Magik: the Gathering

Card draw simulator

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Derived from
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acisking · 45

At various points during Illyana Rasputin's long, rich, and tragic character history, she has assumed the mantle of ruler and sorcerer supreme of the hellish realm Limbo. And in that role, she often uses her mutant power of teleportation via stepping discs to summon legions of demonic hordes, which do her bidding and which she augments via her spells. I wanted to capture that dynamic in this deck.

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This deck is designed to leverage both allies and Magik’s unique abilities to give you the versatility and flexibility to deal with any scenario at any player count. But in order to see all the various options available to you on a given turn, it really helps to have a solid understanding of Magik’s abilities.

The Key to Playing Magik

In her hero form, Magik can see the top card of her deck. Apart from providing useful information, this ability is important because Magik comes with six events (Exorcism, Magic Barrier , and Soul Strike) and three upgrades (Magik's Crown, Mystical Armor, and Soulsword all of which are only truly maximized if the top card of your deck has either a given resource or wild resource. In addition, this deck has two allies – Legion and Hulk – who benefit when a card with a particular resource type is discarded from the top of the deck. This means that in most cases the single most important thing you can do to maximize Magik and this deck is to get a card with the right resource to the top of the deck. And often this needs to be done multiple times in a given turn.

Luckily, Magik has many different means of changing the card at the top of the deck. And this deck only gives you more options to do so. These various methods for changing the card on the top of the deck can be separated into five categories: 1) discarding the top card; 2) drawing it; 3) playing it with a discount; 4) swapping it with the card in your hand; and 5) placing another card from your discard pile on top of it.

Discarding the Top Card

In this category we have cards that discard the top card of the deck, cards that provide the flexibility to potentially discard multiple cards from the top of the deck, and cards that provide other benefits when they are discarded from the top of the deck.

Cosmo – Not only does Cosmo provide a means of discarding a card from the top of your deck, but because you know what card is being discarded, you will always know the type of card that is being discarded. As a result, Cosmo will never take consequential damage as Magik’s loyal demon dog.

Legion – It’s fitting that Legion first appeared in the New Mutants comic series with Magik because he is a must-include in most Magik decks. He not only provides a means of discarding the top card of your deck, but if the right resource is in place he can provide additional damage, thwart, or even heal himself. So much like Cosmo, Legion can activate all game long if managed properly.

Hulk – Since you know the resource type of the card that will be discarded from the top of the deck when he attacks, you can guarantee that Hulk will only ever do extra damage. While some decks have opted to go all-in on this route with tons of fist resource cards, excessive resources of any one type greatly reduces Magik’s overall versatility for many of her other cards. Plus, it should be easy enough to get the fist resource you need for a Hulk attack with all the top-deck manipulation in this deck.

Goldballs – Since the interrupt on his attack allows you to discard up to three cards from the top of your deck, Goldballs is particularly potent with Magik who allows you to see what the next card that would be discarded is. Say for instance that you need a mental resource on the top of the deck but the current card is a physical. You can attack with Goldballs, discard the top card, see that the next card has the physical resource you need, and just stop discarding there. This makes Goldballs very useful to not only get cards with the right resource to the top of the deck but also to help find a crucial card like Limbo faster. And if you are fine with just discarding three cards, an attack of four is nothing to scoff at.

Magic Attack – This event functions exactly like Goldballs’ attack, except that it allows you to discard potentially up to five cards. It’s also a spell so it can be grabbed from the Magik’s alter ego interrupt (more on that later). And 5 damage for 1 cost is pretty awesome.

White Fox – Since there are so many ways to discard cards from the top of the deck, White Fox is a natural fit as a free to play ally. She’s even better here than with other discard-heavy heroes like Domino because with Magik you know for sure she’s at the top of the deck.

Digging Deep – As Magik has six events and three upgrades that benefit from a card with a wild resource being at the top of the deck, Digging Deep is often a great target to get to the top of your deck. And then once you discard it, it comes right to your hand.

Drawing the Top Card

Sometimes the card at the top of the deck is too good to discard but also does not have the resource type you need. Why not just add that card to your hand via card draw?

Scrying – This card is incredible. It costs nothing, gives you card draw, and even allows you to pick which of the next three cards will be at the top of your deck. It’s pretty much always a good play but one of the best times to play it is when Digging Deep or White Fox is at the top of the deck because of the effects on those cards that trigger when they are discarded from the top of your deck.

Spiritual Meditation – These cards are staples in every mystic deck for a reason.

Avengers Mansion – This classic core set card is arguably better with Magik than with any other hero. Not only does the Magik player have the resources to pay for it but she allows you to see what card will be drawn and has no shortage of options to change that card to something else if it’s suboptimal.

Specialized Training – This player side scheme is hardly a priority but it can turn her into a real powerhouse. You really can’t go wrong with any of the specialization upgrades. I’ve found that in solo and lower player counts, the Surveillance Specialist helps mitigate this deck’s relatively weaker thwart by giving her base 3 thwart with Magik’s Crown. But when playing with larger player count getting the Combat Specialist (Magik is literally in the card art) gives her base 4 attack with Soulsword and her allows her to serve as a dedicated damage dealer. Since she has access to readies via Stepping Disc, the specialization upgrades can really pay off. And regardless of which route you elect to take, the real value is in the card draw that happens whenever you use the corresponding basic power of the specialization upgrade.

Playing the Top Card with a Discount

Magik’s hero ability allows her to play one card per phase from the top of your deck while reducing the resource cost of that card by one. This essentially gives you a once-per-phase helicarrier. In terms of cards that can be played this way during the villain phase, this deck only has three: two Magic Barriers and Colossus.

Apart from the utility of just being able to use a card that would otherwise be inactive at the top of your deck, this ability also stealthily changes the top card of your deck in the event it has a suboptimal resource.

Swapping the Top Card with a Card in Your Hand

Limbo allows you to swap a card from the top of the deck with one in your hand during the player phase. There are many useful zero-cost cards in this deck and if one of them is on the top of deck you wouldn’t benefit from the discount of playing it from the top of her deck. Limbo allows you to bring that zero-cost card to your hand in exchange for something else. Limbo is also a great way to get Digging Deep or White Fox from your hand to the top of your deck.

Limbo also allows you to swap a card before even Step 1 of the villain phase (but then Limbo will be exhausted on your turn). I’ve found that, at least with this deck, it’s usually better to wait until the player phase to use Limbo. The only two exceptions are: 1) if Colossus is in your hand and you are planning to play him to block that turn; 2) if Magic Barrier is in your hand and you plan to use it to defend that turn. Since Magik's discount to play a card from her deck is per phase, using Limbo in this way gives you a way to play a useful defensive card during the villain’s phase while still preserving the right to play a card from the deck of your deck during the player phase.

Limbo is probably the single most important upgrade/support in the deck so definitely play it when you see it.

Placing a Card from your Discard Pile on Top of the Deck

Maybe you don’t want to discard, play, swap, or draw the card at the top of your deck just yet. Or maybe you just wish that card your discarded earlier was somehow on the top of the deck instead. Well luckily, Magik has two ways of getting such cards back on top of her deck.

Stepping Disc – These 1-cost events allow you to bring any Magik card from your discard pile back to the top of your deck. And oh yeah, they also ready Magik. This effectively means that on any given deck passthrough she has three additional opportunities to play or replay any of her events, her upgrades, #Limbo, or Colossus in the event those cards are in the discard pile.

Alter-Ego Spell Cycling – Magik’s alter-ego interrupt allows you to grab a spell from the discard pile and put it on top of your deck. This deck has 14 spells – each of which can be particularly useful in a given situation. Need to heal your friend? Grab Basic Spell. Need to stun the enemy? Grab Soul Strike.

There are some things to consider when choosing which card put on top of the deck via Stepping Disc and Alter-Ego spell cycling:

-Magik’s spells (Exorcism, Magic Barrier, Soul Strike, and Scrying) can be placed on the top of the deck through either method. This may mean that it may be more beneficial to use a Stepping Disc to grab that Magik upgrade you weren’t able to play either than to grab a Soul Strike given that you will likely more opportunities to play the Soul Strike again than you would to play the upgrade. The same goes for potentially using her alter-action interrupt to put the non-Magik spells like Magic Attack or Basic Spell at the top of her deck.

-While Scrying is arguably the best spell in the deck and Spiritual Meditation provides useful card draw, those cards cost 0 and don’t benefit from the discount from being played from your deck. So, it only makes sense to take those cards if you either need a mental resource on top of the deck (say to remove additional threat via Legion) or your plan to use Limbo to swap that card with another one in your hand.

-If you intend to play Soul Strike or Exorcism from the top of your deck after bringing that card to the top of your deck via Stepping Disc or alter-ego spell cycling, remember to first make sure that the card currently on top of the deck has the resource needed to trigger the stun or confuse from Soul Strike or Exorcism.

-Even a card like Magic Barrier which cannot be played during the player phase, might still be worth using Stepping Disc or alter-ego spell cycling get it to the top of the deck. Because it has a fist resource it can be discarded via a Hulk attack to do additional damage or via a Legion attack to heal Legion. It can also trigger additional attack through the Soulsword if it is in play. These are just a few examples of the endless sequencing opportunities available to you through this deck.

Arming Your Horde

Sidearm and Boot Camp allow you to make the most of two allies that can theoretically activate forever (Cosmo and Legion) and two allies that already do massive amounts of damage even without upgrades (Hulk and Goldballs). With a sidearm, boot camp, and some resource matching, Legion can hit for 3 and then 2, Hulk can hit for 5 and then 2, Goldballs can hit for 6, and Cosmo can hit for a consequential-less 3.

Resource Generation

Magik has three of the best traits in the game – Mutant, X-Men, and Mystic – and those traits really shine when it comes to resource generation.

The Sorcerer Supreme – As Magik is the Sorcerer Supreme of Limbo, it makes sense that she should have this title here. And when combined with her hero ability, it means that when she is in hero form, you get essentially a seven-card hand size.

Bloodgem – This is another highly thematic card for Magik as Belasco (her nemesis minion here) forced her to sacrifice portions of her soul to create gems of great power. Bloodgem is one of the best ramp cards in the whole game. Sure it costs 2 health to use, but at a cost of 0 resources it can be played immediately and can set you up for incredible starting turns.

The X-Jet – Wild resource generation is never a bad thing.

X-Gene – Magik has 9 identity-specific events with at least a cost of 1 that could benefit from X-Gene. But that doesn’t account for the fact that Stepping Disc and her alter-ego spell cycling allow some of these cards to be played multiple times per deck passthrough.

Magik’s Upgrades

All three upgrades are useful but none are quite as important to this deck as getting cards like Limbo or The Sorcerer Supreme out. The upgrade you should prioritize depends on what role you are playing. In general, since the allies in this deck can already hit quite hard, Magik's Crown provides the most overall utility as your means to provide some needed thwart. But in a multiplayer game where you are the designated damage dealer, that 3 attack from Soulsword aint half bad either.

Why Basic Spell?

This deck has two weaknesses. First, none of its allies outside Colossus are good thwarters and Magik's thwarting is dependent on getting her crown out with the right resources. Second, because this deck has allies that are beneficial to keep around, most of them won’t be used for chump blocking. This exposes Magik to a decent amount of damage which, when combined with Bloodgem and her 10 health, can leave her a little vulnerable at times. With Basic Spell, we have a solution to both those problems with healing and supplemental thwarting. It also just adds to this deck’s overall versatility. And since she can also cycle Basic Spell via her alter-ego ability, she can have it ready when needed for healing or thwarting or damage.

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"See ya, villains! Don't do anything in Limbo that I wouldn't do! And watch out for demons!" - Magik, New Mutants Vol. 1, Issue 55

3 comments

Apr 02, 2024 aprtheking · 1

Loved the description and motif behind the deck. Looks to be extremely complex in its systems but understandable through your breakdown of the deck and it's combos. May need to try this one out myself since she seems like an awesome hero!

Apr 05, 2024 journeyman2 · 20575

I dig the organization of this write-up! Magik is so much fun to think about and read about!

Apr 11, 2024 NiceShot318 · 14

I thought for gold balls you had to decide all at once how many cards you want to discard since it is a cost so you should not be able to use him to stop discarding cards when you get to one you want to keep on top of the deck.