“Once upon a time I was falling in love, now I’m only falling apart. Nothing I can do, total eclipse of the heart.”


It’s no secret that my favorite deck in Standard is Maze’s End Turbo Fog. I’ve written about the deck quite a bit—even penning a love letter to the deck’s namesake card—and I want so badly for it to be good. Every day I scan through the MODO Dailies in hopes that a version of the deck managed to go 4-0, so that I can legitimize sleeving up a new version of my favorite strategy. The thing is, I know I’m not alone. My articles about Maze’s End are more popular than, well, most other things I have ever written. More people read my Maze’s End articles this past October than will ever read my Master’s Thesis. Magic players love rogue decks and a good underdog story—Maze’s End fits the bill quite nicely.

Fairly recently, John Torrez had a good run with the deck at GP Vancouver and wrote a primer and tournament report on Maze’s End. While he ultimately finished the GP at an unremarkable 9-6, by default he became the authority on the deck and people were asking him all sorts of questions; recommendations for their own builds, sideboarding tech, and general strategy concerns. Honestly, I was jealous. I wanted to be that guy, the authority on Maze’s End, the one that piloted this goofy deck to a respectable finish at a bigger event. If I could just take down a tournament with the deck, even just make the top eight, then I could be the Maze’s End authority I’d always dreamed of being.

Recently, my friend Rodrigo was bit by the competitive Magic bug and convinced me to lend him a deck for a TCGplayer 1k at Tabletop Arena in Lowell. After he decided on the BW Midrange deck I had written about a few weeks back, he asked me a seemingly innocuous question, “If I play BW, what are you going to play?”

I didn’t even hesistate.

“I’m going to play Maze’s End.”

Little did I know, the tournament would shake my love of Maze’s End. Totally eclipse it even.

Here is the list I played:

Maze High the Roofbeam, Carpenters

Spells (32)
Defend the Hearth
Detention Sphere
Druid’s Deliverance
Merciless Eviction
Riot Control
Supreme Verdict
Urban Evolution
Lands (28)
Azorius Guildgate
Boros Guildgate
Breeding Pool
Dimir Guildgate
Golgari Guildgate
Gruul Guildgate
Hallowed Fountain
Izzet Guildgate
Maze’s End
Orzhov Guildgate
Rakdos Guildgate
Selesnya Guildgate
Simic Guildgate
Temple Garden

Crackling Perimeter
Merciless Eviction
Pithing Needle
Rapid Hybridization
Saruli Gatekeepers

If you’re unfamiliar with the deck, the basic plan is to stall out the game with Fog effects until you’ve successfully searched out all ten of your gates and won the game with Maze’s End. Aside from the Fogs, the deck has card draw, Wrath of Gods, and a few disruption spells when you have to begrudgingly interact with your opponent. In my list there are no creatures and no planeswalkers. For the sake of thoroughness here are a few notable card omissions and choices:

0 Kiora, the Crashing Wave & 0 Sphinx’s Revelation—After Born of the Gods came out, Kiora was heralded as being the perfect addition to Maze’s End; a planewalker that has a built in Fog and a built in Explore. The problem is that the other Fogs don’t protect Kiora and she turns on otherwise dead removal in Dreadbore and Hero’s Downfall. The best time to play her is immediately after a Supreme Verdict, but even then, she often becomes a really expensive Explore or a way worse Urban Evolution. Sphinx’s Revelation is a card I really like, but I find to be a bit too slow in this deck. Most of the times you have the mana to cast it, you put yourself in the awkward position of tapping out and not being able to Fog. Since all of our lands come into play tapped, I really like Divination more as it’s actually castable in the early turns of the game…or well, turn four. There is some chance that a miser’s copy of Sphinx’s Revelation could be good, but I’m not entirely convinced.

2 Quicken, 1 Merciless Eviction, and 2 Detention Sphere—I’ve always thought Quicken to be a little on the “cute” side of things but it does a couple things here that I like. Quicken is a cheap cycler that allows us to Supreme Verdict on an opponent’s turn to clear away problematic Mutavaults or Obzedats. You can also keep up Fogs on their turn to ensure you don’t lose to combat tricks and then Quicken a Divination or even an Urban Evolution if they don’t. You could even Quicken the singleton Merciless Eviction. In this deck Merciless  is basically just Supreme Verdict number five that also can exile Planeswalkers and Gods before they get too out of hand. Detention Sphere is a card I see as a four-of in a lot of Maze’s End lists but I was not entirely convinced that it should be. While the card can deal with problematic non-creature permanents (Pithing Needle, Burning Earth, and Underworld Connections) or Packrats, I didn’t want an enchantment hanging around when sideboards are full of Revoke Existences. Yet, thinking about it now, I don’t think I full appreciated the versatility of this card, especially considering the wide array of stuff that could ruin your ability to find your way out of the maze.

Anyway, now that I got that out of the way, here is a recap of my games this past weekend at the Platinum event at Tabletop Arena in Lowell. There were 56 players. I believe that Rodrigo, our friend Nik, and I all finished somewhere in the 50-56 place range. Not a good day for us.


Round 1—John with Rakdos Aggro (0-2)


If you know anything about playing Maze’s End, you’ll know that the Red Deck Wins/Rakdos Aggro match-up is unwinnable. While you’re durdling around with come-into-play-tapped lands, they are aggressively sending hasty creatures at your face. If you are able to Supreme Verdict and chain a few fogs, they have burn to finish you off whenever you happen to tap low. My first game I got myself in a position where I needed to draw Fog and a green shock land off of Urban Evolution to not die the following turn. That didn’t happen:


Post board the match-up doesn’t get any better. I brought in Saruli Gatekeepers to try and gain back some of the life, and wall their attacks, as well as Crackling Perimeter since it’s a little bit faster than Maze’s End but it is still a losing battle.

In game two, John hit me with two Thoughtseizes and two Duress before landing a Burning Earth. He kept apologizing the whole time. It really was that ugly.



Round 2—Lucas with Rakdos Aggro (1-2)


As soon as Lucas played a turn one Blood Crypt, I knew my luck was not getting any better. It didn’t help that I kept an ambitious three lander, sans green source, and basically never played any spells.


The good news here is that Lucas had no idea what I was doing, and I was able to to steal game two, after I had mulled to five. Lucas kept going all in with attackers instead of leaving something back to block my Saruli Gatekeepers which ended up dealing eight damage throughout the game. The gatekeeeper attacks, paired with Crackling Perimeter, was enough to hit him for exact damage the turn before I ran out of Fogs.


Unfortunately, the jig was up and Lucas figured out what was going on. He ended up sideboarding in Mogis, God of the Slaughter which acted as a one-sided Sulfuric Vortex and sidestepped my Fog forever plan.




Round 3—Brandon with Selesnya Aggro (0-2)


Selesyna Aggro, while not being my favorite match-up, is considerably better for me than red based aggro with burn. The caveat to this match-up is that they have lots of instant speed tricks and you have to consider them before tapping out on your mainphase for something like a Supreme Verdict. Also, post-sideboard they usually have something like Rootborn Defenses to further blank Verdict effects and punish you for even attempting something so silly.

Game one, I drew too many lands and not enough Fogs. This is the last thing I saw before shuffling up for game two:


Game two, was, for all intensive purposes, the most frustrating game of Magic I have ever played. I cast Supreme Verdict when he tapped too low for Rootborn Defenses and saved my Fogs until after he tried to Selesyna Charm his creature for lethal. The match was going really well for me. Over the course of the game I naturally drew nine different guildgates along with enough duplicates and other lands to hard cast an Emrakul. The one thing I never saw was a Maze’s End. Eventually I was no longer able to chain fogs together and my opponent hit me for 21.


Round 4—Jonah with BW Midrange (2-1)



I recognized Jonah from Pandemonium, though I am not sure we’ve ever played each other before. Game one I managed to race an Obzedat, which is generally a nightmare for this deck. On a side note, I can’t think of many other decks, besides Maze’s End, that could beat this board presence:



Game two, he played another Obzedat and this time I couldn’t race it. I never saw the Rapid Hybridizations I brought in to deal with the ghost father.

Game three, my notes are a little vague, but the final board state looked like this:




Round 4Neill with RG Monsters (0-2)


At this point, Rodrigo had dropped and Nik was only playing because I insisted on one more round. I knew this was going to be the last hurrah with the deck, but my heart just wasn’t in it.

Game one, I punt really really hard. It was Neill’s turn and I knew that I was going to win as soon as I untapped. I had Druid’s Deliverance, Riot Control, and Defend the Hearth in hand, so I know there is no way I could lose to combat damage. Neill attacks me with a 7/7 Polukranos, the only permanent he controls aside from Domri Rade. Since I’m at seven life, I need to use a fog. Though I have three mana available to play Riot Control, I don’t.

Defend the Hearth” I say. I put the card in the graveyard and get ready to take my turn.

Neill goes to his second main phase. Plays a Boros Reckoner. Uses Domri to fight the minotaur with Polukranos and I suddenly lose an unlosable game.

Rodrigo, who had seen the whole thing happen, looked over at me and bursted into song.

“Once upon a time, I was falling in love, now I’m only falling apart.”

Just like that I am on tilt. Neill was a super nice opponent, but after the worst tournament performance of my life, I couldn’t help but hate everything. I proceeded to punt the next game by needlessly using up my Supreme Verdicts on his mana dorks and playing poorly in general. After the match, I thanked Neill for the games, checked the drop box and took this photo to document how poorly the day had gone for all of us:



After all agreeing that Standard sucks, Nik and Rodrigo made plans to cube and I made plans to not play Magic for the rest of the night and go out to a bar instead.

I did succeed in not thinking more about Magic but couldn’t get “Total Eclipse of the Heart” out of my head.

“Turn around, bright eyes.”

“Turn around.”

At age 15, while standing in a record store with his high school bandmates, Shawn Massak made the uncool decision to spend the last of his money on a 7th edition starter deck (the one with foil Thorn Elemental). Since that fateful day 11 years ago, Shawn has decorated rooms of his apartment with MTG posters, cosplayed as Jace, the Mindsculptor, and competes with LSV for the record of most islands played (lifetime). When he’s not playing Magic, Shawn works as a job coach for people with disabilities, plays guitar in an indie-pop band, and keeps a blog about pro-wrestling.

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