Hey everyone! Today I’m going to be covering my Jund Trapfinder combo list in Alchemy which I recently used to go 40-4 with and hit rank #1 with on the Arena ladder.
This is a combo deck that is looking to reduce the cost of Ominous Traveler and A-Acererak the Archlich in order to loop them for value, and also potentially go infinite to win the game that turn. I’ve also put up a video on my YouTube channel with with 5 matches of game play if you’re interested in seeing the deck in action.
The main objective in this deck is to try and reduce the cost of Ominous Traveler and A-Acererak the Archlich in order to cast them repeatedly. Ideally, we want to try and reduce their cost to the point where we can cast them over and over infinitely which will win us the game that turn (I’ll explain how this works in the Combo Payoffs section). Even just casting them for value when their cost isn’t reduced enough to go infinite is a good way to either build up a big board with Ominous Traveler, or get a load of dungeon value with A-Acererak the Archlich.
The Cost Reduction:
Birgi, God of Storytelling: This produces a red mana every time we cast a spell which essentially reduces the cost of our payoffs we’re attempting to loop by one mana (it’s even stronger with Ominous Traveler since it will produce mana for both the Ominous Traveler, and the spellbook creature you cast, essentially reducing the cost of that loop by 2 mana).
You can also play this as Harnfel, Horn of Bounty, which is nice in grindy matchups or situations where you’re low on resources in order to turn any dead draw into two looks for something better.
Racketeer Boss: This is another way we have of reducing our payoff creatures by 1 mana assuming they’re in our hand when it triggers. This is generally stronger than Birgi, God of Storytelling since it’s much more difficult to interact with. Birgi, God of Storytelling has to stay on the battlefield in order to reduce the cost of our payoffs whereas the perpetual ability will remain on our Ominous Traveler and A-Acererak the Archlich even if Racketeer Boss dies.
Additionally, the treasure can also produce mana of any color (unlike Birgi, God of Storytelling which can only produce red) which is important at being able to make A-Acererak the Archlich completely free to cast.
Goblin Trapfinder: This is potentially the most powerful of the cost reduction effects since it reduces the cost of whichever card it hits by 2 mana which is really strong! Obviously, the cards we’re ideally looking to hit off it are A-Acererak the Archlich and Ominous Traveler (which is why we’re running 4 of each) and we’re trying to run as low a creature count as possible outside of that to maximize our chances of hitting them.
I did try builds without Birgi, God of Storytelling or Racketeer Boss to increase the odds, but I felt like you’re too reliant on Goblin Trapfinder and just don’t have enough redundancy for the cost reduction effect at that point. You’ll win a lot of matches simply by manually reducing the cost of your payoffs with Birgi, God of Storytelling and Racketeer Boss without ever drawing Goblin Trapfinder.
One of the downsides of Goblin Trapfinder is that it has to die to get the effect, which makes it vulnerable to exile effects like Vanishing Verse or Kumano Faces Kakkazan, the opponent having fliers to go over Trapfinder, or them just choosing not to attack into it. For that reason, I like running Village Rites and Deadly Dispute as ways to guarantee you can get the effect while also digging for more cards.
The great thing about these cards is it allows you to sacrifice your Goblin Trapfinder in response to something like Vanishing Verse, or chump block and then sacrifice it to prevent damage, get the effect, and draw 2. They also play very well with Cabaretti Revels since Goblin Trapfinder is the only 1 mana creature in the deck, you’re guaranteed to hit it off Cabaretti Revels whenever you play a 2 mana creature which will immediately provide you with a great target to sacrifice.
The Combo Payoffs:
A-Acererak the Archlich: We’re mainly utilizing this as a way to repeatedly provide a bunch of dungeon room triggers for Dungeon of the Mad Mage or Lost Mine of Phandelver each time we cast it. You should never go into Tomb of Annihilation, since once you complete that dungeon, A-Acererak the Archlich will stop returning to your hand which will mean it stops working as a combo piece.
The end goal with A-Acererak the Archlich is to try and reduce its cost by 3 mana, with at least one of those cost reductions being the perpetual treasure ability from Racketeer Boss. This will allow you to repeatedly cast A-Acererak the Archlich for free which technically provides infinite dungeon triggers assuming the opponent doesn’t have removal for it. The reason Racketeer Boss is necessary for this is because A-Acererak the Archlich will still cost a black mana if you just use Goblin Trapfinder and Birgi, God of Storytelling to reduce its cost, whereas the treasure from Racketeer Boss enables you to pay for the black mana, making it entirely free each loop.
Once you have this set up, you usually want to go through Dungeon of the Mad Mage which allows you to draw 3 and cast one of those cards for free off the last room, the Mad Wizard’s Lair. The card you’re ideally looking to hit off the Mad Wizard’s Lair is Cabaretti Revels, so you should usually use all of the scries you get from earlier rooms to try and dig for that.
Once you have Cabaretti Revels in play, each time you cast A-Acererak the Archlich, you’ll seek a 1 or 2 mana creature onto the battlefield which will eventually result in you putting both Prosperous Innkeeper and Dina, Soul Steeper into play (if you have either of them in your hand, you can just choose to put a treasure into play off the
Since we’re only running one copy of Prosperous Innkeeper and Dina, Soul Steeper, there will be certain matches where the opponent has killed or discarded your only copy, in which case you can either loop through Dungeon of the Mad Mage in order to set up a win with Ominous Traveler (which is explained in the next section). If the opponent is at a reasonably low life total, you could repeatedly loop through Lost Mine of Phandelver where you can drain the opponent for 1 each loop by going through Dark Pool (timing out can be an issue if the opponent is at a higher life total though).
Ominous Traveler: Similar to A-Acererak the Archlich, we’re trying to abuse Ominous Traveler by reducing it’s cost so we can repeatedly cast Ominous Traveler, draft a creature from its spellbook, and cast the spellbook creature which returns Ominous Traveler to our hand.
With 15 different creatures in its spellbook, the mana cost of the cards you get offered varies each time which will usually determine how many times you’ll be able to loop it. In general though, if you’re able to reduce its cost by 4 mana, or you’ve reduced it by 3 mana and one of the cost reductions is Birgi, God of Storytelling, then you’ll usually be able to go infinite unless you get incredibly unlucky with the spellbook drafts. The reason why Birgi, God of Storytelling is really nice with Ominous Traveler is that it provides cost reduction for both the Ominous Traveler, and the creature you cast from its spellbook, essentially counting as an extra cost reduction each loop.
If you have Ominous Traveler reduced by 4 mana, or 3 mana with one of those reductions being Birgi, God of Storytelling, then every 1 mana creature you get off the spellbook will net you a mana, every 2 mana creature is mana neutral, every 3 mana creature costs you 1 mana etc. Once you have this set up, you should prioritize taking 1 mana creatures whenever you get offered them to build up mana, then prioritize taking Dominating Vampire (assuming you have enough mana to do so), and otherwise just prioritize taking the cheapest creature possible so you don’t run out of mana.
Dominating Vampire provides a way for you to win the same turn you’re comboing off with Ominous Traveler, as you can use it to steal all of your opponent’s creatures (there are a number of other vampires in the spellbook to enable you to steal bigger creatures including Falkenrath Pit Fighter which is a card you’ll want to pick since it’s 1 mana). More importantly, you can also use Dominating Vampire to target your own creatures to give them haste and be able to attack the same turn – you will need to ensure you’re playing fast in order to pull this off consistently.
If you have Cabaretti Revels in play when you’re comboing off with Ominous Traveler, then you can kill much faster – you should still prioritize taking 1 mana creatures to build up mana, but rather than just taking the cheapest creature, you should generally prioritize taking 3 mana creatures if a 1 mana creature isn’t available. This is because the 3 mana creature will trigger Cabaretti Revels which will eventually put both Prosperous Innkeeper and Dina, Soul Steeper into play, allowing you to then win the same way you do with A-Acererak the Archlich which is generally much faster.
Additionally, you can also potentially hit Racketeer Boss off Cabaretti Revels when doing this which you can use to further reduce the cost of your Ominous Traveler (since you can return Ominous Traveler to your hand before the Cabaretti Revels trigger resolves, meaning Ominous Traveler will already be in your hand when the Racketeer Boss triggers allowing you to apply the perpetual ability to it.) This is really strong as it can allow you to go from non-infinite loops (if you only had 2/3 reductions on Ominous Traveler for example) to an infinite loop simply by casting 3 mana creatures off the spellbook.
Important note: When I was playing the deck, Arena would always order the triggers correctly so that Ominous Traveler would return to my hand before the Cabaretti Revels trigger resolved, but I’ve seen a few people say that Arena is automatically ordering the triggers the wrong way around (which could easily end up losing you the game) so if that is happening to you, make sure you go to options -> gameplay and make sure that ‘auto order triggered abilities’ is unticked whenever you’re casting a 3 mana creature off the spellbook just to ensure that the Ominous Traveler trigger is resolving before the Cabaretti Revels trigger. It’s usually a good idea to tick this again when you’re not in this situation since it will speed up your ability to combo which is very important at not timing out.
The Other Cards:
Prosperous Innkeeper & Dina, Soul Steeper: These are mainly here as a consideration to the timer on Arena. If the timer didn’t exist, then an optimal version of this deck wouldn’t be running Prosperous Innkeeper orDina, Soul Steeper since they both lower your odds of Goblin Trapfinder hitting A-Acererak the Archlich or Ominous Traveler (this is the reason I’m only running one of each).
If you don’t run these cards though, you will more than likely time out when comboing off with A-Acererak the Archlich since you would either have to repeatedly loop through Lost Mine of Phandelver, draining for 1 damage each dungeon loop (which will usually result in timing out if the opponent isn’t already at a fairly low life total), or repeatedly loop through Dungeon of the Mad Mage until you can set up Ominous Traveler to win, which can also result in you timing out if you don’t get good hits off the Mad Wizard’s Lair. Outside of the concern about timing out, it’s also just a nice quality of life upgrade to not have to spend 10 or 20 minutes comboing off each game.
They both have decent applications as individual cards too – the life gain that Prosperous Innkeeper provides is really nice at stabilizing against aggressive decks and Dina, Soul Steeper can also sacrifice Goblin Trapfinder to ensure we get the effect.
There very well could be better alternatives that I’ve missed (ideally you’d want to have either a non-creature spell or a creature that costs 4 or more to not lower your Goblin Trapfinder odds, that enables you to win with infinite enter the battlefield triggers off A-Acererak the Archlich which you could dig for with Dungeon of the Mad Mage), and if there are that’d be a meaningful upgrade to the deck.
Fable of the Mirror-Breaker: This is nice as a generically strong card that produces creature tokens (which you can sacrifice to Village Rites and Deadly Dispute), loots to pitch dead cards and dig for what you need, and it’s not a creature itself so it doesn’t lower your Goblin Trapfinder odds.
Reflections of Kiki-Jiki also has a number of nice targets to copy if the opponent doesn’t deal with – copying Prosperous Innkeeper can help gain a bunch of life on combo turns, copying Racketeer Boss enables you to apply further cost reduction, and copying Goblin Trapfinder will give you another seek trigger during your end step.
This doesn’t have specific synergy with the combo so it is usually one of the first cards I sideboard out, and is very much a flex slot, but I like it game 1 as a generically good card that helps filter through your deck. You could definitely replace this with something else (like maybe Molten Impact if the metagame shifts to main deck hatecards like Archon of Emeria), but I strongly advise not replacing this with any creature that costs between 1 and 3 mana as that will lower your Goblin Trapfinder odds which is a huge drawback.
24 lands has felt like a good amount to me overall since the curve isn’t that high, but you want to be hitting your third land on curve in the majority of games. I’ve gone for all dual lands since there is a fair amount of pressure on the manabase (needing all three colours on turn 2 as consistently as possible), but I could definitely see replacing one of the dual lands with a basic if cards like Field of Ruin or Cleansing Wildfire become more popular.
Since the main deck is already very streamlined and efficient at it’s game plan, you generally don’t want to sideboard much if you can afford to since it will make your proactive game plan less consistent. Because of this, you can afford to go more narrow in the sideboard, dedicating 4-ofs for problematic cards and matchups.
Additionally, if cards like Curse of Shaken Faith and Roiling Vortex become more popular, it might be worth replacing Molten Impact with Feed the Swarm in order to provide more answers to those enchantments.
4 Mind Spike: This is here predominantly for control decks as a way to strip them of instant-speed interaction to try and give yourself a window to combo off. This is here specifically for heavy control decks – it’s generally a bad idea to bring this in against an Esper Midrange deck, even if they’re running a fair amount of interaction since they’ll be running Diviner of Fates which is really strong against Mind Spike.
Against Esper Midrange, you typically want to board in Molten Impact to deal with Diviner of Fates as well as other potential hate creatures they might board in like Strict Proctor and Archon of Emeria.
3 Culling Ritual: This is mainly here for Oni-Cult Anvil decks as well as very low to the ground aggressive decks. This completely wipes out almost all of the problematic cards in the sacrifice decks like Oni-Cult Anvil and it’s tokens, Xander's Wake, A-The Meathook Massacre etc. and is often good enough to win you the game on its own.
Culling Ritual is also usually a good card to bring in against mono-red since it’s an answer to Curse of Shaken Faith and Roiling Vortex, both of which are commonly run in their sideboard and stop us comboing.
4 Curse of Shaken Faith: This is here pretty much exclusively for the mirror match and it will stop your opponent being able to combo unless they have two life gain enablers in play.
4 Molten Impact: This is mainly here for aggressive creature decks as well as white creature-based decks that are likely to bring in hate creatures like Archon of Emeria and Strict Proctor. This is very strong against low to the ground aggressive decks since it slows them down and we have Village Rites and Deadly Dispute that can trigger the excess damage to potentially kill another creature.
It’s also incredibly important to give us an answer to Archon of Emeria and Strict Proctor which otherwise shut our strategy down. If these creatures become more popular, I could definitely see moving Molten Impact into the main deck in place of 2 Deadly Dispute and 2 Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and then maybe running a couple of extra Feed the Swarm in the sideboard (as additional ways to kill hate creatures as well as enchantments like Curse of Shaken Faith).
Best of 1:
As things stand at the moment, I wouldn’t make any changes for this deck in best of 1. However, if people start main decking hate creatures like Archon of Emeria and Strict Proctor, then I would advise swapping 2 Deadly Dispute and 2 Fable of the Mirror-Breaker for 4 Molten Impact which will then also help against the aggressive decks too.
Matchups and Sideboard Guide:
They will likely play very cautiously with their instant-speed interaction to stop you comboing off, so you should try and apply pressure by either casting your creatures like Racketeer Boss and attacking, or just start casting your payoff cards for value and then try and hold onto your most cost-reduced payoffs to combo if they ever tap out.
This matchup is generally pretty good overall since they’re not particularly fast at killing you which gives you more time to set up your combo. Having said that, they do have very good reach in the mid-late game and can drain you out once their engines are online, so avoid taking unnecessary damage if possible. You very rarely win this matchup by attacking, so it’s usually best to hold creatures back to block to keep your life total at a reasonable level.
Culling Ritual is an all-star in this matchup since it will clean out basically all of their important cards, but do be aware it will also kill your 1 and 2 mana creatures, so make sure you return Ominous Traveler to hand before you play it.
Vs. Mono Red:
|+4 Molten Impact||-4 Deadly Dispute|
|+3 Culling Ritual||-2 Fable of the Mirror-Breaker|
|-1 Village Rites|
We can afford to cut a decent number of our sacrifice instants to make room for removal since they have a hard time not attacking into Goblin Trapfinder – do be aware that Kumano Faces Kakkazan will cause Goblin Trapfinder to be exiled if they flip it to Etching of Kumano and it dies.
In general, this matchup is all about trying to stabilize while also setting up your combo. Don’t be afraid to cast Prosperous Innkeeper to buffer your life total even if it will likely get killed since you have multiple ways to win without it while comboing, and mono red generally can’t punish you even if you time out before you finish comboing.
Vs. Other Aggressive decks/White-based creature decks:
This is how I sideboard against any aggressive deck that isn’t likely to be sideboarding Roiling Vortex or Curse of Shaken Faith, and any white-based creature decks like Esper Midrange that are likely to be boarding in Archon of Emeria and Strict Proctor.
Even if the opponent is on a more controlling Esper Midrange deck, I would still sideboard like this since it’s still very important to kill creatures like Diviner of Fates and Raffine, Scheming Seer, and there’s always a chance they’ll have Strict Proctor or Archon of Emeria in the sideboard which are almost impossible to beat if you don’t have Molten Impact.
Vs. The Mirror:
This matchup can be pretty swingy if you don’t have Curse of Shaken Faith as it will usually just come down to who can assemble their combo first.
Curse of Shaken Faith is very difficult for the opponent to beat unless they’re running more life gain enablers so it will force them into playing a fair game which should give you time to assemble your combo. In general you should mulligan any hand that doesn’t have either a reasonably fast start, or a Curse of Shaken Faith.
Tips & Tricks:
- If you have a Cabaretti Revels in play, and a Racketeer Boss and a Village Rites or Deadly Dispute in hand, you can go into full control mode and cast the Racketeer Boss which will trigger Cabaretti Revels. Let the Cabaretti Revels trigger resolve which will put a Goblin Trapfinder into play, then you can sacrifice the Goblin Trapfinder to Village Rites or Deadly Dispute, which will seek a card and draw 2 before the Racketeer Boss triggers, which will enable you to apply the perpetual ability to any payoff cards you draw. This is a very important line to learn and it’s crucial that you go into full control mode or it will skip straight through to the Racketeer Boss trigger without giving you the opportunity to sacrifice the Goblin Trapfinder.
- Once you have all 3 colours you of mana you need, it’s generally a good idea to prioritize playing your pathways on the black side, since having A-Acererak the Archlich reduced by 1 or 2 will require black mana each time you cast it, and can limit the number of dungeon triggers you can get if you’ve put your pathway on the opposite side.
- You can combo off as early as turn 3 if you hit A-Acererak the Archlich off Goblin Trapfinder – you can cast Goblin Trapfinder on turn 1 into Deadly Dispute or Village Rites on turn 2, and then if you hit A-Acererak the Archlich off Goblin Trapfinder, you can cast Racketeer Boss on turn 3 giving it the perpetual treasure and infinitely loop A-Acererak the Archlich to win the game.
- Playing fast is very important on turns where you think you might combo, so if you’re getting close to comboing off, or you think there’s a chance you might be able to set up a combo win the next turn, then it’s a good idea to plan your first few plays during the opponent’s turn so you don’t waste any time during your turn and potentially time out. Additionally, it’s always worth ensuring that you have ‘auto order triggered abilities’ under options -> gameplay ticked to save you time (unless you’re casting a 3 mana creature off Ominous Traveler‘s spellbook and Arena is ordering your triggers the wrong way round as highlighted above – you’ll have to quickly turn the setting off and on in those situations).
- Additionally, try to spend as little time as possible deciding on which creature to get off the Ominous Traveler spellbook wherever possible – have a goal in mind (eg. cheapest creature possible or Dominating Vampire etc) so that you can quickly choose and not waste time each loop.
- Don’t forget you can sacrifice creatures to Dina, Soul Steeper. This can be useful at triggering Goblin Trapfinder, going for lethal faster if you’re comboing off with Ominous Traveler against an empty board and Dina, Soul Steeper doesn’t have summoning sickness (since you can sacrifice a bunch of your creatures to increase Dina, Soul Steeper‘s power to attack for lethal), or if you’ve stolen the opponent’s creatures with Dominating Vampire, but you’re likely to time out before you can kill them (as you can just sacrifice your opponent’s creatures so they don’t get them back).
This deck is incredibly strong, pretty resilient, and is thankfully a lot smoother and more interesting to combo with than the previous Grinning Ignus deck was. There is definitely some counterplay to the deck, but this deck has the flex slots to be able to counteract that too (by potentially running more removal in the main deck to stop hate creatures for example).
Similarly to the Grinning Ignus deck, I think there’s a good chance this may also get hit by rebalances as it is such a generically powerful deck and it forces certain less interactive decks out of the format, but until then, it’s definitely a fun and interesting deck to play if you enjoy combo.
Thanks a lot for reading!