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Against the Odds: Eternal Masters Spoiler (Diminishing Maniac)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode thirty-seven of Against the Odds. Last week, I promised we'd be having a special episode this week, but I didn't mention what would make the episode so unique. Well, it's time to let the secret out! Today, we'll be previewing a Rare from Eternal Masters! I've always hated spoiler articles that slow-roll the reveal, so let's get that out of the way, and then we'll jump right into the videos:

Diminishing Returns

That's right, Diminishing Returns will be making a return for the first time since Sixth Edition, with some amazing new art—which is good! I have no idea what's going on in the original art. Essentially, Diminishing Returns is a fixed version of Timetwister, costing one additional mana and having the "downside" of making you exile the top ten cards of your library. While Diminishing Returns isn't a high-value reprint, it does see play in Legacy and Vintage, primarily in Goblin Charbelcher decks, and could end up being a first pick in Eternal Masters draft, assuming Storm is one of the archetypes. 

The good news for us is that, since Eternal Masters is a reprint set, we already have access to the card on Magic Online, which means we don't have to wait for the set to be released to give it the Against the Odds treatment! One of my favorite things to do on Against the Odds is taking an aspect of a card that is intended to be a drawback and turn it into a positive. That's exactly what we get to do today with Diminishing Returns

We'll talk more about Diminishing Maniac in a minute, but first a quick reminder. If you enjoy the Against the Odds series and the other video content here on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube Channel.

Against the Odds: Diminishing Maniac

The Deck

There was one really big challenge in building around Diminishing Returns: making the "exile ten" part of the card beneficial rather than a downside. When people play Diminishing Returns competitively, it's because they want another draw seven so much they are willing to forgive the exile clause, but what's the fun in that? So, I started thinking about cards that actually cared about exile. After moving from Misthollow Griffin to Hedron Alignment, I finally ended up on Laboratory Maniac

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First, we need to find a copy of Laboratory Maniac, which wins the game if we draw a card with an empty library. Then, we resolve a Paradigm Shift, which puts our library into exile, while any cards in our graveyard get shuffled into our library. Ideally, when we resolve the Paradigm Shift, we'll end up with less than 16 cards in our hand, graveyard, and library combined. Less than 16 is the magic number because it allows us to win the game by resolving a Diminishing Returns. We shuffle everything back into our library, exile the top ten cards, draw seven more, and win the game thanks to Laboratory Maniac!

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The rest of the deck is pretty straightforward. We have a ton of cantrips and a ton of counterspells. While the main purpose of cantrips is to help us assemble our three-piece combo, they also serve as the backup plan when something happens to our Diminishing Returns. One thing I realized while playing this deck is people are really, really scared of draw sevens, even if they have no idea what they are being used for. Everyone just assumes that if you're playing Diminishing Returns in your deck, you must have some nefarious purpose (which isn't wrong). As a result, they tend to target Diminishing Returns with cards like Surgical Extraction. When this hate happens, our best way of winning the game is by getting a Laboratory Maniac on the battlefield, resolving a Paradigm Shift, and then chaining cantrips together until we eventually draw with zero cards in our library. 

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Force of Will and Pact of Negation not only help us force Diminishing Returns and Paradigm Shift through, but they are also essential to protecting our Laboratory Maniac. One of the scary things about our deck is that when we resolve a Paradigm Shift, we often exile three of our four Laboratory Maniacs, which means that if our opponent can deal with the one copy we have left, we cannot win the game. As such, we have to protect the last remaining Laboratory Maniac at all costs, which is why we are playing Pact of Negation alongside Force of Will

The Matchups

Apparently it was Against the Odds day in the Legacy queues because we ran into some of the strangest matchups I've ever seen. We started with a Hydroblast / Painter's Servant deck and ended with our opponent casting an Iron Myr on Turn 2 with Suncrusher in hand. When we did run into more normal matchups, we had a harder time, although in many of the games we lost, we were about one turn away from pulling off the combo. 

The biggest matchup issue for Diminishing Maniac is decks that can apply consistent pressure. We don't really have good ways of dealing with creatures on the battlefield, other than just racing. We rely on our endless counters to keep our opponent's threats at bay. As the Eldrazi matchup showed, something as simple as a Cavern of Souls can be game over. 

Overall, it feels like we have a harder time against fair decks, since they can resolve a threat we just can't deal with. We fare better against unfair decks because we have so many counterspells. We also seem to be heavy favorites when our opponent's plan revolves around Orochi Hatchery or Devout Lightcaster

The Odds

All in all, we won 5 out of 12 games and 2 out of 5 matches, putting our match and game win percentage at 40%. However, as I mentioned before, we ran into some really unique matchups, so I wouldn't expect this percentage to hold over the long-term. The biggest issue with the deck is the format itself. In Legacy, there are one-card combos like Show and Tell that can win the game on the spot, which makes it really difficult to play a three-card combo like ours in a competitive environment. That said, if you crack a Diminishing Returns in your Eternal Masters box, give it a shot with Laboratory Maniac and Paradigm Shift. Even though the deck isn't going to win a Legacy Grand Prix, it's a ton of fun to play!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Make sure to keep a lookout all week for more Eternal Masters spoilers, and don't forget to vote for next week's deck! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive, or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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