Woo Brews – Rite Aid Combo

Now is an exciting time to be a Magic player. A new set is upon us, and a new block is complete. Perfect mana for everyone. State Championships. Pro Tour: Dragon’s Maze. Continued increased tournament attendance.

There are lots of reason to be excited right now, but for me, I’m excited because of our new Standard deck:

“Storm Count 33.” That’s right. In STANDARD.

Wizards is doing its best to keep the degenerate combo decks from rising to the top. That’s probably for the best. It’s pretty alienating to tell players that their giant monsters are unplayable, while cards like Time Spiral are the best in the game. I thought this game was about monsters?!

Well, I’m not one of those people. I’m looking to break the mold, break the format, break the conceived notion of what is POSSIBLE—so here we are, going nuts in Standard. And winning.

It’s still unclear how good this deck is. It started off as a for-fun deck, but in the past 24 hours, I am 7-3 in tournament matches on Magic Online. I’m not going to say we broke it, but we’re definitely on to something.

Alright. Let me ask you this: is this a good turn 5??

It doesn’t seem like a bad one.

Rite Aid

Rite Aid

[deck]1 Glacial Fortress
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Drowned Catacomb
1 Watery Grave
2 Blood Crypt
1 Dragonskull Summit
2 Godless Shrine
2 Isolated Chapel
4 Steam Vents
4 Sulfur Falls
1 Clifftop Retreat
2 Sacred Foundry
1 Desolate Lighthouse
4 Faithless Looting
4 Izzet Charm
4 Chromatic Lantern
4 Forbidden Alchemy
4 Obzedat’s Aid
4 Unburial Rites
4 Angel of Serenity
1 Sphinx of Uthuun
2 Tyrant of Discord
1 Borborygmos Enraged
2 Griselbrand
3 Omniscience[/deck]

Lead with a tapped shockland. Start drawing and discarding. Play a [card]Chromatic Lantern[/card]. Play [card]Obzedat’s Aid[/card] targeting [card]Omniscience[/card].

Play a [card]Sphinx of Uthuun[/card]. Keep drawing and discarding.

Play a [card]Griselbrand[/card]. Draw 7.




[card]Tyrant of Discord[/card], you sacrifice.

[card]Angel of Serenity[/card], remove my Sphinx and Tyrant.

[card]Angel of Serenity[/card], remove my Angel.

Sphinx and Tyrant.

Angel of Serenity, remove my Tyrant and Angel.

Angel, remove my angel.


Sacrifice your board.

Put 30 power into play.

[card]Borborygmos Enraged[/card]. Pitch 7 lands. No permanents. No life.

Good game! Shake my hand!

Now THAT is Magic!

[draft]Faithless Looting
Izzet Charm
Forbidden Alchemy[/draft]

These are the big draws to make this reanimator combo deck blue/red-based. [card]Mulch[/card] and [card]Grisly Salvage[/card] are great, but they aren’t great at allowing us to bin fatties we’ve drawn naturally. In a GB-based graveyard strategy, every [card]Omniscience[/card] you’ve drawn is just a brick, but we can gladly pitch it.

I think GBW reanimator strategies are great, but they are constrained to being able to cast what they draw. In other words, they are forced to dream small.

[draft]Chromatic Lantern[/draft]

[card]Chromatic Lantern[/card] is our way to [card]Obzedat’s Aid[/card] on turn 4. It’s pretty necessary for this. It also fixes our ambitious 4-color mana base. I could imagine playing only 3 of these, but the card is awesome and you want them.

[draft]Obzedat’s Aid
Unburial Rites[/draft]

This is our strategy, so we need all 8. Our game plan is to stick one of these on the 4th turn and take over completely from there.


This is our ideal reanimation target, because more often than not we can win on the spot. All of our blue and red search can now be chained, and we can win instantly with fatty combo.

[draft]Angel of Serenity
Sphinx of Uthuun
Tyrant of Discord
Borborygmos Enraged

This is the fatty mix. [card]Griselbrand[/card] is really helpful for winning on the spot by turning our cards into life. If we don’t have life, we can use [card]Sphinx of Uthuun[/card] as our draw engine.

Three [card]Angel of Serenity[/card]s loop with our Sphinx to draw our whole deck, or with [card]Tyrant of Discord[/card] to make them sacrifice all their permanents. Two Angels can do a lot of work as well, uncovering Sphinx or Tyrant to try again. From there, we can sometimes kill our own Angel and reanimate it to keep going.

[card]Borborygmos Enraged[/card] is our big finish. After we annihilate our opponents board, we reduce their life to 0.

This mix is also important for situations where we don’t have [card]Omniscience[/card] and need to stabilize the board. Angel does this, Tyrant can, Borborygmos can, and Griselbrand can hold back an army. This is why we only have 1 Sphinx—it’s great with an Omniscience in play, but it doesn’t do enough against beatdown.

The mix is not perfect. Of the 2 Tyrants and 1 Borborygmos, only 1 of these 3 is actually essential for winning through a combo kill. Theoretically, they could be additional anything. I do like them because they are solid reanimation targets in themselves.

[draft]Desolate Lighthouse[/draft]

The mana base is actually pretty good. We can usually cast our spells, and when the lands don’t come together our [card]Chromatic Lantern[/card]s can bail us out.

I’m not a number scientist when it comes to the correct ratio of shocklands and buddy lands. This build goes heavy on shocklands, with the idea that we will lose more games if our lands don’t come into play untapped than if we have to take 2 damage here or there. I’m open to being wrong though.

Rite Aid’s Sideboard

I didn’t include a sideboard because I think including a sideboard would cause people to win significantly less with this deck. Seriously? But… a sideboard HAS to be helpful. How could it not be?

I started thinking about this at GP Portland two weekends ago. I was talking to green/black graveyard combo player Jamal Sims. He had started out 1-2, winning his game 1s and losing most of his games 2 and 3. He figured he was doing something wrong, so he sprung into action—by NOT SIDEBOARDING. And he started to win those game 2s and 3s.

This is really smart. But why? Well, I think oversideboarding is a real problem. We want to board in cards that are good against our opponent’s strategy and that are good at fighting the opponent’s hate cards. Well, this is a good strategy for the majority of decks. Decks that are particularly flexible in their card configuration.

But it’s different for combo decks. Our deck is designed to win as fast as possible, as consistently as possible. If we cut cards, we are cutting consistency, and we are cutting speed. There’s no way around that fact. If we could increase consistency and speed in the main, we would. So if we’re sideboarding, we’re sacrificing.

Do we really want to sacrifice consistency and speed? For what? Because we’re afraid of [card]Rest in Peace[/card] and [card]Ground Seal[/card]? Those cards will come up 5% of the time. If that. Do we want to make our deck worse 100% of the time to fight 5%-of-the-time hate cards? No. I believe you should NOT sideboard in answers. They’re more likely to not have it. It hurts us by just having them in the deck.

But what about the aggro matchup? Shouldn’t we board there? Look. We can go crazy turn 4. That’s fast enough a lot of the time. If we cut ANYTHING, that rate of turn 4 stabilization goes down. Our best chance of victory goes down. We could board [card]Supreme Verdict[/card]—which is hard to cast and a turn 4 play anyways. We could board [card]Rolling Temblor[/card] for their [card]Flinthoof Boar[/card]s and [card]Stromkirk Noble[/card]s. And by doing this, we continue to decrease our chance of actually comboing if you stumble.

Now, it’s possible boarding 1-2 cards here and there is correct. As I said, the [card]Borborygmos Enraged[/card] and [card]Tyrant of Discord[/card] aren’t essential. They’re good, but not essential. So if you are going to build a sideboard, be very, very, very careful when cutting cards. And, when in doubt, DON’T SIDEBOARD! You might just save yourself from making the deck worse.

Building a Sideboard

• 1-2 [card]Cavern of Souls[/card] are reasonable for the counter matchups which tend to go long.

• 1-2 [card]Pillar of Flame[/card] or [card]Rolling Temblor[/card] are strong against super aggressive decks.

• 1 [card]Stormtide Leviathan[/card] is an upgrade over some of our fatties vs. ground attack decks.

• 1 [card]Acidic Slime[/card] is useful if the opponent has ALREADY SHOWN [card]Ground Seal[/card] or [card]Rest in Peace[/card]—but how much is that really helping?

• [card]Izzet Charm[/card] is sufficient to defend from [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card]s, [card]Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/card]s, and even [card]Rest in Peace[/card]. I can’t imagine truly filling out a 15-card sideboard for this deck, and I probably wouldn’t. I’m winning a lot online with no sideboarding.


I’m known to keep a wide range of hands, but this is a deck that you need to be a little more aggressive with your mulligans. You can still keep some kinds of do-nothing hands—but against a lot of decks, if you aren’t able to make moves turn 4 or 5 we’re dog meat.

Hands with neither red nor a selection spell are generally no good. I would throw back hands like this:

[draft]Godless Shrine
Hallowed Fountain
Glacial Fortress
Unburial Rites
Angel of Serenity
Obzedat’s Aid[/draft]

Now, if there were a red source or a [card]Forbidden Alchemy[/card] I would probably keep. It feels awkward keeping without a way to discard or search, but I don’t think we can just mulligan every hand that doesn’t have one. You might have good results doing that, but I am comfortable drawing to 12 outs, and that usually works out fine.

I’m sympathetic to those who mulligan really aggressively with this deck, but for those of us who like to keep a lot of hands, we have to be a little braver here and mulligan.

Rite Aid

[draft]Obzedat’s Aid

I am having the time of my life playing with this deck, and I’m excited to see how it develops over the next couple of months. I’m sorry I didn’t get this out before States, because I think this deck would have had an opportunity to perform excellently there.

Remember, we only have a couple of months before Innistrad rotates out forever—this deck with it. I’ll be playing as much as possible with all of my favorites before that happens. I think this format is incredibly exciting, with so many mana base options and strategies.

Have fun playing with [card]Omniscience[/card]!

<3 Travis facebook.com/travisdwoo twitter.com/travisdwoo twitchtv.com/traviswoo Questions!! Comments!! Think there's something I forgot?!

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