December 30, 2020

42 minute read

Max Gilmore
Predict + Doomsday image

For as broken as it was, the deck was some of the most fun I've had playing Magic. When it was unceremoniously banned out from under me (rightfully so), it felt not unlike a time from my childhood when I was watching a movie on cable TV that had gone over its scheduled time allotment, and right at the good part it suddenly cut to a live sports game or something.

For a few months, I was looking for a deck that would scratch the itch. While trying (seemingly) every deck under the sun, I actually had not tried and had mentally written it off as too scary and foreign to dip my toes into. Frustrated, I actually stopped playing any Legacy at all for six weeks during the summer. I slowly waded back in with an Esper Vial league, and immediately ran into Snowko. After an hour-long match (that I lost), I dropped the league at 0-1, closed Magic Online, and took another break. I finally figured, "Fuck it. At this point, I may as well try to learn Doomsday."

Things are always in the last place you look, and there it was: the deck that felt like . While was simply good instead of busted, the decks played out the same way. Since the actual "combo" package is relatively small, you can surround it with a shell full of otherwise good cards, allowing you to go toe-to-toe in a "fair" fight until the time comes for you to have a very unfair turn. This is actually pretty similar to the first Modern deck I played: the -based deck from 2012 or so, where you stall out the game for a while and then eventually cast a 2GG spell that I endearingly called "Entreat the Mountains." I guess old habits die hard.

All of this rambling is to say how fortunate I am that I found a competitive Legacy deck I genuinely enjoy in the midst of the Snowko / Delver hellscape that we appear to be living in.

As I've been juggling two kids under 3 years old, I haven't been able to play many tournaments. I did, however, manage to play in one of the Eternal Weekends with Esper , going 8-2, and then played a Showcase Challenge with Grixis , which I Top 8'd. In the Showcase Qualifier itself, I only went 2-3 in the event, but Marcus Ewaldh (a.k.a. Truckis123 / IWouldLikeToRespond), who has been working on the deck with me, ran all the way to the finals of the Legacy Challenge on the same day!

I want to talk a bit about this deck that Marcus and I have created, as most lists are configured very differently from ours.

As an aside, in the tradition of weird Legacy deck names, I've taken to calling our list "Nostradamus." Very clever, I know. Here's where we're at:


The stock deck is focused on quickly assembling and protecting the combo, using topdeck tutors such as or to quickly find the , and leveraging , in conjunction with and , to protect it.

Marcus and I both independently arrived at the conclusion that this approach left us feeling too vulnerable. It's not uncommon that you'll someone and see a hand of , , , and . It's not going to be reasonable to go under all of that hate, since the fast mana and topdeck tutors have card disadvantage built in. We then decided that we could build a deck that can out-grind and power through the bevy of spells that answer the combo, using and as card-advantage engines to pick apart all of the opponent's relevant sources of interaction, and winning at our leisure. By removing , the time-sensitivity of finding a is greatly mitigated, meaning that we could also forego the card-disadvantage topdeck tutors. If you cast enough times, you're bound to find a . Or at least that's the idea.

It's interesting that in a F.I.R.E.-philosophy world of "jam, jam, jam," Marcus and I have found success in slowing things down. The reason for this is the concept of false tempo. When most interactive decks play against , they opt to play conservatively, and punishes that game plan. They leave mana open to interact with a potential on your turn, but on their end step, you cast . The opponent is now caught between tapping down to deal with your , leaving them more vulnerable to a , or letting the go and being buried in card advantage.

The full set of also help drag the game out as blockers, but also provide additional utility as a pitch card for and as an overcosted way to draw into your pile. Of note, they add devotion for , opening up more flexible piles to be built with fewer resources needing to be consumed.

It's worth noting that even though this deck is configured to play slow and grind, provided you have access to a , you're able to go off just as fast as the more speed-oriented Doomsday builds. The lack of means you can't protect the combo as easily, but in matchups that are about racing to the combo, you're just as capable of producing a fast win before your opponent does.

There works out to be a "flex" slot in the main deck of Nostradamus. I am currently playing a main deck in this slot, as a way to answer Game 1 s, s, and s, while also providing a way to answer an opposing , or kill . While it is dead in the non-blue matchups, those tend to be quite in favor of Doomsday Game 1 anyway, so I think the equity loss is okay. Marcus is playing a in this slot, which is powerful in a more open field. There's also a good chance this slot should be a singular . Some piles work out to have space for one zero-mana "filler" card, and fits in nicely here. It's also miserable for your opponent to play around a single copy of , which they will see once you exile your library to .

The Sideboard:

In the Nostradamus sideboard, you find a bevy of cards suited toward answering everything an opponent can present.

The s are the main pull into Grixis. It's a clean answer to countermagic, , anti-draw effects like or , and the full suite of generically busted blue cards in Legacy.

The es are the only card boasting a full playset in the sideboard, and they're an important part of this deck's postboard game plan against Delver and other creature-based strategies: answer every opposing threat and win at your leisure. I used to play in this slot, and while I think the card has a better text box than , since answers stuff like a on 3 loyalty, or combined with , answers your opponent's life total, it overtaxed the red mana. Often, a Delver player will present multiple threats in a turn, and it's important to be able to use your black mana to kill their , leaving your red mana free to point at either their counterspell or .

The s are what give the grinding plan a huge boost of staying power. Doubling up on s, es, discard effects, and cantrips will absolutely bury an opponent in a couple of turns. A nice little bonus is that on Wizard covers both and . There's an argument that a card like opens up removal spells in your opponent's deck, but it's not that straightforward. First of all, due to costing half of your life total, is never a dead card against , even without a creature target. It's a part of why I run the full suite of es in the main deck; trading it with a is often just fine. While trading your with a isn't ideal, it's a 1-for-1 trade at worst, and will run away with the game otherwise. I'm only playing two copies not as a shot against the card, but because I'd rather maximize on the removal spell itself (), and they occupy the same sideboard space.

The is a catch-all answer to cards like or . The creature mode makes the card good enough to bring in as a precaution against most decks, since if the bounce spell is blank, the 3/1 flyer is still fine at pressuring opposing planeswalkers, or presenting a reasonable clock in tandem with some es.

The basic functions as a mana source for matchups where the fast mana is cut or shaved, helping cast the s and s, and providing a robust -proof manabase with full color access.

Two s, an , and a round out the sideboard, and come in for the matchups you'd expect. Against graveyard decks, the is often stacked as the top card of a "pass the turn" pile, where you're able to draw the top card the same turn as you cast the with a or something. This insulates you from losing until you untap and draw something like your as the second card down, culminating in a straightforward win. Some people play or in these slots, but they're often too slow. It's important to have zero-mana interaction before you take your first turn, and once you make it to your turn, you can supplement the s with and .

Sideboard Guide and Some Sample Piles:

I firmly believe that sideboard guides are incredibly useful tools. In addition to not having to re-derive a sideboard plan from scratch every time you play a matchup, helping to mitigate oversights, they provide a great way to infer what's important in a matchup and what the game will be about. In a similar vein, having a list of some common piles with resource availability heuristics saves brain power and helps prevent unforced errors. They also serve as templates for easy modification, if need be.

It's important to look at plans holistically. For example, in the Delver matchup where we shave / / / , we can really systematically dismantle the threat suite of the Delver deck while grinding card advantage with , , and . We can then win comfortably once the opponent is out of resources, and our ample lands in play remove the need for fast mana in the pile. A -centric list, by contrast, must try to jam a quick to bait a counterspell and follow with a quick as a -style game, with their fingers crossed.

Please find the sideboard guide and several sample piles below:

Sideboard Guide:

The numbers next to the main deck cards are for quantities to remove. The numbers next to the sideboard cards are for quantities to bring in. If you're having trouble parsing the table in the site, it's a little bit easier to read on this Google Document: Nostradamus Sideboard Plans and Piles

Sample Piles:

Win This Turn Piles:

Hand: PredictMana (post Doomsday): 1UPile: X, LED, Cycle, Preordian, TONotes: X could be Ideas Unbound, in case Predict gets countered

Hand: Brainstorm + XMana: UPile: IU, LED, Cycle, Petal/Cavern, TO

Hand: CantripMana: UUU Pile: IU , Cycle, TO, Petal/Cavern, Petal Notes: Switch TO further back if needed to Cavern around discard

Hand: Cantrip + Cantrip Mana: Can cast both cantripsPile: LED, IU, TO, Cavern/Petal, XNotes: X could be Daze if you're playing any, or discard if you access to extra black mana.

Hand: Ideas UnboundMana: UUPile: LED, Cycle, Petal/Cavern, Ponder, TO

Hand: X + CantripMana: UUPile: Brainstorm, LED, Cycle, TO, XNote: You will be casting Oracle with 1 card in library. Exposed to removal.

Pass the Turn Piles:

Hand: AnythingMana: UUPile: IU, Cycle, TO, Cavern, Petal

Hand: Blue card + cantripMana: UUPile: FoW, IU, TO, Cavern, PetalNotes: Cantrip into FoW on Doomsday turn

Hand: Blue card + cantripMana: 1UPile: FoW, Predict, X, TO, CavernNotes: Cantrip into FoW on Doomsday turn

Low Resource

Hand: CantripMana: UPile: LED, IU, Cavern/Petal, X, OracleNotes: X can be discard if you have extra black mana

T1 ironclad vs Blue w/o Stifle Hand: none requiredMana: none requiredPile: Fetch, Cavern, Cycle, TO, IslandNotes: T4 win, plays into stifle

T1 ironclad vs Lands / D&THand: none requiredMana: none requiredPile: Fetch, Fetch, TO, Island, Island

Plans with no FoW, Cycle, IU, or Artifacts

Hand: none requiredMana: 1UUUPile: Predict, Ponder, Cavern, Preordain, TONotes: Pile plays well around surgical given extra cantrips

Hand: none requiredMana: 1U + fetchPile: Predict, Ponder, Cavern, TO, Island

Blocking!Hand: none requiredMana: UBPile: Baleful Strix, X, Baleful Strix, Cavern, TONotes: Make X something interactive

I hope you found this read enjoyable, useful, or possibly even both. Best of luck with your piles (and don't forget to include )!

For further reading about Doomsday specifically, there's a beautifully put together wiki at that teaches some of the other basics of the deck!