It’s a good thing that Kaladesh was a land of invention, because it allows all the sweet new cards from Amonkhet to tastefully mix in for full combo potential. One awesome card that hasn’t seen nearly enough play is Paradox Engine. The card just does so much cool stuff. Just look at this deck from Jan van der Vegt, awesome streamer extraordinaire at twitch.tv/dzyl:
The deck was effectively a Storm deck in Standard and could win via chained Metalwork Colossi or Paradox Engine untapping a bunch of mana rocks to fuel a lethal Aetherflux Reservoir. I played a similar deck and one of my favorite things about it was looping a Metalwork Colossus from the graveyard and one in play to get a bunch (not quite infinite) of triggers for Aetherflux Reservoir. Just so many exciting lines, and it’s all thanks to the sweetness that is Paradox Engine.
Now that Amonkhet is revealed, I’ve been pouring over its contents looking for awesome cards that work with the Engine. I tinkered a bit with Paradox Engine and Cryptolith Rite but always felt it was a bit inconsistent. One problem with the deck was that it could get both those cards down, but without a Duskwatch Recruiter in play it wouldn’t do enough to win on the spot. I’m hoping that’s all changed now. It’s time to put all the creatures in play!
Vizier of the Menagerie is exceedingly powerful, but it also is very restrictive in deckbuilding. It does help solve the problem I mentioned, though. It’s effectively a super charged Duskwatch Recruiter with a bit more power when you aren’t actually combo'ing. The immediate comparison is Oracle of Mul Daya, but the cards actually do opposing things. Oracle wants you to have a bunch of lands in your deck so that you can use her ability, and then back up all that mana with big expensive spells while Vizier wants as few lands as possible alongside cheap creatures to chain off the top of your deck. Let’s compare to an Oracle of Mul Daya-based deck that LSV piloted to success in 2010:
With Vizier of the Menagerie, you need to build around it accordingly. The more cheap creatures included in your deck, the more awesome Vizier will be. In addition, more cheap spells makes Paradox Engine better. Sounds like a win-win to me! While Vizier is fantastic, she won’t let you just win the game on the spot. For that we need to look to another new card:
Samut keeps the chain going. All of a sudden each creature cast starts generating a ton of extra mana when Rite and Engine are in play. This helps the deck get past chunks of land via multiple Duskwatch Recruiter activations or providing extra mana for Lifecrafter’s Bestiary and Canyon Slough’s cycling. Samut also hits super hard when you aren't combo'ing, and you can even mise white mana from time to time to do some untap shenanigans. Samut can be a little hard to cast in this deck with only a single red-producing land, but between the Cryptolith Rites, Loam Dryads, and Viziers, I don’t think she will be stuck in your hand all that often.
The last newcomer is Oashra Cultivator. The card doesn’t look particularly impressive, but it does get you to a critical mass of 1-mana creatures to play on turn 1 to help curve and set up key Vizier turns where you just play a ton of creatures back to back. In addition, the Cultivator gives you rebuys when you have a noncreature stuck on top of your deck but access to a ton of mana and want to keep casting creatures with Vizier. If this doesn’t come up often enough, I could see Jaddi Offshoot getting the nod here in the Cultivator’s place. When I played with a similar deck before, I didn’t think mediocre 1-drop creatures were worth including, but now with this much synergy they have finally earned their spot.
Getting a ton of creatures in play is nice and all, but what if your opponent just kills them all with a sweeper? Answer: Don’t let your opponent untap. Remember, Samut gives everything haste, so once you do have a ton of creatures in play, simply attack with them all for the win. If that’s not enough, Zulaport Cutthroat triggers should get there, and there’s even a singleton Yahenni that can let you sacrifice for triggers at will.
Standard looks like it will be a land ripe for beatdown and control decks, but I’m hopeful that some of these wacky combo decks will be viable. Throwing all your creatures into play in a single turn is just too good an opportunity to pass up when it’s a possibility.