Essential Magic  >  Decks  >  Restricting cards is good; a Primer

Restricting cards is good; a Primer, by ItsUmbreon!      (60 cards)

Deck Info
Created: 9/30/2019
Updated: 10/1/2019
Colors: Colorless White Blue Black Red Green

Intended Format: Casual/Fun
Vintage: Not Legal
Block: Not Legal
Standard: Not Legal
Extended: Not Legal
MTGO Open: Not Legal
MTGO Vinta: Not Legal
MTGO Exten: Not Legal
MTGO Stand: Not Legal
MTGO Block: Not Legal
Legacy: Not Legal
Modern: Not Legal

Deck Cost: $259.04*
Sideboard: $9.30*
Total Cost: $268.34*

Average Ratings
Deck Tools
1 View Picture Riftsweeper Buy
4 View Picture Tempest Efreet Buy

4 View Picture Ancestral Recall Buy
1 View Picture Banefire Buy
1 View Picture Brain Freeze Buy
4 View Picture Contract from Below Buy
1 View Picture Culling the Weak Buy
4 View Picture Darkpact Buy
4 View Picture Demonic Attorney Buy
1 View Picture Gitaxian Probe Buy
1 View Picture Krosan Grip Buy
2 View Picture Pact of Negation Buy
4 View Picture Retract Buy
1 View Picture Stroke of Genius Buy
4 View Picture Timetwister Buy

4 View Picture Black Lotus Buy
1 View Picture Bronze Tablet Buy
4 View Picture Jeweled Bird Buy
4 View Picture Mox Jet Buy
4 View Picture Mox Ruby Buy
4 View Picture Mox Sapphire Buy
1 View Picture Time Vault Buy

1 View Picture Tezzeret the Seeker Buy

Sideboard     (15 cards)
2 View Picture Pact of Negation Buy
13 View Picture Plains Buy

What's a Sideboard?

How it Works


With that finally over, if you're still reading, enjoy! I hope the deck at least gives a few people a little giggle... Or an erection if you're a combo player/math nerd like me. We can always dream. One day they'll ban second sunrise and ban pyrite spellbomb instead, I just know it!

Anyway, because of the recent Hogaak banning, my friends and I have gotten into a lively debate as to the repercussions of banning the use of a card in magic (and, subsequently, all other games). I personally am of the opinion that the idea of a banned or restricted list is a good thing for every card game, because no R&D department of any card game producer and manufacturer is perfect, and its better to have the option to ban a card as a stop-gap measure to prevent people from becoming jaded and leaving the game. Whether or not the application of the banned list is reasonable/fair is absolutely an open debate, but that is not the focus of our discussion. I had initially stated that this ban list idea is important because we currently live on a planet that requires the exchange of currency to live and participate in society, and if people leave the game then the company doesn't make money and the card game dies from bankruptcy, but the argument had too many moving parts to defend so I decided to try this instead. If I have free time or care I might add more to this article (book), but I'm just going to put effort into this until I either get bored or burned out.

With this in mind, I am presenting this deck to the debate as my definitive defense of why cards should be banned. No one should build or play this deck. IF you have all the cards to actually build and play this deck, sell them instead and retire.

Statistics sidebar: With the addition of the new "Draw 7 every time" mulligan rule, I now firmly believe and postulate that this deck will always able to win on turn 1 under real world shuffling conditions, and under the assumption that we are on the play. If we are on the draw, the likelihood decreases slightly, especially if our opponent is playing a similar crazy/cute deck and plays something like Mana Crypt Buy into Null Rod Buy, but overall the deck is still very resilient, and the card selection portion of the deck should better explain how we can reasonably combo off before our opponent kills us. I currently believe that the minimum number of cards on the play required to win in our opening hand is 2 (black lotus and timetwister), but thats probably open for debate. I know that from a mathematical perspective there is a practically infinite number of opening hands and card draw sequences, compounded further by variation in shuffling parameters, and yes a non-zero portion of those sequences will cause this deck to fizzle horribly, but except in those few extreme extenuating circumstances, the overwhelming majority of my initial calculations favor and support my claim. If I do well on my first battery of tests this month I might allow myself the luxury of performing deeper calculations on it before I have to start studying again.

Before beginning a discussion of the operation of this deck it is important to note that the concept of "Ante" IS still in the comprehensive rules, under section 407. I'm certain that there is probably a 60 card variation of this deck that doesn't use ante cards and performs the same function, but I didn't feel like trying to build and perform calculations on it, and ante seemed like the easiest way to turn a 60 card deck into a 40 card deck. Maybe I'll do it after the semesters over. The results of my (very limited) research tentatively show that depending on your State/country, personal or "home poker" bets are illegal or not enforceable under the jurisdiction of the readers respective laws. In the event that these "home poker" bets are illegal, you can cite whatever legal precedence you can find in addition to section 407.3 of the comprehensive rules text to rationalize the legality of the deck (because before the game it had the mandatory minimum number of cards), and taking the ante cards out of your deck before shuffling up and playing.

How does it work?
With that out of the way, there are two primary circumstances under which this deck operates. The first circumstance is assuming that our opponent either does not want to play with ante, or you were able to verbally bully them into accepting the above paragraph (congratulations!), in which case all of the ante cards are removed from our deck prior to the start of the game, and our library decreases to 40 cards. The second is assuming that your opponent has foolishly decided to be a troll and wants to play with ante. I have carefully selected ante cards which I believe will either greatly amplify the power of the deck, or outright fuck your opponent by making them basically ante their entire deck before winning, or save your good cards from being taken by your opponent in the incredibly unlikely circumstance that the deck fizzles / they manage to kill you before you combo off.

For either case, the main engine of the deck is to abuse the fact that you have a bunch of moxen, a playset of black lotus, retract, and timetwister. You can make a bunch of mana by playing and tapping your moxen, casting retract to bring them back to hand, and recast them for more mana. We abosrb retract, lotus, other copies of timetwister, and whatever cards that somehow end up in our graveyard with timetwister itself. This effectively makes infinite mana after an arbitrary handful of iterations and draws cycles. With the engine explanation out of the way, we now move into the kill portion of the deck.

Assuming that we have taken all the ante cards out of our deck, the following is our general game plan. First, we can use the time vault/tezzeret combo to take infinite turns, but we will only need 1 extra turn. We use tezz's +1 to untap time vault, make sure we have a minimum of 4 moxen in play, then during out extra turn we -5 tezz, swing with our 4 moxen, and deal 20 points of damage to our opponent to kill them. If you're on the draw and they got a 1 drop down, or somehow managed to put a creature on board that can block any number of creatures, then you'll need 5 moxen instead of 4, or you'll need to use tezz's +1 again for infinite turns, giving you time to find another win con. Second, we can cast a shit ton of spells while using our engine, then brain freezing our opponent out after we've cast a minimum number of spells. The number of spells is dependent on deck size, and the formula I use is { (Opponents deck size - n)/3 }, where n is seven minus the number of times your opponent has mulliganed. Third is similar to the second method, except instead of increasing our storm count we net enough mana from our engine for a lethal banefire or stroke of genius (targetting our opponent). The fourth and last main method is to use our engine to repeatedly cycle ancestral recall after casting it and targeting our opponent, slowly milling them to death 3 cards at a time.

In the event that your pals are attempting to troll you when playing this deck and tell you they want to play with ante in order to "mess up" your probability, we are still prepared against that, and doing so will turn out to be a horrible, horrible mistake for them. Turn 1 wins, from a purely statistical standpoint, aren't quite as probable with 60 cards in the deck, but they are still overwhelmingly frequent, and the difference is practically negligible. All of the ante cards have also been carefully selected to add to the function of the deck, instead of simply being place holders. The lines of action are identical to the 40 card version, but ante cards provide us with an additional win condition. We can continually draw our entire deck with stroke of genius, then cast our copies of demonic attorney to eventually force our opponent to ante their entire library (if our library is empty we don't have to put anything into the ante pile), at a rate of 4 cards per engine cycle.

We normally won't be able to take EVERY single card from their deck, since they will at least had to have drawn an opening hand... but with the cycling portion of our engine, pact of negation, and the ability to pay all the upkeep costs, we can prevent our opponent from doing anything meaningful, and we can play all of our tempest efreets, wait a turn to sac them and try to take 4 random cards from their hand. This is technically another win condition since they can choose to pay 10 life to stop us from taking the cards from their hand, but it's nice to at least know that this line of action exists.

Note here that the oracle text on demonic attorney has been errata'd, and is different from what's printed on the card circulating the planet. The card is worded as such: Remove Demonic Attorney from your deck before playing if you’re not playing for ante. Each player antes the top card of their library.

Card Selection
I have decided to run 1 of all our win conditions because assembling the engine is WAY WAY more important than having a kill condition in our opening hand. I have also included multiple kill conditions to add to the resiliency of the deck. I've split this section into 4 ofs, everything else, ante, and sideboard cards.

4 ofs:

Moxen and loti - Moxen are awesome, mana is awesome, these should not need an explanation. For new players who have decided to read this for some reason, although moxen are effectively the same thing as a land, they are SPELLS that cost 0, which means we can play as many as we want during the course of our turn.

Ancestral Recall Buy - one mana to draw three cards at instant speed is fantastic. Fantastic enough to cost thousands of dollars for a beat up damaged version of the card. This card is also helpful for killing your opponent because it avoids your opponents graveyard, so pesky gen 1 eldrazi won't shuffle their graveyard back into their library and prevent a win.

Timetwister Buy - This is far and away the most important card in our deck. To use a metaphor, if our deck was a shotgun, then timetwister is the "pump" part of our shotgun. It allows us to reload our hand, it gets cards we've already used back into our library so we can recast them, and it forces our opponent to actually play instead of just watching (they have to shuffle and draw 7 >=) ).

Retract Buy - Retract is super awesome because it only costs 1 mana and allows us to bounce our tapped moxen and replay them (untapped) for more mana. Retract is also instant speed, which means it can be used to save our moxen in the event that our opponent tries to kill or exile them. This usually "goes infinite" after 2-3 of our engine cycles, but DO NOT USE THE WORD INFINITE IN THE GAME. Comprehensive rules section 421 talks about handling infinite loops, and 421.2 says a number needs to be chosen, and the loop (our engine) is treated as having been repeated that many times, or until another player intervenes, whichever comes first. If you're playing against a judge or a rules lawyer they will try to explain why you deserve a game loss. Bureaucrats I swear to god *eye roll

1 ofs:

Riftsweeper Buy - This card is in the deck as a tool to ensure that we can still win in the event that we're on the play and managed to cast a card like Slaughter Games Buy, or our opponent has a card like Surgical Extraction Buy / Leyline of the Void Buy in their opening hand. All combo decks are kind of glass cannons, but with rift sweeper and the next card we can (theoretically) get back all cards that have been removed from the game and absorb them back into our deck with our engine.

Culling the Weak Buy - this cards serves two primary purposes. First, it allows us to get rift sweeper into the graveyard so our engine can reabsorb and recast it, and second it adds a big chunk of mana to our pool which helps us combo off faster. Note that the original printing of the card says mana source, but it has been errata'd to an instant (you can cast it in response to a card like Swords to Plowshares[/cards] to save your riftsweeper).

[card]banefire - This card is fairly simple, it's just a kill spell that can't be countered, and if our opponent magically managed to get an annoying planeswalker onto the battlefield then this deals with them. There are instant speed fireball effects, but with only 2 pact of negations in the main deck this allows us to win without them in hand or if we board them out game two.

Brain Freeze Buy - this card is another kill condition. For this card I actually also considered using Bitter Ordeal Buy (because it's one of my favorite cards ever printed), but since this deck is trying to be as optimal as possible, the utility of having an instant speed kill condition that can win games while other stuff is on the stack was just too valuable. In addition, we already had a sorcery speed kill spell in banefire, so bitter ordeal got the axe.

Krosan Grip Buy - this card is in here to primarily deal with leylines. It kills those guys at instant speed and has split second, so your opponent can't try to save it with any kind of shenanigans. Aside from Null Rod Buy, two of the leylines are the only real weakness of the deck, and another one is just a minor nuisance. We are technically a graveyard deck, and Leyline of the Void Buy is annoying because it keeps our engine from being truly infinite until we kill it. It is possible to win without our engine but it's super convoluted and nowhere near as consistent without our graveyard. Leyline of Sanctity Buy prevents us from targeting out opponent with our kill spells, but it doesn't otherwise interact with us so we can ignore it until we're ready to win. Leyline of Singularity Buy is also kind of an interesting card because it makes our deck slightly more clunky since we can only have one copy of our moxen on the battlefield at a time, but aside from making retract not as good we can still usually just ignore it until it's convenient for us to kill it.

Gitaxian Probe Buy - We are running the probe as a way to further thin our deck, and also peek at our opponents hand to see how many pact of negations should be in the final iteration of our hand to win. It is important to note that we don't have a natural way to gain an arbitrary amount of life in the main deck, so don't use this recklessly or your opponent could sneak a win with a well timed Shock Buy. We are obviously only running one copy because gitaxian probe is restricted in vintage =)

Time Vault Buy and Tezzeret the Seeker Buy - I'm lumping these guys together because one is practically useless without the other. In the event that you bet your friend you could "100% win the game on X turn no matter what every single time" before you sat down to play, you can use time vault and tezz to take however many turns you said. Since our engine reabsorbs our graveyard into our deck during it's natural cycle, you'll never deck yourself so you can be as extra as you want. Tezz's ultimate also allows us access to a win condition involving "creatures", which may or may not ever be relevant.

Stroke of Genius Buy - This card serves two main purposes in the deck. First it is yet another instant speed kill condition, but most importantly it allows us to draw our deck any time we need to, and helps us "tutor" up the win condition we choose to use that game. A quick tip, you can figure out how many cards are in your deck without counting them by adding up the number of your exiled cards, battlefield cards, graveyard, and hand, then subtracting that number from 40.

Pact of Negation Buy - This card is here as an emergency coverage option if you suspect that your opponent is playing blue. I only included 2 because our opponent countering a couple of our spells only slows us down, and it's not a death sentence like it is in other combo decks. If you think they're going to have force of will or another free counterspell in their opening hand then try to mull until you get a pact in your opening hand. Although you technically only need 2 cards to start our engine (3 with pact also in hand), I would hesitate to have less than 4 cards in your opening hand. In the unlikely event your opponent happens to have 2-3 force of wills in their opening hand then that kind of sucks because it'll take us another turn or two to restart our engine and move along, but if they're burning 4-6 cards out of their starting hand just to stop us for a turn then we're definitely in good shape. Remember to pay for the pact the turn you use it if they do try to slow you down!!!

Ante cards:

Contract from Below Buy and Jeweled Bird Buy - These guys are in here because one of them lets you draw seven cards for one mana, which is probably the most broken thing I've ever read. The other one allows you to get your ante pile back into your graveyard where you want it, and in the unlikely event that you might lose you can save your cards and give your opponent the jeweled bird instead. The bird also lets us draw a card for one mana, which is probably not important.

All other ante cards in the deck have been at least fleetingly discussed in earlier sections of this article, but they're all basically designed to either kill your opponent or take almost every card from their deck and put it into their ante pile before you kill them.


The sideboard consists of two more pact of negations and 13 plains if you're expecting heavy resistance game two. pull out time vault and tezzeret and put them in. Plains are also in here because you need lands to play spells.

So all things considered, this deck is way crazy strong and having a banned/restricted list is an awesome idea, otherwise we would end up with decks like this. This deck will regularly kill your opponent every time on the first turn as intended. The only super major exception is if your opponent is playing Null Rod Buy. If your opponent manages to cast null rod before the deck can get a turn then we lose sorry good luck on game two. We could consider adding something like force of vigor to the sideboard but we'd have to change too much of the deck to play it reliably, better just to pray your opponent cant drop it early enough.

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