While I was reading thru the Magic
spoiler lists looking for cards to include in my peasant deck submission, I
stumbled across a card that inspired me to send yet another submission. This one
was a rare 3 casting cost red instant. What, Urza's Rage? Nope.
You and target spell's controller bid
life. You start the bidding with a high bid of 1. In turn order, each player may
top the high bid. The bidding ends when the high bid stands. The highest bidder
loses life equal to the high bid. If you win the bidding, counter that
Now here's a card with possibilities, and I'll tell
you why. First of all, it gives Type 2 red decks
the ability to once again play with counterspell magic, which it hasn't had
since the days of Pyroblast back in Ice Age/Fifth Edition. Of course, with all
the gold counterspells now available, you could argue that the Contest
is second rate, if not total junk. Ah ha! It's true power is
quite subtle. Don't think of it as a counterspell with a chance of
failure. Think of it as a card that reads "either I counter your spell or
you pay for it thru the nose, delusionally luring yourself into a false sense of
security." So, once my opponent is deluded, what
do I do? I have a few ideas. :)
First, I happen to think the Contest has a place in
Constructed decks. The Contest would fit in nicely with
red/black beatdown decks. These decks would have a nice
little tool to use against any spells that slipped by the support
spells. An example: "Say, you're at five life, I'm at ten. Shoot! I can't bolt
your Spiritmonger. Say, how about I play Mages' Contest and counter it! I bid
six life." That is the true power of Mages'
Contest: if you're up on life, you can counter away. If not, your
opponent has temporarily foiled your plans and brought himself that much
closer into Bolt range. :)
Even more fun is the high annoyance factor that
comes with playing the Contest in a red/blue Counterburn deck. Another
example: let's say I'm playing Counterburn holding 2 Shocks, Thunderclap, and
the Contest. I have only basic land on the table. You're playing some
multicolor monstrosity with a Scorching Lava and Undermine in your
hand. You have basic lands and one Skizzix on the table. We both have 10
ME: My turn, upkeep, untap, do nothing else this
YOU: Okay, upkeep, untap, bolt you with Lava,
attack with Skizzix.
YOU: You're bolting a creature that seems to
be made out of lightning WITH lightning?
ME: Look, I don't know the science of it! Just
go with it.
YOU: Very well, I Undermine your
ME: I challenge you to a Contest! I
bid 5 life
YOU: (sighing) Fine. 6 life.
ME: You win.
YOU: Now, as I said, attack with Skizzix, you're at
5 life, I should win big time!
ME: Five life?
YOU: Yes, 10 minus 2 from the Lava minus 3 from the
Undermine equals five, minus the beating ol' Skiz will lay down on yo' butt!
ME: So, you're at 4 life?
YOU: Duh! Math's not your strong suit, is
ME: Hmmmmm! At instant speed, I cast Shock times
two. Lessee, 2 plus 2 equals four. You are the weakest link!
Ugh! I feel total disgust after typing that, which
brings me to a few final dirty tricks and combos you can pull off with Mages'
1) SOUL ECHO: So long as you have counters on this
enchantment, you can't go below one life. Bid free, friend, bid free!
2) STUPID LIFE GAIN TRICKS: Pick your favorite
green and white spells and load up! Show your opponent that if life points
money, you'd be Bill
3) ILLUSIONS OF GRANDEUR/DELUSIONS OF MEDIOCRITY:
Blue "life gain" and more fuel for Counterburn decks.
4) VENDETTA/ RECKLESS SPITE/ SNUFF OUT: These
spells usually require an opponent to lose life in order to kill a
Make them pay for
5) FORCE OF WILL: Any countermagic works, but this
is just for theme. Your opponent won the battle of wills, now
him whose will is
Oh yes, Mages' Contest can provide many hours
of very evil and disgusting fun! I plan to run these in my peasant
deck. As always, I'd love to hear some feedback. Just drop a note at the
e-mail addy below. :)
creator of Turbo Commons version