Merieke Ri Berit Untap Combo
The goal of this deck is to find an infinite untap + mana combo, draw the deck, and win by looping the deck with Sensei's Divining Top.
> Combo Lines
- Illusionist's Bracers line - we need either Aphetto Alchemist or Tidewater Minion to make it a two card combo or two of the other untappers making it a three card combo. Alchemist and Minion are the only untappers that can target themselves so they're ideal. The way this works is that we target an equipped untapper with the untap ability of an untapper. We resolve one copy of the ability, then hold priority and untap something else with the untapper. After that we let the other ability resolve untapping the untapper. This way we've netted one extra untap that can be targeted at anything like lands, rocks, our commander or even tap down our opponents' stuff in the case of Fatestitcher.
- Isochron Scepter + Dramatic Reversal line - this is a very familiar line and I'm not going to explain it any further. Just note that it also grants us infinite untaps on our creatures, too, which means we can untap lands so the combo can actually run on two mana + an untapper (or theoretically even a single mana and two untappers).
- Pemmin's Aura or Freed from the Real line - these run off of untappers. We need some good targets for untaps: Gilded Lotus, Chromatic Orrery or Lotus Field. The way this works is that we tap one of the good targets for mana, then untap it with an untapper and untap the untapper with one of the floating blue you've produced. Rinse and repeat for infinite mana. We proceed to untap the untapper repeatedly with the infinite mana we have in order to get infinite untaps on everything.
- The self-mill line: Aphetto Alchemist, Tidewater Minion and Basalt Monolith can all repeatedly tap and untap themselves for free. This goes well with Mesmeric Orb which lets us mill ourselves. From there we can Unearth Fatestitcher, Flashback Sevinne's Reclamation for Lotus Field and Pemmin's Aura or Freed from the Real for infinite mana and untaps. Then we Escape From the Catacombs two times to bring out Grand Abolisher and Lier, Disciple of the Drowned after which we can Dance of the Manse for Thousand-Year Elixir. Fatestitcher can tap and untap permanents from our opponents which means we're able to mill them completely, too. Thousand-Year Elixir will enable Cephalid Looter which can force the last draw for our opponents for the complete kill. Escape From the Catacombs once more to bring out the aforementioned Cephalid Looter.
> Winning by looping
- You need: infinite mana and untaps, Sensei's Divining Top, Codex Shredder or Narset's Reversal, Timetwister.
- Sensei's Divining Top can be activated, then in response untapped with infinite untaps, tapped again etc. Once we start resolving the Top's abilities the first one draws us a random card and puts the Top on top of the library, the second can't put the Top on top anymore so it just draws a card (the Top) and the third draws a random card again etc. This way we can draw our entire library. The good thing about this loop is that we can draw cards one by one until we hit an important card. This circumvents the inherent weakness of drawing our deck with an X-spell where X=library which could be responded to with instant speed forced draw which would lose us the game
- Once you draw it it is advisable to cast Grand Abolisher before casting any other spells in case our opponents have interaction left in their decks.
- Cast Timetwister to shuffle everything back in. Re-draw the library with Top as outlined above. Return Timetwister back into your hand with Codex Shredder. Repeat. This loops all the spells you've cast back into your deck.
- Alternatively you can cast Timetwister and then Narset's Reversal targeting Timetwister. This will shuffle everything from your hand and graveyard into your library. Draw your entire deck again to repeat the loop.
- Use Careful Study, Codex Shredder and Sevinne's Reclamation to mill and put Cephalid Coliseum onto the battlefield. Force your opponent to draw three cards from an empty library. Repeat for all opponents.
The land base is optimised for Necropotence on curve. Double blues are also often necessary so we run all duals, shocks, fetches and most lands that produce mana of any colour. We rely a bit on some utility lands:
Nothing special here except for Chromatic Orrery which we'll discuss later. All rocks fuel the infinite combos so they have a double role in running this deck. It's also important to remember that all the untappers can untap rocks and lands acting as slower ramp. The deck puts out surprising amounts of mana with all the untapping going on.
Nothing too fancy here. Just value draw spells. Chromatic Orrery can also draw the deck if it's on the board with Merieke Ri Berit.
- Demonic Tutor, Imperial Seal, Vampiric Tutor and Lim-Dul's Vault are useful for finding any combo pieces, including creatures and enchantments that are usually difficult to tutor for in Esper.
- Mystical Tutor to find Dramatic Reversal.
- Enlightened Tutor, Fabricate, Tribute Mage and Transmute Artifact can all find either Isochron Scepter or Illusionist's Bracers.
- Muddle the Mixture hits Aphetto Alchemist, Illusionist's Bracers, various counterspells and worst case scenario Demonic Tutor.
- Tolaria West finds all of our utility lands, Lotus Field, Pact of Negation, one of the Moxen or Mana Crypt. Very versatile.
- Trinket Mage hits Codex Shredder, Moxen, Mana Crypt, Mana Vault, Sol Ring and most importantly Sensei's Divining Top.
- Chromatic Orrery - enables certain combo lines but more importantly it is also a win condition by itself. With infinite mana and untaps we can cast our commander and use the Orrery's last ability to draw cards. Our ramp package is decent so getting it out is not difficult at all.
- Hall of the Bandit Lord - it's a tapped land but most of our untappers can untap it on the turn it comes in. More importantly it's a haste enabler for the untappers. Having to wait for a full turn cycle with some low toughness dorks is just asking for it.
- Codex Shredder - triple role: can loop Timetwister. Can act as a win condition with infinite untaps because you can mill everyone infinitely. Can hose "on top of the library" tutors with a single activation.
- Sevinne's Reclamation can put any permanents from the graveyard onto the battlefield. It is also a combo piece.
- Cephalid Looter is a nice card selection spell and acts as targeted player removal if we've milled our opponents.
> Notable Exclusions
I will update the list based on comments.
- Fierce Guardianship - our commander isn't guaranteed to be out as she is not necessary for the combo to run.
- Tainted Pact / Demonic Consultation + Thassa's Oracle - it's an untap combo deck. Pure flavour reasons. The deck would be built very differently if it revolved around those combos.
- Reshape - not enough targets. Cannot target rocks because those are needed for the combo and also Reshape can only be used when we already have Dramatic Reversal in hand which makes it clunky.
- Grim Monolith - doesn't really do much except acts as a ritual and synergises with untappers. There's just not much room for cards that don't do directly what we want.
- Anguished Unmaking is just so awkwardly coloured it's not worth running it. It's also three mana which is a pain to hold up.
- Mystic Sanctuary - there are not enough Islands for this to work, ever.
- Diabolic Intent - Merieke isn't reliable as a means to steal creatures thus we can't rely on being able to sacrifice anything for these tutors. This applies to any effect that requires you to sacrifice a creature.
- Skullclamp - as said above this isn't reliable.
- Spellseeker - too few important targets. The only noteworthy target is Dramatic Reversal. It does find several tutors and Cyclonic Rift if those would be needed.
- Expedition Map - while we do play a lot of good lands it's probably not worth it to have a direct tutor for it. Plus, it costs three mana to use which is prohibitively expensive for us since we're trying to combo off before a land like Volrath's Stronghold will be relevant.
- Boseiju, Who Shelters All - a really good utility land but it enters tapped which is a huge downside despite its ability to keep our most important spell - usually the big X-draw spell - uncounterable. This it mitigated by the higher counterspell density.
- All X-based draw spells are not very mana-friendly. Since there exists a way to loop the entire deck with Timetwister there's absolutely no reason to run suboptimal cards.
- Intuition finds a combo piece and a recursion piece (Sevinne's Reclamation) but since the deck lacks a second good recursion spell it's not as powerful as it would be otherwise because we can't force our opponents to only have bad picks.
Merieke Ri Berit is mostly there for the colours but it's also the only commander in these colours that has anything to do with untapping. There are many ways to break Merieke's ability but the most important one for us is untapping her repeatedly. If we activate her, in response untap her and then activate her ability again we gain controls of multiple creatures that do not die. This is an important part of our removal package as it can answer all creature threats. With infinite untaps she can even take on an army of tokens if need be.
- This deck shines against combo decks and other single-threat decks because it has offensive counterspell power and Merieke to deal with creatures. The spells we carry can hit all kinds of targets so it's geared to both disrupt and defend itself from a multitude of threats.
- This deck can also push through some forms of stax because it can produce decent mana and untapping combos don't require casting unlike Isochron Scepter + Dramatic Reversal. It's hard to respond to untapping things, too, because regular counterspells do not work.
- Go wide and aggro, fast combat decks. This deck uses its life heavily as a resource so when facing against a very fast aggro deck it just crumbles if it can't get lucky draws.
- Tutor disruption hits hard like with any combo deck that has multiple pieces.
- Also due to our greedy land base Back to Basics and Blood Moon will shut down our lands somewhat effectively. This is somewhat mitigated by our rocks and untappers and a few basics.
- Collector Ouphe hoses us pretty badly but there's at least one combo line (Pemmin's Aura / Freed from the Real and Lotus Field) that doesn't require artifact activation costs and Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile, Cyclonic Rift and Chain of Vapor can also remove the big "Oof".
> Budget Considerations
- For the fast mana just jam in cheaper mana rocks like the full Signets cycle, Mind Stone and friends.
- Expensive tutors can be replaced with draw spells and cheaper tutors.
- Timetwister has a direct budget replacement: Echo of Eons. It functions basically identically but it costs double the amount of mana.
- Free counterspells can be replaced with regular 2-3 costed counterspells. Mind you that you need to have more open mana for your combo in order to be able to protect it. Once you have your combo set up it doesn't make a difference.
- Volrath's Stronghold can be replaced with a regular Island.