Heartless Summoning Combo

Jan. 22, 2017 - 4 min. read

Stephen McMahon

First off, welcome to the site! This is the first post of the launch of the website, and with that I will be celebrating by discussing my favourite card in all of Magic; Heartless Summoning. Why is it my favourite, you ask? It is a beautifully designed card, both mechanically and flavourfully. It warps creatures and the mana curve you play in your deck. It has never proved to be overpowered, but it has always been a card that creates a multitude of deck brewing possibilities. It is great for the casual player who wants to have fun, and great for the competitive player that wants to try something new and different.

Combo strategies in Modern are still very much a viable way to sneak a victory in the format. Ad Nauseam, Abzan Company, and some would argue even Infect are decks that belongs to the combo archetype. Heartless Summoning also belongs in decks with combo characteristics, with a possible turn two win.

Comboing off with Heartless Summoning works by cycling two cards between the battlefield, your graveyard, and hand. The three card engine is:


Having Heartless Summoning on the battlefield allows you to cast Myr Retriever for a casting cost, and once the Myr resolves it will die immediately due to state based actions of the -1/-1 effect from Heartless Summoning. By casting the second Myr Retriever allows you to return the first Myr Retriever that was cast to your hard; thus creating the infinite loop of enter the battlefield triggers and die triggers for Creatures and Artifacts.

The same effects happen when using Myr Moonvessel and Havengul Lich as the engine, but functions a bit differently. Heartless Summoning allows you to cast Havengul Lich for three converted mana cost, then you are able to cast Myr Moonvessel for zero, then immediately dying to the graveyard and producing one colourless mana as a trigger. Use that one mana to activate the Lich's ability to cast the Moonvessel from the graveyard for zero again. An infinite loop of enter the battlefield triggers and die triggers now has been created.

There are a few ways to take advantage of the triggers created by the Myr Retrievers or Myr Moonvessels. Some of the cards that allow a game win in your favour are:

In a competitive environment, Altar of the Brood is the most optimal choice to get an early game win. Falkenrath Noble and Purphoros, God of the Forge are decent secondary options to achieve the combo. Always keep in mind that creatures will be costing less, allowing to get them in play much earlier. Bitter Ordeal and Grapeshot also sets up for an early victory, and also doesn't rely on another permanent being on the battlefield.

Let's take a look at three Modern legal decks that with the Heartless Summoning combo as the win condition:

Decklist - Mono Black Heartless Combo

This is the most streamlined version. The main deck contains many 'tutor' cards to find the missing piece of the combo. Shred Memory, Sidisi, Undead Vizier, and Infernal Tutor work in slightly different ways to sculpt your hand. Let's focus on the power of Infernal Tutor, since it is not featured in the other two decks. It can function in a few ways. It allows you protect Heartless Summoning from counter spells or enchantment removal by getting another copy to your hand while you already have one in your hand. It allows you to find second Myr Retriever with ease to set up the combo. Taking advantage of the Hellbent mechanic of Infernal Tutor is not too difficult once a Heartless Summoning is in play, giving you the chance to get the exact card you need.

Myr Superion gives the deck some versatility against other creature decks, and might be able to sneak in a win if untouched. Grim Haruspex provides some nice synergies with Perilous Myr, and also infinite draw triggers with two Myr Retrievers. The trigger with Grim Haruspex is a must, so be careful when executing the combo with him in play.

Decklist - Dimir Heartless Combo

This version gives the ability to protect the combo from being interrupted by counter magic with the access to blue. Havengul Lich and Myr Moonvessel give the deck a little more flexibility, and Myr Moonvessel has interesting synergies with Bitter Ordeal, Altar of the Brood, and Mulldrifter when Heartless Summoning is on the battlefield. The colourless mana that Myr Moonvessel generates might give that extra mana needed to complete the combo or allow Mulldrifter to stick on the battlefield, and buy an extra turn. Trinket Mage simply gives the ability to search for an Altar of the Brood or a Myr Moonvessel from your library an put it in your hand.

Decklist - Grixis All-in Heartless Combo

This version utilizes the most combo pieces. It hopes to have Heartless Summoning out early in the game or transmuting Muddle the Mixture. It has a great payoff, but this is the most casual of the three decks presented.

Heartless Summoning is definitely not a card on competitive players radars, because there are better ways to attack the Modern format. The ability to only execute the combo during the Main Phase hinders the deck's performance... but if you are looking for a fresh, and fun deck to play, consider Heartless Summoning Combo. There are many, many ways to brew with the deck, and the examples given is just scratching the surface. Since the combo of Heartless Summoning, Myr Retrievers, and Altar of the Brood is just using one colour, it has great potential to branch out in the other colours. This won't be the last article about Heartless Summoning, there will be more brews and fun with this one of a kind enchantment.

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