Magic players’ brains are interesting. They are like quantum computers, never truly switched off. They may be relaxing but they are always working on that next deck, that new problem, that new combo or board state, or what happened last game. We analyse, we think and we plot and plan….. Once in a while one of those problems bubbles up to the surface with an unexpected solution.
The Magosi Conundrum
WotC R&D has this penchant to every now and then try to “Fix” the legends of Magic’s wild past. Temporal Mastery in place of Time Walk, Ancestral Vision for Ancestral Recall, Lotus Bloom for Black Lotus – all with some degree of playability. It has always been Time Vault that seems to have caused the biggest headaches to the R&D boffins, trying to create something that is not just simply pairable with Voltaic Key.
Enter Magosi, the Waterveil:
As we can clearly see, R&D have done a right number on this one. Not only does it come in tapped, but it also steals your land drop, forces you to skip a turn to arm it with an Eon counter (a freaking easily-killable counter of a type produced no-where else in the game none the less – but we’ll talk about the billion or so ways to kill counters another time). Then, best of all, to get the “extra turn” out of it, you have to bounce Magosi to your hand.
Well, haters gonna hate – after all and not everyone can be as cool as Time Vault.
When this thing was first released way back when (amongst the hype of legendary treasures and new sac lands), the question was posed over and over “Is this thing possible to be made playable?”. My answer has always been “YES…one thousand times yes! We just haven’t either got the technology yet or figured out how.” Until now.
Breaking Down the Business
As I said, I believe any card is playable; all you need is the right situation and the right technology to back it up. Magosi is no exception! The combination of problems Magosi presents is an interesting interlocking set of puzzle pieces, and one that is not going to be solved by a single card alone.
Let us start by analysing the card and the problems that it presents.
1) Firstly, it comes into play tapped. This is problematic in the sense that it slows things down; we can’t just play it and manipulate it. Hence, we cannot just bang it in and start chaining things off. Ideally, we need to get it to come into play untapped.
2) Secondly, when the extra turn ability is activated, Magosi is bounced back to its owner’s hand. The problem here is that this not only eats a land drop every time you want to replay the thing, but it will come back in tapped AND it resets any funny business manipulation you may have done to the previous iteration of Magosi. Nice one, R&D!
3) Magosi uses the bad power-level errata that was once on Time Vault. For those of you who (like I do) follow the trials and tribulations of the Vintage format (gotta get my competitive on somewhere), you’ll remember that hideous power level errata that was once on Time Vault…the one where you had to untap it in a certain way and skip your turn to add the counter to it.
Magosi essentially does that. This is a doozy.
First we have to get it in play, then untap it, and now we have to tap it to add a counter to it and skip our next turn. If my butt had its own voice, it would be screaming blue bloody murder with how painful this card is. Cards like this make me think R&D spends too much time brainstorming in a bondage parlour.
The best bit is, again, the type of counter added – it is an “Eon” counter, and Magosi is currently the ONLY card in Magic that produces “Eon” counters.
4) Finally, the last part of the problem is that both the counter-adding ability and the extra turn-taking ability are both separate tap abilities. Pretty obvious here, but this means we can’t just somehow stack the counter and straight-up rip it off.
Dealing With the Dirt
As we can see, there are four main problems to be addressed in order to be able to get any benefit out of this card. Fortunately, Magic has such a diverse toolkit of cards with various mind altering game-altering affects. There is pretty much a card to do almost anything, or failing that, a sequence of cards which should simulate the same scenario.
Let’s look at what mechanics we’re going to need to beat and what cards to look at specifically to beat R&D and break open Magosi:
1) Beating “comes into play tapped” abilities. There are a couple of approaches we can take on this. We can specifically attack this from the angle of Amulet of Vigor. AoV directly addresses enters-the-battlefield-tapped abilities as a static replacement. We can also manually untap things with some other “Untap target X” ability. This could include Deserted Temple or Candelabra of Tawnos or Magus of the Candelabra.
2) Beating the bounce-back. This is less of a problem than the other three. Mostly it is an issue as we can only manipulate Magosi for the current instance. We’re not able to set up additional firings directly on the card; however, setting things up with other cards is another matter, which leads to addressing the counter situation.
This does stunt our board growth situation, however. Dealing with the bounce is going to mean we either need to have a win on board, have sufficient resources to fire it, or we are going to need to bomb out additional lands to compensate. For this, something like Exploration or Manabond would allow such acceleration.
3) Breaking the “Eon” counter conundrum. Again, there are several methods of approach we can take here. First, we can try to remain focused on the single card. What I mean there is that we can try to manipulate the tap state of the Magosi in order to use both the Eon counter add ability and the Eon counter removal ability in the same turn. This would require some kind of recurrable untap effect; again both Candelabra of Tawnos or Magus of the Candelabra fit the bill. There are other solutions like Deserted Temple, Juniper Order Druid, Ley Druid, Stone-Seeder Hierophant, or even Ral Zarek. The issue with keeping it on the card is that you need two untaps – one to beat the ETBT as stated above, and one to use both abilities.
Alternatively, as above, we can look elsewhere. This is good because it potentially opens up additional lines of play. Personally, I like to try to include as many lines of play as possible when I am trying to break a card; this allows me the maximum level of flexibility in getting to a solution. Let’s explore off the card solutions next.
My first thoughts were looking at cloning Magosi. Is it possible to copy Magosi, and from there activate the ability with one and transfer to the other? Alternatively, is it possible to generate a token, move it, and then duplicate the token before activating the turn gain ability?
Firstly, cloning. The obvious candidates here are Vesuva and Thespian’s Stage. They can both directly copy lands; this means we really only need to deal with the initial untap from the ETBT ability. From there we can generate a counter on one Magosi and move it to the other. Unfortunately, there are only two cards in Magic that can move a non-specific token: Leech Bonder and Fate Transfer which both have their inherent flaws:
A) They can only move counters between creatures.
B) They require specific additional support cards to be recurrable.
In terms of the creature restriction, there are several ways to turn lands into creatures. This can be as simple as splashing green (which is probably a good idea for Exploration anyway) for Living Lands, Living Plane, Natural Emergence or Nature’s Revolt, all basic green enchantments for creature-ifying lands. Alternately, if you want to avoid green, then the classic Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth + Kormus Bell combo to Swamp-up and then creature-up all Swamps works too.
The craziest thing about converting Magosi to being a creature is that this actually expands our list of clone options for copying Magosi. We can now literally use Clone or Phyrexian Metamorph to copy Magosi. Go figure.
Fate Transfer can simply be patched onto an Isochron Scepter to be enabled as recurrable. However, it rips all counters in one shot; as such, it does require a land clone. Leech Bonder is a little more flexible here. Pairing it with a tap ability (Viridian Longbow for pinging your foes to death or Paradise Mantle to help offset your mana usage) allows free usage of its untap ability to return a single counter. The advantage is that you can rip a counter off a Magosi and then later return it.
The great thing about Magosi’s Eon counter add ability is that, unlike the old power level errata on Time Vault, it does not immediately end the turn – it simply forces the skipping of your next turn. Matter and anti-matter, turns and anti-turns. In terms of what this means for us, we now only need to generate a net-gain of turns.
If we’re doing this on-the-card, we’re going to need to generate two extra turns for each Eon counter we create. The easiest solution would be an ability-copy effect – Rings of Brighthearth immediately springs to mind. As we may well be dealing with land-creatures, we could also look at equipping Magosi with Illusionist’s Bracers to auto-copy the turn generation ability. Alternatively there may be a way to do this off the card through proliferation, so that we may only need to generate a one shot extra turn before we can enter a loop state. With Leech Bonder, there’s the additional advantage of being able to proliferate the Eon counter through a Contagion Clasp before returning one of the two counters to Magosi. This means we can offset that one-time turn-skip with as little as a single cast of Time Warp.
Where To Go From Here: The Lines of Play
That was a bit of a mind-bender. I don’t expect everyone to have necessarily followed that. The theory is great, but I personally like to play with the cards to see how something actually mechanically works. Let’s look at how those lines of play would actually operate in a game.
The On-Card Solution:
1) Play Amulet of Vigor.
2) Play a once per turn recurrable untap source e.g. Deserted Temple/Unbender Tine.
3) Play Magosi – Magosi untaps due to Amulet of Vigor.
4) Activate and put an Eon counter on Magosi, the Waterveil. Skip your next turn.
5) Use a turn recurrable untap effect (Deserted Temple/Unbender Tine) to untap Magosi.
6) Activate Magosi to add the extra turn ability to the stack.
7) Trigger Rings of Brighthearth to copy the extra turn ability.
Once in the loop, repeat steps 3 through 7.
The Magosi-Leech Solution:
1) Play Paradise Mantle.
2) Play Leech Bonder.
3) Equip Paradise Mantle to Leech Bonder.
4) Play Amulet of Vigor.
5) Play Magosi; Magosi untaps due to Amulet of Vigor.
6) Play Living Lands.
7) Play Contagion Clasp.
8) Activate to put an Eon counter on Magosi, the Waterveil. Skip your next turn.
9) Tap Leech Bonder for mana.
10) Use Leech Bonder’s ability to extract the Eon counter from Magosi to Leech Bonder.
11) Clone the Eon counter with proliferation via the Contagion Clasp.
12)Tap Leech Bonder for mana.
13) Use Leech Bonder’s ability to extract one of the Eon counters from Leech Bonder to Magosi.
14) Use untap effect (e.g. Deserted Temple) to untap Magosi.
15) Activate Magosi to add the extra turn ability to the stack.
16) Either clone the extra turn with Rings of Brighthearth or a one-shot extra turn effect like Time Warp.
From here on, the subsequent turns are more compact, consisting of:
1) Play Magosi, Magosi untaps due to Amulet of Vigor.
2) Clone the Eon counter on Leech Bonder with proliferation via the Contagion Clasp ensuring to tap Leechbonder for mana.
3) Use Leech Bonder’s ability to extract one of the Eon counters from Leech Bonder to Magosi.
4) Activate Magosi to add the extra turn ability to the stack.
The Clone-Magosi Solution:
1) Play Isocron Scepter.
2) Imprint Fate Transfer.
3) Play Amulet of Vigor
4) Play Living Lands.
5) Play Magosi; Magosi untaps due to Amulet of Vigor
6) Play Clone effect on Magosi; Magosi clone untaps due to Amulet of Vigor
7) Activate to put an eon counter on Magosi, the Waterveil. Skip your next turn through the original Magosi.
8) Activate Isocron Scepter to Fate Transfer the counters from the original Magosi to the Clone.
9) Activate the Clone Magosi to add the extra turn ability to the stack
10) Either clone the extra turn with Rings of Brighthearth or an equipped Illusionist’s Bracers.
Once in the loop, all you need to do is cycle through steps five through ten.
As you can see, there are various advantages with each solution, and quite honestly, many of the parts are interchangeable. The on-card solution is the most compact; however, it is the most restrictive in that you will never get another land drop unless you have a way to cheat lands in. The Leech Bonder solution still kills your land drop, but doesn’t risk sucking the same hate that Rings of Brighthearth attracts. The third solution – as long as you are not using clone lands – allows you to actually advance your board state by playing more lands, since you are replaying the clone spell to copy Magosi. However, it is also the variant most likely to suck hate on the Scepter and the Rings.
What is the Win-Con?
Yeah, okay – that is a hard one. This little Rube Goldberg engine doesn’t actually do anything apart from generating a net advantage of turns, so it technically isn’t a win condition.
You can pretty much do whatever you like once you have infinite turns. I would personally go for some silly permanent effect that triggers and slaps my opponents silly once a turn in upkeep or end step:
Consuming Aberration – to mill them out each time you cast a spell. Works well with the clone solution above.
Sphinx Sovereign, Agent of Masks or Baneful Omen – options that trigger once a turn and slap your opponents for damage.
Whatever you choose, I would hope your group would enjoy the game, given the massive effort you have put into actually “going infinite”.
Why bother with all of this nonsense?
That is a good question. Hell…there are much easier ways to combo out. We’ve all seen them, and we’ve played against them. They aren’t fun after you’ve seen the Nth Sharuum the Hegemon deck, or Zur or whatever else is en vogue. Quite frankly, this is the biggest pile of bullshit I have devised in a while.
So do it? Why bother writing about it? Well, we complain on and on that EDH is getting too blood-thirsty and competitive. We complain that there are people out there who just want to go infinite. That there are people out there who want to pack every good tutor into decks to unify strategy and kill off randomness. Hell – I am one of those Vintage-playing punks who wants to slap every deck with a Demonic Tutor, Vampiric Tutor AND Imperial Seal.
For me, though, I am learning that I don’t have to be the most blood-thirsty arsehole at the table, playing only the best thing I can to try ot win everything. I am learning how to play the game for the sake of having fun. As such, I hope this out-of-the-box thinking will inspire a few more folks to try opening up their play options as well.
Take a crappy card that you mightn’t have seen since Ice Age, and think about what it does – think about what you can make it potentially do. Open up a world of insanity, and you might find you like what you see inside.