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Vintage 101: Lucy in the Sky with Moxen

Howdy folks! Welcome yet again to another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're looking ahead to US Eternal Weekend with some prep time on some of the newer decks in the format that have risen since the last Eternal Weekend. We're gonna be taking a look at decks such as Paradoxical Outcome, Survival, and also take a look at what we can do with some non-powered lists for Eternal Weekend. Once Eternal Weekend is out of the way, the plan is to talk long and hard about how to get into Magic Online and play Vintage, and some of the budget-ish lists that exist for the format on there.

With that being said, let's get into the meat of today's column. This week our focus is going to be on Paradoxical Outcome!

Paradoxical World

Despite having somewhat existed since the printing of the card Paradoxical Outcome, the current most refined lists of that have really jumped up in popularity within this past year, where the deck has gotten so popular on Magic Online that it's now about 15% of the Meta game. One big defining moment for this deck was most assuredly Team Vintage Super League this season, where players such as Luis Scott-Vargas and Randu Buehler touted the power of the deck, in addition to the European team from Snapcardster repping it as well in the European Eternal Weekend.

So... how does this deck work? It's relatively rather simple, but in reality the simple nature of it is what makes the deck difficult to pilot.

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The goal of Paradoxical Outcome is rather simple. The deck is a Xerox type blue storm deck that has access to countermagic such as Force of Will and Flusterstorm,while having access to a draw engine that also boosts storm count in the form of the card Paradoxical Outcome.

This deck can win a variety of ways. One of the common methods is to use the combination of Time Vault and Voltaic Key to take infinite turns, usually to find an actual win condition in the form of Monastery Mentor, however it is not uncommon to see these decks also play cards like Tinker + Blightsteel Colossus or traditional storm kill cards like Tendrils of Agony.

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One of the ways the deck accelerates into finding these answers is by casting Outcome itself. Outcome, despite costing 3U, costs basically nothing when you're able to float mana off cards like Moxen, Mana Crypt, and Sol Ring. By being able to chain Outcomes, the deck can find any answer it needs to win the game on the spot. Another common trick the deck can use to further their draw is to add Sensei's Divining Top into the mix, by tapping the Top to draw a card and then cast Outcome in response (targeting the Top as well as all the other nonland permanents it can target). This not only digs you a card deeper into the mix but also puts the Top back in hand where it can be cast again to further dig deeper if need be.

Let's take a look at a few lists before we move on to talk about how to best attack this deck's weaknesses.

As we can see, there are definitely a couple of different schools in building this deck. One thing that is generally common is that Monastery Mentor is always included, as the power level of the card is undeniable. Sideboard-wise we see a lot of the common tools that these colors have access to, including cards like Tormod's Crypt, Hurkyl's Recall, and sweet cards like Mystic Remora (Seriously, Remora is the real deal. Very powerful card indeed).

So How Does This Deck Lose?

As we've noted already, this deck has a draw engine that is basically insane, so how is it that this deck loses? Well, a few things come up. The deck emphasizes its artifact engine, so anything like Stony Silence or Null Rod shuts down their ability to leverage this extra mana into their Outcomes, which often leaves them with little mana to actually cast Outcome.

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Often times, the Outcome player's draws don't line up, even with their cantrips. They spend their turns spinning their wheels to locate an accelerant or something that can win them the game quickly. One of the most common ways this deck can lose is when the deck draws nothing but mana sources. Having eleven non-land based mana sources often means you draw more than you want. PO Decks have tried their best to trim out this weakness, but it is a weakness that exists. Essentially there is a lot of dead air in the deck between all of the mana sources and the cantrips and sometimes the math and variance is against you. This is one of the reasons that the deck is in a reasonable place where a restriction of Outcome itself is unnecessary (even though I still feel that the card should be restricted since it is very very powerful) because the deck often loses to itself.

Another thing that tends to beat this deck is the presence of the format's definitive king, Ravager Shops. With an aggressive start, Shops can often turn the corner relatively quickly versus Outcome if the Outcome player has a slow start with mana or is unable to find an Outcome in time. Shops also packs a lot of combo hate like Sphere of Resistance and it's singleton Trinisphere, which is another thing that Outcome hates: tax effects. Whether it's something that makes them pay more mana like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben or a card that actively punishes them for playing spells like Kambal, Consul of Allocation or Scab-Clan Berserker, being able to stick a taxing effect against this deck puts them in an awkward position of having to find an answer for it. This is one of the primary reasons the deck has gravitated to packing cards like Tinker, Blightsteel Colossus, Time Vault, and Voltaic Key.

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Other blue decks in the format as well as the mirror can beat this deck by either winning counter-wars when necessary as well as just going off faster than their opponent can. It takes a lot of things to go right to line up a kill with Outcome, one of which is being able to simply resolve a large Outcome. Often times players will push out smaller Outcomes to try to accelerate into drawing enough cards to ensure they have a way to win.

Newer Sideboard Spice

The fun thing about decks like this is that there is often some leeway in sideboards for trying out spice inclusions that often are pretty good.

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Both relatively new cards to the scene, Karn, Scion of Urza and Sai, Master Thopterist are both very interesting sideboard cards for this deck. Being able to generate a very large army off of Karn while being able to dig for a payoff card is very powerful, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him show up more and more in Vintage for this reason alone. Sai, on the other hand basically acts as a secondary blue version of Monastery Mentor. This makes him very powerful and also allows you to fuel drawing more cards at instant speed if need be.

Another card that should be on your radar is Fatal Push. Usually only as a singleton, this card does give Outcome a nicely clean option to getting rid of cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben or Kambal, Consul of Allocation without having too much devoted to it. In addition, Outcome decks have started to run sideboard Karakas as a way of dealing with these cards as well. The rise of Survival has made these effects more apparent in the format, which has forced Outcome players to adjust.

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Post Thoughts

If you're planning on taking Paradoxical Outcome to Eternal Weekend next month, I would greatly consider the presence of Shops more than anything. As the traditional best deck in the format, having a plan for beating Shops is going to be the most important matchup to worry about. Beyond that, having plans for opposing Outcome, Jeskai Mentor, and Dredge are solid plays. It's not known yet how many Survival players will show up to Eternal Weekend, given the amount of Bazaar of Baghdads that might be devoted to Dredge instead, but given the deck's popularity and toolbox nature, I would not be surprised to see it either, so prepare for it as well.

This deck can be quite powerful but definitely requires a lot of time and effort to play quickly and play well, since it requires creative solutions to roadblocks. That being said, it is quite rewarding to play when everything goes right. If you like something with a lot of moving pieces and something that just draws a ton of cards, this is the deck for you.

The Spice Corner

Hot off the presses from a 4-2 in a Vintage Challenge we have... Oath of Lands? Dark Depths + Thespain's Stage Combo as well as Oath of Druids and Sun Titan? Sign me up please!

My Goals This Week

I am woefully going to be unable to stream this next week (the 23rd), since I will be leaving for Madison, Wisconsin, but I will be back in time for an October 30th stream, where we will be doing a little Hulk-a-Mania:

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! I'm working ahead of myself for this month so as to give you guys even more Vintage content while I am on vacation at the end of the month, so next time we're going to be taking a look at the budding new deck in the format: Survival! Again, after that we'll be giving a serious eye to US Eternal Weekend which takes place November 1st-4th in Pittsburgh, PA. We'll take a look at some ways you can go unpowered as well as some of the obvious "budget" lists (i.e. Dredge) as well as unpowered Vintage Humans. As always, check me out on Twitter or Twitch if you manage to catch me!

My props this week go out to the man, Rich Shay! Rich is a fantastic Vintage player (and awesome person), and well worth checking out his stream if you're looking for some sweet Vintage action. Be sure to check him out!

Until next time!

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