The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink, and find out who is right and who is dead. - The Man in Black

I've always been a fan of alternate win conditions, and Battle of Wits was the first I ever tried to build a deck around. Granted, that was back in 2001 when Odyssey came out, and my childish "deck" was merely every card I owned thrown into a big stack, hoping I would pull the one copy of Battle of Wits I owned. It worked... once. Now some sixteen years have passed, and I have decided to recapture that childhood joy, and build a modern-legal Battle of Wits Deck. With 240 cards in this deck, it relies heavily on tutors to fetch all necessary pieces.

Currently, I am looking to improve efficiency and the deck's ability to survive, particularly against fast, aggressive decks.

When playing this deck, you have to change your mindset some. While this is technically a modern deck, it feels a bit like playing Commander. This deck is the size of four 60-card decks, so every single card is effectively singleton. You cannot expect to draw the combo pieces you need, and must adjust on the fly based on what cards the Fates have seen fit to bestow.
Battle of Wits is our primary win condition, but, even with tutors, is not effective on its own. To add additional options, there are several infinite sacrifice outlets, using Viscera Seer (which also allows us to infinitely scry a copy of Battle of Wits to the top of our deck) or Blasting Station (for infinite damage).

Our sacrifices are Kitchen Finks, providing infinite life, Murderous Redcap, providing infinite damage, and Safehold Elite, which, while it provides no boon in and of itself, has a lower converted mana cost, and can thus be more easily fetched with Chord of Calling. Cauldron Haze is also run, as it turns any mana dork, or even Viscera Seer into a combo piece, helping if one does not draw a real persist creature.

To enable the persist combo, Melira, Sylvok Outcast and Solemnity are run, preventing -1/-1 counters, and thus allowing infinite rebirths through persist.

  • While Idyllic Tutor is run to fetch Battle of Wits, this deck mainly runs tutors which put cards onto the battlefield. Wargate can be used to put Battle of Wits onto the battlefield or fetch pieces for an combo victory. Chord of Calling can be used to fetch you combo pieces, and Congregation at Dawn can be used to place all three necessary combo pieces on top of your deck.

  • Assorted Fog effects are used to buy us additional terms, and survive to the winning upkeep.

  • Various creatures add mana ramp to enable cards such as Wargate.

I considered several other options when building this deck, which I figured I would place here in case anyone was interested. If anyone does give these options a test, please let me know how they work.

A 60-card Simic elves mana ramp deck, designed to activate Spawnsire of Ulamog as quickly as possible. This would summon two copies of Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, and 198 other legendary Eldrazi. The legend rule would put all into the graveyard; Emrakul would shuffle your graveyard into your library, and you would win on the upkeep of the extra turn Emrakul granted. This method was discarded because (a) Battle of Wits is frankly unnecessary--if you are already activating Spawnsire, you might as well cast All Is Dust, wipe their board, and then sweep on the additional turn Emrakul grants. Further, a 60-card deck for a Battle of Wits victory seems like you are missing the point.

  • A massive deck containing numerous Shadowborn Apostles, to sacrifice and tutor Rune-Scared Demon, which in turn would tutor Battle of Wits. This deck was idea was dismissed because it simply felt dull, and did not really feel it fit with Battle of Wits' flavour.

  • A 60-card combo deck which would rely on Isochron Scepter, mana rocks, and Paradox Engine to infinitely cast Glittering Wish, and then using some method of shuffling your hand into your library. Again, Battle of Wits is a tad superfluous at that point--if you have already gone infinite, you can simply win via some other method. Further, it is clunky, involving lots of moving parts; even after your infinite combo, there are more pieces to assemble.

If you are interested in other decks built around mediocre older cards, feel free to follow this absolutely shameless plug, and check out my Karona, False God EDH deck.

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Commander / EDH cdkime



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I love goofy decks and applaud you for keeping the theme of Battle of Witts

Have you felt the need for more tutors? Brainspoil maybe?

December 13, 2017 6:56 p.m.

Lol, this deck is hillarious :D

Another reason to not use those other methods of playing battle of wits is also that they can't be played on MTGO since the effects getting cards from outside the game would be restricted to the 15 sideboard cards, and the same would be true when playing in any sanctioned paper event. But this deck be played in both cases.

Nother tutor to consider is Dimir Machinations as it can fetch any of your 3cmc combo pieces.

December 13, 2017 9:40 p.m.

Liliana Vess might be worth considering too.

December 13, 2017 9:43 p.m.

MoGoose831 and Sjorpha

Thanks for your feedback!

Brainspoil and Dimir Machinations had been in a prior version of this deck, and were purged alongside most other traditional tutors--originally, more tutors were used, but they were too inefficient to justify the card slot. In retrospect, this was a tad unfair to the two above cards, given their three mana tutoring effects and potential for other uses in a pinch. I am going to give both another shot. Azusa, Lost but Seeking is out--in theory, her land ability works well with the number of fetch lands in this deck, but the chances of drawing either Crucible of Worlds or Ramunap Excavator is low, and neither is worth wasting a tutor on. Jace, Unraveler of Secrets is also out--his mana cost is simply too high.

Liliana Vess is a tad slow for my taste. Effectively, she is a 5 mana tutor that does not give me the option of casting the card I need in the same turn as the tutor.

December 14, 2017 8:56 a.m.

+1 for The Princess Bride reference.

January 9, 2018 2:15 a.m.

I like the fog effects; since this is 5c, you might consider Darkness as a little known modern-playable black Fog.

January 13, 2018 4:07 p.m.


Good call. I had forgotten that card existed. Particularly useful since I tend to fetch black lands (for my transmute cards). I will be removing Cathars' Crusade for it. While Cathars' can combo for infinitely large creatures, it is too expensive to cast, and not as easily tutored with Wargate as Solemnity or Melira, Sylvok Outcast.


January 13, 2018 4:17 p.m.


100% Competitive

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Date added 1 month
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This deck is Modern legal.

Cards 240
Avg. CMC 2.49
Folders I dig it, Gimmick Decks, Possibili mazzi
Top rank #21 on 2018-01-14
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