Magic: The Gathering is a game with a storied past. When you go to your local game store (again, eventually), you’re liable to hear people who have been playing the game for a decade or more discussing old decks in hushed voices. Stories of Caw Blade, Hypergenesis, and ANT fill the room.
But there’s one deck that always rises above the rest, regarded with either deep admiration or pure vitriol.
Splinter Twin ruled Modern with an iron fist for half a decade, and whether you loved it or hated it, you have to admit the deck is hard to put in the past. Since the deck’s signature card was banned in 2016, players have yearned for the deck’s return, speculating about an unban seemingly every time a B&R announcement crops up.
But until the deck is eventually unbanned (and I, for one, think it will be), players have been scrambling trying to find a new “Splinter Twin”-like combo to fill the void in their hearts. This has spawned the term “Splinter Twin Situation,” which describes any two-card combo that wins the game on the spot. This hunger for combos has even led to the creation of Twitter accounts like @situationtwin dedicated to spotting Splinter Twin Situations in the wild.
I’ve seen a lot of Splinter Twin Situations in my day, and today, I’m going to share my Top 10 with you, so you can chase the rush of comboing off in your next match.
The original Splinter Twin used to combo with Pestermite and Deceiver Exarch, and so has our friend Kiki-Jiki. But if you’ve ever played Kiki-Pod or Kiki-Chord or Modern — or got cut off from blue in Cube — you’re probably used to seeing Restoration Angel as Kiki’s better half. Winning the game with an army of Angels always feels good, and it’s only slightly clunkier than that car you bought senior year of high school.
A classic combo from Blue-White Control in Pioneer. This combo’s goal is to never let your opponent have another draw step, so they are unable to progress the game forward. This allows the Blue-White player to win in whatever arbitrary way is deemed “best for the metagame.”
This combo hasn’t even been released into the wild yet, but players are already excited about the possibility of infinite life drain. Nothing will feel quite as good as following up your two-mana 2/2 with a Chain of Smog targeting yourself and having your opponent ask, “Can I read that card?” Truly a beautiful sight to be seen, and one that Legacy players might have to deal with for years to come.
If you haven’t played Shadows of Innistrad Standard or Modern during the KCI era, you’re probably raising an eyebrow right now. Hitting two Reflector Mages with an end step Collected Company was a backbreaking play in its day, and it’s still brutal in a creature-based match up. Sure, this play doesn’t win the game immediately, but how does your opponent ever beat it? It’s a #SplinterTwinSituation in my book.
People are often quick to claim that this combo doesn’t really win, but if you’ve ever played against Infect, you’ve almost never won if the Become Immense resolves. That much infect damage is typically enough to win.
This combo has been present in the last year of Standard, and anyone who says they have ever beaten this on a curve is either lying to you or themselves.
Karn and Lattice burst into the world in the last few years as a new way to lock opponents out of a game. You won’t be able to cast spells if you’re on the other side of this combo, forced to play with just what you have on the battlefield. If you’re behind, it’s nearly impossible to come back and win, in true Splinter Twin Situation spirit. Mycosynth Lattice was eventually banned in Modern — a big relief for anyone who had to face this combo (and for anyone tired of saying “Mycosynth Lattice”), and a huge blow to Eldrazi Tron, a deck that players won’t be able to justify running any longer.
This Splinter Twin situation ruled Pioneer for six months. With its ability to support multiple game plans and win out of nowhere, Dimir Inverter drew many direct comparisons to Splinter Twin decks itself. Alas, this combo proved to be too cool for Pioneer, and it caught a ban along with many other Splinter Twin Situations in the format.
#2 Claim the Firstborn + A Sacrifice Outlet
If you have played Historic in the last year, you know just how game-winning this combo is. Every time your opponent Claims your three-drop and uses it as sacrifice fodder, your heart sinks a little bit. I haven’t played Magic in person in over a year now, but I know your opponent probably has a smirk on their face when they cast it (because I know I do whenever I’m the one casting Claim).
A true classic; a little turn-three-into-turn-four-win-the-game. I can’t think of a more perfect Splinter Twin Situation, and we’ll all just have to live with this Cat Lady Combo till Wizards frees Splinter Twin from its wrongful imprisonment.
That’s going to finish the list of Top 10 Splinter Twin Situations of all time. I hope you all have a great rest of your April 1st.
Mason Clark is a grinder in every corner of the game who has played at the pro level and on the SCG Tour with Team Nova. Whether he’s competing in Standard, Historic or Modern, Mason plays with one goal in mind: to be a better player than he was the day before. Check out his podcast, Constructed Criticism, and catch his streams on Twitch.