It’s the week before March of the Machine’s prerelease, and possibly the biggest paper Standard MTG tournament post-pandemic has just come to a close. With more than 900 players registered for the American Regional Championship for season one of 2023, saying that this tournament is a big deal in the competitive MTG world is an understatement. 48 slots are up for Pro Tour hopefuls to attend the event. Two players who prove their mettle above all else get to attend the World Championship. Even with all this prestige on the line, a card that nobody expected showed up at the top tables – Blade of Shared Souls.
This was the last Regional Championship of the season, meaning these players had the results of Regional Championships from across the globe to analyze when making their plan of attack for Dreamhack San Diego. Despite the months of preparation from hopeful competitors in previous events, one new archetype took a top eight slot by storm, finishing first in the Swiss rounds. This used an infinite combo that, while not unknown to the community, wasn’t considered a competitively viable option. With some competitive tuning from one of the best MTG combo brewers out there, this Standard infinite combo is now competitively viable!
Creating Infinite Value
Over the weekend, MTG player cftsoc3 finished first in Swiss at the 900+ player American regional championship. This player has created a bunch of the best combo decks in newer formats over the years, so seeing him pilot something bizarre like this is not strange for any who know of him. That said, many players were shocked when a deck containing Blade of Shared Souls was contending at top tables throughout the weekend. This card has seen little to no play in any format up to this point, so why did cftsoc3 suddenly pilot it to a top-eight finish in one of the biggest Standard tournaments in recent years?
The answer lies in its interaction with the two cards pictured above. When combined with Atsushi, the Blazing Sky and Ratadrabik of Urborg, the combination creates an infinite combo that creates infinite treasures (infinite mana), infinite token copies of creatures you control, and can exile an infinite number of cards from your library that you can play until the end of your next turn. The combo itself is a little complicated, so I will break it down below:
- To start this combo, you need Atsushi and Ratadrabik in play. You can either cast the Blade of Shared Souls or have a body on board to equip an existing one to. You will also need the amount of mana you need to either equip or cast the blade.
- Once the Blade of Shared Souls is attached to a creature (token or not), you can choose to have it become a copy of a target creature. Have your equipped creature become a copy of Atsushi, the Blazing Sky.
- At this point, the Legend Rule will apply. This means you cannot have more than one copy of the same Legendary Creature at a time, so you must choose one immediately to die. Kill the creature that is attached to Blade of Shared Souls.
- This will trigger the death trigger of Atsushi, Blazing Sky. Use its second mode to create three treasure tokens. This will also trigger Ratadrabik, creating a nonlegendary copy of Atsushi.
- With two of the treasure tokens you created, equip Blade of Shared Souls to your nonlegendary Atsushi token. This will, once again, trigger the blade. You can copy the Legendary Atsushi, which will cause your creature to die again. This will trigger the death effect, creating three more treasure tokens.
- Since you gain one treasure token each time you perform this loop, you have access to infinite mana. Once you have acquired enough mana to do this loop multiple times without creating treasure tokens, you can start using Atsushi’s other death trigger ability and exile cards from the top of your library to cast. Infinite value has been achieved – at least until your deck runs out of cards.
- If you want to create infinite token creatures, you can start creating nonlegendary copies of Ratadrabik by copying the Ratadrabik with the Blade’s ability instead of Atsushi. Note that you will need to keep this Ratadrabik around, so, to keep performing the loop, you will need another body to equip the blade to instead of the token that Ratadrabik made of itself. This will cause future loops to create multiple tokens since Ratadrabik is triggering numerous times.
Going All-in Was the Wrong Answer
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, players already knew about this combo involving Blade of Shared Souls. What many players who were experimenting with it were doing wrong, myself included, was going all-in on the combo strategy. Cftsoc3 instead integrated the combo into a shell of the most popular deck in the current Standard format: Grixis Midrange. This, combined with Ao, the Dawn Sky – a card that has seen increased play as a result of Esper Legends’ rise to fame, creates a four-color strategy that can go over top of even the biggest lategame decks in the format while playing many of the best cards in the format.
Notably, Atsushi may have been one of the best cards to play for the weekend. Thanks to an innovation from MTG player TaliskerMTGO, Atsushi, the Blazing Sky suddenly became core in the Rakdos Reanimator archetype. The deck pictured above was the one to ultimately win the entire tournament in the hands of Joshua Willis. We pointed out all of the above cards as ones to look out for financially in the coming weeks, but Atsushi may be a breakout card in Standard that many were not expecting.
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