A new year is upon us! For a lot of people, a new year comes with a resolution of change. But when we talk about the beautiful format Vintage, that doesn’t always change. Instead raw power and knowledge about salvaging this power is key. Both to start top 8’ing IRL events and maybe more importantly, to qualify for the Pro Tour Mythic Championship through the Vintage Championship.

My Vintage Endeavors

To the VSL and back again

My love for Magic in general combined with my fascination and nostalgia of playing with old cards, have led me to the point where Vintage is one of my favorite things to do. Every Saturday on non-GP/-PT weekends, Andreas, Thomas and myself have played our hearts out. We tried to become known entities in the Vintage community and win some chests, play points and more. This culminated in an invitation for the Vintage Super League and eventually our duel against LSV:VSL in the finals. Watch a (Paradoxical) Outcome here.

In this article I would like to tell you how to play and win with the best deck in the format: Paradoxical OutcomeParadoxical Outcome. Soon I’ll be back to tell you what to look out for when you play against the other top decks and how to sideboard against the field.

The Engine of the Deck

Why the Outcome often favors us

Paradoxical Outcome
Mox Opal
Mox Sapphire
Mox Jet
Sensei’s Divining Top

When we play Vintage, we get to play with some of the most powerful and iconic cards ever printed. Although they are all restricted (except Mox OpalMox Opal) there are still enough to make the decks namesake card insane. Paradoxical OutcomeParadoxical Outcome or PO becomes everything from a draw 3 to a draw 7+ for 3U. When you get 3U from Mox OpalMox Opal, Mana CryptMana Crypt and Mox SapphireMox Sapphire, you get to draw 3 cards for 0 mana total. You simply redeploy the mana accelerants after the Outcome. When you put Sol RingSol Ring, Mana VaultMana Vault and more Moxen into the equation, you get to float a ton of mana, play everything again, and most like draw your entire deck in several chunks.

Alongside this insane draw engine, we get to play all the blue draw spells and tutors for either PO or other key pieces late in the game. And with a lot of blue cards comes protection in Force of WillForce of Will – so far so good!

Creatures (2)
Monastery Mentor
Blightsteel Colossus

Spells (45)
Ancestral Recall
Black Lotus
Time Vault
Sol Ring
Gitaxian Probe
Hurkyl’s Recall
Sensei’s Divining Top
Merchant Scroll
Mox Emerald
Mox Jet
Mox Ruby
Mox Sapphire
Mystical Tutor
Night’s Whisper
Paradoxical Outcome
Mox Opal
Mana Vault
Mana Crypt
Force of Will
Time Walk
Treasure Cruise
Dig Through Time
Demonic Tutor
Vampiric Tutor
Voltaic Key
Mox Pearl
Lands (13)
Tolarian Academy
Scalding Tarn
Polluted Delta
Misty Rainforest
Library of Alexandria
Flooded Strand
Underground Sea

Sideboard (15)
Grafdigger’s Cage
Hurkyl’s Recall
Kambal, Consul of Allocation
Tormod’s Crypt

So how do we win?

Technically drawing many cards doesn’t end the game

The three most popular approaches to close out the game with Paradoxical Outcome are the following.

Monastery Mentor
Blightsteel Colossus
Tendrils of Agony

The latter requires a more combo heavy shell. You often play it in lists without Blightsteel ColossusBlightsteel Colossus. Another way to “win” the game is the powerful combo of Time VaultTime Vault and Voltaic KeyVoltaic Key. That way you can take all the turns and then eventually kill your opponent easily with any of the other win conditions!

The Infective Win

Killing with Blightsteel Colossus

Paradoxical Blightsteel Colossus by Chris Rahn

Blightsteel Colossus by Chris Rahn

Blightsteel ColossusBlightsteel Colossus is a card that you should only play if your list contains TinkerTinker. The cool thing about Tinker is that it is also a way to fetch our Vault/Key combo.
These two options, coupled with some corner case scenarios where you dig for Sensei’s Divining TopSensei’s Divining Top or some kind of Mana, make me like Blightsteel a lot. Its biggest downside is a vulnerability to popular cards like Hurkyl’s RecallHurkyl’s Recall, Dack FaydenDack Fayden and Phyrexian MetamorphPhyrexian Metamorph. On the plus side it can win some games that would have been almost unwinnable otherwise. It also cannot be effectively discarded since it returns to the deck when it would go to the graveyard. That gives us a win condition that survives almost all disruption in the format besides Sword to PlowsharesSword to Plowshares. But compared to Legacy, people play that card a lot less.

The Swarming Win

Killing with Monastery Mentor

Paradoxical Monastery Mentor by Magali Villeneuve

Monastery Mentor by Magali Villeneuve

Monastery MentorMonastery Mentor is the evergreen win condition in Paradoxical Outcome. If you can play it on turn 1 you get triggers from roughly 70% of your deck. Not only is the card itself hard to deal with, but it just generates unlimited power after every draw step, which will most likely overpower your opponent. In some other games you don’t really see or need it before you have already effectively won. Either you have established a lock through infinite turns or you just drew enough cards that you have several safeguards before you deploy it.

The Stormy Win

Killing with Tendrils of Agony

Paradoxical Tendrils of Agony by Volkan Baga

Tendrils of Agony by Volkan Baga

Tendrils of AgonyTendrils of Agony does somewhat the same as Monastery MentorMonastery Mentor. You just need enough Storm during the turn. It is a good secondary win condition if you shave on the Blightsteel/Tinker package. Never touch the Vault/Key Package though. There is one main difference between Tendrils and the other win conditions besides the necessity of a storm count. It plays around Force of WillForce of Will, which is a main deck card. On the other hand, it is worse against FlusterstormFlusterstorm, mostly a sideboard card. Overall, it’s a better card against the blue decks and worse against the taxing decks.

The Infinite Win

“Killing” with Time Vault and Voltaic Key

Paradoxical Time Vault by Yeong-Hao Han

Time Vault by Yeong-Hao Han

Since I mentioned the Voltaic KeyVoltaic Key and Time VaultTime Vault combo as a win condition, I will also mention that a lot of decks in the current metagame play Null RodNull Rod. Alongside Null Rod, cards like Ancient GrudgeAncient Grudge, Nature’s ClaimNature’s Claim, AbradeAbrade, Mental MisstepMental Misstep and even Hurkyl’s RecallHurkyl’s Recall can put us in a hard spot. Especially if we use too many resources to assemble the combo. However, in some spots there is almost nothing that our opponents can do, and then it’s just game over. It is hard to identify these spots, but in a lot of games you have to go for it naturally or you fight for resources and then it’s there to close the game!

As a side note: I would play the card Yawgmoth’s WillYawgmoth’s Will if your plan is to win with Tendrils and Mentor. For that path you can find some inspiration from thepowernine on MTGO. A great and dedicated Vintage player who fights for glory every Saturday – and one of the reasons that Ecobaronen was able to make the sweet Vintage Power giveaway!

Some Key Interactions

Last words about winning

Paradoxical Sensei's Divining Top by Michael Sutfin

Sensei’s Divining Top by Michael Sutfin

To finish off the talk about our win conditions there is a little bit more to the card Voltaic KeyVoltaic Key. You can shave on this little trickster, but you might consider one or more of the following interactions before doing so:

  • It generates infinite turns with Time VaultTime Vault, which suits for a pseudo win condition.
  • When we tap our Sensei’s Divining TopSensei’s Divining Top, we can hold priority and then use the untap ability of Voltaic Key. Then we tap the Sensei’s Divining Top once more to draw one random card and redraw the Sensei’s Divining Top. A smart little trick is to activate the other ability of Top in between the two draws, to get to re-arrange the Sensei’s Top and the two cards under the top.
  • It generates one extra mana with Sol RingSol Ring or Mana CryptMana Crypt and two extra with Mana VaultMana Vault.
  • Voltaic Key helps us to untap a blue, white or black source of mana, when we have a lot of colorless mana floating around.
  • We can give Blightsteel ColossusBlightsteel Colossus pseudo-vigilance. This has never come up for me yet, but I would love a screen shot!
  • And maybe a top contender: All of the above, before we bounce with Paradoxical OutcomeParadoxical Outcome and get to do these shenanigans all over. Only will we have even more cards from the Sensei’s Top trick or extra mana from Mana Crypt, Mana Vault or Sol Ring.

With all of these in the back of your head, I am sure you will come to the right conclusion on your own!
I will leave you all for now and return in a couple of days with the specific matchups and how I approach them.
My current format points in Vintage: 17 – so there is a little more grind to be done.

Some Teasers

Situations with Paradoxical Outcome

Paradoxical Turn 1 Kill

Just a Turn 1 Kill.

Paradoxical Flusterstorm Fight

Fighting Flusterstorms with a somewhat large storm count.

If you are up for this, stay tuned and get ready to sleeve up a deck!


This article was written by Michael Bonde in a media collaboration with mtgmintcard.com