Hello, everyone, and welcome to another edition of Against the Odds! Last week, we had our first Wilds of Eldraine Standard Against the Odds poll, and, in the end, the winner was super clear, with Blossoming Tortoise crushing the competition. As such, we’re heading to our new Standard format today to try to win by making an infinitely powerful creature with the help of a Turtle, by sticking a Draconic Destiny on a creatureland and pumping it an infinite number of times! Can the plan work? What are the odds of comboing off with Blossoming Tortoise in Standard? Let’s find out on today’s Against the Odds!
Against the Odds: Infinite Turtle Power
When Blossoming Tortoise won the poll, the end goal of our deck was clear: try to make infinite power with the Draconic Destiny creatureland combo. The question was how best to go about achieving the goal. After messing around with a few different options, we ended up with an adventure-fueled Naya build with a bunch of ways to find and protect our combo! Let’s kick things off by walking through the combo itself.
So, how can you make an infinitely powerful creature in Standard? It all starts with what might be the sweetest and certainly one of the most unique cards from Wilds of Eldraine: Blossoming Tortoise. While the four-drop has a ton of text, the important mode for our purposes is its middle ability, which makes the activated abilities on lands we control cost one less to activate. Unlike every similar card in Magic‘s history, which all have a safety valve built in that keeps the cost of the ability from being reduced to less than one, Blossoming Tortoise‘s ability doesn’t have this restriction. This means it can make our activated abilities cost zero mana, which is what gives it the infinite combo potential!
Step two is we need a land that is also a creature. For this, we have a few options. Mishra’s Foundry and Restless Bivouac are both lands with activated abilities that turn them into creatures for a turn, and they are relatively inexpensive to activate thanks to Blossoming Tortoise. Meanwhile, Wrenn and Realmbreaker can turn any land into a 3/3 hasty hexproof creature, which is nice since hexproof helps protect our combo from targeted removal. Really, though, it doesn’t matter which one we are comboing with—they all work the same, so any of them will do.
Finally, we need Draconic Destiny, which gives the creature it enchants an activated ability of pay one to give the creature +1/+1 until end of turn. Normally, putting an aura on a creatureland is a horrible idea because it will fall off at the end of the turn when the creatureland reverts to land form. But this doesn’t really matter in our deck because if we can get Draconic Destiny on a creatureland with Blossoming Tortoise on the battlefield, we should be able to win the game on the spot by making the creatureland infinitely powerful! The trick is that Blossoming Tortoise‘s ability reduces the cost of Draconic Destiny‘s ability by one, which makes it zero mana, so we can activate it as many times as we want to make the biggest Mishra’s Foundry or Restless Bivouac of all time, killing our opponent with one massive flying attack!
The rest of our deck is devoted to two things: finding our combo pieces and protecting the combo. As far as finding our combo pieces, Kellan, the Fae-Blooded can snag Draconic Destiny and also offers a sneaky backup plan for winning the game if we can’t combo off—a 2/2 double strike with a Draconic Destiny on it is actually a surprisingly fast clock! Meanwhile, for finding Blossoming Tortoise, we have The Huntsman’s Redemption, which can directly tutor up a creature with its second lore counter. Wedding Announcement helps here as well, in part because it can draw us cards and in part because it makes 1/1s, which we can sacrifice to The Huntsman’s Redemption.
Since we have Kellan’s tutoring power, we’re also playing a couple of backup equipment and auras for it to find if we don’t need Draconic Destiny. Sword of Forge and Frontier is a solid one-of tutor target. In matchups where it is bad, we can hope to draw it, and it’s pretty absurd if we run into a mono-red or mono-green deck. Meanwhile, Ossification joins Nahiri’s Warcrafting in our removal suite, in part because we can tutor it up with Kellan, the Fae-Blooded in a pinch.
By far the biggest challenge for Infinite Turtle Power Combo is removal. To actually win the game with our combo, we need to keep Blossoming Tortoise on the battlefield for a turn and be able to hit our opponent with our Draconic Destiny-enchanted creatureland. This means that everything from Go for the Throat to Strangle has the potential to fizzle our combo, which, combined with Standard being super grindy and removal heavy, means having a plan for protecting our combo pieces is essential. For this, we have a few options. Skrelv, Defector Mite isn’t quite Mother of Runes, but it’s close enough for our purposes as a one-drop that sits on the battlefield and can tap to fizzle a targeted removal spell. Tyvar’s Stand offers hexproof and indestructible, which means it can fizzle some sweepers along with Go for the Throat and friends. Finally, Werefox Bodyguard is basically a hybrid removal and protection spell. While we often use it to exile one of our opponent’s creatures, we can also flash it it to exile our own Blossoming Tortoise to save it from removal and then sacrifice the Fox the following turn to combo off.
As far as matchups, all that really matters is the amount of interaction our opponent is playing (along with how many flying blockers they have, since a flier can chump-block our infinitely powerful creatureland). This makes matchups like Dimir and Esper pretty tricky since it’s really difficult to keep Blossoming Tortoise on the battlefield long enough to go infinite. Ideally, we’ll play against more removal-light decks like tokens or even aggro, which gives us a chance to set up our combo and win before our opponent can execute their game plan.
All in all, we went 4-8 with Infinite Turtle Power, giving us a 33.3333333 (for infinite) percent win percentage, which isn’t especially competitive but is somewhat flavorful for an infinite-power combo deck. Standard is just so removal heavy at the moment that keeping Blossoming Tortoise on the battlefield (while also finding additional combo pieces) is super challenging. The good news is that when we pulled it off, the combo was pretty hilarious and was a great way to close out the game. Standard players don’t expect to randomly die from 20 life out of the blue, which makes our gigantic Mishra’s Foundry or Restless Bivouac kill especially satisfying.
Speaking of Blossoming Tortoise, while the infinite combo might not be super competitive, the card itself felt pretty strong. It usually ramps at least once, and being able to fire up creaturelands at a discount is surprisingly powerful, even when they don’t have infinite power to win the game right away. I wouldn’t be surprised to find it is actually a pretty strong card in Standard, even though the infinite combo itself might reside in the realm of Against the Odds.
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.