The release of a new set is always the best time of the year. So many people speculating on different archetypes, top commons, and what the best strategies will be. With the abundance of set review content out there, I thought I’d go down a different path and try to highlight some very sweet interactions you won’t want to miss out on when you dive into your first draft of Ultimate Masters. Seeing cards from different sets combined into one opens up a whole new world of possibilities and I am very excited at the prospect of all the synergy that this set seems to offer. So without further ado, here are 20 combinations to look out for in Ultimate Masters Limited.
1. Evoke and Furnace Celebration
Whether or not
Furnace Celebration is a trap or not remains to be seen. RB Sacrifice is one of my favorite archetypes in any format where it’s viable and it does look like the tools are all here in UMA. When you Evoke a creature, it comes into play and then you immediately sacrifice it, triggering
Furnace Celebration. To put this in perespective that's a
Shock attached to any creature you choose to Evoke.
2. Fiend Hunter and Bounce/Sacrifice
They don’t usually template creatures this way anymore, but I imagine the amount of c-c-c-combos that exist in this set with
Fiend Hunter were just too good to pass up (step aside
Banisher Priest.) If you’ve never experienced this interaction it’s fairly non-intuitive. When
Fiend Hunter enters the battlefield the trigger to exile another creature goes on the stack. While that trigger is on the stack, if
Fiend Hunter leaves the battlefield, the trigger to return that creature will go on the stack. However, because the creature targeted hasn’t left the battlefield yet, the second trigger will resolve first doing nothing, and then the first trigger will resolve exiling the creature permanently. So bouncing
Fiend Hunter with
Just the Wind or
Turn to Mist, or sacrificing it with
Bloodflow Connoisseuris equivalent to building your own
Swords to Plowshares.
3. Repel the Darkness and Heroic
Most people are going to see
Repel the Darkness and think of it as a tempo card for aggro decks, but don’t sleep on the fact that this can trigger up to two of your own Heroic creatures at instant speed after they’ve attacked. I would also tack on
Nightbird’s Clutches as a similar interaction. Not only is it like
Sonic Assault on steroids, but it’s potentially four heroic triggers off of one card.
4. Conviction and Heroic
With all the Umbras floating around,
Conviction may look like one to pass up on for sure. But Heroic makes it a repeatable way to buff your creatures for the low low price of just 1WW.
5. Stitcher’s Apprentice and Anything
Stitcher's Apprentice looks so innocuous. But in its original set, Innistraad, it did a lot of work. I imagine with so many graveyard and sacrifice synergies in UMA it will do the same. Not only is it great to be able to activate in response to removal, it provides repeatable sacrifice for
Furnace Celebration, helps fill your graveyard for
Spider Spawning while maintaining a board presence, upgrades 1/1 tokens, goes great with creatures after they’ve persisted, and combines with
Sanitarium Skeleton to make a 2/2 every turn for just 3UBB.
All right. Maybe that last one is a little too deep. But I’m sure there are many other possibilities for this card so be sure to look out for them!
6. Graveyard Hate and Persist, Flashback, or Reanimation
Offalsnout and even
Heap Doll may look unassuming, but there is so much happening in the graveyard in this format that I think they'll all have their time to shine. Being able to remove a card from the graveyard at instant speed allows you to do three things: remove a creature in response to a reanimation spell, remove a creature with persist on it’s way back to the battlefield, and remove a spell with flashback before your opponent chooses to cast it a second time. I would be looking to main deck one of these effects at the start of the format.
Dark Depths +
This is certainly a tough one to come together. We’re talking about a rare and a mythic rare here! But a person can dream. If you aren’t a fan of eternal formats you may not be aware of this little interaction, discussed in detail by Joe Dyer in this month's Eternalist column.
Thespian’s Stage copies
Dark Depths but is not entering the battlefield AS
Dark Depths, therefore it has no counters on it and immediately gets sacrificed in exchange for a 20/20 indestructible flying creature token. Not too shabby for a game of limited. Certainly if I open
Dark Depths, I’m going to grab it and hope that someone passes me a
Thespian’s Stage so I can live the dream.
8. Wild Mongrel and Gods Willing
There's not much to looks out for in terms of
Wild Mongrel's color shifting text in UMA (unless of course you're trying to get your loot on with
Wandering Champion in a WG beatdown deck.) It is worth noting, however, that
Gods Willing will not be able to save your creature in combat from a
Wild Mongrel as long as your opponent has a card in hand to pitch to it!
9. Grave Strength/Travel Preparations/Shed Weakness and Persist/Devoted Druid
As soon as I saw a handful of creatures with Persist I was on the hunt for cards that gave +1/+1 counters. A creature with Persist returns to the battlefield with a -1/-1 counter on it if it didn’t already have a -1/-1 counter on it. And if a creature with a -1/-1 counter on it has a +1/+1 counter placed on it the two cancel each other out. Which means that creature can persist again.
I’m especially excited to use
Grave Strength to put a bunch of counters on a
Devoted Druid to generate a bunch of mana in one turn and cast
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.
10. Fume Spitter and Persist
Fume Spitter can help to negate those persistent creatures on your opponent's side of the battlefield as well. If their creature already as a -1/-1 counter on it from the
Fume Spitter, it won't come back. Probably a rare interaction, but certainly something to look out for.
11. Life from the Loam and Seismic Assault
This is another combo between two rares so I doubt it will come up all that often. But these two cards go together like peanut butter and jelly. Discarding lands for 2 damage and then getting them back from your graveyard with
Life from the Loam is going to be a way to machine gun your opponent’s board or a quick clock if you send the damage upstairs.
12. Squee, Goblin Nabob and Anything
In the recent Core Set Cube offered up on Magic Online,
Squee, Goblin Nabob was one of most versatile cards around. I imagine with all the graveyard shenanigans that exist, Squee will have his time to shine here as well. A 1/1 for three mana may not look flashy, but I imagine I will be picking Squee out of most packs he appears in. He provides repeatable sacrifice fodder for cards like
Bloodflow Connoisseur and
Stitcher's Apprentice but I’m most excited about him as a “free” card to discard over and over to the likes of
Icatian Crier, and
Sparkspitter. I expect Squee will spend a lot of time bouncing between your hand, the battlefield, and your graveyard.
13. Brawn/Anger and Discard
These two creatures are often just better in your graveyard to grant a global effect to your whole team. Giving some fatties trample at instant speed for free or surprising your opponent with some threats with haste are two things that are enabled by the many discard outlets in the format. Also, if you have some self-mill you can mise these cards into your graveyard as well.
14. Garna, The Bloodflame and Self-Mill/Discard
In a set that may as well be called Graveyard Masters,
Garna, the Bloodflame seems like it will have a lot of play. Just remember that it not only returns creatures that died in combat, but creatures that go to your graveyard from anywhere. With the amount of discard effects and ways to mill from your own library, I think getting a handful of creatures back when you cast Garna is going to be easier than not.
15. Cathodion and Bloodflow Connoisseur
Unfortunately there’s no
Dark Ritual in this format. But have no fear, you can just build your own!
Cathodion as a colorless
Centaur Courser feels pretty big in relation to a lot of the creatures in this format. And I think being able to harness the death trigger on
Cathodion with a free sacrifice outlet is going to be a reliable way to ramp out some Eldrazi monsters.
16. Stingerfling Spider/Crushing Canop` and Defy Gravity
Stingerfling Spider already seems busted to me, but the fact that you can build your own
Ravenous Chupacabra or
Murder by casting
Defy Gravity on your opponent’s creature to give it flying and then snipe it out of the sky has got me very excited. I’ve never seen Wicked, but it’s going to be hard to not burst into song on stream every time I cast this card.
17. Murderous Redcap and Become Immense
Murderous Redcap comes into play and deals damage equal to its power to any target. But nothing says that has to be only 2 damage. If you cast
Become Immense in response to the ETB trigger, you just may be able to deal a whopping 8 damage to any target, preferably your opponent.
18. Frantic Search/Faithless Looting and Madness
Frantic Search and
Faithless Looting grant you card selection, but at the end of the day you’re down a resource as these cards do not actually replace themselves. But if you can cast a card with Madness by discarding it to either of these effects, you’ve made up for that loss in resources and the exchange becomes neutral.
Frantic Search is especially nice because it is essentially free as you get to untap your lands and then cast the Madness card afterwards.
19. Living Lore and Treasure Cruise
Not much to say here. Can I interest you in a four mana 9/9? I thought so.
20. Entomb and Flashback
Don’t get stuck in the mindset that
Entomb is just for finding a creature to reanimate. It finds any card! So you can go get that copy of
Spider Spawning to flood the board with 1/2 critters. Or find a land you need and get it back with
Groundskeeper. Or just cycle it by finding
Think Twice. Entomb is going to be a lot closer to a conditional tutor in this format than people will give it credit for.
I'm sure there are many more than just what I've listed above, but these 20 have me plenty excited to draft this format. What combinations are you most looking forward to in Ultimate Masters?