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22 Awesome Old-School Combos in Vintage Masters

Vintage Masters is a throwback to the “Killer Combos” section in Inquest Magazine. It’s a who’s-who of dangerous banned cards from Standard formats past. We will get a brief few weeks to play with these dastardly cards before Khans comes out, and here are some of the coolest combos that come from years of Magic past.

Big thanks to Nat Moes for the idea on this part and apologies for the unavoidably Buzzfeedy title here : ) The Vintage Masters visual spoiler with correct rarities isn’t in the system yet, so I hope you’re cool with the original frames on some of these cards.

Palinchron
High Tide
Stroke of Genius

You’ll see this come back again and again. Get to seven lands and cast High Tide. Tap your remaining six Islands, make twelve mana, cast that ‘Chron and then bounce it. You’ve got one mana left over. Do it again and you’ll make three mana. You can keep doing that until you’ve got a billion mana. What do you do with that? Well, the old school play was to cast Stroke of Genius on your opponent to draw them out of the game. In Vintage Masters, you can use this loop to make a bunch of storm for Brain Freeze, if you’d prefer.

Survival of the Fittest
Recurring Nightmare

OK, this is going to be greedy, but you might open these two cards in your Sealed pool. The concept is simple; you’d use Survival to stock up the graveyard and Recurring Nightmare to pull out all the juicy reanimation targets.

Recurring Nightmare
Palinchron

Noticing a theme? Get up to seven lands and you can also loop Recurring Nightmare infinitely with Palinchron. What to do with all that mana? Can you use it to keep reanimating something else? Maybe a Beetleback Chieftain for a bunch of tokens, perhaps!

Astral Slide
Scrivener
Akroma’s Blessing

There are a bunch of Slide combos, but this is my favorite in the set from the oldschool. Get the Slide out and a Scrivener, then cycle an instant like Blessing. You can slide out that Scrivener and when it comes back, you can grab your Blessing back! You get a free blocker and a card, all for W. With all the cycling lands, I wish Tilling Treefolk were in this set…

Astral Slide
Eternal Dragon

This is an old Onslaught-block special. You can pay a huge pile of mana each turn and get a guaranteed Slide. You can keep your storm combo draft deck – I’ll be happily losing with a first-picked Slide!

Astral Slide
Teroh’s Faithful

Last Slide combo, I promise. Slide lets you rebuy really good ETB effects, and this one was brutal back in Standard. Four life plus a giant butt was big enough, but if you could slide the Faithful once or twice, few opponents could break through.

Frantic Search
Turnabout
High Tide

Again, with enough Islands out, you can really make High Tide sing. Both Turnabout and Frantic Search will net positive mana, and both have a really cool combo with Thawing Glaciers as well. I don’t know if a monoblue deck is worth playing, since you need a bunch of Islands with High Tide to work. But I know I’ll be trying it.

Sea Drake
Bad River

You can target your own land with Sea Drake and then sacrifice that land before it comes into play. This is also really good with Strip Mine, but that’s downright rude to do to someone!

Psychatog
Upheaval

This was the dread combination of Odyssey – Onslaught Standard. Here’s how it would go: you have eight lands in play at the beginning of your turn. You float all of your mana, then cast Upheaval. Then you play a land, drop that Tog and pass the turn. If the opponent can’t kill that ‘Tog, you’ll probably be attacking for lethal the next turn. Yes, a cumbersome combination like this was actually very good because you could orient your entire deck around existing until turn nine. You needed no other kill cards – just Upheaval and some Togs. In the meantime, you could cast Deep Analysis and use counterspells. If the opponent couldn’t kill you before turn nine, you would just Upheaval, undo the entire game up to that point, then kill them.

If you’re worried about them stopping your Tog, you can just wait until you have nine lands in play and do the same stunt. You can then pass the turn with an untapped Island to power up a Circular Logic and stop anything that gets in your way!

Volrath’s Shapeshifter
Silvos, Rogue Elemental

This combination works with any fattie you want to cheat out and it gets even better if you can use Survival of the Fittest to set it all up. The process is simple – just discard the monster and the ‘shifter turns into it.

Yawgmoth’s bargain
Skirge Familiar

Get these two engine cards in play and you get to pay a life to get a black mana and burn through your deck. Just what do you turn that mana into? How about pounding through till you hit a storm card like Tendrils of Agony and rebuying all that life! You can also use this to draw into, and cast, any other combo you have around. Unfortunately, there isn’t much lifegain in the set aside from Tendrils; if you don’t have Tendrils, then Bargain gets a lot worse.

Lion’s Eye Diamond
Demonic Tutor

Just cast the Tutor and use the LED in response – you get three mana to cast your spell and you then get to use the Tutor. LED works with the “in response” trick on a lot, in fact. You can combine it with anything that will get you cards to cast – you can do Deep Analysis, Timetwister, Burning Wish, or the big daddy of ’em all, Yawgmoth’s Will. Cast that Will, use LED, then when Will resolves, replay the LED to get three more mana!

Lion’s Eye Diamond
Arrogant Wurm

Okay, you just want to play fair? How about using LED to cheat Arrogant Wurm out early? You can also use this trick to get Roar of the Wurm in the right place and then cast it on the first tun. The combo gets better if you’ve got some Basking Rootwallas to Madness out, too.

Channel
Kaervek’s Torch

That old Alpha combo is back with a slightly better burn spell. You cast Channel with a life advantage, burn up all your life and then shunt it into that Torch. If you pull it off with a Black Lotus on your first turn, I think you should automatically win the event.

Animate Dead
Worldgorger Dragon

This takes a minute to understand so let me walk ya through it. Get that Dragon into the graveyard somehow. Cast Animate Dead on it. The Aura pulls it up onto the battlefield. The Dragon’s ability exiles it, which means the Dragon dies. The Aura comes back, along with all of your other permanents. You then reanimate the Dragon again and keep the loop going forever. You can make infinite mana and get infinite triggers with your ETB effects. While you probably just want to kill with Kaervek’s Torch, I’d rather use Scrivener looping Ancestral Recall back again and again – targeting the opponent, of course!

Berserk
Psychatog

It’s turn five. That Psychatog attacks. Your opponent counts up the cards in your hand and graveyard, safe in knowing that the Tog can’t get huge. “Just a moment,” you say, as you make it a 10/11 and then cast Berserk on it. This used to be a very potent combo and it can still surprise people!

Fires of Yavimaya
Saproling Burst

This old duo makes a reappearance again, too. With Fires down, you can remove three counters for a trio of 4/4s. On their own, with the bonus haste, they’ll attack for 21 damage. Against the slower decks playing Counterspells or trying to get a combo together, you’ll shred them with these monsters.

Fires of Yavimaya
Blastoderm

Blastoderm gets a free mega-swing with Fires out – it was the other scary end of a Fires sitting on the board, aside from Saproling Burst. You get a full twenty damage from these two cards and you’ll either mash the opponent to death or eat three or four of his best guys!

Tradewind Rider
Deranged Hermit

Tradewind Rider is a great lock piece, but how do you feed him? With an angry squirrel army, of course! If you run out of juicy targets for the Rider – if bouncing a land each turn just isn’t doing it for you – then you can bounce your own Hermit with the Echo on the stack to get another chance at his ETB effect.

Deranged Hermit
Recurring Nightmare

Yes, this is just as absurd as you think it is. Thankfully, it won’t come up that often due to the rarities involved. But it’s essentially 2B: make a bunch of dudes, over and over. If the opponent can’t kill the Nightmare, they’ll be facing the Hermit over and over.

Genesis
Survival of the Fittest

The first target for your Survival when you resolve it should be a Genesis and then whatever you wanted to get otherwise. Next turn, you can pay 2G and get Genesis back, ready to be discarded again for another monster. This is also a fun combo with Basking Rootwalla, giving you essentially a free creature from your deck if it’s lurking in there.

Mana Drain
Island
Island

Saving the best for last!

What is your favorite combo? What’s a combo in the set from long ago that I missed? Post your thoughts below!

Post categories: Free, Strategy, Vintage Masters


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9 thoughts on “22 Awesome Old-School Combos in Vintage Masters

  1. Now what am I going to write about tomorrow?!

    Seriously, though, this was a killer post. I think draft is going to be way better than sealed because you can pull a lot more of these off. This is going to be an amazing draft format.

  2. Some of these can be hard to do because of rarity but w/e they’re cool.

    I’m pretty sure you can use laquatus’s champion with worldgorger dragon if you stack the triggers right. It may take a second to see, but it’s there.

    ~Note~ if you want to break the client, I want to bet that they aren’t going to stop stuff like Animate Dead + Worldgorger Dragon when worldgorger is the only target. It will loop forever and in real magic it’s technically a draw. In modo the client probably crashes or you time out.

    Gush, Fastbond, and anything that lets you get the gush back repeatedly (IE regrowth) is pretty good in storm type deck.

    Hymn to Tourach and Dark Ritual is classic, though not as choice as Ritual Necropotence

    Armadillo cloak on your opponents creatures! They can still block, but they no longer do any relevant damage if they attack. Of course if it’s for lethal you still die before the life gain, but it’s not a bad way to make their dude obsolete.

    Hermit Druid is a minor combo with living death. If you get the concentration right you can activate the druid and get a bunch of dudes in the yard for you to get back with your living end. Bonus points if you can manage to not kill your opponents guys before you do this.

  3. (I’d call most of these synergy rather than combo)

    Why the blue Hurricane picture?

    Nice trip down memory lane. Tog was so nasty when it was Type 2 legal…

      1. Next time go for an Elvish Archers from the same set ;).
        (That’d actually be a hard one to identify! Missed chance though: the Demonic Tutor has a very nice, very obscure, difference in its picture for this printing and is also referenced in the article to boot.)

  4. Being too much on the investment/speculation side makes me see draft as a waste of money. But here, it certainly should not be a waste of fun.

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