# Catastrolabe ## Combo/Threats/Kill 1 Bolas' Citadel 1 Brain Freeze 3 Displacer Kitten 1 Monastery Mentor 3 Teferi, Time Raveler 1 Snapcaster Mage 1 Tinker ## Disruption 1 Flusterstorm 1 Force of Negation 4 Force of Will 1 Soul-Guide Lantern ## Draw/Selection/Fixing 1 Ancestral Recall 3 Arcum's Astrolabe 1 Brainstorm 1 Dig Through Time 1 Gitaxian Probe 1 Mental Misstep 1 Merchant Scroll 1 Mystical Tutor 1 Paradoxical Outcome 1 Ponder 2 Preordain 2 Senesei's Divining Top 1 Time Walk # Mana 6 Blue Fetches 3 Snow-Covered Island 2 Tundra 1 Tolarian Academy 3 Urza's Saga 9 Moxes, Sol Ring, Mana Crypt, Lotus, Mana Vault 1 Mox Opal # Sideboard 1 Balance 1 Flusterstorm 1 Grafdigger's Cage 3 Hurkyl's Recall 1 Lavinia, Azorious Renegade 1 Pithing Needle 1 Prismatic Ending 1 Rest in Peace 2 Soul-Guide Lantern 1 Sphinx of the Steel Wind 2 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
I haven't been playing much vintage since the pandemic. It's been a long time since I've been able to be ahead of the curve on MTGO so I couldn't resist the opportunity to build around a card that hasn't been released online. I played this [[Displacer Kitten]]-centric deck at the Team Serious Invitational this weekend and thought it would be fun to do a quick writeup. I may put together a report for the event later but that will probably focus on the social aspect and not the deck itself.
Fair warning, my record on the day was an extremely mediocre 2-4, leaving me with little hard evidence to reccomend the deck. However, the games themselves felt very smooth, almost surprisingly so. My losses were close, and didn't involve the new cards. There were no consistency issues. The first round of the event was the first match of Vintage I had played in months and I believe tighter play would have turned several of my losses into wins. I don't think I'll be attending any other events in the near future, but if I was I would continue to refine/test/play this deck. Maybe someone on TMD can pick up the ball and run with it.
The core combo is [[Displacer Kitten]] and [[Teferi, Mind Raveler]], and any free or mana-postive permanent:
- Tap a Mox Sapphire for U
- Use Teferi's -3 ability to return it to your hand and draw a card
- Replay the Mox, using Displacer Kitten's ability to flicker your Teferi, resetting its counters
This can be repeated until you draw your entire library. I decided to use [[Brain Freeze]] or [[Monastery Mentor]] + [[Time Walk]] as my finishers (on accout of their utility outside of the combo), but you could use any finisher you prefer. Some perhaps non-obvious notes about the combo:
- As you start drawing your deck you'll hit more artifacts and each of those artifacts can trigger Kitten and flicker something else. It should be easy to generate mana in any combination (you can, for instance, kill by hardcasting Bolas Citadel and tapping it twice despite no Underground Seas)
- Any spell will reset Teferi's loyalty and start the loop, so you don't need to be conservative about saving loyalty counters before you go off
- You don't actually need to generate mana to keep the combo going. That means that in the face of a [[Null Rod]] or a [[Sphere of Resistance]] you can stil draw your entire deck and generate 40ish storm. Every spell you draw gives you an extra flicker above and beyond what you need to sustain the combo, which can be used to flicker Teferi and bounce an opponent's card, which means [[Null Rod]] has no effect on the combo outside of making it harder for you to cast [[Displacer Kitten]]
- [[Displacer Kitten]] can flicker itself as well as Teferi, which means you can use an instant like [[Brainstorm]] to counter a removal spell
Unlike, say [[Time Vault]] + [[Voltaic Key]], the two combo cards are very functional on their own. [[Arcum's Astrolabe]] isn't necessary for the primary combo but it works really well at stitching the deck together and independantly synergizes with each of the deck's various lines. [[Displacer Kitten]] + [[Arcum's Astrolabe]] makes all of your spells draw an additional card, and I won several games where that synergy created an overwhelming advantage that locked everything up by itself. It serves as an extra permanent for [[Paradoxial Outcome]] and an extra artifact for [[Mox Opal]] and [[Urza's Saga]], the fact that it cantrips makes it very low-cost for the versatility it provides. [[Urza's Saga]] is a generally solid card, but the high artifact turns it from a utility player into something that can lock down an aggro deck. [[Snapcaster Mage]] and [[Soul-Guide Lantern]] as well are perfectly playable cards that can get out of hand when a [[Displacer Kitten]] is in play. [[Sensei's Divining Top]] can draw you a card if you play an instant in response to it's tap abilty, or be used to generate extra flicker triggers the way you use it with a [[Monastery Mentor]]. All of these cards lightly synergize with Teferi as well, you should basically always have SOMETHING in play that you can profitably bounce with his -3 ability.
Comparative Strengths and Weaknesses
This began as a [[Paradoxical Outcome]] deck which shifted around during the deckbuilding process. It shares some of the weaknesses of Outcome's manabase with the additional burden of Snow-Covered Lands. The Astrolabes make splashing late-game spells easier but early-game spells harder. I suspect you'd have difficulty supporting something like, say [[Duress]] or [[Deathrite Shaman]]. The deck is capable of explosive draws but certainly not like Outcome gets. I don't have the reps with the list to be sure, but I did once stall out with [[Bolas' Citadel]] and I'm guessing it's a little worse in this list than it is in Outcome. While it wasn't a problem in my games, the 3U cost on [[Displacer Kitten]] is not cheap, and it's competing with cards like Outcome or [[Jace, the Mind Sculptor]]. At 2U I would be confident the deck was top-tier, but at 3U that's anything but certain. It's especially bad to pay four mana on a 2/2 blue body which is so vulnerable to one-mana removal like [[Pyroblast]] and [[Lightning Bolt]]. This particular build doesn't really take much advantage of the 2/2 body, you can't really leverage attacking for 2 the way you could in a deck with more creatures.
But the list is a good fit for me, personally, because it's strong in a few places that I happen to value a lot. The pieces of the combo are all functional on their own, leaving you very few dead draws. It takes advantage of the graveyard and artifact mana without being very vulnerable to graveyard and artifact hate. I think it really can't be overstated how big a deal it is that Teferi's abilities are baked right into the combo. While this technically a three-card, 7 mana combo compared to vault+key's two-card, 4 mana ... in practice, winning often requires assembling counter backup, removing a hate card or two, and being extra cauteous not to walk your 1-of Time Vault into removal. Half the time you need something like a Teferi to win with Vault+Key anyway. The fact that Teferi already protects you from hate and countermagic is huge. The fact that none of the cards are restricted AND they're good on their own means you can get a level of redundancy other decks can't, and happily burn your combo pieces for value if needed.
Because you draw your whole deck and get tons of mana, choice of win condition should be very flexible. You could defintely push the list to be more explosive by upping the [[Paradoxical Outcome]]s and [[Mox Opal]]s. Alternatively you could probably make it more midrangey and leverage the 2/2 cat body by adding more creatures, bonus points if those creatures have enter-or-leaves-the-battlefield triggers. I ran 3 Kittens because I wanted to get more chances to see them in action. That number wasn't a problem, but you could make an argument to go to 2. The [[Arcum's Astrolabe]]s aren't strictly necessary for the combo and cutting them (along with maybe the Sagas) would give you room to try other colors out ... but I was pleasantly surprised by how much work they did. I don't consider anything in the sideboard to be essential and it can be adjusted to your taste/metagame (though don't forget that [[Urza's Saga]] makes one-of cheap artifacts better).