Battle of Wits

Battle of wits“The wizard who reads a thousand books is powerful. The wizard who memorizes a thousand books is insane.”

Battle of Wits is a curious card. It invariably lends itself to a certain type of deck, and though it is never consistently powerful, can win games early (upkeep on turn 4 is not difficult,) and can be difficult to interact with.

Battle of Wits.dec


4 Elvish Mystic
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Thought Courier
3 Survivor of the Unseen
4 Prognostic Sphinx
4 Sigiled Starfish
4 Bringer of the Black Dawn
4 Laboratory Maniac
2 Opaline Unicorn


4 Chromatic Sphere
4 Aether Spellbomb
4 Darksteel Pendant
4 Serum Powder
4 Traveler’s Amulet
1 Terrarion
2 Azorius Cluestone
1 Aligned Hedron Network


4 Dawn’s Reflection
4 Treasure Trove
4 Battle of Wits
4 Sprout Swarm
4 Think Twice
4 Peek
4 Perilous Research
4 Telling Time
4 Anticipate
4 Holy Day
4 Reminisce
4 Enduring Ideal
4 Enter the Infinite
4 Sleight of Hand
4 Forsee
4 Train of Thought
4 Tunnel Vision
4 Counsel of the Soratami
4 Divination
4 Diabolic Tutor
4 Rampant Growth
4 Edge of Autumn
4 Sign in Blood
4 Read the Bones
4 Curse of the Swine\
1 Extinguish All Hope
1 Duneblast
1 Phyrexian Rebirth
1 Divine Reckoning


14 Plains
15 Island
15 Swamp
14 Forest
4 Evolving Wilds
4 Terramorphic Expanse
4 Jungle Hollow
4 Dismal Backwater
4 Thornwood Falls
4 Scoured Barrens
4 Tranquil Cove
4 Blossoming Sands

I’m not sure there is a comprehensive write up on Battle of Wits out there, and the beauty of having to have so many cards in the deck means that you can stuff in any secondary strategy you have the cards for, which is a strategy I recommend. After all, sometimes you run into that one guy who is running Traumatize. Or maybe you’re holding off an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger with Sprout Swarm tokens.

I decided that if my main win condition relies on having the fullest library, my secondary win condition would rely on having an empty one. Even if Battle of Wits is still live, with the mana available, I’ll pretty much always jam Enter the Infinite, since it’s just a much cooler way to win. Also, I like drawing cards.

Which is why I have gone super heavy on grinding through the deck trying to find combo pieces. A full 78 cards in the deck either say “draw x card(s)” or otherwise put a card into your hand. That way, I am never at a loss to find a Peek or a Think Twice after resolving Enter the Infinite and a Laboratory Maniac.

I often get asked why I run four colors and not five. The answer is that red does not do anything to justify the splash. The best choice of tutors red offers is Gamble, and I don’t want to discard a combo piece by accident. Black just offers more reliable effects in Diabolic Tutor and Bringer of the Black Dawn, and if you turn to Vintage, Vampiric Tutor and Demonic Tutor would be good additions. Green justifies its presence by enabling fast ramping kills on occasion, and provides color fixing to make sure you can hit the tricky double color costs.

So, black has tutors, green keeps my mana good, blue has all my combo and most of my card drawing tools, but what about white? There are certainly enough Damnation and Languish effects in black to take the sweeper slots, and Darkness got printed in Time Spiral, so there’s no reason Holy Day is that important. No, there is one card and one card only that justifies playing white, and that card is Enduring Ideal. Four copies makes for effectively four extra copies of Battle of Wits. Even better, if it resolves, you’ll get another copy of Battle for every turn your opponent manages to avoid losing.

Battle of Wits is in an unfortunate position, because despite how truly terrifying it can be, the Eternal formats are such that no amount of tutoring and card draw will be fast enough to dig it out of such a large pile of cards. Which maybe is for the best. An enchantment that read “at the beginning of your upkeep, you win the game,” and costed at 3uu would be played in pretty much every Legacy and Vintage deck that plays blue.

Even if it never sees tournament play, this can still be a fun deck to pilot, and makes for a neat object lesson when a new player starts asking about why you should stick to the 60 card minimum.

Just don’t forget where you put the poison.

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