Ladies and gentlemen, as you'll come to know, I am a fierce brewer. Sometimes its jank, sometimes its power. But today, power up those dilithium crystals of the mind because I have a doozey for you (not to mention probably the best named deck in standard Guilds of Ravnica standard): Star Captain Combo.
Let's go ahead and break down the strategy and tactics for Star Captain Combo to figure out how it works.
So what exactly is the combo? Really, its based around two cards, Star of Extinction and Truefire Captain. These two cards when paired together is an almost guaranteed instant win (assuming that your opponent is at 20 or less life). Star of Extinction not only can take care of troublesome lands like a flipped Azcanta or Adanto, but it also is the first of the set of 4 board wipes we are running in this deck. It also is a great way to deal with the planeswalkers in the format, since it not only deals 20 to each creature, but to each planeswalker as well.
Its really cool to have another Boros Reckoner affect in standard again, and with Truefire Captain, while its a little more difficult to get out, does provide some neat reach for the end of the game even outside of the combo. A 4/3 with mentor, he pumps up smaller tokens created by some of our sideboard cards when facing certain matchups. Not only that, but just by his nature your opponents will likely to elect to let him hit once or twice before finally getting rid of him. On top of that, the combination of negging this guy with 20 points of damage from Star of Extinction just flat wins the game.
But how do we do it? With a lot of answers in the format we need a way to find and cast our Captain the same turn that we cast our Star of Extinction. But before we get to that lets talk about our ramp strategy as it directly effects this answer.
In order to effectively ramp our deck we are running 12 ramp spells: Circuitous Route, Elvish Rejuvenator, and Grow from the Ashes. I opted to go for these spells over cards like Gift of Paradise as these thin our deck , dropping lands straight to the field. Plus with Assassin's Trophy, getting 2 for 1'd feels really bad as they can target our land that's enchanted and stop our ramp) Circuitous Route allows us to find the couple gates we run for whichever fixing we need, Elvish Rejuvenator hits all of our lands and is a great mentor target if you ever need to attack with the Captain, and Grow from the Ashes is a great turn 3 or 5 play; its flexibility is truly amazing (not to mention the lands enter untapped). The reason why we run these are to thin our deck. But why do we want to thin our deck so badly?
Sunbird's Invocation is the hidden combo piece. Not only do we see a lot of value from it over the course of the match, but it can literally win you games. After you cast your Star of Extinction, you can dig 7 cards deep and cast a card 7 mana cost or less...for free! And guess what just happens to be less than 7 mana, our friend Truefire Captain. So, casting a Star of Extinction after Sunbird's Invocation allows you the opportunity to find your Captain, cast it before the wrath resolves, then dome your opponent for 20. Once setup, this combo can happen extremely fast. Not to mention a lot of our spells cost three mana, allowing us a chance to double cast ramp spells or cast a ramp spell into a board wipe. This card just oozes value.
What other forms of card advantage are we running in this deck? Say hello to 4 copies of Risk Factor and 1 copy of Azor's Gateway. I can't get over how good I think Risk Factor is. Instant speed, draw 3 or dome for 4 for three mana. Not to mention the ability to flash it back by discarding a land or late game ramp spell. And with all of the thinning we do in this deck, you are likely to see several copies of this. It also is decent at keeping our opponent's life lowish so that our combo stays effective. I just love everything about this card, at least in this deck.
Azor's Gateway is another way to ramp into Star of Extinction, filter through our deck, and also can provide a bit of life gain to help stabilize late. It also is a great target for your opponent's artifact and enchantment hate. I think its a decent fit, so I feel that it warrants a slot.
This is all fine and dandy, but how do we win against aggro...or even just creatures in general? In addition to Star of Extinction, we are running 3 copies of Cleansing Nova, 3 copies of Deafening Clarion, and 3 copies of Settle the Wreckage main board. Cleansing Nova not only can rid the board of pesky creatures, but it can also kill those Ixalan's Bindings and Seal Aways that remove our few nonland permanents. Clarion has the added benefit of giving our few creatures lifelink (giving a Captain lifelink, and then doming an opponent for 20, then gaining 20 is pretty hillarious too). Settle the Wreckage is just great against those pesky 4+ toughness creatures, or those creatures with indestructible. Instant speed is important too as it gives you an opportunity to hold up Risk Factor. All around, I hope 12 board wipes is enough to deal with creature decks in the format.
Control can be frustrating to play against for everyone. Luckily we have a couple of things that we can sideboard in to help. Banefire is a great way to get some uncounterable damage in to your opponent, and with all of the ramp we do, it could be pretty backbreaking. Expansion is in the deck to be our mono red counter spell by copying our opponent's counters. Or you can copy a ramp spell if you have enough mana and nothing to use it on. Dawn of Hope help provide a late game win condition and mana sync that comes down early and can provide incidental card draw. You can also try diversifying your win conditions assuming your opponent is running UB control so that you don't just lose to Unmoored Ego. March of the Multitudes, and Sylvan Awakening can be great in adition to the other win conditions above. Sylvan Awakening is also another great way to sync in some last bit of damage or to put up a defence against troublesome flyers or those Boros Aggro decks for a turn. Lava Coil is there mainly for Rekindling Pheonix, but can be brought in against Golgari to help fight the troll or other pesky creatures. Ixalan's Binding is there for planeswalker control along with any other nonland permanent that can cause us some trouble. Against burn, March of the Multitudes and Dawn of Hope can provide some needed life gain, and help stabilize you late.
At it's heart, Star Captain is a combo deck inside of a ramp shell. And with all of our sideboard win conditions, I'm certain that we'll be able to find a way to get there. Don't be afraid to use board wipes early, you have a ton of them, and you will find more with your card advantage suite. So, go ahead and plot a course to where no one has gone before and just have fun with the deck; engage.
Hello, this is Derek again. After playing with this deck, it does seem to have a lot of issues; of which I think we can mitigate, so be sure to stay tuned for a follow up to this post to see if there is a diamond in this rough.