The opular Magic: The Gathering Arena streamer merchant enters a standard game and immediately reduces his hand to just four cards: Two Mountains, a Stone Spiral Serpent, and a copy of Tibalt’s Trickery. That last one is an instant card from the new Kaldheim set, which was released on January 28, causing quite a stir in the trading card game community.
Merchant just made the Tibalt’s Trickery combo, an experimental deck that has become the scourge of Magic Arena players and the subject of delight and contempt in equal measure on Reddit and Twitch. But what is happening? How can these players unravel such dangerous late-game threats with just two mana?
“You play a low-cost or no-cost spell, such as Stonecoil Serpent or Tormod’s Crypt, then counter with your own Tibalt’s Trickery. Tibalt’s Trickery molds a random number of cards [between one and three] from the top of your deck, then you lets you cast the first non-earth that is different from the spell you’re countering from the top FREE! “says Amy the Amazonian, a Twitch streamer familiar with the combination.
Amy explains that the deck is only large and imposes threats like Ugin, Vorinclex, or Koma, the Cosmic Serpent to increase the chance that Tibalt’s Trickery will find them before another copy of the instant or zero-cost spell that started the entire insane chain of events.
It’s a solid enough track record to convince you that it has some real power, enough to change certain formats, and maybe even enough to drive Wizards of the Coast editor action.
“The only question I was really trying to see is, can I make this consistent? If all of a sudden the really powerful can become consistent, that’s where some of the amazing deck archetypes may come from,” says Plott.
The hack has emerged enough to spawn Reddit threads and reaction videos every day since January 28, with people calling for a ban. The deck is so fast and relentless that playing against it soaks up the fun of a game built around ever-changing response strategies, and piloting it feels like completely ignoring your opponent as you build your fatal two-card engine. “The funny thing about Tibalt’s Trickery is that if you counter it, or if you’re a black [mana] player, and you cast Duress and have them discard it, the game is over immediately. Like, it’s done instantly,” Plott says.
The expanded toolset of some Magic formats that allow older cards also appeases the combo from a constant threat to something a little more fun: Glass cannon jank.
Modern and Pioneer
“According to some lovely people on my channel chat, it also has legs on Modern and Pioneer. A admittedly unscientific poll of her Twitter followers showed that most people just don’t care how Wizards tackles Tibalt’s latest antics.
The limited, yet substantial effect of the combo prevents it from reaching the meta-destabilizing heights of past forbidden cards like Veil of Summer or Once Upon A Time. He hasn’t had a chance to dominate the tournament deck charts and win an ignoble place in the same prison where Omnath and Oko share a cell. Both Plott and Amy believe that the deck will continue to haunt the Best of One formats during Kaldheim’s tenure in the Standard rotation, making a targeted ban the most likely scenario.
It may seem obvious, but Wizards has a keen interest in keeping their game fun for as many people as possible.