The most important aspect of playing Limited is knowing how to squeeze the most value possible from your cards. Bombs are fantastic, of course, and removal is essential, but even the greatest bombs or a deck with all the removal in the pod can flounder if you don’t go for maximum value.
Building synergies is often a great way to find value. Many Limited archetypes are built around broad synergies, such as UW in Wilds of Eldraine (WOE) draft focusing on tapping creatures. But some individual cards have powerful synergies that function as mini combos between two or more cards that help them perform greater than the individual cards would.
Identifying Mini Combos
Many Limited formats have these little combos in them. They’re often composed of two cards, which is important for consistency in the drafting and gameplay portions. You can likely find a three- or four-card combination that wins, but how often will you really come across them in the draft?
Similarly, it’s best to look for combos that utilize lower rarity cards and keep you in two or fewer colors if possible. A mono-white combo can be played in four archetypes and a two-color combo in one. Combos requiring three or more colors are pipedreams you may assemble once or twice but don’t offer as much value draft to draft. Since your draft deck is primarily composed of commons and uncommons, it’s best to look at the combos you can build within those rarities, as it’s hard to assemble rare-rare or mythic-mythic combinations.
There’s a small difference between these combos and synergy. An example of synergy in WOE draft is the pairing of Picklock Prankster and Hearth Elemental. The Adventure side of Picklock Prankster, Free the Fae, mills you, which fuels the Hearth Elemental’s cost reduction. This is a great synergy to look out for, but it doesn’t really make these two cards more than the sum of their parts.
For combos, you want cards that come together and can dramatically alter the course of a game within a turn or so. If they don’t do this, they should assemble a value engine that overwhelms your opponent over a long game. The primary goal is to find combinations of cards that turn multiple pieces into something resembling a bomb: A threat that swings the game, and your opponent loses unless they answer it.
Finally, you want your combo pieces to be good cards individually. Finding a sick two-card combo that gives you an edge when you assemble it but is composed of two cards that are useless apart from each other decreases your deck’s consistency, as neither of these theoretical pieces does anything solo. Another way to look at it, one of the best pieces of Limited advice I’ve ever gotten, is to not play bad cards to make your good cards better.
Tanglespan Lookout + Splashy Spellcaster
We’ll kick things off with a Simic combo that brings together creatures and spells for amazing card advantage. Drawing more cards than your opponent is a great way to win a game of Limited, which is why Tanglespan Lookout is already a high pick.
Pairing the Lookout with Splashy Spellcaster creates a powerful draw engine. Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery, you get a new Role, triggering the Lookout over and over. Neither of these cards is restricted to once-per-turn triggers, so you can potentially draw three or four cards on one turn. This combo is an excellent example of two individually powerful cards generating extra value in concert.
Tanglespan Lookout + Twisted Sewer Witch
Twisted Sewer Witch is already a high pick. It’s not a mythic uncommon on par with Imodane’s Recruiter, but a five-mana 3/4 that brings a 2/2 into play is already a fine card, and it’s easy to find a couple of extra Rats for more value.
Tanglespan Lookout comes in clutch again with this Witch that creates two or three Roles. GB isn’t an archetype that’s often heavy on Rats, but the Sewer Witch is already a strong card when it only replaces itself on top of the other value. It’s also easy to splash in WOE Limited thanks to cards like Prophetic Prism and Crystal Grotto, so a RB Rats deck could slip in a Lookout to go with their Sewer Witch.
Goblin Bombardment + Totentanz, Swarm Piper
Goblin Bombardment is one of the best Enchanting Tales in the set. It’s solidly as bomb rare that’s first-pickable and worth pivoting or splashing red for. Its power decreases outside of aggressive decks, but the amount of board control and pressure this gives you, especially in a format full of X/1s and Adventure cards, is unmatched.
Pairing it with Totentanz, a solid roleplayer in RB decks looking to pressure their opponents. It’s a clean synergy: Goblin Bombardment wants creatures to sacrifice, and Totentanz effectively doubles your sacrifice fodder. Totentanz and two other creatures represent a potential six damage worth of Bombardment triggers, often more than enough damage for aggressive decks to finish their opponents off.
Song of Totentanz + Raid Bombardment
Raid Bombardment isn’t nearly the bomb Goblin Bombardment is, but it has a place in specific, hyper-aggressive decks loaded with Rats and Gingerbrutes. While I need a good reason to play Raid Bombardment, Song of Totentanz can be that reason.
Casting a large Song with Raid Bombardment is enough to close out a game. Spending six mana to attack your opponent for at least ten damage swings games heavily in your favor. While I’d run Song in any red deck, Raid Bombardment only works in aggressive Totentanz decks; it’s not worth three mana in more controlling shells.
Gumdrop Poisoner + Not Dead After All
Gumdrop Poisoner is already one of the strongest rares in the set as a cheap creature that kills a creature the turn it comes down and has a well-statted body with lifelink. While the typical play pattern with the Poisoner is to crack a Food token or two to gain life for the ETB, Not Dead After All works wonders.
All you do is attack or block in combat to kill the Poisoner, then use Not Dead After All to reanimate it. Since combat damage gets dealt before the Poisoner comes back, its lifelink damage determines the value of X. This trick kills two smaller creatures, but also effectively allows your Not Dead After All to trade up with larger creatures, like Beluna’s Gatekeeper or Hamlet Glutton.
Stockpiling Celebrant + The Princess Takes Flight
Stockpiling Celebrant is the best white common. It offers incredible value. You can bounce Prophetic Prisms and Spreading Seas to draw extra cards, bounce Adventure creatures for a makeshift Mulldrifter, and reset creatures enchanted by Pascifim-esque interaction and Cursed Roles.
The best synergy is with The Princess Takes Flight. This Saga isn’t your average Oblivion Ring that returns the exiled permanent when it leaves play; the third ability must resolve for your opponent to get their exiled creature back so it’s in your best interest to remove the Saga before it does. Bargaining with The Princess using Stockpiling Celebrant is your best option since you get to scry 2, exile another creature, and get the +2/+2 buff all over again.
Back for Seconds + Tenacious Tomeseeker
Looping a Raise Dead effect with an Archaeomancer effect is an easy way to extract value that’s present in numerous Limited formats, but Bargain adds a bit of spice here. If you Bargain Back for Seconds, you don’t want to put the Tomeseeker into play; you want to cast it so you can return Seconds to your hand to go back for thirds and even fourths. Limited decks are hungry for value.
This little loop helps keep up blockers; the basic idea is to get Tomeseeker into combat so it dies, comes back, and fights once more. Veracious Vermin and Sweettooth Witch are excellent second creatures to recur with this loop, as they provide Bargain fodder for the Tomeseeker.
Unruly Catapult + Curiosity
Who doesn’t love drawing tons of cards while pinging your opponents? Curiosity has old templating, so it draws you a card whenever a creature deals damage instead of just combat damage. While enchanting any flying Faerie in the format is powerful, pairing Curiosity with a living catapult does a lot of work.
Since you’ll draw a card every time you activate the Catapult, this is at minimum your personal Howling Mine. Since we’re in UR, it’s safe to assume we’ll have plenty of instants and sorceries to untap the Catapult. This combo does a great job fueling itself; the more instants and sorceries we cast, the more cards we draw, resulting in even more instants and sorceries to cast. You get the idea.
Yenna, Redtooth Regent + Three Blind Mice
The only combo in the list to require two rares, it’s also the only combo worth contorting your mana base around because it was an absurd number of games. The goal is simple: Use Yenna’s ability to make a token copy of Three Blind Mice, preferably before the original has used all its “copy target token” chapters.
Once we do this, we make the Three Blind Mice copy the copy. This combination grows exponentially; as we make more copies of Three Blind Mice, we’ll have more copies to make copies. Your opponent has a narrow window of opportunity to win once this gets rolling before you overwhelm them with mice.
While very few of these combos outright end the game, they’re all powerful ways to get the most out of your cards. Limited is Magic in its purest form; it’s all about playing to the board and generating card advantage through clever choices in both the drafting portion and the gameplay.
These combos all utilize cards that are powerful on their own to squeeze just a little more from our cards. The squeeze is often the edge it takes to win a game, and winning a game is the first step towards winning the match. Once you start looking for these simple combos, finding them throughout Limited formats becomes a great way to take your drafting to the next level.
Until next time, thanks for reading!