Just over half a year ago, a card was announced that made many people call for it to be banned even before it was in our hands: Paradox Engine. Some even believed it would end up being banned in standard, which was hyperbolic, and at times I can even see why someone might want Paradox Engine also banned in the king of formats, commander.
If we take a quick look at the Paradox Engine page, we can see that there is not really a unifying theme to the top commanders that use this card, except to gain some additional tapping shenanigans from their creatures. Not the worst use of Paradox Engine to be sure, but it can be so much more, so much more broken than that.
To start with, we should probably talk about the package of cards that really push Paradox Engine from a mere synergistic card to a value engine.
|Sol Ring||Cheap mana!||+12%||89%|
|Mox Diamond||Free mana, at the cost of losing a land from your hand.||+11%||15%|
|Mana Vault||Cheap mana!||+23%||32%|
|Chrome Mox||Free mana, at the cost of a card in hand.||+14%||19%|
|Mind Stone||Cheap mana!||+9%||21%|
|Mox Opal||Free mana, at the cost of having other artifacts.||+15%||18%|
|Any Signet||Cheap mana!||+0-8%||8-17%|
|Mana Crypt||Free mana, at the cost of a 50/50 chances of bolting yourself each upkeep.||+21%||30%|
There is very little reason to explain why any one of these cards are great, as they are ubiquitous in high power decklists. Which just means those very same decks only need to make room for one card to turn their rocks into more than just cheap, fast mana. That is the power of Paradox Engine, let alone any other game winning scenarios we can come up with. Like this mono-white list:
The deck’s goal is pretty simple really; pull out all the lands and cast all our spells, and then win. Pretty simple, a little risky, and all around fun for us. The table might disagree, but that’s not what we are here for.
The pieces we want out, are Oracle’s Vault, Paradox Engine, and to have pulled out all our lands with Endless Horizons. It will help if we have some of the mana rocks out, as one of the finishing combo pieces or some form of protection might be in our hand when we go to finish the game out.
After the pieces are together, it’s just a matter of casting our deck out and then sacrifice Karmic Guide and Reveillark to Blasting Station as many times as it takes to ping your fellow competitors, one point of damage at a time until you’re bored or win. I try to go for the second option when available, but I will take the first if given no other choice.
With that said, with this particular build of the deck, there is another combo we can jam in just for fun, and surprisingly makes our deck a little stronger. That’s right, the most astute of readers would have already noticed the Goblin Charbelcher in the deck, and if we happen to pull our combo pieces in a different order than intended, or some heinous jerk snuck in a Sudden Spoiling before we could Silence the table, or maybe we’re just feeling like a slow burn isn’t enough, and massive damage is the way to go. Goblin Charbelcher is the perfect addition to this hodge-podge of jank, making it more of a jank-chili than a jank-soup. I’m either a genius at metaphors or I’m hungry. Hard to tell sometimes.
There are a small number of complications that can happen when even just thinking about how to win. The first of which is what happens when we reveal our entire library to Goblin Charbelcher.
This situation can happen with a few cards, where we find no end point for the ability or trigger that is on the stack we are trying to resolve. What ends up happening is way more intuitive that some might think: we reveal until there is no more library, then we resolve the ability, and finally put the cards back into the library.
In the case of Goblin Charbelcher, this means the artifact deals damage equal to the size of your library, which is hopefully enough to take out an opponent in one go. This rule also applies for cards like Possibility Storm, only here if you don’t have another spell of the same type in your deck you do not cast anything. Meaning if you cast Erase, targeting the Possibility Storm and have no other instant in your library, you reveal your whole deck and cast nothing.
There is one really big problem with this deck. If you ever get Endless Horizons exiled, or a man named Nate Burgess plays Oblivion Sower, targeting you and steals all your lands from exile and then leaves you high and dry without any more land drops and not enough mana to actually effect the board. Not that this happened or anything, I mean, c’mon, who would just let that happen to them and totally not see it coming? Right? …Right?
The only real answer to this is to ensure you have enough mana to finish the game before you pull the rest of your lands out of our deck. Be the smart player and not the not-so-smart player. This also has the added benefit of making sure you only draw spells for the rest of the game which is often something mono-white has trouble with.
We can also just get stopped in our tracks by any exile spells that shut off our finishing moves, so that we have no real chance to get them back. Unless we were to somehow make enough room in our deck for Pull from Eternity to give a stink eye to the clever control player, but that also requires a specific amount of timing on our part, and only one thing at can time to be returned, so we would need a lot of luck and planning to go in our favor. It isn’t great, but at least it is something.
Sometimes a combo builds itself, other times you have to work really hard to make it work.Paradox Engine is a cure-all for many of those combos, as it builds enough value over time by just being on the battlefield. The sneaky thing about Paradox Engine is that even when you don’t have a full combo win included, it might still win you the game from just generating enough mana, or pseudo-vigilance your creatures or even draw everyone extra cards with Temple Bell. It isn’tSol Ring, but it is not that far off.
Finally, before I sign off here this is my personal list for Gonti, Lord of Luxury that uses the Paradox Engine value package in it, with the benefit of going infinite on accident when no one has any interaction.