Open your mind
Part of what makes Magic: The Gathering so rewarding are the manifold interactions between cards. They may not jump out at you right away--but once you get into the groove of your newest deck, you'll start to notice things you never saw before. When your cards work together in tandem, a well of possibilities unlocks, where unique combinations can be the basis for the core concept of a deck. In short, it's glorious.
Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014 is the best way for new players to get a taste of this inspiration. The decks it provides are simple enough to be intuitive, but delve deeper, and you'll discover a multitude of exciting card combos. We got an exclusive first look at the Guardians of Light deck, a mono-White concoction that's tied to the righteous planeswalker Ajani Goldmane. Besides the full decklist (which you can find below), we wanted to bring some of the sweet combos in this deck to your attention. Keep in mind that the appearance of these cards isn't final--there's no telling what kinds of spiffy new art or borders Wizards of the Coast will add to the finished product.
Auramancer + Serra's Boon
At its core, the Guardians of Light deck is all about Enchantments. Its specialty is Auras, enchantments that only work on creatures. That makes Auramancer a great all-around card in the deck, letting you double-dip on any of your enchantment cards that gets milled or destroyed. Here's an easy combo: Use Serra's Boon on an opponent's non-White creature to destroy it if it only has one point of toughness. Then play Auramancer, bounce the Boon out of the graveyard and back into your hand, then play it on your newly minted 2/2. Pretty sweet deal!
Ajani's Sunstriker + Griffin Guide
The feline Sunstriker is already a solid card, with a reasonable cost, a sturdy 2/2 frame, and the lifelink ability that will punish players who repeatedly let it through. For every two damage it deals, you'll gain that much life. But in most games, the best it'll usually do is trade with an opponent's creature. Why not change that with a Griffin Guide? That Sunstriker will be a lot more intimidating (and harder to deal with) when it's a 4/4 flyer gaining you four life a turn (on turn three, no less). Even if they do manage kill it, a 2/2 flyer immediately takes its place. It's a lose-lose situation for your opponent.
Blade of the Sixth Pride + Spirit Mantle
This 3/1 kitty has a unique look--that's because she's one of the "timeshifted" cards from the Future Sight set, where "vanilla" creatures with no rules or flavor text got full-frame artwork. The Blade is already a fantastic beater, doling out massive damage if left unchecked in the early game, or trading with what is likely one of your opponent's best creatures. But a Spirit Mantle will take her even further, letting you attack for four unblockable damage each turn thanks to the protection from creatures that Mantle provides. You can also let the enchanted Blade hang back, blocking threats and killing 4-toughness-or-less creatures all day.
Skyhunter Skirmisher + Celestial Mantle
If you've got a lot of mana and a little bit of time, this combo can absolutely wreck your opponent's day. Skyhunter Skirmisher offsets its tiny 1/1 frame with flying and double strike, an ability that lets the creature attack twice (once with first strike, then a second time normally). Beef it up with a Celestial Mantle, and you've got a 4/4 flyer capable of dishing out eight damage. But look closer at Celestial's ability. Because of Skirmisher's double strike, Mantle's powerful life-doubling effect will occur twice whenever Skirmisher gets in uncontested. That means you could theoretically go from 20 life to 104 in a single combat phase. Holy moly.
Divine Favor + Nomad Mythmaker
Struggling to stabilize in a game? Does your opponent have an answer to all your cards, killing creatures shortly after you play them? This combo can help you get back in the game. Divine Favor offers a decent three-life boost and gives the creature it's enchanting much more defensive staying power. If you have a Nomad Mythmaker in play, you can turn your creature's demise into an advantage. When your opponent destroys your Favor-enchanted creature, simply use the Mythmaker's activated ability to bring it back into play on another creature. As long as you have the creatures to spare, you'll be gaining three life every time.
Totem-Guide Hartebeest + Pacifism
This card duo has a similar defense-oriented effect as the previous combo--but it's a much more decisive answer to incoming threats. Like Auramancer, Hartebeest will be a mighty powerful card in the deck, letting you fetch any Enchantment right when you need it most. If your opponent is bashing your skull in with one giant creature or has multiple threats on the table, you can fetch a Pacifism to completely nullify the dangerous creature's combat capabilities. Even if they have another guy besides the now-pacified baddie, it's unlikely to be able to power through the Hartebeest's five points of toughness.
Admonition Angel + Plains
Admonition Angel is just a sweet, sweet card. Even if it was just a 6/6 flyer for six mana, it'd still be amazing--but its Landfall ability makes this Angel that much more potent. Each time you play a land, Admonition Angel will exile any nonland permanent of your choosing--meaning you can methodically snuff out your opponent's best cards or any that are currently threatening your life total. But the fact that this powerful creature is in your deck presents an interesting situation--you actually have a reason to withhold land cards in your hand once you hit six or seven mana. That way, you can consistently trigger the Angel's ability once you get her into play.
Pariah + Dawn Elemental
Brace yourselves, because it's time we talked about the unlockable cards for the Guardians of Light decklist. With each game you win, versus AI or human opponents, you'll unlock an additional card for the deck you're using. One of these is Pariah, which funnels all the hurt that should've gone to you into one of the creatures you control. Most creatures wouldn't last long under these circumstances--but slap Pariah on a Dawn Elemental, and suddenly all that damage just disappears. Unless your opponent has a way to directly destroy or exile your Elemental, you're pretty much invincible for the rest of the game.
Kor Spiritdancer + Mesa Enchantress
In real-life Magic decks that revolve around enchantments, this duo is the engine that keeps the whole thing running smoothly. The Spiritdancer and Enchantress are ridiculously cheap considering how powerful their effect is. They won't be damaging your opponent anytime soon, though Kor Spiritdancer becomes a force to be reckoned with when you have two or more Auras on it. But the mere fact that you can draw two--TWO!--cards for every Aura you play is insanely good. You'll draw cards, play cards, draw even more cards, play even more cards--you get the idea.
Indestructibility + Daybreak Coronet
Daybreak Coronet is one mighty Aura, transforming any old creature into a face-bashing superhero. Problem is, you can't cast it on a creature that isn't already enchanted with something else. Enter Indestructibility, the affordable way to make your creature of choice completely impervious. Besides enabling the casting of Coronet, Indestructibility provides permanent life insurance to your pumped-up wrecking ball. Exiling your creature or destroying your enchantments is the only thing your opponent can do to get back in the game--a feat most decks can't manage.
Auratouched Mage + Armored Ascension
There are times when you've neutralized all of your opponent's threats, but you're not about to win any time soon. Even if you've rendered the opposing creatures useless with Pacifism and Serra's Boon, you still need a win condition to close it out. Auratouched Mage is exactly what you're looking for at this stage in the game. Not only does he fetch Armored Ascension from anywhere in your deck--he'll even equip himself with it free of charge. With six mana, you can turn this 3/3 into a 9/9 flyer in the blink of an eye. That'll close out a game real quick.
Final Judgment + Retether
Long-time Magic players know all too well about the frustration of a stalemate. You've got a ton of creatures, as does your opponent; both of you are too hesitant to make an all-in attack, lest a single combat trick ruin your whole game. But this combo here lets you bulldoze your way through the standstill. Final Judgment wipes the board clean, removing the enemy creatures as well as your own. Presumably, you've been casting many of your enchantments on the creatures in play--and they all get sent to the graveyard once the creature they're enchanting leaves play. Now, cast a single creature and Retether. All those Auras will snap back into play on the lone creature, turning it into an instant powerhouse, with nothing on the opposing side of the board to stop it.
Aura of Silence + Sigil of the Empty Throne
What happens when you're playing the mirror match--facing another player who's using the exact same deck? These two cards will be your best bet for gaining an advantage. An early Aura of Silence will slow your opponent's deck to a crawl, since the additional mana cost will severely limit the plays he or she can make. It can't be played as quickly, but sneaking a Sigil of the Empty Throne into play will be another way to eke out an incremental advantage. Even if your adversary can match your enchantments one-for-one, they'll have a heck of a time dealing with an ever-growing army of 4/4 flying angels.
Angelic Destiny + Ajani's Chosen
We saved the best pairing for last. It's not unfair to call this combo obscene--because once you get it going, you've pretty much booked a one-way ticket to Victory Town. Here's the idea: Play Ajani's Chosen. Play Angelic Destiny on the Chosen; get a 2/2 Cat token. Move Destiny onto the token. You now have a 6/6, flying, first strike Angel Cat that can effectively replace itself whenever it dies. It's enough to bring a tear to a combo-loving Johnny's eyes.
That's an early look at just one of the many decks that await you in Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014. Will you be piloting this mono-White enchantment brew to victory? Or is your heart set on another color? Keep in mind that you can also build your own decks from scratch in the new Sealed mode.
For more general MtG info, hop on over to our full Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014 preview for the upcoming downloadable game.