Some questions in Magic are more important than others. Today, I’ll dive into one of the more important ones.
I was inspired by a RoboRosewater card that was posted in September last year.
RoboRosewater is a Twitter account that regularly posts cards designed by a deep, recurrent neural network—an artificial intelligence system that trained itself by reading every Magic card in existence for the purpose of automatically designing new cards. It can mimic existing patterns fairly well, but it doesn’t truly understand Magic, so most of its card designs are pretty silly.
I am fascinated by the advances in the field of machine learning, and I will probably write more about its applications to Magic in the coming months. But I don’t want to go into technical details today—I’ll just direct to you to Reed Milewicz’s original post from two years ago to learn more about his idea of automating Magic card design.
Let’s direct our focus to the card at hand. The rules text of Evidard Goler reads like it has been written by Yoda, and the templating seems off, so let’s re-word the activated ability into something that works.
“Reveal your library to your opponent and put each creature card revealed this way onto the battlefield. Then shuffle your library.”
If you have a singleton deck with one copy of every creature card ever printed in Magic, then the result of activating this ability should be that every creature in Magic will enter the battlefield at the same time.
What would happen?
Let’s start by supposing that our deck has enough basic lands to avoid decking. After all, we may be drawing a lot of cards thanks to, say, Drogskol Reaver and Essence Warden, and I would like to remove Obstinate Familiar, Laboratory Maniac, and other troublesome cards from the equation. Let’s just assume that our library is large enough. (No, I don’t know how we managed to shuffle it.)
One of the first cards that may spring to mind is the following.
So do we just lose the game right away?
Fortunately, we’re saved. We won’t lose the game to Phage.
Er, even Avacyn cannot save us from these effects. Depending on how we stack things, we’d either exile, bounce, or lose all of the creatures we just got. That doesn’t sound very appealing.
But hold on. All of these enters-the-battlefield triggers go on the stack, and we can choose the order! So if we just put a bunch of game-winning triggers on top of the game-losing ones, then the game-winning triggers will resolve first.
There are nearly 9,000 creature cards in Magic, so we can deal close to 100 million damage by combining these 3 cards. Craterhoof Behemoth makes every creature humongous, Hamletback Goliath grows to a ridiculous size as a result, and Heart-Piercer Manticore can then fling the Goliath at your opponent.
It’s probably even more than 100 million damage because we can use Painter’s Servant to turn all of our creatures green and get a boost from Murkfiend Liege. Oh, there’s also Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. And, not to forget, Gisela, Blade of Goldnight doubles all the damage for us.
Anyway, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s just below or above 100 million. We just win the game, right?
Well, not so fast…
Wait, what? So none of the above would even happen? No triggered abilities at all? Oh come on!
All right. Fine. So we just get a bunch of creatures on the table, no triggers. But then surely we can just win the game with haste creatures? A bunch of hasty, flying Dragons should be able to attack, even with Stormtide Leviathan holding back the rest. Or even better, we can win right away by activating abilities in our main phase.
This should do the trick. There are more than enough artifacts to sacrifice, which will allow us to easily take our opponent down from 20 to 0.
Another slightly more convoluted way is to sacrifice Wild Cantor for mana, then use Mirror Entity to turn all of our creatures into 1/1 Changelings. We can then rely on cards such as Sunrise Sovereign, Seshiro the Anointed, Megantic Sliver, Broodwarden, and Undead Warchief to beef up all of our creatures. Combining Carrion Feeder and Stalking Vengeance takes care of the rest.
Actually, Mirror Entity wouldn’t even be needed here, but it deserved a mention for gets style points. Also, Mirror Entity allows us to tap all of creatures (which have haste thanks to Samut, Voice of Dissent) for mana via Gemhide Sliver, and then we can use Siege-Gang Commander for the kill. This works even while accounting for Ghosts of the Innocent.
As far as I can see, sacrificing a bunch of creatures will do the trick. Let’s do a final check to see if we missed anything.
No, that doesn’t change anything. According to the rules, if Ixidron and other creatures are entering the battlefield at the same time, the other creatures are not affected—they weren’t already on the battlefield before Ixidron came down, so they will enter the battlefield face up.
Same deal as Ixidron. At the time when all creatures enter the battlefield, Essence of the Wild is not yet present to change all of them into a copy of it. It does effectively nothing in our case, and all creatures enter the battlefield as themselves.
[Editor’s Note: This section was added after the article was published] Of course, there is a card that prevents us from sacrificing! After the initial publication of this article Andrea Mengucci, Thomas Hansen, Audun Maatje, Marc Hollman, and various others pointed out the existence of Angel of Jubilation to me. So does it change anything? Not really. We can just use Catapult Master and a horde of Soldiers to exile the Angel. (We need an exile effect rather than a damage effect because of Avacyn, and we need to target the Angel twice because the first activation will be countered by Kira, Great Glass-Spinner.)
Once we get rid of Angel of Jubilation, then we can also sacrifice Peacekeeper, Evil Eye of Orms-by-Gore, Silent Arbiter, Godhead of Awe, Samurai of the Pale Curtain, Void Maw, or any other creatures that might spoil our plans.
So if my analysis is correct, then a horde of creatures will enter the battlefield without any enters-the-battlefield triggers, after which we can sacrifice a bunch of creatures (including Abyssal Persecutor!) to say, Carrion Feeder, and win via Disciple of the Vault or Stalking Vengeance.
But, in total, 8,952 creature cards have been printed in Magic (according to Gatherer) and I didn’t check every single one of them. I did do a targeted search by filtering on such terms as “as this enters,” “lose the game,” “instead,” “enters the battlefield,” “all creatures get,” and “triggers,” and I looked at the results as carefully as possible, but it’s easily possible that I missed something.
What’s more, given that there are over 40 million 2-creature combinations, the number of interactions is way larger than anything I could feasibly check by hand. But that’s where you come in. Did I miss anything? Would we lose the game after all? Let me know in the comment section below!