Yes, dear readers. You can gain infinite life in Standard with a two card combo. Let me explain it to you before we do anything else.
Whenever Ill-Tempered Loner is dealt damage, it deals that much damage to any target. Now, what happens if Loner is dealt damage while being indestructible + having lifelink? Example: We play Angelfire Ignition on Loner > Any damage on Loner will let us deal the same amount of damage to any target > We target Loner with its own ability > We are going to win life because he has lifelink > Loner is indestructible, so the damage will not kill it > Repeat.
So, what we can do with this? Forcing the combo making a list with a lot of lifelink and/or indestructible enablers could end in a really janky deck list. After investigating a little bit, we found our friends LosMagioos reach the #2 rank in Mythic one month ago with Boros Aggro:
The relevant red cards both lists play and we have to keep are: Reckless Stormseeker and Showdown of the Skalds. Then we have keep the 4 Angelfire Ignition on HGG’s list… now, add 4 Ill-Tempered Loner… with some wand movements later…
You know whats the amazing part of this? Ollenbock Escort can do the same trick Angelfire Ignition does if Ill-Tempered Loner has a +1/+1 counter on it. With this build we aim for a sub +1/+1 counters theme.
Do you remember when I said that Ollenbock Escort was the new Selfless Savior? Well, in this deck we can exploit all the potential this card has. On the other hand, Hopeful Initiate has shown how good it is with the recent results of Mono White, and with Luminarch Aspirant, both cards can really shine in this +1/+1 counters deck core.
In recent memory, many decks splashed red a few months ago when Kaldheim was released just for Showdown of the Skalds. For one reason or another, the card fell in popularity, but in this deck it’s an incredible amount of gas while being a +1/+1 counters enabler at the same time. Everything starts looking good, right?
Elite Spellbinder is now a staple in every Mono White aggro deck, and is amazing here because it not only helps for delaying board wipes, it can protect our combo too. Brutal Cathar fights constantly for a spot in this kind of deck with Skyclave Apparition, but having Reckless Stormseeker and Ill-Tempered Loner here, it makes sense to choose the werewolf. Besides its 2W cost (that helps in this two colored deck), it lets us assemble a board where we can take some advantages of playing with the day and night cycle.
Speaking of Reckless Stormseeker, this creature is amazing for letting us attack and exert pressure a little bit faster (in some situations, better than a Mono White deck.) Giving Haste to Ill-Tempered Loner also tends to be really good.
Finally, about our mana base, I started out with 4 Shatterskull Smashing, but a 2-2 split with Spikefield Hazard felt like a better choice. Having the chance of dealing 1 damage to our Loner in case of emergency for comboing purposes tends to work really well.
Before moving on to our Sideboard Guide, I’m going to present the Bo1 list, something that I’m including now in my deck guides to try and give you the best possible build for this ladder. Many of my usual readers know my pov about avoiding cards that work well for one matchup but don’t do anything against other ones in Bo1. In this case, just like my last column about Bard Class Deck Guide, our deck doesn’t have any blank/dead cards and has a solid plan against every archetype on game 1. Playing the Bo3 list without the sideboard is going to work pretty well (if you want to check how an archetype could vary between Bo1 and Bo3 you could check my Spirits Deck Guide).
This is some kind of mirror match. The best part about it is the fact that we have 4 modal lands in form of Spikefield Hazard and Shatterskull Smashing that really help us as removal. We also have Showdown of the Skalds, something that could let our creatures get bigger and easily become something they can’t pass by.
We take out Elite Spellbinder because there’s almost no cards we really want to take away on turn 3+, and even if flying is amazing in this matchup, the 1 toughness makes Elite Spellbinder trade really badly if they have Clarion Spirit.
Portable Hole is an auto-include, while Reidane, God of the Worthy is something not that obvious, and the main reason for having it here is because playing it as Valkmira, Protector’s Shield. The more you try this shield in this kind of mirror match, the more you like it (and playing this card as Reidane while being on the play can give us an incredible tempo swing and make our opponent’s snow lands come into play tapped).
We pack 5 extremely efficient removal spells for this matchup. Valorous Stance not only lets us check any big threat our opponent could be presenting, it also gives indestructible to one of our creatures, so that means more good Ill-Tempered Loner triggers. Loner is amazing here (and also against Mono White) because it’s extremely hard trading with it.
We have answers since game 1 for Esika's Chariot in Hopeful Initiate, and our low two mana spell curve works amazing in all our games 2 and 3 for making space for our sideboard cards. If you face any low curve Mono Green build, you can consider adding Portable Hole to the sideboard plan (taking out 2 Reckless Stormseeker -if you are on the draw- and/or + 1 Ollenbock Escort).
|+2 Reidane, God of the Worthy||-4 Brutal Cathar|
|+4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben||-4 Hopeful Initiate|
|+2 Guardian of Faith||-1 Angelfire Ignition|
|+2 Valorous Stance||-1 Showdown of the Skalds|
This is just a general idea and making you understand how this match could work depending on the variant is key. If you are playing against dragons you surely want to side in our Portable Hole. Valorous Stance can easily go in against Lier, Disciple of the Drowned and Hullbreaker Horror, but the 3 mentioned cards: Reidane, Thalia and Guardian are something that help against every iteration of Izzet.
Some Brutal Cathar could be left in if we are against Dragons or Lier + Hullbreaker. You could take out the 4 of them if you are against Creatureless Izzet. Just do your best effort on game 1 for identifying the possibilities that await for game 2 and 3, and adjust. Adaptation is key to achieve victory in this match up. Then, taking out one offs of our combo pieces is a possibility to make some space to try and leave our curve as aggro and fast as possible. (We don’t play any graveyard hate, but if Creatureless Izzet and/or Orzhov spikes in popularity, Lantern of the Lost is always a possibility).
|+2 Reidane, God of the Worthy||-2 Ollenbock Escort|
|+2 Portable Hole||-2 Intrepid Adversary|
|+4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben||-4 Reckless Stormseeker|
|+2 Guardian of Faith||-1 Showdown of the Skalds|
|-1 Angelfire Ignition|
Don’t get me wrong, Reckless Stormseeker is good against slow decks, but in this particular case, we are siding in 6 more three mana creatures, in consequence adjusting the curve in consequence is needed. Hopeful Initiate remains because Orzhov is now tending to play Wedding Announcement, and even if they don’t, having something to fight against Edgar, Charmed Groom (in Coffin form) is mandatory. Taking out a The Meathook Massacre is sometimes a good idea as well with Initiate.
On the other hand, we take out a pair of Ollenbock Escort because they removal relies mostly on Vanishing Verse, which exiles, making our indestructibility plan a little bit worse, but not enough to cut them all because we have many Blood on the Snow to fight on. Guardian of Faith is indeed here for the same reason.
Tips and Tricks
- Hopeful Initiate can destroy an artifact or enchantment by removing +1/+1 counters from creatures we control, not just from itself.
- Ollenbock Escort has the same combo functionality as Angelfire Ignition with Ill-Tempered Loner if Loner has a +1/+1 counter on it.
- Brutal Cathar, Reckless Stormseeker and Ill-Tempered Loner are all werewolves. Planning a good day/night cycle with all of them transforming in the same turn could be devastating.
- Elite Spellbinder is the auto play one turn before you expect a board wipe.
- Ill-Tempered Loner has fire breathing, don’t forget it Fire breathing: +1 or +2 to its attack as an activated ability.
- Angelfire Ignition puts down two +1/+1 counters on our target. That enables Ollenbock Escort as a squire for our targeted creature. Same goes for Showdown of the Skalds counters.
Shatterskull Summitand Spikefield Hazard can enable our combo by targeting our Ill-Tempered Loner when our opponent didn’t block, etc.
- Don’t hesitate in using Angelfire Ignition for attacking with Loner even if you probably are not going to face any block. Let your opponents decide if they want to let our attack pass and receive high amount of damage or give us infinite lives.
- Use Ill-Tempered Loner highly aggressively during combat. Interacting with it while attacking or blocking is extremely hard for our opponents. Be proactive.
Before ending this column, let me share with you a list of cards that could make the cut but for some reason they are not in my list. You could try it for adaptability purposes or to use them as replacements.
- Fireblade Charger: It’s a good option to maintain our aggressive plan while giving us another way of dealing damage to our Ill-Tempered Loner.
- Usher of the Fallen: It’s the best one drop for White aggressive strategies in a vacuum. 2 power, and a plan for turn two in case we don’t have another play. It’s maybe our best option because we are playing just 6 two drops.
- Blade Historian: The Torbran, Thane of Red Fell of this Standard. Not a bad idea if we want to raise our curve.
- Fateful Absence: Technically the best mono White removal per se. We are going for meta calls with Portable Hole and Valorous Stance, but if a more general approach is wanted, this works amazingly.
- Kazuul's Fury: I feel 2 Spikefield Hazard are enough taplands, and work better for our plan, but Kazuul's Fury is not a bad idea in general terms.
- Play With Fire, Frost Bite and/or Rip Apart: These three cards are good in our deck, but I think they are kind of meta dependent (and we can’t afford many snow permanents for Frost Bite).
- Curse of Silence and Paladin Class: Amazing sideboard cards. Adjusting our sideboard for these two cards is very doable depending on the metagame you’re expecting.
- Codespell Cleric and Clarion Spirit: We are just a little bit away of going wide the first two turns. Codespell could work amazingly with its +1/+1 counter ability enabling Escort and Clarion could help solidify our two drops.
- Skyclave Apparition: Without a doubt an easy inclusion if wanted.
- Lorehold Command: This is a very particular case. If Ill-Tempered Loner is transformed, all our creatures would reflect damage. Attacking and making all our team indestructible with this command could be amazing. I just think is some kind of “win more” kind of card Win more: A card that helps to win when you are almost going to win anyways.
- Abrade: Just a good card in general. An easy sideboard add if needed.
Clearly White has amazing creatures right now for being on the aggressive plan. A lot of variants are out there, even Azorius variants are here and there, but now it’s time to Boros for shine again.
I have an amazing time working on this deck, and even without the combo we are very capable of playing the conventional aggro strategy without any problem. Showdown of the Skalds gives us the gas that Mono White lacks from time to time, and access to red makes our match against Mono Green more navigable thanks to Burning Hands.
Let me thank you for all the support our YouTube Channel is getting, you are the best! Ah, by the way, don’t forget to check out the latest coverage on the Innistrad Championship to see how the top players are faring in Standard and Historic. Until next time, remember to drink water!