Brewed Up: Emry Ascendancy

Our social media followers were clamoring for it, so here you have it. With Emry, Lurker of the Loch you can generate infinite mana, draw through your entire deck, and deal infinite damage as early as Turn 2. It is a wicked brew and though it is not my style, I have given it my all. Today I will explain the convoluted Emry Ascendency combos and the wild deck that contains them. If you were hoping to see a Modern Snapshot today, do not worry. We will have the full dataset with over 1,500 decks tomorrow.

Lands (18)
3 Darksteel Citadel
1 Hallowed Fountain
2 Polluted Delta
4 Scalding Tarn
2 Snow-Covered Island
4 Spire of Industry
1 Steam Vents
1 Watery Grave
Creatures (11)
4 Emry, Lurker of the Loch
4 Sage of Lat-Nam
3 Sai, Master Thopterist
Spells (31)
4 Chromatic Star
4 Jeskai Ascendancy
4 Lightning Greaves
4 Mishra’s Bauble
4 Mox Amber
4 Mox Opal
1 Pyrite Spellbomb
2 Terrarion
4 Wishclaw Talisman
Sideboard (15)
4 Engineered Explosives
2 Saheeli, Sublime Artificer
1 Nexus of Fate
4 Paradoxical Outcome
4 Urza, Lord High Artificer
75 Cards Total

The Combo
This is an all-in combo deck and a complicated one at that, so I am going to start by breaking it down. To win the game you need an active Emry in play with Jeskai Ascendancy. From there you have multiple paths to victory. The point is that Emry will tap to cast an artifact from your graveyard. Doing so will trigger Jeskai Ascendancy; which will untap all of your creatures, give them +1/+1, and give you the option to loot. So as long as you have artifacts in the graveyard and mana to cast them, you can do this infinitely. How do we turn it into a win though? You have multiple options and you can begin with the artifacts in the graveyard; Emry milling you for four to set this up upon entry.

Option 1: Mishra’s Bauble
It is free and sacrifices itself so you will be able to use it an infinite number of times. You tap Emry to cast Bauble, Bauble triggers Ascendacy which untaps Emry. Sacrifice Bauble again. Repeat as many times as desired. You know have an infinitely large Emry and infinite loots.

Option 2: Mox Opal + Mox Opal
When you play out a second Opal, you are forced to sacrifice one of them to the legendary rule. So now you have one Opal in play and one in the graveyard. Tap your Opal for mana and the activate Emry to return the other Opal to play. Now the legendary rule forces you to sacrifice an Opal. Choose the tapped one. You have cast a noncreature spell so Ascendancy triggers; Emry untaps, grows, and you may loot. Repeat this as many times as desired floating mana from Opals and alternating which one you sacrifice. You know have an infinitely large Emry, infinite loots, and infinite mana.

Option 3: Mox Amber + Mox Amber
Literally identical to Opal but you will only be able to produce blue mana.

Option 4: Sage of Lat-Nam + Any 0-Mana Artifact
This requires the Sage to not be summoning sick; but you can use any zero mana artifact for it. Tap Sage to sacrifice the cheeri0, then tap Emry to recast the cheeri0, Jeskai Ascendancy will then untap them both. Repeat this as many times as desired for two arbitrarily large creatures, infinite loots, and infinite draws.

The Win
The simplest path to victory is to just turn your giant creature sideways but obviously we would rather not rely on the combat step. So let’s break it down from the beginning:

1. Emry, Ascendancy, and Bauble are in play. Loop Bauble and now have infinite loots.

2. Loot until you have two Mox Opal in the graveyard. Loop Opals and now you have infinite mana.

3. Loot until you have Pyrite Spellbomb in the graveyard. With your infinite mana you now can just loop Spellbomb to deal infinite damage to your opponent.

The Build
Now with that insanity out of the way, we can actually talk about the deck that houses it. As always, we will begin with the manabase. We are playing eighteen lands but sometimes I wonder if we want more. We do not have to fret about a high land count like Storm because our combo is a true loop; it is impossible to fizzle without opponent intervention. This is functionally a mono-blue deck that also has UWR card and a B card. So we have the blue shocks to cover those cost and our fetchlands grab every shock. The only basic land we actually want it Island. Spire of Industry is great for covering our diverse costs and Darksteel Citadel enables our artifact synergies. I do wish that we could jam enough snow lands to play Arcum’s Astrolabe but fourteen would be required for consistency and our restrictive costs necessitate the shocks and Spire.

Our first creature and most important creature is Emry. You want to see her every game and with a dozen cheeri0s you can often play her on Turn 1. She is the core of the combo and outside of it she a value engine. For example, with Mishra’s Bauble you are looking at a free extra card every turn. Her ETB ability is great for setting these things up and we can begin the game with our artifact combo pieces in the grave so it is straight value.

The other creature and a very unexpected one is the Sage of Lat-Nam. This little gem has been a godsend and I would not have found it if my friend Robert Holt did not recommend it. I understand that seems awful at first sight but it is the real deck. As explained above, it opens up another combo win with Option 4. However, it also can just net value by cashing in unwanted artifacts; note that Chromatic Star and Terrarion will net you two cards. Also, he is quite the combo with Jeskai Ascendancy by himself. You cash in an artifact for a card, cast another one to untap him, and do it all again. This lets you tear through the deck at a rapid pace to dig Emry out. Not only are you drawing a card off of Sage but you are getting a loot with each one you cast. This little guy might be bulk, but in here he is so much more. A little more on him to come.

We also are running three copies of Sai. Sometimes the opponent just is not going to let you assemble your convoluted combo. What else are you to do with your many trinkets and baubles? With Sai, you will be getting an extra artifact out of each of them to build an army. You will then be able to cash in artifacts for cards to continue to build your army. This army becomes even more impressive when you go off with Jeskai Ascendancy in play to overrun them. Throw Sage into the mix and you are nearly looking at a non-infinite Plan B combo. Outside of that, Sai is another legendary to get Mox Amber working and another sac outlet; the relevance of this is further down.

Let’s start through the artifact by mana cost. At the bottom, and of utmost importance, is the cheeri0s. They are the gears of the combo described above and they allow us to race out Emry. Bauble is the best as far as Emry is concerned but Mox Opal‘s free mana is always appreciated. Admittedly, Mox Amber is the ugly duckling of the crew but sometimes it is a Mox and it always helps to turn on metalcraft or cheapen Emry. Remember that these combo pieces can begin in the graveyard so do not hesitate to cash them in for value. Remember that Mishra’s Bauble + Fetchland is effectively Opt.

At the one drop spot we have Chromatic Star and Terrarion. These are not amazing cards by any means but they convert our mana to cover Jeskai Ascendancy’s restrictive cost. Remember that they draw you a card as a trigger ability when they hit the graveyard. You do not have to sacrifice them to the mana ability to get your card. So feed your Sages and Sai to make sure they grow up big and strong. The singleton one drop is Pyrite Spellbomb. As explained above, this allows us to win without the combat step. On top of that it is our only out to a Meddling Mage on Jeskai Ascendancy.

The two drops are the most questionable looking but I promise they are legitimate. Though I am not sure that Lightning Greaves deserves a full set. The second copy is useless in this deck; though we have multiple ways to cash it in for value. As long as Greaves is in play you can win out of nowhere with Emry thanks to the haste. Or if you suit her up early, you are free to start the value engine and set up your combo. You can even win with the Sage combo (Option 4) with both Sage and Emry summoning sick. The free equip cost means that you can just swap it back and forth as needed mid-combo.

I must say that Wishclaw has really impressed me. We want to assemble Emry + Ascendancy every game and this allows us to tutor whatever is missing. If you have it in play you are just one mana away from whatever you need. It is even an artifact to enable our synergies. However, we need Emry to be active to win and using Wishclaw to find her means passing it to the opponent. The vast majority of decks will be able to Claw up an answer. One way around this is to just win that turn; Lightning Greaves letting Emry end the game immediately. Alternatively, we have Sage and Sai as sacrifice outlets. You can activate Claw, hold priority, and then feed it to one of the boys in blue. The activated ability exists independent of its source; you will still get to tutor a card but there is nothing for the opponent to receive and take advantage of.

Then we have Jeskai Ascendancy. There is not much more to say about it. It is critical to the deck’s primary combo. It turns Sage into a value engine. It make Sai’s robot army pack an extra punch. Even when there is not a creature in play to combo with, it is stapling “Draw a card, discard a card” onto all of our noncreature spells. The deck is built around it so of course it feels great, but boy can it be demanding to cast at times.

Then finally we come to the sideboard. In case it is not clear, this is a transformational sideboard plan. We are already halfway to being Paradoxical Urza so postboard we transform into it. This has the advantage of beating out Stony Silence and Rest in Peace effects from the opponent. For those that do not know, the aim of the deck is pretty simple. Play a bunch of cheap artifacts and let Urza turn them into Mox Sapphires. Then use that mana to Paradoxical Outcome them to your hand and draw a ton of cards. Now you have more cheap artifacts to cast and hopefully another Pardoxical Outcome. In this process you will be able to stick Sai or Saheeli to create an army. Then with your insane amounts of mana and card draw you hopefully can just cast Nexus of Fate and alpha strike on your extra turn. This Paradoxical idea was another from Robert Holt, who pointed me toward this article.

The Verdict
This was quite the slog for me. I liked people who play artifact combo decks; in my experience they are some of the most intelligent Modern players. However, I do not personally enjoy them. But I had a great idea and our social media community wanted to see it, so I had to pursue it. This one is convoluted and I am not sure it is worth building. It can win on Turn 2 or 3, which is sweet. But when they take Emry out of the equation, you need Sai to win. Thankfully, the combo pieces are pretty darn good cards outside of the combo. They generate a lot of value and help you to try for the combo multiple times if not under pressure. However, it is vulnerable to so many forms of sideboard hate. Stony Silence, Rest in Peace, Damping Sphere, etc. Between that and removal it becomes so hard to win postboard games.

Which is why I have it set up to pivot to Paradoxical Urza postboard; a slower but more resilient combo deck. But that begs the question, “why do we not just play that deck? Or Whirza?” These decks are slower but they stand up better to the myriad interactive decks in the format. Speed is a great thing but it is not the name of the game in Modern right now. Maybe this will be the better option when it devolves back into a racecar format but I am not a huge fan right now. That being said, I am not passionate about playing artifact combo decks. I am pretty sick of the deck and have only worked of it for a week; not much seat time at all. It is possible that a better, more motivated player could pick it up and solve the puzzle. The pieces are out on the table but personally I am putting it on the shelf.

Geeze. Last time a Brewed Up article was this long we broke it into two parts to feature a sideboard guide. That goes to show you just how intricate and ridiculous this new combo deck is. But hey, not all Turn 2 wins can be braindead simple. If only there was a way to reinforce the strategy postboard rather than transforming it into a different combo deck. As I said, I am shelving this but do you see any potential here? Are there any hidden games that I overlook when brewing this one up? Let us know your thoughts 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 tomorrow with another article for you to enjoy. Until then my friends.

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