Neoform Combo Historic Deck Guide: The Terror of Historic Ladder
Do you enjoy playing powerful decks? Do you like crushing any non-interactive deck? Do you want to be the villain of Arena ladder? Well then I have the deck for you! This isn’t a new deck by any stretch, but I’ve put off playing it because I thought the deck was a meme, but I was floored by how wrong I was. Today, I’m going to go over Neoform Combo (or also known as Neostorm).
What is Neoform Combo? The combo is centered around casting Neoform on a 2 drop when you have a way to copy it while it is on the stack, either through Sea Gate Stormcaller or Dualcaster Mage. When you get the combo to work, you tutor for all your Dualcaster Mage as each copy triggers Neoform an additional time, all your Glasspool Mimic to copy Dualcaster Mage, then either both your Tuktuk Rubblefort or one Tuktuk Rubblefort and one Combat Celebrant. When you get the combo off, you won’t necessarily win the game as you need to actually kill the opponent through combat, unlike Paradox Combo which doesn’t have that restriction.
I want to address the elephant in the room, why play Neoform Combo over Paradox Combo? Neoform is faster, easier to play, and needs fewer pieces to win. The downsides to Neoform are that you don’t have a tenable Plan B and Paradox is more resilient, but I really enjoy the wins you can get completely out of nowhere where Paradox needs a lot of set up to win.
Before I continue, let’s take a look at the first list I found to work off of.
As I said before, I thought this deck was a meme to begin with and completely made obsolete with the discovery of Paradox Combo. I’ve been intending to play it for awhile, but it required a lot of Wild Cards and I figured I would burn through my rank extremely quickly if I ever convinced myself to play it. Sure, it’s good against decks that play literally no interaction, but if the opponent ever casts a Thoughtseize, you just lose right? Well, that’s what I expected when I first tried this deck and decided to try the games a little bit differently than normal.
Generally, I play 3 Best of 3 matches before I make any changes to a list, but this time, I played 2 Best of 3 matches then 2 Best of One games since I figured Neoform would be bad in Best of Three and fine in Best of One. So what happened? I didn’t drop a game. That would make sense if I faced only good matchups, but with my Best of 3 matches being against Sultai Midrange and RB Arcanist, then my Best of One being Paradox Combo and Rakdos Cat, I was shocked to say the least. All my opponents had rather strong starts as well and it’s not like I had the nut draw necessarily, the deck was just way better at winning than I gave it credit for.
The base for the deck felt excellent and there wasn’t much I felt needed changing, but there were small improvements I felt I could make. Let’s take a look at my updated list that I recommend for both Best of One and Best of Three play.
As I said, minimal changes. Let’s go over the card choices for the list.
Glasspool Mimic is an amazing upgrade for this deck as it’s a Mirror Image or a tapland when needed. You generally wouldn’t want to play Mirror Image in this deck as the card is dead outside of the combo, so being able to use it as a land is obviously a colossal improvement.
Goose can help you for 1 turn of acceleration as needed or life gain in a pinch. There is an argument to play Llanowar Elves in this spot instead, but Green mana isn’t the most helpful in this deck so having access to the color is generally more useful.
Paradise Druid is not an exciting prospect in Historic, but actually serves a lot of roles in the deck. The primary function is that it’s a mana accelerant that taps for any color, but the fact that it can be a Hexproof Neoform target as well can help brute force the combo in the face of removal.
The primary combo enabler for the deck. Ideally when you have 4 mana, you cast Sea Gate Stormcaller into Neoform then go off with the combo. An interaction that a lot of people miss when playing this deck is that if you have multiple Sea Gate Stormcaller in your hand, you can cast one out and play a card draw spell like Shimmer of Possibilities, Anticipate, or Opt to help dig you deeper to your combo. It seems obvious, but a lot of players box themselves in to only casting Stormcaller when they’re going for the win. In that vein as well, you can run out a Stormcaller without going for the combo in hopes of drawing out removal for the opponent, even if you don’t have the win, but that’s not a line I would use particularly often.
A 0/4 defender that draws a card and a good Neoform target.
Combat Celebrant isn’t technically an integral part of the combo, but it can help kill the opponent if they are at a particularly high life total, have a lot of blockers, or both. Furthermore, if you ever need the Plan B of playing little idiots and beating them to death, Combat Celebrant can certainly make that more possible. I’ve seen lists playing 2 of these to functionally always ensure you have 1 in your deck for the combo, but I feel like that is mostly unnecessary.
Dualcaster Mage serves two main functions in the combo. You can either use it to copy your Neoform as a surrogate Sea Gate Stormcaller or just fetching it out when you got to combo to work already. Another way to utilize this is as Neoform protection if you believe your opponent may be holding a counterspell to stop the combo as you can copy the spell again instant speed.
Unfortunately, this card is unplayable in the deck outside of the combo, but you do need it to ensure you can kill your opponent in one turn. Generally when going through the combo you’ll get one Tuktuk Rubblefort and one Combat Celebrant, but if you believe your opponent may have a removal spell to stop you from getting lethal, feel free to tutor for both copies to ensure you can attack with all of your creatures.
Your combo piece. You can’t really use this beyond the combo, but in the post board games, you could hypothetically find an Uro, but you should probably just try to go for the combo instead.
This isn’t exactly a Constructed powerhouse, but 2 mana to see 4 cards deep is really powerful when we’re trying to assemble a 2 card combo.
All the lists I’ve seen only play 2 Valakut Awakening and I’m shocked that this isn’t at least a 3 of, as potentially you should play 4. At worst, this is a tap land you can play when you have no other lands. At its best, you can recycle a hand that has nothing going for it into a hand capable of winning the game. In multiple games I cast a turn 3 Valakut Awakening with neither piece of the combo and found both halves after resolution. Try out 3 for now, but if you want the fourth, I would look to shave an Opt or a Gilded Goose.
One mana to look two cards deep, not a bad rate.
This is mostly a worst Shimmer of Possibilities, but becomes better in the post board games where holding up interaction becomes more important.
Since you don’t really have a Plan B, you need to brute force your combo even in the face of decks that are really good at stopping you. If you’re going for the win, the downside to Pact of Negation is completely negated by the virtue that your opponent loses that turn.
Good for either bonking off creatures or killing Grafdigger’s Cage.
Aether Gust has felt relatively narrow for me as I really only want it against Goblins, but the deck boards very lightly so having high impact cards like Gust is a pretty low opportunity cost.
This is a piece of tech from my good friend Ginky that I really like. If you’re facing a deck that is looking to interact with you and you need to insulate your combo, Jace is really good at Scrying you closer to important pieces or drawing additional cards.
Counterspells are a huge issue, so having a card that deals with them really cleanly is invaluable. You could always add more Disputes, but counterspells have been on the decline recently.
I said that this deck didn’t have a Plan B, but that doesn’t mean we can’t add one. Uro is really good against interactive decks and if they spend all of their resources trying to stop you from comboing, there’s a real chance they can’t stop your Uro from accruing a lot of value.
MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARD GUIDE
|+3 Pact of Negation||-2 Gilded Goose|
|+2 Jace, Mirror Mage||-4 Wall of Blossoms|
|+2 Mystical Dispute||-1 Opt|
|+2 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath||-2 Anticipate|
|+2 Aether Gust (Yasharn)||-2 Opt (Yasharn)|
Unfortunately for Neoform, Sultai is definitely a difficult matchup as they have a lot of interaction and threats that kill you quickly. The nice thing is, Sultai has been building more towards the mirror rather than targeting creature decks which should make the matchup more tenable than it used to be. You are still trying to combo them out, but you can utilize your Uro and Jace to put pressure on Sultai to be proactive to kill you, then you can just kill them with the combo. If they are 4 Color, Yasharn actively stops your combo so you need to stop it from being on the board at all cost. In that case, we need to play Aether Gust as that’s the only way we can reasonably interact with it. On that note, don’t Aether Gust Yasharn until you intend on going for the win with the combo.
This is mostly going to be a race, but Neoform has the advantage in both speed and interaction. Ideally you are just assembling the combo as fast as possible, but you can use your Abrade and Aether Gust to slow them down enough if you’re struggling to assemble the win. Furthermore, you have to kill them before they go nuts with Krenko as they can generate enough blockers to stop you from killing them so try not to let a Krenko live if possible.
I would say this matchup is quite favorable as they don’t have much in terms of interaction nor are they a particularly fast deck. The only way you can really lose is if they assemble Mayhem Devil with Cat/Oven or they aggro you out with something like Dreadhorde Butcher, both scenarios Abrade is helpful at mitigating.
This matchup can be difficult as their deck is quite fast and they can have a decent amount of interaction with Bonecrusher Giant, Rampaging Ferocidon, and more removal in the board. Nevertheless, even if they have a great start you should be able to assemble the combo by turn 4 or 5 which generally will be fast enough against a non-ideal draw from Gruul.
Bant / Selesnya Company
The boarding is the same as Gruul, but these matchups should be a lot easier than Gruul as they aren’t nearly as fast nor do they have that much in terms of interaction. Bant is a bit harder as they play Meddling Mage to meddle with the win, but you just need to find an Abrade to deal with that.
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