How do I beat Karn, the Great Creator

I have been keeping a close eye on the Vintage meta-game we have gotten a new deck. I suppose you can say we have mix up of old and new decks but the point remains that people need to have a strategy for dealing with Karn.

I have seen Pithing Needle thrown out there. More counters? I doubt that will do it. Anyone trying Assassin’s Trophy? Is it time for discard to come back? What is a good strategy against the new almighty Karn?

last edited by moorebrother1

Personally I love Assassin's Trophy (though Abrupt Decay is definitely better against blue decks of course), but the flexibility is great, being able to hit planeswalkers, Eldrazis, Bazaar of Baghdad etc.

last edited by Griselbrother

I like Goblin Cratermaker as a flexible solution against many threats in the format.

@tom-bombadil I also like that card but is it fast enough? It costs 3 to do its thing and if there is a sphere down you can get stuck.

I do love the utility of this card. I does a lot but I get concerned about not getting there fast enough.

4 FoW and 4 FoN does it I think

Jesus, here we go... I played maindeck Needle, Trophy, newfangled creatures like 4 Tarmagoyfs, Null Rod, Bolt, DRS, etc. I didn’t play Cratermaker because it’s slow and they can just grab a needle or a spyglass from the sideboard. Or stop it with maindeck revokers.

Naturally I beat the ONE Karn deck I played against, but lost against 2 of 3 Narset decks because she’s not a planeswalker but a draw spell and is a huge upgrade over Jace and Dack in match up, and had a mediocre finish.

The point is posts like these miss the reality of competitive Vintage in which metagame percentages do not correlate that closely with top 8 results because a deck’s win rate is so skewed at the moment. There isn’t a quick fix here just like there was a quick fix to shops with chalice, Lodestone, or Thorn. Players are constrained by the nature of the format.


Well, you see its simple, the "fixes" to "beating" shops in its heyday were:

  1. Play at least 15 lands (including basics)
  2. Sideboard at least 4 Ingot Chewer + probably other stuff
  3. At least a couple of MD removal

It only took people a couple of years to figure all this out, and even then, Shops still had the highest win % of any deck.

@chubbyrain said in How do I beat Karn, the Great Creator:

Jesus, here we go...

This is exactly my reaction when I see specific avatars show up in Unread.

Great points by you and @vaughnbros! It's important to remember that Wizards has purposefully skewed data ever since MTGGoldfish solved (quite literally) Khans of Tarkir standard. They used similar methods to the vibrant matchup spreadsheets you create.

@Shopsaholic I wonder if I'm allowed to change my avatar to Brassman. People will be expecting a calm post and then, suddenly, full rant mode.

@vaughnbros I'm guessing you are referring to the "dark ages of Vintage" before MTGO when we didn't have metagame data and win rates... I really wish we had more data from this time period. I question how successful these approaches were.

The win rate for Shops in the MTGO era was hovering around 60% until three cards were restricted from the deck. Which is pretty absurd when Wizards just nuked Pauper with 3 bannings at a time because Delver decks had a win rate of 55%.


They didn't work that was the joke.

The point of a post like this is to get perspective on how to face a certain match up.

I’m not on discord or Facebook. I’m kind of Twitter. I use this site to get a feel for what works and what does not.

Could I brew on my own and find some answers - yes. But I thought this was about community.

There is are people who play who are not always online or always up to date. I think talking through tactics and strategy is useful to having a healthy meta-game.

@moorebrother1 Thankfully a Karn, the Great Creator thread already exists with many of the talking points you've highlighted:

Additionally, @Stuart made a fresh thread now that Karn has successfully pivoted from spoiler season speculation to Vintage all-star. It looks more to garner discussion amongst Karn pilots, whereas your thread gives off much more of a self-serving vibe:

The latter thread is still fresh, but I'm sure it'll pick up as people come and go.

@shopsaholic I was reading the Karn spoiler thread and it’s not very useful from a strategy perspective.

I wanted to discuss how to fight the deck and the card not how to play with it like the new thread.

I suppose I’m alone in my endeavor

last edited by moorebrother1

@vaughnbros Eh, I thought so. I just really, really, really want data from that time period. It was kind of crazy how many people kept yelling "play more lands, stupid" even win Shops became a turn 3 aggro deck...

@moorebrother1 How many of these threads have we had? Didn't we have one for "beating Mentor"? What did it accomplish? There is a pretty significant issue with trying to beat specific cards or even specific decks in isolation as you lose sight of the metagame as a whole. The Karn deck runs four Karns, which means they will have Karn on 40% of their 7s, 35% of their 6s, 30% of their 5s... But they don't need Karn to win. Do you know what I lost to in the only match against Karn in the challenge? Ugin, the friggin Spirit Dragon (thanks Saturn).

You can't always get pigeon-holed into focusing on one card, even if that card is putting up absurd results. Just like Mentor. Because again, it's not like the rest of the deck is bad...Shops and Eldrazi both have done reasonable things and if you land a turn 1 Pithing Needle and then get Reality Smashed, well, you still lost... And if you play Assassin's Trophy and have to hit Narset and then they use the extra mana to cast Dig...Well, crap. I guess, you didn't lose to Karn in either case, but you aren't winning matches.

One of the cards that can beat Karn that hasn't been mentioned yet is The Elderspell. It lets you kill all four of their Karns at the same time while simultaneously boosting the loyalty of your own Karn.

@Shopsaholic It will be hard to hit four Karns with The Elderspell when there is only three versions of legendary Karn planewalkers.

The probme is that paying BB to destroy planewalkers when most of them cost 3 or 4 and have already use at least one of their abilities is a bit slow. And when they do not play planewalker, its a completely dead card.

last edited by Cuikui

@chubbyrain So, lets talk strategy then, because none of the threads that I have read so far have actually gone into strategy.

You make some excellent points about how you lose. The Eldrazi version is an Eldrazi deck. It gives the deck an addition tutor to offset the lack of search and card draw.

The prison version works with idea that they can get you off balance with lock pieces then win the game with Vault/Key or lock you out entirely.

Some cards that work are traditional artifact hate cards and hard counter magic. But let's be realistic, this is not working because the decks are succeeding with this card and what is it about this card that pushes these decks over the top?

They can play Spark Double so it is not completely absurd sarcasm. My bad.

@moorebrother1 bazaar into multiple hollow ones and vengevine works pretty well at stopping karn and the decks he is in. I'm a fan of assassin's trophy and fast aggro myself.

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