Last updated on November 6, 2020
Omniscience | Illustration by Jason Chan
Time is an interesting concept, isn’t it? We’re bound by it no matter what we do and are aware that everything has an end as we desperately watch the clocks ticking. What a dramatic start right? This may be a dark way to start an article about MTG, but let me give you a hint so you can forget about the chains of time: you can use MTG to make your opponent suffer in an infinite loop and laugh as they realize they can do nothing to stop their inevitable loss. Unless they have a counterspell, which is always an option.
Let me lay it out plainly if you’re still lost: I wanna talk about some (there are a lot) infinite combos you can pull off in MTG. Specifically infinite combos in Modern and EDH.
As we all know, Magic is a very complex game. If you’re up for some academic reading, there’s a research paper by Alex Churchill, Stella Biderman, and Austin Herrick called “Magic: The Gathering is Turing Complete,” which argues that “MTG is the most computationally complex real-world game known in the literature.” There are more than 20,000 unique cards in MTG and more are added every year, so the number of plays you can actually pull off increases all the time.
What Are Infinite Combos?
With this many options, any experienced player could come up with a play that is literally unstoppable if the right conditions are set. There are some that provide infinite life, some that produce infinite mana, and some that can give one—occasionally all—of your creatures infinite power.
You could create endless armies or simply throw infinite spells at your opponent. I don’t know the exact number of infinite combos in MTG, but I’ll try to cover those that are most viable and well-known. So, without further ado, let’s get to it.
This one is not about a single infinite combo, but a single card that has the potential to enable multiple infinite combos. Its ability looks pretty insignificant at first, but combined with certain cards, it can help you produce infinite mana, buff your creatures with a gazillion counters and draw at the same time, or even have infinite turns.
There are other combos that can go infinite with Temur Sabertooth, but we’ll focus on two in detail so you can get the hang of how infinite combos work in practice. I’ll be it a bit more succinct as we go down our list.
Zacama, Primal Calamity
So, here’s our first one. You need Temur Sabertooth, 12 mana, and Zacama, Primal Calamity. With Temur Sabertooth already on the board, tap your lands for 12 mana and play Zacama. As it enters the battlefield, Zacama will untap all your lands. Then you can use your floating mana to return it to your hand with Temur Sabertooth’s ability, which nets you an additional mana.
This is where the infinite combo comes into play: as your lands are untapped again, you can repeat the process until you gain infinite life. You can even play some enchantments that double your mana to gain faster access to this combo, like Mirari’s Wake.
Time Warp and Archaeomancer
Another combo you can use with Temur Sabertooth allows you to take infinite turns. This time you need two other cards: Time Warp and Archaeomancer. Once you’ve got all three ready to go, you only need enough mana to use them one after the other.
First, play Time Warp and return it to your hand with Archaeomancer. Next, use Temur Sabertooth’s ability to get Archaeomancer back to your hand. This is a certain win if your opponent doesn’t have a way to remove one of your creatures since you’ll be the only player that is, you know, playing. You can also replace Archaeomancer and Time Warp with any sorcery that gives you another turn before heading to the graveyard like Time Stretch or Time Walk plus a creature that allows you to bring a sorcery back from the dead.
Deceiver Exarch and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
A simple but effective combo that lets you create an infinite number of creatures to finish your opponent. First, get Deceiver Exarch on the battlefield and then play Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker targeting Exarch to create a copy of it. The new Exarch comes to the battlefield and untaps Kiki-Jiki. Repeat the process as many times as needed to finish your opponent since Exarch’s tokens will have haste.
Vizier of Remedies and Devoted Druid
This is a relatively cheap combo that produces infinite mana. Devoted Druid adds one green mana when tapped and can be untapped for a -1/-1 counter. Vizier of Remedies prevents it from getting this counter so you can continuously tap and untap Devoted Druid for infinite green mana.
You can also use Quillspike instead of the Vizier, which removes -1/-1 counters to get +3/+3, basically giving it an infinite amount of power with Devoted Druid. If you have any way to give it haste or it already got over its summoning sickness, the game is over. However, all it takes is a simple removal so your opponent can prevent their demise. Still, it’s a fun way to make your opponent sigh and give up the game.
Irencrag Feat, Prismite, and Nivix Guildmage
Another infinite-mana, instant-win combo that’s relatively easy to pull off. Irencrag Feat provides you with seven red mana, but also restricts you to casting one more spell that turn. But, this doesn’t prevent it from getting copied. So, tap Prismite to get a blue mana and just copy Irencrag with Nivix Guildmage. Then you can copy it again, again, and again to get an infinite amount of mana, which you can use to activate Nivix Guildmage’s draw/discard ability and get a spell like Banefire to kill off your opponent.
There are various ways to make this combo work, but I’ll go over just one since the concept is pretty simple. Morselhoarder comes into play with two -1/-1 counters and can add one mana by removing one of these counters. If you enchant it with Sinking Feeling, you can pay one mana to put another -1/-1 counter on and untap it. Finally, Power of Fire deals one damage whenever you tap Morselhoarder, and repeat the process unto forever.
You need four cards to make this combo work. First is Dramatic Reversal, which untaps all non-land permanents you control. Then you’ll need Elite Arcanist, allowing you to exile an instant card from your hand and copy it by paying its converted mana cost. You also need a creature or artifact that you can tap for two or more mana, like Hedron Archive. Finally, you need to have Guttersnipe on the battlefield to trigger its ability.
Here’s how it works: Hedron Archive and Guttersnipe are on the battlefield. Before you play Elite Arcanist, tap Hedron Archive to get two mana. Dramatic Reversal is then exiled and copied, untapping all permanents, which allows you to repeat the process infinitely. Since Dramatic Reversal will trigger Guttersnipe each time, you can deal infinite damage to your opponent.
Deadeye Navigator and Peregrine Drake
Deadeye Navigator is another flexible card that is widely used for combos. It pairs with another creature thanks to its soulbond ability, which allows you to exile that creature and bring it back to the battlefield for two mana. Peregrine Drake untaps five lands when it enters the battlefield, so each time you exile and bring it back, you get three additional mana. You can also swap Peregrine Drake with Palinchron or Great Whale if they suit you better.
Ral, Storm Conduit and Double Expansion
Most of the combos here aren’t legal in Standard, but this one is, at least for another month or so. You’ll need Ral, Storm Conduit, two copies of Expansion, four mana to cast them in succession, and enough mana to get the combo going.
First, Ral needs to be on the battlefield. Then, cast any cheap spell (like Opt) to start the combo. Cast Expansion on the spell, then cast another Expansion to copy that, creating an infinite loop. Ral will deal one damage each time an instant or sorcery is cast and with infinite loops comes infinite damage.
When talking about infinite combos, most people think about life or mana, but infinite counters are also a thing. Perhaps the easiest card to make this kind of combo work is Enduring Scalelord. It has a simple ability: whenever a creature gains a +1/+1 counter, Enduring Scalelord also gains one.
Unless you’re playing a singleton format, you can play two of them to start an infinite loop of counters. And if you are playing singleton, all you need is to replicate it like with Altered Ego, Clone, etc. The loop is actually, unstoppably infinite, but you’d need to stop it eventually if you want to continue playing. You may just say they each have a +million/+million counters to end the madness.
Yore-Tiller Nephilim, Medomai the Ageless, and Viscera Seer
This is one of those combos that give you infinite turns, but it’s kinda tricky. The combo is built around Yore-Tiller Nephilim, Medomai the Ageless, and Viscera Seer (or any creature with a sacrifice a creature ability). Medomai has an incredible ability which allows you to take an extra turn if it deals combat damage to a player, but it can’t be declared attacker during the extra turn.
So, you sacrifice Medomai with Viscera Seer’s ability during your extra turn and attack with Yore-Tiller Nephilim, which brings Medomai back to the battlefield, tapped and attacking. Since Medomai will once again hit your opponent, you get another turn. You can repeat this as long as you want. You should keep in mind that Medomai has to hit your opponent for you to get that extra turn. You can use something like Sleep to tap your opponent’s creatures or Deepchannel Mentor so it can’t be blocked.
Selvala, Heart of the Wilds and Freed from the Real
Infinite mana is always welcome, and this one is really easy. All you need is Selvala, Heart of the Wilds, Freed from the Real, and a creature with at least three power. Selvala can tap for one green mana to add mana equal to the greatest power among creatures you control and then you untap it for one blue mana thanks to Freed from the Real. If you have a creature with at least three power, you’ll always gain more than you’re spending.
Grand Architect and Pili-Pala
Grand Architect and Pili-Pala is used by a lot of players in various formats and is perhaps the most commonly known infinite mana combo. When you activate Grand Architect’s first ability, Pili-Pala becomes a blue creature and, with the Architect’s second ability, you can tap it for two colorless mana. You can then use Pili-Pala’s ability with this two mana to gain one mana of any color and repeat the loop as many times you want.
Riku of Two Reflections and Palinchron
This one is both an infinite mana and infinite token combo. If you have Riku of Two Reflections on the field, when you play Palinchron, you can choose to copy it. Since Palinchron untaps all of your lands, you can then return it to your hand with its ability and play it again to make an infinite number of tokens. If you have seven lands, you’ll also spend six mana to gain seven mana each turn, providing you with infinite mana.
Famished Paladin and Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord
It might take a while to put this combo in place, but if your opponent doesn’t stop it in time, you get both infinite life and damage. Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord provides your creatures with lifelink during your turn and Famished Paladin can untap whenever you gain life. All you need is to equip him with a simple Sorcerer’s Wand and he can deal damage and untap for infinite damage (and life, as if it matters at this point). It’s reasonably cheap, so you can use it competitively.
Duskmantle Guildmage and Mindcrank
MTG is such a marvelously broken game that you can defeat your opponent with just seven mana. Duskmantle Guildmage has two abilities: the first one makes your opponent loses one life each time a card is put in their graveyard, and the second puts the top two cards of their library into their graveyard. Meanwhile, Mindcrank makes it so your opponent has to put a number of cards in their graveyard equal to the damage they receive. This triggers an infinite loop of damage and mill, so congratulations! You just made someone hate you.
Spike Feeder and Archangel of Thune
This combo saw some play in Modern, but it takes a while to start and is relatively easy to prevent. Spike Feeder comes to play with two +1/+1 counters on it, and you can remove one of them to gain 2 life. Archangel of Thune puts a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control whenever you gain life, which means infinite life and infinite counters on creatures you have on the battlefield. Other than Spike Feeder, of course.
Lion’s Eye Diamond and Auriok Salvagers
Lion’s Eye Diamond is a well-known artifact for infinite combos and there are multiple ways to use it, but I’ll stick to just one. This one works with Auriok Salvagers, which allows you to return Lion’s Eye Diamond from your graveyard. Each time you sacrifice Lion’s Eye Diamond, you get three mana of any color and you spend two to bring it back, essentially giving you infinite mana of any colors.
But you still need to find a way to draw some cards to actually damage your opponent or have a mana sink to use to convert your infinite mana into something useful, like Pyrite Spellbomb, which you can use with Auriok Salvagers to bring back and sacrifice infinitely since you have infinite mana.
Time Vault and Voltaic Key
Anyone who plays Vintage frequently has probably come across this combo at least once. Although it’s banned in EDH and Legacy and restricted in Vintage, it would be a shame to not mention it when talking about infinite combos. The fame comes from its simplicity and effectiveness: Time Vault taps to take an extra turn and you need to skip a turn to untap it. However, you can solve this problem with Voltaic Key since it allows you to untap Time Vault, take an extra turn, repeat it infinitely and basically win the game since your opponent will have no chance to play.
Hushwing Gryff, Wormfang Manta, and Conjurer’s Closet
Taking infinite turns is always welcome, so here’s another one. Hushwing Gryff prevents creatures from triggering their abilities when they enter the battlefield, so you won’t have to skip a turn when Wormfang Manta comes into play. But, when you exile it with Conjurer’s Closet and have it come back, you get to take an extra turn. Rinse and repeat until you win the game.
Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind and Curiosity
Sometimes, dealing infinite damage is just too easy to be called fair. Niv-Mizzet has a couple of ways to make it work, but the concept is very simple. Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind deals 1 damage to your opponent whenever you draw a card. If you enchant him with Curiosity, you draw another card and create an infinite loop. This also works with Tandem Lookout or Ophidian Eye.
Time Sieve and Thopter Assembly
You need a solid mana base to make this one work since you have to cast Thopter Assembly each turn. Time Sieve needs to be on the battlefield first, and when you begin your upkeep with Thopter Assembly as the only Thopter on the battlefield, it will create five 1/1 tokens, which you will use as sacrifices to your Time Sieve. Thopter Assembly returns to your hand, you cast it again, continue as long as you want. You only need a couple of non-Thopter creatures or pretty much any way of ending your opponent, but it shouldn’t be that difficult at this point.
Enter the Infinite and Omniscience
An infinite draw and cast combo that can only be prevented by a solid counterspell, or death is inevitable. With Omniscience, you’re able to cast spells from your hand without paying their mana costs. Enter the Infinite allows you to draw your entire library, which means that you can just throw your library at your opponent and say, “I win.”
Personal Favorite: Mindslaver and Academy Ruins
As far as infinite combos go, this one is devilishly fun for me, and you’ll soon learn why. It requires some mana to work but is literally unstoppable unless you decide to stop it. Sacrificing Mindslaver allows you to take your opponent’s next turn. This alone makes it a powerful card, but if you also add Academy Ruins, you can tap it on your upkeep to put it back on the top of your library. Then you draw it on your turn, repeat the process, and play the game alone. It might reduce the number of friends you have, but you can’t deny it’s a great combo.
The Combo’s Over
Like I said earlier, there are just too many infinite combos in MTG to mention all of them. It’s a complex game, with complex mechanics and an outstanding number of cards to choose from, so it’s highly possible that there are some combos still undiscovered. If you think there are some combos missing that I should have mentioned, let us know in the comments below!