What's Behind Door Number One?

Posted in Reconstructed on June 26, 2012

By Gavin Verhey

When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he dreamt of a job making Magic cards—and now as a Magic designer, he's living his dream! Gavin has been writing about Magic since 2005.

You approach an unmarked door.

Cellar Door | Art by Rob Alexander

What do you do?

Turn Back !
Open it!

The door budges slightly. Your spine prickles as you hesitate. It's heavy and difficult to open, like it hasn't been opened in years—or perhaps was once sealed shut. A glow emanates from within.

Door of Destinies | Art by Larry MacDougall

Do you finish pushing the door open?

Close it!
Push it open!

You push with the brunt of your force. No effect.

Eager to get inside, you channel some mana to help blow this door apart. Suddenly, the door creaks forward, sliding open. In front of you is a cataclysmic whirlwind of colors, and madness, and thought, and the frayed ends of charred knowledge in between. For a split moment, you can see between realities; between worlds; between life and death itself.

And then... And then...


Door to Nothingness | Art by Svetlin Velinov

You lose! Good day, Sir!

Here's a card you haven't seen for a while. Last seen skittering around on Commander tables or in Adam Prosak's Cube draft decks, it's back in Magic 2013 to teach a whole new class of players about what it means to push people through the door.

At the cost of Progenitus plus a five-mana down payment to win the game, Dooring someone is hardly the easiest route to victory—but it's certainly a fun one. I've had a penchant for alternate win conditions—although as Aaron Forsythe wittily notes in the developer comments on this card, this is really more of an alternate lose condition—ever since I saw Chance Encounter back in Odyssey. They're crazy and difficult to pull off. Getting them to work can be maddening.

But can we do it? Yes we can! It's time to hop into our void ship and go exploring.

Fortunately, I have a partner in my insanity. Reader Ross Drew sent in a five-color list that meshed well with the door of doom. Let's take a look:

Ross Drew's Five-Color Control

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    The Battle Plan

First, an aside. There are a lot of ways you could start a deck like this. I suspect many would begin with four copies of Primeval Titan, but that's not the route I want to go down. Why?

I'm a man of principle.

Magmaquake | Art by Gabor Szikszai

Look. If you're going to build a deck that wins with a wonky alternate win lose condition, you had better use the card. What kind of textbook lame, pointy-hat wizard are you if you summon a Primeval Titan and then kill your opponent by attacking with it before the door is open?

Did Gandalf just teleport Frodo to Mount Doom? Did Dumbledore just tell Harry everything he needed to know right away? Was Bugs Bunny a natural at basketball before Michael Jordan entered the picture? Uncommitted Planeswalkers just end up as part of a joke on the side streets of Kephalai.

This means that, as a challenge to ourselves, this deck is going to rely on Door to Nothingness for its singular route to victory. Go big, or go home. Does that mean I'm going to be taking a super-Johnny deck-building bent this week? Absolutely. Am I excited? Definitely!

Now that I've established that important principle, let's look at how we're going to make this work. Most importantly, the advantages of playing a deck like this.

The way I see this deck playing out is a five-color control deck. Accelerating into is a fairly unrealistic goal, so the easiest way to ensure you get there is a long game. We're going to have access to all of the best control cards in the format. Of course, there will be some acceleration and fixing to help hit the right combination of ten mana—but the core of the deck will be controlling.

Additionally, since our kill condition is an artifact, we also don't need to be too concerned with creatures. In fact, the fewer the better—creatures will just enable our opponent's removal.

Let's start by running down the cards in the deck to take a look at what elements are worth keeping.

    Card Breakdown

There's a lot to decide in a deck like this. Playing a deck that has every card in Standard at its fingertips can be a bit overwhelming for deck building. Fortunately, the deck we're starting from has several core elements to draw inspiration from.

Angelic Wall

I would prefer to not play many creatures if I can avoid it, especially because I'm going to want board sweepers. I actually think Angelic Wall is a very interesting option against beatdown decks—but with all five color at my disposal, I'm sure I can find a noncreature I'd rather have here.

Borderland Ranger

Now this is a creature I can get behind! It searches up a land and blocks an attacker. I will say that I'm preferential to Solemn Simulacrum in this slot because it puts the land directly onto the battlefield and picks up a card on the way out, but this is a good example of the kind of creature I would want to play.

Serra Angel

Sorry Serra—all we need to win is Door to Nothingness!

Lingering Souls

While not a straightforward win condition—these tokens can do some nice blocking—I know that I'll definitely end up killing some opponents with Spirits. It's Door or bust—these souls will need to linger elsewhere.

Abundant Growth

Now this is definitely a card I'm going to keep and play the full four copies of. It might look fairly innocuous, but it does everything I need. Getting all ten mana of the exact right colors is tricky, and Abundant Growth goes a long way toward that by turning excess sources of a color into any color. It fixes all of the deck's colors early on. Additionally, it gives us another card in the process so the net cost to casting it is very little. This is exactly what I'm looking for!

Sphere of the Suns

I definitely would like at least one two-mana accelerator in my deck. While the colorless nature of Sphere is nice, running out of counters is a very big problem as the game goes on. I'm going to swap these for Rampant Growth because, even though Growth requires green, the permanent source is crucial.

Think Twice and Desperate Ravings

Some two-mana card drawing is definitely on the list for this deck. However, the final version is unlikely to have eight slots just for two-mana card drawing. While normally I feel like Desperate Ravings is the superior card, some mix of these spells is likely optimal for two reasons.

Think Twice | Art by Anthony Francisco

First, mana considerations. This deck will likely have a higher quantity of blue cards than red cards, making the blue for Think Twice's initial casting easier to find than red.

Second, the random discard is actually very relevant here. While normally the card discarded isn't something I'm worried about, I can't afford to discard my win conditions here. A deck like this wants very few win conditions clunking up its draws, and so I am only going to play two Doors in the final build. Discarding one of them might drag the game on for much longer than this deck can support—and discarding two is downright lethal. I'll likely have a split between the two in the final build.

Forbidden Alchemy

This is a nice card to have when you need to dig for a specific answer—like, say, a board sweeper or a Door to close out the game. However, putting a Door into your graveyard is dangerous, and most of the time I would rather have a Think Twice or Desperate Ravings. I think Ross is spot on here by playing exactly one copy for when the game goes long, but no more.

Mana Leak

Countermagic creates an interesting discussion for this deck. On one hand, I am definitely going to want access to countermagic in the long game to fight off my opponent's over-the-top spells and disruption on Door. On the other, I'm going to be tapping out early to accelerate and fix my mana.

The way to support both of these dueling needs? Playing a hard counter like Dissipate. Then you have the counterspell you need without the early game restrictions of Mana Leak.

Feeling of Dread

Feeling of Dread is great for buying time in the midgame to let a Serra Angel or swarm of Spirit tokens swing over for lethal. It's not so good at buying time to reach ten mana for Door to Nothingness in the long game. There are better options for the new incarnation of this deck.


This is definitely a removal spell I can get behind. Colorless early on if you don't have access to your mana and with the option to pay as the game goes on. I'd probably want to mix it up with my other removal spells for variety, but this is a card I could see playing one or two of.

Oblivion Ring

Oblivion Ring is good against permanents, and fortunately most opponents will have those. It's a catch-all answer for pesky Planeswalkers, creepy creatures, or even opposing Oblivion Rings on your Door. This is a card I definitely want a couple of in a deck like this.

    A Whole Lot of Nothing

There's plenty of room to fit in cards—but slots are going to fill in fast because there are just so many good options. In addition to some of the replacements mentioned above, here are some of the new cards I narrowed down to adding.

Day of Judgment, Terminus, and Magmaquake

The game is going to go long, and you can expect to face wave after wave of creatures. Whether Huntmaster of the Fells or Geist of Saint Traft, you're going to need to deal with them in turn. Day of Judgment does a lot of important work in a control deck like this. A little diversity with a Terminus gives you some added play against problematic creatures like Thrun and helps versus undying creatures as well.

Magmaquake is an extra sweeper that also helps out against Planeswalkers. Proactive, threatening, repeatable sources of advantage are problems for a deck like this, and you need to be able to pick off their Planeswalkers or fall in the process. Magmaquake helps out in that quest while also just blowing up all of your opponent's creatures at instant speed. Into the magma you go!


Consistency is paramount, especially in a five-color deck. Ponder helps do everything from fix your mana to set up Terminus, from finding Door to Nothingness to finding removal. As soon as you have access to blue mana, Ponder starts doing great things for this deck.

Blue Sun's Zenith

I wanted one big card-draw spell I could cast late and lock up the game with. Blue Sun's Zenith was exactly that card. It draws you so many cards in the late game that it's almost like a virtual Door to Nothingness. Ponder can help you find it if necessary, and once you cast it for a bunch you should be in pretty good shape. The triple blue isn't easy for this deck but it is very achievable in the long game, which is when you want this card anyway.

Tamiyo, the Moon Sage

Tamiyo is an excellent tool for this kind of control deck. She deals with individual creatures, refuels you with cards, and her ultimate is, well, everything it advertises. (It's for those times when one Door just isn't enough...) She is as close as this deck gets to a proactive threat, which it was desperately in need of—and fortunately, it plays very well. Follow up a Day with Tamiyo and your opponents are going to find themselves under some serious pressure.

After all those changes, what does the final decklist look like? Just like this:

Five Color Nothingness

Download Arena Decklist

There are so many ways you could take this deck that it's hard to say that this is any kind of "perfect build," but it's certainly the way I imagined a Door deck coming together. If nothing else, it's a fun place to start.

Since this is mostly a fun deck built with arbitrary constraints and it's hard to know what the metagame will look like after Magic 2013 releases, predicting everything well enough for a sideboard is difficult.

If I were actually taking this deck to a tournament, though, the place I would start for a sideboard would be more pinpoint removal like Pillar of Flame, Go for the Throat, and Oblivion Ring; more Dissipates; and a transformational creature plan—likely Fettergeist—for if they have a way to deal with all of your Doors. It depends a lot on your local metagame, so tinker as necessary. And remember, with a deck like this—have fun!

    Honorable Mentions

There were several cool five-color decks that were great submissions but didn't fit with Door to Nothingness quite as well as this one. Take a look!

Jack's Five-Color Enchantress

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Terin Ware's Five-Color Midrange

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Sean Rose's Legends of Innistrad

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Luke Paulsen's Repository Tokens

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    From Nothing to Everything

Magic 2013 has a ton to offer, from build-around-me cards like today's, to cards that fit more of a supporting role. In two weeks' time, the entire card image gallery will be out—and everything Magic 2013 has to offer will be flitting through deck builders' heads everywhere! Let's see what you think might be good in Standard, post-rotation.

Format: Post-Magic 2013 Standard
Restrictions: None!
Deadline: Tuesday, July 3, at 6pm Pacific Time
Send all decklists via email by clicking the "Respond via Email" link at the bottom of this article

I'm giving you guys an extra day again so you have enough time to work on decks featuring Magic 2013 cards. Some exciting decks came out of this process for my Avacyn Restored columns, and I'm hoping the same is true this time around!

If you have any comments or questions for me, feel free to find me on Twitter (@GavinVerhey). You can also post in the forums below as well. I love hearing from all of you, and I read over each comment you send—thanks for all of your feedback!

Enjoy the rest of Magic 2013 preview week—there's a ton of cool stuff to come.

Until next week, may you be able to fill decks about nothing with plenty of everything.


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