Let Me Count the Ways...

Posted in Arcana on December 28, 2005

By Wizards of the Coast

Magicthegathering.com is running "best of" content during the holidays, and will return with new content January 4, 2006. This Magic Arcana originally ran August 15, 2005.

How many legal ways are there to win or lose a game of Magic, as of right now?

(Thanks to Devin Low for today's Arcana, and to Steve from Chicago for the question that inspired it.)

Battle of Wits
What's your guess?


The answer is 28.


Oh, you actually wanted to know what they were? Well just remember it the way Magic R&D's Devin Low does, with this... er, simple mnemonic poem he devised:

5 Tormented Odysseys,
5 Paths to Lose by Rules,
7 Scattered Crazy Wins,
3 Fortunes' Final Fools,
3 Liches to Live in Death,
5 Risks for Those Who Find Them,
One Comp Rules to Rule them All, and in the Darkness Bind Them.

5+5+3+7+3+3+5 = 28. Simple. If you didn't catch them all from the poem, just sound it out.


More detail?? Really. Okay. So the comprehensive rules say you win when your opponents all lose, or when a card effect says you win.

"5 Tormented Odysseys"

Odyssey Block has a cycle of 5 alternate win conditions:

  1. Battle of Wits
  2. Chance Encounter
  3. Epic Struggle
  4. Mortal Combat
  5. Test of Endurance

"5 Paths to Lose by Rules"

There are 5 ways your opponent can lose according to the comprehensive rules:

  1. He or she has zero life.
  2. He or she tries to draw a card with no cards left in his or her library.
  3. He or she has ten poison counters.
  4. He or she loses and wins at the same time. (HINT: You lose.)
  5. He or she concedes.

"7 Scattered Crazy Wins"

There are 7 other alternate win conditions across various sets:

  1. The Cheese Stands Alone
  2. Now I Know My ABC's
  3. Celestial Convergence
  4. Coalition Victory
  5. Darksteel Reactor
  6. Door to Nothingness
  7. Phage the Untouchable

(These last two are wins disguised as losses.)

"3 Fortunes' Final Fools"

There are 3 Final Fortunes:

  1. Final Fortune
  2. Last Chance
  3. Warrior's Oath

"3 Liches to Live in Death"

There are 3 Liches that can make your opponent lose the game:

  1. Lich
  2. Lich's Tomb
  3. Nefarious Lich

"5 Risks for Those Who Find Them"

And there are 5 other risky cards your opponent might use that can make him or her lose the game:

  1. Amulet of Quoz
  2. Forbidden Crypt
  3. Form of the Squirrel
  4. Rocket-Powered Turbo Slug
  5. Transcendence

Yup, 28.

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