Unanimously voted to be the single most overpowered deck in Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014*, Mind Maze is the go-to solution for when you really, really need to win a game and don’t feel like investing skill or risking defeat. Most decks can instantly concede the moment they see your first Island go down since they know you’ll win before they do anything of note, and those decks which can put up a fight against it will still end up taking seven losses in ten games. It’s dumb and boring and so are you for playing it.
T3 apologises for the language in the above paragraph. The writer responsible for it has been sacked.
Fortunately, as if to remove the last bit of brains that the deck requires, we we have put together a deck guide that’ll help you stomp opponents as you know you don’t deserve. Why do you even need a guide, you can use literally any combination of cards and still get a 90% win ratio.
T3 once again apologises for the amount of justifiable butthurt in the above paragraph. The webmaster responsible for sacking the writer has been sacked.
While there are some builds that simply go balls to the wall aggro and
hope to win by turn 4, it is reasonable to include some slightly higher cost cards as well, such as to have some chance in the late game. There is said to be the rare occasion where a game with an Illusions player in it lasted for more than 5 turns, so planning ahead does pay off.
Now you see me, now you’re dead: Deck overview
This deck’s strategy is simple: Crush them, then eat. It features an enormous pile of ways of being a dick to your opponent, together with the funny bits that are Magic’s Illusions; Blue creatures rather undercosted for their body with the unique ability of evaporating as soon as they get targeted. (This ability will henceforth be referred to as “sac clause” for brevity.) Of course, there are people raising the point that 90% of Magic’s creature-targeting spells would kill it anyway, saying that the sac clause is more of an inverted Hexproof, but don’t listen to that sort of people.
Ideally, you want to have a decent board state up before your opponent is ready for it, then turn back one notch (but only one) and use your controlling tools to ensure that they can’t recover either. Do note though, a spell that targets your Illusions will kill them even if it is countered. It’s about triggered abilities and likewise wibbly things. Also, this build assumes that you have all promotional unlocks that are yet released.
Mind Maze deck list (by mana cost)**
60 cards, 23 Island
- 3 Phantasmal Bear
- 2 Veiled Sentry
- 4 Unsummon
- 4 Phantasmal Image
- 4 Lord of the Unreal
- 1 Krovikan Mist
- 3 Gossamer Phantasm
- 2 Counterspell
- 1 Snapcaster Mage
- 3 Illusionary Servant
- 2 Frost Breath
- 1 Dream Fracture
- 2 Cancel
- 1 Phantasmal Dragon
- 1 Cryptic Command
- 1 Mind Control
- 1 Force of Will
- 1 Temporal Mastery
Mind Maze card-by-card analysis (by mana cost)
Phantasmal Bear: 3.5
It seems weird to rate this only 3.5, but it just isn’t that splashy a card. Of course, it’s still a 2/2 for one mana and you should run 3 because Illusions OP… oh boy, aren’t we starting off well.
Jace’s Phantasm: 1.5
Has there been some sort of leak, causing DotP13’s Dream Puppets deck to bleed over into the next game? In that deck, it was an automatic 4-of. In this one, its ability will never be active, so you must ask yourself the following, “Is it worth it to play a 1/1 flying chump that could also be a bear for the same cost?”
Veiled Sentry: 3.0
Instant Bear; Just add magic. What exactly is your opponent going to do to prevent it, not play spells for the entire game? The effect is permanent and it has no sac clause, so this is essentially a creature like any other for but one mana, except that it might not be able to block for a single turn. Sounds like Diregraf Ghoul, which is a horrible card, right? Not to mention that this can easily be bigger than 2/2.
Opponent played a guy who omnomnomed his entire board for counters? Now it’s a spell again. Opponent played a big guy when you didn’t have a counter ready? Back to hand it goes. Opponent played a guy whatsoever? Now he’s gone. In the environment of DotP14, anything that this can’t hit isn’t worth the card, whereas it single-handedly ruins a clutch victory for your opponent and straight up turns the game around against decks based around auras, counters, or creature synergy. In other words, all of them.
Lord of the Unreal: 5.0
Why couldn’t he be an Illusion himself and say “other”? Why couldn’t he have the sac clause? Why couldn’t he give a keyword that less obviously negates all of Illusions’ drawbacks, like Flying or Bands with other Dinosaurs? And why in the name of fried bollocks do we get a playset of the dude to start off? He’s stupidly good and the last card you’d take out of the deck under any circumstance. Also combos with the next card to be mentioned for instant victory (and being a dick.) Also combos with your opponent aiming a Maelstrom Pulse at it and claiming a deserved victory.
Phantasmal Image: 5.0
So it’s a Clone, except it benefits from your tribal bonuses and carries the sac clause. Alright, maybe set it at 4 mana or perhaps 3… it’s at 2. Oh Maro, what are you doing. Well, I suppose the ability to copy anything from either side of the board (without targeting it) does justify having half price if it dies whenever a kill spell is headed at it.
Snapcaster Mage: 2.9
Yes he’s a flashy 2/1 for two mana, which is an insane deal in and of itself. Yes he allows you to recycle spells for even more counters. Still, what will you do with him? Reuse an Unsummon and chump its target when it comes back? The point is, this isn’t an Illusion and it doesn’t fly. Since he is, by definition, a waste if you use less than 3 mana on him, he will never be essential in an attack and will hardly do anything but chump. There are better ways of handling problems that don’t include paying two more mana for a card that you could instead have drawn another time. (And yes, I am aware of the hate that this decision will earn me. The Snapcaster isn’t an Egotist, deal with it. You’ll be winning 95% of your matches with or without it. If you’re so determined to win that you’ll be optimising even fucking Illusions, I guess toss a Gossamer Phantasm or something for him.)
And what, exactly, do you intend to yoink with this? It’s an awesome spell that I think deserves use, but there are only so many spells that would be worth it, and most of them are in decks which suffer an automatic build order loss against you. It’s a bit much to reserve a card for a case when you have drawn it, have spare mana, your opponent has played a spell that you would really really love to have yourself, and you don’t have to counter that spell (or have even more spare mana.) Dropping your opponent’s spell and using it yourself is a wonderful way to punish them for thinking they could do things when you have 5 mana open, but that’s about it.
Krovikan Mist: 3.5
Well, it doesn’t have a sac clause and it allows you to power through using brute strength. I suppose that you do need some muscle for breaking stalemates (by growing larger than the opposition’s 7/7 dragon) and it’s not too terrible at that. However, there are no Illusions with less than 2 power, so it will hardly be very big unless something goes wrong. You’ll have to settle for a (before long) 5/5 flier for 2 with no sac clause. Odd, isn’t it, that such a monster is considered eh in this deck.
Ha ha, very funny, Teferi. Make love to me now. Aside from that, when you find yourself using this card, you’re probably already in a lot of trouble, which is not a situation that you want to be in.
Gossamer Phantasm: 3.0
There are very few cheap fliers in the game, one of which is this. It’s a great example of why the sac clause is mostly irrelevant; It will rarely be blocked, will prefer to swing rather than block itself, and any spell that targets it would kill it anyway. At the same time, it’s just a 2/1, so any way to kill it seems like a waste, allowing it to live until your first Lord of the Unreal makes it into a 3/2 Hexproof beast.
Incursion Specialist: 1.5
This card sucks, sucks, sucks, and it should be obvious why. An unblockable 3/3 is nice, but it’ll come at the expense of two spells each turn, which have to be before the declare blockers step. Now, which colour in Magic especially loves to stay back with its spells and mana?
You get what? Counterspell hasn’t been reprinted since the modern card frame for a reason, you know, and that isn’t because it is NOT the absolute top of countermagic against which every other counter gets dismissed as garbage unless it also cleans your house as an excuse for costing a single colourless mana more.
Æther Figment: 2.0
Sure he’s unblockable (screw you, M2014 errata!) but neither of his modes of casting are really worth the mana. Since the metagame is so light on fliers, most of your guys already can’t be blocked, so whenever he comes out it’ll likely be a waste of time. Also, even though he does not have the sac clause, neither does he have any protection, so it’ll be your opponent’s fault if he even lives to swing.
Illusionary Servant: 3.5
More flying power, even more automatic victory. What better followup to a Lord of the BS*** combo than a 5/6 invincible flier, am I right?
Phantom Warrior: 2.5
Slightly better than Æther Figment, but still obsolete in this deck. Sure he breaks stalemates, but not much more, because there are simply so many things on which you’d rather spend your mana. Flavour text does allow for a nice pun, though we will not make it right now. T3 does have standards.
Lovely card which I find underrated, but really does not have a place in this deck.
Wistful Thinking: 3.0
Wistful: Yearning or desiring, with sad undertone. Aha, see, I know smart words! Speaking of smart, which this deck is not, I would literally kill to get this in the Dimir deck. In this one, it’s decent to rob your opponent of answers, but ultimately a worse Mind Rot (since your opponent loses two cards, but has more choice about which cards go).
Look at the flavour. You are literally burying alive your opponent’s dude. I think that’s one thing which unnerves all of us. Of course, I could mention that it permanently (since no one bothers to pack noncreature removal because noncreature permanents in this game suck) takes a creature out of the game for all intents and purposes except for static abilities, but why bother?
Illusory Angel: 2.5
Like Incursion Specialist, except not as terrible. It’s not as unlikely that you’ll get to play her, but the window to do so without wasting a spell is brief and often in the late game. Not that you’d need her, anyway.
Dream Fracture: 3.5
This card is… interesting. It leaves you and your opponent completely tied, unless you’re using it on a disposable spell of your own. (Though you’ll be paying 2 cards and at least 4 mana to draw 2 – much worse than Divination, which is considered eh by itself.) However, the draw arguably favours you, for two reasons. One, drawing one is more valuable for an aggro deck than for, say, an Eldrazi deck. Two, you likely traded an okay card (Dream Fracture) for an opponent’s bomb. The odds that you’ll draw a decent card to replace it are higher than that your opponent draws another bomb.
Blind Phantasm: 2.0
In earlier times, this would have been a perfectly fine creature for Blue. Now, the same price will fetch the same, flying, hexproof, and one size bigger. Just not worth your time, not in this deck.
Staff of the Mind Magus: 1.0
This card, amongst with the other “Lucky Charms” that have wasted booster slots since the dawn of Magic, are specifically created to show new players that lifegain is terrible. Seriously. Even if you’re just starting to unlock the deck, it is literally better to swap it out for land instead.
This is what a counter should be. Three mana, counter something, nothing else. Why exactly is it considered terrible by everything that draws breath or wishes it could? Oh yeah, Alpha cards providing the bar for everything else. Still, you need to scrape together every piece of countermagic that you can get.
Halycon Glaze: 3.0
If the enchantment has been on the board for a turn before it is activated, it will be able to attack. It dodges sorcery speed removal, but will never block (well, unless you use Draining Whelk) and relies on you casting creatures in main phase 1. What exactly was it that you did not want to do? Oh yeah, play spells main 1!
Frost Breath: 2.5
Takes out opposing dudes for two whole turns if used correctly, but why bother? You’ll rarely need it, and even if, Unsummon will do the job just as well. (If there are two creatures on the opposing side that MUST be tapped, you might be in some trouble.)
Phantasmal Dragon: 4.0
Okay, with this one the sac clause is fairly relevant. It would be big enough to withstand most punishment and its size puts an enormous target onto it. In exchange, you get a 5/5 flier for four mana. Four! If it doesn’t kill itself. A fair point. Now if only there was some self-indestructifying way to make it a 7/7 hexproof…
Phantom Beast: 2.0
I really adore this card for flavour and still being strictly better than most of Magic’s modern fliers, but… compare to the dragon. Nope.
Now there’s a stalemate breaker if I’ve ever seen one. First one, then two, then four, then two-hundred sixty-two thousand one-hundred and forty-four… if it lives for that long.
Cryptic Command: 4.5
Meet Dismiss. It costs the same amount of mana and is locked to one of Command’s six possible modes, yet it’s still a perfectly fine card. I think that proves something about this, doesn’t it?
Technically, T3’s rating system only goes between 1 and 5. I say, screw people who don’t use the whole mathematical spectrum to get a point across. This card is at least notable for bringing the whole playerbase together: Even one who only played one game in Homelands limited will agree that this sucks hairy balls.
Mind Control: 3.5
“What was briefly yours is now mine.” ‘Nuff said.
Leyline Phantom: 2.0
Jace the fucking Mind Sculptor is being confused by a phantom? What is this? Also, doesn’t fly and goes back to hand the instant it does anything. Nope.
Force of Will: 5.0
Because fuck allowing your opponent to do things while you’re tapped out and at two cards in hand. Paying an extra card is easily worth it to stop a threat otherwise turning the game around that you didn’t see coming. Due to how this deck plays, it’s likely that you’ll have the mana to pay for it when it becomes relevant either way, so that’s also an option. It should be mentioned however that lands are colourless; You can NOT exile an Island to pay for this card.
Mirror-Mad Phantasm: 2.5
You know, Wizards, Spirits aren’t the same as Illusions, right? This can dodge removal pretty well, but it’ll also eat half your library in the process. Great in Innistrad, bad here. Since its toughness is so low, you’ll have to use its blinking ability a lot to keep it alive.
Draining Whelk: 3.5
Swallow a spell worth countering, get an enormous flashy monster in the process. Compare to Fairie Invaders, a decent card which is a 3/3 flier with Flash for five mana. In other words, this is probably worth it even if the spell it eats cost only two mana. Hell, a 2/2 flashy flier would be if it came with a free counter. Now imagine eating an Overrun with this.
Roil Elemental: 2.0
Sets Timmy and Johnny apart. Timmy sees endless creature yoinking, Johnny sees that it needs you to draw more lands after the sixth and has two fucking toughness. Two. And if you happen to need to bounce it, you can start landfalling all over again.
Jace’s Mindseeker: 2.0
Like Twincast, it depends on the enemy deck, except this is much more likely to do absolutely nothing of use. Bad.
Sphinx of Magosi: 3.0
Technically great, but just a tad too slow to really make a difference most of the time. Unless things go horribly wrong, you don’t want to be using this very often.
Temporal Mastery: 3.0
There are evil cynics who say that aggro decks are all about topdecking and being a dick on the kitchen table, then go to renowned objective sites like T3 and post about it. What can I say, this card will help you be a dick through topdecking. It is also worth it to hardcast late game to get another swing in when your opponent would almost have won. Lovely.
Omniscience: 2.0 (5.0 for style)
You seem to want to do something while I’m tapped out. Are you aware that I know everything? Do you require a Draining Whelk to teach you better? It’s oh so satisfying to get it off, but you need 10 mana, so it’s very unlikely to happen. In fact, I’d doubt you could pull it off even 5% of the time. Even when you do draw enough mana, you won’t have spells! Besides, if you have 10 mana, you can literally cast any 3 cards in this deck in a turn, at least. There is a build possible that uses this card, but it’s not this one.
* Other titles: Clearest indication that you’re a dick, Worse Than Goblins, Fucking Illusions, Jace the Boringator of Tournaments.
** T3 would like to mention that none of our writers would touch this deck with a thirty foot pole made of solid titanium. This build was assembled through community testing; Its final form was submitted by reader Evil Mee.
*** Even if it kills me, I’m coining “Lord of the BS” as a term for overly simple, unstoppable combos that would earn you a punch across the table, like Lord + Phantasmal Image. Not Nim Deathmantle + Composite Golem though, because that’s awesome.