Hypergenesis Combo in Classic

Posted on Wednesday, May 20th, 2009 by prolepsis
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Posted in ALR contest entry, mtg, serious business, strategy

When Alara Reborn spoilers were starting to hit the internet, the first Cascade spells appeared to show both restraint and caution from R&D, as most of the spells besides the obviously awesome Bloodbraid Elf had marginal effects. Free Spell mechanics, however, have a legacy not only of being broken, but of being unexpectedly broken, so there was still a lot of hope that Cascade would live up to its forbearers.

One of the early contenders was a deck concept I first saw on the Starcity Games forums as an idea for Extended. The deck played as many of the 3cc Cascade spells as it feasibly could and had no cheaper spells than the chaff rare Hypergenesis, which you could conveniently play for free after the Time Spiral rules update. Being able to cast Hypergenesis on turn 3, or even turn 2 off of a Simian Spirit Guide could let you drop any number of broken things into play. The downside, of course, is that you are necessarily limited in the disruption cards combo decks usually need to be viable. Against a field of Spellstutter Sprites, Toils of Night and Day won’t get you there.

With that in mind, I wondered if the combo would be viable in MODO Classic (a format similar to Legacy). You would have to deal with Force of Will and Counterbalance, but you gain your own forces as well as Elvish Spirit Guide for the potentially t1 kill.

I am currently testing with the following list.

A walkthrough of the elements of the deck, starting with the combo:

4 Ardent Plea

4 Violent Outburst

3 Hypergenesis

Ardent Plea and Violent Outburst are the only two Cascade spells that don’t require a target. Demonic Dread is unplayable, as cards like Forbidden Orchard don’t make it work with consistency and also interfere with your gushing.

The Fat:

4 Hellkite Overlord

4 Progenitus

4 Inkwell Leviathan

2 Bogardan Hellkite

I am using a much smaller creature base, as I found that comboing out in the first place is more important than guaranteeing you the kill once you do. Without effective disruption, you don’t have inevitability and card afford to sculpt a perfect hand, and that means often only being able to cheat out one creature. Also, with the pitch spells, you often are throwing away extra dudes either to stay alive or to push through the combo. Progenitus and Inkwell are the hardest to kill creatures available. The Hellkites are quick sources of damage to the face, which can be important against combo.

The Support:

4 Serum Powder

4 Force of Will

4 Gush

Serum Powder sucks, but makes do. The Gushes are here because I wanted other spells that an opposing control deck would care about. Also, with the low land count, you often can Gush to ensure you hit your third mana.

The Mana:

4 Flooded Strand

4 Wooded Foothills

2 Breeding Pool

2 Steam Vents

1 Savannah

1 Tundra

1 Gemstone Caverns

4 Elvish Spirit Guide

4 Simian Spirit Guide

I’m not sold on Gemstone Caverns, but the speed can help. Savannah is in the awkward spot of being a non-island, but you need to be able to fetch a white source out of Wooded Foothills, so it gets the call.

The Sideboard:

4 Commandeer

4 Krosan Grip

4 Pyrokinesis

3 Eureka

Krosan Grip is for Counterbalance and Chalice of the Void that can easily lock you out. Pyrokinesis is an early drop that takes care of Ethersworn Canonist and Meddling Mage, as well as aggro and elves combo. Eureka is also for blue decks, which often have trouble with top-of-the-curve answers. Usually Force is their only hard counter, and they rely on Daze, Counterbalance, Swords to Plowshares and Spell Snare to mop up the rest. Being able to suspend hypergenesis can set up a turn where you can potentially overrun them with three must-counter spells between a consecutive end-of-turn, upkeep and main phase.

I was actually surprised how viable the deck is. Blue decks aren’t the autoloss they appeared to be, partially because you have card draw and as mentioned, their hard counters are limited. Meddling Mage and Counterbalance were the hardest to beat, so it’s definitely not a favorable matchup, but I’d be ok if you can bring it up to 40/60. The real draw of the deck is you also have several near-bye matchups against mono-red, zoo and other creature decks.

The downside is that the deck is pretty inconsistent. You have no control over your draws and you need the right mix of land/spells/creatures to go off, including which lands you are lucky enough to draw. This makes mulliganing both absolutely necessary and especially costly, though, and also means you will often keep hands that are missing one component and die to decks that would ordinarily have no right beating you. The deck has a huge problem with Necropotence that goes away, but I’m not sure it fares any better versus Ad Nauseam Tendrils. It’s also not a cheap deck, considering the forces, so it’s definitely not as good as any other deck you could build for about the same money, but it’s insanely fun to play.

Next steps regarding the deck are figuring out if I can fix the lands, if the creature mix is ok, and if the sideboard could be better. Other considerations are Magus of the Moon, Natural Order over Commandeer and maybe grip.