Winning at Conspiracy is easy: have fun.

Of the three matches I played, all were surprisingly balanced, swingy, and exciting. Every player had the opportunity to do something cool and be the biggest threat at the table at least once. If a player stumbled early, Dethrone encouraged players to send their attackers elsewhere, Will of the Council allowed them to make alliances, and Parley helped draw them back into the game.

When a player (usually the most recent archenemy) was crippled, it would often be suicidal (not to mention mean) to eliminate them from the game; accordingly, players weren’t eliminated until the end of the match, usually due to extremely ephemeral alliances and outlandish haymakers. In short, there’s plenty of time and opportunity for everyone to enjoy themselves.

Victory's HeraldIf your goal is to defeat all of your opponents and win the match, you’ve got an uphill battle. If you make too overly strong a deck, you become the first archenemy at the table and everyone will gang up on you. Case in point, my first Conspiracy draft deck:

Conspiracies (5)
Advantageous Proclamation
Immediate Action
Muzzio’s Preparations
Brago’s Favor
Lands (15)

Creatures (14)
Ajani’s Sunstriker
Enclave Elite
Marchesa’s Infiltrator
Custodi Squire
Glimmerpoint Stag
Shoreline Ranger
Noble Templar
Magister of Worth

Spells (6)
Compulsive Research
Unquestioned Authority
Fact or Fiction
Plea for Power

All Hidden Agenda Conspiracies named Custodi Squire.

This deck was an absolute beast. With only 35 cards, plenty of card draw, and four copies of Custodi Squire, I was guaranteed to find one copy (and usually two) very quickly. When Custodi Squire costs 2W, has haste, is a 4/4, and recurs itself (or one of my many landcyclers), it’s pretty insane. The problem is that by flipping four conspiracies face up and playing an effective Volcanic Dragon/Eternal Witness on turn three, folks immediately knew that I’d be a problem.

Virtue's Ruin

With an army of dragons, I could go on the warpath, but then I’d be defenseless for three turns of attacks. I had to hold some of my creatures back, and over the course of both games, my dragons were picked off and made obsolete by a slower player’s more impressive board state. When the dust settled and the endgame began, I had too little interaction, too little power to compare with the other players’ resources, and zero cards in my deck.

I knew that card draw plus Advantageous Proclamation would be a problem, and when a very early Reito Lantern didn’t wheel, I knew I was in trouble. Both games, I milled out when another turn or three after Magister of Worth would have won me it all.


For my next draft, I tried something crazy. I was passed and slammed a Canal Dredger. I planned to get all the draft dregs, like Scaled Wurm or Lizard Warrior, combine them with conspiracies, and win with sweet, sweet jank. Instead, few conspiracies came around (except for the unwanted Advantageous Proclamation)… but a bunch of sweet multicolor cards did. Then, this happened:

Some Conspiracies are just plain crazy

Conspiracies (1)
Immediate Action
Lands (17)
Paliano, the High City

Creatures (19)
Grixis Illusionist
Grenzo, Dungeon Warden
Edric, Spymaster of Trest
Apex Hawks
Reckless Scholar
Wakestone Gargoyle
Brago, King Eternal
Canal Dredger
Screaming Seahawk
Custodi Squire
Elvish Aberration
Noble Templar
Shoreline Ranger
Jetting Glasskite

Spells (4)
Reito Lantern
Pernicious Deed
Stasis Cell

Immediate Action named Reckless Scholar.

Paliano, the High City tapped for black, red, and green mana.

…yeah. No spot removal, a tenuous mana base, and weird interactions. The deck was a complete joy to pilot.

Squadron Hawk

Here’s how almost every turn cycle with this deck went: I chump someone’s attacker with Screaming Seahawk. Canal Dredger puts the hawk on the bottom of my library. I untap and either cast another hawk or connect with Brago, King Eternal and flicker a hawk, then return the recently deceased/bottomed hawk to my hand and shuffle my library. Eventually, I had Reito Lantern out to recur my best threats and Grenzo, Dungeon Warden to effectively cast any creature from my graveyard for two/mana mana (depending on whether I used Canal Dredger or Reito Lantern).

I couldn’t win the game in a reasonable time frame due to a bloody Silent Arbiter (which I couldn’t kill with Decimate since no player’s deck contained an enchantment!) and had to settle for attacking for two a turn. But I’ll be honest—I had no intention of winning the game.

The joy of abusing the bottom of my library, Screaming Seahawk‘s shuffle, and Grenzo’s cheat-into-player ability far outweighed whatever fun I’d have by slaughtering my opponents. I flew my infrequently-used Johnny flag high and proudly. Who won? Not me—I had to run and made the risky move of emptying my library in order to recur Pernicious Deed the following turn. Sure enough, someone had Compulsive Research to once again, mill me to death (I’m 3/3 at being milled out in Conspiracy so far). Didn’t matter. Had the time of my life.

Last Chance

If you like multiplayer Magic or just want to try something new, I can’t recommend Conspiracy strongly enough. Play a match at your LGS or pick up a box and play with friends—you won’t regret it.

I’ll be back next week to chat about Vintage Masters, which I cannot wait for. As always, thanks for reading!

—Zachary Barash — Join the livestream!

Zachary Barash has been playing Magic on and off since 1994. He loves Limited and drafts every available format (including several that aren’t entirely meant to be drafted). He’s a proud Cube owner and performer, improvising entire musicals every week with his team, Petting Zoo. Zach has an obsession with Indian food that borders on being unhealthy.

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