Without a doubt, the talk of the week has been Allosaurus Evolution combo. The idea first came about with the printing of Eldritch Evolution. At that time it was just a small package in Elf decks that turned out to be less than optimal. However the printing of Neoform has provided a redundancy to the combo and enabled a dedicated combo deck. It first garnered attention this week via a tweet from prolific MTGO grinder Kanister. This deck is capable of putting Griselbrand into play on Turn 1 at which point it can more than likely kill you on the spot. Today we will break down the combo, the decklist, and probabilities before presenting a verdict.
4 Botanical Sanctum
2 Breeding Pool
4 Gemstone Mine
4 Yavimaya Coast
4 Allosaurus Rider
2 Autochthon Wurm
4 Chancellor of the Tangle
1 Laboratory Maniac
4 Simian Spirit Guide
1 Wild Cantor
2 Dissenter’s Deliverance
4 Eldritch Evolution
1 Lightning Storm
4 Nourishing Shoal
1 Noxious Revival
1 Pact of Negation
4 Serum Visions
4 Summoner’s Pact
3 Chalice of the Void
1 Dissenter’s Deliverance
2 Engineered Explosives
2 Pact of Negation
1 Rapid Hybridization
3 Spell Pierce
2 Leyline of Sanctity
75 Cards Total
1. Allosaurus Rider + Eldritch Evolution / Neoform = Griselbrand
2. Griselbrand + 14 life = Draw 14 cards
3. Autochthon Wurm + Nourishing Shoal = Gain 15 life, to draw 14 more cards
4. Simian Spirit Guide + Simian Spirit Guide + Simian Spirit Guide = RRR mana, to cast Lightning Storm
The Win: Lightning Storm + 9 lands = 21 Damage
Alternate Win: Manamorphose / Wild Cantor + RRR = URR, to cast Laboratory Maniac
Laboratory Maniac + Draw the entire deck = You win the game
Kanister made some really interesting choices with his list, but let’s look at the core pieces of the deck first. The key card that allows this deck to function is Summoner’s Pact. Pact provides an incredible amount of utility at basically all phases of the combo. First and foremost, it can grab Allosaurus Rider with no mana investment which is one of your required pieces to go off. It can also help provide mana fixing for Neoform through Wild Cantor and a massive card to pitch to Nourshing Shoul in Autochthon Wurm. The icing on the cake is that Pact is a green card which combos with Allosarus Rider. Literally half of the main deck is green cards to help add consistency to Allosarus Rider.
Currently the deck is running Serum Visions which I personally think is correct, but I have seen arguments that it should be a green card instead to help increase Allosaurus Rider consistency. This is part of the reason we are running Dissenter’s Deliverance. Pact of Negation is the other main deck card that I would consider flex. While it can be incredibly good in the main deck, I think it is a card that tends to be better out of the sideboard. I personally could see a lot of things in this slot such as a Spell Pierce, 3rd copy of Autochthon Wurm, or even something like Chalice of the Void.
Touching on sideboard cards, Chalice of the Void is one of the best sideboard cards in the deck. Allosaurus Evolution tends to be weakest to cheap discard and counterspells. Neoform and Eldritch Evolution both require you to sacrifice a creature as part of the casting cost, so getting your spell countered by something like Spell Pierce or Stubborn Denial are incredibly back breaking. Discard can be incredibly difficult to deal with as well because the combo requires both a critical mass of green cards as well as some key combo pieces. Chalice of the Void on one does a ton of work in matchups trying to counteract you in either of those ways. Additionally, Leyline of Sanctity can play a similar role by protecting your hand from targeted discard.
Finally, let’s have a look at our main deck fast mana and combo pieces. Chancellor of the Tangle can provide mana to enable our turn one win. Simian Spirit Guide is mostly used to cast Lightning Storm at the end of our combo. One thing that I do not think enough people realize is that the deck does not need to win after “going off” a lot of the time. Both Neoform and Eldritch Evolution let you keep the creature unlike something like Goryo’s Vengenance. This means you can not draw your entire deck and instead just untap with a Griselbrand in play if needed. As noted in the combo section above, we also have the option to go off with Laboratory Maniac. Despite being an all-in combo deck, the deck does have some flexibility in how it gets the job done.
I think the deck has some room to improve. Moving forward, I expect the deck to get more refined over time. As mentioned above, those five or so flex spots still have a lot of room for exploration. I have personally felt the pain of the deck needing extra life gain which is why I am an advocate of the extra copy of Autochthon Wurm. Often this card will get pitched Allosaurus Rider which significantly limits how much life you can gain. Some players have been discussing things like Samut’s Sprint or Crimson Wisps. I personally find the card draw on Wisps to be more relevant than the pump and scry on Sprint, but the cards are definitely close. Finally, Children of Korlis has been friends with Griselbrand in Legacy for years. While the color requirement is awkward, it would not surprise me if reuniting these two is the path that the deck takes. Whichever singleton you choose, I highly recommend another lifegain card.
Hand with Chancellor mana: 39.9% of hands
Hand with Simian mana: 39.9% of hands
Hand with fast mana: 65.4%
Hand with Allosaurus / Pact + 2 Green cards: 56.5%
Hand with Evolution / Neoform: 65.4%
Hand with Allosaurus/Pact + 2 Green cards + Evolution/Neoform: 36.7%
Finding Shoal in hand or top 14 cards: 83.1%
Finding Pact / green spell with CMC of 8 or more in hand or top 14 cards: 99.9%
Finding Pact / Wurm in hand or top 14 cards: 93.5%
Finding Shoal / Pact or green spell with CMC of 8 or more in hand or top 14 cards: 83.1%
Finding Shoal + Pact or Wurm in hand or top 14 cards: 77.5%
Tanner’s Note: The opening hand calculations do not take into account whether the hand actually has the mana with which to combo off.
Allosaurus Combo is definitely one of the decks that benefits the most from the London Mulligan. The deck felt incredibly strong at times while I was playing it but definitely felt like it was lacking consistency. The deck requires Allosaurus Rider or Summoner’s Pact, Neoform or Eldritch Evolution, and two additional green cards to go off. I personally do not believe that this deck is viable under the Vancouver Mulligan rules but am fully open to the possibility it might be too good with the London Mulligan. The deck felt incredibly degenerate at times, but only to the level of something like Vizier Combo or Grishoalbrand. One big difference between these strategies is their weaknesses, however. Vizier Combo can be stopped or delayed by removal like Lighning Bolt and Fatal Push. Grishoalbrand can be stopped or delayed through graveyard hate. Allosaurus Evolution has no issues winning through either of these things which is a big boon for it. The deck is extremely fast but not overwhelmingly consistent and it falls apart to a stiff breeze. It is too early for me to be definitive but I would bet that this deck will not require a ban.
Regardless of where the deck goes from here, I do enjoy the explosiveness of it. There will always be something alluring about dropping your opponent before they have even made a land drop. Do you believe that the deck needs to be banned if the London mulligan is adopted? Are you working on a decklist of your own in an attempt to break it? We would love to discuss it in our discussion group. Or if you would like to take a swing at writing content for the site you can contact us directly here. We will be back on Monday with the results of SCG Richmond. Until then my friends.