Going Infinite

Posted in From the Lab on January 7, 2013

By Mike Cannon

Mike Cannon started writing From the Lab at the end of 2012 after two years with GatheringMagic. He is an ardent casual player and loves finding uses for bad cards.

Some of the coolest spells in Magic cost a lot of mana. This makes sense, of course. If everything was cheap, no one would ever play with the less exciting spells, and we would all be casting Searing Wind instead of Searing Spear. But the more expensive a card is to cast, the longer you have to wait for it, and when that wait is finally over, you can't help but wonder if it was really worth it.

Enter the Infinite costs a lot of mana.

Enter the Infinite is worth it.

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You've probably heard someone talk about drawing his or her deck before, but the phrase has never been used so literal. Enter the Infinite has quite a bit of text, but it basically boils down to just that:

Draw your deck.

All of it.

Right now.

That's some powerful stuff, and it can be dangerous if you're not careful. Although Enter the Infinite does put one card back into your library so you won't lose the game on your next turn, after that you're on your own. That means you'd better have a way to win the game fast once your entire library is in your hand. Fortunately, there are quite a few ways to do just that.

What to Give Someone Who Has Everything

The first card that came to mind was Seismic Assault. Ok, the actual first card that came to mind was Land's Edge, but that's because my mind is a very strange place. Although the two cards aren't very different, Seismic Assault gets the nod due to the fact that it doesn't give your opponent an opportunity for a bit of extra damage, and it can let you burn out creatures like True Believer that might stop you from winning. As an added bonus, you don't have to explain to your opponent what exactly "Enchant World" means before you kill him or her.

Seismic Assault

I may have mentioned before that Enter the Infinite costs quite a bit of mana. Like, twelve. When you're paying twelve mana for something, you really don't want to be paying three more to finish the job, and waiting until your next turn is less than ideal. Fortunately, you're going to have your entire library in your hand, meaning that a trio of Simian Spirit Guides somewhere in the deck will ensure that you can cast Seismic Assault without any trouble.

Mana is No Object

Then a thought occurred to me: If Enter the Infinite is so expensive, why should I bother paying for it at all? Surely there must be another way. As it turns out, there are several. The first one I thought of was Spellshift. Polymorph has been a staple of decks wanting to cheat out expensive creatures for years, but few remember the spell-based variant from Time Spiral. Until now, there have been precious few spells remotely worth working that hard for, but a sorcery that lets you win the game as soon as you cast it? I'd say that's worth it.


However, Spellshift will only let you cast Enter the Infinite for free if it's the first instant or sorcery card it sees. My first instinct was to make sure that it would be the only option. With a single copy of an instant or sorcery that can't be countered in the deck, a Spellshift would inevitably find either Enter the Infinite or another Spellshift, which could be cast on the uncounterable spell again, finding either Enter the Infinite or another Spellshift, and so on. However, finding both a copy of Spellshift and the single uncounterable spell without any instant or sorceries proved problematic, so I turned to other options. Once you have a Spellshift and a spell to counter with it in your hand, Selective Memory lets you exile all the instants and sorceries in your deck except for Enter the Infinite. Then all you have to do is flip through your barren library until you find it.

There are other ways to make sure Enter the Infinite is the first spell you shift into, however. For example, there are several ways to put it on the very top of your library, eliminating the chance of Spellshift hitting another instant or sorcery first. Mystical Tutor is the simplest, pulling the gigantic sorcery right out of your library and setting where Spellshift won't have any trouble finding it. Long-Term Plans has a similar effect, but you'll have to wait a bit before firing off the combo. Ponder can help out if it's in the top three, and Brainstorm can do the same. Brainstorm has the added benefit of letting you put an Enter the Infinite you've already drawn back on top of your library where you need it. Even better, all of these can help you find a Spellshift as well, and serve as targets for your Spellshift to counter.

Mystical Tutor
Long-Term Plans

A few bounce spells top off the list, buying you time against faster decks and temporarily eliminating anything that might stop you from riding your combo to completion.

Infinite Assault

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Infinity Never Dies

The second method of cheating on Enter the Infinite's casting cost is Sins of the Past. My first exposure to this card was in a game of Commander, where I watched as an opponent used it to cast his Time Stretch again during his first extra turn, tacking two more onto the end and ensuring the rest of us were dead by the time he finished. Despite this rocky start, I remembered that name and filed it away for later use, knowing that a Zombify for spells would likely come in handy one day. Well, that day has arrived. If you can get Enter the Infinite into your graveyard, Sins of the Past will let you cast it at half price. It's worth noting that Spelltwine will also work, but only if your opponent has an instant or sorcery in his or her graveyard to target. Although nearly as effective as Sins of the Past, I ended up going with a mono-black build, so Spelltwine didn't make the cut.

Sins of the Past
Time Stretch

Although certainly a powerful enabler, Enter the Infinite isn't a win condition on its own, and I still needed something to close out the game. Cadaverous Bloom would fit, but ditching cards in hand to power a Consume Spirit felt too similar to what I had already done with Seismic Assault. So I turned to another black enchantment, one with a little more flair: Mortal Combat. Any card that says "you win the game" is all right in my book, and Mortal Combat has a cool name to boot. Here's the plan: Get Mortal Combat onto the battlefield, then cast Enter the Infinite. Unfortunately, Enter the Infinite says you have no maximum hand size until your next turn, so you'll need a way to discard cards as well. (Who knew having no maximum hand size was a drawback?) Discard your hand and win the game at the beginning of your next upkeep. Alternatively, you can cast Enter the Infinite before you have Mortal Combat on the battlefield. The card you put back into your library will save you from death for one turn, so you can cast the enchantment and win the game on your next upkeep, just before you lose from being unable to draw a card. It's a more risky move, but it could work.

Cadaverous Bloom
Mortal Combat

Entomb is the fastest way to get Enter the Infinite into the graveyard, where it can be cast with Sins of the Past. At instant speed, and with only a single black mana as its cost, it far outshines the other options. Diabolic Intent is next up, putting any card into your hand for the price of two mana and a creature. Since you need twenty creatures in your graveyard to win with the game, finding one to sacrifice shouldn't be too difficult. The last method of extraction is good old Diabolic Tutor. A core set staple from Eighth Edition to Magic2012, it has been the standard for tutor effects for quite some time. Although it costs more mana than the other options, it doesn't have any drawbacks for you to work around.

Living for Dying

Since you'll need twenty creatures in your graveyard for Mortal Combat, I decided that twenty-four was the mark I wanted to hit. That lets you have up to four creatures stuck in your hand or on the battlefield without affecting your ability to win. First up, as I mentioned earlier, you'll need a discard outlet, both to help get Enter the Infinite into your graveyard and to allow you to discard all your creatures afterward. Putrid Imp and Oona's Prowler both allow you to discard any number of cards at no cost, and won't cost you too much mana to get out on the battlefield. Shriekmaw is another creature I wanted to include. It's removal, it's a creature, and you don't have to worry about it sticking around on the battlefield after it does its job. As soon as it kills of whatever threat you need to deal with it will hop right in the graveyard, ready to fuel Mortal Combat.

Putrid Imp
Oona's Prowler

The rest of the creature slots are filled up by guys who can accelerate you toward your goal. Blood Pet is a cheap and easy creature to sacrifice to Diabolic Intent, and can also give you an extra mana later on if it's still around, letting you cast Sins of the Past a turn early. Basal Thrull is a bit more expensive and gives you a bit more mana, and Overeager Apprentice takes it a step further, although it requires you to discard a card as well. Mostly, these creatures are just there to hit that all-important twenty-creature mark, but the extra mana can be key if you haven't made it to six yet.

You may notice something odd about this deck: It has eighty cards. Mortal Combat requires you to have quite a few creatures in the deck to work, but getting the combo together requires spells. An extra twenty cards in the deck helps you fulfill both requirements without sacrificing too much as far as consistency.

Infinite Combat

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Enter the Infinite | Art by Terese Nielsen

Enter the Arena

Although the Mortal Combat deck may be better suited for the arena in name, there's no telling what will happen when the sparks start to fly, and this fight is about skills, not monikers.

Game 1

Infinite Assault won the roll and started things off with an Island. Infinite Combat followed suit with a Swamp, and Infinite Assault cast a Brainstorm at end of turn. A mid-upkeep Mystical Tutor found a Spellshift and shuffled away the unwanted cards, and another Island finished off the turn. The black team used Entomb during the end step to put Enter the Infinite in the graveyard, then played a Swamp and cast Oona's Prowler. Infinite Assault cast another Brainstorm, then simply played an Island and passed the turn. The Prowler was sacrificed to Diabolic Intent, and the blue team had no play other than a land.

Mortal Combat hit the battlefield and Infinite Assault cast Selective Memory, exiling everything save Enter the Infinite and lands. Infinite Combat played a new Oona's Prowler, hitting the fifth land drop to threaten a Sins of the Past next turn. The blue team was forced to pass the turn after playing an Island, having missed a land drop the previous turn. Infinite Combat cast Sins of the Past to cast Enter the Infinite, drawing its entire library. The black team threatened to win on its upkeep, but it never got the chance, as Infinite Assault cast Disperse and countered it with Spellshift, getting Enter the Infinite and murdering the opposition with the Seismic Assault combo.

Selective Memory

Game 2

Infinite Combat started off with a Swamp and Infinite Assault led with an Island and a Ponder. An Entomb at end of turn found Enter the Infinite, and the black team played a land and passed the turn. Infinite Assault cast another Ponder and ended its turn with an Island. An Overeager Apprentice came down for Infinite Combat, while the blue team cast Long-Term Plans.

Infinite Combat played a Swamp and cast Blood Pet, sacrificing it to Diabolic Intent. Infinite Assault simply played another land. The black team sacrificed Overeager Apprentice for mana and cast Sins of the Past, putting its library in hand with Enter the Infinite. However, Infinite Assault once again won the war with a Spellshift countering Brainstorm and getting the Enter the Infinite that had been set up with Long-Term Plans.

Diabolic Intent

Nothing Lasts Forever

I considered making this week's article infinitely long, but I doubt the web team would have been very happy with that. Thus, it is with regret that I must bid you farewell for now. Stop by again next week to see more of the crazy combos and deliciously devious decks Gatecrash has in store, and in the meantime feel free to send me your questions, comments, and ideas, either through the links at the bottom of the page or on Twitter. See you next time.

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