Paradoxical Outcome In Eternal Formats

New sets don’t set the old world on fire very often, but when they do? Man, is it a big deal! Patrick Chapin provides the endless number of insane things you can unleash on #SCGBALT with this sleeping giant from Kaladesh!

With Eternal Weekend Europe last weekend and Eternal Weekend North America this past weekend, we’ve gotten our first taste of Kaladesh Legacy and Kaladesh Vintage. Both formats offered a bunch of sweet new stuff, particularly the exciting debut of Paradoxical Outcome in Vintage.

There are a couple of different ways to really take advantage of Paradoxical Outcome in the most powered format, but the main synergy is how incredibly effective it is with Moxes, Black Lotus, and Mana Crypt.

You probably wanted to play with those cards anyway, and now they are zero-mana cantrips that also net you an extra mana when you replay them.

I’d like to take a look at the two styles of Paradoxical Outcome decks to appear, but first, let’s take a look at the format, as a whole. To start with, the European Vintage event was dominated by Ancient Tomb.

It’s not that Ancient Tomb was overly popular. It just crushed, up and down. Look at the side-by-side of their Swiss metagame versus the weighted Top 8 metagame:


European Vintage Metagame

Top 8 Metagame













U/R Delver



Eldrazi Shops



Tinker Colossus












*Misc. = The one other deck to Top 8 was a Storm Combo deck.

Obviously, just looking at the Top 8 is going to produce skewed results; however, it is interesting that Eldrazi Aggro, MUDrazi, and Car Shops (Fleetwheel Cruiser in Vintage!) all overperformed, fueled by Ancient Tomb. Meanwhile, Young Pyromancer decks, while popular, failed to break through. In fact, if we collapse these decks down a little into some of their key cards, we get a pretty clear, if jarring, picture:


European Vintage Metagame

Top 8 Metagame

Ancient Tomb


















Okay, then.

All is not lost, however. It was just one weekend; and besides, the trophy ended up going to Joan Anton Mateo piloting a Mentor control deck, giving Jace, the Mind Sculptor another title.

Hell yes! That is what I’m talking about. That Joan’s list is sweet is obvious; but it’s also well-tuned against a format full of Workshops and Ancient Tombs. Ingot Chewers and Wear // Tears everywhere, sure, but stuff like sideboarding a Mountain to go get to let you Ingot Chewer despite opposing Wastelands adds up. I also appreciate multiple Dack Faydens and an abundance of white battlefield control.

His finals opponent, Maarten Knaepen, was piloting the so-called Car Shops variant of Ancient Tomb plus Mishra’s Workshop. Take note of the relative immunity to Mental Misstep, an extremely popular four-of these days.

Not only does Maarten run three Fleetwheel Cruisers, he’s even got a Skysovereign, Consul Flagship for good measure.

Who crews? Phyrexian Revoker, Arcbound Ravager, and Hangarback Walker, for starters. Arcbound Ravager putting counters on Hangarback Walker and Triskelion is just clean living! That said, Mishra’s Factory is the real MVP.

Mishra’s Factory is more durable, more dependable than most of the small creatures, and it helps cast Fleetwheel Cruiser on turn 2 (with a Mishra’s Workshop or Ancient Tomb plus Mox). Then, when you untap, you don’t have to worry about permission stopping your crew. It’s also just a really efficient card, particularly when you don’t need to play colored lands. You can even put Arcbound Ravager counters on it!

Speaking of colorless lands, Maarten makes great use of Inventors’ Fair, doubling up his restricted Lodestone Golem, Trinisphere, and Chalice of the Void. The extra life is also a little nice, since so many people play creatures at the moment, and we’ve got these Ancient Tombs

Over on the US side, Jace, the Mind Sculptor scored another win over another Ancient Tomb / Mishra’s Workshop deck, although both decks were fairly different from the European finalists. Joseph Bogaard’s Landstill deck stayed straight U/W, with Emrakul, the Promised End instead of Monastery Mentor to kill.

Like in Standard, casting Emrakul is usually game over. It’s particularly sweet for taking advantage of games that stall out when opponents try to hold out against Standstill. It’s also nice that Standstill going to your graveyard helps cast Emrakul a turn earlier.

You gotta respect someone who shows up with Energy Flux; Kataki, War’s Wage; Hurkyl’s Recall; and Disenchant in the sideboard. Sure enough, his finals opponent afforded ample opportunity to use them, but rather than a Vehicle sub-theme, or very many creatures at all, Jacob Kory’s list pushed eight Spheres, Null Rod, Tangle Wire, Crucible of Worlds, and Smokestack.

Once again, we see Inventors’ Fair showing up, and why not? The opportunity cost is so low on the first one in a colorless deck.

All this blue vs. artifact stuff is cool and all, but what about both? Stephen Menendian put Paradoxical Outcome to work in a U/W Mentor deck focused on card quality rather than pushing Paradoxical Outcome as hard as possible.

Even though Menendian’s list has just 15 artifacts you can bounce with Paradoxical Outcome, it plays like it has many more, since Ancestral Recall, Brainstorm, Ponder, Preordain, Gitaxian Probe, Thoughtcast, Time Walk, Treasure Cruise, and Dig Through Time all replace themselves (or better). As a note, Seat of the Synod can’t be targeted with Paradoxical Outcome. It’s just here to make Thoughtcast cheaper.

Thoughtcast is an underrated card draw spell in Vintage with a lot of similarities to Gush. Gush has historically struggled against Mishra’s Workshop decks, which is all the more reason to switch to a Thoughtcast base (which isn’t contingent on having two lands on the battlefield, nor does it set you back on mana development when you cast it).

Menendian’s list has a shockingly low mana curve and just ten lands, with forty-eight spells he can play for two mana or less. In fact, twenty-three of them cost zero! This makes Monastery Mentor extremely explosive, particularly if combined with Paradoxical Outcome to ensure a one-shot kill.

Monastery Mentor is great with all these zero-cost spells and one-mana cantrips, but once you cast Paradoxical Outcome, the sky’s the limit. You can’t target your Monk tokens, of course, but every Mox you bounce back to your hand nets you a card, a mana, a token, and a pump for your team. When you’ve got a Sensei’s Divining Top, you can tap it to draw a card and then respond with Paradoxical Outcome for extra value!

In a format so fixated on mana efficiency, Fragmentize is a welcome addition, particularly when you aren’t guaranteed to ever get to two mana for Disenchant. Revoke Existence has occasionally popped up, but Time Vault is such a better Tinker target than Blightsteel Colossus, I’d rather have Disenchant than Revoke if I were willing to pay two. That said, I prefer Menendian’s Fragmentizes. The tempo is just too valuable.

Likewise, Steel Sabotage is faster than the two-mana options, not to mention having extra value against stuff like Arcbound Ravager (by countering it instead of destroying it). As a bonus, you can bounce your artifact mana to generate Monks or mana, not to mention being able to bounce a Sensei’s Divining Top with its tap ability on the stack, like the Outcome trick above.

I haven’t gotten a chance to play with Paradoxical Outcome in Vintage myself yet, but I’m jealous already. However, I’m not sure which style I prefer. Menendian’s list looks super-fun, but Reid Duke brought a Storm combo build that looks like it has the potential to be tuned into something super busted.

Reid was kind enough to send me his list. When I asked him whether he had considered Balance, he replied that he had strongly, and he still wasn’t sure if he should have played it or not. Obviously, adding Balance would ask a little bit of the mana, and Reid decided against it because of the deck needing every bit of edge it can get against Null Rod and Stony Silence. He did mention, however, that the Force of Wills make Shops less bad of a matchup than it normally is for Storm.

Reid’s list pushes Paradoxical Outcome a fair bit harder than Menendian’s, in a way turning it into a little bit of a four-mana Time Spiral, since every artifact you bounce typically nets you mana in addition to drawing you a card (and increasing the storm count for Mind’s Desire, Tendrils of Agony, or Empty the Warrens).

Losing whatever was imprinted on Chrome Mox can be disappointing; however, you don’t actually have to imprint anything if you just want to cast it to draw a card off of Outcome and don’t need the mana.

My favorite part of Reid’s deck, however, is the use of Grim Monolith, which works perfectly for setting up or just casting Paradoxical Outcome. Once we’re playing Grim Monoliths alongside Mana Vault, Mana Crypt, and Sol Ring, it’d be hard to resist playing a Voltaic Key and a Time Vault, but maybe I’m just greedy. You can even Voltaic Key your Sensei’s Divining Top!

Okay, that is pretty greedy.

Even though Time Vault isn’t legal in Legacy, I wonder about Voltaic Key in a Paradoxical Outcome update. We might not get to play the restricted Moxes or blue power, but we do get four Lotus Petal and four Brainstorm

In addition to Grim Monolith, we’ve got Basalt Monolith to help make the Keys good. Even more importantly, we’ve got Power Artifact to make both Grim Monolith and Basalt Monolith good. Put it on either one, and you’ve got as much mana as you want. When you Paradoxical Outcome, you can bounce both the Monolith and the enchantment.

While Power Artifact on either Monolith gives us arbitrarily large mana, it does take a little bit to jump-start. Fortunately, Ancient Tomb exists, so at least we’ve got that going for us.

I’m not sure which is the better kill. Stroke of Genius is nice, since I could imagine us comboing off and only having one blue untapped a fair bit of the time. That said, Braingeyser might just be sweet for drawing three or four cards early on. There’s also the possibility of running Cunning Wish, finding Paradoxical Outcome, Stroke of Genius, or some interaction. Still, I’d rather keep the mana requirements down if possible.

It’s possible this list should use Thoughtcast too, but even without it, Seat of the Synod still helps metalcraft our Mox Opals. Other options to consider include:

One-cost artifact that can reduce the cost of Thoughtcast, draw a cheap card with Paradoxical Outcome, and provide a mana sink that wins.

Once we’re playing Basalt Monolith, is there any chance we want to be playing some kind of Mesmeric Orb strategy? Basalt Monolith can tap and untap itself over and over, letting you mill yourself as much as you like. Dread Return and some Narcomoebas, and you’re in business. That’s a lot of dead cards, though.

Rings of Brighthearth also generates arbitrarily large mana with Grim Monolith or Basalt Monolith (copying the untap ability, not the tap ability). Unfortunately, it takes four or five mana in addition to the cost of the Rings to get going, and that doesn’t even leave us blue mana to win with. However, Rings of Brighthearth does make Sensei’s Divining Top a kill condition, since infinite mana with Rings and a Top on the battlefield lets us draw as many cards as we want.

Another possible way to leverage Sensei’s Divining Top and Paradoxical Outcome is Helm of Awakening.

Helm of Awakening plus two Sensei’s Divining Tops is a source of arbitrarily large storm. Even without having all of that assembled, however, Helm of Awakening can really help fuel a Paradoxical Outcome plan, saving one on the Outcome, one on the Grim Monolith, and then one on whatever else we’re using to generate an advantage, such as Empty the Warrens.

No Brainstorms? Probably crazy; but if we can’t shuffle…

It would be so sick if you could Paradoxical Outcome your Goblin tokens! Instead of Grapeshot, we could play a Goblin Bushwhacker (or Reckless Bushwhacker) for the one-turn kill. I’m not sure how often it’s going to come to that, though.

I considered a High Tide build, since bouncing Candelabra of Tawnos would be sweet. However, the more artifacts you play, the less effective your High Tides are.

Paradoxical Outcome on one of these two is cute, particularly if your artifacts net seven mana. I don’t think it’s really coming to that often, though. Those are just not the games where we need the help. If we wanted to do something along those lines, we might just play Snapcaster Mage. It doesn’t loop with Outcome, but it does produce some potentially game-winning value without needing to add double green or come up with two extra mana for Archaeomancer.

There are many ways we can potentially go with Paradoxical Outcome. After all, the engine doesn’t exactly ask that much of us. How much can (and should) we hybridize it with one or more existing archetypes?

Here’s a version just leaning into Monastery Mentor:

Pentad Prism is another option, which turns out mana-neutral with Outcome. It can be a little awkward with Grim Monolith and Basalt Monolith and it definitely doesn’t work with Helm of Awakening, but it is an option.

It’s probably too janky, but Dramatic Reversal plus Isochron Scepter is another infinite mana combo we could look to in order to fuel our Paradox deck. Dramatic Reversal can also do some funny tricks with Grim Monolith and Basalt Monolith, though it seems likely to give us mana when we need it least. Nevertheless, here’s an attempt:

Before rolling out, I wanted to take a quick look at the Legacy champions from the past two weekends. Up first, Michel Chevallier’s winning Reanimator list from the European event:

Michel’s list uses Collective Brutality as both disruption and a discard outlet for his fatties. It’s particularly awesome when combined with Dark Ritual and Reanimate!

This card is just excellent, synergizing well with strategies that want to discard cards. We’ve seen it a lot in Standard and Modern, and I think it’s only a matter of time before it spreads to Vintage.

Chancellor of the Annex helps force itself through on turn 1, slows down fast combo decks, and when reanimated is a form of disruption!

Force of Will is just too brutal.

Meanwhile, on the US side, Oran Kremen managed to take down the event without playing blue or an artifact deck!

Nothing too new here, but I do appreciate the reviving of a powerful combo deck that people aren’t aiming at. Everyone is playing so much artifact and graveyard hate. Dark Depths dodges both.

Bonus decklist!