Our resident Modern expert, Shawn, is on break for two weeks which means you get GUEST POSTS! Today, brewmaster Aaron Gazzaniga explores forgotten combo decks of Modern. Will they emerge in the metagame after the much-expected Eldrazi bans?

Remember when Modern still had actual combo decks? Sure we recently had Splinter Twin in the format but much like High Tide in Legacy, Splinter Twin was a control deck that had a combo finish. Even removing the Splinter Twins from the deck, it was still a viable control deck able to beat you down with the likes of Snapcaster Mage, Pestermite and Deceiver Exarch plus Lightning Bolt and Electrolyze to finish your opponent off. What ever happened to the decks Hive Mind, Elemental Combo and Landfall Reanimator? Now that Twin isn’t the resident control/combo deck in the format and the Eldrazi menace has taken over, could these decks make a comeback? Let’s discuss how the metagame has changed and what Shadows of Innistrad cards could revive these combo decks, or not.


Hive Mind—Sample List 2011

Hive Mind

Lands (19)
Misty Rainforest
Scalding Tarn
Shivan Reef
Steam Vents
Tolaria West

Creatures (5)
Ethereal Usher
Simian Spirit Guide

Spells (36)
Gitaxian Probe
Hive Mind
Intervention Pact
Pact of Negation
Pact of the Titan
Pentad Prism
Seething Song
Serum Visions
Slaughter Pact
Sleight of Hand
Sideboard (15)
Leyline of Sanctity
Magus of the Moon
Relic of Progenitus
Spell Snare

Hive Mind has been all but forgotten. The last we saw of Hive Mind was in Amulet Bloom (which recently suffered the banning of Summer Bloom, the second half of its namesake) but otherwise there has not been a popular dedicated Hive Mind combo deck.

What happened to Hive Mind?

Looking at the deck list we can see a banned card from 2013, Seething Song. Why does this matter? In a format where UR Storm can kill turn two or three, Splinter Twin can tempo a game to kill on turn four regularly and Tron gets a Karn Liberated on turn three, Hive Mind at six mana without ramp isn’t very impressive. Seething Song gave it the ability to as early as turn three get a Hive Mind into play and cast a couple of Pacts in order to make your opponent lose of their upkeep since they likely cannot pay for them.

Could we revive it?

In the Shadows of Innistrad spoiler we got Vessel of Volatility. This card does something very similar to Seething Song, adds two extra mana for the cost of the activation. Perhaps if someone was interested in reviving this old time archetype they could replace the Seething Songs with Vessel of Volatility. The disadvantage is that it is a permanent that can be destroyed essentially causing you to waste an entire turn by casting it. The advantage is also because it is a permanent we can set it on the battlefield and use it when we need it without having to worry about discard. I am very interested to see if anyone should try to revive this archetype using this new card.

Landfall Reanimator—Sample List 2011

Landfall Reanimator

Lands (17)
Blood Crypt
Breeding Pool
Misty Rainforest
Overgrown Tomb
Scalding Tarn
Steam Vents

Creatures (35)
Birds of Paradise
Bloodbraid Elf
Enclave Cryptologist
Extractor Demon
Fauna Shaman
Hedron Crab
Lotus Cobra
Phantasmal Image
Skaab Ruinator

Spells (1)
Gnaw to the Bone
Sideboard (15)
Ancient Grudge
Gnaw to the Bone
Nihil Spellbomb
Thorn of Amethyst
Torpor Orb

Landfall Reanimator experienced something that a lot of Modern graveyard based decks experienced: the printing of Rest in Peace. Many graveyard-based decks had Leyline of the Void, Relic of Progenitus and Extirpate to worry about. But these cards either didn’t affect the graveyard on sight, or they only answered some number of cards as a one time effect and Landfall Reanimator could play around these obstacles.

What happened to Landfall Reanimator?

In my opinion this deck began to fall out of favor in 2012 thanks to Rest in Peace. This card not only answered every card already in a graveyard, but also stopped every card going into a graveyard. At two mana it comes down early and easily with only 1W as its mana cost. Leyline of the Void had to be in your opening hand or it just didn’t hit the board early enough, Extirpate could answer one card and take care of up to the four possible copies in a Modern-Legal deck and Relic of Progenitus either let you exile one card at a time, or it had a single use dump all graveyards. The printing of cheap and efficient graveyard removal and permanent answer in Rest in Peace was likely the death of this deck.

Could we revive it?

In my honest opinion there doesn’t appear to be anything printed lately that really revives this archetype. We do have Abrupt Decay now, which can answer most any of the popular permanent based graveyard hate cards from Rest in Peace to Tormod’s Crypt to Relic of Progenitus. The unfortunate thing about planning for removing graveyard hate is that once on the board not only with these cards hinder Reanimator’s game plan, but they also get value in that they can each have a massive effect in the meantime.


Elemental Combo—Sample List 2012

Elemental Combo

Lands (17)
Arid Mesa
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Gemstone Mine
Scalding Tarn

Creatures (11)
Death’s Shadow
Kiln Fiend
Nivmagus Elemental

Spells (32)
Apostle’s Blessing
Assault Strobe
Gitaxian Probe
Ground Rift
Gut Shot
Mutagenic Growth
Slaughter Pact
Tainted Strike
Sideboard (15)
Clout of the Dominus
Death’s Shadow
Flamekin Harbinger
Slaughter Pact


Elemental Combo is a very unique deck. It was never extremely popular, but it served a very similar role as Infect. As a result the sample deck list I have provided had the fun inclusions of Death’s Shadow and Tainted Strike in order to quickly and easily get a possible 10/9 Death’s Shadow or Elemental and hit with Infect for the kill.

What happened to Elemental Combo?

Easy answer would be Jund was 16% of the format at the time. This includes Bloodbraid Elf, Deathrite Shaman and Abrupt Decay. It was the hayday of the Jund archetype and a deck that is loaded with discard, unbiased creature removal and aggressive threats will generally keep a creature based combo deck down.

Could we revive it?

I really love the idea of Thing in the Ice for this archetype. I believe this is the exact deck that Thing in the Ice wants to be in. We cast multiple cheap spells in a single turn, making it very easy to flip it, some of our spells give abilities like double strike and infect which can single handedly end a game on the spot and if we have to play a long and grindy game it also returns all other creatures to their owners hand to clear the battlefield for a game ending attack.

I would very much like to see a similar deck list to this sample that perhaps exchanged the Death’s Shadow for Thing in the Ice so that it could run off a higher life total in order to get a solid kill. Another new possibility this deck received very recently in Fate Reforged was Temur Battle Rage. The ability for two mana to not only provide double strike, but also trample to a creature like Thing in the Ice or Kiln Fiend seems simply irresistible. It is my opinion that Elemental Combo is far overdue for some fresh blood and at least a few top table appearances.


I hope a lot of readers decide to take on some of these old favorites alongside fresh new cards in order to shake up the format as well as breathe some life into these ole’ time favorites. These decks were a blast in their time at the top tables and they could be again.

Aaron Gazzaniga manages a restaurant and in his off time has been an avid magic player/brewer since 2003. Having begun in Odyssey Standard Block and always favoring control and prison style decks, we come to this moment in time where Aaron finally gets to talk about and share his ideas.


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