10 Ways to Win Magic in Style

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I consider myself a Johnny, that is I like to win on my terms. I could use the Protour top 8 deck, and I’d put in good results with it, but I’d rather play my deck. If that means taking a hit to the winrate, I’m okay with that. Alternate wincon cards are some of my favourite, as they’re a challenge and push a deck in different directions. These are some of the win cards that have made me sit up, take notice then get my head down to start brewing.

Honourable mentions:

  • Now I know my ABCs from Unhinged. Saying the alphabet every turn is not cool, even if the eventual win is.
  • Coalition Victory from Invasion. Too easy and banned in commander. 0/10 Could not play.

1. Azor’s Elocutors (Return To Ravnica)

These aren't the Elocutors. These are the guys that get the Elocutors' paperwork. Art by Johaness Voss.
These aren’t the Elocutors. These are the guys that get the Elocutors’ paperwork. 

An Elocutor is someone who talks out loud. A Filibuster is a long speech used to prevent a government body voting on a subject. A filibuster counter is also the best named counter in Magic by a mile.

While it’s difficult to pull off, the flavour on this card is so cool. Most games end with you murdering your opponent to death but with this, you’re going to talk out your differences for so long that your opponents will get bored, give up and go home to do something more useful- like literally anything else. Play with something like Codex Shredder and repeatable Fogs for maximum grind value.

2. Phage the Untouchable (Legions, 10th Edition, Conspiracy)

Deadly to touch, but oh so worth it. Art by Ron Spears.

Magic’s own MC Hammer, and one of my favourite commanders ever. Just throw down a Torpor Orb, Sundial of the Infinite or Command Beacon first and you’re good to go. And if you don’t have one out, well you didn’t want to play this game anyway.

Once you do land Phage, you’ll need to protect her somehow, as any instant kill is going to be killed ermm… Instantly. If you give her first strike or unblockable, you’re laughing all the way to the win. Even if you can’t be certain of killing someone with her, psuedo-Deathtouch makes Phage a decent creature, if overcosted, creature. In the end, the cool points of taking someone down in one hit is worth all the risk.

3. Barren Glory/The Cheese Stands Alone (Future Sight / Unglued)

I can't make this any more daft. Art by Randy Elliot.
I can’t make this any more daft. Art by Randy Elliot.

The Cheese Stands Alone is the only Un-Card to ever make it into “proper” magic, albeit slightly nerfed to be an un-keep trigger rather than anytime. On the strength of that, it deserves a mention.

Better, it’s actually quite easy to do, 1 Oblivion Ring, 1 Worldfire and Boom! You win, standing alone in the centre of a still smouldering barren, cheesy wasteland. Of course, if you cast Worldfire, you deserve to win anyway just from the sheer size of your balls (or possibly the Cheese’s).

4. Helix Pinnacle (Eventide)

What? The giant spiraling tower isn't a metaphor. Art by Dan Scott.
What? The giant spiraling tower isn’t a metaphor. Art by Dan Scott.

100 mana. Sounds like a lot doesn’t it? And yes, if you’re just making 1 mana from your land a turn then it is. If you want to use this and still have the mana to actually play the game, then you’ve got to get inventive. Maybe Seedborn Muse or Prophet of Kruphix. Better. See, 100 doesn’t look so bad now. Personally, I’ve gone even bigger: Sasaya’s Essence squares your mana. 4 forests now make 16 mana, 5 make 25, and getting to 10 makes 100. I admit, this is only in Commander, but still, what says power and arrogance more than spending more mana than the average FNM on a mostly do-nothing card and still not dying?

5. Biovisonary

Simic Science is so advanced that they can clone BEARDS. Think about that. Art by Ryan Barger.
Simic Science is so advanced that they can clone BEARDS. Think about that. Art by Ryan Barger.

Biovisionary has, perhaps counter-intuitively found a better home in commander than it ever did in standard; The ease of cloning and the sheer power of the UG colour combination means getting 4 isn’t hard at all. You can do it with a Progenitor Mimic, a Clone (or Legion of them), or just Infinite Reflection; If the other players are co-operative enough, a Tempt with Reflections might even work.

It’s thanks to the weirdness of running a single copy of a card that demands 4 copies that Biovisionary has become one of my favourite wincons in Experiment Kraj, and I’ll always try for it over more mundane wins like Overwhelming Stampede.

6. Chance Encounter (Odyssey)

Art by Mark Brill.
Art by Mark Brill.

“The more unlikely the victory, the more memorable the success”.

Words to live by, they sum up my Magic playstyle. Let’s be honest, even having 10 coin flips in a game is unlikely, and winning them all is twice as unlikely without help from Krark’s Thumb. Beyond that, there’s little else to say that the flavour text doesn’t say better. Part of a cycle in Odyssey, with Battle of Wits, Epic Struggle, Mortal Combat and Test of Endurance.

7. Laboratory Maniac (Innistrad)

Well I did say drawing cards was good... Art by Jason Felix
Well I did say drawing cards was good . . . Art by Jason Felix

The first card I tried and succeeded with, it holds a special place in my nerdy heart. Innistrad had a heavy self-milling theme and Laboratory Maniac took that to a highly illogical conclusion.

The flavour of mill has usually revolved around driving your opponent mad, and flipping that on it’s head opened up a lot of new doors. In the eternal formats, you get decks like “Oops, All Spells”, in standard there were some highly suspect decks using Mirror Mad Phantasm and then Sphinx of the Chimes which never really took off, but are still damn cool. In commander, with the whole of magic history open to you, it’s easy to pull off this madness with just a little set up. Do it right, and those grand plans will succeed.

8. Maze’s End (Dragon’s Maze)

3 Years later, I'm still annoyed by the lack of Dragons in Dragon's Maze. Art by Cliff Childs.
3 Years later, I’m still annoyed by the lack of Dragons in Dragon’s Maze. Art by Cliff Childs.

This really doesn’t deserve to be up this high on power level. It’s slow, and slows you down every turn you use it. I’m judging this card mostly on how useful it is become in 5 colour commander decks. A repeatable fetch is something that budget decks desperately want, and with an Amulet of Vigor you’re able to negate that downside.

It’s a win condition that doesn’t really need any extra work on your part, and eventually it’ll happen on its own. I’ve played games where I managed to draw all my gates without ever seeing a Maze’s End- and there were 4 in the deck! It’s more organic than anything else on this list, as it gets you there itself.

9. Triskaidekaphobia (Shadows Over Innistrad)

Unsurprising Fun Fact: there are 13 13s in the art. Art by William Murai.
Unsurprising Fun Fact: there are 13 13s in the art. Art by William Murai.

Shadows Over Innistrad brings my favourite card on the list, a double edged sword that’s just dripping in flavour (and possibly blood)–Triskaidekaphobia. I don’t see it making waves in standard, but I’m still going to try.

It’s not going to be an easy way to win, but it will require some interesting plays to keep yourself away from 13 while you work on getting your opponent to stay there. Treading that line is a huge appeal to me, after all, greatness at any cost. Your own mileage may vary.

10. Door to Nothingness (5th Dawn, Magic 2013, Planechase)

"The emergency exits are located here..." Art by Svetlin Velinov
“The emergency exits are located here…” Art by Svetlin Velinov

The ultimate in winning- For the low low price of only 5 (and WWUUBBRRGG) you can completely remove your opponent from existence. It only works in 1v1, but it’s the sweetest feeling to show someone the door. I played it back when there was an infinite coloured mana combo in standard and sent many people through to the other world.

It’s seen some fringe standard play in the greatest named deck ever: OMNIDOOR THRAGFIRE, but the real coolness comes from forcing your opponent to use it on themselves. If you’re able to use that second decklist on someone, you don’t just win the game, you don’t just win the event you’re playing in. You win entire game of Magic: the Gathering from 1993 to the end of time.

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