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Much Abrew: Battle of Wits (Modern, Magic Online)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. Last week, we didn't have Instant Deck Techs because of Core Set 2020 preview season, but the good news is we have a super-spicy list to play this week: 269-Card Battle of Wits! Somehow, someone managed to go 6-2 with the deck during last week's Modern challenge on Magic Online, which was good enough for 11th place but missing the Top 8 on tiebreakers. Since the deck is basically five decks mashed together, it's really hard to break down the plan other than to say if we can find a Battle of Wits and get it on the battlefield, we should win on our next upkeep. The challenge is that with 269 cards, it's not all that likely that we will draw Battle of Wits in any specific game, so we've got some random backup combos as well. Is it really possible that playing 269 cards is a good strategy in our current Modern format? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we can talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: 269-Card Battle of Wits



  • As for our record, we ended up 2-3 in our league. The deck has a lot of variance thanks to its massive size. The deck works great when we draw our tutors or the right answers in the right matchups, but there are also times when we draw the wrong half of our deck for the matchup and things go poorly. This probably isn't a surprise, considering we have 269 cards in our deck.
  • Sadly, we never managed to win with Battle of Wits. We simply didn't draw it in most games; then, in our last match, it looked like we had the win set up but we couldn't find our fifth land to cast Battle of Wits before our opponent put up their defenses. One of the most awkward parts of the deck is that while we have a ton of tutors (Bring to Light, Eladamri's Call, Glittering Wish, Supply // Demand, and Gifts Ungiven), most of them can't actually find Battle of Wits itself, so we are often left hoping to draw it naturally while we tutor up other combos.
  • While the deck is way too big to break down on a card-by-card basis, the main plan is to ramp in the early game, use removal to keep our opponent at bay, and then tutor up some sort of combo to win the game. As for combos, there are a bunch, ranging from Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker with Restoration Angel, to Madcap Experiment with Platinum Emperion, to Gifts Ungiven for Unburial Rites and a huge creature like Iona, Shield of Emeria or Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, to Bring to Light for Scapeshift to sacrifice our lands to get a couple of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacles along with some Mountains. The downside of the deck is that most of our combos are only loosely related, so we do have some games where we draw one piece of multiple combos and have a hard time piecing them together into a win.
  • Magic Online doesn't really like this deck. While there weren't any direct bugs, the huge library hangs up the client when we go to search it, which sometimes leads to issues (like the game where we sacrificed all of our lands to Scapeshift without searching for replacements).
  • I wouldn't want to try playing this deck in paper; it seems like a nightmare. I have no idea how you'll shuffle it, and the deck has a ton of fetch lands and tutors that require shuffling. It might be worth it just to see your opponent's face when you plop it down on the table for round one of your local FNM though.
  • The cool thing about Battle of Wits is that with so many cards, there are a bunch of possible ways to build the deck. In some ways, this deck doesn't feel all that focused on Battle of Wits itself. A build with more card draw and tutors that can actually find Battle of Wits could be good (or at least allow us to win with our namesake enchantment once in a while). Since we didn't actually win with Battle of Wits itself (and building Battle of Wits seems fun), I'm planning on putting together my own build of the deck for a future stream, but I'd also love to see your builds. If you have a sweet Battle of Wits deck (or want to build one), make sure to leave it in the comments or email it to me, and my favorite of the bunch will have a chance to get played when we do our Battle of Wits stream in a few weeks!
  • All in all, 269-Card Battle of Wits was fun, and it is certainly one of the most unique decks in Modern. While it does have the pieces to beat just about any deck in Modern (and also picks up hilarious free wins against Mill), it also (unsurprisingly) struggles with consistency. We had some great wins but also some frustrating losses. It's hard for me to imagine that it's actually a top-tier deck in Modern, although it's certainly hilarious (basically every opponent commented on our deck size, and we beat Hogaak simply by having so many cards in our library that they weren't able to find the line to mill us out). And when everything comes together, it is one of the most unique ways to win a game of Magic in the Modern format!


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions, and if you decide to take the Battle of Wits challenge and build a Battle of Wits deck, make sure to leave me a link to it in the comments, or you can email it to me at

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