Let's Make a Deal

Posted in Serious Fun on November 3, 2015

By Bruce Richard

Bruce's games invariably involve several friends, crazy plays, and many laughs. Bruce believes that if anyone at your table isn't having fun, then you are doing it wrong.

John laughed and looked me carefully in the eye before casting his card. Considering our less than solid positions in this game, I couldn't imagine what he was going to play to change things. He tapped his four mana and cast Fact or Fiction. He chose me as the target opponent. No one was interested in countering his spell, so he started flipping his cards.

Everyone at the table looked at the cards and started determining the piles. We looked at the two lands in the pile. Jesse wanted to split them into separate piles, while Josh said the piles would be more difficult if one pile had two lands and a spell, while the other pile had two spells. The discussion coalesced and everyone gradually agreed that Josh's suggestion was the way to go.

It made good sense to them. They were winning. They wanted to limit John's gains from the Fact or Fiction as much as possible. It made perfect sense. For them.

I was in trouble, and if something didn't change soon, I would likely be dead. I had the power to make the game change and I took it. I stacked all five cards in one pile and pushed them back at John, smiling the whole time. I love multiplayer!

Multiplayer games have an added level of strategy that one-on-one games just don't have: the ability to convince players to work with you against a common foe. So many players view this negatively. They see this as taking away from the skill level Magic demands. Whenever you reach a powerful position, the other players group up to take you down. They don't understand that it is just another factor in determining how you play the cards. Whether you call it politics or strategy, I call it another layer of fun.

The Fact or Fiction example I described shows the extra layer of skill. John needed to determine which player would likely give him the best deal. I needed to determine how to split the piles. I made sure I wasn't handing him anything that would instantly kill everyone, then, based on my determination that the board needed a significant change, did what I could to enact that change. John chose his "opponent" correctly, and I grabbed at the lifeline.

Multiplayer games makes cards like Fact or Fiction completely different cards than they are in head-to-head matchups. Sort of like Dawnbreak Reclaimer:

The Breakdown

Before we get into exactly how this works, let's look at the basics. For six mana, we are getting a 5/5 flying Angel. That is a solid body for six mana. Dawnbreak Reclaimer only requires two white mana, so we aren't locked into a card that must be in a monocolored deck. This card can fit into any deck that runs white mana. This is probably not something I would run without the rest of the text box, but it is hardly a liability.

"At the beginning of your end step..."

This means that you could be getting a creature card from your graveyard at the end of the turn you cast Dawnbreak Reclaimer. It means that sorcery-speed removal will not be fast enough to stop the first chance you'll have to add another creature to your battlefield. It also means that the creature you choose for your opponent will be "live" first. It will be able to attack before your creature can. It will be able to tap before your creature can. This is a downside and needs to be a factor in which creature you choose.

This also means that you'll get to do it again and again, as long as Dawnbreak Reclaimer stays alive. You'll be able to pull out creature after creature, or the same one (if you force your opponent to choose something like Necrotic Sliver), repeatedly. This can be a powerful recursive engine for your deck.

"...choose a creature card in an opponent's graveyard,"

Not only are you choosing a creature card, but more importantly, you are choosing an opponent. This choice is completely dependent on the current board state, and what is available in various graveyards. You need to consider the creatures in graveyards, and whether the opponent with the creature you are willing to give them will give you what you want. If you have a Mother of Runes or a Sun Titan to choose from, the opponent you choose—and likely the card you are willing to give them—will play a significant role in making this happen.

"...then that player chooses a creature card in your graveyard."

This step should be relatively straightforward. Either you have worked out which creature your opponent will choose, or you have left them with no option but the creature card you want. With only one creature card in your graveyard, you can force horrible deals on your opponents, happily giving them redundant creatures, or something that has essentially become useless at this point in the game, in exchange for the backbreaking creature you want. With multiple creature cards, you'll actually have to try and work out a deal. If you are in the driver's seat and guiding the game already, you might have a hard time getting the deal you want. If both of you are working against a mutual opponent, this may prove to be a particularly good deal.

"You may return those cards to the battlefield under their owners' control."

This is the emergency escape hatch. If you can't find anyone to give you a favorable deal, you will choose not to return the cards, and nothing happens. You'll just have to live with your 5/5 flying Angel and work to force an opponent to give you a great deal on your next end step. This also works if your opponent tries to change the deal. If I agree to give my opponent five cards in a Fact or Fiction split, I have no recourse if they choose to renege on our deal and take me out on the next turn.[1] With Dawnbreak Reclaimer, I get to ensure that the deal is exactly as we agreed.

Dawnbreak Reclaimer | Art by Tyler Jacobson


No Hope Option

This includes those times when you know you won't be getting a deal. Perhaps you don't have a creature card in your graveyard, or none of your opponents do. This also includes those times when you have a weaker card while the only cards for you to choose for them are amazing cards. You can make the deal, but you are never going to agree with it.

The joy here lies in how this affects your combat. You can now send your scary creatures into combat situations where they should die. Your opponents will be wondering if you have a combat trick to kill their creature, or if you are just trying to put something in your graveyard that is worth bringing back. Just having Dawnbreak Reclaimer on the battlefield will make your opponents think twice about killing Angel of Despair or another creature with a great enters-the-battlefield trigger.

Let's Make a Deal Option

I suspect this will be the most common situation. You cast Dawnbreak Reclaimer, then on each end step, you pick a creature, I pick a creature, and you decide if you like the deal or not. You don't do anything to try to improve the deal, you just play out the card and see if you get any sort of residual benefit on your end steps. Since Dawnbreak Reclaimer will generally be cast in the mid to late game, it makes sense that you and an opponent will both have multiple creatures in your graveyards, so the choice is going to happen after each of your end steps.

This is where you can wheel and deal! If you choose an opponent's Solemn Simulacrum, it will become pretty obvious that you will agree to a deal involving your Solemn Simulacrum as well. I would recommend talking it out with all of your opponents, trying to get the best deal. If I have several creatures in my graveyard, I'd certainly be more amenable to working with the opponent willing to give me my Angel of Despair than one willing to give me my Mourning Thrull.

No Options Option

With just a little graveyard pruning, you can force your opponent to choose the creature card in your graveyard that you want them to take. Returning the Mourning Thrull to your hand suddenly means that whoever you choose will be forced to give you the Angel of Despair. The joy here is picking out the least valuable card in your opponent's graveyard. I would recommend a card that you expect an opponent was going to get out of the graveyard anyway. Limit your losses!

The Help

My love for working with my opponents aside, the best option is the No Options Option, but you'll need to tailor up your deck to make that happen.

Dawnbreak Reclaimer needs to stay on the battlefield, or at the very least, it needs to be difficult to take out. Ways to make it indestructible, flicker, or untargetable are all options.

You'll also want creature cards in your graveyard. Ideally you won't want anything in your graveyard that will give you a bad deal, so adding cards that let you return cards in your graveyard to your hand, the battlefield, or even to exile are all options.

You'll also want creature cards in your opponents' graveyards. This shouldn't be a problem, since pretty much every deck you build needs to remove creatures from the battlefield. Practically any removal you use fits here.

The Deck

A Brago, King Eternal deck gives you almost everything Dawnbreak Reclaimer is looking for in a decklist. It flickers cards and has plenty of ways to make Brago unblockable, which can also work to protect the Reclaimer. It offers creatures with excellent enters-the-battlefield abilities to abuse with Brago, which the Reclaimer can save and set up for further abuse!

Steve Morrison's Brago

Download Arena Decklist
COMMANDER: Brago, King Eternal
Sorcery (1)
1 Supreme Verdict
99 Cards

Dawnbreak Reclaimer will add a level of negotiations to your multiplayer games that may have been lacking. I look forward to seeing how it's used in the Commander (2015 Edition) deck, and how all of you negotiate your way to victory with the card!

Bruce Richard



[1] Although I think gaining my never-ending hatred and never getting a deal with anyone because you are now known as an untrustworthy sod for the rest of your playing life is a solid deterrent.

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