Paradoxical Outcome in Vintage: The New Hotness?

Vintage format has been revolutionized by a card capable of winning games at instant speed and all on its own. It's not only because of its raw power, but also because of how easy it is to build balanced and synergistic decks around it. Pietro is here to tell you everything you could possibly want to know about Paradoxical Outcome in Vintage.

The history of combo decks in Vintage is long and starts with the format's inception. Sometimes they're slow, sometimes they're inefficient, sometimes they're devastating (Tinker with four Tolarian Academy anyone), sometimes they're legendary, and frequently they define the format.

Illusions of Grandeur Goblin Charbelcher Necropotence

This is in the past though. Since Kaladesh, we have the present and future of Vintage combo: Paradoxical Outcome. It's come into Vintage the way Messi and Ronaldo came to the world of football: quick, efficient, deadly, virtually impossible to stop once it starts.

(Almost) Winning at Instant Speed with a CMC 4 Spell

Many mechanics have revolutionized Vintage, like Storm and Dredge, but non have done it the way Paradoxical Outcome did.

Paradoxical Outcome Yawgmoth's Bargain

To get a sense of the raw power of this card, let's look at another "broken" card in Vintage – Yawgmoth's Bargain. It's been restricted for a long time in the Vintage format and has always been considered a broken card, despite a CMC of 6, two required black mana, and sorcery speed, while also having to spend life points to use it. Now imagine a Blue version of this card, except it's an Instant, costs only four, and, in Vintage, has no drawbacks. Also, you can run four of them. Of course, Outcome only reaches these heights because of the plethora of zero cost artifacts present in the format, but that doesn't make its power any less substantial.

Main Advantages and Bonuses

If you ever played decks like Belcher, TolarianAcademy.deck, or Ad Nauseam, you must have noticed some significant variance in the decks' performance: hands with only mana sources, risky hands, forced mulligans, and more. That probably gave you a fair few losses in a tournament without even getting to play.

Mox Sapphire Mox Opal Tolarian Academy

Moreover, a turn one Force of Will or Duress / Thoughtseize generally cause serious problems for these combo decks.

That's not going to happen with Paradoxical Outcome decks. You can play your mana sources, build a balanced deck, not risking everything in the first two turns, instead waiting for the right spot to resolve an Outcome, getting the edge you need to win the game.

Basically, you're a combo deck that doesn't suffer the classic problems of combo decks.

In fact, you can afford to have:

  • A Solid Manabase.
  • Fast and cheap Mana that you can transform into card draw.
  • The possibility of playing your bombs at the end of turn after seeing opponent's actions.
  • Versatility in the brew and in how you end the game.
  • Low color dependence.
  • Strong, synergistic strategies without a significant number of "dead-when-alone" cards.

The Brews

Voltaic Key Time Vault

That's the base.

Then you have, at a minimum, 39 cards that you are virtually free to choose from anywhere in the annals of Magic history.

Let's now see the possibilities and the best options to maximize the power of Paradoxical Outcome.

Paradoxical Mentor

A deadly control deck that uses combo finishers like Monastery Mentor, Tinker + Blightsteel Colossus, and, obviously, Voltaic Key + Time Vault.

The Deck is very solid, with a good mix of manipulation, draw engine, and permission spells. It even has a nice "Semi transformational" sideboard with Karn, Scion of Urza and Kambal, Consul of Allocation.

Paradoxical Combo-Control

This version has more protection (Mental Misstep) and solidity (Snapcaster Mage), but also features Mentor, Colossus, and Tutors.

This can be played as 4-Color Control as well to have Red for Dack Fayden in the main deck and Pyroblasts in the side, or you can just leave it 3-Color.

Paradoxical Storm

The power of the Storm version is easy to visualize: you play the artifacts, you play the outcome, you draw X cards, you play the artifacts again for a ridiculous storm count and then cast your win condition. But, thanks to the extreme versatility of PO, there are actually different version of this particular storm variant.

The first one is a devastating Grixis version with the abuse of quick mana sources, like four Mox Opal and Lion's Eye Diamond, that can be turned into cards with Paradoxical Outcome, making for easy Yawgmoth's Will and Tendrils of Agony / Mind's Desire combos.

Another interesting "storm" version features a U/W manabase, four Mystic Remora and Brain Freeze as cheap, efficient finishers. Brain Freeze is particularly effective because it can also be played during the opponent's turn using his spells to raise the storm count.

The main difference with the other versions is that there is less of a need to abuse Mox Opal because it can't be played at instant speed and the interesting sideboard plan with Thing in the Ice / Awoken Horror.

Trinket Mage Versions

As I've said before, the deck can be built any way you want to. Outcome is so powerful that it can turn every deck with a bunch of moxen and cheap artifacts into a combo deck.

I've seen some "planeswalker" versions of the build centered around the abuse of Trinket Mages. Trinket gives gas to your PO, closes the Key-Vault Combo, and can bring out the classic Sensei's Divining Top. Here's a list using this interaction:


Null Rod

Let's try to pick out some of the key advantages of this archetype

  • PO is not only extremely powerful but also extremely difficult to hate out because of its instant speed.
  • It can be adapted to the preferences of the individual player.
  • It forces the opponent to always leave counters up as you can combo off at any time
  • It provides stable mana for combo shells, as they no longer need hit-or-miss cards like Dark Ritual.
  • Being the complete combo-control package, the SB is left open for Transformational SBs or solid strategies against MUD/Shops and Dredge

And here are the "disadvantages."

  • Suffers more from Null Rod than other similar decks
  • Suffers more from mass artifact hate
  • Even in the quicker versions, it's not as explosive as some combos, given that PO costs four mana.
  • The control version of the deck is less reliable and solid than Snapcaster/Planeswalker Control decks
  • Except for the U/W version, the manabase is vulnerable and too reliant on artifact mana

That said, the deck is performing exceptionally well and is clearly viable, even for "goldfishing," given that it can combo kill. It can also easily adapt to suit different metagames just by changing a few cards.

You want to know the real risk of the deck?

Paradoxical Outcome's untimely restriction in the next few months.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.

1 Comment

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Albarkhane(25.10.2018 17:54)

PO decks are faring well in tournaments but their results are not overwhelming so there is little chance that PO get restricted on short notice.