The Greatest Thief In The Multiverse

David McDarby introduces you to Dack Fayden, Magic’s newest planeswalker who will make his debut in the Conspiracy set this summer!

"Some call me a thief. I prefer to think of myself as a discreet borrower." –Dack Fayden

Welcome, Magicians! I’m here to introduce the newest addition to our pantheon of planeswalkers. Maybe you’ve followed him since his inception three years ago as the protagonist of IDW’s Magic: The Gathering comic book series. Or maybe you just know him as that guy on all those weird alternate art cards that are sometimes played in Eternal formats. At any rate, you’re going to get to know him a lot better as our beloved game’s 45th planeswalker card!


Move over Ral Zarek—there’s a new U/R planeswalker in town.

Where did this guy even come from? Our dear friend hails from the Conspiracy summer supplement set. Wizards seems to have turned the past "slip up" of a player finding a Rootborn Defenses in a booster pack long before Return to Ravnica’s release into a sort of Alternate Reality Game for this set. This time Magister of Worth was found in a Born of the Gods Prerelease pack. This "mistake" led to a voice message that eventually revealed Cogwork Librarian. While it’s a far cry from such elaborate ARGs such as Halo 2‘s or The Dark Knight‘s, it’s still a unique and mysterious way to spread spoilers for a more casual-oriented release that I’m quite a fan of. Anything that increases the axes of interaction either in the game or the marketing around it is fine by me!


Quite the conspiracy indeed . . .

We know little about this set other than it is multiplayer focused (!) and will have 65 new cards, with 52 of them being legal in Legacy and Vintage. That’s right—Dack will be the first ever planeswalker not legal in Standard! This certainly allowed Mark Rosewater & co. to push his power level beyond the relatively low environment of Standard and let him Test His Might in Legacy and Vintage, not to mention Cube and Comman—I mean casual magic.

He costs three mana, which is a strong pedigree to have among walkers. His +1 is Careful Study, or for most Magic players nowadays Faithless Looting. This is an extremely powerful repeatable ability to have on a permanent. Sure, it doesn’t increase your hand size, but it allows you to increase your deck’s consistency and lets you work on some resource development (cards in your graveyard). Not even considering enabling you to pitch spells with Flashback such as Lingering Souls for "card advantage" or parts of a combo such as Griselbrand, this effect lets you smooth out your draws by just powering through patches of excess land or finding that fourth land, which will allow your game to actually take off. And after all this, he’ll start off with four loyalty with only one activation. That’s huge!

But what else can he do? Well, he’s a thief, so naturally top-down design implies he needs to steal things. Not creatures, mind you, but objects. Artifacts if you will. He also needs to survive his blatant act of thievery. The tried and true philosophy for a planeswalker to represent a preexisting spell and stick around to tell the tale, as in the Case of Ajani Vengeant or Liliana of the Veil, holds true here. He’ll nab an artifact and then survive at one loyalty. In the words of Magic hive mind, "seems good."

Of course, then we get to his ultimate, an X factor of sorts that allows him to channel the power of Carmen Sandiego, Lupin III, Robin Hood, and Catwoman all combined into one act of supreme quintessence-manipulating and reality-bending kleptomancy. It turns the game into your own personal Duck Pond, except at this carnival the prizes are everything you see in the park and every duck has that long sought after "X" on the bottom. It’s just your job to find the fishing rods.

But before I indulge all you relentless Spikes with actual examples of Mr. Fayden takin’ care of business, let me sate the Vorthos among us and actually figure out who this guy is. Well, for starters he’s a thief (obviously) blessed with the powers of psychometry (not to mention his planeswalker status). This coincides well with his Thirst for Knowledge and his quest to get revenge on some people who . . . slighted him. The comics are filled with Adventure, Intrigue, Revenge, Danger, and all those other qualities that makes comic books all the rage for young boys (and old boys like me that find books without pictures boring in true Gaston style).

If you want to know more, read them yourself! They’re certainly more exciting than most of the other Magic literature that’s been produced (The Brothers’ War and the Ravnica novels stand far above the rest), and it’s just about the most Magical version of Indiana Jones that you’re ever going to get.

So we get it—he’s adventurous, ingenious, impulsive, brash, and pretty much any other quality that exemplifies all us Izzet mages out there. He’s not afraid to get into some danger, and even though he may be the greatest thief in the multiverse, he’s not infallible, as evidenced by his status of always being red-handed. It’s punishment for being a little too cocky.

But enough of all this flavor nonsense. How can we use him to turn that match slip into a 2-0 so quick that we have time to get some of those overpriced chicken fingers and Gatorade we all love so much? Let’s break it down by format, shall we?


Let’s get this out of the way for all seven of you that actually play this format. This guy might just be the most influential walker to come out since Big Papa himself, Jace, the Mind Sculptor. He’s much easier to get down on turn 1 due to the handy interaction of Moxen and three-mana spells, and his -2 ability is extremely relevant. When most every deck has nine artifacts and some run many more (such as MUD), he can quite literally steal victory from your opponent in the form of Time Vault or Voltaic Key in order to complete your own combo, all while digging for your spells such as Ancestral Recall and Time Walk that are more broken than my wallet at a combination Lord of the Rings/Harry Potter convention. If you ever get to cast him after a newly Tinkered Blightsteel Colossus, then and only then will you know the true meaning of blowout.

Here’s a slightly modified list that includes Dack that was taken from Kevin Cron at the most recent Vintage Championship:

3 City of Brass
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Misty Rainforest
2 Underground Sea
2 Volcanic Island
1 Tropical Island
1 Island
1 Tolarian Academy
1 Strip Mine
1 Wasteland
3 Deathrite Shaman
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Blightsteel Colossus
1 Yawgmoth’s Will
1 Time Vault
1 Voltaic Key
1 Tinker
1 Time Walk
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Brainstorm
1 Ancient Grudge
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Toxic Deluge
1 Lightning Bolt
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Black Lotus
1 Mana Crypt
1 Sol Ring
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl
4 Force of Will
3 Mana Drain
3 Mental Misstep
1 Spell Snare
1 Vampiric Tutor
2 Dack Fayden
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
4 Grafdigger’s Cage
4 Leyline of the Void
1 Vandalblast
1 Ancient Grudge
1 Steel Sabotage
2 Thoughtseize
1 Mindbreak Trap
1 Red Elemental Blast


Note: I don’t profess to be a Vintage expert or any expert really outside of Super Smash Bros. Melee and Guilty Gear.


Ah yes, Legacy, the Format of Kings some call it, where you can play with any creature deck you want (as long as it has True-Name Nemesis in it) or any spell deck you want (as long as it has Brainstorm and Ponder in it). Here our resourceful thief has a tougher time. Not every deck contains artifacts, and some that do only use them as creatures to bridge into the mid to late game in the form of Baleful Strix and Shardless Agent. Of course, that’s not to say his artifactual burglary is useless. Stoneforge Mystic had better watch out or this swindler might just nab that Umezawa’s Jitte or Sword of X and Y she evoked. Grabbing a Batterskull is going to be tricky, but at least you can somewhat lessen the effect a True-Name Nemesis is having on your life total and hoist them with their own petard!

But most games in Legacy (and Magic in general) are not won by being reactive. You need to actually have a plan formulated in your deck choice and executed in your physical gameplay. How will Dack ever be able to replace the cards that have fought hard to earn their place among heralded and finely tuned Legacy 75s? I believe it’s all tied up in his Faithless Looting ability. Let’s forget his -2 and his -6 abilities and just focus on him being a Careful Study with Rebound and Rebound and Rebound.

We can perhaps try to harness it by being a value engine like the other planeswalkers in the BUG list I recently went 7-1 with at the SCG Season One Invitational in Charlotte, losing only to Super Powerful Magician Owen Turtenwald when my Cabal Therapy on Melek, Izzet Paragon whiffed. Drat. It wouldn’t be too hard to slide in the red and give them another prolonging problematic permanent to puzzle over. It doesn’t quite utilize Flashback spells as well as some other decks, but Cabal Therapy and perhaps some Lingering Souls might just be what Dr. Dack ordered.

Let’s actually try to use his ability a little more nefarious, eh? Todd Anderson may like his University of Alabama football and other southern things, but he really likes him some Griselbrand. One iteration of harnessing Yawgmoth’s Bargain with wings was this deck:

Not only does Dack allow you to pitch Griselbrand in case you draw it, but he allows you to dig for a piece of your combo (or like I said before, more consistency). He makes Nihil Spellbomb and Tormod’s Crypt ineffectual options, and he even Pitches to Force of Will!

But what about Dack in something old, something new, something bold, and something blue? We all know Painted Stone by now. It’s got some fast mana and some Blood Moon and will try to kill you with Painter’s Servant in conjunction with Grindstone. Usually it is mono-red, and sometimes it has a white splash. Well, since everything gets better by adding blue, let’s do that!

4 Painter’s Servant
4 Grindstone
4 Goblin Welder
4 Brainstorm
4 Force of Will
1 Trinket Mage
4 Intuition
2 Dack Fayden
4 Mox Diamond
3 Lion’s Eye Diamond
3 Sensei’s Divining Top
2 Pyroblast
4 Great Furnace
4 Seat of the Synod
3 Ancient Tomb
2 City of Traitors
3 Volcanic Island
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Island
2 Koth of the Hammer
3 Ensnaring Bridge
3 Red Elemental Blast
4 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Pithing Needle
2 Spell Pierce

In this deck Intuition does its best Enter the Infinite impression—it’s all you need!

U/R Painted Stone has been around for a while, but here’s a new version of it. Dack may not be the centerpiece of a lot of strategies, and he doesn’t quite give you the card velocity of Jace, the Mind Sculptor. But UU is hard to hit in a deck like this, and landing a walker on turn 2 is the nectar of the Gods! I hope that he makes an appearance in one of my favorite formats, and I’ll be doing my part to increase his face time.


It goes without saying that he fits in quite nicely in most Cubes that support cards of his type (mythic and planeswalker). He does indeed only cost three mana, and Cubes are fairly heavy on artifacts. So I see no reason why he wouldn’t be loved by Cube enthusiasts everywhere. His only downside is that since he is two colors, neither of which is green, he’s going to be somewhat difficult to play on turn 2 outside of a Noble Hierarch or Birds of Paradise "nut draw." But he’s excellent at making an opponent’s draw’s awkward since they can’t rationally plop down their artifact in front of the greatest thief in the multiverse.

"’Ownership’ is such a gray area."


We’ve finally arrived at the last battleground D.F. will be able to fight alongside us in my favorite format. He’s a strong addition to any Commander deck that can support him (that is, contains both the best and worst color in the format) and will prove that stealing Sol Ring isn’t just for Vintage! While blue and red aren’t exactly the most graveyard-friendly colors around (they’re actually the least), he still has some tricks up his sleeve. You really didn’t think you’d get out of this already too long article without a Commander decklist, did ya? Here’s an extension of the aforementioned Legacy deck in an all-new shiny God shell!

Keranos, God of Storms
Sol Ring
Izzet Signet
Izzet Keyrune
Coalition Relic
Coldsteel Heart
Sky Diamond
Fire Diamond
Worn Powerstone
Mana Crypt
Mana Vault
Mind Stone
Thran Dynamo
Palladium Myr
Iron Myr
Silver Myr
Arcum Dagsson
Dack Fayden
Argent Mutation
Argivian Restoration
Copy Artifact
March of the Machines
Master Transmuter
Phyrexian Metamorph
Tezzeret the Seeker
Thirst for Knowledge
Transmute Artifact
Trinket Mage
Treasure Mage
Liquimetal Coating
Goblin Welder
Pithing Needle
Wurmcoil Engine
Myr Battlesphere
Solemn Simulacrum
Karn, Silver Golem
Godo, Bandit Warlord
Fractured Powerstone
Ichor Wellspring
Mycosynth Wellspring
Lightning Greaves
Mimic Vat
Sculpting Steel
Staff of Nin
Sword of Fire and Ice
Trading Post
Wayfarer’s Bauble
Curse of Bloodletting
Vicious Shadows
Chaos Warp
Blasphemous Act
All Is Dust
Ral Zarek
Nin, the Pain Artist
Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius
Akroma’s Memorial
9 Island
5 Mountain
Haunted Fengraf
Darksteel Citadel
Seat of the Synod
Great Furnace
Mishra’s Factory
Inkmoth Nexus
Blinkmoth Nexus
Reflecting Pool
Command Tower
Thespian’s Stage
Buried Ruin
Homeward Path
Shivan Reef
Sulfur Falls
Temple of the False God
Ancient Tomb
Temple of Epiphany
Scalding Tarn
Steam Vents
Cascade Bluffs
Volcanic Island

"Perhaps planning should become a higher priority for me."

Of course, this isn’t the only deck that can harness the power of our favorite bandit. Most planeswalkers nowadays have ultimates that cost about twice as much as their starting loyalty. With Doubling Season in play, this allows you to immediately ultimate said walker for happy fun times! At least for you. If you plop down walker after walker in a one-on-one game with Ensnaring Bridge and Moat and such in play, I hold no responsibility for your safety.

I hope you enjoyed this jaunt through exploring exactly what all this little (three converted mana cost) guy can do. While Jace may be the "main character" of our beloved game, Dack was chosen as an overarching storyline’s main character and even shares some qualities of Gerrard Capashen from long ago. Magic is the greatest and hardest game I’ve ever played (and most likely ever will play), and it takes some smart people to truly be great at both making and playing it. That’s why the Izzet League is the most popular guild. People often view themselves as intelligent, projecting themselves onto Jace (a cleverly chosen face for the game), and the red mana merely shows that we also view ourselves as passionate and that we enjoy adventure and new experiences—enter Dack Fayden.

Wizards takes these things very seriously, which can clearly be seen by the pronouns used on legendary creatures as "it" but on planeswalkers as "him" and "her." While I’m more guilty than most of being a Jace fan, *cough* the transition of Dack Fayden from a comic book character into a "real boy" in a subset of formats in our game proper represents something truly Magical for me, and I hope you all can appreciate this smooth criminal just as much as I do!