How do I beat Karn, the Great Creator

@boerma That is a fair point. I did not want a thread about the meta-game in general. I found it interesting that this one card changed 2 deck shells so much and has impacted the format so fast.

I expected Karn to have an impact but I was expecting something a bit different. My basis for discussion why these shells for Karn?

What are their strengths and what are their weaknesses?

I am not all consumed by a card or a deck, I seek to understand.

@moorebrother1 said in How do I beat Karn, the Great Creator:

I am not all consumed by a card or a deck, I seek to understand.

That is kind of the opposite of what this thread title and the original post is about, but it's a much better position.

Both decks have the required mana bases to play Karn. Shops plays Karn as it solves what was otherwise a difficult or even matchup in PO and is backbreaking in the mirror. Eldrazi runs Karn because it's always wanted a one-sided null rod effect to deal with Shops and for its prison effect (that's literally why I put it in the deck in the first place). Both decks are also able to protect Karn with a smattering of creatures like Ballista, TKS, other Karn, etc. And Karn does so much if you've played with him - tutoring for dredge hate, oath protection, winning the game...

It's a symbiotic relationship. Karn covers many of the deck's vulnerabilities and the decks cover many of Karn's vulnerabilities. It's why it's so frustrating to play against. It's why it's so frustrating to listen to people who just don't get it talk about it on TMD. "Just play creatures". Opponent led with a Thought-Knot Seer in play...It stole my big creature and bricked my smaller ones. Or bought enough time with a Sphere of Resistance so by the time I cast my creature and attacked it was too late. And don't get me started about Trinisphere into friggin Karn...

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@chubbyrain Thank you for this. Looking at this analysis is very useful. I don’t play as much as you.

Aside from the just counter it answer, or play more creatures, what are the best ways to attack this?

I have been trying Oath decks right now and they do an OK job against these decks. And I think BUG decks do alright against these decks. The main reason appears to be a diverse set of removal.

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You can always play Storm, hope you win the coin flip, and just kill them before they get to play. Always been a good answer for me.

@ChubbyRain I wonder if now would be the time to brew some sort of Lands deck as typical Eldrazi decks have terrible mana bases, allowin you to attack them from their most glaring weakness that is not immidiatly solved by Karn. Additionally, Lands could rely a lot less on artifact mana and resolving spells, helping make the Spheres one sided against Eldrazi rather than the other way around. I know you have tried Sultai Depths but I for this endeavor I think a more typical Lands shell would be needed. I have been paying more attention to the Super-Staxy shells that @vroman has been brewing and the seem more and more land oriented so maybe that is the direction to go. Thoughts?

@chubbyrain I get that you don't see survival or creatures as a viable way to beat karn. Maybe I'm wrong and all my testing has been a fluke. I'll bite. I'll pin my view of survival/creatures vs karn on your experience and your 0-2 stream.

So what's your solution? Ban Karn or quit Magic? Are you suggesting it's unbeatable unless you run something specifically to beat karn and the have a 5% win rate vs any other deck in the format?

I guess I'll have to agree with that. You played with survival on stream and went 0-2 vs Karn. I suppose it's certainly time for WotC to pull some immediate action.

I don't think people aren't considering your experience or "not listening," but you seem to be doing the opposite. You are only considering your experience as well (or maybe you + 1 other). And you go so far as to imply that if you're not playing on MtGO, you're a noob and experience outside of Vintage Superleage or MtGO doesn't count for shit. That's not true.

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

I mean, the survival matchup is bad, two experts of the deck told you so and I lost both my matches against it 0-2 tonight on stream.<

Last time I checked, there were more than 3 MtG players around.

To the rest of the thread, for sake of being productive...

Assassin's trophy is not a bad answer. Maindeck artifact hate is solid as well, especially of the instant variety. Karn/mycosinth/vault isn't so hot with an ancient grudge in hand.

Sorcerous Spyglass has been very good to me as a broad answer to a lot main deck. Dack, fetches, wastes, ballista, survival, bazaar, karn, etc. Hitting 2 mana for spyglass (and dodging misstep) is at the least as easy as hitting 4 non-shop mana for karn + the mana to play lattice or combo with key/vault in one turn.

Creatures like hollow one have been solid as they cost 0 even through a sphere off a bazaar and at least trade with TKS to draw you back a card. Eldrazi may be some of the best creatures to fight karn (and revoker is solid here too), but that often leaves you with few instant speed answers. My Eldrazi deck is GW and nature's claim is solid vs karn when they try to pull the combo. RG would allow grudges, and those are great in the matchup. If Karn makes RG more attractive/playable in the meta, that's extra great imo.

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@thewhitedragon69 I think you point is valid even with the snark. I am not experienced in this match up but I think @ChubbyRain is correct based on what I have seen so far.

Some decks when played by people who really know how to play are played very differently when someone is just messing around. I am not sure if you have not run into "good" players with this deck.

I would say, you need things like Phyrexian Revoker to contain Karn and this new Null Rod with legs in Modern Horizons -
Collector Ouphe. Cards like Knight of Autumn might be good.

I personally want to try cards like Blood Moon and Serenity.

I think one of the biggest things is that people are trying to find ways to beat Karn with their current decks. Maybe a new deck needs to be brewed that has a bad blue or dredge matchup. A deck can’t be “51%” against everything.

Some people disagree, but I don’t particularly hate a rock papers scissors meta.

Why do I keep doing this? My opinion isn't based on an 0-2 stream, you dimwitted lizard. It's based on data culled from challenge results, from players that have played competitive matches with actual money on the line, ranging from tens to hundreds of dollars, and from my own public experience that anyone could watch if they wanted to.

You haven't substantiated any of your positions. You haven't provided tournament results. You haven't mentioned any records. You've cited "testing" but what does that consist of? Who are you playing against? Are you competing in large scale events against competent opponents who have posted consistent finishes with their lists? Tell me why I should consider what you are saying over literally everything else I have seen about the format.

And, you keep throwing around the term "noob". Why? I'm not using it here and I absolute hate it. I'm not trying to gatekeep anyone from the format and the whole reason I started streaming was to get people into the format. My issue with you and this debate is about quality of data and rigidity of thought. For instance, starting with "noobs", players have different experience levels and that has a huge impact on results. My base win rate tends to hover from 60-70% so I have to keep that in mind when I'm evaluating matchups or you feel every matchup is great and ever deck is above average. Sample size matters. Individuals have bias. In medicine and science there is a hierarchy of quality when it comes to weighing evidence and risk of bias. Opinions are the lowest tier by far as they have low quality and high risk of bias.

Taking the results of many large tournaments would certainly be the best quality of data with the least risk of bias, but you have flippantly discarded it, belittling the players involved as hapless buffoons who don't play "newfangled creatures" even though several have played the same deck you are playing now with more experience. It pisses me off - it's the same mindset as a flat-earther, a climate denier, or an anti-vaxxer. I suppose the fate of the planet or the health of immunocompromised children in a cancer ward doesn't hang in the balance, but it's still frustrating to me that people can be so ignorant in this day and age.

@naixin You can't win events losing matches against Blue. Top 8 percentages are not representative of the metagame. I've heard people argue that you should "plan for the winner's metagame" but that generally only works when the competition is relatively weak like in paper where card availability has a huge impact on deck selection. An example is my Challange with Jund in which I played against 3 Blue decks, 1 Karn deck, 1 Shops deck, 1 Survival deck, to a 3-3 record. I was in the "winner's metagame" the entire event as I was 2-0 and then 3-1, but you really can't escape playing against Blue in the swiss on average. Unfortunate...I trimmed a Misstep, 2 maindeck pyroblasts, a Cindervines, and went 1-2 against Narset Xerox and it felt terrible. But hey, I beat that one Karn deck, except that game I got Ugin'd...

@moorebrother1 Try whatever decks you want. Honestly, I'm not trying to discourage people from brewing and never will. I'm just grumpy about "newfangled things like creatures" and this stupid concept of "beatability". Every person on the Patriots just got a ring, no matter if they were MVP or played like crap. Beating a card or a card being "beatable" is such a limited and meaningless concept. But whatever...

I'm not sure how much better Oath is positioned with Shops and Eldrazi now having maindeck answers to Oath (read what I said about Karn covering for some of the deck's weaknesses) but there was an Oath deck that came in second a couple challenges ago and the metagame share has increased based on the data. There are Oath decks in the league trying Karn as well...

As for BUG Fish, I am planning on testing that deck tonight with good old Rodney and Force of Vigor in the mix. I also like Plague Engineer as an anti-xerox card but obviously it's not for the Karn matchup.


There's a contingent of Vintage players that don't understand how to create, interpret, or in any way use data in a positive way. They tend to be more enfranchised players that did well long before Black Lotus was on MODO and the online data was an option for them to improve their game. They become bitter when they see people use the new ways to become better than the members of the old guard. They think they're just as knowledgeable but simply don't have the time to prove it due to adult duties such as children, aging parents, or any other aspects of reality. They use the term "noob" as a negative epithet because it's how you insulted your fellow gamers twenty years ago.

Please don't stoop to their level. Your streaming content and intelligent posts are far more important than shit-slinging with the bitter has-beens. Please be better.

@chubbyrain Generally, I think your feedback is pointing people in the right direction. I am an older player and I have come around to "new" world of MTGO and using more data.

Your point about the meta being blue, while not quite a given, it is something that is usually assumed until it is proven otherwise. I played a lot of MTGO until about February and then I took a bit of a break and I feel very comfortable playing blue decks and playing against blue decks.

For me personally, I have issues with the non-blue decks - especially on MTGO. I just haven't mastered playing against them yet. I created this thread to help players prepare for this match up, I think several other players need this help.

Usually I want to pick a deck that is well suited for the meta and invest very heavily in that deck for some time until I stop having fun. Losing to this style of deck is not fun. I HATE these kinds of decks. Instead of shouting restrict I am trying to crowd source some solutions.

I understand that Narset is also an issue but I am way more prepared to play against her. I was on PO and she is very good against PO, so is Karn. I have been looking at main deck Assassin's Trophy in PO. I have tried messing around with Oath and BUG. I am very good at Blue Red decks but I am not playing that right now. So, looking to the community for suggestions to a card or a deck or an arch type is usually a good thing.

Especially, when many of the players in this community are preparing for SCG Con.

My final point, is that I am actually taking your advice. I want to have fun in the format and the meta has shifted so I need to shift. I have not complained once in any of my recent threads. I am actually just looking for discussion.

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Well - I'm going to have to let my jabs apologies @ChubbyRain . I admit I was feeling a bit trollish as of late, but I can see I've gotten under your skin even more than intended. Honestly, I don't even know who you are behind the handle, I've never seen you stream, and I was kinda picking a fight just to entertain myself once it got going. My initial post was snarky and oversimplified the answer to karn...but once you latched on in the way you did, I kept reeling the line. I'll let it go, and sorry if I really irked you as much as it seems.

I DO think that there are answers to karn. He is an extremely powerful card, no doubt...but there are many overly busted cards like workshop, bazaar, and PO that we have no problem living as a 4-of, so why start at Karn getting axed? I think the answer isn't necessarily jamming some answer into an established deck. To be honest, I NEVER run established decks. I am rogue to the max. I think the fact that I'm NOT running PO or shops has made my win rate better against karn than is true of some other builds. Karn was designed to stop artifacts (i.e. shops and moxen storm), so I imagine those decks will have a hard time vs it.

I do think we could take the time to explore more R/G, G/W, or other colored builds that would handle narset and karn more easily than what is the common netdecks of now. @ChubbyRain , if you're doing that, then kudos. As I said, never saw you stream and don't know you. My experience has been that most players netdeck and try to tune/tweak/master that deck as opposed to trying new things because they are players more than inventors. And if many people are netdecking decks that have problems vs Karn, it seems no wonder that the data is skewed to show Karn being a problem. It seems like trying to catch a fish with a bait that the fish don't want, and instead of trying a different bait, people rearrange the same bait on the hook, that doesn't work, and they deem the fish uncatchable.


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

You haven't substantiated any of your positions. You haven't provided tournament results. You haven't mentioned any records. You've cited "testing" but what does that consist of? Who are you playing against? Are you competing in large scale events against competent opponents who have posted consistent finishes with their lists? Tell me why I should consider what you are saying over literally everything else I have seen about the format.

Your newest post doesn't do this either.

@shopsaholic The newest post doesn't but I wrote an article which looked at the metagame and data sets from the current meta. I mentioned my stream, which people can find if they want. You just can't keep repeating the same data over and over, post after post, if it gets ignored.

I do recognize that in the course of this, the quality has deteriorated and I regret that. I will focus less on posts like this and more on articles-type posts like the London piece, in an effort to generate more positive content.

@chubbyrain In all seriousness, sorry for the trolling.

Also, while I appreciate the data analysis, I think there's some flaw in the approach, as I stated in my earlier post. If the same decks that are having trouble vs karn (because they rely on artifact activations and karn is a non-artifact null rod), then does the data show Karn is really a problem, or does it show that he's doing what he was intended to do and the adherence to artifact-dependent decks is the problem? I think the latter, and I think your data supports BOTH positions equally. The data shows how Karn and Narset are fairing in metas with decks that Karn and Narset are designed to prey on. So when the data shows that the cards are acheiving this goal, but the meta is still the same decks vs decks now using these 2 cards, what is the data really telling us? It could be a signal that the cards are a problem, but it could also suggest it's time to put down PO and aggro shops and find entirely new decks to shift the meta towards. If you want to say Karn is a problem for the CURRENT metagame (that's basically xerox, PO, aggro shops, and a couple survival), then I'll agree with that. But I don't see that as a problem. We can adapt and find different strategies as opposed to running the same metagame decks and wondering why it's not working (not saying YOU are doing that, per se).

@thewhitedragon69 the issue I find is that by making a deck not soft to Karn, it becomes weak to blue.

I’m fine with that as you can’t have it both ways. But some players want to hedge against everything.

Basically do you want to beat Karn? You can but you’d be a dog to 50% of the meta running blue. If you don’t want to lost to blue, then lose to Karn.

I’m fine with those being the choices, but it seems like others aren’t.

@naixin It may pan out that way, but I think that is boxing yourself in. Why do you have to suck vs blue to beat Karn and vice versa? Are there no options that beat both? I believe there are no CURRENT options as far as netdeckable decks that do both well - but I don't think there's no possible deck that can do both.

I think with looking beyond blue, you can beat blue and narset and also shops and karn. Have I built said deck yet? Maybe, maybe not. I don't seem to have as much trouble against resolved karns, but I also don't build mox-dependent decks either. I tend to run more in the null-rod category, which happen to stifle turbo-karn and PO.

In general, I just think seeing vintage as only 4 viable decks and ignoring everything else by thinking you HAVE to play one of those 4 decks to be competitive is flawed and disallows you to see answers that are possible. I'm not talking about building a narset hate deck and losing to karn or a karn hate deck and losing to narset. I'm talking about starting from scratch and making something that can fight both. That takes work, but I'm not so convinced it can't be done. The data doesn't show that. The data shows 90% of decks trying to ramrod the same strategies into a brick wall and then being confused about why they can't break through.

I think focusing on Karn is a mistake. You should focus more on beating “shops” or “Eldrazi” as decks, and take into account that Karn is part of their strategies.

When Shops pilots used to get blown out by Hurkyl’s Recall in the “dark ages of Vintage”, there were players who focused on beating Hurkyl’s with things like Null Brooch or Defense Grid. That didn’t work out too well.

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