Hello, everyone, and welcome to another edition of Against the Odds! This week, we are continuing our quest to play every Wilds of Eldraine Enchanted Tale, this time with Aggravated Assault! Aggravated Assault is an infamous Commander combo piece, but we’re not playing Commander—we’re playing Historic. I started to dig around on Magic Arena to try and figure out a way to go infinite with the extra-combat-granting enchantment and realized the perfect plan exists: Minotaurs! There just happens to be not just one but two different Minotaurs that can go infinite with Aggravated Assault; plus, we get to revisit my favorite namesake Minotaur, Sethron, Hurloon General! What are the odds of infinitely assaulting opponents with Minotaurs? Let’s find out on today’s Against the Odds!
Against the Odds: Infinite Minotaur Assault
As I mentioned in the intro, the goal for our deck today was pretty simple: break Aggravated Assault in Historic. The question was how. To go infinite with Aggravated Assault, you essentially need a way to generate at least five mana through combat. Once I started working on the deck, I quickly realized the best option—by far—was Minotaurs since multiple Minotaurs go infinite with the enchantment.
Our best combo piece is Neheb, the Eternal. Neheb has two abilities: the often throwaway afflict mechanic that lets it get in three damage even if it is blocked (which is actually super helpful in our deck) and, more importantly, it making mana at the beginning of our postcombat main phase equal to the amount of life our opponent lost this turn. In practice, this means that we can go infinite if we can play Aggravated Assault and Neheb and have our opponent lose at least five life: we make mana with Neheb, use it to take another combat, attack, get in more damage (either by hitting our opponent or with afflict), go to our next postcombat main phase, make even more mana, and keep doing this until our opponent dies. The upside of comboing with Neheb, the Eternal is that we don’t really need anything else to win the game—even if our opponent has some chump blockers, we still get in damage with afflict, so we just keep attacking until our opponent dies. Neheb, Dreadhorde Champion can do something similar: when it deals combat damage, we can discard any number of cards, draw that many cards, and make that much mana. Assuming we discard at least five cards, this will make enough mana that we can activate Aggravated Assault and repeat the process. The only problem is that we need at least five cards in hand for the Neheb, Dreadhorde Champion combo to work, which sometimes leaves us in the awkward position of having the entire combo set up but not having enough cards in hand to actually execute it.
Of course, we can just avoid all these issues and use Deathbellow War Cry to get all of our combo Minotaurs at once. Deathbellow War Cry does a couple of things for our deck. First, it’s just an absurd Minotaur card, typically dumping 20-ish mana of Minotaurs into play for eight mana, which makes it a great way to close out the game if we can’t go infinite with a Neheb. Secondly, it helps support our Aggravated Assault combo. Typically, we tutor up the same four Minotaurs when we Deathbellow War Cry: both Nehebs, Sethron, Hurloon General, and Fanatic of Mogis. Fanatic of Mogis will enter the battlefield and hit our opponent for at least seven damage, or ideally eight if we have an additional red mana symbol on the battlefield. (We get seven for sure just from the Minotaurs entering the battlefield from Deathbellow War Cry.) This will give us enough mana to activate Aggravated Assault to take an extra combat step, and hopefully enough to activate Sethron as well to give all of our Minotaurs (including the massive pile of Minotaur tokens that Sethron, Hurloon General makes) haste, which should let us kill our opponent on the spot! We also have one Moraug, Fury of Akoum as a backup way to take extra combat steps with our Minotaurs, but we don’t tutor it up very often in practice because it isn’t really necessary and usually worse than our Nehebs and Sethron.
The downside of Deathbellow War Cry and, really, Minotaurs in general is that they cost a lot of mana, so having a way to speed up the deck a bit is important. For this, we have Irencrag Feat to ritual into Deathbellow War Cry, which, combined with two extra mana from honorary Minotaur Reckless Barbarian, can potentially let us resolve Deathbellow War Cry as early as Turn 3! We also have a couple of copies of Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, which does help us ramp with Treasures but also filers through our deck for combo pieces with its rummaging mode.
We also have Rising of the Day, primarily to give our team haste, which lets us combo by surprise with our Nehebs. Thanks to summoning sickness, we normally have to wait a turn after assembling our combo to actually win the game, which isn’t ideal since it gives our opponent a chance to get their defenses set up. But with Rising of the Day, we can potentially play Aggravated Assault, play a Neheb, and immediately combo kill by surprise! We also get a bit of extra value from the legendary pump mode since most of our Minotaurs just happen to be legends.
Otherwise, we have a bit of removal, with some of it coming in our mana base in Shatterskull Smashing, which helps back up Molten Impact by giving us multiple ways to deal with whatever threat our opponent might resolve and to get blockers out of the way so we can keep our infinite Minotaur attack plan going until it’s lethal.
The Matchups and Odds
As far as matchups go, fast aggro is probably our toughest just because our deck can be slow if we don’t have a bunch of ramp in hand, and we’re not playing that much interaction. As such, decks like Wizards or Mono-Red are some of the matchups we want to face the least. Although it is worth mentioning that we have a nut draw (Turn 3 Deathbellow War Cry) that is fast enough to race just about any deck in the format, it just doesn’t happen that often. As for the record, we played a massive 30 games with the deck and won exactly 40%. As we saw in our matches, the deck can do some absurdly powerful things, and the combo kills are hilarious, but our bad draws are pretty clunky, full of expensive Minotaurs and Aggravated Assaults that don’t really do much of anything until we combo off. As such, I’d say that Infinite Minotaur Assault is more semi-competitive than truly competitive, although it is a fun and funny way to steal wins by surprise!
Anyway, that’s all for today. 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.