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Against the Odds: Lich's Mirror (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 273 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had a different kind of Against the Odds poll featuring combos that are more likely to draw the game (and / or crash Magic Online), rather than actually win the game outright. In the end, the "combo" of Lich's Mirror and Harmless Offering came out on top. As a result, we're playing what might be the most convoluted and least effective combo ever seen on Against the Odds today, with our primary goal being to use Harmless Offering to give our opponent Lich's Mirror and then generate a game state that will trigger Lich's Mirror endlessly, putting our opponent in this weird purgatory where they are technically dying repeatedly but actually not dying at all until the game eventually ends with a draw (or maybe an MTGO crash?) What are the odds of drawing the game with Lich's Mirror and Harmless Offering in Modern? Let's get to the video and find out in today's Against the Odds; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Lich's Mirror

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The Deck

When Lich's Mirror plus Harmless Offering won last week's poll, I knew what we would try to do with the combo: give our opponent a Lich's Mirror and set up a board state where it would trigger infinitely. The question was how to best achieve this goal. The end result is one of the most convoluted (and least game-winning) combos we've ever played. Here's how it works:

Step One: Give the Opponent Lich's Mirror

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While Lich's Mirror might look like a strange but interesting Angel's Grace that can keep you alive through lethal damage, in reality, it's not a card you really want to use to try to save yourself. Sure, you survive if you have a Lich's Mirror and lose the game, but you lose all of your permanents, while your opponent keeps their permanents, so you almost always untap, play a land, and die again the following turn. As such, the goal of our deck isn't to use Lich's Mirror to keep ourselves alive but to use Harmless Offering or Bazaar Trader to Donate Lich's Mirror to our opponent to help keep them alive once we manage to kill them. 

Step Two: Lifegain Prevention

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Finding and giving our opponent Lich's Mirror are only part of the battle. We're not just trying to keep our opponent from losing the game—we're trying to keep our opponent from losing the game while also killing them an infinite number of times. To pull this off, we need to set up a game state where our opponent is dead to state-based actions, to trigger Lich's Mirror infinitely. While there are a few ways to go about this (like poison counters), we're going with lifegain prevention from cards like Stigma Lasher, Leyline of Punishment, Roiling Vortex, and Havoc Festival, which have the added bonus of putting red mana symbols on the battlefield to help us ramp with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. Lifegain prevention is essential to keep Lich's Mirror from just triggering a single time when our opponent loses the game. With a lifegain-prevention spell on the battlefield and our opponent controlling our Lich's Mirror, all that's left is to kill our opponent, and then the insanity begins!

Step 3: Kill the Opponent 

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The most hilarious part of our combo is that for it to go off, our opponent needs to die to trigger Lich's Mirror, which technically means that if we didn't go through all of the trouble of giving our opponent a Lich's Mirror, we'd just win the game. While we don't have a super straightforward win condition, our most likely path is to tick up and perhaps ultimate Chandra, Torch of Defiance or use Karn, the Great Creator (which is primarily in our deck to find a Lich's Mirror from our sideboard, essentially giving us seven copies of Lich's Mirror instead of four) to find something like Goblin Charbelcher or Walking Ballista from our sideboard). Let's say we actually pull this off—we find Lich's Mirror, give it to our opponent, stick a lifegain-prevention card, and then manage to kill our opponent somehow. What happens?

When our opponent dies, Lich's Mirror will trigger, forcing our opponent to shuffle all of their permanents into their library along with their hand and graveyard (Lich's Mirror sticks around under our opponent's control since it specifically says permanents you "own" and we own the Mirror, not our opponent). Normally, Lich's Mirror would put our opponent back up to 20 life, but our lifegain prevention keeps this from happening, so our opponent will still be at a negative life total. This means that as soon as Lich's Mirror finishes triggering, it will trigger again, thanks to our opponent being at negative life, and then again and again and again. Basically, our opponent will keep dying but not really dying because of Lich's Mirror, putting the game into this weird state of purgatory that will continue until either the game ends in a draw or MTGO's brain explodes, whatever comes first!

Other Stuff

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Yes, yes, I know, Blood Moon and Ensnaring Bridge are powerful cards, but when you consider how many hoops we have to jump through to set up the Lich's Mirror infinite death / draw combo (finding and resolving a five-mana artifact, giving it to our opponent, finding lifegain prevention, and then actually killing our opponent to trigger Lich's Mirror), we need a way to stay alive until the late, late game to have any chance of achieving what we are attempting. Blood Moon and Ensnaring Bridge are in our deck to (hopefully) slow down the game enough that we have at least some chance of pulling off our combo. 

The Matchups

In all honesty, our deck doesn't have any good matchups, but I guess that makes sense considering we're playing a combo that keeps our opponent alive when they would otherwise die. If I had to choose a good matchup for the deck, it would be anything that can't function under a Blood Moon or Ensnaring Bridge since if our opponent can't function, we might have enough time to get all of our combo pieces together and pull off the win...er...draw.

The Odds

Heading into our matches, I was legitimately worried that we'd never pull off the combo. It's hard enough to win by giving an opponent something like Demonic Pact with Harmless Offering, and Demonic Pact kills the opponent, while we need to pull off the Donate combo and then still find a way to hit our opponent for lethal. Thankfully, we did manage to pull off the combo once out of six matches, which is a lot faster than I expected (I set the over / under at 10 matches and took the over). While the combo is very clearly not competitive even in the least (I mean, we're quite literally turning a win into a draw, which is the opposite of what a Spike would want to do), we did prove that it is possible to pull off, and it didn't even take that many matches to make it happen!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

No poll this week! Next week, we'll kick off Kaldheim season with a special episode. Don't worry, the poll will return next week with a bunch of sweet new Kaldheim options!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today! 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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