Video Games Tutorials and News - Top 10 Worst Alternate Win Conditions
So, magic has a few cards that let you win the game without dealing 20 damage to your opponent or decking them out. These alternative win conditions could obviously be really powerful, so wizards make sure to have plenty of downsides to stop them from taking over the meta. So today we're going to go over some of the worst alternative win conditions, and starting us off at number 10, We have Phage the Untouchable.
10: phage the untouchable
This is a 4-4 avatar minion with a mana cost of 3. She has the ability where when she enters the battlefield, if you didn't cast her from your hand, you lose the game. Whenever she does combat damage to a creature, you destroy the creature, and it can't be regenerated. Just for anyone unaware, regeneration is a key word where you basically give a creature a shield so that the next time it would be destroyed, you tap it to remove it from combat and remove all damage from it.
Finally, she also has the ability where whenever Phage deals combat damage to a player, that player loses the game. So what's wrong with Phage? First off, her mana The cost is very, very steep. 7 mana is a ton to pay, especially for a medium-sized creature that doesn't do anything when it comes to playing.
This is the same amount of mana as haymakers. Like Karn liberated, by the time you have 7 mana, your opponent has probably already killed you, so you need your submana's spells to have an immediate impact on the game. Sure, these cards may do more the turn you play them, but phage can win the game instantly, so it isn't that worth building around, unfortunately.
No, you see, phage doesn't have any evasion whatsoever. So she can simply be blocked indefinitely by cheap 1-1 creatures. What really makes Phoe bad, though, is her restrictions. Making it so you lose the game if you don't cast phage is really rough, as it means you can't cheat her out with cards like Anime Dead or Show and Tell, which would be the easiest ways to use this card by far.
Not to mention that it's very easy to simply remove phage before she gets anything done, so are there any ways to make this card better? One way to make phage more practical is to use cards like hushbringer, or topar orb, to stop her from entering the battlefield trigger from going off. That way, you can cheat her into play.
However, this has a big downside. If your opponent can remove your hush bringer in response to you cheating out your phage, her enter the battlefield effect will go off and kill you. Not to mention, this is a lot worse than just cheating a more practical creature out. Another combo game with a phage is Frayed Identity.
This is a source that exiles a non-land permanent and then gives each of the controller's opponents a token copy of that card. So if you exile your own phage, you'll give each opponent a token copy that they didn't cast, so they'll all lose the game. So what's really nice about this combo is that it kills all of your opponents, so if you're playing commander and it wins you the game on the spot.
I usually don't take commander into account too much with these articles, but commander players love these kinds of effects and they're far more practical in that format due to the higher life total, so phage is just too clunky and slow for any format other than commander. But in that format, it can be used as part of a few combos to win the game, even if there are much better combos available. And at number 9, we have a chance encounter.
9: chance encounter
This is an enchantment with a mana cost of 2 and 2 red, with the ability to win a coin flip whenever you put a luck counter on it at the beginning of your upkeep. If it has 10 or more luck counters on it, you win the game. Relying on luck is never good in a competitive game.
Even if you do manage to flip 20 coins, which is a huge number of coins to flip, you can get unlucky and win fewer than the average number of coin flips, and then not win the game. What really hurts this card, though, is just how rare coin flipping as a mechanic is in the nearly 30 years of magic.
There are only 62 cards that mention flipping coins. A chance encounter counts as one of those 62 cards. The vast majority of queen flipping cards are kinda bad, on top of them being rare and there not being too many options to pair with them. However, there are a few coin-flipping cards that actually go really well with chance encounters.
Efreet has an ability that costs zero mana to activate and involves flipping a coin. The effect doesn't actually matter; you just activate a thousand times as your chance encounters out, and you'll win with enough coin flips to get 10 luck counters. Just to be clear, you still flip the coins even if the effect won't do anything, which matters because both outcomes will move the free to a different zone.
However, the frontic sliver, which has a very similar effect, has to be on the battlefield to flip a coin, presumably to stop these kinds of combos. Now, funnily enough, even with a thousand activations of a freak, it's still technically possible to lose all those flips, so this combo doesn't necessarily win you the game.
Though the chances of that are basically zero, it's still kind of funny that you can still lose after getting your combo together. Is this two-card combo good enough to win a chance encounter? really good Yeah, not really. The issue is that both halves of the combo are really bad on their own, and even after you assemble the combo, you have to wait until your next upkeep to win.
This is very common for alternate win conditions, so that way your opponent has an opportunity to respawn. While this combo isn't great. A two-card combo to get your alternate win condition online is better than a lot of the other cards in this list, which is why it's only at number nine and at number eight we have dark steel reactor.
8: darksteel reactor
This is an artifact with a mana cost of four. It is indestructible, which means it can't be destroyed by its effects.
This is an ability where at the beginning of your upkeep you can put a charge counter on it. When it has 20 more charge counters on it, you win the game by paying for a mana fort card that does nothing and trying to wait 20 turns. It just isn't worth it if you want a slow grinding win condition. There are a ton of planeswalkers that feel that role a lot better.
Paying for mana using a car to not affect the board at all is a really steep cost. Even enchantments and artifacts that have a huge impact as soon as you untap them but don't do anything on the turn they enter their field, like parallel lives, have a hard time seeing play because the tempo loss of using your entire turn 4 to not pressure your opponent is very easy to exploit.