Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 372 of Against the Odds. March of the Machine is here, and today, we have a special episode of Against the Odds to kick off our new season of Standard. Which card deserves the honor of being the first Against the Odds card from Magic‘s newest set? While there are a bunch of good options, nothing tops the potential spectacularness of Realmbreaker, the Invasion Tree. In the right deck (and with a bit of luck), we can use the artifact to put all 10 Standard-legal Praetors into the battlefield at once, possibly at instant speed on our opponent’s end step, which should more or less guarantee the win with a pile of enters-the-battlefield triggers and annoying static abilities. Of course, the challenge of the plan is that to activate Realmbreaker, the Invasion Tree, we need to get up to 10 mana (or even 13, to do everything in one turn), all while having a deck where about 1/3 of our non-land slots are random Praetors! Can we pull off the Realmbreaker challenge and put every single Praetor onto the battlefield at once? Let’s get to the video and find out in today’s Against the Odds; then, we’ll talk more about the deck!
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Against the Odds: Realmbreaker, the Invasion Tree
Our deck’s plan is simple: play every single Praetor that’s legal in Standard, find Realmbreaker, the Invasion Tree, get up to 10 mana, and use Realmbreaker to put all the Praetors into play at once. The question is how we can build our deck to execute this plan as consistently as possible.
Let’s start with the easy part: we’re playing four copies of Realmbreaker, the Invasion Tree, which is key to our plan. I like to think of our deck as a Standard-legal version of Belcher. If we can count up to 10 mana (or maybe 13 mana, if we need to cast Realmbreaker during our combo turn), Realmbreaker, the Invasion Tree wins us the game by turning every Praetor onto the battlefield. Even better, its first mode—milling and reanimating lands from our opponent’s graveyard—helps us count up to 10 mana, so it fuels its second ability.
We are also playing one or two copies of every Praetor legal in Standard—10 in all—to put into play with Realmbreaker, the Invasion Tree. While Realmbreaker doesn’t technically say “win the game,” in practice, activating it in a deck playing every Praetor does win the game. In part, this is because we can activate Realmbreaker at instant speed, so we can wait until our opponent’s end step, activate Realmbreaker, put up to 10 Praetors on the battlefield, and immediately untap and attack with them for lethal, and in part because Praetors are pretty powerful creatures. When our Praetors enter the battlefield, we’ll get Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines, which will double trigger Sheoldred to make our opponent sacrifice two creatures or planeswalkers, and also Vorinclex to tutor four Forests from our deck. We’ll also get Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant as protection. Even if our opponent does have a wrath or some other form of interaction, Jin-Gitaxias will counter it, assuming it’s the first spell of the turn.
We’ll also get a Sheoldred, the Apocalypse to gain a bit of life and Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor and Jin-Gitaxias to draw a bunch of cards. Combined with the four Forests in our hand from Vorinclex, this means that if we can’t win with one massive Praetor attack for some reason, we can discard a ton of cards to Gix’s ability in order to steal a huge chunk of our opponent’s deck and play it for free.
The other upside to filling our deck with Praetors is that once we get to four or five mana, we can start hard-casting the ones that we happen to draw, thanks to our five-color mana base, which is actually pretty relevant. Take a card like Urabrask: it’s essentially impossible for us to flip it in our deck, but it’s still a 4/4 first-strike creature, which makes it a fine way to gum up the board while we are getting our Realmbreaker, the Invasion Tree plan set up.
Outside of Realmbreaker and all the Praetors, our deck is looking to do two things: slow down the game long enough for us to get to 10 mana to activate Realmbreaker, the Invasion Tree and also speed up the process of getting to 10 mana so we can activate Realmbreaker. To slow our opponent down, we have a bunch of sweepers and removal, like [[Drag to the Bottom], Farewell, Leyline Binding, and Sheoldred’s Edict.
Meanwhile, we have a bunch of ramp to speed things up. Invasion of Zendikar ramps us directly by putting two lands into play with its enters-the-battlefield trigger, while Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and Reckoner Bankbuster give us something to do in the early game (the Praetor curve is super high, and doing nothing until Turn 4 is risky) while also eventually ramping us with Treasure tokens.
While I don’t really put too much weight into early-access day results since everyone is trying new things, my overall impression of Realmbreaker Praetors is that the deck is actually very consistent but also very slow. Against aggro decks, there’s a decent chance we’ll get run over before we can start playing Praetors or ramp into Realmbreaker, the Invasion Tree, although the plan is actually pretty good against slower midrange and control decks. In these matchups, we can hard-cast Praetors in the midgame, and eventually, we’ll get to our unbeatable late game of dumping seven, eight, nine, or even all 10 Praetors onto the battlefield at once!
All in all, we won roughly 50% of the time with the deck, which again doesn’t really mean much because it’s early-access day. More importantly, we actually pulled off the combo a bunch of times. It’s actually not that hard to get to 10 mana and activate Realmbreaker, the Invasion Tree; actually, it was a lot easier than I expected. That said, we did run into one problem: we only actually put all 10 Praetors into play with Realmbreaker, the Invasion Tree once. Normally, we got somewhere between seven and nine Praetors, which is still game-ending but not quite as spectacular. That’s because we can really only afford to run one or, at the most, two copies of each Praetor in our deck because we need room for Realmbreaker, ramp, and removal. As a result, we sometimes end up drawing one or two of our one-of Praetors, which means they won’t be in the deck for Realmbreaker, the Invasion Tree purposes. The good news is that this doesn’t really matter since eight or nine Praetors hitting the battlefield at once is going to be enough to win the game, even if we don’t quite fully maximize Realmbreaker’s potential.
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Anyway, that’s all for today. Thanks again to Wizards for the early-access-day invite and the stocked account to use for the day. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.