Deck Tech: Twiddle Desire

Posted in Event Coverage on November 1, 2003

By Paul Sottosanti

It's no secret that every time a new Extended format rolls around, everyone looks to the Japanese to come up with something spectacular. Somehow they always come up with crazy decks, and not only are they crazy, they're actually highly competitive against the metagame.

As someone who was fairly involved with the testing and preparation for this Pro Tour, I didn't think they could do it again. So many people were working on the format; so many ideas were brought up and dismissed. How could they possibly come up with yet another deck that the rest of the world had missed?

Well, they did it again. And it's a thing of beauty.

Remember a little card from Alpha, the first set in Magic: the Gathering's long history, called Twiddle? It's a humble, simple card. In those days one blue mana could draw you three cards, but Twiddle simply tapped or untapped a permanent of your choice. No less, no more.

Even in the early days, no one actually thought about playing Twiddle in tournaments. It was cute, but it didn't really do anything.

Those times are no longer. It's now ten years later, and Twiddle is part of the engine of one of the most astonishing decks here, along with its friends Dream's Grip and Burst of Energy. Burst of what, you say? You're not alone, as I haven't seen a single opponent all day that hasn't paused to read the card.

Pro Tour New Orleans: Twiddle Desire

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Gilded Lotus
Yes, you read that right. A mere fourteen lands, without any cantrips or ways to find more except Brainstorm. It even has only two copies of the win condition in a deck that plays four copies of Diminishing Returns. It seems crazy, but who can question it, because it's winning. Both Osamu Fujita and Tsutomo Yamada are running the deck, which was designed by Tsuyoshi Fujita, on day two.

How does it work? Essentially it wants to get a Gilded Lotus into play by whatever means possible, and then start tapping and untapping it to produce two mana each time. Efficient card drawing like Diminishing Returns, Meditate, and Trade Secrets allows the deck to run cards like Twiddle because it can refill its hand so easily. All of these spells allow the player to draw more cards than the mana spent, and the drawbacks are minimal in a deck that intends to win the turn it casts them.

Between the number of cheap spells and the scarcity of lands, Mind's Desire is a perfect fit for the deck. It can either be used to find the game-winning Tendrils of Agony or simply to add a bunch more spells to the Storm count by playing them all for free. It's not uncommon for this deck to cast ten to fifteen spells on turn two, especially if it manages to Tinker for a Lotus.

Mind's Desire
And yes, the deck can even win on turn one. City of Traitors, Chrome Mox (imprinting a blue card), Tinker away the Chrome Mox for Gilded Lotus. Tap the Gilded Lotus, untap it with a Twiddle effect, tap it again, cast Diminishing Returns to refill. Continue milking the Gilded Lotus with untap effects and refilling with cheap card drawing until you can play a Tendrils of Agony with nine or more previous spells cast that turn.

After Tsuyoshi saw the cardlist for Mirrodin, he began work on a Mind's Desire deck for Standard which included both Twiddle and Dream's Grip. The evolution of the deck into its current Extended version was only natural. He's a little disappointed in how the deck is performing today, but promises an even more exciting deck for next time. I, for one, believe he can deliver.

But as for Twiddle Desire: will we see this deck in the qualifying seasons of the near future? It's very possible. It certainly thrives in a format where most countermagic is too slow and the games are fairly non-interactive. And better yet, it looks like a whole lot of fun to play.

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