Pauper Commander - Rocco, Cabaretti Caterer

Rocco, Cabaretti Caterer by Chris Seaman

Cooking Up a Combo

My last few games at my LGS have been nothing but defeats, and I feel like winning a few games now. That means that it's once again combo time! Just like my previous combo decks, I'm looking for something efficient, yet easily assemblable given the tools we have at our disposal. Pauper may not seem like the ideal combo format, given its lack of obvious tutors and combo pieces, but I've had great success with pEDH combo in the past, and I think we can do it again. 

So what will it be? The first thing I noticed is the potential to have a tutor in the command zone with Rocco, Cabaretti Caterer. Rocco's extremely efficient, as a non-convokable Chord of Calling. Any creature is available to us, as long as we can pay its converted mana cost plus a three-mana tax. Rocco is also appealing because of its triple color identity: the more colors, the more potential combos. 

I'll Have the Whole Menu

So which combo are we tutoring out in particular? Commander Spellbook is the perfect place to find out, with a database full of combos and a filter that lets us search for pEDH-legal infinites only. A few more filters to define what we're looking for, and we're set.

Hmmm... Seeker of Skybreak and Hangar Scrounger is pretty appealing, given that both pieces are creatures, but neither are very redundant or tutorable by means other than Rocco. Master Chef, Ashnod's Altar, and any persist creature really appeals to me, given that the persist creatures are both redundant and tutorable, while Master Chef can be found with Heliod's Pilgrim and Shrine Steward. But Ashnod's Altar simply doesn't have any tutors, and the entire combo hinges on it.

These combos are good, but none of them are perfect on their own. Even if the rest of the deck is nothing but card draw, we'll never be able to guarantee we'll hit some of the pieces of the puzzle. But what if there were multiple puzzles? One thing I'm noticing is that certain cards combo a million different ways. Presence of Gond has eight combos; Ashnod's Altar has seven; Master Chef goes off with any sac outlet and a persist creature. 

Recently, DougY of EDHREC brewed a deck where every single nonland card was a combo piece, creating an impressive pile of infinites. We don't have quite the density of cards to do that, but we can create a deck with tons of combos hidden inside of it. If we combine twenty or so combo pieces floating around with a commander who can tutor up the missing cards, we'll have a deck that goes infinite in a minute. 

An hour later of cramming as many combos as I could into 99 cards...

I've got a ticking time bomb that explodes into infinite Elves, infinite life, infinite mana, or infinite card draw depending on how it's feeling. The deck is wildly complicated to run, requiring a strong knowledge of the web of interactions, but the result is a volatile game-ender. (Or game-prolonger, if you stumble upon infinite life.) Let me walk you through this deck's many options. 

Infinite Discard and Draw

The first main combo is Seeker of Skybreak and Hangar Scrounger. Seeker of Skybreak already goes infinite by itself, untapping itself with its own ability over and over again. Hangar Scrounger just adds a payoff, allowing you to infinitely discard cards to draw new ones. 

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If either card appears in your hand, you should shoot for this combo as fast as possible. Rocco makes finding the other piece a matter of five or six mana, and once you have this combo, you can dig for a second combo that's a bit more impactful. Just make sure that when you do it that you have plenty of mana left over and a decent number of cards in hand. 

Infinite Sacrifice

The second group of combos involves any persist creature, a sacrifice outlet, and Master Chef. The interaction is pretty self-explanatory. Master Chef basically causes persist to work infinitely, erasing the -1/-1 counter every time the creature re-enters.

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Ashnod's Altar and Thermopod will make infinite mana with this, while Betrothed of Fire will make one creature lethal. What you really want, though, is to have Impact Tremors or Molten Gatekeeper on board to instantly win the game. Do keep in mind that Rocco will have to be on board to make this work, thanks to Master Chef's wording. 

Infinite Elves

The final group of combos is perhaps the trickiest to pull off, but definitely the most lethal. This one involves Presence of Gond. Its interaction with Midnight Guard is the most obvious, but it also works with Pili-Pala and Ashnod's Altar, or Devoted Druid and Sigil of the Nayan Gods

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The latter two also make infinite mana, extremely useful for grabbing a Tuktuk Rubblefort with Rocco. As an aside, is Tuktuk Rubblefort a ridiculous card? Yes, but Goblin Bushwhacker and Reckless Bushwhacker both need to be cast to work, so we have to work with what we've got. One of these combos will almost always win us the game on the spot, so they're essentially the goal we're working towards when we get infinite card draw with Hangar Scrounger or infinite mana with Ashnod's Altar

There're plenty more obscure combos to be found in this deck, from Evolution Witness and Iron Apprentice creating an infinitely big creature, to Ivy Lane Denizen and Aerie Ouphes wiping the board of fliers. The largest combo I could find is absolutely my favorite: Let's start with Pili-Pala. Pili-Pala needs a way to tap itself, which Presence of Gond can do. Then, it needs a way to pay for its untap ability. You could do this by sacrificing the Elves to Ashnod's Altar, but then you're only making infinite mana. Instead, you can use the Elves to trigger Ivy Lane Denizen to put +1/+1 counters on Evolution Witness to repeatedly return an Iron Apprentice to your hand, then sac that to pay for itself and leave a spare while putting its "modular" counters on a Basking Broodscale to create Eldrazi Scions to make one more extra mana to pay for Pili-Pala's ability. Now, you're making infinite Elves, infinite mana, infinite death triggers, infinite sacrifice triggers, infinite leaves-the-battlefield triggers, infinite leaves-the-graveyard triggers, infinite cast triggers, and you have infinite counters on Evolution Witness and Basking Broodscale. I hope you got that the first time, because I'm not repeating myself.

The Essentials

There're a few more key components to this combo deck. Card draw, of course, comes in the form of Cathartic Reunions and Wrenn's Resolves, cards I endorse over and over again. Bitter Reunion stands out quite strongly as both an early game card advantage piece and a late game haste-enabler. Since we need to dig so deep, I'm happy to run Commune with Nature and Adventurous Impulse, cards that are nearly guaranteed to find some gas. Card advantage can also be gained through our graveyard with cards like Grapple with the Past and Revive the Shire letting us get back cards discarded to Thrill of Possibility or ones removed by our opponents. Speaking of cards getting removed by our opponents, we need some protection. Gods Willing and Apostle's Blessing do the trick, but Cloudshift and Ephemerate can also save key pieces while potentially giving us an extra trigger of Hangar Scrounger

Finally, since we're running Seeker of Skybreak, I decided to make our ramp package out of Voyaging Satyrs. These mana dorks are more fragile than the lands that could be fetched by a Rampant Growth, but they interact nicely with Dawn's Reflection to make a ton of mana, and this deck's all about interactions, isn't it? 

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Well, I'm not sure if I've ever made a more complicated deck. The best way to play it seems to involve looking up the combos that go with every card in my hand since I can't seem to memorize them all. Other than that inconvenience, the deck plays great. The combos are everywhere, and the incredible amount of redundancy makes the deck extremely resilient. The only thing that can really stop us is multiple copies of Jester's Cap. Of course, the end goal of the deck is not just to combo, but to combo in a spectacular fashion. I'm curious, can anyone find a bigger combo than the one I discovered?



Alejandro Fuentes's a nerd from Austin Texas who likes building the most unreasonable decks possible, then optimizing them till they're actually good. In his free time, he's either trying to fit complex time signatures into death metal epics, or writing fantasy novels.