[STX] Divide by Zero
I believe the card Divide by Zero has been overlooked as a playable card in Vintage.
Vintage is a format where many “win on the same turn” decks are found. Decks that are built around Storm and game winning cards such as Thassa’s Oracle and Goblin Charbelcher to win in a single turn have been some of the strongest decks in Magic’s history. Often classified as “glass cannons” where one card from the opponent’s side can stop such a deck from working is often protected with countermagic, discard, preventing the opponent from casting spells on your turn, etc. The biggest threat is often countermagic, however sometimes there is that pesky permanent on the battlefield that stops your deck from winning the game. Permanent destruction is usually used for such a card, however such cards are limited to restrictions such as being able to only used against specific permanent types. Since such “win on same turn” decks only need one turn to win the game, often one or more bounce spells are added to the main deck and perhaps more in the sideboard. Bounce spells have been used because the permanent only really needs to be temporarily removed, can be used on all non-land permanents and are usually blue, the most common color used in such decks.
Chain of Vapor is often used since it only costs one blue mana, is an instant, and can bounce any non-land permanent; however it does have a drawback of giving your opponent the option to bounce one of your permanents in return. Echoing Truth is another popular bounce spell for one colorless and one blue mana that does not have a drawback and can bounce all of the same permanent back to hand. Two mana does seem to be the acceptable amount of mana for removing a permanent from the battlefield. However adding one more colorless mana to a total of three to increase the versatility of such a bounce spell may be acceptable such as in Divide by Zero’s case.
Divide by Zero I believe is one of the most versatile utility cards in a “win on the same turn” deck. Not only does it have the capability of bouncing most permanent threats, it can also protect your own spells and can be card advantage at the same time.
The advantages for bouncing a permanent have already been discussed. Having the option for bouncing a spell to its owner’s hand can protect you in two ways, it can either bounce a spell to the opponent’s hand so you can win within a turn or it can bounce your own spell back to your own hand if it were to be targeted by counter magic, letting the countermagic fizzle and be cast again later.
Divide by Zero also has card advantage in a choice of drawing a card at the cost of discarding a card or for wishing a “Lesson” from your sideboard. Also you may want to have a card from your hand in the graveyard such as Dread Return and Divide by Zero gives you that option.
Wishing for a Lesson with the Learn ability can be very beneficial in some cases. While Lessons are usually weaker cards than Vintage staples, they can still have game altering results. The Lessons being discussed below can have multiple advantages in “win on the same turn” decks. Think of Divide by Zero as being a utility card while wishing for an additional card, kind of a two for one or one card eliminating two different threats.
While Divide by Zero can take care of one card as described above, sometimes there may be an additional threat keeping you from winning the game. There are a variety of Lessons that can be wished for in the sideboard in all ranges of colors. These Lessons may not be as playable as Vintages’ usual staples however when an opponent’s card keeps you from winning the game, any cost is acceptable.
Mercurial Transformation 1U Sorcery-Lesson
Until end of turn, target nonland permanent loses all abilities and becomes your choice of a blue from creature with base power 1/1 or a blue Octopus creature with base power and toughness 4/4.
While Mercurial Transformation does not remove a permanent from the battlefield it can neutralize the abilities for a turn to win the game. Mercurial Transformation can also be used to pitch to “Force” cards, you do not have to include an additional color in your deck to cast it and it is an acceptable two mana.
There are also a number or additional removal options:
Introduction to Annihilation 5 Sorcery-Lesson
Exile target nonland permanent. It’s controller draws a card.
Reduce to Memory 1WW Sorcery-Lesson
Exile target nonland permanent. Its controller creates a 3/2 red and white Spirit creature token.
Containment Breach 2G Sorcery-Lesson
Destroy target artifact or enchantment. It its mana value is 2 or less, create a 1/1 black and green Pest creature token with “When this creature dies, you gain 1 life.”
Start from Scratch 2R Sorcery-Lesson
Choose one – Start from Scratch deals 1 damage to any target /or Destroy target artifact.
Necrotic Fumes 1BB Sorcery-Lesson
As an additional cost to cast this spell, exile a creature you control. Exile Target creature or planeswalker.
Academic Probation can be used to protect yourself from spells like Force of Will for a turn and also has the option to have a limited neutralizing effect on a permanent for a turn.
Academic Probation 1W Sorcery-Lesson
Choose one – Choose a nonland card name. Opponents can’t cast spells with the chosen name until your next turn. /or Choose target nonland permanent. Until your next turn, its activated abilities can’t be activated.
Mascot Exhibition can be used as an alternate win condition. Since “win on the same turn” decks usually do not win with combat, having a bunch of creatures with one spell may give you another option. While the cost of seven mana is high, “win on the same turn” decks can usually generate a large amount of mana on the same turn.
Mascot Exhibition 7 Sorcery-Lesson
Create a 2/1 white and black Inkling creature token with flying, a 3/2 red and white Spirit creature token, and a 4/4 blue and red Elemental creature token.
Other Lessons include a variety of card advantage, creature generators and other cards.
Thank you and I hope you enjoyed reading,
MaximumCDawg last edited by MaximumCDawg
That's great and all but it costs 2U. That's a heapin helpin. Versatility is fine and all but if you're looking for a tutor, we have better tutors at 1 and 2 mana, so...
Db0 was a house in standard (where it's now banned), but competing with free counters like FoW or efficient bounce like chain of vapor/Etruth is really hard. If the lessons were bonkers good or an Db0 was an actual deck tutor, I'd say it's good, but since the lessons are weaksauce and Vintage wants to do broken things for 3 mana (think tinker, yawg will), a temporary bounce/counter isn't so hot for 3.
I'd say the card is on the cusp. It really is a versatile card, and getting something like mecurial transformation can be like a second removal...but if you can just chain of vapor and win on the spot, what's the point of the fancy versatility? If you've hit 3 mana and are stalling out, a remand effect isn't going to get you there. Something like hurkyll's recall is massively more powerful for cheaper.
The card has a severe costs 3 problem but is otherwise brilliant.
Thank you all for your replies they have been most insightful and helpful.
The focus of Divide by Zero in this post is that it useful as a one of in the main deck of "win on the same turn" decks that use cards Storm cards, Thassa's Oracle and Goblin Charbelcher to win the game. While the usual one of such as an Echoing Truth for permanents cost one or two mana, having it cost one more mana for the additional option of having it being a pseudo-counter and on top of that being either card advantage or wishing for additional card removal/other may be worth it.
I do not recommend Divide by Zero being used in standard vintage decks.
I loved this card in Type 2... I really wish they had the option to restrict instead of ban...
I wanted to be able to make it work in T1... mostly for bouncing my own spell back and pulling some Flusterstorms out of my opponents' hands, but I couldn't quite find a place for it. Hoping that the Lesson mechanic comes back and includes something worth grabbing...