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Max Shows Off Esper Doomsday

Written by:
  • Max Gilmore

📅 November 15, 2020

⏱️6 min read

Hi everyone! We've missed you very much, but we're back! Min and I (Max) have had a hectic 2020. Personally, I had a second kid in April and changed jobs in July. Both of those things, compounded with COVID, made it hard to find the time to produce content. Fortunately, things are opening up a bit now, and I'm excited to be making eternal MTG content for you again.

On top of that, we're now sponsored by Cardhoarder! As a big fan of their loan program, card selection, and customer service, I'm proud to represent the Cardhoarder brand. I've used their loan service to supplement my personal collection for a long time, and with this sponsorship, will be able to branch out to create content with decks I'd otherwise not be able to access.

All of that said, today I'm bringing you a mini-primer and a league with my pet deck, Esper Doomsday!

Creatures Spells Lands Sideboard
4 Baleful Strix 4 Ponder 3 Flooded Strand 3 Monastery Mentor
1 Thassa's Oracle 4 Brainstorm 4 Polluted Delta 4 Swords to Plowshares
1 Street Wraith 3 Arcum's Astrolabe 1 Marsh Flats 2 Rest in Peace
4 Force of Will 3 Underground Sea 2 Flusterstorm
4 Dark Ritual 1 Scrubland 1 Lavinia, Azorius Renegade
4 Duress 1 Tundra 2 Brazen Borrower
4 Doomsday 2 Snow-Covered Island 1 Teferi, Time Raveler
1 Night's Whisper 2 Snow-Covered Swamp
1 Ideas Unbound 1 Cavern of Souls
3 Lotus Petal
1 Lion's Eye Diamond
2 Teferi, Time Raveler
1 Edge of Autumn

Why Esper?

Before I get into the nitty-gritty, I just want to lay out what a Doomsday deck in the year 2020 aims to do:

  1. Resolve Doomsday.
  2. Put Thassa's Oracle, draw spells, and mana sources into the 5 card pile.
  3. Draw through your 5-card library and resolve a Thassa's Oracle trigger.

For those familiar with the Inverter of Truth deck banned from Pioneer, it's like that, except Doomsday is your setup spell.

While all Doomsday lists are base UB, the vast majority of successful lists splash Red for cards like Pyroblast and Abrade, Green for cards like Abrupt Decay, Veil of Summer, and Carpet of Flowers, or both Red and Green for access to a mix of these cards. I'm eschewing all of that and leaning into White. Why?

In short, it's for Teferi, Time Raveler. Not only does a resolved Teferi invalidate all countermagic, but he bounces threats, opposing disruptive permanents like Thorn of Amethyst, or our own Arcum's Astrolabes or Baleful Strixen. The Baleful Strixen, in return, do a great job at protecting Teferi from pesky creatures who would wish to do him harm.

Another reason that Teferi, Time Raveler is so important is that he helps shore up the biggest vulnerability of the card Doomsday, which is that you lose half of your life total (rounded up).

Even from a life total as high as 15, Doomsday's effect takes you to 7. A Dreadhorde Arcanist + Lightning Bolt could finish you off from there, as do a plethora of other combinations of cards that Legacy decks present. Therefore, casting Doomsday and building a pile becomes a balancing act of speed and resilience. If you can cast the Doomsday, draw into your pile, and resolve Thassa's Oracle with an empty (or nearly empty) library, all in the same turn, you can eschew your opponent's combat step altogether.

However, a same-turn win comes at a price. Your pile will likely have to prioritize speed and requisite mana, exposing yourself to soft countermagic like Spell Pierce or Daze at critical points, or leaving your Thassa's Oracle trigger vulnerable to a Stifle.

A classic "Win This Turn" pile happens when you resolve a Doomsday with one leftover Blue mana and a Brainstorm in hand, with at least one extra card for fodder.

You build this pile:

Ideas Unbound
Lion's Eye Diamond
Street Wraith or Edge of Autumn
Lotus Petal
Thassa's Oracle

You use your Blue mana to cast Brainstorm, drawing the Ideas Unbound, Lion's Eye Diamond, and Street Wraith. Put Ideas Unbound on top of your library with your extra fodder card below it. Play Lion's Eye Diamond, cycle Street Wraith, hold priority, crack Lion's Eye Diamond for UUU, and draw the Ideas Unbound. Cast Ideas Unbound with U floating. Draw your fodder card, Lotus Petal, and Thassa's Oracle. Play Lotus Petal, crack it for U, and play Thassa's Oracle with an empty library. Easy peasy, but also easy to disrupt at any point in the combo.

A more resilient "Pass the Turn" pile could look like:

Ideas Unbound
Street Wraith or Edge of Autumn
Thassa's Oracle
Lotus Petal or Cavern of Souls
Lotus Petal or, if you have enough mana, Duress

You untap and cast Ideas Unbound. If that resolves, you'll be able to cast an uncounterable Thassa's Oracle with an empty library. If you have ample mana, you could even squeeze a protection spell or two into this pile. If the Ideas Unbound gets countered, you have the option to cycle into the Thassa's Oracle on the turn after.

As an aside, keep in mind these are just two sample piles. There are a plethora of other ways to build a Doomsday pile, utilizing fetch-lands to thin your 5-card deck / insulate from Wasteland, or use two cantrips in hand to draw your top card as Lion's Eye Diamond and then crack it with the second cantrip on the stack, giving you the mana to cast the Ideas Unbound you put next.

Teferi, Time Raveler's +1 ability transcends the give-and-take of passing the turn or not by allowing you to cast a Doomsday on your opponent's turn, after their combat step. No life total concerns. No disruptive concerns. Just a clean, easy Doomsday win. Frequently, your opponent will be attacking to kill the Teferi, but in this case, you can cast the Doomsday on their Attack step. Just anticipate that your opponent will again have access to their instant-speed interaction once Teferi hits the graveyard. Teferi really does everything this deck wants, and when I play other color configurations of Doomsday, I miss the card dearly.

Another powerful card that White offers is Monastery Mentor. I have a trio of them in my sideboard, and it gives the deck an orthogonal gameplan of sticking a Mentor and just casting spells. Of note, I frequently name "Human" with Cavern of Souls in post-sideboard games where Monastery Mentor is in the deck.

Keep in mind that even within Esper colors, there are a bunch of ways to build the deck. Cards like Baleful Strix, Daze, Night's Whisper, Duress, Thoughtseize, and the exact number of Teferi, Time Raveler can all be adjusted to taste, or tuned further for optimization. The list I'm playing in the league below (4 Baleful Strix, 0 Daze) is really leaning into the desire to slow things down a bit, hit land drops, and generate card advantage. Even so, builds like this can throw a Turn 1 Dark Ritual into Doomsday like the best of them.

This league below had some really sweet games and interesting / challenging Doomsday piles. Enjoy!

Timestamps:

Deck tech @ 0:00
Match 1 @ 6:08
Match 2 @ 24:02
Match 3 @ 53:53
Match 4 @ 1:05:27
Match 5 @ 1:28:30

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  • Legacy
  • Video
  • Doomsday
  • Primer
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