Reveillark Bounce Combo, in UWr, Bant, and WUrg

Pure shenanigans!

Pure shenanigans!

Introduction:

Reveillark is one of the last cards in small cube lists that allows for combo decks to be drafted. This is because the Reveillark combo does not require direct crafting by the cube designer, but rather it occurs passively from choosing the most powerful cards for a cube. The cards that interact with Reveillark and Reveillark itself are powerful cards that have earned their spots in the cube on their own merit. Thankfully, this means we still can draft a fantastically fun and powerful combo deck in most cubes!

Deck Strategy:

The Reveillark combo relies on abusing Reveillark’s reanimation ability to create an infinite cycle of reanimates. Traditionally, this was achieved by combining Reveillark, Body Double, and Mirror Entity. In both U/W and U/W/r (with Greater Gargadon) shells this deck was a force in Time Spiral-Lorwyn standard.

The combo

The combo

The combo works like this: The Body Double comes into play (from hand or graveyard) and copies a Reveillark. The Mirror Entity’s ability to make creatures x/x is activated 30 or so times at 0. The first Entity trigger is resolved, killing all of the player’s creatures (they are now 0/0). Body Double heads to the yard and its copied Reveillark ability triggers. The Body Double can now target itself, and another 2 or lower power creature – often a Venser, Shaper Savant or Riftwing Cloudskate, Mulldrifter to dig, or even a Mogg Fanatic. Then they come back to play and you activate the next Mirror Entity Trigger. The opponent is now either dead or completely locked out.

While Body Double and Cloudskate no longer makes the cut in today’s cube environment, there are several other cards that fill the void to abuse Reveillark’s extremely strong ability. The other pieces of the combo are also in most cubes, allowing players to draft this potent combo deck.

However, while the Reveillark combo was very powerful for these decks, they were built from the ground up based on synergy and grinding out value. We will be taking a similar approach in how build ours and play it, abusing blink and bounce effects to capitalize on a variety of 187 creatures and other CIP effects.

Cube 'Lark Combo

Cube ‘Lark Combo

In the cube, the Combo will revolve around Reveillark, Mirror Entity, and Karmic Guide.These three cards plus a Venser or Fanatic is enough to combo out. You can use clones and a sacrifice outlet that leaves Reveillark in play (Gargadon) to also go infinite

The only question that remains for drafter’s is what colours to go into. But first…

Key Picks – Assembling the Combo:

  • Reveillark: Obvious card is obvious, and you will have likely picked this up in pack one. If you do not see Reveillark in your draft, do not dispair! The deck can still be very strong and synergistic without it.
  • White Combo pieces: Reveillark combo in the cube can be built in a completely mono-white shell. The key pieces from white are Mirror Entity and Karmic Guide. With just these pieces and a card like Triskelion you can assemble the combo. Or go infinite life with Lone Missionary.
  • Blue Combo pieces: Phyrexian Metamorph (which you should pick up regardless of colour choice) and Phantasmal Image can both fill the role of Body Double and allow you to go infinite. However, they will need Gargadon to combo out (Reveillark needs to stay in play). Blue has a wealth of low power creatures to abuse for value, but you will want Venser, Shaper Savant to finish off the combo.
  • The three armed menace

    The three armed menace

    Red Combo Pieces: Red’s Greater Gargadon is a sacrifice outlet, and red has access to Mogg Fanatic to finish off players. Gargadon is a first pick if you are using clones for the combo and should be splashed even if you are playing Bant.

  • Green: Acidic Slime can close down games quickly if you can deal with their creatures.
  • Artifact: Triskelion can also finish out the game and goes into any deck

Drafting Strategy – Choosing your colours:

Besides opening a Reveillark, the most difficult drafting decision is choosing what colours to play in addtion to white. Final deck lists can end up forming into Bant, Boat Brew, Naya, U/W control, U/W/r, and even 4 colour control. Each colour choice has it merits, but the more colours involved the more draft picks need to be allocated to the manabase.

Gandalf's most recent eagle didn't come as ordered...

Gandalf’s most recent eagle didn’t come as ordered…

For the purpose of this primer, the build that we will be focusing on is U/W/x, examaning both red and green in that x slot. This is because the most potent synergies and combo pieces can be found in blue, red, and green. Furthermore, the deck will need three or even four colours to have enough redundancy to pull the combo off (hence, I will not elaborate on 2 colour versions).Contemplating combo decks in general, they often cannot succeed in the cube because the singleton format creates a lack of redundancy to combo off at a regular frequency. Thus, when drafting a combo deck such as Reveillark, the most important goals will be to assemble ways to artificially create that redundancy and to build a deck that can win with or without the combo.

That being said, there are two paths to build this deck. As a control deck that uses the mass removal of white and red to keep you alive until your blue spells find your combo, or as a bant-bounce setup that capitalizes on synergy to grind out games. Often you will find yourself playing something in between these two styles, running many creatures and packing a decent suite of removal. Also, you might end up playing all four colours, as many of these spells are quite splashable and needed to make the combo work (such as Gargadon).

Key Picks – Colour choices:

Lets go over the cards you can draft by colour, dividing choices between a controlling or bounce style of deck. Specifically, we will be looking for come into play (CIP) creature effects (and not just ones that are targeted by Reveillark), cards that create artificial combo redundancy, and cards that keep us alive/protect the combo (nothing worse than having your Reveillark exiled….).

White: Besides having the key combo pieces, there is a lot of value in the various white cards available.

Enchantment removal is at its best in a blink deck

Removal attached to permanents is at its best in a blink deck

  • Control Cards: The wrath variants are all extremely potent, as are the various spot removal cards – especially Oblivion ring and Faith’s Fetters.
  • Search/combo redundancy: Land Tax/Scroll Rack will aid in your efforts to find your combo. Also nice if you get some miracles in your deck.
  • Combo Protection: Mother of runes,  Mana Tithe.
  •  CIP creatures: There are a tonne of cards to choose from for the blink strategy.

Blue: In this deck Blue serves several roles – it protects the combo, draws the combo, provides excellent bounce options, and has great CIP creatures. A tonne of these cards overlap between categories, and illustrate how wonderfully synergistic this deck can be.

  • Plotting your slow demise.

    Plotting your slow demise.

    Control Cards: Hard counters, especially splashable ones. Cryptic command can also be quite good, but hard to cast. These will also be your key combo protectors. And lets not forget about Jace TMS, who interacts beautifully with your cards in addition to controlling matches.

  • Search/Combo Redundancy: Blue has a tonne of search. Gift’s Ungiven interacts well with your deck, filling up the yard with a bounty of targets for Reveillark and the ‘Lark itself.
  • Combo Protectors: Aside from counters, you have access to some great CIP creatures that also protect your combo resolution. Vendillion Clique is an aggressive option, and Venser can also be used here to great effect. Glen Elendra is another solid choice.
  • CIP creatures: Wow, some of the best. Clique and Venser are already mentioned, but cards like Sower, Mulldrifter, Man’O’War, and the clones are all fantastic. D
  • Bounce: Don’t forget about Crystal Shard to grind out that value!

Red: Red does not offer a lot of cards for protecting the combo, but many of the cards can help keep you alive or aid the Reveillark combo (mentioned above).

Fire in the hole!

Fire in the hole!

  • Control Cards: Red offers a powerful suite of removal. You will be looking for cards that are easy to splash, such as Arc Lightning and Earthquakes.
  • Search/Combo Redundancy: Hello Imperial Recruiter!!! Sneak Attack also plays very well some versions of this deck, depending on your curve and creature count.
  • CIP creatures: Not a huge amount that is abused just by Reveillark. If you are splashing red into a bounce build (or picked up the artifact bounce), you can look at Inferno Titan, Fire Imp, and Manic Vandal

Green: While green lacks combo pieces, the colour brings a lot of utility, synergy, and resiliency to the deck. The search, CIP creatures, and pure synergy in a BANT bounce deck is absurd. Including green will give you whole new lines of attack for the deck.

  • Let's be honest, your in green because you were passed her.

    Let’s be honest, you’re in green because you were passed her.

    Control Cards: This is green…. But you can find some artifact/enchantment removal options.

  • Search/Combo Redundancy: This is why we want green. Several cards can act as Reveillark 2-4, searching up our prized creature and also rescuing it if it gets stuck in our yard. Specifically, you want Survival of the Fittest, Worldly Tutor, Regrowth Effects, Genesis, and Sylvan Library (quite hilarious if your messing about with lifegain CIP creatures).
  • CIP creatures: Welp, you will have access to great value and cards that interact with the combo. The beefy army-in-a-can cards like Deranged Hermit love Revillark, while huge scary threats like Kalonian Hydra can get quickly out of hand (think about searching for him with imperial recruiter as well…). And, of course, Eternal Witness is a VERY high pick for this deck.
  • Mana fixing: Lets not forget about Birds, Cultivates, or the newly minted Sylvan Catarid.

Guild: Some fantastic cards in here, lets just go over the best ones:

Artifact: Erratic portal is a must grab, and a few other options:

  • Let the shenanigans commence!

    Let the shenanigans commence!

    Mana-fixing: Nothing wrong with rocks that fix colours

  • Equipment: 1 piece of equipment can be very good if you have a decent saturation of dorks. But you need to save a lot of slots for other cards.
  • Creatures: Phyrexian Revoker and Sad Robot are both fine bounce targets.
  • Utility: Bounce and deck manipulation. Erratic Portal is bounce engine #2. You can also do fine with Mimic Vat. And of course you should pick Top and Scroll Rack.

Draft Strategy:

That was a tonne of options to look over, lets see how we should go about drafting them. With either BANT, WUr or 4 colour you are prioritizing:  1) Picking the combo pieces, clones, and finishers, 2) Bounce engines 3) mass and spot removal, 4) CIP creatures, 5) Tutors/draw (often as CIP creatures).

Gandalf and the Tardis? Your opponent is screwed.

Gandalf and the Tardis? Your opponent is screwed.

In each case just keep in mind good drafting principles (balancing amounts of removal, curve, answers, search, creatures, etc) and focus on what cards you need to make the combo actually work.

Breaking it down further into how the deck would look after a draft you would want the following:

  1. 5+ slots for your Combo (‘Lark, 1-2 Sac Outlets, Clones and/or Karmic Guide, 1+ CIP finisher)
  2. at least 5 Dual lands (the more the better)
  3. 2-4 Pieces of Mass removal
  4. 2+ Pieces of spot removal (in permanent form if you can!)
  5. 2+ Bounce engines, or CIP creatures with blink
  6. 7+ CIP creatures, prioritizing lower curve creatures such as draw walls.
  7. 2+ Tutor/Draw spells (Imperial Recruiter and Mulldrifter especially)
  8. 1-2 Finishers like Sun Titan, Inferno Titan or Kalonian Hydra
  9. And the remainder a mix of other powerful cards.

Perhaps more important is to know when to draft this deck. Obviously, if you open a Reveillark, feel free to build around it. Otherwise, I recommend you start from either a U/W control or Bant bounce shell and add the combo pieces as they show up, That way you are focusing on building a good deck that will run well even if you end up missing a few combo pieces.

Weaknesses:

You really don't want to deal with kitties, 'geddons, and exiles.

You really don’t want to deal with kitties, ‘geddons, and exiles.

Each version of the ‘Lark combo will have specific weaknesses. For U/W/r you are playing control and can be vulnerable to very fast aggro decks. However, you should still have a decent selection of CIP creatures to combat them with. With the Bant bounce version, your deck becomes more midranged but then you are at risk of losing to control with well timed counters or removal effects. In either case, it sucks to face other white decks packing exiles.

Conclusions:

Combo in general has a hard time being represented in cubes as it requires supporting a lot of lackluster cards. Thankfully Reveillark’s ability gives us so many options and interactions with a tonne of other very strong cards. Whether you build a controlling shell or a more mid-range deck, you should have a lot of fun trying to pull of the combo. And the worst case scenario where you don’t get the ‘Lark or another piece of the combo, you still will have a very good midrange/control deck.

Sadly not in my cube right now, but fantastic if you run it.

Sadly not in my cube right now, but fantastic if you run it.

Deck List Examples:

UWr ‘Lark Combo

Green heavy ‘Lark Combo

Bant bounce no Combo (it happens)

4 Colour lifegain combo

4 Colour again