October is the harvest season and time for things that go bump in the night. As we think of Halloween we think of vampires and werewolves. Ghouls and goblins make an appearance skulking in the shadows of the night. Then there are the cemetery tropes and what goes best with cemeteries are zombies. In EDH one of the most notable and feared zombies is a fallen Lunarch raised from the dead by the notorious Lilliana Vess herself. This is MIkaeus, the Unhallowed. Much feared is the Mike and Trike combo.
Mikaeus, The Unhallowed
On his own is quite powerful. He destroys humans who deal damage to you, provides a buff for your unhuman tribal and gives them undying. A lone zombie does little by himself, but when you add additional cards to the field like Christipher Nolan’s Batman he becomes more than just a man. Mikaeus doesn’t become incorruptible. He can’t be ignored. If you do, then you will lose the game.
As a man, I’m flesh and blood. I can be ignored or be destroyed. But as a symbol I can be incorruptable I can be everlasting.Bruce Wayne
Triskelion is the second half of the Mike and Trike combo. It enters the battlefield with three +1/+1 counters on it. With Mikaeus, the Unhallowed on the battlefield it also has +1/+1 and undying. Remove the first two counters and ping your opponents one life. Then remove the final counter and have Triskelion deal damage to itself killing it. Since there were no +1/+1 counters on Triskelion it comes back to the battlefield and you place another three counters on it plus an additional counter. Wash, rinse, and repeat for the win. It’s simple and highly effective.
It would seem that Walking Ballista should work in a similar fashion. Unfortunately it’ doesn’t work like the Mike and Trike combo. When Walking Ballista enters the battlefield from the undying trigger, only +1/+1 counter is placed on it. One counter is just enough for it to ping itself and kill itself. If you add white to the deck, then Cathars’ Crusade will put a +1/+1 counter on every creature as it enters the battlefield. This includes The Ballista. Similar to Cathars Crusade, add Selesnya colors to your deck and you can play Good Fortune Unicorn or Juniper Order Ranger to add a +1/+1 counter onto a creature when it enters the battlefield. They are not as universally strong as Cathars’ Crusade. They can find a home in counter decks. These cards give Walking Ballista additional counters that you can use to kill your opponents.
Walking Ballista also will give infinite death triggers. The trigger itself does not do anything. It can be weaponized. There are enough cards like Blood Artist, Cruel Celebrant or Zulaport Cutthroat that you can draw into them. Then use the death trigger to kill your opponent. Syr Konrad, the Grim does it even faster as he damages your opponent when The Ballista leaves the graveyard too! Mikaeus is a great add to aristocrat themed decks if he’s not in there already. Adding a Triskelion or a Walking Ballista into the 99 as well helps accomplish what your deck wants to do but faster
Stopping The Combos.
Luckily the combo is on creatures. This makes the combo a little more vulnerable to removal. However, you need to be careful when you target. Timing is everything. The moment both cards are on the field your opponent can use the remove counter abilities at instant speed over top of your removal (short of split second) to kill you and your opponents. Because of this you must remove either Mikaeus or Triskellion no later than when your opponent casts the second piece of the combo. You MUST have instant speed removal. You MUST leave mana open. If you see one, then assume the other is coming. Decks will have an easier time dealing with this combo if they are built to play at flash speed.
Summing It Up
Mikaeus is a great card to put in your ninety nine. If you do, then Triskelion is a great addition to your deck and you can add Walking Ballista if you are planning to have any counter mischievousness to the deck. There are some ways around the mischievousness that Mikaeus, the Unhallowed bring. In order to utilize them you mush have instant speed removal. Good Luck and may you run faster than the zombies, in this case, Mike and Trike are chasing you.