decks like TES and Belcher is the rise of Control decks that beat said decks and the decks that prey upon them, Threshold and its ilk.

    I believe that the Legacy metagame is incredibly diverse and healthy. Great piece, btw.
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    Re: [Discussion] Combo Summer- Coming Soon?

    I actually prey for said winter, as I know we all know that combo is getting more and more consistant and faster... lets face it people, the turn shifted from 3-4 to a CONSISTANT 1-2 kill. TES and SI love to go first turn with a lethal storm count and make you cry... but if these decks weren't any good, would there be any fun at the table for either player (the pilot of said combo & his opponent).

    no one likes to be playing the 'draw go game', whether it be the combo deck that just fizzled or the control deck that forced them to 'fizzle'.

    Combo decks need to be good, so control players an have a challenge and aggro players don't have a prayer... that said, looks like I am going to be playing landstill for this combo meta comming up!
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    Re: [Discussion] Combo Summer- Coming Soon?

    Quote Originally Posted by thefreakaccident View Post
    Combo decks need to be good, so control players an have a challenge and aggro players don't have a prayer... that said, looks like I am going to be playing landstill for this combo meta comming up!
    This is absurd. You can't possibly make an argument for the health of the metagame by completely eliminating an archetype of deck. What you have basically stated is a wish that only two decks exist: Overpowered combo, and decks with overpowered combo in their sights. This was what we had when Flash was legal.

    I am all for the health of combo. I think Combo was healthy and has been healthy from the inception of Legacy up until the printing of Empty the Warrens. I feel like Empty the Warrens is the only real culprit that is too strong for the format. It sets up too many situations, far moreso than any other card, where an opponent's game is all but over before his first turn, barring a few nonversatile cards targeted specifically to hate on it. With it gone, combo is still quite strong and versatile and capable of succeeding at large tournaments, as decks like Solidarity, Gamekeeper Salvagers, and Iggy Pop all proved many times on large scales.

    In addition to being all for the health of combo, I am also for the health of aggro, control, and all balances between the three. I think Legacy up until Time Spiral was the healthiest a format has ever been. No true tier one deck existed, although goblins earned that reputation.

    After a lot of analysis, I recant anything I ever said about banning LED. I think Lion's Eye Diamond is one of the thirteen most important cards for Legacy being a healthy format. (The others I intend to write an article for soon, if I can find a site that will publish it.)

    Quote Originally Posted by majikal View Post
    Damn it, Taco, that exactly sums up my opinion on the matter. I need to buy you a beer for that post.

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    Re: [Discussion] Combo Summer- Coming Soon?

    Quote Originally Posted by thefreakaccident View Post

    no one likes to be playing the 'draw go game',
    But people like to play the game in which only one player gets a turn? You can't really use the "fun" argument, since fun in Magic lies in the challenge posed by gameplay interaction. Sure, some fun lies in winning--but winning gets old fast for everyone involved when you win so fast that nobody has a chance.


    With regards to combo, I largely agree with Tacosnape: I'm not too happy with the insane power that it can have, given (especially) EtW (actually, the most frustrating thing is Belcher, since you really have to guess when laying out the hate, due to the dual strategy--same goes for TES and some IggyPop builds, but to a lesser extent since those at least use Storm options to kill), but it's certainly nowhere near as bad as in the Flash days. I find playing against combo to be a chore, really, but that's just my own opinion. I like the fact that it currently has a strong presence in the generalized internet metagame (since it's one aspect of a healthy[ier] format), but I wouldn't want to see it come to dominate. I'd certainly like to see more non-blue (read: non-Stifle) solutions to storm combo, but that's a very tight rope to walk (print hate, and you force combo to adapt so that it becomes even more out of reach). All in all, I can definitely live with a TES/Belcher/etc. combo presence in Legacy.

  10. #10

    Re: [Discussion] Combo Summer- Coming Soon?

    And the one card I don't want to see when I'm playing Combo is Stifle. God that card is so fucking nuts right now.
    Seconded. Combo is not that hard to beat if you use the right cards. Hint: not graveyard hate and not discard.

    IMO Combo is balanced. If anything, I think aggro control might be getting too strong. Preboard, combo may be 50/50 with aggro control, but postboard, aggro control sides in versatile cards like Stifle and Meddling Mage and gains the advantage. But does the fact that aggro control needs to sideboard combo hate imply that combo is too powerful? No, because aggro control decks are now capable of beating aggro decks without much sideboard help.

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    Re: [Discussion] Combo Summer- Coming Soon?

    I think Combo is balanced, too. But it may have to do with me playing mostly AggroControl decks. I'd like to ask/ state 1 more thing. Over here where I live in southern Germany there is way less Combo around. I mean we get occationally combo decks but usually the people playing them don't know them really and so screw up a lot. We have lots of AggroControl of all kind though, its not like you can play the combo and rule. Maybe if you are an expert. I think a lot of the more casual players, that we have quite some don't like playing combo at all. I guess what I'm trying to say is: Do you think Combo is underrepresented in the whole meta? I think over here it is and I'd like to know if it is really played that much in the states.
    All combo loses quite a bit of its strength if you dont play it often, even if its only to know your mulligans, so that keeps it in check here i guess.
    Last edited by steffri666; 06-13-2007 at 07:34 AM. Reason: les(bian) combo? no thankx it is less Combo

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    Re: [Discussion] Combo Summer- Coming Soon?

    It's already happening in Vintage, with combo all over the place (well, much more than the usual, anyway). With combo decks becoming easier and easier to play (e.g. tap 2 islands, cast Flash, win) or mulliganing into Bazaar, more people are picking it up.

    In Legacy, the combo decks have been going through major tuning for the past few months (right before Flash), and the pilots have been gaining a lot of experience with their decks that it's just a matter of time before "combo <insert season here>" just jumps into the picture.
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    Re: [Discussion] Combo Summer- Coming Soon?

    I think that the printing of Empty the Warrens wasn't unhealthy for the format. It made combo much better but this must be a general evolution in every eternal format. With the printing of more and more new cards combo is simply the archetype taking most advantage of that. Furthermore the rise of combo is good for the formats reputation as it is more or less" aggro only" atm. So with the rise of combo goblins will become less dominating.

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    Re: [Discussion] Combo Summer- Coming Soon?

    Expanding on Muradin's point, Wizards has taken the stance that Blue is too good (in general). In making their corrections to this theory, they've printed pretty specific hosers to the traditional blue-based control deck (Aether Vial, for instance), and at the same time, not really done anything to slow the combo deck down. They've shifted the mana accel color to red, which really means nothing to Eternal Magic, and continued to print interesting combo pieces for the Johnny's in Standard to play with. The thing is, those interesting combos in Standard are BUSTED in Eternal. There really is no clear cut solution to this. If they make control strong in Standard, we either get some stuff for our control decks or combo gets control cards (Remand). If they make "fair" combo cards, we get crazy ones (Empty the Warrens). And of course, any aggro card sucks if it isn't Creature - Goblin (Char).

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    Re: [Discussion] Combo Summer- Coming Soon?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare View Post
    And of course, any aggro card sucks if it isn't Creature - Goblin (Char).
    Ye of little rememberence. What about Dark Confidant, Watchwolf, Lightning Helix, Boros Swiftblade, Umezawa's Jitte?!?!, Jotun Grunt, Serra Avenger. Aggro has had a decent benefit from Ravnica Block-on, anyway Mare, the format's aggro portion is not all about 'Creature - Goblin'.
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    Re: [Discussion] Combo Summer- Coming Soon?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tacosnape View Post
    I am all for the health of combo. I think Combo was healthy and has been healthy from the inception of Legacy up until the printing of Empty the Warrens. I feel like Empty the Warrens is the only real culprit that is too strong for the format. It sets up too many situations, far moreso than any other card, where an opponent's game is all but over before his first turn, barring a few nonversatile cards targeted specifically to hate on it. With it gone, combo is still quite strong and versatile and capable of succeeding at large tournaments, as decks like Solidarity, Gamekeeper Salvagers, and Iggy Pop all proved many times on large scales.
    The main problem I have with this is look at the three combo decks you listed, each of of them is balls slow and loses to a turn 2 Meddling Mage. Combo was very fragile before Empty the Warrens, Empty the Warrens gave combo the the tool it needed to be able to survive Meddling Mage. If a person continues to run Meddling Mage thinking thats all they need for combo they will lose. Combo isn't saying dedicate 15 card sideboards for us, it's simply saying don't be afraid to adapt and make change. Pyroclasm and Enginneered Explosives are both great answers that work against multiple other decks in the format such as Goblins, Threshold, Zoo decks and many others. You don't have to run blue to beat combo either, Hell, last saturday I lost to Ichorid playing TES. With combo on the rise people should make change, being terribbly afraid and dedicating too much is a problem but an Enginneered Explosives in the maindeck won't kill anyone. Its a card every color far and wide can run and its a cheap answer.
    Last edited by Bryant Cook; 06-13-2007 at 11:50 AM.

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    Re: [Discussion] Combo Summer- Coming Soon?

    Quote Originally Posted by Watcher487 View Post
    Ye of little rememberence. What about Dark Confidant, Watchwolf, Lightning Helix, Boros Swiftblade, Umezawa's Jitte?!?!, Jotun Grunt, Serra Avenger. Aggro has had a decent benefit from Ravnica Block-on, anyway Mare, the format's aggro portion is not all about 'Creature - Goblin'.
    You're kidding yourself. Confidant has seen more success as a combo piece or control piece than in aggro. Watchwolf, Swiftblade and Helix are all fine in Zoo, but Zoo isn't remotely as good as Goblins. Jitte is a good card, I'll give you that, but it's on the high end of power level, for sure. Grunt and Avenger are both better in Aggro-control than aggro. We can debate the differences between aggro and aggro-control if you want, but pure aggro strategies that aren't Goblins (which isn't even a pure aggro strategy, but comes closest in tier 1) have little significance in Eternal Formats.

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    Re: [Discussion] Combo Summer- Coming Soon?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare View Post
    You're kidding yourself. Confidant has seen more success as a combo piece or control piece than in aggro. Watchwolf, Swiftblade and Helix are all fine in Zoo, but Zoo isn't remotely as good as Goblins. Jitte is a good card, I'll give you that, but it's on the high end of power level, for sure. Grunt and Avenger are both better in Aggro-control than aggro. We can debate the differences between aggro and aggro-control if you want, but pure aggro strategies that aren't Goblins (which isn't even a pure aggro strategy, but comes closest in tier 1) have little significance in Eternal Formats.
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    The only 2 non-Goblin aggro decks placed... 1st and 2nd. Pure aggro is an archtype that is truly underrated in this format. Everyone thinks it's just Goblins and Thresh has too many big critters to stop Aggro. Well the wake up call is that, this is not true. Non-Goblin Aggro is good in this format, it's just that no one will play the decks since they haven't 'placed'.
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    Re: [Discussion] Combo Summer- Coming Soon?

    Quote Originally Posted by Watcher487 View Post
    The only 2 non-Goblin aggro decks placed... 1st and 2nd. Pure aggro is an archtype that is truly underrated in this format. Everyone thinks it's just Goblins and Thresh has too many big critters to stop Aggro. Well the wake up call is that, this is not true. Non-Goblin Aggro is good in this format, it's just that no one will play the decks since they haven't 'placed'.
    Aside from the fact that you've shown a single event as your evidence, and I can quote every other event as mine, it's pretty well known your deck (since fundamentally, we're debating the relevancy of your deck, not the archetype) has game vs. Goblins. There were three Goblin decks in that same T8. Day 1 was won by a combo deck. Day 2 was 26 decks that preyed on Combo decks getting beat by decks that ignored their combo matchup. It was a good metagame call. That doesn't mean it's relevant in the overall format trend discussion.

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    Re: [Discussion] Combo Summer- Coming Soon?

    Although I'm a huge fan of excellent opening posts to spark relevant discussion, I wish Bryant had mentioned Solidarity. Where does that fall into the picture of the possible combo-summer? I think that it at least deserved mentioning in the History of Combo. No?
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