Some of the most iconic Magic decks pop up in multiple formats. Modern, Legacy, Pauper, and even Standard often have variations on these popular archetypes: ‘Tron shows up frequently in Modern and Pauper. Dredge sees versions in Legacy, Vintage and Modern. Storm has always had a home in Legacy and Vintage, while it has recently had a resurgences in Modern, and Standard. Even Delver shows up just about everywhere.
These decks often have a similar structure regardless of what format they are in, though the specific cards may be different. For instance, Vintage Storm decks use Yawgmoth’s Will and Tendrils of Agony to finish off their opponents, while Modern versions achieve the same effect with Past in Flames and Grapeshot.
But there is one deck that hasn’t ever seen play outside of Vintage and Legacy: Doomsday.
A Sample Legacy Doomsday List:
If you’ve never seen a Doomsday deck before, this must look a little strange. The deck revolves around its namesake card, Doomsday, which has one of the strangest effects in Magic. Its oracle text reads:
“Search your library for five cards and exile the rest. Put the chosen cards on top of your library in any order. You lose half of your life rounded up.”
So after you cast Doomsday your library is reduced to 5 cards of your choice. They had better be good enough to win the game, because if they aren’t you’ll almost certainly lose.
Typically, Doomsday players will search for some combination of cards that will allow them to draw the remaining cards and then win using Laboratory Maniac. This odd creature has an alternate win condition. It reads:
“If you would draw a card while your library has no cards in it, you win the game instead.”
Given how unique Doomsday‘s effect is, and the fact that it isn’t legal outside of Vintage or Legacy, it isn’t surprising that this deck hasn’t shown up in other formats. That said, I am quite intrigued at the prospect of building a something functionally similar in Modern. Obviously, without access to the card Doomsday itself this should prove difficult, but I already have an idea.
My “Inverter Doomsday” List:
Inverter of Truth is a massive 6/6 flier for only 4 mana. The catch? When it enters the battlefield it replaces your library with your graveyard:
“When Inverter of Truth enters the battlefield, exile all cards from your library face down, then shuffle all cards from your graveyard into your library.”
You may already see why I was reminded of Doomsday when I saw this creature. If you can manipulate what cards are in your graveyard, the end result with Inverter of Truth would be very similar to Doomsday. The problem is, of course, how you go about manipulating your graveyard so that you only have the cards we want left in it. The easiest way to do this in Modern is first to dump a whole bunch of cards into the graveyard, then exile or shuffle back the useless ones.
Fill ‘er Up!
Decks like Dredge and Mill have shown us a lot of ways to get cards into graveyards. My concern with dumping everything you can as quickly as you can into your graveyard is that you still need to dig through your library for combo pieces. Without an Inverter of Truth the plan falls apart, and without a good follow-up, like Laboratory Maniac, you might have trouble winning. I looked instead towards cards like Strategic Planning, Seekers’ Squire, and Dimir Charm as ways to both fill the graveyard while simultaneously digging for those key cards. They may not be as efficient, but they serve multiple purposes.
The Cleanup Step?
Weeding out the unwanted cards is the other really important task for this deck. You could remove everything from your graveyard with a Relic of Progenitus, which could work, but that plan leans very heavily on keeping a Laboratory Maniac alive. If he gets removed from play there is no turning back. With no cards left, it’s all or nothing.
Looking for alternatives, I came across the Delve cards: you can reduce the cost of these cards by exiling cards in your graveyard. Isn’t that handy? Murderous Cut and Logic Knot both provide the deck with some much needed interaction, while still helping the deck achieve its goal of a perfect graveyard. Because Logic Knot costs X mana, casting it once can exile every unwanted card in one fell swoop if necessary.
I thought that would be enough. But then I found the missing piece. It was a card I didn’t even know I needed until I saw it…
The Card that Does it All
Anyone who drafted Kaladesh might remember seeing Perpetual Timepiece getting passed around:
The Timepiece would make its way around every draft table, eventually ending up unused in a pile of “draft chaff,” those piles of leftover cards that nobody wants. The artifact didn’t really do anything useful: you couldn’t mill away your opponent’s library, it didn’t have any impact on the battlefield, and it didn’t even draw you a card! What was the point of the card? It seemed so useless, and so it went forgotten.
And yet, for my Doomsday-like deck, Perpetual Timepiece checks all of the boxes: it can fill the graveyard with its first ability, and once you are ready to cast an Inverter of Truth it can shuffle away all of the useless cards. If one ends up in the deck after Inverting it, the artifact could even be used to buy you a few extra turns or to shuffle back a Laboratory Maniac if need. It’s an enabler and a backup plan, all rolled into one card!
The Other Backup Plan
As I’ve mentioned, Laboratory Maniac is a very fragile win condition. As a creature it is very vulnerable to removal, and careful timing is required to make sure it can be protected. Timestream Navigator might not be much better, but I am intrigued to see if this deck could make it work.
Once Ascended, the Timestream Navigator can be put on the bottom of its owner’s library to take an extra turn. If it happens to be the only card in that library at the time, it will also be the next card drawn. With 2 Timestream Navigators, or a Navigator with Lightning Greaves, this could allow you to take infinite turns. It does require some additional setup, but it would be sweet to see it work. As a backup plan it sounds like fun, and the deck does have a few other ways of winning without this combo, too. Still, it was too spicy not to include it in at least the first version of the deck.
So, will the deck work? The first draft looks a little weak, but with some tweaks it might have a fighting chance. For a casual play group “Inverter Doomsday” might be different enough to mix things up, but I doubt we’ll be seeing it at the next Modern Pro Tour. Regardless, I feel like I achieved my goal; it’s maybe a clunky work-around, but I think I pulled off a Doomsday deck without Doomsday. What do you think?
Have you seen Doomsday in action? Do you think a Doomsday-like deck has a place in the Modern format, or is it too fragile to be competitive? How would you have approached this deck? I would love to hear your thoughts!