Like many Legacy players who are dedicated to their deck, I am constantly iterating, adjusting, and refining my lists. Since I'm a DDFT holdout, I have to work extra hard to make my deck even moderately playable compared to those more normal Doomsday players. This means I'm very open to trying unsual (read: bad) ideas in case I find the next piece of sick tech. It's rare that this actually happens, but even failed brews can leave behind valuable morsels, which may with luck accumulate into something playable. So, dear reader, let me take you on a journey through the dark corners of the Doomsday Discord, where suboptimal decks skitter in the shadows, and the few remaining DDFT players, gaunt and starving, make their home. We'll see some examples of failures, examine the useful scraps, and talk about what I think is the best list right now for someone who wants to play Doomsday and Tendrils of Agony in the same 75.
This is roughly what I and others would consider a typical DDFT list in the present day. It has undergone some changes since my original Echo Doomsday article but is more or less recognizable.
4c Doomsday Fetchland Tendrils
The biggest change of course is the adoption of Thassa's Oracle which hadn't been printed when that article was published. But there are other refinements as well, most of which are also driven by the printing of Oracle. Street Wraith and Ideas Unbound instead of the Draw4's (Infernal Contract and Cruel Bargain) are primarily to facilitate Oracle piles, especially pass-the-turn piles. There's also a reduced number of rituals and more cantrips for consistency, encouraged by the reduced reliance on black mana. Clearly, Thassa's Oracle caused a substantial shift in the Doomsday world, even for those of us trying to Storm off.
I still think this list is a very reasonable option, and a good place to start for someone looking to venture over to the DDFT side. That said, there were a few aspects of it that I didn't like, which drove me to continue iterating. The biggest was the manabase. Because of the Echoes, discard can't be the only form of protection. Veil of Summer, or perhaps Silence, seemed to be the best option, but both necessitate a four color manabase. TES manages this due to Mox Opal, but our artifact count isn't high enough to support it.
So we're forced to play a slightly sketchy manabase, which makes fetching tricky and ups the impact of Wastelands and Stifles. Defense grid is perhaps an option, but in testing I was unimpressed. Too often, it would resolve on turn 2, or turn 3 to dodge Daze, and the opponent could pay 3 to Force a business spell anyway.
While these issues weren't catastrophic, and careful fetching could minimize it, I was nonetheless driven to explore other options. Over the course of 2020 and early 2021, I tried some Wish-less variants as well, including versions that looked a bit like ANT-hybrids with Solve the Equation or Dark Petition. The mana was much more stable with just 3 colors, but the tutors felt worse than Burning Wish. I did find that I liked having all 4 Doomsday maindeck, but the shells felt great when you drew Doomsday and anemic at best when you didn't.
A few months after brewing the initial Echo Doomsday list, Thassa's Oracle had
already cemented its place in the Doomsday Hall of Fame. By this time there were
very few people left trying to develop anything other than the
Meandeck style lists that are currently among the top tier of
the format. That, along with the humorous presentation of my article about
it, and of course the four copies of Spoils of the
Vault, made the list, which I dubbed Mindkiller Doomsday, not really get taken
seriously even by those few people who might otherwise have been interested.
I was quite serious about it, however.
The deck really impressed me with its high raw power level, and despite the fact that it sometimes caused game losses, Spoils felt insanely strong. The list had a very high rate of combo on turn 1, and Doomsday let it fight through hate that similarly fast combo decks would have struggled with. I got numerous 4-1 leagues with it so it certainly felt like the potential was there, and known combo expert and PSI connoisseur monkeyscantcry eventually took it for a spin and 5-0'd with it. Obviously this isn't a Grand Prix Top 8, but it felt somewhat reassuring. I kept the list updated and continued playing it.
Mindkiller is probably the deck I'm most proud of, but it has its flaws. Though it could be suprisingly resilient, it was still a glass cannon, and one that sometimes fell apart without any intervention from the opponent. Every time I had a cold streak with Spoils of the Vault, I would look for alternatives to it.
I tried replacing it with Preordain, I tried Plunge into Darkness, I tried Gamble, anything I could think of, but I kept coming back to Spoils. Preordain can't dig 15 cards for 1 mana, Plunge costs 2 and sometimes you overpay life, or could have paid more to find what you wanted. Gamble has some synergy with Echo but often worse odds than Spoils when it's just a tutor.
Spoils strangely felt like both the glue holding the deck together and the thing keeping it from being really broken. But I felt like the power level was there, or nearly so, and thus the Mindkiller style of DDFT stayed in my mind.
I've always been drawn to unusual decks, particularly fast combos, although I've been known to play some Pox on occasion. Doomsday itself, back when I started playing it, was one of those unusual decks. Now Doomsday is a normal deck, so naturally I need to make it more exciting (i.e. worse). I've tried too many strange and bad ideas to count, but I thought it might be interesting to see some of my most out-there bad ideas. Each of these I thought had merit for one reason or another, and none of them actually panned out.
This was a variant of Mindkiller, an ill-fated attempt to remove Spoils from the deck. Belcher also gave it another angle of attack, one that couldn't be stopped by Flusterstorm or a well timed Lightning Bolt. The manabase was an issue here. The MDFC lands are critical to good belches, but opening a hand with a bunch of Dark Rituals and 2 lands that don't make black was pretty awkward.
Belcher itself was also very mana hungry, more so than anything in the typical Mindkiller list, and so I never really wanted to draw Belcher. Unlike Spoils, which could be a business spell or a ritual as needed, Belcher was only ever the worst business in the deck. I liked that I could fit protection into the maindeck, but losing Echo also made it mulligan much worse. Basically, the tradeoffs it made ended up working out like I thought they might.
Recross the Paths is Doomsday 5-8!
At least, that was the idea. Without lands, it lets you stack your deck for 3 mana, so they're basically the same, right? You can tell by the incomplete sideboard that I didn't get very far with this one. It had many of the same problems that the Belcher list had. Also, it almost always was making pass-the-turn piles with both Doomsday and Recross. I really wanted this idea to work, and had been thinking about it ever since the MDFC lands were spoiled, but it just doesn't. The mana is clunky, the business spells are clunky, and all the important cards in the deck eat into your life total.
I'll probably keeping working on this one just because I love Recross, but I don't expect much.
UB Doomsday Fetchland Tendrils feat. Lim-Dul's Vault
Another list based on the "X is just Doomsday 5-8!" idea. I actually first had this idea shortly after Gitaxian Probe got banned. It wasn't good then, so I probably shouldn't have expected much now, but hey, Oracle had been printed since back then, so why not give it another shot? Lim-Dul's Vault can be used to arrange the top few cards into something that can generate lethal Storm. Play a few Draw4's and multiple copies of Tendrils maindeck so you have a better shot at arranging a lethal pile with LDV.
The deck practically builds itself!
Too bad it wasn't good. The mana is great since its only 2 colors but that was about the only redeeming quality of the deck in practice.
This one isn't DDFT but it certainly is bizarre. Doomsday costs . Pox makes lots of black mana. Control decks with suprise combo finishes can be good.
Maybe this will... nope.
Some of my experiments that didn't work out still yielded some valuable insights, or pointed me in a direction that ended up being worthwhile. Two that I want to highlight were both spawned from a conversation I had with successful combo brewer Jax.
Jax brought up the idea of porting Meandeck Tendrils from Vintage to Legacy. Since it is a Spoils of the Vault deck, I was immediately interested. We tossed around a couple ideas, I took a couple lists for a spin in the MTGO practice rooms, and it never went much farther than that. Certainly, Stephen Menendian himself considers the deck unplayable and writes as much in his article, and a Legacy port lacks the restricted cards. But I did notice something, which was that after cutting all the banned cards and filling in some gaps with the best replacement cards I could find, I found myself at 52 cards. Just enough for 4 Doomsday, 3 Street Wraith and a Thassa's Oracle... which is how I ended up with a deck in MTGO called Meandeck Tendrils but it's actually Doomsday.
After trying that out for a bit, I ended up fitting Echo of Eons into the deck, and basically ended up with something like Mindkiller but without wishes, just straight UB. Echo improves upon the 1 mana = 1 card = 1 storm principle behind Meandeck Tendrils, by being 3 mana = 7 cards = ~6 storm and often is mana-positive, so it felt like a good fit.
UB Doomsday Fetchland Tendrils feat. Echo of Eons
Now, this deck wasn't really that good, and the fact that I never finished a sideboard for it is somewhat telling. But it got me thinking about the power of Brainstorm, as both a setup spell and a Doomsday enabler. It's also quite good with multiple copies of Tendrils of Agony, since it frequently is worth 2 or 3 Storm; cast spells, Brainstorm, draw 1-2 more castable spells, put a Tendrils from your hand back into your library, then cantrip into it for lethal was a common play pattern. So I set about making a more stable, less all-in DDFT list with multiple maindeck Tendrils, and ended up on this:
Sultai Doomsday Fetchland Tendrils feat. multiple Tendrils of Agony
This list was a lot closer to a success than a failure. I actually liked it quite a bit. The mana was solid, the maindeck Tendrils felt great against blue decks, and it felt very consistent. Also worth noting is that while the list presented here has a green splash, you could easily build with any color splash, or even no splash, it would simply affect your choice of disruption and sideboard slots.
That all sounds appealing, but the issue with this style of list was that it felt slow. It lacked the early game explosive power provided by Echo of Eons and Burning Wish, and most quick wins involved either getting lucky with a Draw4, or a quick Doomsday. I found myself performing better against the decks to which Mindkiller lost, and losing to the decks Mindkiller destroyed, but the improvement against blue decks wasn't enough to offset what seemed like a step backwards against non-blue decks on average. That said, it gave me plenty to think about. Brainstorm and Doomsday make a great pair, and I liked the power of maindeck Tendrils of Agony, but I needed something that could go a bit faster.
So where did I end up after all that? Well, here's two lists:
The Mindkiller Hybrid
5c Doomsday Fetchland Tendrils
If normal Echo Doomsday was a 1 and full-blown Mindkilller was a 10, then the first list is probably a 7 and the second is a 3. I've learned and applied some lessons from both ends of the DDFT spectrum and thus you'll see some similarities between the two lists. The most notable is in the manabase, which probably looks like a burning dog poo, but it usually works out.
For the 5c Echo DDFT list, the mana actually seems more stable in this configuration. When the most important thing is being able to cast your spells on time, fetching for basics, or green or white sources, can be a liability. In the Mindkiller variant, the power of Brainstorm both in setup and in piles is worth contorting the mana a bit to play a handful of fetches.
The primary type of disruption is also the same between the two lists now, although Mindkiller only has access to it after sideboarding. With the printing of Prismatic Ending, Xantid Swarm and Defense Grid lose too much value to be worth playing. Discard has lost value over the past year as well, and is already of questionable worth in an Echo of Eons deck. Tack on Endurance, Stifle, Mindbreak Trap, Dress Down, etc. and the value of telling your opponent to just shut up has skyrocketed. With a 5c manabase, Chants are easy enough to support.
The sideboards have also acquired some new tools. Since the early days of the deck there have been a few playable printings which made their way into the wishboard. Peer into the Abyss is extremely powerful as an alternate engine. Rip Apart plays the roles that Consign//Oblivion, Hullbreach, or Chain Lightning may have played, but does so on 1 card. Galvanic Relay has shown promise as an engine that turns Burning Wish into a must counter, and can function with less mana than other options.
Finally, the number of Spoils of the Vault warrants some discussion. In 5c Echo DDFT, the first Spoils is the most powerful. It has application in piles, it can be used as a simple cantrip if you know the top of your deck, and it functions as a tutor in a pinch. In Mindkiller, Spoils is extremely powerful but you don't typically want to draw more than 1 per game. Factoring in the risk involved in casting it, and I settled on 2 copies, although 3 is also reasonable.
I urge anyone who made it this far into the article to give this deck a shot. I promise it's better than it looks, and more people playing it means more people to help develop it. While I'm at it, I want to should out some people on the Doomsday discord who have contributed ideas that went into these decks. UnorthodoxBird, BluStalker, nottobay13, and Jens have all been active in playing and developing DDFT, and a few others pop by on occasion. The DDFT Cabal is always recruiting so come on by if any of these lists made your loins tingle.