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Saturday, July 14, 2018

A Style for Each – Combo

October 31, 2011 by  
Filed under FAQ, In-Depth FAQ


Hi and welcome back for yet another article of the 3 Major Archetypes. Thank you for staying with us for so long. Last article we looked at the Pros and Cons of Control. This infamous Archetype is known best for forcing everyone at the table for playing longer games (EDH games could be long enough already since there are so many players, and now you endure even longer games O,o~!!!!) So with Control, you will be buying yourself time with Counterspells, Denial and Disruption. Controlling what your opponents can play, denying them or slowing them down and disrupting their development while you gain the board advantage and then ending them off with your kill con. Be warned though that you will eventually be the biggest target in the group as you gain the board advantage. For today article, we will be looking at the last of the Major Archetypes – Combo.



It Doesn’t Matter How You Get There As Long As You Get There


For normal variant, Combo is all about holding your opponent at bay while assembling your combo pieces. Life points is usually not a consideration here since once you had assembled all the combo pieces, you will win the game. It is a bit different for EDH as compared to normal variant though. Since cards are restricted to only one per deck except for basic lands, the chance of drawing into that one Combo is much harder. Therefore this Archetype will usually fill the deck with search cards (Tutors) if the Combo is vital to winning for the deck. This will greatly make the process of assembling the combo pieces faster and easier. Unless there are many cards linking up to the Combo, it is usually and most commonly integrated into every EDH decks by just putting the combo pieces there. Since a full deck is 99+1, it is possible to put the combo pieces among the 99 cards with no Tutors at all to search them out. You don’t have to always attempt to pull off the combo but could use it if it happens to pop up in your hand. So you could say that for the Play Style Combo, it is like a splashable theme for all decks as long as you have the color to support it. Some decks may even pack up to two, three or even more combos in it. As such, this Play Style is the most flexible in EDH since it is mainly a sub theme to most decks. The following are some Tutors which you could use if you want to go all out Combo:-

  • Academy Rector / Lost Auramancers – Enchantment Tutors with legs. Both are Creatures your opponent may not want to kill for fear of the Enchantments you are going to bring onto the battlefield
  • Artificer’s Intuition – Good repetitive search for cogs (1cc Artifacts) combo pieces
  • Citanul Flute / Fauna Shaman / Survival of the Fittest – All of these allow you to search for creatures repeatedly for Creatures based combos
  • Demonic Tutor / Diabolic Tutor / Grim Tutor / Imperial Seal / Vampiric Tutor – Best Tutors of the lot. If search engine is needed, these are the cards to go for and most commonly seen if your Color Identity could support them. Otherwise Planar Portal, although mana intensive, could be used and (again) repetitively
  • Enlightened Tutor – Consider the most effective white tutor as most combo pieces are either Artifacts or Enchantments. Could also double as a solution Tutor as well
  • Hoarding Dragon / Sphinx Summoner – Artifact Tutor plus creature in one card
  • Idyllic Tutor / Sterling Grove – Enchantment Tutors. Sterling Grove has the added effect of protecting your Enchantments combo pieces on the battlefield if needed to
  • Kuldotha Forgemaster – Provides you a creature in addition to being a Tutor as well. Also could be repetitive if your deck is Artifact heavy
  • Tezzeret the Seeker – As helpful as an extra player by your side, this Planeswalker is a very powerful Tutor if your deck is Artifact heavy
  • Transmute cards – All cards with the Transmute ability are recommended for acting as an extra Tutor in the deck. Most notable fact is that these cards have the advantage of being uncounterable by normal Counterspells. Some of the Transmute cards worth mentioning are as follows:-
Tolaria West Transmute for 0cc Normally a Tutor for Lands and occasionally for 0cc cards. If not needed to Tutor can be played as a Land as well
Muddle the Mixture Transmute for 2cc Could be used as Counterspell if not needed as a Tutor
Dimir House Guard Transmute for 4cc Extra creature if not needed as a Tutor
Grozoth Transmute for 9cc Highest Transmute so far. Crazy mana intensive Combo with Myojin of Life’s Web that is if you could hard casted BOTH of them….
  • Trinket Mage / Treasure Mage – Another two functionally same cards. These two work on both ends of the casting cost curve. Both have the benefit of providing you an extra creature after casting them


As mentioned earlier, cards drawing could also be used to help assemble your Combo pieces. What you are looking for here are not just spells which only draws you one or two cards but three or more cards. If the spell only draws you one card, it had to comes with some other effect or add on to your board advantage. Here a rough idea of the kind of cards you could use:-


If you had decided to just draw into your Combo, you could use cards which could manipulate your library to improve your future draws. EDH decks are huge that just by drawing your deck or as some called it Top Deck Mode is going to be hard to get to your Combo. This method could also be used in other Archetype too. Some of the famous cards used are as follows:-

  • Scroll Rack – By itself, this Artifact mainly replaces your hand for possible better cards from your library top. But if you are able to shuffle your library, it could increases your chance of getting better cards
  • Sensei’s Divining Top – A free Brainstorm every turn. Low cc and easily accessible for any decks. Like Scroll Rack, Sensei’s Divining Top also works better if you could repeatedly shuffle your library as you desire
  • Soothsaying – A more mana intensive Sensei’s Divining Top which could dig deeper as your mana increases. Extra ability to shuffle library when needed
  • Sylvan Library – A free Sensei’s Divining Top every turn which nets you up to two extra cards if you really need those cards. Remember Life Points is not a factor here if your combo will win you the game when assembled


If you never assemble the pieces, you do not win. It is as simple as that. If your deck is totally dependent on that combo to win, you might lose the game while trying to get there. And Combo always has a hard time against decks with heavy Counterspells and Disruption, meaning Control is its arch nemesis. Also decks which could put up an early pressure and keeping it coming have a good matchup too against Combo too, since Combo will be dealing with the pressure most of the time instead of assembling the combo pieces. To counteract all these, some means of controls could be used to control your opponents, identical to Control, to buy yourself the time needed to dig for the combo pieces.


Generals of Choice:

  • Sharuum the Hegemon: – Versatile Color Identity of the 3 best colors for good Tutors to search for combo pieces along with control and disruption to protect your combo and buy yourself the time to activate your combo. Helps to assemble the combo if it is Artifact based by bringing them back from the graveyard.

  • Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind: – Color Identity for Counter-Burn theme which has Blue for control and Red for damage. General also packs the combo with Curiosity & Ophidian Eye which when activated, could deals damage equal to the amount of cards you could draw. Card advantage could also be gained this way to draw into any other combos you might pack in the deck.

  • Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker: – Commander has the power to abuse creatures with “Enters the Battlefield”  and “Leaves the Battlefield” effects.

  • Azami, Lady of Scrolls: – Color Identity of Blue allows for heavy control to protect your combo. Added Wizard tribal theme also allows you to draw into your combo with little search in your deck, opening up card slots for other cards.


Due to the restriction rule of EDH, Combo is not the same as normal variant. As such, Combo is usually incorporated into decks as a mini win con instead of the main win con. There can sometimes be more than one combo in a deck. Tutors and Draw Engine are used to assemble your combo as usual with some control and disruption to ensure your combo goes through.


With that we have come to close with the 3 Major Archetypes, we hope you now have a better understanding on how to each Play Style works. Next, we shall begin to introduce you to the many Little Countries of Sub Themes.


This is yours truly, Edward “Reaper King” Leong, signing off.



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  1. […] back fellow EDH-ers. Hope you guys didn’t waited too long for this. As mentioned last article, we will now begin to introduce the other Sub Themes Play Styles starting with this week article. […]