Painful Quandary


Format Legality
Pre-release Legal
Noble Legal
Leviathan Legal
Magic Duels Legal
Canadian Highlander Legal
Vintage Legal
Modern Legal
Penny Dreadful Legal
Vanguard Legal
Legacy Legal
Archenemy Legal
Planechase Legal
Duel Commander Legal
Unformat Legal
Casual Legal
Commander / EDH Legal

Printings View all

Set Rarity
Scars of Mirrodin (SOM) Rare

Combos Browse all

Painful Quandary


Whenever an opponent casts a spell, that player loses 5 life unless he or she discards a card.

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Painful Quandary Discussion

Quicksilver on Tips for Kambal ?

2 days ago

Painful Quandary and the original legend herself, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben.

chirz2792 on Bruna, the light of a ...

5 days ago

Sorry for the double post, but you could also run grave hate cards like Relic of Progenitus, Tormod's Crypt, Crook of Condemnation, Silent Gravestone, and Leyline of the Void. Then use cards like Mindslicer, Duress, Oppression, Words of Waste, Hymn to Tourach, Painful Quandary, etc. to shred his hand and exile all of his auras. He might not like you for that though.

Nordlys on U/b discard

1 week ago

Hi there, i'll share all the knowledge i've gathered after playing discard decks for more than 5 years (i've built monoblack creatureless discard, monoblack creature discard, UB discard, RB discard, Grixis discard, specter discard, etc.).

The first i see here is that you don't have anything to deal with the board, so you'll more than probably die to anything that hits the board, even a simple 3/1 two-drop. Your deck relies too much on damaging your opponent through giving him many cards and forcing him to discard not that many; the only card in your deck that punishes him this way is Liliana's Caress and that's it, it's not reliable. You also run two copies of Painful Quandary which it's ideal mechanics are to punish your opponent for having no hand, but since you are forcing him to draw so many cards, he'll always have the option to discard while playing a spell (only taking 2 damage from Liliana's Caress and only if you have the enchant on the battlefield).

You have many cards that allow you or your opponent to draw and discard cards, but you only have Alms of the Vein to exploit this mechanic, so get rid of those or stick in more madness cards.

The description says "the goal of this deck is to get your opponent as low as possible", but you can't do that quickly by relying only on 4 copies of Liliana's Caress while you'll be recieving lot's of threats and hits. Master of the Feast will for sure get destroyed by any of the thousands removal spells you'll force your opponent to draw, so it won't be dealing too much damage if any.


Let's work on the solution. First of all, you need your deck to have more consistant way to deal damage and you also need to get rid of your opponent's threats until you've reached mid-late game and you can develop your winning mechanics.

  1. Since you have almost no creature, let's take advantage of that so that you can trade one card of yours for many cards of your opponent. Good cards to do this, depending on the money you want to spend are, for example, Drown in Sorrow , Yahenni's Expertise , Languish and Damnation.

  2. You also need to be faster or at least to be able to delay your opponent's strategy. A way of doing this is by disrupting his early moves to wreck his plan. Cards like Inquisition of Kozilek , Thoughtseize , Duress and Despise excell at doing so.

  3. To strenghten the draw and discard engine you have many cards at your disposal. I don't know if you want to keep the deck in the modern format or to build a casual free of legal restriction deck, so I'll recommend a variety of cards like Chains of Mephistopheles , Probe , Wheel and Deal , Ill-Gotten Gains , Urza's Guilt , Anvil of Bogardan , Whispering Madness , Dark Deal , Font of Mythos , Forced Fruition , Geier Reach Sanitarium , Memory Jar and Temple Bell.

  4. You need more cards than Liliana's Caress to punish your opponent for discarding or drawing cards. All of these are good for the task, suit yourself: Underworld Dreams , Psychosis Crawler , Fate Unraveler , Waste Not , Megrim and Words of Waste.

  5. Since you and your opponent will be drawing lots of cards, you will be able to discard cards too or abuse your card-drawing. This does not only work well for madness, but also with delve, retrace and other cards. Consider some of these: Chain of Smog , Last Rites , Big Game Hunter , Raven's Crime , Syphon Life , Cunning Lethemancer , Necrogen Mists , Psychotic Haze , Call to the Netherworld , Dark Withering , Gibbering Descent and also Sphinx's Tutelage.

  6. You'll be forcing your opponent to draw many many cards, so you'll need cards that make him discard more than one to win the trade. Consistant massive discard cards are for example this ones: Brink of Madness , Mindstab , Mind Twist , Mind Shatter or Delirium Skeins.

Which ones and how many

  • Pick the ones you like the most according to their mana costs and their price. Also consider the ammount of black mana symbols in their cost, because you'll be playing a two colors deck.

  • Try to keep it as balanced as you can in terms of cards functions. Maybe 30% draw/discard engine - 30% draw/discard punishment - 20% massive discard - 10% 1drops quality discard - 10% board whipe. You'll have to test and adjust the numbers.

  • I know most of those cards are black, but you can keep it UB if you want to. Best version I've made of this strategy was using Grixis (Blue Black and Red) because there's a lot of red cards that force both players to discard and draw like Burning Inquiry and Reforge the Soul for example. Grixis also enables the use of Nekusar, the Mindrazer , Blightning , Sedraxis Specter , Blazing Specter and Dack Fayden.

I hope it's helpful! Best wishes!

NuMetal on Copy & Paste

1 week ago

Heyo, hier mal ein paar Ideen. Also ich wrde wie gesagt ja eventuell noch grn (oder rot) dazu nehmen.

Grn: Altered Ego, Cytoshape, Progenitor Mimic, Spitting Image, Villainous Wealth, Boundless Realms, Beast Within, Beastmaster Ascension, Song of the Dryads, Elemental Bond, Arachnogenesis und ganz viel Manafixing

Rot: Chaos Warp, Possibility Storm, Disrupt Decorum , Goblin Spymaster, Fervor, Dragonlord Kolaghan, Homura, Human Ascendant, Mob Rule und diverse Zauber um temporr Kontrolle ber Kreaturen zu erlangen

und noch ein Haufen Karten, die auch ohne extra Farbe passen wrden: Head Games, Mirrorweave, Shared Fate, Fatespinner, Whip of Erebos, Grave Betrayal, Ogre Slumlord, Sudden Spoiling, Painful Quandary, Diabolic Tutor, Bloodgift Demon, Necropolis Regent, Graveborn Muse, Hedonist's Trove, Illusionist's Gambit, Fool's Demise, Dolmen Gate, Crawlspace, Lightning Greaves, Swiftfoot Boots, Sire of Stagnation, Torrent Elemental

Raus wrde ich noch folgende nehmen: Grim Return

saber4734 on Enchanted: Coming Soon to Theaters Near You

2 weeks ago

Some suggestions, hmmm?

Creatures: Serra Ascendant is a must for any EDH deck running white. Thraben Inspector is nothing too special but I like it. Thalia, Heretic Cathar is nice. Tree of Perdition because who doesn't love dropping someone's life total to 13. Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim would work well in this deck I think.

Instants and Sorceries:Path to Exile is either an addition or replacement for Swords to Plowshares. Demonic Tutor, Diabolic Tutor and Vampiric Tutor but that's a good chump of change. Vindicate is just more removal.

Artifacts:Lightning Greaves because your Commander needs protection. Mana Crypt if your budget is big.Sensei's Divining Top is always good in any EDH deck. Elixir of Immortality is one i'm partial to.

Enchantments:Authority of the Consuls for life gain and some control. Painful Quandary if you want to be an ass. Exquisite Blood and Sanguine Bond for a pretty snazzy combo.

Now of course all of these are mere suggestions and may or may not work for you. Hope this helps.

n0bunga on Nath Elf Rage

2 weeks ago

Painful Quandary could be filthy in this!

passascats on Kaervek, the Punisher

1 month ago

No Painful Quandary?!? also, Words of Waste can be a real bummer for others especially with the extra card draw you have going on.

ThallionDarkshine on Nekusar's Infectious Grasp

1 month ago

So... It looks like I horribly screwed up the formatting on my last post, so sorry about that. Here it is again in an actually readable form.

Some things that feels a bit out of place to me:

  • Painful Quandary feels like it could actually be detrimental at times. Your opponents having a large hand size is actually helpful a lot of the time, letting you generate value off of Liliana's Caress and Waste Not and powering up your Windfall effects.
  • Wheel of Fate isn't all that great of a card here, since it's incredibly hard to get a lot of value out of it when your opponents know when it's going to resolve.
  • Underworld Dreams doesn't do all that much for having such a color-intensive mana cost, so maybe a different payoff card would be better.

Next, some things that I've always hated playing against in Nekusar:

  • Phyrexian Tyranny is another payoff card that lets you deal 2 to players for every card they draw, or just tax their mana significantly. It hurts you a little too, but can deal tons of damage.
  • Megrim is another card that hits opponents for 2 at a time, this time for cards they discard. While not as good as Liliana's Caress, it's still a powerful damaging effect.
  • Fellwar Stone is great, and it's pretty much the only good 2-cmc rock you're not playing atm. Cheap rocks are very powerful in a wheel-based deck, since they let you get off to ridiculously fast starts and then refill your hand easily.
  • Notion Thief is an incredibly powerful card, letting you lock opponents out of the game with Teferi's Puzzle Box or just gain some incredibly lopsided value out of a wheel effect.
  • Propaganda is another great protection effect, since you will probably be the target in most games (I don't see why, all you're doing is letting them draw cards...).
  • Mana Geyser can help generate ridiculous amounts of mana to help fuel one explosive turn. One thing I always hated was when my friend asked on like turn 6, "can I kill you?" This makes that much more possible, fun right!
  • Trinket Mage feels like a pretty versatile card here. You could find Sol Ring or Mana Vault for ramp, Library of Leng if you need to wheel and keep certain cards in hand, and you could add Relic of Progenitus or Nihil Spellbomb to add some grave hate to that package.
  • Lim-Dul's Vault can let you stack your library to give yourself an incredibly powerful hand after you wheel, and would basically serve as a cheap multi-card tutor in this deck, which sounds sweet!
  • Increasing Vengeance is one of the best fork effects in existence. While you lose a bit of utility compared to Reverberate by not being able to copy opposing spells, the flashback ability definitely makes up for it in my opinion.
  • Temporal Trespass, Treasure Cruise, Dig Through Time are all incredibly powerful with the amount of cards you dump into the graveyard while wheeling.
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